Famous Last Words/Real Life

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"Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something."
Pancho Villa

Full description is at Famous Last Words. Since this is Real Life we're talking about, spoilers probably aren't an issue. See this video for more. Or maybe here for more.


  • "No comment."-- Edward Abbey after being asked if he had any last words.
  • "See in what peace a Christian can die!" -- Joseph Addison, to his stepson.
  • Alexander the Great -- (The answer to their fervent question of "To whom will the Empire go?"): "Τῷ κρατίστῳ (Tô kratistô)" -- "To the strongest." Civil war ensued. Other historians state that his final fever rendered him speechless, so it's more likely that he didn't say this. Still others believe that he replied "To Craterus," and his generals just "conveniently" heard strongest instead. The Greek words are near identical, and Craterus wasn't present at Alexander's death.
    • Not exactly last words per se, the epitaph of Alexander the Great is A tomb now suffices him for whom the world was not enough. Which is untrue; for fear of vandals and robbers, Alexander had arranged countless scattered false crypts. Where he is actually buried remains unknown.
      • The Greeks cremated their dead. It would have been totally in Alexander's character to have had his ashes spread by the winds to all corners of the earth.
        • But the Macedonians buried dead kings so his body may be somewhere.
          • This epitaph is commonly wrongly attributed to Alexander the Great since its inscribed in Henry the Second tomb which reads in part "and in my case behold, the image of our mortal lot. This scanty tomb doth now suffice, for whom the Earth was not enough" as written by Ralph de Diceto
    • Darius III of Persia, Worthy Opponent of Alexander the Great, after one of Alexander's men have given the dying man a final drink of water -- "This is a final stroke of misfortune; that I should accept a service from you and not be able to return it. But Alexander will reward you for your kindness and the gods will repay him for his courtesy towards my mother and my wife and my children."
  • "I was killed." - Last diary entry of an anonymous Union soldier killed at Cold Harbor, Virginia.
  • Stage magician Chung Ling Soo (actually an American in yellowface) was famous for the trick where he would appear to stop a bullet with his teeth. In his last show, the act went wrong and a real bullet got fired into his chest, and he expired with the line: "Oh my God. Something's happened. Lower the curtain", the first and last time he spoke English on stage in his Chinese persona.
  • "Thomas... Jefferson..." John Adams. Unknown to him, Jefferson had died only a few hours before.
    • "Is it the Fourth...?" Thomas Jefferson, who died on July 4, 1826
  • Prince Albert (Queen Victoria's husband) -- "I have had wealth, rank, and power; but if these were all I had, how wretched I should be."
    • His last words were "Ein Kuss" -- "a kiss" in German. He was far too sick at the end to put together a coherent sentence.
    • Other sources say his last words were "I have such sweet thoughts", so it's really not known.
  • "Do not disturb my circles!" (μή μου τούς κύκλους τάραττε; Mē mou tous kyklous taratte) -- Archimedes, to a Roman soldier who interrupted him as he was working. He mistakenly thought the old man was messing with his head and stabbed him to death. General Marcellus, the leader of the Roman attack on Syracuse, is said to have been enraged, as he considered capturing Archimedes alive one of his top priorities.
  • "Acta est fabula, plaudite!" ("The play is finished, applaud!") -- Augustus, Emperor of Rome
  • "Well, gentlemen, you are about to see a baked Appel" -- George Appel, Jewish American gangster, executed in electric chair.
  • American stage and film actress, and party animal, Tallulah Bankhead: "Codeine... bourbon..."
  • L. Frank Baum -- "Now we can cross the Shifting Sands." (The Shifting Sands, in the Oz books, was the enchanted desert that cut Oz off from the rest of the world.)
  • "Are you guys ready? Let's roll." -- Todd Beamer, passenger of United 93 on September 11, 2001 (these were the last words heard by someone not on the aircraft, whether or not they were in fact his last words is unknown). He died when the aircraft he and a team of others was attempting to retake was intentionally crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
  • "In the name of Christ and the protection of the Church, I am ready to embrace death" - Thomas Becket.
  • "Please, just one more minute, Mr. Executioner!" (« De grâce, monsieur le bourreau, encore un petit moment ! ») Jeanne Bécu, Countess du Barry, Louis XV's former mistress, begged this at Revolution time. It is said that du Barry's terrified pleading so upset the crowd that witnessed her execution that the Terror lost support and expired shortly thereafter.
  • "Applaudite, amici, la commedia é finita." (Applaud, friends, the comedy is over.) -- Ludwig Van Beethoven (probably a reference to Augustus).
  • As Alexander Graham Bell lay dying, his deaf wife signed to him "Please don't leave me." He signed back "No..." and died soon after.
  • Billy the Kid - "¿Quién es? ¿Quién es?" ("Who is it? Who is it?")
    • If this is confusing, know that Billy the Kid did not die in a blazing duel at high noon. He was shot in the dark (with a shotgun), ambush style. He had many enemies at his time of death and wanted to know which of them had shot him.
  • « Vive la France ! » ("Long Live France!") - Marc Bloch, French historian and La Résistance leader during the German occupation, right befor being shot to death by an execution squad.
  • Supposedly Humphrey Bogart's last words were "I should never have switched from scotch to martinis."
  • Napoleon Bonaparte's final words are variously rendered « France, armée, Joséphine » ("France, army, Josephine"), or « tête… armée… Mon Dieu ! » ("head… army… my God!"), or « tête d’armée » ("head of the army")
  • "Tell my mother I did it for my country" and "Useless, useless." (upon being shown his hands on his own request) -- John Wilkes Booth.
