Dying Alone

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Inara: Mal, you don't have to die alone.
Mal: Everybody dies alone.

Firefly, "Out of Gas"

Being alone is bad. But dying alone is horrible.

It may factor in on the scale of the Heroic Sacrifice, that you must die alone. Sending someone away, so that you die alone, is often a generous gesture, and those who leave may be deeply criticized. When What You Are in the Dark faces you, the villain may taunt you with not only dying, but dying alone.

Lonely at the Top almost always carries the threat that the character will die alone. It is frequently suggested to the single and childless that this may result from their actions.

Dying emotionally alone with other people physically present, as in the opposite of You Are Not Alone, is just as bad.

The one exception when a character is performing a Heroic Sacrifice, particularly after More Hero Than Thou dispute: then, dying alone carries the consolation that the other characters have escaped with their lives.

Conversely, characters may go to great efforts to ensure that a dying character is not alone to defy this trope, which is often explicitly invoked as the reason for staying. Particularly True Companions—a You Are Not Alone moment of particular poignancy—but The Rival, the Worthy Opponent, the Friendly Enemy may all be willing to stay with the dying Hero, and he would do the same for them. Indifferent people don't count, but even a stranger willing to respond to Please Don't Leave Me can help.

They may do this even if the dying person is apparently unaware of them. Similarly, the closest friend in a group of people may insist on being the one to deliver a Mercy Kill. If death takes a long time, Unbroken Vigil may result. Falling asleep by a deathbed is not always considered failure. Dying characters may try to force the issue if the other character is clearly on the verge of collapse.

When a character is Dying as Yourself, it may allow the others to prevent this.

When a character dies alone, Meaningful Funeral, To Absent Friends, and Famed in Story may ensue, to ironically point out that the character actually had friends, or underscore the value of his Heroic Sacrifice. On the other hand, a funeral with no mourners reinforces the loneliness.

Note that this trope is not only limited to heroic characters. If used on a villain, particularly the Big Bad, it will serve to show us just what a miserable and horrible human being they really were, to the point where even their own supposedly loyal servants won't be bothered to accompany them as they die.

