There have been many great famous last words spoken over the years — some unfortunate, some poignant, and some downright hilarious.
From Oscar Wilde to Che Guevara, a person’s famous last words often tell you a lot about how the person died — but sometimes tell you more about how the person lived.
Some are obviously thought through in advance, while others are spur-of-the-moment, but they all help shed a light on the characters of the people that spoke them.
“This isn’t Hamlet, you know. It’s not meant to go into the bloody ear.”
Laurence Olivier, said to a nurse who was attempting to moisten his lips but got his ear instead. In Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet is told that his father was murdered by having poison poured into his ear. Olivier starred in a 1948 film version of the play.
“Okay, I won’t.”
Elvis Presley, to his fiancée Ginger Alden after she told him not to fall asleep in the bathroom
“Well, gentlemen, you are about to see a baked Appel.”
George Appel, before being executed by electric chair in 1928
“I’ve had 18 straight whiskies. I think that’s the record!”
Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet and writer
“This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do.”
Oscar Wilde, although he is also said to have mumbled a Catholic prayer as he was dying
“I’ve never felt better.”
Douglas Fairbanks Snr, actor
“I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.”
Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest and most productive thinkers that has ever lived
“Don’t worry…it’s not loaded…”
Rock star Terry Kath from the band Chicago, as he held a .38 revolver to his head. The gun didn’t have a magazine in it, but Terry was unaware there was still a bullet in the chamber and shot himself in the head.
“Gentlemen, I bid you farewell…”
Wallace Hartley, band leader of the Titanic, to his fellow musicians moments before they were all swept into the sea
“I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis.”
“Don’t worry, they usually don’t swim backwards.”
Steve Irwin, Australian television wildlife expert, as he examined a stingray on the Great Barrier Reef. It then swam backwards and the sting pierced his chest, leading to his death from blood loss.
“I am just going outside. I may be some time.”
Captain Lawrence Oates to other team-members on Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated Antarctic expedition in 1912 as they sheltered in a tent from a blizzard.
He was suffering frostbite and believed he was decreasing his comrades’ chances of survival. He left the tent and was never seen again.
“Pardon me, sir. I did not do it on purpose.”
Marie Antoinette, after stepping on the foot of her executioner as she approached the guillotine
“I want nothing but death.”
Jane Austen, after her sister Cassandra asked if she wanted something
“I am not the least afraid to die.”
Charles Darwin, who came up with the theory of evolution
“I’ll finally get to see Marilyn.”
Baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, talking about his former wife Marilyn Monroe
“It’s very beautiful over there.”
Inventor Thomas Edison, said as he slipped in and out of consciousness. It has often been debated whether he meant the afterlife or the view from his window
“One last drink, please.”
Jack Daniel, founder of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
“Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough!”
Philosopher Karl Marx, when asked by his housekeeper what his last words were
“Get out here. I’m getting killed.”
Timothy Treadwell to his girlfriend Amie Huguenard, while being mauled to death by a bear. She was also killed. The words were recorded on video tape by Treadwell, whose story was told in 2005 documentary Grizzly Man.
“The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello and goodbye, until we meet again.”
Jimi Hendrix, from a poem found next to him on his deathbed
“This is the fight of day and night. I see black light.”
French writer Victor Hugo
“Brothers! Brothers, please! This is a house of peace!”
Human rights activist Malcolm X, before being assassinated
“I swear that there is no God but God and Muhammad…”
Saddam Hussein, as the Iraqi dictator was being hanged. The words are from the the Shahada, the Muslim declaration of Faith. It ends “…and Muhammad is the messenger of God”.
“Goodnight my kitten.”
Author Ernest Hemingway, to his wife before committing suicide
“I love you more.”
Michael Jackson, as the King of Pop left his last rehearsal for a planned concert in London. He said it after the show’s choreographer Travis Payne called out to him “I love you”.
“I will see you tomorrow, if God wills it.”
Pope John Paul I, an hour before suffering a fatal heart attack
Pope John Paul II
“What do I tell the pilot to do?”
American television commentator Barbara Olson, spoken to her husband into her cell phone while on board American Airlines Flight 77 before it was flown into the Pentagon in the September 11 attacks of 2001.
“Does nobody understand?”
James Joyce, before the writer relapsed into a coma after surgery on a perforated duodenal ulcer
“I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
Errol Flynn, Hollywood actor
“Mother, I’m going to get my things and get out of this house. Father hates me and I’m never coming back.”
Marvin Gaye, moments before being fatally shot by his father Marvin Gaye Snr
“I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward — you are only going to kill a man.”
Che Guevara, said to his executioner Sergeant Jaime Teran
“I myself and my wife — in order to escape the disgrace of deposition or capitulation — choose death. It is our wish to be burnt immediately on the spot where I have carried out the greatest part of my daily work in the course of a twelve years’ service to my people.”
“I’ll sleep well tonight.”
Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company
“Love one another.”
Beatle George Harrison, to his family on his death bed
“No. I don’t believe so.”
American actor Rock Hudson, when asked if he wanted another cup of coffee
“Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink any more.”
“Lord help my poor soul.”
Edgar Allan Poe, American writer best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre
“I should have drunk more Champagne.”
Economist John Maynard Keynes
“I wish I was skiing.” [Nurse: "Oh, Mr. Laurel, do you ski?”] “No, but I’d rather be skiing than doing what I’m doing.”
Comedian Stan Laurel, one half of comedy duo Laurel & Hardy
“I love you.”
Oliver Hardy, the other half of comedy due Laurel & Hardy, to his wife.
“Go away. I’m all right.”
“LSD, 100 micrograms I.M.”
Aldous Huxley, in a note to his wife, who then injected him twice with the drug before his death.
“I’m shot. I’m shot.”
John Lennon, after being shot by Mark Chapman
“Good bye. If we meet…”
Mark Twain, to his daughter Clara. He never got to say “again”
“I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.”
Writer Virginia Woolf in a suicide note to her husband
“I can hear the music all around me.”
English comedian Dudley Moore
“She won’t think anything about it.”
Abraham Lincoln, to his wife Mary after she asked him what socialite Clara Harris would think of them holding hands moments before he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth
“Does my face look strange?”
Treasure Island writer Robert Louis Stevenson to his wife before collapsing from a brain hemorrhage
“The taste of death is upon my lips…I feel something, that is not of this earth.”
Composer Gustav Mahler, according to his wife Alma
“I’m a f****** doctor.”
Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing after he suffered a fatal heart attack in public and someone shouted “get a doctor”
“Die, my dear? Why, that’s the last thing I’ll do!”
Comedian Groucho Marx
“Money can’t buy life.”
“Tomorrow, I shall no longer be here.”
Physician and astrologist Nostradamus
“I have a terrific headache.”
Franklin D Roosevelt, who shortly afterwards died of a huge brain hemorrhage
Eleanor Roosevelt, after a nurse said she would only die when the reason God put her on earth was fulfilled
“Please put out the light.”
“Dying is easy, comedy is hard.”
Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw
“No more games. No more bombs. No more walking. No more fun. No more swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won’t hurt.”
Gonzo journalist Hunter S Thompson, written in a suicide note four days before his death
“You got me.”
John Dillinger, famous bank robber
“I’m so bored with it all.”
Winston Churchill, before he entered a coma and died nine days later
“That was a great game of golf, fellas.”
Bing Crosby, after playing 18 holes of golf. He had a fatal heart attack 25 minutes later.