  • A nicely snarky one from Dominique Bouhours, French grammarian -- "I am about to -- or I am going to -- die: either expression is correct." (« Je vais -- ou je vas -- mourir, l'un et l'autre se dit ou se disent. »)
  • Lord Byron -- "Now I shall go to sleep. Good night."
    • According to the friends who were at his bedside, Byron's last words were "My sister -- my daughter!"
  • Gaius Julius Caesar's (the famous one) last words are disputed. The most well-known version is that he said "Και σύ, τέκνον;" (Kai su, teknon? Gr. "You too, my son?") to Brutus. According to others, his last words were "Why, this is violence!"
    • It's fairly well established that Caesar said "Why, this is violence!" when he saw the knives coming out. What's less than certain is if he said "You too, my son?" when he saw Brutus amongsts his killers.
    • He did indeed yell "Why, this is violence!" out of surprise; the Senate was only allowed to meet at places of religious significance, which coincidentally (or not) were also lawful sanctuaries. Violence at the Senate house was a grave offense.
  • "Adhuc vivo...! (I still live!)" -- attributed to Caligula, as he was stabbed to death.
  • "I will pray to God in a language we both well understand." -- Edmund Campion, English Jesuit and Roman Catholic martyr, when told by Protestant onlookers to pray in English rather than Latin. (When asked whom he was praying for, he replied, "Yea, for Elizabeth, your queen and my queen, unto whom I wish a long quiet reign with all prosperity.") He was then hanged, cut down while still alive, his penis cut off and his entrails pulled out of his body and burned, and his body at last hacked into four parts.
  • "Then, at least you can aim at the spot where I'll place my hand" ("Al menos apunten al lugar donde colocaré mi mano") -- Jose Miguel Carrera, hero of the Chilean War of Independence. As he was to be executed via firing squad, Carrera asked to giving the firing order and was turned down, so this was the alternative he came up with. His wish was granted.
  • "Can it be that the firing squad is still in use in Romania?" -- Allegedly, Elena Ceauşescu. Note: It was.
    • Her husband Nicolae Ceauşescu died shouting: <Traiasca Republica Socialista Romania! Istoria ma va razbuna!> -- "Long live the Socialist Republic of Romania! History will be my revenge!" It wasn't.
  • "We have a bad fire! We're burning up!" - astronaut Roger Chaffee, trapped inside the Apollo 1 spacecraft as it caught fire during a ground test.
  • King Charles I of England gave a lengthy speech before being executed, finishing with "I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown; where no disturbance can be, no disturbance in the world." His actual last words were to the axeman, about the chopping block: "You must set it fast." ... "It might have been a little higher." and when to make the stroke "When I put out my hands this way, then." ... "Stay for the sign."
  • "Don't let my little Nellie starve." -- Charles II of England, on the subject of his favourite concubine, Nell Gwynne.
    • Somewhat earlier, he is said to have apologized to his courtiers -- "I regret, gentlemen, that I should be such an unconscionable long time dying."
  • GK Chesterton -- "The issue now is clear. It is between light and darkness; and everyone must choose his side." He then added to his secretary Dorothy Collins, who had just entered the room, "Hello, my dear."
  • "Take a step forward lads, it'll be easier that way." -- Robert Erskine Childers, Irish nationalist. Before being executed by a firing squad, he took the time to shake their hands and offer them these words of advice.
  • "Father... into thy hands I commend my spirit." - Jesus
    • OR "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" OR "It is finished." (That's Luke, Matthew and Mark, and John respectively)
      • And subverted in any case, as He was dead, but he got better.
  • "In keeping with Channel 40's policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts and in living color, you are going to see another first -- attempted suicide." (Christine Chubbuck, news anchor, just before shooting herself in the head with a .38 on live TV)
  • "OH GOD! OH-" were the final words of Kevin Cosgrove as he perished in the collapse of the South Tower on 9/11. And they were recorded.
  • Sam Clemens -- "Goodbye." to his daughter Clara, then shortly afterward "If we meet..." to either his dead wife Livy or his long-lost lover Laura Wright, whom he dreamed about constantly for fifty years.
  • Grover Cleveland -- "I have tried so hard to do right."
  • "Absolutely not!" - Montgomery Clift, after his secretary asked if he wanted to watch his film The Misfits, which was playing that night. He proceeded to his bedroom, where he suffered a fatal heart attack brought on by his drug problems.
  • Michael Collins (attributed), Head of the Irish Free State Army, after being shot by a sniper in the Irish Civil War -- "No reprisals, lads."
  • "You are wonderful." Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to his wife. Doubles as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
  • "The City is fallen, but I am alive." (Η Πόλις αλίσκεται και εγώ ζω έτι, Hê Polis alisketai kai egô zô eti.) -- Constantine XI Palaeologus, the last emperor of the Byzantine Roman Empire, before leading his troops in one last charge.
  • Stand-up comic Jason Cook dedicated a show and tour to his late father. It was named "Joy", in honour of his father's final words -- "Have a good life, son. Cor. I know I have. It was fantastic."
  • "More weight." -- Giles Corey, being tried-by-crushing-ordeal for witchcraft in Salem, asked if he would confess to his "crime."
    • An explanation: this guy was a Real Life Rules Lawyer, and knew that if he died under interrogation, he was still legally a Christian and his sons could inherit his property. Confessing would spare his life, but he would no longer be considered a Christian and his property would be forfeit. Denying the charges would result in his conviction and execution, as the trials were flagrantly rigged, and again his property would be forfeit. So, by refusing to enter any plea at all, he saved his family from poverty and earned a Dying Moment of Awesome.