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

Examples of Dying Alone include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Bakugan, this happens alot. Wavern warns Naga that his quest for power will end with this. Ironically, she inflicts this fate upon herself when she forces Drago to kill her. Naga winds up being trapped in the doom dimension, which was recently emptied when its inhabitants were freed.
  • To spare his friends the displeasure of seeing him die a gory, undignified death, Rei locks himself in a shed to die alone. Definitely THE most tragic, heartbreaking death in Fist of the North Star.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, what makes the death of Saji's older sister, Hot Scoop Kinue Crossroads even sadder than it already is is that she bleeds to death completely alone in an alley, attempting to use a broken cellphone to call for help, weakly calling out to her loved ones with her dying breath.
    • Also, the first Lockon Stratos, Neil Dylandy died alone... In Space. ;_;
  • In Houshin Engi, this is probably the death Taikoubou AKA Fukki would have gotten if it weren't for Dakki. Jyoka, being afraid of Dying Alone, requests that Taikoubou accompany her, to which he agrees. After she dies, he is left to crumble and die alone, away from all his companions and friends. Thankfully for him, Dakki revives him.
  • In Scrapped Princess, what is arguably the largest Tear Jerker in the series is the death of Fulle. He dies a slow death alone, crawling through the rain, attempting to reunite with Pacifica (with their happy memories together flashing through his mind).
    • Here's one right up there: the death of the Queen, Pacifica's mother. She gets thrown in the dungeon cell adjacent an amnesia-ridden Pacifica. Neither recognizes each other. They talk for a while, and the Queen talks about the daughter she gave up, and at the end of the episode, the Queen succumbs to her injuries, all the while not realizing the daughter she longed to find was just feet awayDramatic Irony at it crulest!.
  • Nicholas D. Wolfwood from Trigun, who dies alone in the chapel after confessing.
    • One might argue that he isn't truly alone. After all he IS in the house of his God.
      • He never really cared that much about God. Most agnostic priest ever. And in his final moments, he was shouting he wanted to go back and join them, that he didn't want to die alone.
      • Manga Wolfwood was ordained by an order of priests who were really bio-boosted mercenary assassins with some kind of plant cult involved. I don't even know what you call that. Apart from so fucking heretic it's incredible they don't spontaneously combust.
  • Kamina from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann might sort of count - although he does give touching final words to the group, it's done away and out of sight, and they aren't really by his side.
  • Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust sees Leila admit her biggest fear is dying alone and unmourned. She and D make a deal - the one who lives longer will visit the other's grave, just to avert this. The ending shows Leila's grave, surrounded by her family - she died with those she loved tending to her. And D visits the grave, as promised.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Hughes dies alone, but everyone except Ed, Al and Winry manage to attend his funeral.
    • In the anime, this also happens to Scar. He ends up taking a lot of people with him shortly after.
  • In Wolf's Rain, Blue expresses her wish to be with Hige "at the very end," because she can't stand the thought of dying alone. When that time comes, Hige goes to Blue, despite being badly wounded himself, and tells her not to worry because he isn't going anywhere. Blue dies happy, and Hige convinces Tsume to put him out of his misery soon after. One of the last images is the two of them lying side by side as the snow covers their bodies.
    • Distressingly done with Kiba. Although he manages to drag himself over to Cheza for one last embrace, Cheza doesn't just die--she disintegrates into flower seeds. Not only is Kiba completely broken from this, it's implied that he's the last living thing in the entire world before he falls through the ice and drowns. You can't get more alone than that.
  • A flasback in ×××HOLiC has Watanuki standing alone in the rain cradling a dead kitten and saying, "I'll die like this too. Alone." This moment was also when Doumeki first saw him, which resulted in Doumeki deciding to protect him and stay by his side in order to ensure that this will never happen.
  • Liechtenstein from Axis Powers Hetalia is barely saved from this by her brother Switzerland. after the war. "I would've loved to be a nation... a little longer..."
  • Yagami Light from Death Note, after being outwitted by Near, flees, mortally wounded, and finally succumbs to gunshots in an empty warehouse. As well as dying physically alone, he also dies alone emotionally; abandoned by Ryuk, with his few remaining friends either turned against him just prior to his death, dead, or elsewhere.
    • A bit different in the manga, because people are present at the time, but it can still be quite the Tear Jerker, depending on what side of the Broken Base you are on.
      • Either way, he's emotionally alone- there's no sympathy to be had from anyone there. He even calls out for many of the people he's used or betrayed to help him.
      • He also loses his dignity completely as he dies in the manga, and considering how hollow he is, his pride is all he ever really had. "I don't want to die!"
  • It is prophesied that Ichise, the protagonist of Texhnolyze will die alone. In the end he does, with all of Lux except the shapes dead, but a final vision of Ran's flower adds a note of ambiguity.
  • In Toward the Terra, Jomy and Keith die together, but Jomy dies first, prompting Keith to invoke this trope with, "Even at the end, I'm alone."
  • Jun Ushiro in the Bokurano TV series. Fitting, as his is the last fight of the series, all of the other pilots are dead, and his sister Kana is at home since he and Youko saved her from being the last in the list.
    • Also in the anime, the aforementioned Youko Machi dies alone and in the snow, in front of her brother Koyemushi's lifeless body.
  • In Cowboy Bebop, after spending most of the series being there for other people -- both friends, foes and bounties -- as they died, Spike dies alone, surrounded by non-friendly Mooks. He died alone because he died last, he made sure his Nemesis Vicious went first, making this a Taking You with Me ending.
  • As a child, Rangiku Matsumoto from Bleach was very close to dying alone due to starvation and implied orphanhood. A boy named Gin Ichimaru saved and befriended her. They grew into either Cain and Abel or Star-Crossed Lovers, depending on whether you ship Gin/Rangiku or not.
    • Kaien tells Rukia that "heart" exists between her and those she cares about, and that she must not die alone. After defeating Aaroniero, but being severely wounded in the process, she reflects on his words, recalls that she is not alone in the general sense despite having no one at her side, and resolves to keep going to save her friend Orihime before collapsing.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, Hayate notes in the introduction to Episode 9 that the thought of dying from her illness didn't scare her because she had been alone until the Wolkenritter came into their life, but now that they are depending on her, she wants to live and be there for them. Graham also suggests that if she were to be sealed away with the Book of Darkness, no one would have to mourn her.
  • In subverted in Zombie Loan, in the Xu Fu arc Touhou (Toho) nearly does so after carrying out his hidden rebellion against Xufu , but in the end, Shito arrives and stays with him.
  • Defied in episode 9 of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Not wanting Sayaka (now a witch) to die alone, Kyouko performs a Mercy Kill/Heroic Sacrifice and dies with her.
  • One of the most defining moments in Legend of the Galactic Heroes is the death of Yang Wenli, who was shot and bled to death in an empty hallway with neither friend nor foe to either help him or finish him off.
  • Subverted in Ai no Kusabi. Iason has fallen victim to a trap: as a result he has lost his legs, is helplessly trapped in an exploding building, and now calmly waits for his end. Then his lover Riki comes to join him so he doesn't die alone.. And after One Last Smoke that doubles as an indirect Last Kiss, Iason and Riki go down together.
  • Narrowly averted with Shizuo from Durarara!!. He is apparently shot twice by Horada and left to bleed to death, alone in an alley, but his natural resistance to pain saves him from this.
  • This is the fate of any jinchuuriki captured by Akatsuki in Naruto. Beaten into coma-like states, their bijuu is torn from their bodies and they die alone and unmourned by their village. This is a big part of Naruto's motivation.
    • Itachi Uchiha possibly comes close to this. He collapsed before Sasuke, but for all we know, he could have passed out and was slowly fading away due to the disease. Tobi then takes Sasuke to patch him up. Thus, Itachi is alone.
      • That might have made it worse. If he did live past that moment, it would have been long enough for Tobi to pluck out Itachi's eyes while he was still alive.

