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The Last Dance

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Trevor Belmont: It's time to give this place back to people who know how to build things! You and me, we're just old killers out of history... It's time for us to go!
Death: And who's going to make me go? You? With your bit of string in your hand?
Trevor: Probably not... but let's just give this one last go, shall we?

Facing death is a big, big moment. As Rimmer in Red Dwarf once stated, "All most of us get is 'Mind that bus, what bus, splat!'" This trope describes those who have some lead time, have some time to tidy our affairs, get our house in order, say our final goodbyes.

If you've led an exceptionally adventurous or questionable life, it may be time to throw out all the rules and go on that last run, complete that final mission, settle that one score. When you have nothing at all left to lose, that's when you can truly give everything you've got.

This trope gives a writer a lot of flexibility in writing for a character. Heroes can become villains, villains can try for redemption, utterly minor characters can step into the spotlight, sane characters can go Ax-Crazy or turn into The Unfettered, Power Limiters are removed, Thanatos Gambits are prepared, characters are suddenly not left handed, and no one is Holding Back the Phlebotinum. Dancing the Last Dance can have lasting repercussions for a show, changing the dynamic.

For the dying character, The Last Dance can blend with Do Not Go Gentle or the Bolivian Army Ending, but it is more personal; the rest of the world goes on. A common twist is for the character in question to find out that they're going to live, and have to deal with the consequences of their actions after all.

Frequently overlaps with Living on Borrowed Time, if the character manages to lengthen their life beyond the expected span. Time-Delayed Death is a related trope for characters who do not realize that they are doomed.

Frequently results in Dying Moment of Awesome.

Compare Rasputinian Death, Convenient Terminal Illness. Compare also with Like You Were Dying for a last dance of joy. Contrast The Dying Walk, which is about a dying character walking away from whatever they were doing or wherever they were just before death, often in search of a peaceful place to die. Not to be confused with Heroic Sacrifice, where the last act is the cause of death, or Self-Sacrifice Scheme, where the entire act of his life is the cause of death. Of course, a dying character is more likely than otherwise to make a Heroic Sacrifice or to employ Taking You with Me tactics; after all, they aren't giving up all that much extra time. If they extend The Last Dance to last for way, way longer than the song's supposed to go, then they're Living on Borrowed Time. One should be careful when invoking this trope around creatures of vast magical power — you can still get a Fate Worse than Death...

See also Too Broken to Break, when the character gets the final snap after The Reveal their days are counted, so nothing else can affect them now.

Often used to make a Last Stand. No relation to the ESPN documentary on Michael Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls.

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


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    Anime & Manga 
  • At the end of the Elfen Lied manga Lucy/Nyu's body begins to melt from overuse of their powers and reviving Kouta. The third personality takes control here to try and bring down as much of humanity with her as she can, all the while murmuring "Painful."
  • Gunslinger Girl. Petra does a literal version when she's told her cancer has returned. She asks for her memory blocks to be removed and remembers her past as a ballet dancer in Russia. Petra then has her fellow cyborgs record her doing the ballet of the Dying Swan by Camille Saint-Saëns. Her handler Sandro delivers the video to her ex-boyfriend in Russia (who'd been told that Elizaveta, the woman Petra used to be, had died) telling him that this is a woman who'd been donated Elizaveta's organs after her death.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Looooves this trope. In the first arc, Kamina pulls off the first Giga Drill Breaker after being clinically killed by Thymilph, then we have Kittan doing his first Giga Drill Breaker after entering the absolute killzone of the Spiral-Energy Absorption machine, and last of all with Nia of all people who teams up with the rest of the gang to take out the Anti-Spirals and makes it through sheer Heroic Willpower to finally marrying Simon before fading into non-existence, having known and accepted that that would happen all along.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans:
    • The final episode has Mikazuki and Akihiro pull this. With Gjallarhorn on the verge of wiping Tekkadan out, the two of them stay behind and take on the entirety of the Arianrhod Fleet's ground forces while the rest of their brothers-in-arms escape to safety. And they pull off one hell of a Last Stand in the process, even avenging some of their fallen comrades by killing Iok Kujan, which ends up sowing the seeds for Gjallarhorn's reformation.
    • An episode earlier, McGillis also pulls this, dismissing all of his remaining men and piloting Gundam Bael to take on the Arianrhod Fleet all by himself. He then proceeds to fight Vidar to a draw, despite being worn down from all the fighting he did previously and Vidar having a Type-E system, and even when both their Gundams are trashed he stills musters the willpower to continue with his mission on foot and assassinate the enemy commander, only for Gaelio to confront him and put his last stand to an abrupt end.
  • Code Geass: After losing everything (his friends, his allies, his confidant, both his family, and as a result, his hope), Lelouch Lamperouge decides to pull out all the stops in order to defeat his enemy. This includes violating his own code of ethics and using his hypnotic ability to make people his slaves, then marching into the mystical realm where his father is preparing to enact his plans and destroying the only exit.
    • But what happens next is even worse. His mom whose death he wanted to take revenge on the Emperor for turns out to be alive and well and a co-conspirator of the Emperor. So he has to kill them both. Now, with the last of his primary motivators gone (avenging Marianne), but certainly no more optimistic from the experience, he refocuses on making a better world for everyone, involving taking over the freaking planet and becoming so much of a tyrant that everyone's anger gets focused on him, and then taking that hatred with him to the grave.
  • In Death Note, this is the reason why Death Note users with shinigami eyes cannot see their own lifespan.
  • Full Metal Panic!: Gauron's original mission in infiltrating the Tuatha de Danaan was to deliver the submarine and the Whispereds on board to Leonard of Amalgam. He chose such a risky method and didn't seem to particularly care if the de Danaan and all its passengers were destroyed because he had pancreatic cancer and would soon die anyway.
  • In Naruto, there's Kimimaro, the most loyal of Orochimaru's servants, who admires Orochimaru so much that he is willing to be his next vessel. However, due to his disease, he can't, and so decides to help bring the only other worthy vessel to Orochimaru in his literal final hours. To do so he just had to defeat two of the main characters including the main character without breaking a sweat while enduring incredible pain, and then almost defeat Gaara, twice surviving an attack that uses sand to completely crush someone and make a Rain of Blood out of it/them (that never before failed) and being buried only to be stopped by is own disease killing him. Made all the more tragic by his last words in which he declares that only Orochimaru ever understood him....and cut to Orochimaru saying that Kimimaro doesn't matter. Bonus points in the fact that he actually calls his attacks "dances", so it makes this trope a little more accurate in that part.
    • Zabuza gets this too. Following the death of his Morality Pet Haku, his utter defeat at the hands of Kakashi, the smashing of his dream to eventually become Mizukage, and finally his betrayal by his employer Gatou, he is given a lecture by Naruto on The Power of Friendship that forces him to admit that yes, he did care for Haku, despite acting like he didn't give a damn, and takes off his mask, lampshading that he is human after all. He proceeds to mow through Gatou's thugs and kill Gatou with a kunai in his mouth, suffering numerous fatal wounds in the process but lives long enough to ask Kakashi to place him next to Haku.
      • And just to be completely clear, he lost the use of his arms BEFORE taking on 20-ish hired thugs to get to Gatou to kill him. That kunai in his mouth? That's his only weapon. Granted, the thugs were pretty puny and if he'd still had his arms he probably could've killed all of them and Gatou without hardly interrupting his fight with Kakashi.
    • Itachi's life can be interpreted as an epic 7-year long Last Dance, waiting for the day that Sasuke will kill him.
  • Cowboy Bebop: Spike's final assault on the Red Dragon at the end of "The Real Folk Blues (Part 2)" is a definite example of this trope.
  • Shadow Skill: After years of sickness from fighting in places where even Sevalles fear to wage war, Diaz Ragu faces off against Darkness to save Gau from being slaughtered by him. Despite his legs being crushed and vision nearly gone, he manages to hold his own and deliver a decisive blow with a freaking boomerang stuck through his leg before sacrificing himself to save his little brother. Too bad Darkness has Complete Immortality. He gives him the win and leaves, though.
  • Burst Angel, Jo goes even more unfettered than usual, having no regard for equipment or ammo in her assault on RAPT HQ. The extent of her farewell to Meg is leaving her jacket behind (after punching Meg out to make sure she wouldn't follow).
  • Nearly all of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED is eventually revealed to be winding down to the Big Bad's Last Dance; aware that he is soon going to die from complications of the imperfect cloning process that created him, he's resentful and despairing enough to try to take all of humanity with him. Being a Magnificent Bastard, the plan almost works, too.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha:
    • In season 1 the Big Bad Precia Testarossa is desperate for the Jewel Seeds because she's dying and she doesn't have long before she has to complete her Evil Plan.
    • In StrikerS, Zest, having already been killed and revived by the villains prior to the start of the series, doesn't have very long to live. At the series' climax, having achieved his sole objective and with his death imminent, he happily challenges Signum to one last fight. Once he finally succumbs, Agito, in spite of her rage and grief, sincerely thanks Signum for allowing Zest to die honourably.
  • One Piece:
    • Going Merry was damaged beyond repair by the time the Straw Hats reached Water 7, with the shipwrights declaring she wouldn't survive another voyage. But when her crew is in danger at Enies Lobby, the spirit of Merry asks Iceberg to repair her so she can sail one last time. Unmanned, she sails herself from Water 7 to Enies Lobby in time to rescue the Straw Hats and held herself together until they were safe before finally succumbing to the damage.
    • Whitebeard basically taking on all the admirals at once? After getting stabbed straight through the chest? And then crushing Marineford single-handedly? And then sneering at the guy most likely to become the series' Big Bad and utterly curb-stomping him without using any Devil Fruit abilities? Good. Game. Even in death he is badass. Keep in mind we're talking about an old man who needed to be hooked up to life support and regularly monitored by nurses.
    • Dr. Hiriluk. First, he had the Incurable Cough of Death. Then, after misinterpreting a medical text, Chopper went on a dangerous quest to retrieve a mushroom that happened to be poison. Instead of telling Chopper all the work he went through was for nothing, he drank it anyway, knowing he would die soon even without the poison. Then, hearing that the kingdom's doctors were sick, he walked into an obvious trap at the castle, knowing that if the disease or poison didn't get him, the trap would. And finally, instead of letting them shoot him, he gave a last toast to his friend Chopper, and drank nitroglycerin, exploding violently after proclaiming he's led a good life, with no regrets.
    • The most literal example would be the Rumbar pirates. After a lost battle, they realize they have all been wounded with poisoned weapons and none of them are going to survive the night. So they use the last of their strength to do a musical number. The only one to whom it doesn't fully apply is Brook, as his Devil Fruit would revive him, so the rest entrusted their last song as a legacy to him.
    • Pirate King Roger. He was terminally ill before he even started his voyage through the Grand Line. He turned himself in knowing his time was near anyway, just so he could go out with a bang instead of a whimper. Knowing that the World Government would insist on a public execution, Roger took advantage of the worldwide broadcast of his death to use his last words to inspire the next generation of pirates.
    • At the end of One Piece Film: Z, the titular character decides to go out swinging. Some of the Marines there, ones that he trained, start crying as they have to put him down. At his grave, Aokiji yells at the others not to cry since Zephyr died the way he wanted, and that doing so made him an amazing man.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: The Leit Motif of the Juppon Gatana Story Arc is Wars of the Last Wolves.
  • The Familiar of Zero: Saito decides to be the rear guard when during the Tristian retreat one of the Queen's advisors asks Louise to do it. Saito uses a sleeping potion on Louise and goes himself. Delflinger even says, "All men have to die sometime, might as well go in style."
  • Rufus Shinra in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is dying of geostigma. He's hidden Jenova's head in a box which he has with him the entire time he's being questioned by the Big Bad and then proceeds to taunt him and throw it (and himself) off the side of the building they're on. The Turks catch him, however.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, knowing full and well that he was on his final leg, Wrath, aka Fuhrer King Bradley, still charges into battle with Scar. Despite being on death's door, Wrath was still on the verge of actually winning the fight, and only lost due to being momentarily blinded by the sun as the eclipse ended (right after saying that Scar truthfully believed there was no God at all). Perhaps most telling about the character was his simple comment that he had never felt as alive as he did in that battle.
  • The End of Evangelion, with the song "Komm, Susser Tod": "So with sadness in my heart, I feel the best thing I could do, is end it all and leave forever..."
    • Before then, there is Asuka's fight against the JSSDF and SEELE's mass-production EVAs. She makes mincemeat of the JSSDF and puts up a helluva fight against the MP EVAs, but is struck down in the end.
  • In the anime adaptation of Hakuouki, Okita finds himself with the double whammy of his incurable tuberculosis and the fact that his fury powers are Cast from Lifespan and will eventually burn out. When he overhears a number of Imperial loyalists planning to ambush and murder Hijikata in the small town where the latter is recovering from his injuries, Okita makes the decision to pull a You Shall Not Pass! and burns himself out fighting off the entire mob. Although the moment of his death isn't shown, it's heavily implied that he used up the remainder of his lifespan and crumbled to ash, leaving behind only his sword and a lot of dead bodies.
  • In Dragon Ball Z:
    • The gunmen Van Zant and Smitty decide to go on a killing spree because they believe that Majin Buu is going to kill everyone on Earth anyway. To make matters worse, he wasn't, until they almost killed his puppy and his friend. The Earth's population didn't even last a day after that.
    • If Dragon Ball Online counts, Goku, sensing his end is coming, offers to settle his rivalry with Vegeta once and for all. The two of them fly off to fight in deep space, never to be heard from again. Years later, a new supernova is detected.
    • An odd example comes from the film Fusion Reborn: The movie, while non-serial, is set after Vegeta pulled a Heroic Sacrifice, meaning he's already dead; his arc in the film is treated as his last big hurrah. This isn't the case in the anime, however.
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes: When Reinhard von Lohengramm declared war on the Alliance again in episode 67, Alexandre Bewcock comes out of retirement and decides to perform his final duty for the nation he had served for over five decades by leading the Alliance defence against the expected Imperial invasion.
  • Although they're facing graduation rather than their deaths, many of the third-year mahjong players in Saki who haven't had much luck in the tournaments have a similar mindset, particularly Hisa, who was the sole real member of the mahjong club in her first year, only had Mako with her in her second, and did not enter any individual tournaments due to wanting to go to the tournament with her friends.
  • Claymore has Cassandra. After the Trauma Conga Line of her life, her failed Roaring Rampage of Revenge in response to the brutal murder of her only friend that ended with her Rasputinian Death, and then being brought Back from the Dead by a Mad Scientist who knew that she would Come Back Wrong and almost immediately transform into an Awakened Being, and then being assimilated by the Big Bad, Cassandra is finally thrown a bone when Teresa – the most powerful Number One warrior of any generation – is also brought back from the dead. When Teresa calls out to Cassandra's pride as a former Number One, Cassandra finds the strength to tear away from the Big Bad for one last battle, Number One to Number One. When Teresa proves unquestionably superior, Cassandra states that she had fun being finally able to go all-out against an opponent, and requests a Mercy Kill so that she can die as herself. Teresa obliges.
  • Early on the final arc of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Steel Ball Run Gyro Zeppeli receives a bite from a fish, which is revealed to be fatal due to Love Train's ability. In his final moment he he decides use his time to teach a final lesson to Johnny and manages to seriously wound Valentine in the process.
  • The final arc of Tokyo Ghoul serves as one for Yoshimura and his loyal subordinates, Enji Koma and Kaya Irimi. After spending a decade in retirement quietly managing the affairs of the 20th Ward and living relatively peaceful lives, it all comes crashing down when CCG learns Anteiku is more than a mere cafe. All three resolve to make their final stand so that others can escape the Ward, destroying all evidence inside the shop and calling up their old gangs for one final battle. It quickly becomes clear none of them intend to survive the battle, showing no mercy to the humans in their path and intent on dying as penance for their blood-stained pasts. In the end, Yoshimura is captured by Aogiri while Koma and Irimi are implied to have been among Arima's many victims.
  • In Tomorrow's Joe this is why Joe fights his last fight: he knows he's going to have to retire soon due to advanced punch-drunkenness and having gone blind in one eye, so he may well have that title shot against an invincible boxer and fight him so hard that the champ's hair turns white from the battle and kill himself through sheer exhaustion.
  • In Megalo Box, a downplayed variant of this trope drives Aragaki: his leg prosthetics can't handle the stress of him actively boxing, so he has at best one or two matches left in him before his legs are permanently damaged and no real chance at making it to the Megalonia finals. He therefore decides to take on Joe, a much lower-ranked boxer who is trained by Aragaki's Broken Pedestal of a former trainer, for a sense of closure.
  • In the opening arc of the Tenchi Muyo! manga, it's eventually revealed that the reason the master swordsmith Yakagi had been goading Tenchi into a death duel was because he had learned that he was terminally ill and needed to know if he had succeeded in his life's dream of creating the greatest blade ever, and the only way to prove that one way or the other was to test his creation against the Light Hawk Sword and its owner in combat.
  • My Hero Academia: The fight against All for One during the Hideout Raid Arc is this for All Might, as he uses up the last remains of One for All while finally ending his Arch-Enemy with the United States of SMASH!