  • "Dammit... don't you dare ask God to help me." -- Joan Crawford, when her housekeeper began to pray aloud.
  • No one knows the last words of George Armstrong Custer, as all the soldiers with him died alongside him at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. But the last words he was heard to say by a survivor (a messenger he'd sent off to the rest of the regiment) are pretty good:
  • "I am sorry I could not see my father." -- Leon Czolgosz, assassin of William McKinley.
  • Acclaimed writer Roald Dahl, dying in hospital, said to his family, "You know, I'm not frightened. It's just that I will miss you all so much." He then appeared to fall unconscious, and it was decided to give him a lethal dose of morphine to ease his passing. But when the nurse injected him, he opened his eyes and muttered "Ow, fuck!" And those were his last words.
  • "I don't care if I live or die. Go ahead and kill me." Jeffrey Dahmer.
  • Jack Daniels -- "One last drink, please." Daniels died from sepsis caused by a broken toe, a toe he'd broken trying to kick open the safe holding his whiskey recipes. (He was drunk at the time.)
  • « Tu montreras ma tête au peuple, elle en vaut la peine ! » "You should show the people my head. It's worth the trouble!" -- Georges Jacques Danton, en route to the guillotine.
  • According to Charles Darwin's daughter, his last words were "I am not in the least afraid to die." This dispels the popular myth that he recanted the theory of evolution on his deathbed.
  • "Miss, I got what I really went for!" -- Jeremy Delle, the inspiration behind Pearl Jam's "Jeremy". He was asked to get an attendance slip from the school office for being late, then returned with a Magnum revolver and shot himself in front of the class.
  • "I'll finally get to see Marilyn." Joe DiMaggio
  • Walt Disney simply wrote down Kurt Russell's name before his death. No one, including Russell, has any idea what it means.
  • Benjamin Disraeli, when asked if he wished to receive the Queen at his deathbed -- "No, it is better not. She will only ask me to take a message to Albert."
  • "Don't, don't, don't! This could hurt someone!" -- Budd Dwyer, before shooting himself on live television.
  • "Executioner, strike home!" - Earl of Essex.
  • "It is beautiful over there..." -- Thomas Edison
  • Albert Einstein's last words were in German, and the only witness didn't speak the language, thus losing his words to history. He was working on an essay when he died, so his last written words are a paragraph on the subject of Mutually Assured Destruction, ending in the inexplicable sentence fragment "Citater fra--".
  • "My God, what... what happened to me? ("Was ist eigentlich mit mir geschehen?") -- Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary (aka Sisi). As the empress was walking down a pier to board a ship a man ran into her and knocked her down. Nobody saw the sharpened file he'd stabbed her in the chest with before he ran off, and nobody saw any blood because of the tight corset she was wearing. Consequently nobody realized she was hurt until she fainted shortly after boarding the ship. She promptly died from severe internal bleeding.
  • Elizabeth I of England is alleged to have said "All my possessions for one moment of time." Shortly thereafter, she lost her voice, though she continued to linger for some days, communicating by signs. (Accounts differ, though.)
  • "I'd hate to die twice. It's so boring." -- Richard Feynman, quantum physicist, Nobel laureate, and bongo player.
  • Millard Fillmore -- "The nourishment is palatable."
  • The man who embodied Flynning, Errol Flynn -- "I've had a hell of a lot of fun and I've enjoyed every minute of it."
  • "You can stop now; I'm already dead." -- Abigail Folger, heiress, civil rights worker, and victim of the Manson Family, after being stabbed repeatedly.
  • "Sopherl! Sopherl! Sterbe nicht! Bleib' am Leben für unsere Kinder! Es ist gar nichts… es ist gar nichts…" ("Sophie! Sophie! Don't die! Live for our children! It is nothing. It is nothing. It is nothing. It is nothing. It is nothing. It is nothing. It is nothing...") -- Archduke Franz Ferdinand von Österreich-Este, to his wife Sophie. She did not live.
  • Friedrich II von Preussen, AKA Frederick the Great -- "The mountains are passed; now we are going better." « La montagne est passée, nous irons mieux. » (Note that his last words were in French; Frederick despised nearly everything German.)
  • "Don't kill me, my sons!", or "What did I do to you?", depending on the source - Muammar Gaddafi
  • Dear Mother of mine, I think I'll be meeting up with Jesus soon. Please tell Him to have mercy on my humble soul!" -- Saint Gemma Carolina Galgani, Catholic saint and visionary. She was staring at a small statue of the Virgin Mary in her bedroom, and her last words were directed to it.
  • After being told he may be well enough to visit Bognor Regis, George V's response? "Bugger Bognor" and promptly died. He made the right choice.
    • That's a good story, but untrue. The diaries of the royal physician later revealed that he gave King George a lethal injection of cocaine and morphine, under the impression that this would give the King a more dignified death than letting him die slowly and painfully from lung disease. George V apparently didn't agree. His actual last words were "God damn you."
      • The "more dignified death" was reportedly one that would appear in the Times, which had a midnight deadline, unlike those lesser plebeian newspapers that went to bed at 2 or 3 AM. The doctor nearly buggered that up too -- the clocks at Sandringham were normally set half an hour behind, so when they killed him at 11:20 Sandringham time it was 11:50 real time, or only ten minutes before the Times deadline. To his credit, George's successor Edward VIII was enraged when he found out what had happened and why, but he took his anger out on the clocks; the story was later used (without the explanation as to why he was running around furiously changing the clocks moments after his father's death) to show why he was a Bad King and not at all fit to reign.