Comic Books

  • In Cerebus, it's prophesied that the title character will die "alone, unmourned, and unloved". It may be a pessimistic description of anyone's death as much as a curse on Cerebus.
    • This became eerily prophetic as author Dave Sim descended into madness, and the few readers who trudged along to issue #300 mostly did so out of a perverse sense of finding out how this thing was finally going to end.
  • Used for dark comedy in Johnny the Homicidal Maniac when Johnny, suicidally depressed from not being able to buy a slushie, tries to take the convenience store clerk with him in a murder/suicide so he won't have to die alone. Johnny kills the clerk first using a gun and turns it on himself... At which point his Contractual Immortality kicks in and he finds out the gun only has one bullet. And then his ADD kicks in before he can find something else to off himself with.
  • The first chapter of The OMAC Project. With the rest of the heroes considering him worthless and his only friend in hospital Ted Kord manages to figure out what is going on, but with no back up, he is subdued easily. The issue ends with him being shot in the head. In issue one, it is revealed his remains were destroyed so no one could know he was dead.
  • The infamous Garfield Halloween special deals with this.
  • Many deaths in Sin City reflect this but John Hartigan has the most gut-wrenching as he has to commit suicide alone in the woods so "a young girl can live".
  • During the Fantastic Four story arc "Wolf at the Door", Reed talks to a man who's about to commit suicide. His teenage son died in a car accident, he and his wife have divorced, and he just found out he has throat cancer, but the fact that he's going to die isn't what scares him - it's the idea of dying alone in a hospital bed with no-one there. Reed gives him a number to call and promises to be there for him, even if he's fighting a supervillain at the time.
  • In "The List: Punisher #1", Frank Castle, after being beaten and torn apart by Wolverine's son Daken at Osborn's request, does die alone. He has alienated his only friend, Henry. To make matters worse, this comes after he has rekilled his family, whom the Hood had brought back to life. No one is there to cry for him save Henry, who is there in time for him to see Daken decapitate Frank, though he does not know this at the time. This set-up provides the breaking of the Punisher and leads up to his coming to terms with his actions in "Franken Castle".
  • The fate of Mr Sinister in Age of Apocalypse, giving the character a rare Tear Jerker moment. Despite having kicked the dog a LOT both in the AoA continuity and the normal Marvel comics, his final moments have him realising that there's no one left to even mourn him


  • In Blood Diamond, Leonardo DiCaprio's character receives a severe bullet wound while escaping mercenaries in Sierra Leone, and tells the two people with him to move on and leave him there. He calls his love interest with a satellite phone and tells her "I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be".
    • Note that the line about him being where he was supposed to be wasn't about dying alone, but rather solidifying his love for Africa, despite what he went through in the movie.
  • In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Kirk says that he's always known that he'll die alone. Oddly enough, in Star Trek Generations he dies when Picard is with him - so he wasn't alone.
    • Parodied by SF Debris who changes Kirk's line to "Or with a Frenchman. Which is basically the same thing."
    • Although considering he was with Spock and McCoy when he said it, it's possible he meant dying without either of them there.
      • Shatner, who directed the film, went into greater detail in his Kirk novels.
    • Because everyone present assumed Kirk was killed when he first encountered the Nexus Ribbon, for decades all Kirk's friends believed he had died alone—until Picard found him alive in the Nexus.
  • Donnie Darko has a minor freakout over Grandma Death telling him that everybody dies alone. Both do, as does Sinister Minister Jim Cunningham (Cunningham's & Grandma Death's deaths were explained in the film's website). Gretchen & Frank each die with plenty of people around, but then Donnie prevents those events from happening, so they're both alive at the end anyway.
    • Donnie himself dies alone, it is arguably one of the major themes of the movie.
  • In Once Upon a Time in the West Cheyenne made an effort to return to Jill even asking her if he shouldn't stay, before leaving with Harmonica and collapsing just out of sight of everybody from a bullet he had caught a few hours ago, because he didn't want her to know.
  • What drives Bridget Jones to get out of her funk and do something is her fear that she will die alone and her corpse will be eaten by wild Alsatians.
  • Doc Holliday dies alone in Tombstone, only because he told Wyatt Earp to leave the room. Combines a Tear Jerker with a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.

Doc Holliday: What did you ever want?
Wyatt Earp: Just to live a normal life.
Doc Holliday: There's no normal life, Wyatt, it's just life. Get on with it.
Wyatt Earp: Don't know how.
Doc Holliday: Sure you do. Say goodbye to me. Go grab that spirited actress and make her your own. Take that beauty from it, don't look back. Live every second. Live right on to the end. Live, Wyatt. Live for me. Wyatt, if you were ever my friend - if ya ever had even the slightest of feelin' for me, leave now. Leave now... Please.
Wyatt Earp: ...Thanks for always being there, Doc. (Gets up and leaves)

  • In Saw VI, William must decide between killing a young, healthy man with no family or friends but a hard worker in his insurance firm, or his older, faltering secretary who has a husband, children and tons of friends. He decides to kill the young man after much agonising because his loss wouldn't be felt as much as the secretary, and despite the secretary and William near him as he's killed he gets angry at them both for deciding he is worth less than them and stays emotionally cut off until the rather nasty end.
  • Michael Corleone by the end of The Godfather, Part III, in complete and deliberat econtrast to his father, who died from a heart attack while playing with his grandson in his own tomato garden.
  • Charles Foster Kane at the beginning of Citizen Kane.
  • Godzilla at the end of Godzilla vs. Destoroyah.
  • Balto: It’s heavily implied that this is Steele’s ultimate fate. After he decides to betray his wolf pack (and abandon children to die), everyone else decides to abandon him and leave him all alone. Given that Steele loves it when people pay attention to him, this is more or less the worst fate he can possibly endure.


