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"I don't want to die... I want to see everyone again. One last time, I just want to see them...
Emil, Nie R

When the hero is forced to make a great sacrifice for the greater good, just before he does he suddenly realizes "Wait, I Don't Want to Die". It might be a Chosen One wondering why he specifically has to be the one to die and nobody else. This scenario is usually used to show a very human side of the hero and also making the scene more dramatic. It is characterized by very unheroic responses and actions where he loses bravery, resolve, consideration of the greater good and sometimes dignity. It is likely that the hero will have to have someone help them calm down if he doesn't end up doing so himself to Face Death with Dignity. There's also the possibility that this will end up being his Despair Event Horizon and might try to Screw Destiny by running away. Attempts to Take a Third Option don't usually work out. Though there is a possibility of a Deus Ex Machina to save the day, this may or may not affect the impact of this scene.

There is also the chance that, if not done right, it could make the hero look like a Dirty Coward in an unsympathetic way.

Unlike an Heroic BSOD or Heroic Safe Mode, this realization is very emotional often met with the Five Stages of Grief.

DEATH RELATED TROPE. There will be spoilers. Read at your own risk.


Examples:

Anime and Manga

  • One Piece: In the Enies Lobby Arc, Nico Robin tried to sacrifice herself to keep her crewmates from being arrested (and later executed) alongside her. When they risk their lives just to get within shouting distance of her and ask if she really wants to make a Heroic Sacrifice, she breaks down and begs them to save her. Asskicking ensues.
    • One step further. Luffy INSISTS that they save her first, then she can quit the crew if she wants to. So "we're going to complete this Suicide Mission to save you, whether you want us to or not." THEN the crying starts.
  • In the Downer Ending of Chrono Crusade, Rosette, who has spent all her remaining life force battling the Big Bad, seems ready to Face Death with Dignity, but just minutes before the time comes, she breaks down and starts crying how she doesn't want to die and lists all the things she still wants to do in her life... While Rosette does die, she at least passes away peacefully by the returned Chrono's side.
  • Inuyasha: Naraku tempted a holy man named Hakushin to the dark side by exploiting this trope; Hakushin had been buried alive in hopes that he'd become a saint (It Makes Sense in Context, at least following some Japanese religious deals), and being trapped in a very small space in the dark made the old man realize he wasn't as good as he thought. So he ultimately became a follower of Naraku... Until Kikyou convinced him otherwise with sad yet kind words, plus a Cooldown Hug.
  • Busou Renkin: Faced with the decision between stopping the villain, Victor, and saving himself from BECOMING a "Victor", which is something like Walking Wasteland status, Kazuki panics a bit. It's a very human moment from Wide-Eyed Idealist running on Hot-Blooded hero Kazuki. Luckily, he's saved by Tokiko few later.

  "If I protect everyone else, who will protect me?"

  • Villain Protagonist Light Yagami of Death Note doesn't do this, since he had no intention of hastening his own death by one moment, but after all his drama and posturing these are his final words. Completely without dignity.
    • This is done much more tastefully in the live-action adaptation. While the manga Crosses the Line Twice with its morbid and grossly ironic depiction of Light's death, the live-action version has him instead say, "I can't die here!" Furthermore, his final words are not of his fear and unwillingness to die but rather an appeal to his father to understand his motivation for acting as Kira. Considering that the live-action films made him out to be a much more three-dimensional and sympathetic character with more reasons to back up his actions and given the fact that the artist reportedly admitted to feeling sick while drawing Light's death scene, this is hardly surprising.
    • Of course, after all the deaths Light caused, criminal, innocent and even some of his willing allies, all without the slightest hint of remorse, the manga ending was about the only way Light could be punished without it looking extremely anti-climactic. Light is NOT supposed to be sympathetic.
    • L, on the other hand, dies thinking "I was right"--which is a mixed bag, since it's nice to be right but if he'd done the right thing about it, he could have won.
  • Pengin from Katanagatari, a child Ninja, is asked for his last words by the man who just shot him. Pengin cries that he doesn't want to die. His opponent calls him a pathetic coward and shoves the gun in his mouth.
  • Inversed in Berserk with the villain Wyald, whose motto is "Enjoyment and excitement!" and who claims that life is a waste, but ironically enough, he is terrified of dying. After he was killed off for good, it was revealed that his true form was a frail old man.
  • Wolfwood in the Trigun anime is on the verge of Go Out with a Smile when it suddenly occurs to him he wants to stay with his friends. For a brief moment he reacts as he always had in life, screaming about how unfair it was and finally breaks down as he accepts that his entire life he had followed the wrong path.

Film

  • Tearfully said word for word by the Kid in The Quick and the Dead, after he's been gut-shot by Harod and is dying in the dirt. He dies mere seconds later.
  • The End, a 1978 comedy about a terminally ill man named Sonny (Burt Reynolds) who intends to take his own life rather than die of the rare toxic blood disease he has been diagnosed with. After a number of (comically?) failed attempts, and encounters with people -- an inexperienced priest, his self-absorbed parents, his estranged daughter and ex-wife, and his girlfriend -- who don't seem to care (at least in his view), Sonny drives to a secluded beach and swims out to the middle of the ocean, planning to drown himself. While under water, his life flashes before his eyes and he finally realizes his purpose in life. He suddenly resurfaces and swims to shore, bargaining with God that, if he makes it to shore, he'll be a better man. Indeed, Sonny does make it to shore ... but only to discover that his "friend" Marlon (Dom De Luise), a psychopath whom had helped him with his previous attempts to take his life, is waiting for him and intends to follow through with his promise to help him die. Sonny tries to reason with Marlon that he wants to live ... and seems to have succeeded when, as the two are walking to the road to go home, Marlon pulls out a large butcher knife. "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!" screams Sonny as he flees (the knife-wielding Marlon in pursuit) down the beach under the final credits ("Another Fine Mess" by Paul Williams).