  • "Mehr Licht!" ("More light!") -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (attributed)
    • A joke goes that he actually was simply lying uncomfortably and was trying to say, in a rather heavy local accent, "Mer licht hier so schlecht..." ("It's quite uncomfortable lying here.")
  • "Schnell" ("Fast") -- Irma Grese, Nazi war criminal and supposed inspiration for Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, right before being executed by hanging for her crimes.
  • "The sadness will last forever." Vincent Van Gogh, to his brother Theo, just before dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
  • « J'en foutre, j'en foutre... » (Fr. -- "Fuck it, fuck it") -- Griboedov, Russian classic writer and diplomat, Ambassador to Iran, as his embassy was overrun by knife-wielding religious fanatics whom we today would probably classify as terrorists.
  • " I know you've come to kill me. Shoot, you are only going to kill a man."(¡Póngase sereno, y apunte bien! ¡Va a matar a un hombre!) -- El Carnicero de La Cabaña, Ernesto "Che" Guevara (may be apocryphal).
    • May instead have been -- "I knew you were going to shoot me; I should never have been taken alive. Tell Fidel that this failure does not mean the end of the revolution, that it will triumph elsewhere. Tell Aleida to forget this, remarry and be happy, and keep the children studying. Ask the soldiers to aim well."
    • Upon his capture by Bolivian troops, two days before his execution, he had said, according to some of the soldiers who shot him, "Don't shoot! I am Che! I'm worth more to you alive than dead!"
  • "Glory hallelujah! Glory hallelujah! I am with the Lord." -- Charles Guiteau, assassin of James Garfield. Keep in mind, though, that these were just the final two lines of an entire poem he had recited at the scaffold.
    • He'd asked for an orchestra to accompany the recitation, but they drew the line there.
  • "Jag är så sömnig; och jag vill försöka vila mig litet grann. -- I feel so sleepy; and I want to try to rest a bit." -- Gustav III of Sweden.
  • Nathan Hale, Revolutionary War, before being hanged as a spy by the British: "I only regret that I have but one life to give my country."
    • This is the popular version. The exact speech has been lost, but whatever he said so impressed the British officers who witnessed the execution that several of them wrote about how eloquent he was. Another possibility is that he was quoting Joseph Addison's Cato.

How beautiful is death, when earn'd by virtue!
Who would not be that youth? What pity is it
That we can die but once to serve our country.

  • "Now let the Romans bring an end to all their fears, with the death of a feeble old man." - Hannibal
  • «  Bien sûr, il me pardonnera; c'est son métier. » ("Of course He [God] will forgive me; that's His job.") -- Heinrich Heine
  • "The others, they were the real bastards. You were the only legitimate one."- Henry II, first Plantagenet King of England, to his illegitimate son Geoffrey, the only one of his sons to be by his side as he died. This was because his legitimate sons were either fighting against him, or had already died in that cause.
  • Henry VIII of England -- "All is lost! Monks, Monks, Monks! So, now all is gone -- Empire, Body, and Soul!" (The quote is of somewhat doubtful provenance.)
  • "Maybe I’m dying." -- Attributed to Jim Henson, as he finally agreed to go to the hospital after weeks of illness.
  • "The world is just a barrel-organ which the Lord God turns Himself / We all have to dance to the tune which is already on the drum." -- SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich.
  • 'I've said all I've had to say.' -- comedian Bill Hicks. He didn't die until 11 days later, but he voluntarily quit speaking after saying this.
  • Hildebrand/Pope Gregory VII -- "I have loved righteousness and hated iniquity, and therefore I die in exile." (Dilexi justitiam et odivi iniquitatem: propterea morior in exilio -- A parody of Psalm 44 (45), 7.)
  • "Ich bin Heinrich Himmler!" ("I am Heinrich Himmler!") -- Heinrich Himmler
  • "Ach, wie schießt ihr schlecht!" ("Oh, your aim is horrible!") -- Andreas Hofer, Austrian freedom fighter in Tyrol against Napoleon's Bavarian puppet regime. To explain: it took two salvos of a firing squad and a shot to the head to kill him.
  • After the doctor of the author/political activist Henrik Ibsen told Ibsen's wife, "He looks a bit better today" (he suffered from tuberculosis), Ibsen supposedly stood up in his bed and shouted "NO!" and then proceeded to die.
    • Another version is that he said, without opening his eyes, "Tvertimod" which means "To the contrary" and expired.
  • "Order A.P. Hill to prepare for action! Pass the infantry to the front rapidly! Tell Major Hawks--" and then, "Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees." -- Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. Jackson had been shot in the arm by friendly fire at the Battle of Chancellorsville. The arm had to be amputated. Jackson then caught pneumonia and died.
    • "Strike the tent." -- Robert E. Lee, Jackson's old commander, dying of heart disease five years after the war.
  • « Je meurs : amenez-moi un cure-dent. » (" "I am dying. Please, bring me a toothpick.") -- Alfred Jarry, an absurdist writer (who also lived absurdly).
    • While this seems suitably absurd, a doctor finally explained that the request was not strange considering Jarry died from dehydration, which makes your gums itch.