  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40'',000 Ultramarines novel Dead Sky Black Sun, the grieving Leonid laments that after he suffered so much, Ellard died alone; Uriel offers what consolation there was with Leonid's having been with him.
    • Later, when Leonid realizes the woman the daemon freed is a member of his own regiment, he observes that may have happened so that he can die with his friends. Uriel looks at his fellow Space Marine and agrees that it is best not to die alone. When she shows some self-awareness and approval, it gives him the strength to make a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • In The Killing Ground, Uriel kneels by the gravely wounded Lord of the Unfleshed and comforts him before shooting him.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's Memory, Miles tells Elli Quinn that Taura will die soon and asks her to get him the news so that he can be with her.
  • In John Barnes's One for the Morning Glory, the Duke remembers kneeling beside men he had just mortally wounded and holding their hands and assuring them in their last moments.
  • In the Forgotten Realms novel Spellfire, Elminster says "If it falls within thy power, let no creature die alone.
  • In Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities, Sydney Carton talks with a seamstress on the tumbrel, confides the truth, and encourages her in facing death. He succeeds.

"I mind nothing while I hold your hand. I shall mind nothing when I let it go, if they are rapid."
"They will be rapid. Fear not!"

  • A villain in the X Wing Series, Kirtan Loor, observes as he is dying that his most hated rival Corran Horn was right- there is nothing worse than dying alone.
    • The series is one in which Anyone Can Die, and basically anytime one of the good guys die - well, any time when they can see it coming, which isn't always possible in a dogfight - his or her wingmates are there, desperately trying to prevent it, and it's always seen as tragic and heroic. Kell's effort to save Jesmin Ackbar earn him one of the highest awards in the New Republic, the Kalidor Crescent, which he sees as a Medal of Dishonor because, well, he failed. When Phanan is shot down over a planet in enemy territory and Face follows and refuses to leave his dying friend, abandoning the others despite leading a mission at the time, it's not seen as Honor Before Reason. And Word of God holds that Phanan died in part because he felt that cybernetics ate his future, and he had no one.
  • In Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, the Big Bad has enslaved some bizarrely inhuman aliens and used their bodies to enslave and make puppets out of his Mook soldiers, lacing their brains so their minds are destroyed and they just try to berserker kill everything, screaming. Freeing the inhuman aliens triggers the deadman interlocks, killing the mooks. By going into the Big Bad's mind Luke can and does free all of the aliens - and he feels all of the mooks in the Force. None of them had signed up for this, had gone along with it, had even cooperated - it had been done to them with callous disregard, and so Luke stays with all of them, thousands, to feel them die, so they won't be alone - because it's all he can do for them.
  • Rebel Force has Ferus Olin left mortally wounded by Darth Vader. Leia comes across him and holds his hand as he dies - and he has a vision of a long-dead friend and partner coming to him, and it's not until Ferus sees Roan and feels him holding his hand that he is ready to go.
  • In Jim Butcher's Dead Beat, Harry has been death cursed by Cassius to suffer this. Then his father assures him that while death must be suffered alone, there is no need for him to be alone before, or after.
    • This seems like a subversion of the Dying Alone trope. Throughout the Dresden Files series, a wizard's death curse has been hyped as very, very dangerous. (That's partly just because it's such a desperate measure, but still.) In Dead Beat, Harry gets hit with one, and to make matters worse it's the sort of thing that plays into one of his ongoing insecurities throughout the series. Then, at the end, his father's ghost informs him that it might mean nothing at all: that's just the nature of death. "It's a door. It's one person wide. When you go through, you do it alone." If everyone dies alone, then apparently it's just not that big a deal.
      • Very, very dangerous does not mean well-advised. Also, Cassius wasn't that strong of a spellcaster to begin with. You can't throw a super-dangerous death curse at someone if you don't have the magical muscle to back it up.
    • Later in Turn Coat, Harry is with the dying Morgan and assures Luccio that he was there.
    • Later in Changes, Harry dies alone.
  • In Ben Counter's Galaxy In Flames, Tarvitz hunts for his battle brothers, the Emperor's Children, in battle—partly in hopes of getting the battle back together, but partly so that he will not die alone but with battle brothers, in defiance of Horus's treachery. It succeeds; he reflects when he gathers with the last handful, whether Emperor's Children, Luna Wolves, or World-Eaters, that he knew their names now, men who had just been grime-streaked faces were now his brothers.
  • In Lee Lightner's Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novel Wolf's Honour, Ragnar stays by the dying Haegr, holding his hand.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel False Gods, when the Chaos taint leaves the mortally wounded Temba, his tears convince Horus of his sincerity, and so Horus kneels by him and tries to comfort him (and cries himself after Temba's death).
  • In Mystic River, Jimmy Marcus explains that he killed Ray Harris not as revenge for Ray ratting him out to the cops, but because it meant that Jimmy was in prison while his wife died alone.

What killed me about it was that she had to go through it completely alone. I know what you're thinking, we all die alone. True. That last stage when you've slipped away, yeah, you're alone. But my wife had skin cancer. She spent six months dying slow. And I could have been there for that. I could have helped her with that. Not the death part, but the dying.

  • In Charlotte's Web, Charlotte is too weak, after making her egg sac, to make the trip from the Fair back to the farm. Wilbur takes her eggs back with him, helping to raise her children the next spring.

Next day, as the Ferris wheel was taken apart and the race horses were being loaded into vans and the entertainers were packing up their belongings and driving away in their trailers, Charlotte died. The Fair Grounds were soon deserted. The sheds and buildings were empty and forlorn. The infield was littered with bottles and trash. Nobody, of all the hundreds of people that had visited the fair, knew that a grey spider had played the most important part of all. No one was with her when she died.

