Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something.
—Pancho Villa (but not really)
Contrary to popular belief, very few fatal injuries result in instant death. As long as you haven't been decapitated, shot in the head, or asploded, your body will take at least two minutes to fully shut down, giving you a chance to belt out a few parting words to your comrades or the enemy that felled you. Of course, this doesn't really work in real life, since few people (except for those expecting to die) have good last words prepared, or the energy or wherewithal to say anything as they go into shock.
Still, it's more realistic than the Final Speech, which lasts as long as the plot needs it to no matter the injury, Famous Last Words is usually a brief and poignant sentence said by a character who hasn't quite accepted that he's dying. These can actually be very character-defining, to the point that they represent the very climax of that character's development leaving a lasting impression on the other characters and the fans.
A challenge to write despite being just a few words. Misuse it and it can come off as cheesy. Done perfectly and it can even garner the respect of a fan that hated the character. Sometimes Famous Last Words can be words that a character thought would be their last, but they survive.
Compare Sedgwick Speech, where a character gets killed halfway through his speech or one-liner. See also Facing the Bullets One-Liner where a character says a one-liner before knowingly facing death and A Plague on Both Your Houses when these words are a curse. Often a Tear Jerker.
Some supposed Real Life final last words are fictional, and were possibly concocted for ulterior motives. At the time of his death, it was widely reported in newspapers that Lou Costello's last words were "I think I'll be more comfortable", said to the nurse who was preparing to help him turn over in bed. Within months the legend arose that he died in the presence of a group of beloved friends and that his last words were "that was the best ice-cream soda I ever tasted". Whether his friends were embarrassed that he died virtually alone or whether someone meant to imply that Costello died because he was fat (he had a chronic heart valve infection) nobody knows, but the legend can be found in almost every book of famous last words.
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