Collapsed Mid-Speech

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

For whatever reason, victims of poison always seem to have some big speech to give while the poison kicks in. The poor sucker will stumble around, lose his train of thought, start sweating heavily, sway a little—maybe take a few slugs from the (poisoned!) water bottle. The crowd, without fail, will suddenly become blurry and indistinct.

A common variant has the victim simply having a heart attack, fainting, or falling ill without poison.

Compare to Killed Mid-Sentence, Almost-Dead Guy.

Rule of Drama - collapsing in public is a pretty spectacular way to go.

Examples of Collapsed Mid-Speech include:

Anime and Manga

  • In the Sailor Moon R TV series, Rei is attacked in the middle of her school concert. She transforms into Sailor Mars when everyone but the Senshi are knocked out, but since she had a good part of her Life Energy stolen by the Monster of the Week, she almost passes out in the middle of her In the Name of the Moon speech.
  • In the Hetalia Bloodbath 2011, it happens to two characters. First, Seychelles experiences this as she's a nation-tan with a tropical climate and yet she's trouncing around in snow to join the others. Later, we find out that a pre-teen!Holy Roman Empire experienced this and Blood From the Mouth when he had a seizure during a Germanic states reunion, and his caretaker Hungary has to carry him in her arms.


  • An entire mob of grown-ups pass out during a speech in the Spy Kids movie.
  • Deliberately invoked in Dave where Dave (impersonating the president who has been incapacitated by a stroke) gives a big speech to congress and the senate, then stutters, stumbles and collapses just after the important confession part, supposedly with a stroke so they can switch the real president back in.
  • Alex in A Clockwork Orange falls face-first into his pasta after being slipped a mickey by the writer whose wife he and the Droogs gang-raped in the beginning of the film.
  • This happens to Jefferson Smith at the climax of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, although in that case it's not so much that he doesn't get through his speech as that he keeps speaking until he collapses.


  • The Bible: King Herod (the one who beheaded James the apostle) is said to have been struck down by God during a public appearance.
  • In Ngaio Marsh's The Nursing Home Murder, an ailing and unpopular Prime Minister collapses while speaking in the House of Commons. He's sent to a private hospital for an emergency appendectomy, but doesn't survive the procedure.
  • Robert Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. While Professor Bernardo de la Paz was on Earth he suffered greatly from the Earth's greater gravity, as it was six times what he was used to. After he returned to the Moon he seemed to get better. Near the end of the novel, after the Moon had won the war with the Federated Nations of Earth, he gave a speech to a crowd of Loonies.

He stopped for cheers, then went on, "But that lies in the future. Today-- Oh, happy day! At last the world acknowledges Luna's sovereignty. Free! You have won your freedom--"
Prof stopped--looked surprised. Not afraid, but puzzled. Swayed slightly.
Then he did die.

Live Action Television

  • The Mentalist: A chef collapses in the middle of his speech.
  • Babylon 5 discusses and subverts this. Londo and Vir plan to assassinate the mad emperor. Londo worries that the Emperor will give a deathbed speech. The "almost" instantaneous poison is supposed to stop this. Vir jokes that maybe the Emperor will shout "Kill Londo!", Londo is not amused. Vir ends up stabbing the Emperor with the poison needle. His last words are simply "I was to be a god."
  • Gilmore Girls: Rory's grandfather has a heart attack and goes down in the middle of a lecture, but he makes it.
  • Played with in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Mayor starts his Ascension in the middle of his speech to the graduating students, which causes him strong pains. However, he knew that it would happen and his collapse last few moments before he turns into a demonic snake. He only complains that he doesn't have time left to talk about civic pride.


  • In Inherit the Wind, Matthew Harrison Brady is giving his closing speech, which his old and weary voice tries and fails to make sound passionate. After the microphone is taken away from him, he desperately tries to continue, but suddenly falls silent and collapses. As he is carried out of the courtroom in a semi-conscious state, he strangely starts speaking on being inaugurated as President. He dies offstage soon after.

Web Comics

Real Life

  • My mom (I hate to use "this troper") told me about a very infamous incident that happened in my hometown. It happened in the early 1990s I think. The Leader of the town was running for re-election and was at a debate when he had a massive heart attack and died. This could also count as Killed Mid-Sentence as he died before he arrived at the hospital I believe. Oh ya, it was also on live T.V.