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"Brutus, why does this man follow such a profession?"
"For money, Caesar. He tells me he wants to die rich."

"And so he shall. Give him this sack of gold and then strangle him."
The Goon Show, "The Histories of Pliny the Elder"

So, it's the end. Someone you know is about to bite it, having fought the good fight and, well, lost. But it's okay, you tell them; the battle's as good as won, the reinforcements will be here soon, and everything will be all right. And so they pass on happy, secure in the knowledge that everything's okay.

Well, that's a lie. There aren't reinforcements coming. In fact, you look pretty screwed. But, hey. At least your friend died happy, right?

Let Them Die Happy is what happens when one character gives another one last thing to hope for, even though said thing doesn't technically exist. Sure, they may be pissed off when they get to the afterlife (if there is such a thing in the setting), but at least they were happy in their darkest hour. Right?

Compare Go Out with a Smile, for when the dying character smiles for the sake of their surviving loved one.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.

Examples of Let Them Die Happy include:

Anime and Manga

  • Death Note. Light's father Soichiro, the lead Japanese investigator in the Kira case, dies happily convinced that his son isn't Kira. He was wrong.
    • However, in the live-action movies, he lives to know the truth.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Maya and Makoto meet their ends in "End of Evangelion" by bursting into LCL while being embraced by illusions of their unrequited crushes, Ritsuko and Misato, respectively.
  • In Weiss Kreuz, When Tot is stabbed to almost death by Farfarello and a grieving Nagi uses his telekinesis to crash the whole mansion where this happened, the Weiss guys look at their dying enemies sadly, link their hands together and leave. It later turns out they're not dead, but the others won't find out for a long time.
  • Nausicaa does this for a girl fatally injured when the airship on which she was a hostage is attacked by insects and crashes. The girl (a foreign princess) begs Nausicaa to make sure the cargo (a devastating weapon) is destroyed. Nausicaa assures her that everything is burning, nothing is left. The girl dies smiling, her last words, "Thank God."
    • Perhaps not played entirely straight since Nausicaa did believe that everything was destroyed. She just doesn't find out until later that the cargo survived the fire.
  • Happens in Code Geass: Suzaku tells Euphemia that her plan to give the Japanese their freedom was a success; what she doesn't remember is that she was the victim of Mind Control that made her go on a genocidal rampage against the people she had sought to help.
    • In the second season, when the Black Knights betray Lelouch, Rolo rescues him, using his Geass so much that it overtaxes his body. As Rolo dies, Lelouch asks why he did it, especially considering that Lelouch had raged at Rolo earlier for the events of the previous Wham! Episode; Rolo responds "I knew you were lying. You really do care about me, don't you Brother?" With a sad smile on his face, Lelouch says that he does, and Rolo dies.
      • Averted with Deithard, as Lelouch coldly refuses the final request of a dying Deithard who asks to experience the power of Lelouch's Geass, after Lelouch has his Geassed half-brother Schneizel shoot point-blank his former number-one-fan.
  • Bleach: Yamamoto promises Rukia before her execution that he will allow Ichigo and his friends to return home unharmed, when he actually has no intention of doing this. This is subverted: mere minutes later, Ichigo shows up and rescues her.
    • In the movie Memories of Nobody, as Senna is dying, she instructs Ichigo to take her to the graveyard in which she was buried to prove that she is actually a real person who was alive, and not just a collection of memories. Unable to see, she asks Ichigo to tell her if her name is written on the tombstone. It isn't, but he says that it is.
    • Happens accidentally to Ulquiorra. During the Arrancar arcs, a large part of character development was spend on him questioning what emotions, or a heart, are. His final moments after pretty much seeing his plan go to Hell are spent on him contemplating one of his more famous quotes. Reaching out to Orihime, he asks if she's afraid, and she replies that she isn't and reaches out to hold Ulquiorra's hand. There, it clicks and he realizes what a "heart" really is, and dies happily.
  • In the GetBackers anime, Ban Midou uses his Jagan on his Stalker with a Crush Takuma Fudou for the last time, giving Fudou the illusion that he and Ban are rapturously going at it, when in fact in reality Ban has actually already fatally wounded him and he's lying on the ground dying. The expression of sheer joy on his face when he finally dies (while he's still in the illusion) is akin to pure bliss.