    Comic Books 
  • The central theme of All-Star Superman. Superman is dying from an overdose of solar radiation, but he has enough time left to do some important, amazing things.
  • In Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, a lot of villains from Superman's past are all showing up in rapid succession. Superman eventually figures out they're going to actually manage to kill him this time when some of his old buddies from the Legion of Super-Heroes (who, being from the 30th century, know exactly when Superman died) show up "just to say hi" and give him a little statue. In a twist, Supergirl happened to be visiting the 30th century at the time the Legionnaires decided to come pay their last respects, and she comes back with them to what is (for her) the future (confused yet?). She accepts the reason for the trip at face value and is mildly curious about what she herself grew up to be like. This puts Superman in a difficult spot since by that point in the then-current DC continuity, she had been killed in the battle against the Anti-Monitor. Superman therefore has to avoid letting her find out that not only is he about to die, but she's already dead. The fact that the Legion's time bubble popped in right around the corner from a memorial statue to Supergirl doesn't help.
  • This is the premise of Destroyer (Marvel Comics): after discovering that his heart will give out soon, the titular Old Superhero sets out to kill as many villains as he can.
  • Spider-Man:
    • The Vulture stops holding back when he finds out he has cancer.
    • The plot of the storyline "Ends of the Earth" is one for Doctor Octopus.
  • A Senate Guard in Star Wars named Venco Autem was fired for blatant corruption. After years of wandering the galaxy, immersed in shady dealings, he learned that he had a terminal illness. Autem undergoes a change of heart and wants to die having done some good in his life. He believes that, as the Galactic Republic is hopelessly corrupt and evil, that the best he could do is help bring it down.
  • Batman:
    • The Joker is told that he has cancer. Granted, the doctor was lying but what does he do? Start a Crisis Crossover fittingly called Joker's Last Laugh. Batman has even said that the Joker is much more dangerous when backed into a corner.
    • Then there's Batman: Arkham City, whose prequel comic indicates that the Joker is diagnosed with the Titan disease that he had inflicted upon himself six months ago and is told that he has an estimated six months to live. He and Harley Quinn go on a rampage trying to keep his illness a secret, even setting up Clayface as his healthy Body Double to do this for the art and using Dr. Hugo Strange to complete a project called "Protocol 10" that could lead to the slaughter of more innocents and make the Joker's last moments more comfortable. The Clown Prince of Crime even ambushes Batman and transfers his infected blood to him and other innocents at Gotham City so that the Dark Knight can find a cure for them all in a Poison and Cure Gambit. By the end of the game, Batman saves the day, finds the cure, and survives; but the Joker does not thanks to his Idiot Ball and impatience for the cure by stabbing the Dark Knight in the arm and forcing him to drop it, resulting in the Clown Prince of Crime dying with a smile on his face.
    • Another Joker one from Dark Nights: Metal. After learning that he's dying of cancer, Joker goes on one final rampage, killing Commissioner Gordon and the entire Rogues Gallery, capturing Batman, forcing him to watch as he forces random kids to experience their combined backstories (killing their parents in front of them then gassing them with Joker Venom), and forcing Batman to finally kill him... which releases a puff of Joker Venom that turns Batman into the Batman Who Laughs.
  • Judge Dredd: When a Judge's career is coming to an end, he or she can invoke the trope by taking "The Long Walk": heading out into the Cursed Earth to bring law and order to the wastelands.
  • In Walt Simonson's run of The Mighty Thor, Skurge the Executioner does this, defending the bridge at Gjallerbru so Thor, Balder, and their allies can make their escape.
    "And when a new arrival asks about the one to whom even Hela bows her head, the answer is always the same. He stood alone at Gjallerbru. And that answer is enough."
  • Mr. Hyde at the end of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen vol. 2. He dies attacking the Martian invasion force while singing, "You Should See Me Dance the Polka".
  • The plot of Kevin Smith's Daredevil story "Guardian Devil" turns out to be the work of a terminally ill Mysterio.
  • Doctor Strange: Strange's old foe, Baron Mordo, was the center of a desperately sad arc when he contracted terminal cancer and began a period of confession and meditation to atone for his evil life. His daughter Astrid transferred all the cancer to Strange instead, forcing Mordo to take it all back and deal with Astrid. Then, as he lay dying, he wondered if it had been enough...
  • This trope was used to retcon Professor X's very first death in X-Men. A former villain known as the Changeling who could shapeshift discovered he was terminally ill and sought to make amends in what little time he had left. Discovering that an alien invasion was being planned, Xavier had Changeling switch places with him so he could prepare for it while the Changeling led the X-Men in his stead. He eventually died still in the guise of Xavier by sacrificing his life to save the world from a creature called Grotesk.
  • The first issue of Earth 2 details the end of the Apokolips war. Many superheroes and gods are dead, but Batman has a plan to upload a virus that will kill all of the parademons that have already destroyed or enslaved most of the world. It's DC's Holy Trinity having a no holds barred battle to kill as many of the invaders as possible until Batman can upload the virus. Wonder Woman and Superman both die holding off hordes of parademons, and Batman uploads the virus, fully knowing that the control tower would self-destruct once he did...and he didn't mention it to his closest friends, or his daughter, until the bitter end. Notable in that all three of them knew they were probably going to die, and that the city they were fighting in (Metropolis) was already dead, along with most of their friends and family. This wasn't just a "save the world" mission, it was them taking out their rage on the invaders.
  • Suicide Squad: After a disastrous chain of events winds up fracturing the Suicide Squad, resident chessmistress Amanda Waller is informed, early one night, her status and privileges for supervillain custody will end come morning, with a large drug cartel getting virtual free rein and poised to flood the streets with a highly addictive and dangerous stimulant to take advantage of the power vacuum. Amanda refuses to give up, opens up the cells of Ravan, Deadshot and Poison Ivy, and marches off with them to systematically cripple as much of the cartel as they can before morning. They succeed in killing the entire cartel leadership. Amanda releases the three supervillains and calmly waits for the police to arrive.
  • The tagline to Ronin (1983) is "If you intend to die, you can do anything!" The hero of the story lives up to the promise.
  • Lee Travis, the Original Crimson Avenger, was in hospital dying of an incurable terminal illness when he spied an SOS being flashed from a passing ship. He decided to suit up for one final time and investigate. He discovered that a group of terrorists was attempting to hijack the ship's cargo of unstable chemical waste. He defeated the terrorists but—in the process—the ship caught fire. The Crimson told the crew to abandon ship and, as his last act, steered the ship out to sea where it could explode without endangering the city.
  • The Punisher MAX has the "Six Hours To Kill" arc, in which Frank is kidnapped and informed that he's been injected with a poison that will kill him in six hours unless he kills the targets designated by his kidnappers. Frank's response is to kill the smug twerp telling him this and proceed to run around destroying as much of the city's organized crime as he can. He's actually looking forward to his death so he can finally rest, which of course is the moment the villain chooses to give him the antidote in the hopes of using him as a bodyguard. This works as well as you'd expect it to, and Frank leaves for home.
  • Astro City: After finding out that he was dying, Mister Drama set a trap for his nemesis Jack-in-the-Box, planning to kill them both in an explosion and record the spectacle for posterity. The trap worked, but the plan to get the recording out of the blast zone failed.

