16 Manly Last Words

by Brett & Kate McKay on March 19, 2012 · 239 comments

in A Man's Life

We’ve always been intrigued by the last words of others. What did a person use his final mortal breaths to utter? What were they thinking about? Were they scared as they glimpsed the great beyond? Or did they brace up and stoically give up the ghost?

The following 16 men looked death in the eye and embraced whatever came next.

The 80-year-old Corey was accused of witchcraft during the 1692 Salem trials, but he refused to enter a plea to the court. As punishment, he was laid naked in a pit in a field, and slowly pressed to death over two days. Heavy rocks were gradually placed upon his chest–but he refused to cry out in pain, or enter a plea, and each time he was asked to do so, he simply replied: “More weight.”

During the War of 1812, Lawrence’s ship, the USS Chesapeake engaged in battle with the Royal Navy’s HMS Shannon. The captain was mortally wounded with small arms fire, but encouraged his men to keep up the fight. His orders became a popular Naval battle cry.

These were Childers’ last words to his firing squad before he was executed in 1922 during the Irish Civil War.

Thomas More was tried and executed for treason in 1535 because he wouldn’t support King Henry VIII’s marriage annulment and denied that the king was the head of the Church. Before being beheaded, he said his last words in reference to his beard. He positioned his beard on the executioner’s block so that it wouldn’t be harmed while he was beheaded.

On the 800-mile return trip of Robert Falcon Scott’s unsuccessful attempt to be the first to reach the South Pole, his team desperately slogged through freezing temperatures and blizzards, trying to stay on schedule and reach the supply depots along the way. Oates’ feet were badly frostbitten, and he was slowing down the rest of the men. He volunteered to be left behind, but his comrades refused to leave him. So finally he simply walked outside his tent and into a blizzard, telling the others, “I am just going outside. I may be some time.”

Hartley and his fellow band members continued to play as the Titanic sunk, in order to keep the passengers and crew calm. When the last lifeboats had been loaded, the musicians grabbed the railing on top the Grand Staircase’s deckhouse, and Hartley said this farewell to them just before a wave hit and washed him overboard.

Patton died in 1945, right before leaving Europe. He was in a car accident en route to a hunting excursion that left him paralyzed from the neck down. He lingered in a hospital in spinal traction for 12 days; twas not the kind of glorious death the lifetime soldier had imagined for himself.

Passionate about the idea of manned flight, Otto Lilienthal was known as the “Glider King” and made over 2,000 flights in glider models he designed himself. In 1896, his glider stalled, and he fell 56 ft, critically fracturing his spine. These were his last words to his brother before he succumbed to the injury.


{ 239 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Davis Dunavin March 19, 2012 at 11:38 pm

“Shoot, coward. You are only going to kill a man.”*

*apocryphal, yes.

2 JP March 19, 2012 at 11:43 pm

Great lines! The Nathan Hale one is definitely one of my all time favorites!

3 Tyler Smith March 19, 2012 at 11:46 pm

hahaha. Kit Carson’s chili line is hilarious.

4 Cian March 19, 2012 at 11:47 pm

I think Captain Lawrence Oates’ quote from the Antarctic expedition is deeply brave yet horribly sad. I don’t think he could have been much more of a man.

5 Manuel March 19, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Anton Chekhov:

“Anton sat up unusually straight and said loudly and clearly (although he knew almost no German): Ich sterbe (“I’m dying”). The doctor calmed him, took a syringe, gave him an injection of camphor, and ordered champagne. Anton took a full glass, examined it, smiled at me and said: “It’s a long time since I drank champagne.” He drained it, lay quietly on his left side, and I just had time to run to him and lean across the bed and call to him, but he had stopped breathing and was sleeping peacefully as a child…”

6 Brian March 19, 2012 at 11:51 pm

“Huh… That’s funny.” Doc Holliday

He had just looked down and realized he was dying in bed with his boots off. He expected to die in the muddy streets, with his boots on

7 Umar March 19, 2012 at 11:59 pm

How was the William Hartley (Titanic band) quote written down if he said it right before he and the rest of his crew went down with the ship, after the last lifeboats had left?

8 Leo March 20, 2012 at 12:04 am

it should be added that Patton was died in an accident with a young Marine and instead of having the soldier punished in spite, he told the commanding officer that he wanted him to forget that it ever happened so that the young man’s life could remain normal. Even as he died, he thought of his men before himself. A true leader.

9 Brett R. March 20, 2012 at 12:04 am

Perhaps not his last words, from most reports his second last, but “Such is life” from Ned Kelly, most famous of Australian bushrangers, always seemed fitting.

