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Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something.—Pancho Villa
Contrary to popular belief, very few fatal injuries result in instant death. As long as you haven't been decapitated, shot in the head, or asploded, your body will take at least two minutes to fully shut down, giving you a chance to belt out a few parting words to your comrades or the enemy that felled you. Of course, this doesn't really work in real life, since few people (except for those expecting to die) have good last words prepared, or the energy or wherewithal to say anything as they go into shock.
Still, it's more realistic than the Final Speech, which lasts as long as the plot needs it to no matter the injury, Famous Last Words is usually a brief and poignant sentence said by a character who hasn't quite accepted that he's dying. These can actually be very character-defining, to the point that they represent the very climax of that character's development leaving a lasting impression on the other characters and the fans.
A challenge to write despite being just a few words. Misuse it and it can come off as cheesy. Done perfectly and it can even garner the respect of a fan that hated the character. Sometimes Famous Last Words can be words that a character thought would be their last, but they survive.
Compare Sedgwick Speech, where a character gets killed halfway through his speech or one-liner. See also Facing the Bullets One-Liner where a character says a one-liner before knowingly facing death and A Plague on Both Your Houses when these words are a curse. Often a Tear Jerker.
Some supposed Real Life final last words are fictional, and were possibly concocted for ulterior motives. At the time of his death, it was widely reported in newspapers that Lou Costello's last words were "I think I'll be more comfortable", said to the nurse who was preparing to help him turn over in bed. Within months the legend arose that he died in the presence of a group of beloved friends and that his last words were "that was the best ice-cream soda I ever tasted". Whether his friends were embarrassed that he died virtually alone or whether someone meant to imply that Costello died because he was fat (he had a chronic heart valve infection) nobody knows, but the legend can be found in almost every book of famous last words.
- Comic Books
- Live Action TV
- Video Games
- Web Original
- Western Animation
- Real Life
- Multiple Medium
- "Sega Saturn shiro...! Sega Saturn shiro...! Sega Saturn SHIROOOOOO!!!" - Segata Sanshiro
- ""Save yourself...some money." - The Negotiator
- "I run these muthafuckin' streets, y'all ain't lookin fo' me. I wish a muthafucka would..." Michael Young History. (He gets better though... sorta.)
- "Don't take your guns to town, son, leave your guns at home, Bill. Don't take your guns to town..."Billy Joe
- Famous Last Words, the non MCR song.
- As the protagonist of King Diamond's Conspiracy is being cremated alive, he gives a dying promise: "Whenever the dark is near, I will return to haunt you... Godforsaken whore!"
Tabletop Games Edit
- Magic: The Gathering
- "Ach! Hans, run! It's the lhurgoyf!" Saffi Eriksdotter
- "I'm Phyrexian. I can't trust myself. I'm always wrong." Xantcha
- "I'm the mad one!" Radiant, Archangel
- "I'm sorry. Our destinies are completed. We are both doomed." Selenia, Dark Angel
- "The old sage's magic cannot last much longer. Goodbye, Gerrard." Hanna, Ship's Navigator
- "The last time I saw you, you were heading into Rath. We fought, I remember. I'm sorry. We also said good-bye. I didn't think that good-bye would be our last. I was wrong about everything. Everything. Good-bye, my angel." Barrin, Master Wizard
- "It's going to be all right--" Seton, Krosan Protector
- "Good-bye, beloved child." Cabal Patriarch
- "The oath is gone, right? I saved you. I did good. Didn't I?" Marrow-Gnawer
- "It's beautiful. I can see her. She's come back. It's her." Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran
- "Here sits one who maybe more than any other, can stop their spread. And he is my friend. I will not let him fall like a dog to this sickness. You cannot ask me to let that happen." Venser, the Sojourner
- "Your presence does not surprise me, Assassin. I have known of you ever since your craft entered the Eastern Fringes. Why did I not have you killed? Because your mission and the act you are about to commit proves the truth of all I have ever said and done. I merely punished those who had wronged, just as your False Emperor now seeks to punish me. Death is nothing compared to vindication." -- Presumed final words of Konrad Curze, Warhammer 40000
- "THE CURSE!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO- -- Imotep (again) On the Universal Studios, Hollywood version of The Mummy ride, before it was changed. (He now just chuckles quietly while you return to the load/unload sector).
- "See? That wasn't so scary. A cup of coffee, please? Thank you. AAARRGH!!" -- Brendan Fraser, in the Orlando version of the ride.
- A long series of jokes:
- Tarzan's last words: "Who greased the liana!?"
- The electrician's last words: "Yes, I'm sure I switched the main breaker."
- The cardinal's last words: "Matches? I thought you had them."
- The general's last words: "Watch where you're pointing that bow and arrow, you'll have someone's eye out in a minute."
- The biologist's last words: "Only experts can tell the difference between the harmless legless lizard that I'm holding in my hands and the similar-looking horned viper..."
- The classic redneck's last words: "Hey y'all, watch this!"
- Another version is, "Hold muh beer n' watch this!"
- "Watch this!" is Truth in Television. There exists a book of all the deaths that have occurred at the Grand Canyon, and nearly an entire section of it is stories that start, "X had been drinking," and move on to, "X said, 'Hey, watch this!' and tumbled into the canyon."
- Historical: Jorge Chavez, a Franco-Peruvian who was the first man to fly over the Alps Mountains, suffered mortal injuries while trying to land on that flight. His last words: "Arriba -- siempre arriba." "Higher -- ever higher." This phrase is the motto of the Peruvian Air Force.
- The Yogscast have a few.
- "We're getting separated! Heroes!" - Knight Peculier