A Plague on Both Your Houses

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"Help me into some house, Benvolio,
Or I shall faint. A plague a' both your houses!
They have made worms' meat of me. I have it,

And soundly too. Your houses!"
—Mercutio, Romeo and Juliet

With his dying breath, a character vents his anger at his killers, or some other personal enemy. It may be an actual dying Curse that is believed to (or, in some settings, actually does) have the power to harm the target, or it may simply be a prediction of a well-deserved bad end.

Sub-Trope of Famous Last Words. With a little pre-planning, it can be a Thanatos Gambit or My Death Is Just the Beginning.

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

Examples of A Plague on Both Your Houses include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Codename: Sailor V (the comic which precedes Sailor Moon) the Big Bad Danburite/Kaito Ace/Adonis makes this prediction when Sailor V kills him. It isn't a curse per se but it seriously rattles her:

"Your love will be hopeless for all eternity."

  • In Fullmetal Alchemist during the annihilation of Ishbal, Roy Mustang corners the injured leader of the Ishballans. Mustang asks if he has something to say and, surrounded by his destroyed city, the old man answers smiling: "I curse you." Then Mustang incinerates him.
  • In Death Note, Light's final speech degrades into a screeching rant/plea for life as he realises that, despite the fact he's built his empire on the thousands of lives he destroyed, he doesn't want to lose his own.
  • In Mirai Nikki, Ouji Kosaka combines this with "The Reason You Suck" Speech towards Yukiteru.
  • Inukami!: The Bigger Bad told one to Kaoru after being outwitted and vanishing.
  • In Fate/Zero, after Diarmuid is forced to kill himself by his Master Kayneth, in turn forced on him by Kiritsugu, Diarmuid launches hate-filled curses on Kiritsugu and Kiritsugu's Servant Saber. Each comes true; Kiritsugu is cursed by Angra Mainyu and undergoes a slow death, and Saber is forced to destroy the Grail before finding out that it's corrupt.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • In the Batman story "The Four Fates" (aka "The Curse of the Four Fates"), a dying Indian mystic predicts the deaths of the four criminals who kill him in a robbery attempt. Each comes true in an unexpected fashion. For example, the one who is told "water will be your downfall" heads to the desert, several kilometers from any body of water—and dies of dehydration.
  • In The Sandman, The Corinthian is very careful not to kill Loki because of this trope, noting that "the dying curse of a deity is a nasty thing".
    • That does not stop the Corinthian from mutilating Loki. He is that Badass.
      • He's the Corinthian, what did you expect? It's quite possible that the new version of him associates all violence with the chance of eyes in the offing—like what he does to that wolf he kills.


Film[edit | hide]

  • In Independence Day, After he finds out his last missile is jammed, Russel decides on a sucidal attack by flying his plane into the charging alien laser. While flying he yell "All right you alien assholes! In the words of my generation, up yours!" and just before he hits the laser, referencing to his past abduction by said aliens "Hello boys! I'm baaaack!"
  • In Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan, Khan echoes Captain Ahab's last words, directing them at Kirk, as he sets off the Genesis Device.
  • In The Long Kiss Goodnight, Samantha Caine tells the villain who had put her and her daughter into a Death Trap, "You're going to die screaming. Look in my eyes. Tell me if I'm lying." She escapes, and makes the statement come true.
  • In Dumb and Dumber, after a henchman is fed with cyanide pills by the stupid protagonists, he says "You... son of a bitch!" before dying. And it has an impact ("But he blamed me. You heard him. Those were his last words.").
  • Subverted in Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, but only in that Anakin doesn't die: as he burns alive, good arm and both legs just cut off, and as the flames crackle over his flesh, the newly-minted Darth Vader still manages to scream... "I HATE YOU!"
    • Since he's new to the profession, it may be understandable that he's too pissed off to think of anything more creative. Still, he does deserve some credit for Chewing the Scenery with that line (foreshadowing of Vader's hamminess?.
      • On the other hand, George Lucas has been in his chosen career for some time; we could reasonably expect a bit more creativity from him.
    • It's a direct retort to Obi-Wan's line "You were my brother. I loved you. But I could not save you." in the novelisation.
    • As the above post says, the line is given to contrast Obi-Wan's "I loved you," to show how deep in hatred Anakin has gone.
  • In Three Hundred, just before the last stand, Leonidas spots the deformed Ephialtes somewhere behind Xerxes. Leonidas tells Ephialtes that he hopes the man lives forever; a horrible curse for someone that wished to have been like a Spartan.
    • Leonidas didn't have any better luck with his curse than the battle. Apparently the probably not deformed but just greedy Ephialtes was killed ten years later if Herodotus is to be believed.
  • Apophis gets a damn good one in Stargate: Continuum, just before he is executed by Ba'al:

Apophis: May your reign be measured in hours, and your death in years.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Captain Ahab's line "From hell's heart I stab at thee" as he takes a last stab at Moby Dick turns out to be a dying curse, as his attack results in his own death.
  • In The Chronicles of Amber, a dying curse from one of the royals was something with a large amount of magical power.
  • In Marion Zimmer Bradley's Stormqueen!, a traitorous household servant curses Lord Aldaran with sterility before dying. It turns out that he indeed becomes sterile, but it is unclear whether the curse actually did it.
  • The Summoning Dark in Terry Pratchett's Thud! A demon of vengeance summoned by a dwarf mine sign scrawled by a dying miner, it attempted to possess Samuel Vimes as its instrument for getting revenge on the dwarfs responsible for the death of the miner... which proved to be its first mistake.
  • In The Dresden Files, a Death Curse is an actual ability of wizards. When a wizard knows they're about to die, they'll use their last seconds to Cast from Hit Points in an attempt to take down the enemy with them. One Combat Pragmatist notes that the best way to avoid a Death Curse is to kill a wizard with a supersonic sniper rifle so that they wizard doesn't get a chance to react.
    • Harry himself is on the receiving end of one: DIE ALONE!
  • In Tolkien's The Silmarillion, Feanor curses Morgoth three times before succumbing to his injuries.
  • The Aeneid: After Aeneas dumps her Because Destiny Says So, the Queen Dido swears either right before or while killing herself that their peoples will meet again, and this time in war (the Punica Wars, to be exact) . (Ancient Greek and Roman women have the worst luck when it comes to guys.)
    • If you know how the Punic wars ended, this curse ended up being somewhat poorly aimed. (Rome won. Carthage was razed to the ground. Twice.)
  • In Watership Down, it's mentioned that Vervain of Efrafa has received many such curses from prisoners he executed, without being fazed or believing that they held any power. Then he faces Fiver and his expectations (and the trope) are subverted three times over: First, Fiver isn't cursing Vervain, but genuinely pitying him for his eventual death; second, this unnerves Vervain enough that he chickens out of finishing off Fiver; third, Fiver's prediction comes true, and Vervain dies mere days later.
  • In the French series of historical novels The Accursed Kings, Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay curses the King of France, his minister of Justice and the Pope from his execution pyre. His words : "King Phillipe, Knight Guillaume, Pope Clement, by the end of the year I summon you to appear before the tribunal of God to receive your just chastisement! Cursed! Cursed! You will all be cursed to the thirteenth generation of your race!"
    • This was actually inspired by a Neapolitan Knight Templar who said to the Pope that he and Phillip would have to answer for their crimes before a year and a day.
      • ...and which is mostly only notable historically because both the king and the Pope died within the year.
      • Also, although I don't know whether Pope Clement had issue, and the curse for 13 generations seems overdoing it a bit (but then again, 13 is a special number), Philip the Fair's three sons followed him as kings, none being any good and none reigning long. By 1328 the male line was extinct.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Rickard Karstark's final words to Robb Stark before his execution:

"Kill me, and be cursed. You are no king of mine."