10 Zachariah March 20, 2012 at 12:06 am

Ooh. I’m not the only one who though of Doc Holliday!

However according to wikipedia,” The nurses said that his last words were, “Damn, this is funny.”

Slightly different than his words in the great film Tombstone :)

11 Craig March 20, 2012 at 12:08 am

There is a famous Australian soldier that was executed by firing squad during the Boer War in early 1900′s. Breaker Morant.

He refused a blindfold and then his last words were “shoot straight you bastards, don’t make a mess of it!”

In the fashion of Childers last words.

12 Zach March 20, 2012 at 12:15 am

I also am a huge fan of last words. In Steve Job’s eulogy by his sister, she revealed his last words which really intrigue me. “Oh wow! Oh wow! Oh wow!”

13 Zach March 20, 2012 at 12:16 am
14 Brian Bilderback March 20, 2012 at 12:28 am

“Take her down!” — Howard W. Gilmore, USN

15 Dane March 20, 2012 at 12:32 am

Umar, according to Wikiquote:

“One survivor who clambered aboard Collapsible A distinctly heard Hartley say these words before he and the band were swept off the deck by the sea.” I imagine the life boats had simply been lowered or were in the process of being lowered and weren’t too far from the ship. Of course there are plenty of apocryphal tales from the Titanic…

Personally, I always thought Groucho Marx had some great last words: “Die, my dear? Why, that’s the last thing I’ll do!” A funny man to the end.

16 Blake Helgoth March 20, 2012 at 12:40 am

“Flip me over, I’m done on this side.” St. Lawrence
He was grilled alive for not renouncing Christ.

17 Jon March 20, 2012 at 12:49 am

All very good! Although I would have included
“oh my country! How I leave my country!” -Pitt the Younger, Prime Minster of Britian during the napolionic wars. He allied Britian with Sweden, Russia and Austria to try and stop Napoleon conquering Europe but the Allaince broke down and he died leaving his country at war with a powerful French Empire.

18 Nate March 20, 2012 at 12:50 am

“Let us cross over the river and Rest under the shade of the trees.” Thomas J? Jackson

19 Brian March 20, 2012 at 12:57 am

Okay, I couldn’t remember the exact last words of Doc Holliday. As such, I will leave this right here….


20 Ryan March 20, 2012 at 1:06 am

St Augustine stopped breathing and after some moments had passed he awoke excitedly and said “I have seen the Lord, all I have written is but straw”. He then slipped back into eternity.

21 Will March 20, 2012 at 1:06 am

“Let us cross the river, and rest beneath the shade of the trees” -Gen Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson

22 Rachael March 20, 2012 at 1:10 am

It is a little bit of a tangent but I quite liked Spike Milligan’s epitaph which I believe was ‘I told you I was sick’… :)

23 Joseph Gross March 20, 2012 at 1:18 am

yep the quote I was going to put up!

24 Shawn March 20, 2012 at 1:19 am

John Wesley’s last words were “Best of all God is with us”

25 Joseph Gross March 20, 2012 at 1:19 am

I mean Blake Helgoth’s quote!

26 JP March 20, 2012 at 2:01 am

“I shall live no more forever.” -Chief Joseph

27 admin March 20, 2012 at 2:07 am

alot of bullshit.

28 George March 20, 2012 at 2:39 am

What about Voltaire’s famous last words?
When a priest asked him to renounce Satan, Voltaire reportedly responded with “Now, now my good man, this is no time to be making enemies”.

29 A. McGinn March 20, 2012 at 2:43 am

“Good-bye boys; I die a true American.” – William Poole.

30 Dredd March 20, 2012 at 3:03 am

“I drank WHAT?!”
- Socrates

31 Bruce West March 20, 2012 at 3:36 am

“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
I’ve long believed this to be one of the most selfless and manly quotes there was – with only one greater.

32 argyle March 20, 2012 at 4:00 am

“Did i play my part well in this comedy called life? Caesar Augustus

33 Marc March 20, 2012 at 4:18 am

“Ya decía yo que este médico no valía mucho” (“I already knew this doctor wasn’t that good”) Not last words, but the epitaph of the spanish writer Miguel Mihura.

“Knock hard, as if to wake a dead man”: dead note left by Jean Eustache in the door of the hotel in which he commited suicide.

“I’ll come back, and I’ll be millions”: lasts words of the Aymará chief Tupak Katari, before being executed by Spaniards.