    Fan Works 
  • Checkmate (Anla'Shok): When the 3rd Quarter Quell is announced, several victors feel that they have nothing to lose and stop holding back at lashing out against the Capitol in the weeks before they will go back into the arena.
    • Gloss and Cashmere vandalize the Academy of Evil where they were raised and kill the headmistress (a victor who consented to Snow pimping out her mentees).
    • Whittle from District 9 schemes to blow up a Peacekeeper barracks, although he abandons this when his withdrawn and depressed death-seeking sole victor Scythia comes out of her shell enough to spend time with him and he decides he would rather have one normal and healthy friendship in his last weeks.
    • Chaff and Seeder lead a bunch of raids, Johanna sneaks out of her house to spray anti-Capitol graffiti, and and Beetee poisons the soldiers in a peacekeeper barracks (although they are only partial examples, since they think they will be rescued from the arena).
  • In the Dark World timeline of the Pony POV Series, Pinkie Pie realizes that her Element of Chaos was damaged in the process of redeeming her, and that she'll soon age to death. However, she chooses to spend what little time she has left patching things up with the others and helping them save the world for as long as she can.
  • Child of the Storm reveals halfway through the first book that it and the sequel are Doctor Strange's last dance, his final acts to prepare the heroes and the world for the eventual coming of Thanos. This means that he comes out of the shadows far more, but at the same time, he becomes far more ruthless and less patient, dropping much of his usual charm - and, crucially, having less time to correct his mistakes.
  • In Harry Potter and the Descent into Darkness after Harry has been forsaken by everyone and he's sure that the Tri-Wizard Tournament is going to kill him he slowly allows himself to be corrupted by the Dark Side.
  • In Darth Vader: Hero of Naboo, Darth Sidious's battle with the Jedi is this. The Jedi know who he is, and Plagueis infected him with a virus that will sever his connection to the Force, so he knows he won't survive the night and he's just trying to kill Vader and as many Jedi as he can before he dies.
  • In Gensokyo 20XXV, chapter 101, Reimu seems to have this mentality, despite not being terminally ill or anything of the sort (although she is mentally and frequently ill), which seems to explain her behavior, especially when she challenged someone to kill her, stating that she "is a little girl with nothing left to lose".
  • From Kill la Kill AU, a frequently ill Ryuuko has this mentality and she counts how much time she might have left or the fact that she seems to be so broken by being sick, that she does consider death to be a release. She's nine by the way.
    Ryuuko: [...] like living attached to an hourglass, where the sand runs out, and you can't do jackshit about it.
    • Discussed in Satsuki's narration of Snowflakes, when a sick Ryuuko escapes the hospital because she wanted to play in the snow, even if the cold could complicate her illness or kill her.
      Satsuki (narrating): She had risked death from illness and cold to do something she loved. In a way, thinking back on that night, she wanted to make what could've been her last moments happy and was even happier that someone shared that happiness with her.
  • The Morrigan: After accomplishing their goals and nearly escaping in a trimmed-down Gundam Pharact, Norea du Noc and Elan Ceres (#5) are faced with the Gundam Nemain, a prototype gundam piloted by three deadly and insane pilots. Both know that they're not making it out of this alive, so Norea asks Elan if he meant it when he said he loves her earlier, which he confirms, and together they decide to go out swinging. They survive, thanks to the timely intervention of Miorine Mercury.
  • The main plot of Requiem for a Loud resolves around Lincoln, who has been diagnosed with brain tumors and will die in about 2 weeks, try to make the most of the time he has left. Not for himself, but for his sisters, since they are the ones who have to live with his passing, so he wants to give them some lasting, fond memories of him.
  • The Tydal vs. Tirek arc in The God Squad. Tydal knew the moment Discord sent the mystical call for help that he was going to die. He spends his last few hours ensuring his kingdom and subjects are safe, finding Shining Armor, and then setting Chrysalis up to protect Sunset Shimmer. He then marches to his death knowing that he must hold the line for Twilight and her friends.
    "When you are an old mare, with grandfoals of your own, and they ask you who taught you your spells… tell them ‘he who held the line’. And… let that be enough. (pause) Let this be enough.”
  • As we find out Paper Cranes, Satsuki's reasons for doing many of things documented (i.e going on trips, folding the titular paper cranes, taking photos, etc) was because she was dying of heart failure and she wanted to have fun with (and distract) Ryuuko one last time. This is more obvious in chapter 9 when she asks Ryuuko to take her outside to look at the cherry blossoms, which the latter does, and the excitement at seeing then lands her in the hospital, which she didn't mind, as she's dying anyway.
  • In we light ourselves up from the deepest of pits, the last book of you can only use your own, Chara tries to pull a Last Dance of pure domestic fluff in chapter 8, wrapping up some loose ends and spending time with their family before committing suicide, though they end up surviving as Asriel talks them down.
  • In Purple Days, Robert Baratheon crashes a feast being thrown by Joffrey. He has the most wonderful day of his reign, dueling Joffrey - with a surprise reappearance of the Demon of the Trident - feasting and drinking with his son, Tyrion, and Ned, and realizing that for all his mistakes, he is happy in the legacy he is leaving behind, knowing the realm is in good hands with Joffrey at the head, Sansa at his side and Ned and Tyrion at his back. He powers through the pain the whole time, feeling exhausted and wholly satisfied with himself for the first time since he became king... and then retreats to a quiet corner with his warhammer. After all, Baratheons are meant to greet the Stranger hammer in hand.
  • Halloween Unspectacular: During the climax of the eighth edition, it's revealed that General Rausseman is dying, his enhanced biology finally breaking down, leaving him with a host of problems including a failing nervous system and cancer. Because of this, he's determined to go out with a warrior's death, facing the heroes in a Final Battle while enacting his master plan to wipe out all nonhuman sentient life. He's denied this, as not only do the heroes completely undermine his power base and sabotage his plan without him realizing it until too late, but after Ford beats him in a quick fistfight, he chooses to spare him, leaving him to face a slow and painful death.
  • The Bridge: Grand King Ghidorah has spent millions of years rampaging across the galaxy between his hibernation cycles, destroying countless planets. However, in the last hundred thousand years, he had suffered more defeats than he ever had before, causing him to rationalize this as creation and evolution were finally creating beings that could stand up to him and he is fated to die soon. Not wanting to go out in anything short of dramatic, he sets up his will and testament of sorts by arranging for Kaizer Ghidorah to finally be unleashed as his successor, and arranges to have a one-on-one battle with the only unchosen one to fend him off, Godzilla Junior, to finally confirm whether or not that was a fluke or he's something special. He's also doing this to see if there could ever be a being that could stop Bagan. After a knock-down drag-out brawl with Godzilla, Ghidorah gets his wish and glimpses the future. Whenever he sees causes him to die with a smile on his faces.
  • In the Miraculous Ladybug/Worm crossover Miraculous Escalation, when Mama Mathers is making an all-out attack on Brockton Bay to get at the portal currently directed at Earth Gimel, Taylor, wielding Nooroo, empowers an old man, James Wilson, whose life was to end that day. That man, now the Knight of the Unbroken City, proceeds to ruin Mathers's day.
    James: "I accept your offer. If this is my last day, I’d better make use of it. People need help."
    Taylor: "Then take my power, Knight of the Unbroken City, and go forth. Free them. Save them."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien³:
    • Ripley. "You've been in my life so long, I can't remember anything else."
    • The convicts qualify as well, as profoundly stated by Dillon.
      Dillon: You're all gonna die. The only question is how you check out. Do you want it on your feet? Or on your fuckin' knees... begging? I ain't much for begging! Nobody ever gave me nothing! So I say fuck that thing! Let's fight it!
  • This is essentially the plot of Angels Dance, such that it's actually part of the name. A timid-but-independent woman named Angelica Chaste is randomly attacked as a training exercise by an assassin. She hides for a while, but then decides to buy a convertible, eat rare steak, start dressing sexily, wear a blond wig, and then buys bullet-proof armor, take up knife-fighting, and trains to use guns. Lampshaded in dialog:
    Rosalini: She's beginning her Death Dance... Well, many Native American tribes, before a big battle, would perform a ritual. They'd paint their faces, put on ceremonial robes, and dance all night. Sometimes till dawn. That one night, they would live life to the fullest.
    Tony: Maybe they figured their last night on Earth ought to be their best.
    Rosalini: If it's their last night.
  • Roy, the replicant from Blade Runner, engages in a final, bleak hunt of Deckard through an old abandoned building. Ultimately, he chooses to save Deckard, uttering some of the most poignant last words in recent film history:
    Roy: I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those ... moments will be lost in time, like tears... in rain.
    Time to die.
    • Rutger Hauer, who ad-libbed the "like tears in the rain" part of the line. Though that speech isn't indicative of The Last Dance for Roy — it's the cat and mouse game preceding his death.
      Roy: You better get it up, or I'm gonna have to kill ya. Unless you're alive, you can't play, and if you don't play...
      Roy: [after Deckard clubs him with a spiked board] That's the spirit!
  • Catch That Kid, where the sick party is the main character's father, using the illness to justify breaking into a bank.
  • Crank combines this with a gimmick that if his adrenaline ever goes below a certain level he'll die, so to prolong the inevitable while searching for the people who did this he: picks a fight with an entire bar for no reason; screws his girlfriend in public and later gets oral sex from her during a car chase; and shocks himself with a defibrillator, amongst other things.
  • Crooked House: Lady Edith learns that she is dying of cancer, and decides to kill herself by driving her car off a cliff. She takes Josephine with her because she knows that Josephine has committed two murders and, if not stopped, will commit more. If she is caught, Edith knows Josephine will spend her entire life in an institution. Edith leaves behind a note confessing to the murders so that Josephine will go to her grave with her name unbesmirched.
  • The whole point of the movie D.O.A., both the (good) original and the (weak) remake. The hero finds he's dying from an incurable poison and spends his last hours tracking down the culprit.
  • Elysium: With only a few days left to live, Max isn't going down without a fight to get his way to Elysium, after being stricken with severe radiation poisoning.
  • Excalibur. "Come, Father. Let us embrace at last."
  • In Fanboys, Linus is convinced by his friends to go on a road trip to the Skywalker Ranch and steal Episode One before he dies of cancer. They get caught during the heist, but George Lucas relents and allows Linus to watch the film alone. Their mission accomplished, Linus is at peace, quietly declaring that he's "good right here."
  • Grand Hotel: Mr. Kringelein, who is terminally ill, has cashed out his life savings and is living it up at the Grand Hotel.
  • The Grey begins with Liam Neeson's character reciting a short poem about this trope. Bookended when he stumbles into the wolf's den at the end and faces the alpha wolf one-on-one.
  • In Guardians of the Galaxy, Rocket Raccoon grudgingly agrees to help fight Ronan the Accuser, an enormously powerful villain who has just gotten his hands on an Infinity stone bent on going on a genocidal crusade:
    Rocket: Oh, what the hell, I don't got that long of a lifespan anyway.
  • In the Japanese film Fireworks Takeshi Kitano plays (quite against type) an ordinary, by-the-book career policeman... who snaps after his partner and best friend are killed and crippled, respectively, right in front of him by a panicky thief. He spends the rest of the movie stone-facedly mowing through Yakuza (ahh, that's more like it), crushing their operations and robbing them blind, splitting the money between his now retired friend, his partner's widow, and making his terminally ill wife as comfortable as possible. When the police finally come to arrest him, he asks for and receives a few minutes to say goodbye to his wife. Two shots are heard. Roll credits.
  • The Bear Jew and Omar in Inglourious Basterds: If they're going to blow up killing Hitler, then they're going to blast the living hell out of that son of bitch's body.
  • Joe Versus the Volcano. The reason Joe agrees to jump into a live volcano — he'll die as a man rather than from dying from a brain disease.
  • Kate is poisoned and will be dead in 24 hours. She chooses to seek revenge by any means necessary.
  • The German road movie/tragicomedy Knockin' on Heaven's Door uses this as its premise. The two protagonists are fatally ill (bone cancer and a brain tumor, respectively), and decide to take a trip to see the ocean, starting with stealing a car, which belonged to a crime boss and contained a gun and a lot of money. Complications ensue.
  • The Last Samurai depicts the last flowering of the Samurai. The last of their kind, choose to die the way they lived: as warriors.
  • In Little Miss Sunshine, the grandfather is very old and is probably dying anyways. Wanting to have some fun before his time, he snorts heroin. That ends up being what kills him.
  • In Little Hare (available here) a meek loser overhears his doctor explaining to a janitor her pet's diagnosis and believes he has one month to live. He re-evaluates his life, decides to somehow leave his mark on the world, grows a backbone and becomes an activist. He encourages his neighbours to beautify their district, he coerces his supervisor to behave, he forces civil servants to do their job... After learning he's not going to die, he retains his newfound courage and even chides the narrator for being unceremonious.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: When marching against Isengard, Treebeard calls the attack "the last march of the ents", believing he and his brothers are going pull a Taking You with Me against a 10,000 strong army of orc Super Soldiers. He wasn't aware that the army had already departed for Helm's Deep and only a tiny force of ordinary orcs remained to defend the place. If you're familiar with the story, you already know the real result of this "battle".
    • Meanwhile, said orc super soldiers have breached the walls of Helm's Deep and the Battle of the Hornburg seems all but lost. Theoden decides to make a last stand, blowing a battle-horn of his ancestors and charging at the horde on horseback to die a death worthy of glory and Rohan. They are saved by the arrival of Gandalf and Eomer with the Rohirrim.
  • The Never Ending Story: Gmork gives an accidental "The Reason You Suck" Speech talking about how the chosen hero Atreyu was doomed to fail to save Fantasia, and now all they can do is wait for the Nothing to come and claim them. He didn't know just to whom who he was talking until...
    Atreyu: If we're about to die anyway, I'd rather die fighting! Come for me, Gmork! I am Atreyu!"
  • Pacific Rim:
    • The Jaeger program has been officially scrapped by all the world's leaders (morons), anyone still in the program is there for only as long as the funding lasts — eight months — and willing to fight till the last Jaeger stops functioning.
    • Pentecost is dying of radiation-induced cancer, so him piloting Striker Eureka is his last hurrah. Also because if he's exposed to more radiation, he will die.
  • The Replacements (2000): Expertly invoked and exploited in a Rousing Speech by Coach McGinty in the last game the Washington replacement roster of has-beens and could-have-beens play before the players' strike ends - the opposing Dallas team is made up of regular pros who had crossed the picket line early.
    McGinty: Listen up! This time tomorrow, the strike will be officially over. Now Dallas has made a big mistake out there tonight - they haven't been afraid of you. And they should be, because you have a powerful weapon working for you: there is no tomorrow for you. And that makes you all very. Dangerous. People!
  • In the Saw franchise, Jigsaw was dying of a brain tumor and, after failing an attempt at suicide, begins his "games", testing people to see the limits of their desire to live. Whether or not he considers his dying state a justification or not is up in the air, but in the second movie, people decide to jump off the slippery slope due to the whole nerve gas problem.
  • Scarface (1983): Tony's last stand.
  • Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is a black comedy which takes place in the last weeks before Earth gets hit with a life-destroying asteroid, so pretty much everyone is doing a Last Dance of their own devising. Apocalypse Anarchy? Oh, you bet.
  • Inspector Chan (played by Simon Yam) of the Hong Kong action movie Sha Po Lang (known in the US as "Killzone") has an inoperable brain tumor that could kill him "at any time." Chan, with his time running out, decides to use the remainder of his life to bring down Triad crimelord Wong Po and take care of the little girl that Wong orphaned.
  • Roger Simmons from Snatched (2017) used to be a general manager at Trader Joe's when his doctor told him that he would die of cancer in a month. He moved to South America to live out his life in the Amazon Rainforest, despite knowing very little about jungle survival. That was three weeks ago, so he now has about a week left. Emily and Linda are not happy to learn this, as they assumed he was an experienced guide.
  • Performed both literally and figuratively in Stan & Ollie, which chronicles the 1953 tour in Europe of Laurel and Hardy. The movie ends with the duo performing their dance routine from Way Out West in front of an enthusiastic public, knowing all too well that this is their last performance.
  • Star Trek: Nemesis directly references the above scene.
    Shinzon: I'm glad we're together now — our destiny is complete.
  • Near the end of V for Vendetta, with the titular character's final showdown with Norsefire right around the corner, he is pretty much resigned to the fact that he will probably die and takes the opportunity to rather literally invoke this trope, with V echoing a quote by the anarchist Emma Goldman (when admonished that it was unbecoming for her to dance):
    V: Would you dance with me?
    Evey: Now? On the eve of your revolution?
    V: A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having.
    (They dance.)
    • Almost certainly intentionally, given that - at least in the comic, where the line also occurs - V is quite clearly an anarchist and it could well be argued that at least part of his campaign is "propaganda of the deed" of the kind Goldman briefly espoused.
  • The main characters in The Wild Bunch are facing the end of their lifestyle. The old Wild West is ending and most of their gang were killed at the beginning of the movie. They are reduced to doing mercenary work for a corrupt and decadent Mexican general and a group of vicious bounty hunters is after them. Instead of running and hiding they decide to go back and rescue their friend who the general is about to execute for arming the local peasant. They know that by doing that, they will be facing the entire Mexican garrison and as such decide to go out fighting...