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In the Babylon 5 episode "The Coming of Shadows", the Centauri Emperor's efforts at reconciliation with the Narn are ruined by the machinations of Londo Mollari and Lord Refa. Just before the Emperor dies, he says a few last words to Londo. Londo falsely tells everyone else that the Emperor had endorsed the launching of a war against the Narns... but privately admits to Refa that the Emperor really said that Londo and Refa were both damned. About a year later, Refa is beaten to death by a mob of Narns... and, compared to Londo's eventual fate, he got off lightly.
  • In an episode of Friends (The One With The Screamer), a guest star utters the phrase. He's the director of a play that got bad reviews, where his girlfriend and Joey starred.
  • In the Torchwood episode "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang", the woman that John Hart killed in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" did one better - she hid a bomb, attuned to the DNA of her killer, at the end of an intricate treasure hunt and told her killer where it was, and that it was a diamond. Greedy, cocky Captain John, of course, walked right into it.
  • In Rome, after the death of her son and the extinction of her political cause (partly due to Atia's machinations), Servilia goes to Atia's house with a knife and waits until Atia comes out. Then, with the full attention of everybody around, she curses Atia to have nothing but "bitterness and despair" for the rest of her life. To seal the deal, she then stabs herself. While Atia achieves the goal she's been aiming for the entire series, she finds it's Lonely at the Top.
  • In the Lost episode "Outlaws", Sawyer hunts down and kills the man he thinks was responsible for causing his father's suicide and murder of his mother. He's wrong, and the guy's last words are, "It'll come round again."
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Stolen Earth", Harriet Jones, Former Prime Minister foreshadows the destruction of the Daleks at the hands of two human-Time Lord hybrids this way.

Harriet Jones: Harriet Jones, former prime minister.
Dalek: Yes, we know who you are.
Harriet Jones: Oh, you know nothing of any human. And that will be your downfall.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Everway supplement Spherewalker Sourcebook. When Rasmadahan (the Dragon of Fire) died, the sword used to kill him gained magical power and became known as the Dragonbane Sword. Rasmadahan laid a dying curse on the sword that caused anyone wielding it to suffer from the ravages of old age even if they were still young. The curse can cause the sword's user to die of old age while in their twenties.
  • The Ravenloft setting for D&D 3.5 has rules for curses. Laying a curse with your last breath gives a huge bonus to your roll.(Being a woman or a gypsy give bonuses too.)
  • As part of its Gothic horror Cliché Storm, the Magic: The Gathering set Innistrad includes a new Enchantment subtype called "Curses". One of these, Curse of Death's Hold, has flavor text that fits here:

"May you and all your kin waste and wither until your clan is no more!"


Theater[edit | hide]

  • The trope namer is Mercutio's line in Romeo and Juliet, after he accidentally gets into the middle of the Montague-Capulet feud and is fatally wounded by Tybalt. He also makes an Incredibly Lame Pun or two in the process.
    • Note that despite being allies with the Montagues, he blames BOTH families for the ancient feud that led to his death, even though no one asked him to get involved and Romeo tried to save him from Tybalt.
    • There's another layer to the meaning as well. Many scholars interpret the "fighting" between Mercutio and Tybalt as being more a show of bravado than an actual fight; which Romeo breaks up because he sees this as part of the cause to the two families' feud. When he attempts to break up their play, he angers Tybalt, who had recognized him earlier from the Capulet party and been denied the chance to humiliate him. Tybalt attacks in response, either intentionally or unintentionally striking Mercutio instead of Romeo. Most scholars who back this interpretation cite the scene at the party and that Tybalt does not defend himself against Romeo, perhaps from shock, as evidence.
      • What Mercutio meant was that they houses were stupid to have this feud. He realizes that if it weren't for the feud, he would be alive.
  • They must have liked this trope in the English Renaissance. Barabas, the title character of Marlowe's The Jew of Malta, curses the "Damned Christian dogs and Turkish infidels!" who brought about his death - as he boils in oil.
  • The whole plot of Ruddigore comes about because a burning witch cursed the whole line of the Baronets of Ruddigore. Heck, the subtitle is The Witch's Curse.
  • A possible interpretation of Caesar's legendary last words, "Et tu, Brute?" (You too, Brutus?). Instead of a question, asking if even Brutus is betraying him, it is sometimes thought as a statement, basically meaning "Your turn next." Marc Antony made the curse come true.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Mass Effect 2's Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC has rogue Spectre Tela Vasir's final moments, in which she tries to justify working for the Shadow Broker and expresses her disgust at Commander Shepard for working with the pro-human terrorist organisation Cerberus before succumbing to her wounds mid-sentence.