34 Joseph March 20, 2012 at 5:41 am

Gabriel Garcia Moreno, Catholic President of Ecuador, was shot, and wrote in his own blood “God does not die.”.

And when Bd. Miguel Augustin Pro was executed during the Mexican Civil War by firing squad, he refused a blindfold, spread his arms in the form of a cross, and said “Viva Cristo Rey!”, Long live Christ the King!.

He died in one of his disguises he used to travel around and hide the fact that he was a Catholic priest.

35 Bill March 20, 2012 at 6:04 am

As St Polycarp was about to be martyred he looked up and with a wave of his hand said “away with the Atheists”

36 Jason March 20, 2012 at 6:05 am

“Such is life” – Ned Kelly

37 JonEdanger March 20, 2012 at 6:35 am

“Hey y’all – Watch this!” — Anonymous Redneck

38 Heath March 20, 2012 at 6:36 am

“It is finished.” – Christ

39 Wayne March 20, 2012 at 6:39 am

Don’t know if it is true, but Oscar Wilde is reputered to have said -

“Either me, or the wall paper. One of us has got to go.”

Great topic.

40 Wayne March 20, 2012 at 6:44 am

My typing is horrible!


Please accept my apologies.

41 Robyn March 20, 2012 at 7:30 am

My great grandfather on his deathbed when a priest came to see him. He rolled over, took one look at the priest and said “Oh damn!”

42 John Hosie March 20, 2012 at 8:03 am

I grew up near Halesite, NY – the place where Nathan Hale was hung. His story exemplifies extraordinary heroism, and when I was younger, every school child learned about it. I’m sure they no longer do, having substituted some sort of education about how America is evil…But I have to say, this story has always moved me. I am glad you included him.

43 Josiah Sytsma March 20, 2012 at 8:23 am

I always wonder about Albert Einstein, whose last words are forever lost to time

44 Bruce Williamson March 20, 2012 at 8:41 am

Some of the quotes were inspiring. I particularly like Humphrey Bogarts. Thomas More opposed Henry the VIII not the VII.

45 William March 20, 2012 at 9:13 am

“That was a great game of golf, fellas.”

- The alleged last words of Bing Crosby

46 Robert March 20, 2012 at 9:21 am

Francisco “Pancho” Villa…

“Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something.”

47 Jay G. March 20, 2012 at 9:39 am

“Jefferson lives.” – John Adams.

Jefferson and Adams, founder fathers, patriots, brilliant minds, political advisaries, but friends in the end, died within hours of each, on July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

48 Jay G. March 20, 2012 at 9:40 am

that should be “founding fathers” not founder.

49 Justin March 20, 2012 at 9:41 am

I always thought Thomas More’s last words were “I die the king’s good servant, and God’s first.”

50 D.K. March 20, 2012 at 9:44 am

“I’m Bored with it all” – Winston Churchill

51 Piper March 20, 2012 at 9:52 am

I’ll note that Giles Corey wasn’t refusing to enter a plea just for pride’s sake – he knew that by entering a plea, he’d likely be found guilty, and all his land would go to the state and his family would be left with nothing.

If he did not enter a plea, he could not go to trial, and his family would not enter the hardship of having nothing.

52 Jay March 20, 2012 at 9:55 am

Missing one of my most favorite last words. “Stonewall” Jackson:
“Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.”

53 Attorneys Are Expensive March 20, 2012 at 10:21 am

St. Lawrence, an early Christian martyr (and regarded as the patron saint of — amongst other things — comedians) was roasted alive for not renouncing his faith. As he was burning alive, he called out from the grill upon which he was placed, “You may flip me over now, this side is done.” That there is cajones.

54 logan March 20, 2012 at 10:30 am

hello CASANOVA?!?! “i regret nothing”

55 Dr.Frederick H. Giese March 20, 2012 at 10:34 am

Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.

Jesus Christ at His crucifixion.

56 Richard Williams March 20, 2012 at 10:41 am

“I have finished my work and am down at the river waiting for further orders.” ~ John Jasper

“Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.” ~ Stonewall Jackson

“Strike the tent.” – Robert E. Lee

57 Jim McFarland March 20, 2012 at 10:50 am

I consult for hospice, and deal with death day in and day out. Out of 100′s I’ve helped die, not one has spoken ‘last words’…most go very peacefully and quietly. A few have made exclamations like Mr. Jobs. What is so much more important is all the things you’ve done, all the things you’ve said in the 70 or 80 years before that last moment. I have seen some die visibly regretting how they spent their days….So knowing that in 110 or 115 years from now, not one of this planet’s 5 billion people will be still be alive; that fact makes me live each moment as fully and as awake as I possibly can- making sure to bring as much brightness and hope into this tired world as I can. “Behold, O monks, this is my last advice to you. All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation.” -Buddha

58 Ben Cave March 20, 2012 at 10:59 am

Great post, Brett & Kate! Solemn, yet enlightening.