  • Jesus's final words (traditionally known collectively as "The Seven Last Words") are given variously as:
    • Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Aramaic ēlî ēlî lamâ šabaqtanî אלהי אלהי למאאלי אלי למא שבקתני)
    • Luke 23:34: "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Πάτερ, ἄφες αὐτοῖς, οὐ γὰρ οἴδασιν τί ποιοῦσιν, Pater aphes autois ou gar oidasin ti poiousin); 23:43 [To one of the thieves]: "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise" (Ἀμήν σοι λέγω, σήμερον μετ' ἐμοῦ ἔσῃ ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ, Amên soi legô, sêmeron met emou esê ev tô paradeisô); 23:46: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (Πάτερ, εἰς χεῖράς σου παρατίθεμαι τὸ πνεῦμά μου, Pater, eis cheiras sou paratithemai to pneuma mou).
    • John 19:26: [To Mary] "Woman, behold your son" (Γύναι, ἴδε ὁ υἱός σου, Gunai, ide ou uios sou); 19:27: [To the beloved disciple] "Behold your mother" (Ἴδε ἡ μήτηρ, Ide ê mêter); 19:28: "I thirst" (Διψῶ, Dipsô); 19:30: "It is finished" (Τετέλεσται, Tetelestai).
  • "Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow."- Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc. Verified by his sister, who was at his bedside at the time of his death.
  • Pope John Paul II's last words were in Polish -- "Pozwólcie mi iść do domu Ojca. Let me go in to the house of the Father."
  • To this day, it is argued whether William Henry Johnson, stage name "Zip the What-Is-It", one of the most famous sideshow performers in history, was an actual microcephalic ("pinhead") or just a man with an odd-shaped head. One of the major weapons in the debate is his last words, as reported by his sister (who always claimed her brother was smarter than he let on): "We sure fooled them a long time, didn't we?"
  • "Bless you, my dear." Dr. Samuel Johnson. (The "I am about to die" urban legend comes from Hawkins, an Unreliable Narrator if there ever was one.)
  • "Yes, and I fear seriously." Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston at the Battle of Shiloh, after he nearly fainted in the saddle and an aide asked if he'd been wounded. Johnston was bleeding profusely from a bullet wound to the back of his knee that he hadn't even noticed.
  • "Ille faciet." ("He'll do it.") -- Karl IX of Sweden about his son. Yeah, he did.
  • Terry Kath, the original lead singer of Chicago -- "Don't worry, it's not loaded, see?"
  • "Ich rufe den Allmächtigen an, er möge sich des deutschen Volkes erbarmen. Über zwei Millionen deutsche Soldaten sind vor mir für ihr Vaterland in den Tod gegangen. Ich folge meinen Söhnen nach. Alles für Deutschland!" ("I call upon the Almighty to have mercy on the German people. More than two million German soldiers went to their deaths for the fatherland before me. I now follow my sons. All for Germany!") -- Wilhelm Keitel, German Feldmarschall during World War II, before being executed by hanging in Nuremberg prison.
  • "Such is life." -- Ned Kelly, before being hanged.
  • "No, you certainly can't." John F. Kennedy after Nellie Connally remarked "Mr. President, you certainly can't say Dallas doesn't love you."
    • Kennedy's driver said that the President cried out "My God, I'm hit!" after being shot through the neck. However, none of the other four people in the car recalled hearing this, and it would seem unlikely that Kennedy would have been able to say anything after a bullet ripped through his throat.
  • Arguably Finnish author Aleksis Kivi's last words were "Minä elän!" ("I live!")
  • "Now, excuse me, I have to go." - Satoshi Kon, in an blog post.
    • The actual Japanese expression is something officer workers say when they leave. It's meant to be "Excuse me for leaving the office before you" and Satoshi meant it as "Excuse me for leaving this world before you".
  • Pierre François Lacenaire, a poet and double murderer, executed in 1836. It was on a Monday morning and he commented: "This week begins very badly." (« Voilà une semaine qui commence mal. »)
  • « Je suis toute à vous. » ("I am all yours.") Adrienne de Lafayette to her husband, the Marquis de Lafayette. He had the words engraved on a miniature of her around the time of their marriage, and held it in his hand as he died.
  • "Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out." -- Hugh Latimer being burned at the stake for being a Protestant.
  • St. Lawrence the Martyr -- Traditionally broiled to death on a red-hot grid-iron. According to St. Ambrose, his last words were "Assum est -- versa et manduca" (literally, "It's cooked -- turn and eat," but more idiomatically, "Turn me over -- I'm done on this side").
  • "TONIGHT WE'LL DINE IN HELL!" -- Well, apparently King Leonidas of Sparta did not literally say this, nor were they strictly speaking his absolutely last words, but he is reported in Plutarch's Αποφθεγματα Λακωνικα as having ordered his troops (at their last breakfast before the final battle) Τοῖς δὲ στρατιώταις παρήγγειλεν ἀριστοποιεῖσθαι ὡς ἐν Ἅιδου δειπνοποιησομένους, Tois de stratiôtais narêggeilen aristopoieisthai ôs en Haidou deipnopoiêsomenous) -- "Eat heartily, for tonight we shall dine with Hades in the Underworld."
  • Abraham Lincoln's were reportedly "They won't think anything about it"; this was in response to his wife asking what people would think to see an old couple (referring to the two of them) holding hands in the theatre. (Some sources specify a woman, Mrs. Harris.)
  • "I think I'm going to make it!" - Richard Loeb, murderer, after being stabbed ninety times by another inmate.
  • Louis XIV -- « Je m'en vais, mais l'État demeurera toujours. » ("I am going, but the State shall always remain.")
    • Somewhat earlier he had said to his attendants: « Pourquoi pleurez-vous ? Avez-vous imaginé que j'étais immortel ? » ("Why are you weeping? Did you imagine I was immortal?")