    • In the manga, one of the first chapters has Ban and Ginji accepting a job from a poor old man to rescue his daughter who was taken by the mafia. After reaching her, she reveals that she has come to like the rich lifestyle of the mafia and betrays the two. After fighting their way out, Ban and Ginji return to the old man to report their failure only to discover that he had been mugged and brutally beaten. As the old man lay dying, Ban uses his Evil Eye to give him the illusion that his daughter came back to him.
  • In Fate/stay night Caster tries to do a Heroic Sacrifice to protect her Master (Kuzuki-sensei) from Gilgamesh's Gate of Babylon. As she fades, he assures her that he'll be okay thanks to her intervention. He dies from his wounds immediately after.
    • Also happens in the Unlimited Blade Works scenario when Illya seeks out Berserker because she needs to know they will win their fight against Gilgamesh. Berserker defies the laws of the world and stands there until she dies. The reason she thinks everything will be OK is because her eyes were gouged out, and she dies because Gilgamesh rips out her heart.
    • And a third time, back in the Fate route. Bedivere's last few words to Saber. While real life might work like that occasionally, it wouldn't in this situation.
  • Late in the first season of Mobile Suit Gundam 00, the Ptolemaios is destroyed while Lichty and Christina are inside. He shields her by embracing her, and as they float in the ruins of the ship, he dies happy, thinking that he protected her. After he dies, the camera pans to show a large piece of shrapnel embedded in Christina's spacesuit - she dies only moments later. It's even more of a Tear Jerker than it sounds.
    • It's important to note that this is an example because Christina assures him before hand that he succeeded. Not even the audience realizes the truth until the camera reveals she was already fatally wounded. Then, just to erase any doubt, the remains of the bridge explodes, consuming both of them.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, after he fatally injures Yumi, Shishio openly tells Kenshin that he understands her and has given her what she wanted (and Yumi herself confirms this, saying she knew this would happen but did so to stop being a mere Neutral Female), then holds the dying Yumi in his arms as she expires declaring his loyalty and love for him. Technically subverted, since Shishio * did* care for Yumi... well, as much as a Magnificent Bastard like him could, anyway. And they're later together in Hell, so.
  • Used by Irresponsible Captain Tylor's Worthy Opponent Dom towards Raalgon admiral Donan when later asks if the solar flare destroying his entire fleet got Tylor's Soyokaze as well. He tells him he got his revenge even though Tylor of course survived.
  • In Basilisk, Saemon allows the dying Hotarubi to die believing he's her dead husband Yashamaru
  • When John dies in Ginga Densetsu Weed, the group that finds him tells him that a thousand soldiers of Ohu have come to overpower Hougen's army. Hiro begs him to hang on for just five more minutes so that they can make Hougen bow down in submission at his paws. Unfortunately, John's never liked waiting for anything, death included. Tear Jerker much?
  • Subverted in Monster: with the last bit of his strength, Roberto asks Johan to share with him the vision they have been working towards. Johan tells him that he can't see it. Ouch.
  • Elfen Lied: During Bandou's final confrontation with Lucy in the manga, he ends up torn in half, and doesn't see if his bullet manages to hit Lucy or not. He asks Nana and Mayu where she is - Nana is about to tell him the truth, but Mayu interrupts and tells him he'd finally killed her. He seems to die smiling, but he later returns in the final chapter with a prosthetic overhaul.
  • In One Piece during Brook's flashback he first attempts to comfort his sick captain (who has ordered them to abandon him before more are infected) by promising that they'll meet again; Yorki does smile, but it's vague whether either of them believes it. Later Brook tells his mortally wounded crew that they don't have to die with regrets, his own power will revive him after he dies and he'll fulfill the promise they all made to return to their Team Pet. They die smiling. When Brook is revived, we see how unlikely a promise that really was.
  • Dragonball Z: When Vegeta is revived to fight Majin Buu, he is pissed at Goku for not using Super Saiyan 3 during their earlier fight, believing Goku to have been invoking this trope, tricking him into dying happy.
  • Legend of Galactic Heroes: Schonkopf reassures the dying Blumehart that Yang Wen-Li, their leader whom Blumehart was trying to protect, is alive and well. He isn't.