59 Benjamin March 20, 2012 at 11:12 am

While More’s statement about his beard is good his more inspiring last words were “Tell the King: I died his good servant, but God’s first.”

60 prufock March 20, 2012 at 11:22 am

No mention of Gary Gilmore?
“Let’s do it.”

61 Will March 20, 2012 at 11:34 am

This is the Fourth of July.

62 Nick March 20, 2012 at 11:37 am

Ryan, the last words you attributed to Augustine (“I have seen the Lord, all I have written is but straw”) were actually the last words of St. Thomas Aquinas.

63 Zach Martinez March 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm

“It is finished.” Jesus Christ

64 Jon B. March 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm


Reminds me Todd Beamer. From Wikipedia, “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll!”

65 Jamiel Cotman March 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm

JonEdanger post was TOO funny. Had me laughing out loud at the office.

Last words
“Hey Y’all watch this!”
- Anonymous Redneck

66 don Roberto March 20, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Union Army Major General John Sedgwick, d. 1864.05.09, Battle of Spotsylvania Court House.

“What? Men dodging this way for single bullets? What will you do when they open fire along the whole line? I am ashamed of you. They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” Sniper fire continued, and he repeated “I am ashamed of you dodging that way. They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.”

Gen. Sedgwick may have been unaware that the Confederate unit opposing them had been equipped with rifles, not the much less accurate smoothbore weapons. Whether the sniper was skillful or just lucky, or the General unlucky, will never be known. Even Gen. Robert E. Lee expressed regret at Sedgwick’s death.

67 Bellaisa March 20, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Wow. Some powerful words. I think ‘More Weight’ is going to stick in my head for a long time – I can’t even imagine the courage it took to do that.

68 Jonathan March 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm

In addition to don Roberto’s post, Sedgwick was actually shot moments after saying for the second time “they couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance”.

Furthermore, I love quotes and especially last words, my favorite of which have been said already except two:
Karl Marx: Go on get out, last words are for people who haven’t said enough
Augustus: Have I played the part well? Then applaud as I exit

69 TODD March 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm


70 Jim McFarland March 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm

@ Todd
That’s hysterical, nice job….Reminds me of the Darwin Awards! Thanks for the laugh Todd

71 Steve March 20, 2012 at 3:14 pm

“Pull my finger” – Me

72 Brian Derrick March 20, 2012 at 3:35 pm

I think my very favorite is a recent one. Fabrizio Quattrocchi. He was taken hostage together with Umberto Cupertino, Maurizio Agliana and Salvatore Stefio. They worked in Iraq as security contractors. Quattrocchi’s kidnappers forced him to dig his own grave and kneel beside it wearing a hood as they prepared to film his death, but he defied them by trying to pull off the hood and shouting:

“Vi faccio vedere come muore un Italiano!” – “I’ll show you how an Italian dies!” He was then shot in the back of the neck

73 Tom King March 20, 2012 at 4:19 pm

“Everybody has got to die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case. Now what?”
–William Saroyan

74 Leigh Ratcliffe March 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm

“Persian Cowards!”

Leonardos of Sparta.

75 Chris March 20, 2012 at 5:34 pm

I know, not a man but Marie Antoinette steped on her executioners toes on the way to the guillotine and said “forgive me sir. I did not mean it.”

76 DoubleL March 20, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Family legend has it that my great, great, etc grandfather was born Jewish but had converted to the Catholic faith in order to marry the woman he loved but was never an active memer of the church. In his later years his children asked him where he wanted to be burried (knowing he wasn’t catholic at heart). His response was “Bury me in Saint Mikes (the catholic cemetary), the devil will never come looking for an old Jew Boy there.”
Not really his last words but funny as hell none the less.

77 Jason March 20, 2012 at 6:07 pm

“I’ve lived my whole life for this moment”

78 Milos March 20, 2012 at 6:14 pm

If I may add another example, maybe not so much of the famous last words as of heroic act in front of imminent death: Ljubo Cupic, Montenegrin hero from WW2 – this picture was taken right before he was executed in 1942:

79 Beth March 20, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Someone asked about Wilde earlier on the board: “me or the wallpaper, one of us has to go.” It is not known for certain if those were his *last* words, but it is considered one of the last things he said. These are all quite fascinating…Raises the bar.