Tela Vasir: "You want to judge me? Look in the mirror! Kidnapping kids for biotic death camps! Hell, your own unit on Akuze! And you're working with them! Don't you dare judge me! Don't you..."

  • Zaros from RuneScape had one of these, and it was rather powerful, turning all humans involved with his assassination into barely-perceptible spirits. Of course, Zaros is probably Not Quite Dead.
  • In Quest for Glory IV, the first major plot event sees the townspeople capture a gypsy on the (false) accusation of murder. If you fail to either clear his name or break him out of jail within a couple of days, the gypsy is burned at the stake. With his dying breath, he curses the town to share his fate, and you get a Have a Nice Death screen saying that his curse came true.
  • When you fail to save a prison guard trapped in an active gas chamber in The Suffering (and you will), he'll die shouting, "Fuck you! Those are my last words, you urrrgghhhh...."
  • The plot of Castlevania: Curse of Darkness centers around a curse like this uttered by Dracula when he met his end from Trevor Belmont, in Castlevania III.
  • "CURSE YOU, SAGES! CURSE YOU, ZELDA!! CURSE YOU... LINK!!"
    • And before his transformation into Ganon and the aforementioned quote, the human Ganondorf uses his "last breath" to bring the house down on Link... literally.
    • Ganondorf's very existence is due to one of these by Demise, the demon king.
  • Warcraft: "I hope there's a special place in hell waiting for you, Arthas." - last words of Uther the Lightbringer.
  • Shiro Tagachi's death wail in Guild Wars Factions might as well have been one...I mean, it bloody petrified an entire forest, and turned an entire sea to Jade.
  • In Beyond Good and Evil, the dying General Kheck uses his final breath to deliver a final insult, right in Jade's face—she's doomed to fail, she will be consumed by the Eldritch Abomination who has been looking for her soul for centuries, and even if she does succeed, it will be meaningless because everyone she ever loved is already dead. She stares him down fearlessly, though—not only because she's a Plucky Girl, but because she still has the two most steadfast members of her True Companions with her, and for the rest, well, now death is a minor technicality.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • In Achewood, a dying king, cheated out of his last meal by a servant (Pat's ancestor), curses him with, "MAY ALL YOUR SONS, AND THEIR SONS AFTER THEM, ON THEIR TWENTY-SIXTH BIRTHDAY, BECOME QUEEEEEEEER!" (which was apparently a common curse back in the day). Needless to say, it comes true.
  • Order of the Stick #623:

"Elf, if you're still here... I hope you choke on your useless goddamn magic."


Web Original[edit | hide]

Anna: My mother's dead, and so's my sister, just like yours is gonna be at the end of this god damn GAME!


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • The Dying Declaration is a recognized hearsay exception, allowing someone's last words to be used against their killer in court in some instances.
  • The original source of the trope was a commonly-held belief in various cultures that dying and/or dead people were extremely close to the supernatural and, thus, their words were extremely powerful. This is evident in the mythologies and legends of numerous ancient civilizations (the ancient Greeks come to mind) and a dying foe was considered extremely dangerous (in some ways moreso than a healthy one) for his ability to call down curses on those who had killed him, particularly if the death was a result of foul play.
  • When Shaka of the Zulu was assassinated by his half brother Dingaan he told Dingaan that the white people, not he, would rule.
    • Dingaan did rule for twelve years though, and was overthrown by another half-brother (who admittedly had British backing) not directly conquered. That happened later.
  • The Master of Knight Templars Jacques de Molay cursed the engineers of his chapter's demise—King Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V -- from his pyre. Before long both died and then a long streak of lethal calamities haunted Philip's descendants.