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.
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.
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!"
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.
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.
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.
Before sharing Joe Hill's story, it is important to note that he didn't die in an actual fire. We'd save that sort of example for the article "Last Words of People Who Succinctly Summarized the Circumstances of Their Impending Death."
Hill was an immigrant laborer in the early 1900s. This time period was not particularly kind to itinerant workers in America, and Hill frequently faced underemployment, harsh working conditions and lopsided contracts with his employers.
Unsurprisingly, he embraced the working class's frustrations and became a fervent member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) labor union. He inspired the group through scathing political cartoons and pro-union anthems such as "There Is Power in a Union" and "Casey Jones -- the Union Scab." His less-celebrated hit "U n Me, Gurl (Dat's a Union)" is seldom mentioned.
Dwarfs and flags, that's how the 99 percent should operate from now on.
It has been speculated that his prominent involvement in the IWW led to him being railroaded into a murder charge by The Man. Hill came under suspicion when he was treated for a bullet wound mere minutes after masked men started a gunfight in a local butcher shop, killing both the owner and his son. Hill had no motive, no other corroborating evidence put him there and he was actually one of five men treated for bullet wounds on the night of the murders. Still, a jury of his peers saw it otherwise:
Pictured: A jury of Hill's peers.
Hill was sentenced to death by firing squad. His last word, "FIRE!" preempted the executioner's "Ready ... aim ..." countdown. He wanted to his last act to remind the squad who they really worked for: the people.
Or Hill's own giant balls. We're not sure which he meant, really.
Quote: "If any of you have a message to give the devil, give it to me quick -- I'm about to meet him!"
On February 18, 1820, Lavinia Fisher and her husband/accomplice John were executed for their roles in a series of murders that took place at their tavern. While her husband was busy begging the crowd for forgiveness and putting all the blame on his wife, Lavinia took a slightly different tack: She figured she'd need to stay busy in hell, and so she spent her last words applying to be the devil's postman.
Lavinia then trumped her executioners by jumping off the scaffolding and hanging herself before they could do it (and probably screw it up. If we've learned one thing from the other entries here, it's that executions are like handjobs; if you want it done right, you do it yourself).
"The hiiiilllls are aliiiiive with the sound of muuu -- gakkk."
Witnesses stated that they would never forget the baleful glare or cruel sneer that froze on Lavinia's face in death. Nor presumably the double birds she was flipping behind her back.
Quote: "Shoot straight, you bastards!"
Harry "Breaker" Morant was an Australian soldier serving Britain during the Second Boer War in South Africa. He is best known in America for being featured in an eponymous Academy Award-nominated movie back in 1980 ... which is to say, he's not really known at all.
Pictured: Either E.T. or Working Girl.
Morant was nicknamed "Breaker" because of his much-touted ability to break horses, though his less thoroughly documented B-Boy skillz may have been another contributor. Historical accounts vary widely as to how many of his controversial military decisions were driven by standing policies versus the fog of war. But one thing is for sure: Morant was either justified in the execution of two unarmed African prisoners and a German missionary, or he wasn't.
We here at Cracked will stand by that statement adamantly.
Morant was arrested for the aforementioned crimes and sentenced to death. Regardless of his guilt or innocence, Breaker deserves some respect for having possibly the best first name ever, and also for simultaneously chastising and motivating his executioners with his last words, just before his death by firing squad: "Shoot straight, you bastards! Don't make a mess of it!"
Stand up job, guys.
It was exactly the kind of frank leadership a good military values ... when they're not executing those leaders for war crimes, of course.
Quote: "Go away! Last words are for fools who haven't said enough!"
For better or worse, everybody has to acknowledge that Marx's writings in the Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital are possibly the most important political documents of the 19th century. His words were important; that much is fact.
And he looked like a homeless lycanthrope. That part is also indisputable.
Man, Santa would suck if he was a communist.
In 1883, Marx was about to breathe his last, and the only person on hand was his housekeeper. Now housemaids, as we've learned from Joan Crawford, were, up until recently, primarily employed for their ability to harangue and bungle the last moments of the sick and dying. Kind of like a reverse hospice service. And Marx's woman was no exception: Despite having been employed by his family for four decades, she didn't know enough about the man to avoid asking for his profound and meaningful last thoughts. When he roared his (ironically very quotable) last words, she skittered from the room to let the man die in surly silence.
"You want this beatdown, you sons of bitches? Line up, and every worker will get his share."
Marx was survived by his wife, three children and epic hobo wolfman beard, which could only be killed by a silver razor. Some say, on quiet nights, it can still be heard howling for change in the streets.
To learn how to craft your badass last words in a different language, check out The 10 Coolest Foreign Words The English Language Needs. Or check out what you have to live (die?) up to in The 11 Most Badass Last Words Ever Uttered.
And to further expand your noggin, check out Cracked's De-Textbook: The Stuff You Didn't Know About the Stuff You Thought You Knew.