  • A woman learns she has a terrible illness and breaks the news to her friends over lunch, with her daughter at her side. She emotionally tells them how she is dying from AIDS. On the way home, her daughter says "Mom, it's your show — but you have incurable cancer. Why did you say AIDS?" The mother replied, "I don't want any of those bitches thinking they have a shot at your Dad."

  • Drenai: In David Gemmell's Legend, Druss is a legendary warrior who has somehow managed to survive to old age. His body is slowly giving out on him and he often has trouble geting up in the morning due to arthritis. When news arrives that a Nadir army is threatening the country, Druss has a vision of Death who promises him many more years of life if he just stays home. Instead, Druss picks up his battleaxe and goes out to fight what will be his final battle. His presence boosts morale and his mentorship helps the defending army's inexperienced officers put up a brilliant defense. In the end Druss is wounded with a poisoned blade which finally takes him out of action. However when the final gate is breached, he climbs from his sickbed, takes his axe and charges into the enemy, taking over twenty with him before he finally falls.
  • Agatha Christie:
    • An early example of this was in the novel Curtain: Poirot's Last Case, which was released in 1975 but written around the 1940s. In it, Hercule Poirot, dying of natural causes and dealing with a murderer he could not bring to justice through proof, kills the man himself and then accelerates his own death by withholding his heart medication.
    • Also the reason behind And Then There Were None. A terminally ill Hanging Judge decides to have a go at a number of murderers who had avoided justice.
    • In an early story, "Wasp's Nest", John Harrison, a friend of Poirot's, discovered that, due to a terminal disease, he only had a few weeks to live. When he also learned this his fiance Molly was having an affair with Claude Langdon. Harrison decided to commit suicide by drinking tea laced with cyanide, framing Claude for his murder in the process. Poirot was able to replace the cyanide with washing soda and convince Harrison not to go through with it.
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four:
    Under the spreading chestnut tree
    I sold you and you sold me
  • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, this quote:
    It was, he thought, the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high. Some people, perhaps, would say that there was little to choose between the two ways, but Dumbledore knew — and so do I, thought Harry, with a rush of fierce pride, and so did my parents — that there was all the difference in the world.
  • The Warhammer fantasy novel Fell Cargo has this with the captain of the Lightning Tree. He's originally heading for peaceful retirement, but joins in the fray one more time to help defeat the Butcher.
  • In the Codex Alera series, the wolflike Canim, a Proud Warrior Race, have a strict set of honor and code of conduct. However, each tribe has a group of Hunters who operate outside of the code, to preserve the spirit of the code against those who hide behind the letter of the code. Normally, when a Canim dies, his family sings a Blood Song in memory of him. The Hunters have their Blood Song sung as soon as they become Hunters. One clearly states they consider themselves dead as Canim when they become Hunters.
  • Discworld:
    • In The Last Hero, Cohen and his Silver Horde decide to go on one last adventure, returning fire to the Gods, with interest, as revenge for letting them grow old.
    • Wizards and witches have it as a perk that they know beforehand when they're going to die (as well as having Death show up for them personally). It's mentioned that many a wizard has died drinking the last of his good wine while incidentally owing large sums of money to loan sharks. (Witches tend to be a bit more conscientious and set their affairs in order so their successor can get on with it.) Also, in Reaper Man, the rest of the wizards throw a going away party for a wizard slated to die, which goes awry when the guest of honor doesn't show up.
    • One of Reaper Man's main stories is about Death himself getting retired and, being who he is, he knows exactly how much time he has left. He chooses to spend it working as a farm hand. Also a literal example at the end, when he takes Miss Flitworth to the dance, although it turns out that she had been dead before they even left.
  • Chalion:
    • Cazaril of The Curse of Chalion knows he's dying (of a haunted abdominal tumor, no less) by about halfway through the book, but continues to take on missions for his liege lady regardless up to and including negotiating a royal marriage and smuggling the groom past a hostile border. It's pointed out that a dying man makes the perfect representative: he can't be bribed, as he won't live long enough to enjoy anything he could be given, and since he knows he'll be meeting the gods soon he'll do his best to serve with honor.
      Cazaril: She will give me an estate in Chalion that will suit my needs perfectly. One pace wide and two paces long, to be mine in perpetuity.
    • This is played with (and arguably trumped) in Paladin of Souls when Arhys dy Lutez rides against an army led by sorcerers a couple of months after he died (although for most of that time he didn't know he was dead, as his young bride had reanimated him by stealing life energy from his brother).
      Illvin: Arhys, no, this is too fey!
      Arhys: Fey? Fey is a man who looks forward to death. I look back on mine. [...] If this dy Lutez manages to die well tonight, let it complete the set so long left undone, and be you healed of the long wound another dy Lutez dealt you.
  • In The Dark Tower, Jake and Father Callahan prepare for this before charging into a building filled to the brim with the Crimson King's minions. Callahan gives Jake his last rites, then they walk in like a couple of badasses. The song/poem thing stuck at the end of the chapter says it all:
    There's a time to live and one to die.
    With your back against the final wall
    Ya gotta let the bullets fly.