  • "Remember me not as an Italian princess, but as an Italian sister." - Princess Mafalda of Savoy, daughter of King Vittorio Emmanuele III of Italy, who was held prisioner in the Nazi concentration camp of Buchenwald and died when it was bombed by the Allies.
  • "Chairman Mao! I love you! Your loyal student and comrade is coming to see you!" -- The words that Mao's widow wrote on a sheet of paper before she hanged herself in 1991.
  • "I feel great." - Retired NBA legend "Pistol" Pete Maravich, seconds before his death at a pickup basketball game as a result of an undiagnosed congenital heart defect.
  • « Pardonnez-moi, monsieur; je ne l'ai point fait exprès. » "Forgive me, monsieur. I didn't do it on purpose..." -- Queen Marie Antoinette of France, as an apology for having stepped on her executioner Samson's foot as she walked towards the guillotine.
    • "‘I die innocent of all the crimes laid to my charge; I Pardon those who have occasioned my death; and I pray to God that the blood you are going to shed may never be visited on France.’ ". Her husband Louis XVI's last words before being guillotined as well.
  • --Mexicanos! Voy a morir por una causa justa, la de la independencia y libertad de México. ¡Que mi sangre selle las desgracias de mi nueva patria! ¡Viva México!-- ("Mexicans! I die for a noble cause, the independence and freedom of Mexico. May my blood put an end to the disgrace of my new homeland. Long live Mexico!") -- Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, before being shot by liberal rebels.
  • "Die, my dear? Why, that's the last thing I'll do!" -- Groucho Marx
    • Also Lord Palmerston's last words.
  • "Go on, get out. Last words are for fools who haven't said enough." -- Karl Marx
  • "Daddy flight. Save your auxiliary fuel tanks". Fighter ace Thomas Mc Guire, 1945. He attempted to dogfight a Japanese Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa with P-38 Lightning. Dropping auxiliary fuel tanks is a standard procedure in such situation - and that particular Hayabusa was flown by Akira Sugimoto, a flight teacher with 3,000 hours on that type. Needless to say, that dogfight ended disastrously.
  • "When I am dead and opened, you shall find Calais lying in my heart." -- Mary I of England. Calais had fallen to the French during her reign after being an English possession for over 200 years.
  • "I die a true Scottish woman and a true French woman." - Mary Queen of Scots.
  • "Then, it is time to die!": Simon de Montfort upon hearing his son died in battle. Simon then charged against Edward I's knights and was cut down.
  • Just before dying of a cocaine-induced heart attack, Keith Moon demanded his girlfriend make him steak for breakfast. His last words, when she refused, were "And if you don't like it, then fuck off!"
  • "Shoot straight, you bastards! Don't make a mess of it!" -- Sergeant Harold "Breaker" Morant to his firing squad.
  • As St. Thomas More knelt to be beheaded for high treason, he moved his long beard aside, saying, "Pity that should be cut, that hath not committed treason."
  • Eric Morecambe said, "Thank God that's over," after coming off stage and before dying of a heart attack.
  • Muhammad, on his deathbed, gave his last worldly possessions (seven gold coins) to his beloved wife Aisha, saying "Rather, God on High and paradise."
    • Less well authenticated accounts attribute to him the words "Expel the Jews of the Hijaaz and Najraan from the Arabian Peninsula, and know that the most evil of people are those who took the graves of their Prophets as places of worship", and "The prayer, the prayer! And fear Allah with regard to those whom your right hands possess" as among his last words, but the words adressed to Aisha are generally accepted as the very last.
      • A note about the one that mentions Jews: First, the Jews of the Hijaaz (the relatively fertile west-coast region of the Arabian Peninsula between Yemen and the Jordan, in which Mecca and Medina are situated) and Najraan (a city, majority-Jewish at the time, on the border between the Hijaaz and Yemen) were political enemies of the Muslims, for various reasons (not least their alliance with Persia). Second, the bit about them being evil makes sense in the context of the Muslim doctrine that shirk--the association of anyone with God--is, being the worst sort of Pride, the highest kind of evil; to some Muslim minds, venerating the tombs/graves of the prophets and other holy people is a form of worship, and therefore shirk. This quote is quite disputed; it certainly has done nothing to keep the Muslims from keeping tomb-shrines to saints and prophets, including Muhammad himself.
  • Hector Hugh Munro, AKA "Saki" -- "Put that damned cigarette out!" Munro, who had left his writing career to become an officer in World War I, was shot shortly before the Armistice; a lit cigarette in a fox-hole allowed enemy snipers to draw a bead on the smoker. He was promptly killed by a German sniper who had overheard the remark.
  • Benito Mussolini, hammy even in death, before being shot by an execution squad -- "Sparatemi nel petto!" ("Shoot me in the chest!"). They didn't.
  • A round of the trivia panel quiz show QI once dealt with last words -- specifically, the last words of Admiral Horatio Nelson. The point was raised that most Real Life last words as recorded -- particularly the exceptionally pithy ones -- are, more than likely, merely some clever thing that the person dying happened to say at some point shortly before their death, and their real last words might well have been something utterly mundane, such as "Can I have a drink of water?" or some mumbled gibberish produced by a fatally compromised brain, which would have been quickly forgotten in favour of the final pearl of wisdom.
    • As famously happened to Pitt the Younger, whose actual last words "I think I could eat one of Bellamy's veal pies" are a lot less pithy than his penultimate statement "Oh, my country! How I leave my country!" Unusually, his actual last words were at least as widely reported as the intended last words.