    • However, it is subverted in the 1973 film version, when Wilbur stays long enough to watch her pass away before he cries.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Blood Angels novel Deus Encarmine, Rafen hurries to the dying Koris on hearing he is asking for him. When Turcio pulls back—many Blood Angels fear that the Black Rage is contagious—Rafen is disgusted.
    • Ironically enough, Koris had originally rejected Rafen for his failures at teamwork, and accepted him after Rafen had expressed his lesson as "He who fights alone dies alone, but those who battle as brothers will live forever"—but in the course of the duology, Rafen finds himself fighting and nearly dying alone and isolated.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's The Long Watch, Interplanetary Patrol Lieutenant John Dahlquist, after a superior attempts to recruit him into a coup attempt, instead makes a Heroic Sacrifice by barricading himself in the nuclear armory and manually disabling all the nuclear weapons, taking a fatal dose of radiation in the process. He dies alone, sitting by the door he barricaded. Radiation levels are so high that robots have to be used to recover his body for a hero's funeral.

He was not alone; there were comrades with him—the boy with his finger in the dike, Colonel Bowie, too ill to move but insisting that he be carried across the line, the dying Captain of the Chesapeake still with deathless challenge on his lips, Rodger Young peering into the gloom.

  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Blood Pact, Gaunt muses on why Ayatani Zweil is their chaplain; a big reason is his care for the dying and the dead.
  • A mark of Raistlin's cruelty in The Test of the Twins is his threat to leave Crysania to die alone in the Abyss and actually going through with it.
  • The Stand has a few:
    • There's an entire chapter dedicated to the deaths of people who are all alone because of the plague. Some are very depressing.
    • After betraying the Free Zone Committee and murdering Nick Andros and Sue Stern, Harold escapes with Nadine only to hit a pot hole and crash. Once he gets back to his bike, he writes a letter of apology to the Free Zone and then puts his gun in his mouth.
  • Inverted in Perfume, where Madame Gaillard, who runs a boarding house collects money so she could die alone in her own home, instead of a public hospital. However, she doesn't die soon enough, in the French Revolution her money becomes worthless, and she dies in the way she was trying to avoid in her whole life.
  • Referenced by Eragon and Glaedr in Eldest, the second book of The Inheritance Cycle. While tutoring Eragon in the ways of dragons and riders, Glaedr warns him against taking his partner's soul into his body, "as this will result in both your deaths." Eragon comments "How terrible, to die alone, separate from the one who is closest to you." To this, Glaedr responds "Everyone dies alone, Eragon. Whether you are a king on a battlefield or a lowly peasant lying in bed among your family, no one can accompany you into the void..."
  • Defied in Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games, when Katniss stays with Rue and sings her a song for her Last Request.
  • In Eoin Colfer's "Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony", Captain Holly Short dies alone, but is only dead briefly (Hey, the author is the first person to point out (Through Artemis) that time-related words are flexible in a time field). Soon though, Artemis finds a way to use the chaotic nature of the time distortion around them to fix it.
  • From "The Lay of the Last Minstrel" by Sir Walter Scott, the fate of "The wretch, concentred all in self":

'Living, shall forfeit fair reknown,
And doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonoured and unsung.

  • Following an argument with his brother, Robert in The Emigrants novels walks out into the woods and lies down by a stream, sick with yellow fever. He dies before anyone can find him.
  • In Star Trek: Mirror Universe: The Sorrows of Empire, Mirror Spock and his wife, Marlena, have a conversation in which he promises her that they'll be together when they die, but notes that in the end, everyone is alone when they die.
  • In The Pale King, Frederick Blumquist dies of a heart attack at his desk at an IRS office. He passes away on Tuesday, but no one noticed until Saturday evening when a janitor finds him sitting in the dark. It took over four days for any of 25 other employees in the room to realize that they were working with a corpse. Since he was a quiet person and died in his typical sitting position, everyone just assumed he was really absorbed in his work. His personality doesn't change when he comes back as a ghost.
  • In The God Killer, a sorcerer sneaks away from his work to provide company to a dying deity, whose church became extinct many generations ago. He claims that even a god shouldn't be left to die alone. When the sorcerer is mortally wounded, the ephemeral god expends the last of its dwindling energy to join him, allowing both of them to avert this trope.
  • This troper can't remember the title, but in a children's book, a dog wanders off and digs a hole to die when the injuries caused by his abusive owner kill him. The hero screams at the owner, who was also the school bully, that the dog had preferred to die alone in a ditch than die with his abuser by his side.
  • According to The Bible, this is what happened to Jesus at his death. Not only is he betrayed by one of his disciples, but the others—who truly respect him—are unable to be with him as he enters his final hours. As he is praying in preparation for his eventual fate, the three disciples who he takes to wait with him fall asleep. Peter, one of his closest followers, denies he even knew Jesus in order to save his own skin. The whole atmosphere of alienation is a contrast to the traditional pictures of a triumphant messiah entering into glory. The worst of it? This abandonment by those nearest to him was a necessary part of his unglamorous death. No wonder even Jesus was apprehensive of what his end would entail.