    Let the bullets fly!
    Don't'ee mourn for me, my lads
    When it come my day to die.
  • In the classic sci-fi novel Seetee Shock, the protagonist receives a lethal dose of radiation in the first chapter. The rest of the book takes place during the "walking ghost" phase of radiation poisoning, as he tries to track down the saboteur who attacked their antimatter mine.
  • The title story of "Cobra Trap", Peter O'Donnell's final collection of Modesty Blaise stories, has Modesty herself, diagnosed with a lethal and incurable brain tumour, taking on what she knows isn't a Do Or Die mission, but a Do AND Die mission.
  • Bolo: 23-B-0075-NKE's death charge in Miles to Go against a mercenary company wiping out the population of Santa Cruz's capital city Ciudad Bolivar, after being infected by a fatal computer virus (triggered by refusing an illegal order to let the civilians die). She goes out quoting poetry, and kills every last mercenary (or at least enough to guarantee her allies' victory).
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Rand Al'Thor only truly becomes the Dragon Reborn when he fully accepts that he's got to lead the world to the Last Battle, where it's prophesied that his blood will be on the rocks. In a deconstruction, it also leads to his depression, descent into madness, and Heroic BSoD over time.
    • Another example is the Seanchan Bloodknives, elite suicide assassins used only against the most dangerous foes. Each Bloodknife is issued a magic ring, which when activated starts burning up the Bloodknife's Life Force. Once triggered, a Bloodknife will die in about a month (assuming no one kills him first) but for that month gets Super-Speed, invisibility, and other inhuman powers. Their sole purpose is to kill off as many enemy leaders and mages as they can before they are killed or run out of life.
  • In the Sword of Truth, there's a group of warriors whose sole job is to place their prophesied savior into a last dance, whereupon his need and his magic will give him access to magical power through a certain magical sword. The name of the skill is called The Dance with Death and is one of the three potential meanings of Richard's title in prophecy.
  • In the novel Jericho Falls the Vietnam veteran helicopter pilot realizes he is going to die and recalls a Vietnamese captive who almost killed him because the captive had no fear of death. So now he takes his own knowledge of his impending death and uses it against his enemies.
  • The hero of the short story Eight O'Clock in the Morning by Ray Nelson (loosely adapted into the movie They Live!) accidentally discovers that Earth is ruled by a huge conspiracy of man-eating aliens. When aliens find out, they order him to die at eight o'clock the next morning. Turns out, that leaves him enough time to save Earth.
  • Flavius Vegetius especially warns from cutting the escape route from a cornered enemy, implying that if the enemy knows it has no hope and will die anyway, it will fight with especially furious zeal.
  • Sun Tzu advises commanders who are in a dire situation to inform their men that they are all going to die. With no hope, he states that soldiers will go far beyond their ability. For this reason, it can be advantageous to cut one's own forces off from any escape. And - with the foresight you might expect, he sternly warns against cutting an enemy off from all possibility of escape.
  • Machiavelli similarly points out the advantages of hopeless (or nearly so) situations for on the battlefield in Discourses on Livy.
  • In the concluding novel of the Jackelian Series, perennially-reluctant spy/explorer/hero Jared Black is holed up at home, drinking his way through his wine cellar, having finally come down with a fatal lung disease common to life-long submariners like him. Played with in that he's drafted into yet another world-saving adventure, bitching all the way that he just wants to go home and die alone, despite how he's clearly savoring the thrill of the "great game" of intrigue, one last time.
  • Most of 10 Things to Do Before I Die deals with this, since Ted handles his impending death by simply not dealing with it at all and trying to complete a list of things to do he made with his best friend.
  • A common ending to the lives of great warriors in The Wandering Inn. High-level warriors, even when impaled, dismembered, burned, and feathered with arrows, will fight on beyond the point of death, their bodies held together with sheer will and power. Emperor Laken Godart uses [Undying Loyalty] to achieve the same phenomenon, enabling his fallen soldiers to fight on, only finally dying when the battle is over or their bodies are destroyed as they fight.
  • In Marcelo in the Real World, Aurora tells Marcelo how she decided what branch of nursing she wanted to go into. When she was a teenager, she had a summer job as a nurse's aide. She met an old man with pancreatic cancer who was enjoying his last few weeks of relatively good health, and wanted to go on a roller coaster, which he'd always been too afraid to do. So she drove him and two kids with cancer to an amusement park, where everyone rode the biggest, scariest roller coaster. During his funeral, Aurora made the decision to work with kids with cancer.
  • Halfway through the MedStar Duology, Phow Ji's life is saved by someone he hates, and in a manner that demolishes his Flat-Earth Atheist view of the Jedi and his superiority over them. He then goes on a Suicide Mission into Separatist territory, killing many elite opponents with an impressive array of moves and then revealing that he is holding a live grenade after his enemies finally mortally wound him and approach him. He also has a camera droid nearby to record the whole thing and cement his legendary status.
  • Prudence Penderhaus: After Prudence is diagnosed with cancer in the first book, she knocks on the door of the "spook house" because, since she might be dying, she wants to do something really memorable, like find out if the rumors that Mr. Shooster has a coffin in his living room are true. Instead, she finds that Mr. Shooster has an autistic son who's been raised as a Madman in the Attic.
  • In Rainwater, Mr. Rainwater joins the group of locals taking a stand against Conrad Ellis and his gang of thugs. He doesn't mind the danger because he has terminal cancer and will be dead in a few months anyway. Late in the book he does something more dramatic: Taking the Heat for the vigilante killing of Conrad, which was actually committed by ten-year-old Solly. He dies of cancer before he can be executed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24:
    • After George Mason inhales lethal amounts of powdered plutonium in the second season, he returns to work despite the danger of a nuclear weapon in Los Angeles, and eventually pilots a plane on a kamikaze course to keep the bomb from going off in populated areas.
    • In season 7, after Jack is infected with a biological weapon he resolves to focus his last hours finding a way to expose the corrupt government officials that were behind rogue company Starkwood getting access to the weapon, which also led to terrorist attacks on Washington DC from warlords hailing from the Fictional Country of Sangala. Of course, this is Jack we're talking about, so after resolving everything and making peace with himself he manages to get saved at the very last second so he can get saved, go through even more suffering in the following season and make the whole "making peace with his inner demons" development relatively pointless.
  • In The Almighty Johnsons episode "The End Of The World As We Know It", Michele is told that her revival from the dead won't last after the departure of the gods, so she goes out to eat, drink and be merry (and empty her bank account and ruin her credit) before she dies. Odin heals her, so she has to deal with the consequences afterward.
  • Angel:
    • "Heartthrob" features a normal vampire mook deliberately going into this after Angel kills his girlfriend (another vampire, obviously). He has a demon, who is basically a 'collector' of demonic organs, remove his heart. The procedure will kill him after a couple of hours, but in the meantime, he's invulnerable to all the traditional vampire weaknesses - from sunlight to staking - giving an otherwise-unremarkable mook a real shot at taking down Angel...
    • "Not Fade Away" is all about this trope. Angel and his crew plot to take out the Circle of the Black Thorn, the Senior Partners' primary agents of spreading evil on Earth. None of them expect to survive their inevitable retribution, and they're just fine with that; while the Partners might be eternal and forever, Angel intends their attack to show them that they'll never control everything no matter how powerful they are. A significant portion of the episode is dedicated to the Fang Gang taking care of business; Angel visits his son one last time, Gunn goes to help out at Anne's homeless shelter, Wesley mourns Fred, and Spike attends a poetry slam before they dismantle the Black Thorn member by member. The show ends with Angel, Spike, Gunn, and Illyria facing a massive demon army sent by Wolfram & Hart for their insolence.
  • Subverted in Babylon 5: Humans bring out every combat-capable ship they've got to the Battle of the Line, but at the hour of their triumph, the genocidal Minbari simply stop and surrender. Figuring out why is one of the major Story Arcs of the first season. The Earth president's speech just prior to the battle acknowledges that virtually everyone involved will die but that doing so will give humanity some tiny chance to continue. Her stoicism cracks during the speech, and her tearful, halting delivery combines with the wordless images of the pilots suiting up to create an epic Tear Jerker.
    • Londo's observation on the Battle of the Line pushes it into this trope, even with the subversion.
      Londo Mollari: "No one who saw them fighting against the inevitable could help but be moved to tears by their courage. Their stubborn nobility. When they ran out of ships, they used guns, when they ran out guns they used knives and sticks and bare hands. They were magnificent. I only hope that when it is my time, I may die with half as much dignity as I saw in their eyes in the end. They did this for two years they never ran out of courage but in the end, they ran out of time..."
  • Bones has an episode in the first season with a teenage boy who's into LARPing who discovers that his childhood leukemia is returning. He chooses not to seek treatment, instead donning his superhero outfit and picking a fight with a man he knows to be a domestic abuser. The boy dies in the fight, but the ensuing investigation exposes the abuse and rescues the wife.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • The TV series is entirely based on this trope: a struggling high-school chemistry teacher with a teenage son who has cerebral palsy and a pregnant wife. When he is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, he breaks down and turns to a life of crime, and starts producing and selling methamphetamine. He rather quickly gets in too deep to get back out gracefully, even when he later finds out that his cancer has gone into remission.
    • This eventually leads to his actions in "Felina". One of the most wanted men in America and knowing he's finally going to die soon from the cancer, he returns to Albuquerque to ensure money for his family, see Skyler one last time, and wipe out the Nazis to avenge Hank, as well as Lydia to keep his family safe. And at the end, even resolves to save Jesse. It works beautifully and Walter dies on his own terms in the meth lab, where he feels most at home.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In "Prophecy Girl", Buffy's death at the hands of the Master is foretold in prophecy; this results in her deciding that she won't fight, but after seeing more people die she changes her mind. Of course, it was much more complicated but a complete rundown of the episode would go way off-topic.
    • In "Lie to Me", Buffy's childhood friend Ford, who was setting up a group of vampire mystics as an all-you-can-suck buffet for Spike's gang. Turns out he had a brain tumor. Buffy was not impressed.
    • Spike has a hefty dose of this in his Heroic Sacrifice in "Chosen".
  • In Burn Notice, a client is retiring from the State Department after learning he has terminal pancreatic cancer. Looking back on his life, he decides that he can't stand his legacy as a man who enabled a diplomat to smuggle blood diamonds. He contacts the protagonists and arranges to take down the diplomat, ultimately sacrificing his own life so the diplomat will be arrested for murder.
  • The CSI episode "Living Legend" had a legendary mob boss thought dead for decades exacting revenge on the people that had tried to murder him. He didn't have long to live thanks to the bullet in his chest still moving and thus planned on going out in a blaze of glory. However, Catherine informs him that the bullet was removed while he was unconscious meaning he now has around 20 years left to live, all of which will be spent in a prison filled with criminals who don't remember him.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The End of Time", after receiving a fatal dose of radiation, the Doctor spends his last hours visiting the people he'd cared about during his tenth life and... well, not so much saying goodbye as helping them out from a distance and then staring sadly at them before wandering off. Except for Rose, whom he meets before she met him to have one last conversation with her. The Sarah Jane Adventures says he visited every companion from all his incarnations.
    • Eleven did it in "Let's Kill Hitler", after being poisoned by River Song and told he was cut off from regenerations and would be dead in just over thirty minutes. The Doctor's response? He takes the time to put on a nice tux, fabricate a Sonic Cane, and move the TARDIS to confront the Time Agents out to punish River for his murder.
    • Series 9 focuses on this a fair bit:
      • As it begins, Twelve is getting ready for this. Something has happened between him and one of his oldest enemies recently, and now the latter wants to see him. Ohila of the Sisterhood of Karn tries to discourage him from an encounter that will surely prove fatal in "Prologue", but he tells her We All Die Someday and leaves her with his last will and testament to deliver; he leaves to take some time out for himself. In the next short, "The Doctor's Meditation", he's in a medieval castle trying to relax but three weeks pass with little progress. As the short ends, he is to be the guest of honor at a joyous revel, and then he will leave for the meeting. All along he is insistent that no one be by his side for this meeting, and he makes no goodbyes to old friends...
      • The proper start, "The Magician's Apprentice" reveals that the example above is because someone else is having their own Last Dance — after centuries of keeping himself alive artificially, Davros is finally dying. So, he engineers to have one final confrontation with the Doctor before he goes. The Doctor is aware that this is a trap, but is so guilt-ridden for leaving Davros to die as a child that he doesn't outright try to avoid it, he just has the Last Dance listed above before facing the music.
      • The series ends with Clara having to face being Killed Off for Real. However, thanks to Time Lord technology, the "dance" gets to last a bit longer: she has to die when, where, and how history says, lest the dangers of meddling with events you shouldn't meddle with, as seen in "Father's Day" or "The Wedding of River Song", potentially ensue. However, being "frozen between two heartbeats" as she is (the Time Lords plucked her out of place less than a second before her death and altered her time stream to keep her just as she was at that moment, playing into the Doctor's complicated but awesome Batman Gambit to save her; she's able to operate freely instead of being completely freeze-framed because... Time Lords can just do stuff like that), Clara can live a full life, or maybe even much longer than a human life, though she must eventually return to face her end.
  • A Season 2 episode of Flashpoint is actually named for this trope. In the episode, a terminally ill young woman and her fiancé decide to spend one night doing whatever she wants before taking their own lives. They begin by dining and dashing at an expensive restaurant before escalating to more serious crimes, culminating in their holding a wedding reception hostage... so that they can have a literal last dance together.
  • The penultimate episode of Friday Night Lights ends with a decision to fold the East Dillon Lions into the Dillon Panthers, effectively ending the Dillon East football program just before the State Championships. They know that whatever happens there is the Lions' last act. They win.
  • In Grimm, the episode "The Good Soldier" features an aging retired Colonel, whose greatest failure is being unable to get justice for one of his soldiers after she was gang-raped. Learning that he's dying of cancer, the Colonel decides to spend his last days getting revenge on the rapists; dying is no big deal as his kind don't fear death. Eventually he confronts the ringleader with the last remaining report and the two fight to the death; the Colonel allows himself to be killed at the end of the fight so he can put his killer away for murder.
  • In Heroes, Hiro decides to go back on his self-imposed "never change the past" rule when he discovers he's dying. Of course, he's better now.
  • House of the Dragon has a "dying king doing one last grand act of ruling" example: a dying King Viserys gathers all the remaining waned strength in his decaying body to exert and command his royal authority one last time to try to settle the crisis of the Velaryon succession and help his daughter Rhaenyra, dragging himself one last time to the Iron Throne without assistance much to the surprise and awe of the court (he'd been bedridden for a while before this happened). Unfortunately, his actions are rendered pointless mere hours later when Rhaenyra's son, who he had stood up for, is eaten by his uncle's dragon, sparking a war that will permanently weaken their house.
  • In Kamen Rider Double, in the climactic battle with the Utopia Dopant, Philip knows this is his final battle and afterwards, he'll disappear. It is because of this that he puts all his will power and strength into the fight. The Utopia Dopant is an Emotion Eater who feeds off of will power as his most powerful ability, thus Philip's last thoughts overloads him and allows Double to defeat him.
  • Slight variation in Lost: Desmond's visions foretell Charlie's death. Charlie spends the latter half of season 3 trying to avoid various accidents until a vision reveals a chance to save Claire and Aaron, at which point Charlie accepts his fate and dies a heroic death.
    • Ben Linus. Spine tumor. Leave the island to find a doctor? No; Ask the doctor nicely? No; Kidnap one? Yes! Not that he's a very moral person in the first place, so it might not count.
  • NCIS:
    • Jenny Shepard. She was slowly dying of a degenerative disease, and an old skeleton out her and Gibbs' closet had come back out, so she went down fighting in an abandoned diner in the southwest, taking four bad guys down with her.
    • A terminally ill Mike Franks confronts the Port-to-Port Killer, announcing "I figure I got one fight left in me." NCIS loves this trope.
  • On NCIS: Los Angeles a CIA agent has to abandon an undercover mission in Africa when he suspects that his cover is compromised. Sadly, while stopping a terrorist plot he receives radiation poisoning. With only a few months to live he decides to resume his undercover mission In Africa since it no longer matters if he is killed and with the time he has left he might be able to find the terrorist leaders responsible for the attack.
  • Run For Your Life: 1960s TV series about a man whose doctor has given him from nine to eighteen months to live. It lasted for three seasons.
  • The premise of the first season of Shoresy is that the Sudbury Bulldogs hockey team cannot lose even one of their remaining four league games or the team will be shut down ("We lose, we fold"). In the final game, against the league's best team, the Bulldogs are losing badly. They are trying their best but the opposition is just too good. Going into the final period, the players know that the team is done for so they decide to switchs up and give the opposition and the fans twenty minutes of hockey that they will never forget. The Bulldogs still lose the game but go out with a bang. A subversion then occurs because the team owner decides that it would be stupid to fold a team that has just shown itself to be the second-best in the league
  • In Smallville's tenth season premiere, Lx-3, an aged, degenerating clone of Lex Luthor knows he only has a few days at most to live after he breaks out of Cadmus Labs. His reaction is to murder pretty much everyone he sets eyes on, culminating in a Sadistic Choice Revenge plot against Clark that leaves everyone hurt. One could argue that Alexander, the much younger clone who appeared in the same episode, is going through a similar process, albeit in slow motion. He's fully aware of his own impending death; having failed in his own attempt at vengeance on Clark, no one is quite sure where he's headed.
  • On Sons of Anarchy police chief Unser finds out that he has terminal cancer in the pilot episode and wants to retire and live out his remaining days in peace. However, he is forced into this by Clay who needs Unser to keep covering for the Sons' illegal activities. By season 4 Unser no longer fears Clay and decides to dedicate his remaining time to do everything he can to protect Gemma and Tara from Clay.
  • Oh Il-Nam from Squid Game joined the game so he could feel alive one last time as he was dying of a brain tumor. He competes with a smile on his face while the other players are in a fearful panic for their lives, treating the games as they are without the death aspect: Children's games. Part of the reason why he's so jovial may be because the games are rigged so even if he's eliminated, he won't be killed, although he is genuinely dying of a brain tumor.
  • Star Trek:
    • The Jem'Hadar of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine treat every battle as the Last Dance:
      "We are already dead. We willingly go into battle to reclaim our lives."
      • Compare to the Klingons of the same setting:
        "Today is a good day to die!"
      • Directly invoked by the Klingon characters Kor, Koloth, and Kang; who join with Jadzia in the 2nd season to fulfill a blood oath before they die. Kor unexpectedly survives; but does the same thing again in the 7th season.
    • Star Trek: Discovery reveals the Terrans also do this. (i.e Humans in the Mirror Universe) If a Terran finds out their days are numbered, they'll look for a good fight to die in, preferably at the hands of a loved one.
    • Star Trek: Voyager: In the episode "Jetrel" Doctor Ma'Bor Jetrel has come down with metremia from exposure to the very weapon of mass destruction he invented, the Metreon Cascade. Contacting Voyager, he convinces the crew to help him try to undo some of the damage he did before he dies from metremia.
  • Supernatural has this for the whole of season 3: Having made a deal with a demon to save Sam at the end of the previous season, Dean has one year to live. The trope is deconstructed as while at first Dean tries to live it up, as they get closer to the deadline he becomes genuinely afraid and hopes that Sam can find a way to save him before going on a suicide mission to kill Lilith with his final hours. Gets lampshaded as they try to put to rest one of the most haunted houses in America (where the haunting only happens on leap years) with Dean getting irritated, mocking Sam for saying that it's "[their] version of the Grand Canyon".
  • On Torchwood, Tosh and Captain Jack get thrown back to World War II, where they encounter the real Captain Jack Harkness. Both Captain Jacks fall for each other, but Torchwood Jack is aware that his namesake is killed the next day and while he doesn't directly tell him this, the real Jack seems to figure it out. This trope kicks in quite literally, and the two men share a dance and a kiss before Jack heads back to the 21st century. Presumably the real Jack would not have had the courage to dance with and kiss another man in front of quite a few other people in homophobic 1941 had he not known that he'd be dead the next day.