Literature

  • In Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, when Harry learns that he is a Horcrux and must die if Voldemort is to be made vulnerable, he does not speak to Ron, Hermione, or Ginny as he heads to his death, because he knows that doing so might cause him to cave in and not go through with it.
  • A varient in Cirque de Freak. Darren doesn't have to die, but he really doesn't want to fake his own death to abandon his family. Unfortunately, he has to do so or else, as a half-vampire, he runs the risk of accidentally killing his family or friends. At one point he asks Mr. Crepsley if there's any way he can just run away in the middle of the night. He's told he can not, because his family would never stop looking for him.
  • Mme Du Barry in The Woman with the Velvet Necklace. This is based on historical anecdote, telling that the woman's last lines before she was lowered before the guillotine were "Just one minute more, sir! One more minute!"

Live Action TV

  • Doctor Who:
    • In the episode "The Family of Blood", John Smith learns that he is actually an amnesiac human version of the Doctor and that he has to turn back into the Doctor to save the day. He is extremely reluctant because this would mean that he essentially dies and not be able to be with the love of his life. The pure raw anguish and fear make this scene a particularly strong Tear Jerker.
    • The End of Time has the Doctor have this reaction again when regenerating into the Eleventh Doctor, earlier considering the transition as equivalent to death.
  • Buffy in the first season's finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has to face The Master and is prophesied to sacrifice herself to defeat him. She tells Giles, her Watcher, that she's only sixteen and that she doesn't want to die.
  • On Angel, while the visions are eating Cordelia's brains, she gets one of these moments.

 Cordy: "I'm not - I know what I said earlier - But I don't want the visions anymore. I tried to be brave. I did. But I'm just scared now. I'm scared all the time. (Does her best not to cry) I mean look at me!

  • Parodied in way too many episodes of The Mighty Boosh to count- Howard Moon faces nearly every death threat with sudden tears and the words "Don't kill me, I have so much to give!"
  • Ryan Chappelle in the third season of 24.
  • Blackadder Goes Forth has a heartbreaking one at the end of its run when basically the entire cast admits to this, even the idiotically optimistic George.

 George: But this is brave, splendid and noble... sir?

Blackadder: Yes, lieutenant?

George: I'm scared, sir.

Baldrick: I'm scared too, sir.

George: I mean, I'm the last of the tiddly-winking leapfroggers from the Golden Summer of 1914. I don't want to die, I'm not overly keen on dying at all, sir.

Blackadder: How are you feeling, Darling?

Darling: Er- not all that good, Blackadder. Rather hoped I'd get through the whole show, go back to work at Pratt and Sons, keep wicket for the Croydon Gentlemen, marry Doris. Made a note in my diary on the way here. Simply says: "Bugger".

Blackadder: Well, quite.

  • A deeply disturbing scene in The Monocled Mutineer (starring Paul McGann as the titular character) shows the execution of a soldier who panicked and ran away from the field of battle. The young captain spent the night before his execution locked in a shed, stalking up and down and ranting variations on "I want to live". At dawn he was taken out, blindfolded and tied to a chair. He screamed all the way. He screamed while they were shooting him, too, and went on screaming until someone walked up and put a bullet in his head. The noises he made didn't even sound human.

Religion

Theater

  • Desdemona in Shakespeare's Othello grovels when it's clear that Othello intends to kill her, as she begs "Kill me tomorrow, let me live tonight."

Video Games

  • Fate/stay night: In the Normal Ending of the Heaven's Feel route, Shirou's mind is already dead when he goes to destroy the Holy Grail. His last thoughts were about how he doesn't want to do this and how he wants to live, even if only for one more day.
  • Played with in Tales of the Abyss. At one part of the game, it's determined that either Luke or Asch needs to be sacrificed to destroy the miasma that's enveloping the world. Luke decides to go himself, as Asch has stronger abilities and will therefore have a better chance of succeeding at releasing Lorelei later on, which is crucial to saving the world from the Big Bad's plans. As they reach the point of no return in the sacrifice and Luke starts to feel his body disintegrating, though, he realizes that he wants to live after all. Fortunately for him, Asch jumps to help him, and they both survive. Unfortunately for them both, Asch was slowly dying anyway due to fonon interference related to their being perfect isofons, and the incident has greatly shortened both of their lifespans.
  • Super Street Fighter IV has an occurrence of this during the Rival Battle between Guy and Rose. Rose (despite a) being the good half of Bison's soul, b) having failed on several previous occasions to kill Bison because their power is equal but opposite, and c) acknowledging herself that she is merely The Obi-Wan to Ryu, the true character destined to finally vanquish Bison) is dead-set on stopping her mortal enemy, even if it requires her going down with him. Guy, in a revisitation of Street Fighter Alpha 3, is wholly devoted to stopping Rose from proceeding with what is essentially a suicide mission. He questions Rose's methodology with the words "Being prepared to die in battle is not the same as offering yourself to death willingly." Cue a very somber battle with much reluctance from both sides. One of Rose's remarks during the battle is this trope word for word, and when the two aren't beating the tar out of one another, Guy is constantly urging Rose to reconsider her plans.
  • One of the mooks' death quotes in the first Perfect Dark was this line. Another is "Why...me?"
  • In Nie R, Emil's final thoughts after saving his friends and before he dies is that he's scared of dying and wants to see them one more time.
  • Most of your companions in Star Wars: The Old Republic have a line that amounts to this when they're running low on health, but only Mako says this word for word.
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