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Faramir: You wish now that our places had been exchanged... that I had died and Boromir had lived?

Denethor: Yes. I wish that.

If Alice died, and Bob wishes he had died instead, that would be Survivor Guilt. This is when Bob wishes Carol had died instead.

Then, those with Survivor Guilt may think that others think this.

Sometimes used to Lampshade that the target of the comment is The Unfavorite. A variation might be "I should have aborted you," or "You were an accident." An easy Kick the Dog (or Moral Event Horizon) line.

On the other hand, if you, Dirty Coward that you are, survived by sacrificing the other character, expect no mercy. Compare I Wished You Were Dead. Saying this can occur during a Moment of Weakness.

Examples of You Should Have Died Instead include:

Anime and Manga

  • In a flashback in H2O: Footprints in the Sand, Hinata's grandfather wishes that Hotaru, whom we had known to this point as Hinata, had died instead of her sister. So much that he forces her to steal her sister's identity and renounce her room, her hobbies, and anything that made Hotaru distinct from the real Hinata. No wonder it hurts when the townspeople gossip that it was better that Hinata survived and Hotaru died.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: This pushes Shion over the edge in Meakashi-hen, when she thinks that her Yakuza family killed her boyfriend and wishes that it had been his little sister instead, whom she never liked anyway. When her Roaring Rampage of Revenge gets to the sister, we get the most disturbing murder scene in the entire series, followed by one of the biggest tearjerkers.
  • Berserk: Guts's adoptive father Gambino told him this word for word when he tried to kill him. He's referring to Sys, Gambino's lover, who died from the plague just three years after they took Guts in. He blames this on Guts due to a superstitious belief that his being born from a corpse makes him bad luck, which fueled a hatred that had previously led him to sell the kid to one of his men as a child prostitute for three silver coins.
  • Shuffle: Eight years prior to the story, both of Rin's parents and Kaede's mother are killed in a car accident. Kaede became traumautized from the incident, losing her will to live. Rin overhears the doctor say that she needs a reason, any reason, to live. Rin then goes to Kaede and tells her that on the night of the accident, he was lonely and phoned his parents, asking them to come back. Since his parents and Kaede's mother rode in the same car, he essentially told Kaede that it was his fault that her mother died. This causes Kaede to snap out of her stupor and she tries to strangle Rin to death.

    Rin manages to escape, but since Kaede's father has taken Rin into their home, Rin must constantly put up with Kaede's deep hatred of him. While putting on a front of being friends with Rin around her father, Kaede does such things as vandalize Rin's room, drop a box-cutter on his face so that it slices his eye while he's coming up the stairs, locks him out of the house when its raining and goes outside to meet him where she tell him "I don't understand. Why did my mother have to die, while someone like you still gets to live? I wish you were dead. I mean it! Just die!" Once she finds out that it was actually her fault that her mother died she then spends the next few years of her life completely devoting herself to Rin in an attempt to make up for how she treated him during their childhood.
  • Minagi Tohno in AIR reveals she was going to have a little sister (to have been named Michiru) but her mother miscarried. Her mother calls Minagi "Michiru".
  • In Skip Beat, it's a little unclear how the car accident death of Hizuri Kuon's older friend Rick came about, sending him into an Angst Coma, but a large part of the reason it hit him so hard is that a blonde woman attached to them both expressed this sentiment and called Kuon a murderer. Even if he was (illegally) driving the car, it would have been a completely accidental vehicular homicide, since Rick couldn't even get the kid to do violence to a chicken because of his excessive empathy. And it doesn't look like he was driving.
    • He only got out of the Angst Coma by turning into Tsuruga Ren. And when he almost got into a car accident when a little boy ran in front of his stunt vehicle, he suffered flashbacks.
  • ARAGO: When Arago and Rio meet for the first time after Ewan's death, Rio quite explicitly expresses to Arago how she wishes that he would have died in Ewan's stead. This changes pretty quickly though.
  • In the Death Note manga, Light says this to Ryuk (a God of Death).

 Light: *sighs* I wish Rem had survived instead of you.



  • Watchmen: Rorschach's backstory reveals that his mother was a prostitute, and as a child he interrupted her while she was busy on the job. Her john left without paying her, and she descended angrily on her son - slapping him, shaking him, and shouting "I should have had that abortion!"
  • In Hellblazer, John Constantine gets this a lot. A lot of times, the people saying it are right.