  • "Last Dance", by Donna Summer. It's about the waning music in a disco, and the end to the good times for the night. The song underwent Defictionalization as discos used it as the last song of the night.
  • "No Fear The Setting Sun" by Amon Amarth, about an epic final battle.
  • Covenant has a song titled "Last Dance", which appropriately sounds like material for an End of the World party.
  • Edge of Dawn's "Beauty Lies Within" is about a couple facing The End of the World as We Know It.
  • The Last Waltz, The Band's last concert, came with the song "The Last Waltz". It's about how the last waltz is finished, but that doesn't mean the dance is over. Probably better if you forget what happened next.
  • One Last Drink, by Enter The Haggis, about an old man deciding to throw one last big party for himself and all his friends before he dies.
  • The Megas: "Harder Than Steel" depicts Hard Man as an aging, retired boxer choosing to put the gloves on one last time to face Mega Man. Of course, Mega Man destroys him, but Hard Man goes out in a blaze of glory, and has the crowd chanting his titular motto even as he falls.
  • Alestorm's Sunset on the Golden Age is all about this.
  • "Last Dance" by The Raveonettes is about someone in love with a drug addict, who fears every time they overdose that it's going to be the last time, so urging them to hold on at least until the singer gets to them in intensive care.
  • "The Show Must Go On" by Queen is one from Freddie Mercury. He famously nailed this song in one take, while he was dying of AIDS and physically weakened, but his smile "still stayed on".
  • Warren Zevon's final album, made while he was dying of mesothelioma, was called "My Ride's Here." The last lines of the last verse of the last song on the album (the title track) are "...I'm bound for glory, I'm on my way, my ride's here..." and most of the rest of the songs deal with mortality in one way or another.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 has this, said by a leader of the Imperial Guard, shortly before the entire unit is completely annihilated:
    Our end is come. But what an end! We have been given the most precious gift: a chance to roar our defiance into the foes that overwhelms us with their numbers. Let the Emperor himself hear our final battle cry! Forward warriors of the Guard, and die like the heroes that you are!
    • 40K in general is a walking, talking love affair with this trope. Imperial Guard are indoctrinated from recruitment/conscription that you will die in service to the Emperor, so make it worth something; the Space Marines are effectively immortal unless killed by violence, but when hopeless you end up with stories like 10 of them holding onto the last bastion of an entire overrun world for weeks on end; the Eldar basically have Last Dance as their racial trait, alongside being a Magnificent Bastard to the last man, given the fact that as a species they're wearing thin; when the Tau get cornered, they tend to calmly but ruthlessly lay down fire until either they or their attackers are completely wiped out; the servants of Chaos tend to flop between this and Death Seekers, since a "good" death would probably just grant them FAVOR with their god of choice. Really the only ones that don't fall into this are the Orks (who live to fight and die anyway), the Necrons (semi-mindless cyber-zombies) and the Tyranids (hive mind insects, who literally use some of their lesser spawns as living ammunition.)
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
  • Aces and Eights: Shattered Frontiers: as a game engine for very gritty Westerns, uses certain mechanics to produce some Dying Moment of Awesome heroics. One case involves the Consumption flaw, which means the character starts out with fatal tuberculosis and has only a few more weeks to live. Another more spontaneous case can occur when a character takes a very nasty chest wound and suffers Internal Hemorrhaging. Death will occur within minutes, but in a combat system split into tenths of seconds that's still plenty of time for Taking You with Me.
  • Played with in GURPS: The Terminal Illness disadvantage can give up to one hundred character points, making such a character extremely badass for the short amount of time they have left.
  • In Mage: The Ascension, members of the Taftani spend most of their careers defying the Masquerade by performing vulgar magic in public heedless of Paradox, thereby ensuring that the locals of their home territory never forget that magic still exists. Taftani elders, however, take this practice to its logical conclusion: once they've finished training their last apprentices, they set their affairs in order and set off to perform one last great magical performance - visible enough to break the Masquerade and impressive enough for the resulting Paradox to kill them.
  • Magic: The Gathering has this on full display with the aetherborn of Kaladesh and their "penultimate parties". Aetherborn are sentient by-products of aether refinement who live anywhere between four weeks to four years before their unstable bodies disperse back into the aethersphere. Each has an intrinsic knowledge of how long they have left and so they pack as much into their short lives as possible. The penultimate party is the culmination of this, as it is the last thing they do before dying.
  • Geist: The Sin-Eaters: Sin-eaters can learn to Invoke this with a ritual that grants a dying person exactly one hour of life, free of any ailment or injury, after which time they die on the spot.
  • In BattleTech, during the Word of Blake Jihad, the Blakists use a Neutron Bomb against forces of Clan Ghost Bear. The Ghost Bear warriors who survived the initial detonation still end up suffering lethal levels of radiation exposure, so they all opt to go back through the irradiated area to make an attack from the one direction that the Blakists won't expect to disrupt their forces ahead of the main Ghost Bear counteroffensive.

  • Happens quite a bit in Hamilton.
    • Hamilton himself wants to go out in a blaze of glory, as noted with some worry by Washington and his wife Eliza. He's given an opportunity in Yorktown, where he says that he "imagines death so much it feels more like a memory" and wonders if this is how he'll go. In a moment of Character Development, remembers his pregnant wife and decides instead to do his part to win the battle.
    • Before his duel with Burr, Hamilton takes time to write a letter to his wife and share a last, touching moment with her, seemingly knowledgeable of the outcome of the duel.
    • Burr subverts the trope just before his duel by saying that "this man [Hamilton] will not make an orphan of my daughter".
    • Hamilton invokes this trope hard as the bullet travels towards him. He first echoes the above words from Yorktown, makes peace with Burr, and sees who's waiting for him "on the other side": his mother, who died when Hamilton was a teenager, his friend John Laurens, who was killed in a needless battle after the ending of the Revolutionary War, Washington, who had died some years earlier, and Philip, his son who was killed in a duel defending Hamilton's honor. Hamilton then thinks of Eliza and tells her that he'll see her on the other side. His last words echo the Friendship Song The Story of Tonight that he had sung at the beginning of the show. Then the bullet strikes him, and he dies.
  • The Final Battle in Les Misérables. It shortly follows the death of Team Pet Gavroche, and an unseen army officer tells to surrender and avoid any further bloodshed. Instead, Enjolras and the revolutionaries give a rousing speech to fight to the last man, take down as many as they can, and avenge the deaths of Gavroche and Eponine, knowing that the people of Paris will rise to take their place until they have succeeded. (Ultimately, it doesn't work, the people of Paris abandon them, and as Grantaire pointed out earlier, their deaths are largely pointless.)