Live Action TV

  • Pretty much the basis of the Doctor Who episode "Father's Day". Also a Tear Jerker.
    • The Dalek in "Dalek" uses this as a ploy to gain Rose's sympathy: "My race is dead. I shall die alone."
      • Mind you, it was also sincere.
    • In The End of Time, although not a death in the traditional sense, this is what happens to the Tenth Doctor, after he absorbs lethal radiation and says a final goodbye to all his companions over the years without telling them of his fate. He then returns to the TARDIS and regenerates completely alone.
    • Adric. On a crashing spaceship. Thinking he just failed to save the world. That is all.
    • Ida Scott in "The Satan Pit" begs the Doctor to come back up even though that would just mean both of them running out of oxygen, because "I don't want to die on my own." He saves her in the nick of time.
  • In Firefly, when 'Serenity' is crippled by an explosion, Mal evacuates the crew but stays onboard himself in the slim hope their distress signal is answered before he freezes. When told he doesn't have to stay behind and die alone, he counters: "Everybody dies alone."
    • This convinces her despite her Tsundere tendencies because she's Secretly Dying, which is why she doesn't pursue a relationship with him. A bit sadder in hindsight.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger had a weird variation at the climax of the Chairman four-parter, where the villain arranges it so that in five minutes, Walker will have two choices: to chase him down, or stay and die with his wife. Naturally, Walker finds an alternative that involves delivering a beatdown ahead of schedule.
  • Cally's first words in Blakes Seven are "May you die alone, and silent."
  • In Heroes, Hiro fulfills his promise to Sylar to tell him all he knows of the future—which is that Sylar will die alone. Which is true: it happened in season 1, the past from Hiro's standpoint, but the future from Sylar's at the time of the conversation.
  • In Lost, Jack tries to unite the survivors, who were starting to fight with each other, with a Rousing Speech that ends with the oft-quoten line atop the page.
    • And then, of course, in the finale, Jack prepares to die alone, having saved all of his friends...and then Vincent comes into the clearing and lies down beside him as he dies. One word: Jears.
  • In Robin Hood, Robin himself dies alone after bidding goodbye to his friends and wandering into Sherwood Forest by himself. He is apparently met by the spirit of Marian as he dies, but this could be a halluncination brought on by the poison in his system. Somewhat of a subversion considering Robin chooses to die alone, specifically telling the others "I have to do this alone."
  • In the Supernatural episode Swan Song:

Castiel: I want you to understand that the only thing you're gonna see out there is Michael killing your brother.
Dean: Well then I ain't gonna let him die alone.

  • In Deep Space Nine, Kira Nerys father Kira Taban was shot by the Cardassians. Although she was by his side for most of it, she left with the rest of her resistance cell to the kill those responsible. Her father died alone, calling out her name, she only missed it by a matter of hours. It haunted her for the rest of her life.
    • The episode that reveals this, Ties Of Blood and Water, also has a Cardassian who became a surrogate father-figure to her dying. After learning of something he did during the Occupation she storms off, only to be convinced to return as "he doesn't deserve to die alone." She returns and stays with him until he dies, and then buries him next to her father.
  • In "Kamen Rider Ryuki", a particularly cruel example occurs when Sano Mitsuru/Kamen Rider Imperer is trapped in the Mirror World, and disintegrated in it even as he's desperately trying to beg for help from his girlfriend in the real world (who can't see him).


  • Embrace of the Endless Ocean by Amon Amarth is about an escaped dying alone at sea when a storm hits him. Directly invokes this trope with the lyric "Father, I die alone".
  • A Space Oddity by David Bowie is about an astronaut who has a loving wife and celebrity-like status back on earth. He is floating away in "a tin can" all along the way he continues to talk to ground control, not realising that the connection was lost probabably right away after the launch. In this context the very most unsettling line of the song is "This is Major Tom to ground control, I'm stepping through the door."
  • "Deathbed" by Relient K:

But this is my deathbed
I lie here alone
And if I close my eyes tonight
I know I'll be home...


So very alone
So far from home
He has no home
He is... alone

  • In "Adam's Song" by Blink-182, the lyrics twice mention the words, "I never thought I'd die alone."
  • Paul McCartney may be better known for his more upbeat tunes--"Silly Love Songs," "Got to Get You into My Life"—but let this track from The Beatles' album Revolver remind us that he was capable of some truly dark imagery (made all the more disturbing by a frantic string octet backing his vocals):

Eleanor Rigby died in the church
And was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie, wiping the dirt from his hands
As he walked from her grave
No one was saved
All the lonely people, where do they all come from?
All the lonely people, where do they all belong?

  • "Afterlife" by Front Line Assembly seems to be about the last moments of a soldier dying on the battlefield. "No longing moments, no one goodbyes, what are we fighting for?", etc.
  • "Cubicles" by My Chemical Romance contains the line "I think I'll love to die alone."
  • "The Hell of It" by Paul Williams:

Love yourself as you love no other
Be no man's fool and be no man's brother
We're all born to die alone y'know
That's the Hell of it

  • From "Dogs", which takes up nearly all of Side A of Pink Floyd's Animals:

And in the end you'll pack up
Fly down south
Hide your head in the sand
Just another sad old man
All alone and dying of cancer
...And it's too late to lose the weight you used to need to throw around
So have a good drown as you go down all alone
Dragged down by the stone



  • Timon of Timon of Athens starts the play surrounded by friends and servants. Over the course of the play, he casts off all his friends (to be fair, they started it) and becomes a hermit. He ends up not only dying alone, but composing his own epitaph. Ouch.
  • Discussed in Wicked. At the beginning, the Ozians sing "Goodness knows, the wicked die alone!" Elphaba isn't dead though, she's just gone from Oz.

