It’s not hard to judge a man based on the last words he utters before slipping from life into that unknown void called death.
Of course, it’s also not hard to judge a man based on his shoes or the way he smacks his lips when eating a sandwich. Or you could judge him based on a series of triple lutzes and double axles, provided he is, in fact, a professional figure skater and partaking in a competition.
Let’s focus on those last words and see if we can’t actually get a sense of character from a few final quotes. There are countless compilations of “famous last words” out there in the world, but we’re not concerned with wit, irony, or even profundity. Not today, anyway. No, today we’re here to talk about some of the manliest things a man ever said right before he kicked off.
“Do with me what you like, I am not going! Come on, come on! Take action! Let’s go!” – Sitting Bull
Sitting Bull died after he decided against being taken into custody by the Indian Affairs police, and he went out in a blaze of gunfire and glory. He was 59 years young and incredibly angry.
“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” – Nathan Hale
Patriot Nathan Hale spoke these words just before being hung by British soldiers on September 22, 1776. He was 21.
“Shoot straight, you bastards!” – Harry “Breaker” Morant
Harry “Breaker” Morant commanded his own firing squad to kill him properly. Morant had (likely) summarily and illegally executed several Boer prisoners of war in his charge as a British military officer in the Second Anglo-Boer War, so his own death sentence wasn’t exactly unfair.
“Tis well. I die hard, but I am not afraid to go.” – George Washington
The first president, George Washington’s last words showed us how it’s done. Now, for the record, his last words might also have just been “Tis well,” but let’s … let’s go with the whole thing. Yeah.
“The bastards tried to come over me last night. I guess they didn’t know I was a Marine.” – Edward Ahrens, USMC
Private First Class Edward Ahrens, USMC, whispered this as he succumbed to wounds suffered during his single-handed prevention of a breach in American lines on Guadalcanal during World War II. Beside him lay the bodies of multiple enemy soldiers. Ahrens was holding a sword.
“One last drink, please.” – Jack Daniel
Jack Daniel. No further annotation required.
“This is funny.” – Doc Holliday
Notorious gunslinger and gambler Doc Holliday allegedly spoke these words as he died in a Colorado hospital, probably because he always thought he’d go down in a saloon fight.
“I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark.” – Thomas Hobbes
British philosopher Thomas Hobbes reportedly espoused these brave words as he lay in bed at the ripe old age of 91, dying from what some historians believe was a paralytic stroke.
“We shall have our fight in the shade.” – Dienekes
As the legend goes, famed Spartan warrior Dienekes uttered this badass line (or some version of it) after being informed that the advancing Persian army was equipped with so many arrows that their fire would block the sun.
“To the strongest.” – Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great allegedly whipped out this manly quip after his men asked him who would take over the empire in his stead.
“More weight.” – Giles Corey
Giles Corey was accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. After refusing to show up in court to face the charges, the 80-year-old was sentenced to be crushed to death by rock slabs, a punishment known as “pressing.” Every time a new stone was added to his chest, he was asked to confess, but would only answer, “more weight.”
“Don’t give up the ship. Fight her till she sinks.” – Captain James Lawrence
Captain James Lawrence gave this courageous command as his ship, the USS Chesapeake, was overcome by the Royal Navy’s HMS Shannon in the War of 1812.
We’ve just run through some of the most iconic last words from men throughout history, and they were memorable, but sometimes you just need the help of a Hollywood screenwriter to craft a truly memorable and badass exit line before the character shuffles off this mortal coil. With that in mind, here are some of the most memorable last words from fictional characters.
- “You were right, you were right about me. Tell your sister … you were right.” – Darth Vader (Return of the Jedi – 1983) to Luke Skywalker as he lay dying on the Death Star.
- “You cannot win Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” – Obi Wan Kenobi (Star Wars – 1977) to Darth Vader during their lightsaber duel
- “I have been and always shall be your friend … Live long and prosper.” – Spock (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – 1982) to Kirk on the Enterprise. Yes, we know Spock came back to life in Star Trek III, but this line is too iconic not to include.
- “Clever girl …” – Robert Muldoon (Jurassic Park – 1993) uttered right before he became velociraptor chow.
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