Comic Books

  • At the end of the Marvel miniseries Wisdom, Pete Wisdom's girlfriend has been turned into a living portal, bringing the Martians from War of the Worlds into modern-day London. Pete and his girlfriend try to find a way out of this that doesn't result in her death. Pete finally comes up with the idea that there may be something in the archives that helps them. As Pete's girlfriend runs for the stairwell, happy that there might be a way out of this that doesn't involve anyone dying, Pete puts a bullet in the back of her head, closing the gate.
  • In an early issue of New Teen Titans, Raven does this for the villain, Grant Wilson; as he lies dying she shows him a false vision of the Titans' lifeless bodies, letting him think he'd fulfilled his mission to kill them.
  • In the DC Books of Magic series evil Industrial Age reverend turned robot Slagginham dies and his chimney sweep former ward who was lost in another dimension turned into an ash monster assures that the person who killed Slagginham, main character Timothy Hunter, died as well. Said ward immediately tries to make said statement true. Though since Tim is basically an avatar of all the magic in the world, he has little luck and is later turned into a puppy. This was a really weird series. And Slagginham died because Tim's imaginary TV repair-man friend caused him to commit suicide by pointing out his plan to make himself happier by making other people more miserable and thus freeing up the world's supply of happy wouldn't work. No, I'm not making any of this up.
  • In Superman/Batman Generations, an Elseworlds story where characters age in real time, a dying Joker's final wish is to know Batman's true identity. Batman (who at this point is Bruce Wayne Jr.) refuses because, as he puts it, "You're the last person I'd want to see die happy."
  • In the "Cursed Earth" epic storyline of Judge Dredd, the alien Tweak gives punk biker Spikes Harvey Rotten the mineral rights to his home planet (as Tweak was its leader) just before the final battle. Spikes went into combat happy, knowing that he was (in theory) immensely rich. Tweak then admitted to Dredd that his precognitive powers had assured him that Spike would not live to claim his prize.
  • In one tie-in prequel to the film Red,[1] Frank gets assigned an inexperienced partner who screws up their mission. That evening, while they're walking along a bridge, Frank gets off the phone with their superiors and convinces his partner not to worry about his mistake, that it'll blow over. Of course, the call was actually an order to kill him, so as he relaxes and turns to admire the view, Frank shoots him in the back of the head and dumps his body into the water.
  • In The Sandman, Morpheus enlists John Constantine in his quest to find his pouch of Dream Sand. They find out it is in the hands of one of John's ex-girlfriends Rachel who has been using it as a happiness drug—with dire consequences. Her metabolism has been nearly destroyed by her use of the sand, and without it she will soon die. John furiously states that Morpheus cannot just leave her to suffer and die in pain. Morpheus complies, and uses the Sand to give the dying Rachel one last sweet dream: being reunited with John who she never stopped loving.