Video Games

  • This is ultimately what happens to Ashley or Kaidan on Virmire in Mass Effect, depending on the player's choice. Huge Player Punch indeed. While they do go out in a Dying Moment of Awesome and Heroic Sacrifice, it's still gut-wrenching to see them watch the Normandy fly away as the nuke's timer reaches the single digits...
  • It is almost the entire point of Fragile Dreams is for the main character, Seto to subvert this trope and find someone else just to talk to, and he prevents several characters from falling to this fate Like P.F, Crow and the Old Lady and then he finds the mysterious girl, Ren and this trope is unused! until older possibly dead Seto mentions that something happened and shes not there, and he dies alone.
  • It is all but spelled out in the ending sequence of Final Fantasy VI—as Kefka's Tower collapses from Magic vanishing from the world, Shadow silently breaks off from the party to hide in a secluded niche, and face Death both as penance as well as defiance. He even sends Interceptor away to spare him this fate.
    • It's less obvious but implied that this is what happens to Shadow if you don't wait for him at the end of the floating continent panic sequence - and it's also implied that this happens to anyone you don't retrieve in the World of Ruin: all you get for their part of the ending is their portrait floating above their last known location. With a couple exceptions: Terra, who shows up regardless; and Sabin, who's mentioned in the scene he would normally share with Edgar - although he would likely survive regardless.
  • In Kingdom Hearts 2, this is what Roxas implies will happen to him when he talks with Axel as he's leaving Organization XIII. When Axel tries to convince him not to leave, telling him the Organization will kill him, Roxas says indifferently that "no one would miss me". And in a way, he did sort of end up dying alone. Or, at least, having the majority of his personality go dormant inside of Sora, with no one being there with him at the time when he returned to Sora's body.
  • In Tales of the Abyss, that happens to Asch. Probably. The fandom is still mulling it over.
  • Somewhat subverted in Mother 3, where Porky traps himself in the Absolutely Safe Chamber in a self-induced version of And I Must Scream. However Dr. Andronuts states that because he was at heart a lonely child who lived his life on the fact that everyone hates him, dying alone is perhaps the closest thing he can ever get to being happy at this point.
  • It was thought that Maiev the Warden had died on Outland some point during or after Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. A text from god-knows-where says that she died "alone on the red sand, unmourned, unsung, with none to remember her fall, her soul empty of all but rage". It was later retconned when she was brought back for the Burning Crusade expansion of World of Warcraft.
    • And after defeating Illidan with the help of the players, she admits that she is empty now, and as she's never seen again, is possibly subject to this trope.
  • Kratos' ultimate fate in God of War III.
  • In Final Fantasy IX, Zidane goes back into the Iifa Tree to prevent Kuja from suffering this fate, defying the trope.
  • In Halo: Reach, Noble Six, Jorge, and Carter die alone, knowing that the average human may never know what happened.
  • Bill ends up dying alone, but just before he does, he takes comfort in the fact he saved the other three.
  • Emil in NieR spends his last moments cowering in fear of his imminent death, wishing to see his friends just one more time.
    • The Masked King too, who bleeds to death surrounded by the bodies of his fallen warriors and thinking about meeting his deceased wife again.
  • In Shadow of the Colossus, Wander is left to die in Dormin's temple alone during the final cutscene. He ends up getting resurrected in the form of a small horned baby.
  • Defied twice in Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 4: The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood: once when LeChuck fatally stabs Morgan in De Singe's laboratory and leaves her alone to die, yet she lives long enough for De Singe to discover the incident before he leaves, and for Guybrush to discover and hold her in her final moments as Jacques the Monkey sadly watches; and once at the end of the chapter, when it appears that LeChuck would leave Guybrush alone to die after stabbing him, with only Elaine right by his side, but then the villain returns as a transformed Demon Pirate at the last second to taunt him and watch him die in the arms of his grieving wife.
  • Played for laughs inside the Developer's Room in Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. One of the Developers asks if you'd help and if you refuse several of them will attack you. After defeating them, one will say his mom always wanted him to die alone.
  • While subverted in that it doesn't actually happen in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, when Sam is asked a question, he replies "we all die alone".
  • Assassin's Creed: Revelations reveal that this is the fate of Altair, who seals himself and the Apple of Eden in the Masyaf library in order to protect the Apple. However before he does the deed he at least shares one final moment with his son Darim.
  • Shin Megami Tensei II has you find the corpse of The Hero of Shin Megami Tensei I alone, in a secluded cavern.
    • This is more or less Lahmu's final fate in Shin Megami Tensei V. Additionally, he realizes that he is not going to be able to become the creator which was his ultimate goal. His human partner Sahori in contrast dies rather peacefully, as she more or less knows that she was never alone in the world.
  • E-102 Gamma in Sonic Adventure after being mortally wounded by his "brother" E-101 Beta who he previously "rescued", the only one to witness his Heroic Sacrifice is the little bird that escaped from it. Subverted in the Sonic X adaption where Amy puts two and two together about her bird Lily's parents just before finding him in time to watch him perish. She's pretty choked up about it.

Visual Novels

  • In the Normal Ending of the last route of Fate/stay night, Emiya Shirou dies in the act of destroying the Great Grail, ending the Holy Grail War for good. He dies just before the Great Grail is obliterated; his body is only following the last instructions received from his dead brain. We even see his last thoughts as he slowly fades away, which are mostly about how he doesn't really want to go.
    • Archer is said to have died alone in his back-story. At the end of the Fate route, so does Saber, after commanding Bedivere to leave her.
      • Last Episode makes it hard to say if she really died, though it's likely that they were simply reunited after death. Speaking of Last Episode, Shirou likely followed the same path as Archer; however, unlike Archer, he did not regret his life, nor did he make a deal with the World to become a Counter Guardian, as it would be a betrayal of Saber and their ideals if he did. Also unlike Archer, he had a clear goal in mind: the endless pursuit of the golden-haired girl, eternally waiting for him alone on the fields of gold.
    • Berserker outright defies the trope in "Unlimited Blade Works" when he stays alive long enough to be there for Ilya as she dies. Once she's passed on, so does he.