      • Nelson's last words on the other hand are often claimed to be one of "Thank God I have done my duty", "Kiss me, Hardy", and, yes, asking for a drink, for someone to massage his painful wound, and to be fanned ("drink, drink... rub, rub... fan, fan)".
  • "Such a great artist is lost to the world!" (Qualis artifex pereo-- more literally, "I die as such an artist.") (Emperor Nero, before his slave kills him per Nero's own orders)
    • When he was dying, a soldier arrived, and tried to save him (so he could be executed). He said "Too late! This is fidelity!" (Sero! Haec est fides!), apparently not understanding the situation.
    • Supposedly, when told by her assassins that she was being killed on her son's orders, Nero's Evil Matriarch mother Agrippina the Younger said, "Strike at my womb!" (Ventrem feri.)
  • "Comrades, fire at me and aim true. Frenchmen, I protest before God and the nation against the judgement which condemns me. I call to Man, to posterity, to God. Long live France! Soldiers, aim straight for the heart!" (« Camarades, tirez sur moi et visez juste ! Français, je proteste devant Dieu et la patrie contre le jugement qui me condamne. J'en appelle aux hommes, à la postérité, à Dieu. Vive la France ! Soldats, visez droit au cœur ! ») Napoleon's Marshal Michel Ney who had asked (and gained) the right to direct the execution squad himself.
  • “I'm going outside and I might be some time.” -- Captain Lawrence Oates, a Polar explorer who realized his severe frostbite was putting the whole team at risk. A blizzard was raging on at the time.
    • "Last entry. For God's sake look after our people." -- Last (written) words of Robert Falcon Scott on the same expedition
  • The Irish poet Angus O'Daly (17th c.) wrote stinging satires of Irish lords, with the intent of stirring up discord between them (perhaps at the behest of English authorities). He was about to commence another against O'Meagher, when one of O'Meagher's servants stabbed O'Daly. As he lay dying, he composed a poem to mark the occasion. It matched perfectly the ludicrously complex rules of Irish poetic meter. A translation: "All harsh judgements I e'er made / On Munster's nobles, I repay; / Grey Meagher's stark servant / has passed the like harsh judgment on me." Of course, given how unpopular the "Red Bard" was, he may have had the poem prepared and just slotted in the required name...
  • "I knew it. Born in a hotel room, and damn it, dying in a hotel room" (or some permutation thereof) -- Author Eugene O'Neill
  • "Sergeant, the Spanish bullet isn't made that will kill me." -- William Owen "Buckey" O'Neill
  • "Hurry up, you Hoosier bastard! I could kill ten men while you're fooling around!" Carl Panzram, Serial Killer, to his hangman.
  • Ivan Pavlov is said to have requested that any calls should be answered with «Академик Павлов занят. Он умирает.» (Akademyk Pavlov zanyat. On umyraet) ("Professor Pavlov is busy. He is dying.")
  • "I am murdered." -- About as unpithy and unquotable as one would expect from Spencer Perceval, the only British Prime Minister unpopular enough to get assassinated.
    • Not to put too fine a point on it, but Perceval's assassin had no particular grievance with him and the Prime Minister wasn't really that unpopular. The killer had just been personally very badly affected by a ministerial decision and, in a somewhat deluded state, struck out at the most clear and straightforward manifestation of the government - the Prime Minister. Perceval was just astonishingly unlucky that he happened to be PM at the time.
  • Peter the Great had decided that he'd decide whom to leave his position to immediately before he died, allowing him to make a well-informed decision. Naturally, his last words were "I leave everything to..."
  • William Pitt the Elder's last words are sometimes given as "If we must fall, then let us fall like men!" (while giving a speech in the House of Lords about the possibility of Great Britain being invaded by the French during the American Revolutionary War). However, though he collapsed immediately after this, he didn't actually die until some days later.
  • James K. Polk -- "I love you, Sarah. For all eternity, I love you."
  • "Good-bye, boys; I die a true American." -- William "Bill the Butcher" Poole, both the real life version of him and the fictionalized one from Gangs of New York.
  • "Vi faccio vedere come muore un Italiano!" ("I'll show you how an Italian dies!") -- Fabrizio Quattrocchi on being executed by Iraqi terrorists.
  • As mentioned in Looking for Alaska, François Rabelais's last words were "I go to seek a Great Perhaps." Rabelais is said to have continued, "Let the curtain fall; the comedy has been played." (« Je m'en vais chercher un grand peut-être; tirez le rideau, la farce est jouée. »)
  • "Treason! Treason!" -- King Richard III, as he laid about him with a sword during the Battle of Bosworth Field, a little before he was cut down by his massed enemies.
  • Madame Marie-Jeanne Roland -- Just before she was guillotined, she remarked to the image of Liberty in the Place de la Révolution, "O Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!" (« O Liberté, que de crimes on commet en ton nom ! »)
  • "I have a terrific pain in the back of my head." -- President Franklin D. Roosevelt, after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage.
  • "Nein." ("No.") -- Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg, sentenced to death by hanging at Nuremberg, when he was asked if he had any last word to say.
  • "Let me die with the Philistines!" - Samson.
  • "Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me." King Saul. The order was disobeyed.
  • "It's good." -- Spoken by the 12-year-old Sadako Sasaki, a casualty of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima famous for folding 1,000 paper cranes, on tasting her last meal, tea on rice.