  • In "My Giant," the titular character, Maximous reveals to his friend, Sam(Billy Crystal), that he has spent the last decade pining after Liliana, a woman he had a minor fling with as a teenager. Max, it is discovered, only has a short time to live due to a heart condition, so Sam decides to go find this woman. Unfortunately, she very much does not share Max's feelings, and refuses to visit. Faced with breaking his dying friend's heart, Sam instead asks his wife to visit Max and pretend to be Liliana. She agrees, and tells Max that though she has married someone else, she still thinks fondly of him, and that he will always be "her Maximous," allowing him to die a happy man.
  • Tae Guk Gi: When long-lost brothers Jin-Tae and Jin-Soek meet again on a battlefield during the Korean War, Jin-Tae tells his younger brother to save himself, and reassures him that they will meet again later. He even tells him where to wait. Jin-Tae then turns back into the fray, sacrificing himself to cover Jin-soek's escape. Jin-soek doesn't find out that his brother never made it out until decades later, when historians unearth his body.
  • Near the end of The Magnificent Seven, Harry Luck, a money-hungry gunslinger, is fatally wounded. Although the Seven are only being paid $20 for their services, plus food and lodging during their stay, Harry is convinced that there must be some sort of secret wealth involved. With his dying breaths, he tells his friend Chris that he'd "hate to die a sucker" and asks one more time what the big secret was, prompting Chris to assure him that they were fighting for "Gold. Sacks of it."

Harry: "I'll be damned." *dies*
Chris: "Maybe you won't be."


Centauri: Does he have my money, Alex?
Grig: I have a fortune for you, Centauri.
Alex: It's here. It's all here. Piles and piles of it. All for you.
Centauri: Ah. At last.



  • In Fire Bringer, when one of the Outriders is mortally wounded, Bandach responds to his despairing assertion that he's the last of the outriders by invoking this trope. "You're wrong, Salen. You're not the last of the Outriders. I saw Captain Brechin escape over the hills." Brechin was already dead and Bandach had seen it happen.
    • Salen is described as giving a sigh of relief. He died happy indeed. "I knew it. They'll never take Brechin..."
  • Of Mice and Men ends with George comforting Lennie as best as he can, then shooting him before the lynch mob can find him.
  • In Stephen King's The Green Mile, the guards try to do this for Delacroix by telling him that they'll take his pet mouse, Mr. Jingles, to a mouse circus to entertain kids. Percy, however, can't resist very meanly bursting that bubble while Delacroix is sitting in the electric chair (after trying to burst it by killing the mouse, and would've been successful at this if not for John Coffey's healing touch). This, if anything, makes his actual execution, where he is quite literally fried alive because Percy had neglected to properly soak the sponge for proper electrical conduction as a means of "punishing" Del one last time, all the more horrific.
    • Apart from Percy, this is a standard policy of the guards on Death Row. As Paul notes, keeping the inmates happy results in less muss and fuss when the day of execution finally arrives. The night before execution, Bitterbuck asks Paul if he feels that a man can enter Heaven if he truly feels sorry for what he's done; Paul replies in the affirmative, even though he's certain Bitterbuck is going to Hell for what he's done.
  • In Fablehaven book 5, Coulter is killed after returning from a visit to the past. after the battle has been won and the world saved from evil, Seth requests that someone go back in time and meet up with Coulter to tell him that they win, so he can die in peace, knowing his sacrifice was not in vain.
  • In Wuthering Heights, Edgar Linton is able to die happy surrounded by his family, completely unaware that Heathcliff has control of his estate and is unabated in his quest to ruin the lives of Linton's family.
  • In book two of The Old Kingdom series, Lirael and Sam attempt to rescue a group of Southerlings being attacked by the dead. They fail, defeating the dead but not before every Southerling is killed. Lirael tells the only survivor that the others got away moments before he dies from his wounds.
  • In Random Passage, Ned and his son Isaac are attacked by a bear. By the time Ned's wife reaches them, Isaac is already dead and Ned is mortally wounded. Ned asks Mary if his son got away safely and she tells him that Isaac is just fine.
  • Cyrano tells a dying Christan that Roxanne chose him.
  • A very dark example from Mario Puzo's The Last Don. A dying Hollywood mogul imagines a devoted nurse trying desperately to resuscitate him. But he's seen too many of his own movies: in fact, she is dozing in the next room and didn't hear the alarm.
  • In Andre Norton's The Crystal Gryphon, Toross was mortally wounded rescuing Joisan from the Hounds of Alizon. She told him as he died that if she hadn't been engaged to someone else, she would've been glad to marry him. The truth is, she was fond of him, but "glad to marry him" was an exaggeration, despite Toross being handsome, charming, etc. She just never really thought of him that way.
    • Norton's Judgement on Janus: it doesn't involve a spoken lie, but the main character begins the book by selling himself into slavery to buy hallucinogenic drugs so his dying mother will go in the midst of happy dreams.
  • In one of The Lymond Chronicles books by Dorothy Dunnett, Christian—who is blind—was mortally injured trying to smuggle back the papers that could prove Lymond's innocence. When he arrives, she excitedly hands them to him. He thanks her happily—despite the fact that they're all blank.