    Video Games 
  • Elden Ring: The Cleanrot Knights all know that their master Malenia is a walking biohazard and by signing up they're condemning themselves to a slow but certain death from Scarlet Rot. Since they know this and choose to serve Malenia anyway anyway, they fight the fiercest battles of all because they know they won't survive long regardless.
  • Honkai Impact 3rd: Murata Himeko had an expected remaining lifespan of 1 year due to the artificial stigmata augmentation procedure that turned her into a Valkyrie in the first place. When she finds her time running out (signaled by her coughing blood) right in the middle of a critical mission gone FUBAR, she decides to make every remaining second count by donning the Vermillion Knight:Eclipse suit, knowing well it's either the suit or her illness that'll kill her at this point. As shown in "The Final Lesson", she then receives a vaccine that could save her life by inhibiting the Honkai Corruption in her body; however, because Kiana has become a victim of Grand Theft Me by the Herrscher of the Void, Celine/Sirin, with her own body ravaged to the point of imminent failure and with the only vial of the vaccine in her possession, she instead opts to challenge the Herrscher of the Void in a brutal "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight, tanking or outright destroying her foe's attacks, up to and including cleaving through a black hole, ignoring her injuries and exhaustion through sheer willpower, before getting close enough to land a killing blow...only to use the approach as a feint to inject Herrscher Kiana with the vaccine, freeing Kiana from the possession. Her body ravaged beyond all repair, but with her student saved and her final lesson imparted, Murata Himeko died with a smile on her lips, going out in a literal blaze of glory.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky had one of these with the main character. It's explicitly mentioned as a chapter titled "The Last Adventure." Then a god literally pulls a Deus Ex Machina to bring him/her back.
  • PAYDAY 2 has the "Swan Song" skill, which, when aced, allows for 6 seconds of infinite ammo (yes, even for double-barrel shotguns, though the RPG and similar one-shot instakill weapons are excluded) before you actually go down. Granted, you do move very slowly, and you can't heal yourself or make any attempt to delay your fate, but whether you're mowing through high-level enemies firing high-tier power weapons as fast as you can fire without a care for ammo, or busting out Inspire Aced and reviving like a maniac to save your team from a wipeout, those 6 seconds can definitely be a last dance your team will appreciate.
    • The game storyline also ends on this note. With Bain only having days left to live, the gang goes for the greatest heist of all time, stealing a cache of civil war era presidential pardons from the White House.
  • Halo: Reach. In very much keeping with this trope there is a playable epilogue, which can only end with the player's death. Noble Six remains on Reach to fight against an endless horde of Covenant. Done twice really. First you do it, and once you take enough damage it changes to a cutscene showing Noble Six's final battle.
    • Objective: Survive. Description: Spartans never die. Title Card: There'll be Another Time
  • Metal Gear:
  • The entire point of the PS Vita game Hero Must Die: the final battle has been won, the kingdom is saved, but you are going to die in five days. The game is spent completing quests and making the world a better place before you pass away.
  • Live A Live:
    • The Earthen Heart Shifu is introduced trying to find some disciples to inherit his arts because he knows that he is dying. He later decides to storm the fortress of the Indomitable Fist to get revenge on Ou Di Wan Lee for killing two of his students, with the surviving student joining him and dealing the finish blow to Ou Di Wan Lee. After this, he compliments on the growth of his student and dies content.
    • Hasshe from the Middle Ages chapter is secretly dying from his disease, but upon seeing that the Lord of Dark seems to be revived, he decides to join the heroes to slay it once more. Unfortunately, he soon discovers that the said Lord of Dark is a minion of the true Lord of Dark which is probably either Streibough or influencing the latter.
  • At the climax of Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, the Tojo Clan and Omi Alliance announce their simultaneous dissolution, as a measure to avoid becoming government pawns or being imprisoned as anti-yakuza laws become more numerous and harsher. While the Tojo Clan was already mostly gone by this point, the Omi Alliance was at the height of their power, and many in its ranks are unwilling to let go of their old way of life. The situation comes to a head when several hardcore Omi traditionalists attempt to assassinate their leader, Watase, and rebuild the Omi Alliance for themselves, leading to a final brawl between Kiryu and his old friends from the now-extinct Tojo Clan against the last remnants of the Omi Alliance.
  • The final mission of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has heavy hints of this. The Phazon corruption doled out to each of the hunters at the beginning of the game has so far proven to be uniformly fatal. Samus herself is so far gone at this point that her gunship's computer can't identify her anymore, she's forced to vent Phazon every minute just to stay alive, and the final boss fight takes place on a radioactive, sentient planet only reachable by wormhole, at the bottom of a pit deep enough that even if she survives, she has no chance of wall-jumping, screw-attacking or speed-boosting her way back up. At the end of the fight, she just lies on the ground utterly exhausted. The whole thing feels much less like a Final Showdown and more of a Taking You with Me / Heroic Sacrifice on her part, which isn't helped by the exchange between Fleet Admiral Dane and his bridge staff in the ending cutscenes:
    Crewman: Damage reports coming in. We've lost 37% of the fleet. Surviving ships are reporting heavy casualties.
    FADM Dane: What about Samus?
    Crewman: Negative, Sir. No contact...
    • Being that Prime was a prequel series, of course she manages to survive anyway, but a novice to the series might be forgiven for thinking this was really her swan song.
  • The Opera mod for Half-Life 2 had this as a gameplay feature called "Heroic Act", which a player could activate only once per round. It would stop all bleeding if he was already bleeding to death and make shots to the head and heart only hurt as much as regular wounds, as well as granting some extra speed and dealing extra damage for a short duration of time, after which the player would die. Rather fitting as the mod was inspired by films like The Killer (1989) and Hard Boiled.
  • World of Warcraft; Before the Broken Shore, both armies make quite a few preparations, and along with the usual (inspecting armor, honing skills and the like) a banquet-quality spread is provided to all the soldiers, including your character, with the same purpose as a last meal for a condemned man. That is how certain they are of a high casualty count in a battle against the Burning Legion. (And they're right, casualties of the battle include Varian, Vol'jin, and Tirion.)
  • Forms the basis for a mission in Phantasy Star Online. With a mere 30 minutes left to live, a warrior wants to reach his goal of killing 10 000 monsters (he's at 9900 when you meet him). Of note: for being on the brink of death, he is actually remarkably fit. He is one of the strongest NPCs in the game and, if you're on the highest difficulty setting, could probably still beat the everloving crap out of your character without really trying. Which raises the question of why he needs your help in the first place...
    • Because what point is there in a triumphal last dance if there is nobody around to witness it?
  • Sir Aliste from the PSP remake of Final Fantasy Tactics masquerades as a villain and kidnaps the lover of his ally, Beowulf, so that they may duel with their lives on the line. The former was afflicted with some malady, was destined to die with the middle age's lack of medical care (apparently for some reason the commonplace magicall healing wouldn't work either), and refused to do so confined and wasting away in a sick bed. Aliste is defeated, and - with his dying breath - urges Beowulf to save his lover Reis.
  • Invoked in Final Fantasy XIV with the Dark Knight's invulnerability skill "Living Dead". While activate, if the Dark Knight's HP would otherwise drop to zero, they will survive and enter a "Walking Dead" state wherein they cannot die for ten seconds, at the end of which — unless they recover at least their max HP — they will drop dead.
    • As the first set of Samurai quests from Stormblood pass, it becomes increasingly clear that Musosai, the class trainer is on his last legs and pushing himself too hard, collapsing at the end of the level 58 quest. When the level 60 one rolls around, he's up and about again, but thanks only to potent Far Eastern medicines giving him just enough vitality for one last duel with you, at the end of which he dies of his age and existing condition as much as injuries from the duel.
    • In the Endwalker story expansion, this is how the Post-Final Boss happens: Having stopped the Endsinger, Zenos challenges you to one last fight, claiming that you're just like him as a fight-loving Blood Knight. You can shut him up, agree with him or ignore him, but the two of you slug it out. When a Combat Breakdown happens, the two of you start fighting with your fists until you nail Zenos and take him out for good.
      Zenos: This is my moment! Our moment!
  • Prior to the events of Star Control II, the Shofixti cause their own sun to go nova to strike a final blow to the Ur-Quan. The news of the extinction of the Shofixti was a Despair Event Horizon to fellow Proud Warrior Race Guys, the Yehat. The player can track down the last surviving Shofixti to recruit both the Shofixti and the Yehat to his side.
    • Doubles as a Nice Job Breaking It, Hero - the Shofixti pretty much, single-sunnedly? ensured that the Ur-Quan Kzer-Za lose to their omnicidal brethren, Ur-Quan Kohr-Ah.
  • Invoked in R-Type Final with Operation Last Dance, where all R-series models in existence gather to fire their respective Wave Motion Guns in unison to put a stop to the Bydo.
    • Which in itself is referenced by the R-99 Last Dancer, one of the game's three ultimate ships.
  • In Tekken 7 at the end of Story Mode, Heihachi's and Kazuya's blood feud has ruined the public image of both of their corporations, and Heihachi seems to subtly realize that the war between them and Jin has reached a point that it must be stopped. Though he never says it, he gives his life story and his Start of Darkness to a reporter he knows has a personal grudge against him, with what is described as a "mournful look in his eyes." Shortly thereafter, Heihachi challenges Kazuya to one last fight... and Heihachi loses.
  • In Neverwinter Nights, Aribeth's final actions could be taken as this, as she knows both sides are likely to kill her and just wants to get her vengeance into the middle of the war before she goes.
  • Mass Effect:
    • In Mass Effect 2, Thane Krios is dying of a terminal disease and is attempting to spend his last days as The Atoner for his life as a contract killer by trying to make the world a better place and potentially make things up with his son. It's one of the reasons he joins Shepard's team.
    • A recurring theme in Mass Effect 3 is that Commander Shepard will either destroy the Reapers or take them down with them.
    • It's quite possible to recruit every space-faring race in the galaxy including two previously extinct ones to join Shepard and the Alliance and a final, glorious battle against the Reapers.
  • Explicitly invoked by Captain Price at the climax of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, in about the best monologue in the series:
    The healthy human mind doesn't wake up in the morning thinking this is its last day on Earth. But I think that's a luxury, not a curse. To know you're close to the end is a kind of freedom. Good time to take... inventory. Outgunned. Outnumbered. Out of our minds. On a suicide mission — but the sand and rocks here, stained with thousands of years of warfare... They will remember us, for this. Because out of all our vast array of nightmares, this is the one we choose for ourselves: we go forward like a breath exhaled from the Earth, with vigor in our hearts and one goal in sight: We. Will. Kill. Him.
  • Invoked by name in the ending of Vagrant Story, when Tieger holds off Grissom as the city collapses around them:
    Tieger: Now the slowest dance begins... 'Tis a fine tomb we shall share, brother.
  • In the conclusion of World of Warcraft's Fall of the Lich King, Tirion Fordring is prepared to become the next Lich King to prevent the Scourge from overrunning the world. At the last moment, Bolvar Fordragon intervenes. Knowing he is already dying after his torture by dragon fire, Bolvar volunteers to become the Lich King instead. In doing so, he willingly condemns himself to an eternity of undeath as the "Jailor of the Damned".
  • This is the typical way an aging Grey Warden prefers to die in Dragon Age. After about thirty years, a Grey Warden's body starts to succumb to the tainted blood of the Darkspawn that they willingly imbued at their initiation. Instead of descending into madness or possibly becoming a darkspawn themselves, they join the Dwarves in the Deep Roads, where the Darkspawn nest, and throw themselves on the Darkspawn horde killing as many as possible before being felled themselves.
    • Wynne is in fact dead, and Living on Borrowed Time thanks to a benevolent Fade spirit. She intends to see the Blight defeated before she succumbs.
    • The most dangerous dwarven fighters are the Legion of the Dead, all of whom have nothing to lose when they join up, and part of their initiation ceremony involves having a funeral so that they can fight without any limitations whatsoever.
    • Also happens in Dragon Age II, during the final moments, when Hawke can proclaim that "I can fight harder scared than they can angry!"
    • Reappears in Dragon Age: Inquisition in the Trespasser DLC: After two years of relative stability, the anchor has begun to destabilize, effectively beginning to kill the Inquisitor. With the anchor, and the Inquisitor, running out of time, the party must run a gauntlet of Qunari warriors, all the while discharging the Anchor's energy or risk it exploding and hurting everyone. When the Inquisitor finally confronts Solas, it's obvious they're barely alive.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas it's possible to recruit The Remnants of the Enclave (all of whom are at least in their 60's) and get them to fight in the Battle for Hoover Dam for old time's sake (the mission's even called "For Auld Lang Syne").
  • Invoked in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City: at the end of the game, the NPC who has been at the player's side the whole time has turned against the player, siding with the player's former Mafia overlords from Liberty City (the player is in Vice City and is taking over.) The player tracks this treacherous NPC down on the roof of his mansion, and shouts "Looks like it's the last dance for Lance Vance!" Lance is not amused; he's also cornered, and proves to be what is most likely the single toughest fight with one person in the game, fiendishly accurate, using a lethally powerful gun, and able to soak up so much damage you'd think he was entering the "full health" cheat code during the fight.
  • Invoked in the final mission of Homeworld. Your fleet is outgunned and outnumbered, and with Karan S'jet knocked out you don't get the warnings on anything's happening (be it enemy attacks, losses of your ships or new construction)... And the mission objective is to "Eradicate Enemy Forces".
  • In Dragon Ball Online (which was an alternate continuity from Dragon Ball GT and Dragon Ball Super), Goku and Vegeta died nearly 20 years after the end of Dragon Ball Z when Goku, sensing that his death was near, decided to take the opportunity to settle their rivalry with the two leaving a supernova out in deep space in their wake.
  • Gen of the Street Fighter series is constantly trying to invoke this trope. He is suffering from leukemia, but he absolutely refuses to die unless it is in battle.
  • The people from Prox in Golden Sun have a habit of transforming into dragons when they're faced with mortal peril.
  • In Bloodborne, it happens after you rejected Gehrman's offering. The resulting boss battle will either end with him dead and you in his place, or him and his boss dead and you the new master of the Dream.
    Tonight, Gehrman joins the hunt.
  • In a more meta-sense, this is usually invoked by players who find themselves to be the last man standing on their team, or even among an entire team when it becomes obvious that defeat is the only way to go. Many a match has gone relatively easy for one team, only for the opposing team to step up their game at the last minute and dish out some truly epic damage before eventually succumbing.
  • An abjectly horrifying example in Hatred: driven by his loathing for the human race and a desire to 'die violently', "Not Important"'s Last Dance involves him going utterly postal on every human being he can find in a savage and pointless mass-murdering spree; killing and killing and killing and killing and killing until someone manages to put him down.
  • Dark Souls III:
    • The final boss battle turns out to be this for Gwyn, Lord of Cinder. Resurrected as the Soul of Cinder, fighting along with every damned soul ever to link the First Flame, desperate to buy what remains of humanity even a little time more by protecting the Flame to the last, Gwyn returns to give the Unkindled One the fight of their life... even if it means losing everything. In a meta sense, the second phase of the Soul's battle, where Gwyn starts busting out his old tricks, is a last dance for the entire franchise: the Final Boss of the first game, often derided as being unsatisfying, returning to challenge players one last time, at the end of the Souls series.
    • The first boss of The Ringed City DLC is against the last two demons in existence, the race having been doomed to a slow extinction since the death of the Bed of Chaos in the first game. After both die, whichever was killed second is revived as all remaining power of the demons left behind flows into him, turning him into a reincarnation of their greatest warrior the Demon Prince. It's not just one final fight against a demon, but a grand sendoff to a race that has been tormenting players since the very start of the first game, and the reborn Demon Prince more than proves himself worthy of being their final champion.
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 The terminally-ill Arthur can pull this if he ultimately decides to help the Marston family, holding off what feels like the entirety of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. This culminates to fighting off Micah Bell, which ultimately kills him, either by finally succumbing to TB or by getting shot.
  • Fate/Grand Order: Your main Servant, Mash, is apparently slowly dying because using her abilities as a Shielder is slowly wasting her body. She's aware of it and just resolves to give it her all before that time. It later comes to a head in the final singularity, Salomon, where she uses most of her power to shield you from the Big Bad's strongest attack, at the cost of her life. Fou (her pet), touched by this act (and the values of "humanity" that she showed to him), reveals that he's one of the Beasts and then uses the majority of his energy to revive Mash and give her a normal lifespan.
    • This also ends up being the case for Goetia, the aforementioned Big Bad. After Goetia's creator, the real King Solomon, uses his third Noble Phantasm to return all of his gifts back to God, and after the protagonist pummels him into submission, Goetia is left dying and is forced to inhabit Solomon's disintegrating body — but not without challenging the protagonist to one final duel. This is also a big deal because Goetia was originally immortal and was incapable of comprehending the beauty within mortal lives, and it was this inability to understand that drove his entire plan; now that his own death is imminent, he fully understands how humans' mortal bodies are in fact a gift, and wants to make his death as meaningful as possible.
  • Heat Signature: A character with the "Dying" trait has 10 minutes to live, during which they have to not only complete their personal mission, whether it be a daring rescue, One Last Job , or a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, but acquire the money and equipment needed to do so. Retiring with less than a minute left to live is a common occurrence.
  • In Cyberpunk 2077, a theme of the game is whether living a mundane but peaceful life is better than going out loud and becoming a legend. At the end of the game, when they're close to succumbing to the Relic that's been trying to kill them they are forced to make a choice on how to end things, with most of them involve asking an ally to help them on a final desperate heist on Arasaka. An unlockable option based on your Relationship Values with Johnny Silverhand has Johnny encouraging V to simply go on a one-cyborg suicidal assault on Arasaka Tower on the basis of not endangering their allies while still going out like a boss.
  • Wildermyth presents an example in its fourth campaign. After luring the foe to a tower that cannot be opened without permission from the ghosts who enchanted it, the man who accidentally encouraged the Thrixl (a type of Fey) to attack; chains the fairy queen up with him. For all eternity. And di we mention that nothing in that tower actually dies?
  • In the third semester of Persona 5 Royal, the suddenly alive Goro Akechi knows the him in the real world is most likely dead and that if Maruki's reality is destroyed, he will disappear too. He however would rather die by his own path than be just another puppet, hence why he goes all gung-ho whenever Joker goes along with his plan while also dropping all pretenses of the Detective Prince facade he put up for so long.
  • Shirogane is given this treatment in Super Robot Wars W. When Honerva invades the Warter's base and tries to kill Princess Fala, he jumps in front of her to shield her. Despite being fatally wounded, he goes to pilot the Blue Lion one last time with his teammates and fights with all his willpower until they force Honerva and Baron Ashura to retreat, and only then does he succumb to his wounds. His death inspires the rest of the heroes to fight harder in order to ensure it was not in vain.
  • The premise of El Paso, Elsewhere is that hardboiled Occult Detective James Savage is preventing The End of the World as We Know It, and doesn't expect to make it out of the hotel alive. If the monsters don't get to him, then the cocktail of painkillers he took will eventually do him in. Depending on the player choices, he either succombs to his wounds or becomes a vampire to keep going.