 Dick: Bastard! It should have been you! It's your fault! If you'd told Two-Face who you were at the circus, they'd still be alive!

    • In fact, Bruce had tried, yelling out "Harvey! I'm Batman!" just beforehand, but no one could hear him over the panic.

 Batman: If Bruce Wayne could have given his life for your family, he would have.

  • The Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line shows how Johnny's father blamed him for his brother's death, and didn't respect his musical accomplishments.
    • In Walk Hard: The Dewy Cox Story, his own father tells him "The wrong kid died." Repeatedly. He visits Dewey in rehab just to reiterate this, he sings it as he does fieldwork...
  • In Alaska Sean says to his fathers face how he wishes he had died and not his mom.
  • In Stand by Me, Gordy was never as understood or loved by his parents as his athletic big brother, who was killed in a car crash a year before the film. He has a nightmare at one point, being at the funeral, and hearing his father say, "It should have been you, Gordon." While this might be All Just a Dream, Gordy mentions another detail about the funeral a moment later as it were true...
    • Unfortunately, parents don't need to use words to make such a message understood.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Han expresses this general sentiment, if not the exact words, to his son Anakin after Chewbacca's death.
  • Ordinary People
  • In Kick-Ass:

 Kick-Ass: If it wasn't for you, I would be dead!

Hit-Girl: If it wasn't for you, my daddy wouldn't be.

  • Legion: Sandra pretty much says this to her daughter after Howard dies.


  • The Lord of the Rings, as shown by the page quote. Faithfully reproduced in the film version.
    • It's worth noting that Faramir's question was worded that if one of them had to die, would Denethor have preferred Boromir to live. Denethor's answer is based on his belief that if Boromir was still alive, Minas Tirith would have a better chance of surviving the impending attack.
      • His wording in the book is "Yes, I wish that indeed, for Boromir was loyal to me and no wizard's pupil... He would have brought me a mighty gift.". At least in the film, he hesitates to say this to Faramir, and his voice trembles. In the book he has no such hesitation. The full line is in the deleted scenes.
      • Note that, buried in the Council of Elrond scene in the book, Boromir explains that it was Faramir who had the dream, and that Boromir followed the vision because Faramir was... not so ruggedly heroic as his brother. Leading to Denethor being actually rather justified in saying that Faramir "should've" been the one to die as he was the one being called. But on the flip side, Faramir shows exceptional resistance to the ring's temptations. How far would the Fellowship have gotten, if it had been Faramir and not Boromir who went along?
  • In Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, Wormtail tries to justify to Harry, Sirius and Lupin his betrayal of Lily and James Potter, claiming that Voldemort would have killed him if he hadn't told him where they were. Sirius shouts furiously, "THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED!"
    • The others would have chosen death over betrayal, so yes, Sirius' attitude is very much justified. (All the more seeing how he's had to carry the guilt of suggesting Wormtail be the Secret-Keeper needed for the Fidelius charm to work.)
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Catelyn Stark's greatest moment of bitchiness in A Game of Thrones has her throwing this at Jon. Though the character at question wasn't dead just yet.
  • 1984: At the end, Room 101's purpose, at least for Winston, is to make him truly wish the torture on his loved ones instead of himself.
  • In Henry James' novel Washington Square, the father of heroine Catherine Sloper, Dr. Sloper, hates his daughter because his beloved wife died while giving birth to her. He spends the rest of his life belittling and tormenting her emotionally.
  • Fable: In the novel based off the video game, the main character is called into his dying mother's bed chamber where she tells him that she's happy that he survived the balverine attack instead of his brother, since he has prospects and business sense whereas his brother was just a dreamer. Only problem is that she's remembering it backwards and thinks he's his dead brother.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: After the birth of Miles, near the end of Barrayar, Count Piotr says that he wishes that Mad Emperor Yuri's death squad had killed Aral, instead of his older brother. This is the final straw in their deteriorating relationship, leading to a 5 year estrangement.
  • Satirical variation: British columnist Victor Lewis-Smith has been quoted as saying "The Beatles are dying in the wrong order." George Carlin wrote something similar: "The wrong two Beatles died first." Comedienne Judy Tenuta once joked that John Lennon's assassin Mark David Chapman would have been considered a hero if he'd aimed two feet to the left.
  • Stephen King's Duma Key, features divorced wife Pam saying this to Edgar when their daughter is killed.
  • Another Stephen King example comes in The Eyes of the Dragon where the universally beloved Queen Sasha dies giving birth to the rather useless Prince Thomas. Thomas imagines that not only his father, but pretty much everyone in the kingdom is thinking, "We lost your mother and we got you instead?"
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: 9-year-old Oskar says this to his mother. He immediately regrets it, but in her pain, she has a hard time forgiving him.
  • In Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood when one of the characters, Midori, is telling the protagonist her backstory, she talks about her mother dying and her father saying to her and her sister he'd rather they died than her, and how on one level she admitted the sentiment was very nice to her mother, but on the other it wasn't something a father should say to his daughters.
  • There is an old children's horror novel where the main character's name is Matt, and his apparently perfect older sister, Penny, was murdered ten years ago. He often gets into trouble, and during one incident, his mother tells him, "And poor Penny's the one who had to die!" Later on she tries to make it up to him, but he never forgets how badly it hurt him to hear it. Of course, it turns out that Penny wasn't so nice and kind after all, and actually died in the attempt to kill a four-year-old Matt...
  • Percy Jackson and The Olympians Hades tells Nico that he wishes that Nico had died instead of Bianca.
  • From Adeline Yen Mah's memoir Falling Leaves. Jeanne openly wishes that her daughter, Susan, had died instead of her favorite child, Franklin, a brat and a bully who died from bulbar polio contracted after gorging himself on unwashed strawberries. The resulting quarrel leads to Susan's disinheritance.