Live Action TV

  • An episode of Hustle has Danny posing as an ex-mobster's long lost son to get close to his swag. At the end of the episode, the ex-mobster has a fatal heart attack, and Danny gives up his chance to get at the swag to stand by the old man's side, making him glad that he found his son.
  • The series finale of Angel: Illyria comforts a dying Wesley by taking on the appearance of Fred and telling him that everything will be all right.
    • Both emphasized and slightly subverted by her first asking permission to lie to him; they'd earlier established that he couldn't live with her pretending to be Fred to him.
  • Nasty subversion of this at the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Spike is saving the day but also burning up in the sunlight. As he's dying, Buffy says she loves him. Spike responds, "No you don't, but thanks for saying it."
  • In Battlestar Galactica Reimagined, Kat stays behind in a radioactive region longer than is safe to make sure all the civilian ships get through. Afterwards, Adama visits her in sickbay and says that he's promoting her to CAG... despite the fact that he presumably knows that she received a fatal dose of radiation.
    • He knew, she knew, and they both knew the other knew. It was his way of saying goodbye.
    • He did promote her to CAG. For the short time she had to live she was the Galactica's official CAG and would be listed as such in her file.
      • A better example would be Tyrol comforting a dying Socinus on Kobol. Not only is Tyrol lying about their imminent rescue, the group is about to euthanize Socinus with a lethal dose of morpha.
  • In an episode of House, a woman is dying of rabies. Foreman comforts her pretending to be her husband. She's too sick to tell the difference.
    • Making it even sadder, the reason her husband isn't there is because he and their infant son are already dead. They died in a car accident — and she was the driver. She had fallen apart from guilt and became homeless and destitute when she contracted rabies. Foreman helped absolve her of the guilt that had plagued her for years.
  • In an odd subversion, an episode of Ally McBeal featured a client who sued to be put back into a coma where she had a husband and a family full of loving children and grandchildren—none of which she had in her normal life.
  • In Veronica Mars, Veronica tells the dying Abel Koontz that his daughter couldn't be by his side because she's climbing Mount Everest, and it would take days if not weeks to return. In truth, she had been murdered several days earlier.
  • Averted, and then subverted in the Grey's Anatomy episode "Losing My Mind" for a truly heart-wrenching outcome.
  • After much consternation, averted on General Hospital when Robin opts to tell her days-away-from-death boyfriend that she did contract HIV from him. A conversation between Luke and Sonny later on actually debates whether Robin would have been better off letting him die believing that he did not give her the virus.
  • Toshiko in Torchwood does this for Owen, to the extent that he can die happy given the circumstances, by not telling him that she's dying too.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "A Good Man Goes To War", Lorna Bucket met the Doctor as a child, and has spent her whole life hoping to meet him again. She finally does on the Demon's Run asteroid, but the Doctor hasn't yet visited her and she's been mortally wounded. The Doctor pretends to remember her for her last moments, rather than let her die disappointed that the Doctor in front of her isn't -her- Doctor.
  • Heroes: When Daphne's gunshot wound turns septic, Matt gives her a dying dream where she recovers, decides to split with Matt and run to Paris, he eventually comes for her with his new power of flight, and the two share a flight over Paris. Slightly subverted in that Daphne figures out that she's dying, but goes through with the dream anyway.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Charlie fakes a cancer diagnosis in order to trick the Gang into fixing him up with the Waitress before he bites it. Slightly subverted in that the Waitress is unmoved, and refuses to have sex with him anyway. (And, of course, the obvious subversion—he's not actually dying.)
  • In an episode of Criminal Minds, Hotch tells a dying witness who was locked in a burning house that her family are fine, and waiting for her. In reality they died in the fire.
    • There's also the episode where the team come across one of a pair of serial killers who is badly wounded. Because the man is already dying, Gideon tries to stop him moving to minimize the pain he's experiencing, and repeatedly tells him "it's okay, it's okay", rather than commenting on the wrongness of his actions. Gideon even calls him "son" a couple of times.
  • In Regenesis, Caroline's nephew Glenn gets one of these as, after being comatose for years and, when the Nor BAC crew finally figure out how to communicate with him in hopes that it will lead to a remedy for his situation, he asks please be allowed to die. Caroline takes him on a mental run through a park, feeding him as much pleasant, invigorating imagery as possible and trying to inspire the euphoria of a real run as the doctors get ready to pull the plug. She breaks down mid-sentence as she hears him flatline.
  • In 24, Red Shirt A goes back to save another, wounded Red Shirt against orders during a firefight, and is of course shot. Red Shirt B is pulled back, but dies. Redshirt A is dying from his wounds, too, and asks Jack if Redshirt B survived. Jack looks to Cole, who shakes his head. Jack tells him that Redshirt B is going to be just fine.
  • In an episode of ER, a man, dying and hallucinating, thinks Pratt is his estranged son and Pratt, who had never known his father, lets him believe so.
  • When Bosco is dying in The Mentalist, he finally tells Lisbon that he loves her:

Bosco: I love you, Teresa.
Lisbon: I love you, too.
Bosco: No, I mean I love you.
Lisbon: I know what you mean, Sam.

    • He dies knowing that the woman has always loved loves him as well. Tear Jerker, much?
  • There's an episode of M*A*S*H (television) where a very wounded soldier wakes up and mistakes Nurse Kellye for his girlfriend. Kellye plays along and pretends to plan a picnic. Meanwhile, Hawkeye is watching and starts to realize how much Nurse Kellye does for the unit.
  • Subverted and Played for Laughs in How I Met Your Mother. A few years earlier, Barney's mother was very sick and the doctors thought she didn't have long to live. To make her happy, he hired an actress to pretend to be his fiancee and visit her in the hospital. She later recovered, so Barney had to Maintain the Lie by pretending to be married, then hiring a boy actor to play his "son".
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. When Garak's father lies dying, he asks Garak if a variety of enemies were dead. Garak lies and says all of his enemies are dead, to which his father says that's good, since a man shouldn't let his enemies outlive him. This may even be the truth, since in his previous appearance he wiped out everyone but Garak and his housekeeper that even knew who he was.
    • In the episode "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River", a Vorta Defector From Decadence sacrifices himself to protect Odo, whom he still considers to be a god. As he lies dying, he asks Odo for his blessing. Odo, who hates the fact that the Vorta worship his people, is reluctant at first but decides to say the words that the man needs to hear in order to die happy.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. In "Resistance" Captain Janeway is sheltered by a mentally-disturbed man who believes Janeway is his daughter. Both his wife and daughter were killed years before by the dictatorship ruling the planet, after the man fled to save himself during a resistance operation. The inevitable Redemption Equals Death occurs, and Janeway comforts the dying man by claiming that she rescued his wife, and his wife forgives him.
  • In episode ten of Death Valley, the episode closes with the revelation that Officer Brown has been infected by a zombie and has almost completely transformed. Captain Dashell takes a plastic trophy off one of the desks in the office and gives it to Brown, explaining that it is to commend and recognize his bravery and service with the Undead Task Force, placing it in Brown's hands before shooting him.
  • The Tales of the Gold Monkey episode "Legends Are Forever" featured one of Jake's old friends believing that the tribe he was helping had a vast treasure, some of which he hoped to get his hands on. When the tribe's enemies hit him with a poisoned dart, his last request was that Jake tell him about the treasure vault he'd seen. There hadn't been any treasure vault, just a network of empty caves, but Jake told him the place was piled high with a ridiculous amount of gemstones and precious metals, and he died smiling. However, the tribe gave Jake a small bag as payment for his friend's aid. When he got around to opening it, it held several diamonds of rather unusual size....