  • Patrick Sarsfield, Irish leader. After losing the Williamite war, he became one of many Irish mercenaries ("Wild Geese") and died at the 1693 Battle of Landen (part of the Nine Years' War). Supposedly, he cried out "Oh, that this were for Ireland!"
  • American gangster Dutch Schultz lingered for 22 hours after being fatally shot in 1935; during much of that time he was delirious and hallucinating, but a police stenographer transcribed almost every word he said. The resulting document is too long is quote in this example (read it here), and is a fascinating stream-of-consciouness babble that later influenced and was used by numerous writers, including William S. Burroughs and Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.
  • "Roger, go at throttle up." - Space Shuttle Challenger Commander Dick Scobee, the last communication from the shuttle before its break up during launch. Spoken to confirm the move to full power.
    • "Uh oh." - Challenger's Pilot Michael J. Smith, the last statement captured by the crew cabin recorder.
  • Union Major General John Sedgwick at the battle of Spotsylvania Court House said to his troops, "I'm ashamed of you, dodging that way. They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." and then "All right, my man; go to your place." He was responding to a soldier saying he would rather duck from enemy fire then face it head on. His last words are frequently and famously misquoted to imply that he was shot in the middle of saying "distance".
  • Socrates (contrary to claims otherwise in Real Genius), after he was admistered hemlock, remarked to his friend Crito, Ὦ Κρίτων τῷ Ἀσκληπιῷ ὀφείλομεν ἀλεκτρυόνα. ἀλλὰ ἀπόδοτε καὶ μὴ ἀμελήσητε, Ô Kritôn, tô Asklêpiô opheílomen alektryóna, alla apódote kai mê amelêsête. ("Oh, Crito, we owe a rooster to Asklepios -- pay it to him, and don't forget about it!") Asklepios was the Greek god of medicine; it was customary for those who were healed to sacrifice a rooster to him.
  • Claus von Stauffenberg: "Es lebe unser heiliges Deutschland!" ("Long live our sacred Germany!") -- or maybe "Es lebe das geheime Deutschland!" ("Long live the secret Germany!")
  • "Does my face look strange?" - Robert Louis Stevenson, just before collapsing from a cerebral hemmorhage
  • The case of Nazi journalist Julius Streicher is quite interesting. According to Kingsbury Smith, as he was being brought to the scaffold at Nuremberg, he exclaimed "Heil Hitler!" and then "Purim Fest 1946". When actually asked if he had anything to say, he stated "The Bolsheviks shall hang you all one day". Then, before the fell to his death, he's reported to have said: "Adele, my dear wife...".
  • The Texas Department of Justice has compiled a list of the final statements of criminals before execution. These are literally the final things those people said as they were being strapped to the lethal injection table -- not really all that famous, but still making a morbidly fascinating reading of what people actually say while facing imminent doom.
  • "Please, let me keep working!" - Osamu Tezuka, to the nurse taking his sketchpad
  • "Now comes good sailing. Moose... Indian..." Henry David Thoreau
  • "Ccollanan Pachacamac ricuy auccacunac yahuarniy hichascancuta." (Mother Earth, witness how my enemies shed my blood) -- Tupac Amaru, last Inca King, right before being beheaded by the Conquistadores.
  • "Lord, open the King of England's eyes!" -- William Tyndale, before being strangled and burned at the stake for being a Protestant.
  • --De acuerdo, entonces, lo diré: Dante me hace enfermar.-- ("All right then, I'll say it: Dante makes me sick.") -- Félix Arturo Lope de Vega y Carpio, Spanish poet and playwright
  • Roman Emperor Vespasian's dying snark -- "Oh, dammit -- I think I'm becoming a god." (Ut puto, deus fio.)
  • ¡No permitas que esto acabe así! ¡Cuéntales que he dicho algo!-- ("Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something.") -- Pancho Villa
  • "Now, my good friend. This is not the time to be making enemies..." -- Voltaire on his deathbed, just after having been asked by a priest if he would renounce the devil.
    • His actual last words were « Maman Denis »
  • "Meine Uhr!" ("My watch!") -- Richard Wagner. He had had a heart attack[1], and was dying in his wife's arms when the watch fell from his pocket onto the floor.
  • "I am just going. Have me decently buried and do not let my body be into a vault in less than two days after I am dead. Do you understand me? 'Tis well. I die hard, but I am not afraid to go." -- George Washington, first President of the United States (he had a fear of being buried alive)
  • Allegedly, Oscar Wilde's final recorded words came as he sat up in bed and stared at his hotel room surroundings. "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death: either it goes, or I do."
    • To put this in context, Oscar Wilde died of cerebral meningitis which caused delusions. That and he may have just really hated the wallpaper.
  • "Seven lives for my country. Ten thousand years for His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor!" -- Otoya Yamaguchi, assassin of politician Inejiro Asanuma. More exactly, he wrote them on the wall of his cell before hanging himself.
  • "The battle is at its height; do not announce my death..." (나의 죽음을 알리지 마라, Naui jugeumeul allijimara) -- Admiral Yi Sun-Sin, Korea's greatest military hero, at the Battle of Noryang. His nephew Yi Wan, one of the two witnesses of his death, obeyed this last command and disguised himself in Sun-Sin's armor so that his men would not be demoralized.
  • "Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!" -- Final radio transmission of volcanologist David A. Johnston, just before being killed by the Mount St. Helens eruption of 1980.
  • "Capitalism. Downfall." -- Christopher Hitchens.
  • "Please leave the window open." -- Jim Varney
  1. possibly brought on by a violent quarrel with his wife Cosima over a pretty young "Flower Maiden" in Parsifal