Live Action TV

  • Soap: Elaine Lefkowitz, Danny's first wife, had this ("Why couldn't it have been you?") said to her by her father. Ouch.
  • Lost : Benjamin Linus's father expressed these sentiments to Ben -- that he'd wished Ben had died rather than his mother.
  • ICarly
    • Not death, per se, but Freddie's mom does this quite a few times after Freddie risks his life to save Carly's in "iSaved Your Life".

 Carly: How is he?

Mrs. Benson: Broken. Damaged. But I see you're fine, isn't that nice?

    • And this gem.

 It should have been yoooooou.

  • Dexter: Astor says this when she finds out Rita's dead.
  • Millennium: In the third season, Mr. Miller tells Frank that he wishes Frank had died instead of Catherine. This is a fairly understandable case, as almost any family would choose their daughter over their son-in-law if push came to shove.
  • In Awake Rex says this of his father, though in a realistic spin, he's ashamed of it.



  Remember when Ronnie died and you said you wished it was me? Well guess what, I am dead, dead to you as can be!"


Stand-Up Comedy


 Jeselnik: It's been a rough year for comedy. Not only did the world lose Greg Giraldo...*applause from audience*...but even worse, it kept Jeff Ross.



  • In Equivocation by Bill Cain, this colors the relationship between Shag and his daughter Judith: her twin died as a child, and he can't help wishing that she had been the one to die instead.

Video Games

  • In Tales of Symphonia, during Zelos' "night in Flanoir" scene, Zelos reveals to you that his mother was shot by an arrow that was meant for him. His mother hits the point home with: "You should have never been born."
  • In .hack//G.U., this happens to Sakubo's player Iori, who is an Ill Boy in real world. Frustrated at her son's condition, Iori's mother wished the one who was alive was Iori's stillborn twin sister, Sakura.
  • Captain Price clearly feels this way about Yuri after Soap's death.

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation


 SpongeBob: Poor Mr. Krabs, gone out of our lives forever. Why couldn't it had been me? Why?

Squidward: Yes, why couldn't it had been you?

  • The Simpsons: Agnes Skinner says she wishes her son had died instead of their car. This is typical of their relationship.
  • Emperor Zarkon in Voltron: Legendary Defender never outright says this but the flashbacks in Season 8 suggest that this is why he hates his son Lotor so much. Both Lotor (as a foetus) and Honvera entered the Quintessence Field but while Lotor was born normal, the Field warped Honerva into Haggar while wiping her memory.