  • The song "At the Bottom of Everything" by Bright Eyes is about an elderly man telling a young woman that they're going to her birthday party, because everyone loves her very, very much. In reality, they're strangers on a plane that's about to crash.


  • In the number "A Little Fall of Rain" from Les Misérables, Eponine dies in Marius's arms while he tells her that he loves her, she'll recover, and they'll be happy together for a long time. Audience blubbers. Also appears in the novel, where Eponine suffers a far more gruesome end and in her last moments asks for a kiss from Marius, who obliges.
    • In that same play, Fantine dies peacefully and thinking of her daughter as Monsieur le Maire — snf—tells her he'll take care of Cosette for as long as he lives. Never mind the fact that he just exposed himself as the parole-breaking convict Jean Valjean and that the police officer is right outside to arrest him. In the book, Valjean desperately tries to keep the truth from Fantine, but Javert bursts in and—and does not let her die happy. Double-subverted in that Valjean does escape with Cosette and raises her as his own.
  • In Reefer Madness: The Musical, a dying Mary asks Jimmy if Romeo and Juliet has the happy ending they dreamed it did. Mae and Jack inform Jimmy that it did not. He tells Mary that it did.

Video Games

  • Matthew Baker in Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway attempts to do this while Franky "Beans" La Roche is dying, telling him the Dutch girl he tried to save escaped, but Franky manages to breathe out calling him a liar, which obviously means he knows she died. Then part of the ceiling collapses and crushes him. Doesn't feel like he was anywhere successful near with this trope, huh?
  • In Tales of Symphonia, Lloyd tells a dying Governor-General Dorr that his daughter, Kilia (whom had been replaced by a Desian impostor who mentions that she is dead) is alive, and can choose whether to promise to save his wife, Clara so that his daughter won't be alone; whether Lloyd lives up to this promise is up to to the player, but he can save Clara in an optional side-quest.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Emma dies thinking that the virus worked fine when really they're not sure. It did work, actually, but with some... side effects.
  • In Persona 3, the Protagonist can choose to give this to his friends, after they've all objected - allowing The End of the World as We Know It to be delayed a month and change, and to have his and his friends' memories of the Dark Hour erased, in order to die a carefree and painless death. This is the bad ending to the game, obviously.
  • Chapter 3 of Final Fantasy Tactics: Folmarv has revealed the truth about his Zodiac Stone, and wreaks havoc within Riovanes Castle. His son, Isilud, lies dying, savaged by his own father. Terrified, and desperate to spread the news about this diabolical power, he's found by Ramza's sister, Alma. She assures him that Ramza has slain the demon, and that everything is all right. Isilud is then able to die at peace, instants before Folmarv arrives to capture Alma.
  • Tsukihime uses this in Arc's route, when Arc uses her Marble Phantasm to "defeat" Roa, who regenerates and slices her in half as she walks away. She's blinded from the pain, and Roa's still regenerating... so as she bleeds out, Shiki comforts her and says that she finally did it, she finally killed Roa. Then she dies, and a very angry Shiki gets up, gives a World of Cardboard Speech, and promptly utterly wtfpwns Roa.
  • At the end of the Rank 2 fight in No More Heroes, Travis impales Bad Girl with his beam katana. Even bleeding profusely she refuses to give up and pins Travis to the ground before beating him furiously with her baseball bat until Travis admits he lost. She promptly stops and manages to get out an awkward "Yes! I won!" just before dying.
  • Narcissu. Setsumi's death, and probably the protagonist's death after the game.
  • Legend of Legaia subverts this one in a rather brutal fashion. Lady Zora willingly fought the party with the belief that Cort loved her as they came to raid her floating castle. Once she loses, Songi shows up, blows open the door leading to the Mist Generator, and nukes it as well before exposing the true nature of the castle - a gigantic Death Trap for the party. Zora believed that Cort loved her to the end before Songi states otherwise and blows her up, too. Take this troper's advice and don't fight ANYTHING after wasting Zora - why do you think Songi blew up the generator in the first place?
  • Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines: Fun With Pestilence can play out like this, depending on player choice.
  • If you take the easy option in Knights of the Old Republic 2 and have Visas sacrifice herself in the duel with Darth Nihilus, the light-side option is to comfort her with the knowledge that her death meant something.
  • Jorge in Halo: Reach is the epitome of this trope. He tosses Noble Six out of a Covenant ship, sacrificing himself to blow it up, thinking he just saved Reach. Not 30 seconds later, however, an entire Covenant fleet drops out of slipspace to finish the planet off.
  • At the end of Planetarian, the Junker (who is the main character) tells the eponymous Ridiculously Human Robot that he will get her to the service center, after an autonomous war machine blast her entire lower half (short story: it's a Crapsack World). No way in hell he can do that.