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Peggy Hill suggests that Cotton Hill should do this as part of her Calling the Old Man Out routine in King of the Hill.
    • He had the last laugh though, since he died with her there.
  • In The Simpsons, Patty and Selma's maiden aunt warns them to have children or risk dying alone, prompting Selma to attempt to marry several times. When she finally hits menopause about 10 seasons later, she adopts a child from China. Patty's a lesbian.
    • Mona also dies alone, watching TV in Homer's living room after she can't convince him to forgive her for being a Missing Mom. And he's the one who finds her lifeless body... right when he was about to tell her that could finally forgive her. Sniffff.
  • In the 'epilogue' episode of Justice League Unlimited, Batman sits with Royal Flush Gang member Ace, who was dying specifically because of her powers, so that she wouldn't have to die alone, lest her death agony destroy the town. Quite the Tear Jerker.
  • In Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers, Pete leaves Mickey to this fate, rubbing it in that he's alone. This being Disney, everything works out.
  • In "Spelling Applebees" of Drawn Together, Foxxy mentions that her only fear is dying alone before hinting that she might want a boyfriend to ensure that doesn't happen.
  • Revealed to be the fate of Nox, the sympathetic Big Bad from Wakfu.
  • Tangled: Defied when Rapunzel cradles Flynn/Eugene in her arms, even after he has killed Mother Gothel by cancelling out the magic powers of Rapunzel's hair; in spite of the tower being a lonely place, only Rapunzel is with him when he dies... and then is brought Back from the Dead with the power of her magic tear.
  • There is one scene in The Brave Little Toaster when the poor little flower realizes that it was loving its own reflection on Toaster after he runs away, and as he peeks into the bushes, he notices that the flower is losing its petals as it dies emotionally alone and brokenhearted. So disturbing... and heart-breaking!

Real Life

  • Joe Simpson says in his memoir Touching the Void that he thinks it was not so much the fear of dying but the fear of dying alone that kept him committed to the apparently hopeless task of crawling back to camp after he suffered a broken leg in the mountains and was left behind by a climbing partner who believed him already dead.
  • According to her legend, Blessed Jacinta Marto said she'd die completely alone more than once, during her time as an Ill Girl affected with Spanish Influenza. Her chaplain and treating doctor/nurses told her that they'd be there for her... but the kid spent her last hours pleading for Holy Communion and Last Rites, because the chaplain didn't take her seriously and said he'd come back in the morning. A couple of hours after he left, she was dead.
  • Accident on bluewater Solo Sailing... and there you go. With hundreds, perhaps thousands, of (nautical) miles to nearest human being.
    • You don't even have to be that far away. Most drowning victims in general die alone, mainly because if someone else was present, they wouldn't be a drowning victim. People who go out swimming alone in uncertain waters, people who go out fishing by themselves and fall overboard (often men, standing to relieve themselves and losing their balance), even children in backyard swimming pools.
  • To some, this may seem weird or even ludicrous, but the fate of space probes and rovers sent out into the abyss of space can be thought of as the ultimate example of this trope. The scientists and engineers who build them often spend years dreaming, planning, constructing, and testing them, then wait years as they hurtle through the void towards their destinations, then see them shine in glory as they add to the sum of human knowledge. But, inevitably, and often all-too-soon, wires corrode, performance declines, and batteries fade. Then the people who have spent years together with both their colleagues and their creations must say goodbye as an entire chapter of their life closes. And far away, so far away that even their death is known only to themselves for minutes or hours because light itself is too slow to bring the news to their creators, a small, hardworking machine-made of materials that have known a single world for 4.5 billion years only to be sped away on plumes of smoke and thunder-has died while crushed under acid-soaked oceans of air or while the screech of thin, frosty winds swept about it, or in the dim starlight that breaks the eternal darkness to which it has been consigned...forever.
  • Laika. First animal to die in orbit.
  • Anyone who has worked in a hospital or hospice can testify to the fact that many people actually want to die alone. They may want to face the mystery of death on their own, or (more commonly) they might want to spare their families the anguish of witnessing the death. Some will ask the family to leave the room "for a minute" (if they're able to communicate at that point), while others will simply struggle to remain alive until the family leaves for the night. Unfortunately, this often causes unnecessary guilt among survivors who buy into this trope and who punish themselves for "selfishly" not having been there.
    • As someone who has worked in nursing homes, the truth is most people don't want to die alone. What drives people to say such a thing is simply that they don't want their death to be the family's final memory.
    • In recent years, some hospitals have made efforts to avoid this for their more isolated patient populations by implementing programs where volunteers are brought in to befriend and comfort the terminally ill during their last weeks of life.
  • In a veterinarian's personal account, though pet owners are given the option to leave the room when their pet is euthanized, he pleads for them not to. The pets always become scared and confused, desperately looking for their master right when they're about to die.
  • Cats, if dying, have a tendency to find a secluded place in which to die. This can be inverted, as a cat with a loving family will continue living in pain because it can't die alone.
    • Some dogs will do this too.
  • Why does this link to Manitoba conservation and stewardship exist here? Look up the phrase "Lone Grave." A miner not only drowned alone, but is also buried alone, in the middle of a provincial park.