Hello there, dear readers. We hope you're having a wonderful day. We just wanted to take a moment to remind you that you are most likely going to die in total obscurity.
Sad, we know, but it doesn't have to be that way.
While we can't all pioneer nanosurgery or discover the Higgs boson, we can all plot out something epic to say with our dying breath. Hopefully history will remember us for our sick burns and ballsy braggadocio, even if it forgets everything else. Hey, it worked for the folks below.
#9. Lawrence of Rome/Saint Lorenzo
Quote: "This side's done."
These days most theological discussions break down thusly:
Person 1: I believe in X.
Person 2: I believe in Y.
Person 1: You're a Nazi fag.
Back in the third century, these interactions had much the same flavor, but the stakes were a bit different:
Person 1: I believe in X.
Person 2: I believe in Y.
Person 1: Why don't you believe in X? I would love to explore your belief system further in hopes of bridging our -- hahaha just kidding; I've already set you on fire.
We're not saying it's a better system, but if you leave a comment you should probably lock your doors at night.
Lawrence of Rome was one of seven deacons in charge of the riches of the Catholic church. The Roman prefect apparently got a memo that Rome would really appreciate more riches (you don't say?), so he demanded that the church turn them over. Pope Sixtus II, already condemned to death, instructed Lawrence to distribute the church's jewels and treasures to the poor. And he did so.
When asked by the prefect to produce that wealth, Lawrence gestured to the crowd of peasants and said that they were truly the riches of the church. As emotionally stirring as that quote was, the prefect's lifelong hatred of ham-fisted Hallmark card metaphors manifested itself in an immediate death sentence for Lawrence of Rome.
Imagine the heartwarming music skittering to a stop, and then the match flaring.
Lawrence's execution was to be carried out over a torture-sized George Foreman Grill; he was literally barbecued to death. Just before he gave in to his burns and died, Lawrence reportedly advised his captors: "This side's done. Turn me over and have a bite." This marks both the first and the most accurate instance that "Bite me" was used as a comeback.
#8. Joan Crawford
Quote: "Damn it, don't you DARE ask God to help me."
Dang! That, uh ... that really raises the bar for "defiantly blasphemous last words of celebrity actresses." Unless Anne Hathaway gets terminal cancer and tells God to "make sure he's wearing clean underwear, because I don't want my feet to get shitty while I'm kicking his ass," Crawford will probably reign supreme in the Best Sacrilege from a Supporting Actress category for decades.
Madonna would need to sacrifice three goats per tour for the rest of her career to catch up.
Since most of our grandparents are too disappointed in our life choices to read this site, we're going to go ahead and clarify that Joan Crawford was a silver screen icon, best known for films like the 1945 Mildred Pierce, where she shouted more dudes to pieces than a Dovahkiin. In general, Joan Crawford was a stubborn, headstrong, unruly bitch in the most awesome sense of each of those words. So it's no wonder that, on her deathbed, her last moments were spent reprimanding a housekeeper who'd had the audacity to pray for Crawford's soul within earshot. She died a Unitarian, so we're not sure if she was offended at the religious presumption of the maid or if she just didn't want God to think she needed help from any man.
"Satanic knife fight!"
#7. Georges Danton
Quote: "You will show my head to the crowd: It is worth seeing."
During the rise of the French Revolution, Georges Danton was a prominent mouthpiece for popular sovereignty and was among those who voted for the beheading of King Louis XVI. The ensuing emergence of conflicting political factions led to more beheadings, counter-beheadings and casual Friday beheadings, and even produced a small contingent of revolutionary hipsters who mostly whined about being into beheading way before everyone else.
As an evolutionary survival tactic, French royalty started to produce tiny tiny heads.
Danton's rise to power alternately placed him in harmony and disrepute with those manning the guillotine. It was simply a matter of time before he finally fell afoul of Robespierre (easily the guillotiniest guy during the Reign of Terror). Danton's final demand that the executioner consider his head a treasured keepsake in an era when the severed head market was absolutely saturated was as courageous as it was arrogant. It's the sort of bragging that we wouldn't hear again until the age of modern hip-hop ... if modern hip-hop started from the assumption that every rapper was about to have his head chopped off.
It was also an especially ballsy thing to say for a guy who looks like a cross between Miss Piggy and Jack Black.
#6. Hannie Schaft
Quote: "Ik schiet beter!" -- "I could shoot better!"
As callous as it sounds, it's not surprising that people doomed to be executed manage to summon some pretty choice last words. Knowing your fate is sealed and having ample time to stew over it really gets the creative juices going. It's why our writers always do their best pieces at gunpoint, which works out great, since we have no shortage of people eager to hold guns to their heads. And yet, Hannie Schaft still manages to up the ante with the cutting brevity of her last words.
"Help help I'm tied to a chair and forced to write captions 24 hours a day." -- Schaft, weirdly.
Schaft, a Dutch communist resistance fighter during World War II, was involved in the distribution of illegal resistance newsletters and the theft of ID cards, which she'd turn over to her Jewish friends to help them avoid detection. She was arrested at a military checkpoint on April 17, 1945 and interrogated for days before being sentenced to death. Two German soldiers brought her out to a field strewn with the bodies of fellow freedom fighters to be shot. Now, accounts vary as to whether the first volley wounded her or missed her entirely, but in either case, Shaft awesomely used her final breath to hurt the feelings of some inept Nazis.
Before turning to stone and screaming defiance to the sky.
And hurt they must have, since the soldiers who were botching the execution were using a fucking machine pistol.
#5. Fabrizzio Quattrocchi
Quote: "I'll show you how an Italian dies!"
In 2004, an insurgency group calling itself the Green Brigade of the Prophet took four Italians working in Iraq hostage and shot an execution video, which they then sent to Al Jazeera television. Instead of inspiring fear and terror in the hearts of their enemies, however, the whole thing served to make the group look like a bunch of rookies who needed war lessons from their substantially more put-together captives. When it became apparent that Fabrizzio Quattrocchi was going to be killed, he tried to tear off his own hood and shouted his last, instructive words: "Now I'll show you how an Italian dies!"
Note: These last words lose potency if you were born somewhere other than Italy.
So, what's the answer? How does an Italian die?
Well, a lot like anybody else, really. Except a whole hell of a lot cooler, and while making his killers look like the utter assholes that they are.