Web Comics

  • This Schlock Mercenary strip. Subverted in that they don't all die, leading to much confusion and disappointment.
  • In Order of the Stick, the ghost of Lord Soon puts the best spin he can on Miko's disastrous final actions. This is a variation if not an outright subversion; his words are compassionate but also bluntly honest.
    • Later, Therkla, the half-orc ninja with a massive unrequited crush on Spoony Bard Elan, is fatally poisoned by her employer after switching sides, and dies in Elan's arms.Cue the tears. But this is also a variation/subversion, because Elan can't bring himself to lie and tell her he'll dump Haley for her if she's raised.
      • It's not so much not being able to bring himself as fearing the consequences if she did get raised.
  • Buck Godot: The Prime Mover finds out that his security chief has done terrible things (including enslaving an entire species to be his spies) to maintain order on Gallimaufry Station, which he has done very well for thousands of years. Rather than condemn him, the Prime Mover praises the Chief for his exemplary record, declaring that he will serve as a shining example for all who attempt to follow him... and then "fires" him.

Western Animation

  • Happens in the Disney version of The Prince and the Pauper. Mickey, disguised as the prince is summoned to the dying king's bedchamber. With his last words, the king asks Mickey to promise him that he will rule "justly and wisely." Mickey does.
  • In Justice League, Hawkgirl tells Solomon Grundy, who wanted his soul back (long story) and was mortally wounded in a Heroic Sacrifice, that his soul will be waiting for him on the other side, even though she doesn't believe in such things.
  • On SpongeBob SquarePants, Squidward mistakenly believes SpongeBob is dying, and spends the day playing with and pretending to tolerate him.
  • In Dead Space Aftermath, after the interrogation of Alejandro Borges is complete, he's told that he'll be escorted to guest quarters for the remainder of the trip to The Sprawl, and after that, he'll be free to go home. While he's expressing his relief to the guards escorting him down the corridor, one shoots him in the back of the head. In a fine example of Karmic Death, the interrogators themselves are shot from behind shortly after being congratulated by an Overseer on a job well done. Their last words consist of speculation about how they'll be rewarded. Unfortunately for them, the illusion is shattered at the last moment by the sound of the guards' guns warming up.
  • On South Park, in the episode A Million Little Fibers, Oprah's minge convinces her asshole, which just took a bullet from a police sniper, that they've made it to Paris. Yeah, did I mention this was on South Park?

Real Life

  • It's not uncommon for family or friends to tell someone who is dying something they would want to hear, even if it's not true, or it's about something that might happen but hasn't yet. ESPN recently did an Outside the Lines story on Dylan Rebeor [dead link], a high-school football player who discovered he had terminal colon cancer early in 2010. He served as an inspiration to his team, Central High School in Columbia, Tennessee, as they played through the 2010 season and state playoffs. He died the morning of the State Championship; his last words were to ask his mother if the team had won the title. She said they did, even though the game was that night. Fortunately, the team did win the state title.
  1. loosely based on RED