  • In El Goonish Shive, everything Ellen does as Elliot's "Evil Twin" and her fearless fighting of the Omega Goo was due to her thinking she would die in less than a month.
  • "Tagon's last stand" from Schlock Mercenary. Inadequate intel, mercenary guards too tough, problems with extraction. Tagon teraported his wounded friends to safety, then faced dozens of enemies with a pistol and monofilament wire between his boots. (Tayler also made a poster with the battle scene, but unfortunately it was lost when the site got reorganized.) He got better later, thanks to time travel.

    Web Original 
  • Survival of the Fittest features this prominently due to the nature of characters death being announced, letting the player choose exactly how they want their character's last dance to be played.
  • From Killerbunnies, this is how Anwen, who is ill with a progressive and terminal illness, views part of her situation in terms of villainy, figuring she has nothing left to lose, especially if she cannot find a cure for the aforementioned illness

    Western Animation 
  • Castlevania (2017): In "The Endings", the penultimate episode, Trevor Belmont stands alone to fight Death, the Greater-Scope Villain and the most powerful creature anyone's ever fought, to give humanity the chance to build a brighter future. He admits he likely won't survive, but gives the battle his all. He succeeds in killing Death and would have died himself, but is saved at the last moment by Saint Germain teleporting him to safety with his last breath.
  • Gargoyles: Halcyon Renard, otherwise a man who had been defined by his insistence on personal accountability, justifies questionable actions in the episode "Golem" with his failing health. Goliath was not pleased.
  • The Jetsons; George thinks he's dying after a doctor's erroneous diagnosis, so he eagerly accepts Mr. Spacely's offer to test a high-tech safety jacket that can protect the wearer from anything. He's put through a lot of tests with potentially deadly situations (like a room with crushing walls and a large rotary saw) and thankfully, the jacket holds. The cruelest part comes right before the final test (where he is to be propelled into the air with anti-aircraft missiles shot at him) and the doctor shows up to give him the right diagnosis. (Thankfully, the jacket, again, holds up.)
  • In an episode of The Smurfs (1981), the Smurfs overhear Papa Smurf say what they think is him mourning over Lazy's illness and doubt of him surviving. (He's actually talking about Vanity's houseplant.) When Lazy finds out that they think this, he starts to think so, and decides to do everything he had been too lazy to do his whole life, like climb mountains and tame wild beasts. Unfortunately, all this is rather dangerous and hilarity ensues as the other Smurfs try to stop him from getting into more trouble.
  • In TaleSpin, an erroneous diagnosis tells Baloo he's going to die soon. He decides to go out with a bang by braving the Bermuda Trapezoid.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987), Donatello invents a device that can give a medical physical in less than a minute. While he, Mikey, and Leo are shown to be in perfect health, it gives Raphael a really bad diagnosis, which is not helped when he overhears Mikey and Don lamenting about what might happen to him. (In truth, they're talking about a ruined pizza.) Raph decides to go buy a superhero costume and do very public and dangerous heroics, including recovering a defoliant that a Mad Scientist throws into a volcano in an act of eco-terrorism. Of course, Don's machine was defective, and they have to help him before he really gets killed.

    Real Life 
  • Andrew Cunanan was suspected by some to have gone on his murder-suicide spree, killing five people including Gianni Versace, thanks to believing himself to have been infected with HIV, but his autopsy proved him to be HIV negative.
  • This was tested in a real-life experiment in Feudal Japan. A sensei (head teacher, in this case) of a school of fencing had a servant who'd been with him for years — and one day he was notified that the servant was wanted by the Shogunate authorities for a crime punishable by death. The sensei bowed and asked for a few days before turning the man over, then went to his servant, told him the news, and challenged him to a live-steel sword duel. The sensei had had a theory for a long time that a man who knew he had nothing to lose would fight harder and wanted to test it. It turned out to be correct; the servant fought like a man possessed, and after a while, the sensei was backed to the wall and staring defeat, disgrace, and death in the face. Summoning up all his skill, he finally did manage to cut his servant down, and his theory was doubly vindicated.
    • A widely common practice in Japan, and to a lesser degree in other East Asian nations such as Korea, was the writing of a death poem, often times written just before one faces an imminent death, such as just before committing Seppuku, or going into a last stand or suicide attack.
  • The Roman Empire had three punitive sentences for the arena: damnatio ad bestias, damnatio ad ludii and damnatio ad gladium. The first was an outright death sentence by being tied to a pole and torn to pieces by beasts while the second was being sentenced to Gladiator Games, with hope of missio, being freed after two years or surviving five fights. But the last was literally being "sentenced to sword", being sentenced to gladiator games with no hope of liberation whatsoever: they were forced to fight until they were killed. They basically had nothing to lose, and they were claimed to be the most dangerous opponents, even if they had little fighting skills, because of their desperate situation.
  • The following quote is attributed to the writer James Baldwin: "The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose."
  • During the World War 2 recapture of the Phillipines, American escort group Taffy 3 found themselves caught in the worst possible situation- a heavy Japanese surface force (4 battleships- including the giant Yamato-, 6 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, 11 destroyers) bearing straight down on them. They couldn't flee the battle as their escort carriers were much slower than even the ponderous battleships, all heavy fleet units were either too far away or not responding to signals (Admiral Halsey tended to get tunnel vision when he saw enemy carriers, and to make matters worse his staff didn't even send him the messages they received), and simply didn't have enough ordnance to force something like Yamato, which outweighed the entirety of Taffy 3 by itself, to turn back. So, they turned around and counterattacked, hoping to at least stall the Japanese forces until Halsey finally listened to them. They managed, at the cost of about a third of their entire unit, to give the Center Force such a mauling (sinking 3 heavy cruisers and damaging a lot of other ships) that Admiral Kurita (who, to be fair, was heavily exhausted at the time) actually retreated before the American fast battleships could reach him, having misidentified Taffy 3 as the main American force.
  • Terry Pratchett. Having learned of his disease, he resolved to write as much as he could, while also advocating the right to euthanasia. He remained awesome and intense until the very end. Likewise, George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four as a kind of literary swan song while dying of tuberculosis.
  • Ironically, the Queen/David Bowie collaboration that contains the lyrics "this is our last dance" (specifically the song "Under Pressure") isn't an example for either artist. For Queen, a better example would be Innuendo, their last album released during Freddie Mercury's lifetime, containing touching farewell songs like "These Are the Days of Our Lives" and concluding with the triumphant number "The Show Must Go On." (Even more awesome, despite being in the terminal stages of AIDS and seriously weakened at the time, Mercury recorded "The Show Must Go On" in a single take, after a shot of vodka and a declaration of "I'll fucking do it, darling!") Bowie's swan song, meanwhile, would be his album , released on his 69th birthday two days before he died. The lyrics of the majority of the songs contained within pertain to various stages of his life and facing his imminent death.
  • The 1997-1998 Chicago Bulls were a non-lethal example, as it was acknowledged by everyone involved that the team (at the time one of the most dominant dynasties in sports history) was going to be broken up regardless of how the year played out. Then-coach Phil Jackson even called the season "The Last Dance" and it provided the title of an ESPN documentary about the team. Sure enough, even after winning their third-straight title and sixth in eight seasons, the head coach resigned, and five of the fifteen players (including their superstars Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman) retired, were released, or were traded afterwards.
  • In the summer of 2017, Senator John McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee and newly reelected, was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer that almost always kills its victims within a couple of years. Rather than resign and retire to Arizona, McCain returned to the Senate shortly after his diagnosis, giving a major speech on the floor pleading for bipartisanship in efforts to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act. McCain then spent much of the remainder of the session torpedoing multiple efforts to reform the law, leading his party to ultimately give up on it. After a few more votes, such as on a tax cut bill where he was considered a swing vote, McCain returned to Arizona towards the end of January 2018. While he never went back to the Capitol, he continued to work from home until only a handful of days before dying late that August.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Last Dance


The Tojo Clan's Last Battle

Faced against those unwilling to accept their way of life is ending, "Joryu" stands alongside his former brothers-in-arms in the now-dissolved Tojo Clan in one final brawl.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheLastDance

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