80 Ryan March 20, 2012 at 8:27 pm

“I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men. I shall die innocent, and it shall yet be said of me—he was murdered in cold blood.”
-Joseph Smith, Prophet and Founder of the Mormon Church prior to his assassination in Carthage jail in 1844.

81 Nathan March 20, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Aussie billionare Kerry Packer, comes out of a coma just before he dies and says … “Am I still here? How f…king long is this going to take?”

82 Howie March 20, 2012 at 9:15 pm

My favorite was Darwin’s thank you for including an atheist who of course did not fear death

83 Sam OB March 20, 2012 at 10:32 pm

The poet Dylan Thomas:

“I have just had eighteen whiskeys in a row. I do believe that is a record.”

84 peetfromboston March 21, 2012 at 12:14 am

if i make it to the end, i’ll say these words before leaving

“today i die alone, tomorrow i live forever”


85 Maru March 21, 2012 at 12:22 am

The Japanese director Satoshi Kon died unexpectedly of cancer at the age of 46, and left a long letter describing his last days and his feelings about dying to all his fans. He concluded this letter by saying “Now excuse me, I have to go,” or お先に (o-saki ni) in the original Japanese. This is something people say when they’re leaving a place before other people — like leaving the office when there are people still working, or leaving a party because you have somewhere else you have to be. He was telling the reader, “I have to go now, I’m leaving this world before you.”

There are few things, I think, that equal that for summarizing the melancholy of an early death, or any death for that matter. They were well chosen last words.

86 Millennial March 21, 2012 at 1:57 am

Don’t forget this one:

“Are you guys ready? Let’s Roll.”
- Todd Beamer, Passenger on United Flight 93, September 11, 2001

87 Jackie Saunders March 21, 2012 at 2:14 am

Not his actual last words, but I always found that the last official act of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, was so indicative of his intellectual ability and political savvy. He drafted a letter to the US Congress to be sent when two Confederates were removed from a British ship on the high seas. This could have been considered an act of war against Britain, but Albert’s letter gave the North a political face save and prevented Britain from entering the Civil War on the side of the South. Under the circumstances, while it might have lengthened the war, it would have critically damaged the economy of Britain and caused untold suffering.

88 Evan M March 21, 2012 at 4:07 am

Howie, Darwin was an agnostic, not an atheist:

“I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God. – I think that generally … an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind.”

89 Evan M March 21, 2012 at 4:11 am

I have to say that Gabriel Garcia Moreno may have the best last words.

“God does not die.”

90 Thom March 21, 2012 at 5:49 am

‘Tell my Mother I died well.’ Ned Kelly
Although most Australians believe he said ‘Such is life’ before he was hung. However I is my understanding that he said this when his legs were shot out from underneath him by the police who caught him.

91 Dave March 21, 2012 at 6:27 am

Captain Lawrence’s last words would have been much better if his crew had not, in fact, surrendered mere minutes later. Turning it into a warcry decades after rather smacks of desperation.

92 Preetham March 21, 2012 at 8:00 am

“Hey Ram !!!” — Mahatma Gandhi
Hindi for “Oh Lord”. He was assassinated he went down after taking a bullet in the chest never to wake up again. What a way to die taking the Almighty’s name.

93 Art March 21, 2012 at 8:26 am

Stonewall Jackson – “Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees”

94 don Roberto March 21, 2012 at 10:03 am

Thanks, Millennial. That’s one of the very best.

Jonathan, if you look at my post, you’ll see that I did list his entire last words, including his repetition of “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.”

95 Luke March 21, 2012 at 10:04 am

It’s hard to read these without saying them out loud in a dying voice…good job mon and Jah bless

96 Thomas March 21, 2012 at 12:13 pm

“Turn me over; I am done on this side.”

– St. Lawrence of Rome, martyr, grilled to death

97 David March 21, 2012 at 4:16 pm

All too frequent last words: “What do you mean I’ve had too much. Give me the damn keys.”

98 Patrick March 21, 2012 at 6:29 pm

I don’t why but the one that came to mind when I saw the title , was
They could not hit a elephant at this distance.

99 Sam March 21, 2012 at 10:17 pm

‘Shoot straight you bastards’

- Breaker Morant, at his execution

100 Joseph Newman March 22, 2012 at 3:23 am

If it’s up to me, looking back on my life, my last words will be, “That was fun.”

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