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Wring Every Last Drop out of Him

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You know how some character has been sick for ages and ages and ages, and how their death will be dragged out for days/weeks/months/years, until by the time it finally happens, people are no longer shocked, or no longer even care?

Yeah. This is Kill Him Already! on a slow, unheroic scale, Ill Girl taken to the ultimate conclusion. It's Almost Dead Guy for a longer duration, with less usefulness. Generally manifests in some kind of Soap Opera Disease. Probably has something to do with Death Is Dramatic, or Creator Breakdown or Downer Ending. Contrast Longest Pregnancy Ever for another condition that lasts longer than it should.



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  • Trinity's death scene in The Matrix Revolutions managed the amazing feat of making the audience ready to scream 'JUST SHUT UP AND DIE ALREADY!' in less than six minutes. Even if it felt like six hours.
  • In Reservoir Dogs, Mr. Orange gets shot early on and spends the rest of his screen time (barring flashbacks) dying in agony until he's finally shot again near the end. This is deliberate, since he's The Mole, and desperately hoping for the sting operation he's a part of to go successfully.

  • Hoster Tully from A Song of Ice and Fire lasted more than two books before succumbing - and he spent all of his appearances delirious from painkillers. In a possible acknowledgment of this, by the time he died his daughter had become inured enough to death that she barely reacted either.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dr. Auschlander from St. Elsewhere was diagnosed with terminal cancer in the pilot episode, and residents bet on when he was going to croak. He survived 6 seasons of crises, chemotherapy, accidents, the deaths of several major characters, before dying in the final episode. (or did he...?)
  • Laura Roslin on Battlestar Galactica. Twice. Notable in that although her illness only becomes majorly visible on those two occasions her very first scene had her being informed she had cancer and she spent the entire run of the show dying in varying degrees. Though on that show it is likely everybody felt they were going through this trope.
  • The first season of Black Adder has a Shout-Out to The Importance of Being Earnest when it mentions a character who has been on his deathbed for so long that everyone is thoroughly sick of it and want him to either recover or die, but "it's this shilly-shallying that's so undignified". That said, given that the man in question is an extremely wealthy noble, both potential claimants to his property would much rather he died asap... provided his will says the right thing, of course.
  • The running gag "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead!" early on in Saturday Night Live was intended as a parody of the ongoing news coverage of his health before his death, which the writers thought had verged on this.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • For Better or for Worse has made Grandpa Jim progressively sicker and sicker with strokes and heart attacks, and done several "fakeouts" of his death. And has him have yet another heart attack at the end of the strip, on the day of Liz's wedding. Yet he never actually dies until the age of 89 - somehow surviving two more years (he was born in 1921) after the end of the strip!
  • Funky Winkerbean has Lisa who spent months slowly dying of a cancer that had returned. Every so often, there was a Hope Spot where it looks like she'd recover, but eventually she died and the creator initiated a Time Skip to the future.
  • Gasoline Alley has Walt who, in order to keep up with the strip's real-time aging, has hung around to be over 120 years old, and ever more decrepit each year; an occasionally-stated fact is that he's the last surviving World War I vet in America.

  • Parodied (like everything else) in The Importance of Being Earnest. Quoth Lady Bracknell about Algernon's "sick friend" Bunbury (who Algernon made up as an excuse to avoid unwanted social engagements, and has been using as an excuse for years) "I think it is high time that Mr. Bunbury made up his mind whether he is going to live or to die. This shilly-shallying with the question is absurd."

    Video Games 
  • Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid 4 might qualify for this; he starts off already rapidly aging and coughing, proceeds to get the shit kicked out of him at the end of every mission, gets fried, shot, blown up, beaten, injected repeatedly for self-medication, and doesn't quit smoking. It's admirable how much punishment he can take, but Hideo Kojima is definitely punishing Snake in as many ways as humanly possible.

  • Parodied in Bruno the Bandit with 'Uncle Lucius'. He's been 'dying' in one of the Bunkleyutz's back rooms for over thirty years! No one can bear to kick him out, even though he's not actually related to them - "I thought that he was your Uncle Lucius!"

    Real Life 
  • Hospitals occasionally have to deal with these sorts of people in the real world - continually sick with some unknown illness which will almost certainly kill them (or believing themselves to be so). The term used for such unfortunate figures is GOMER - Get Out of My Emergency Room.
  • And even outside of hospitals, some people hold on surprisingly long before succumbing, whether to extreme old age, terminal illness, or injuries that are ultimately mortal but not quite severe enough to be quick about it.
  • This can be very much Truth in Television with gunshot wounds, which can be a lot weirder and more varied in effect than most people think; you're just as likely to keep running around for hours, fully cognizant and capable of action, after being shot in the chest as you are to die instantly. It all depends on a huge amount of factors like where precisely you were hit, the type of bullet or gun used, your own physical attributes, how deep the bullet goes, and more. As any cop, soldier, or gun-owner can tell you, there is no such thing in real life as shooting to wound; if you have to pull a gun on someone and shoot, you shoot until they are no longer a threat (i.e., dead). Failure to do so will probably result in the person you're shooting at dying anyways (it is all too easy to hit a blood artery or major organ, even when trying not to), but not before they take advantage of your restraint to shoot you.