Share Famous Last Words: Parting Lines From Our Favorite Characters

Famous Last Words: Parting Lines From Our Favorite Characters

Sarah Jane Abbott is an associate editor for Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books, imprints of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.  She grew up having NANCY DREW books read to her by her father, and is now an avid reader of mystery, thriller, and horror, along with everything from literary fiction to poetry to personal essays.  She graduated from Bucknell University with a degree in English and a concentration in creative writing.  Sarah Jane is an advocate of quasi-destructive book love—her best-loved volumes are highlighted, scribbled in, dog-eared, and wavy from being dropped in the bath tub.  

Legend has it that Oscar Wilde’s last words were “Either the wallpaper goes, or I do.” Unfortunately, the offensive wallpaper outlived Wilde—and his last remark has also outlived him and become part of literary history. In a great novel, a character’s last words can cover a vast range of emotions: despair, spite, hope, anger, peace. They are the words that stick with us long after the character is gone and the book is closed. We have collected some of our favorite famous last words here—the epic final utterances of characters who, despite their deaths, are immortal in our hearts. Be warned—if you haven’t read these books, spoilers ahead!


The Fellowship of the Ring
J.R.R. Tolkien

“Fly, you fools!” —Gandalf the Grey

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

Your Fave “Game of Thrones” Actors Have Also Starred in These Adaptations

By Amy Cardoza | May 10, 2019

The Best Designer Classics for Your Bookshelf

By Julianna Haubner | November 5, 2018

5 Books to Read if You Love READY PLAYER ONE

By Meagan Harris | April 4, 2018

Famous Last Words: Parting Lines From Our Favorite Characters

By Sarah Jane Abbott | May 21, 2015

10 Incredible Literary Parties

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 31, 2014

Close

A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” —Sydney Carton

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” —Sydney Carton

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The 5 Best Books That Got Me Into Reading

By Maddie Ehrenreich | May 8, 2019

Famous Last Words: Parting Lines From Our Favorite Characters

By Sarah Jane Abbott | May 21, 2015

Close

The Princess Bride
by William Goldman

"Fool!...You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is 'Never get involved in a land war in Asia,' but only slightly less well known is this: 'Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.'" —Vizzini

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
The Princess Bride
William Goldman

If Your Favorite Character is Dustin Henderson

In the mind of “Toothless,” his best friend didn’t almost die. His comrade was captured by a monster, thus his band of merry adventurers went on a quest to rescue him. For more eccentric goofballs in perilous situations, try the book that preceded the classic movie “The Princess Bride.”

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

14 Books You Wish You Could Read for the First Time Again

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 31, 2019

In Memoriam: 16 Authors We Lost Too Soon in 2018

By Sarah Jane Abbott | December 28, 2018

11 Books You Should Read Based On Your Favorite “Stranger Things” Character

By Glommable | May 29, 2017

Story Time!: 9 Books That Feature a Story Within a Story

By Kerry Fiallo | December 28, 2016

13 Smart Books from @HotDudesReading’s Instagram

By Erica Nelson | August 23, 2016

Famous Last Words: Parting Lines From Our Favorite Characters

By Sarah Jane Abbott | May 21, 2015

Close

Moby Dick
by Herman Melville

“Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!” —Captain Ahab

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Moby Dick
Herman Melville

“Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!” —Captain Ahab

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

7 Fictional Shakespeare Retellings to Honor the Bard

By Kerry Fiallo | April 23, 2018

13 Compulsively Readable Novels of Obsession

By Erica Nelson | May 5, 2016

Famous Last Words: Parting Lines From Our Favorite Characters

By Sarah Jane Abbott | May 21, 2015

Close

Romeo and Juliet
by William Shakespeare

“A plague o’ both your houses!/They have made worms’ meat of me: I have it,/And soundly too. Your houses!” —Mercutio

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Romeo and Juliet
William Shakespeare

“A plague o’ both your houses!/They have made worms’ meat of me: I have it,/And soundly too. Your houses!” —Mercutio

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

We Love Leo: 12 Books Leonardo DiCaprio Brought to the Silver Screen

By Tolani Osan | February 24, 2017

Famous Last Words: Parting Lines From Our Favorite Characters

By Sarah Jane Abbott | May 21, 2015

Close

The Godfather
by Mario Puzo

“Life is so beautiful.” —Vito Corleone

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
The Godfather
Mario Puzo

“Life is so beautiful.” —Vito Corleone

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

Famous Last Words: Parting Lines From Our Favorite Characters

By Sarah Jane Abbott | May 21, 2015

Close

The Lottery
by Shirley Jackson

“It isn’t fair, it isn’t right.” —Tessie Hutchinson

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
The Lottery
Shirley Jackson

On Sarah Jane’s wish list

THE LOTTERY has always been a favorite of mine, so when I heard that it was being adapted into a graphic novel by Shirley Jackson’s own grandson, I was hooked. I can’t wait to see a fresh, visual interpretation of the iconic story.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

A Definitive Reading List for Fans of the S-Town Podcast

By Off the Shelf Staff | May 4, 2017

Famous Last Words: Parting Lines From Our Favorite Characters

By Sarah Jane Abbott | May 21, 2015

Close

The Most Dangerous Game
by Richard Connell

“Splendid! One of us is to furnish a repast for the hounds. The other will sleep in this very excellent bed. On guard, Rainsford.” —General Zaroff

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
The Most Dangerous Game
Richard Connell

“Splendid! One of us is to furnish a repast for the hounds. The other will sleep in this very excellent bed. On guard, Rainsford.” —General Zaroff

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

Famous Last Words: Parting Lines From Our Favorite Characters

By Sarah Jane Abbott | May 21, 2015

Close

Of Mice and Men
by John Steinbeck

“Le’s do it now. Le’s get that place now.” —Lennie Small

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Of Mice and Men
John Steinbeck

“Le’s do it now. Le’s get that place now.” —Lennie Small

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

Famous Last Words: Parting Lines From Our Favorite Characters

By Sarah Jane Abbott | May 21, 2015

Close

Peter Pan
by J.M. Barrie

“Bad form!” —Captain Hook

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Peter Pan
J.M. Barrie

“All children, except one, grow up.”

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

Famous Last Words: Parting Lines From Our Favorite Characters

By Sarah Jane Abbott | May 21, 2015

11 Unforgettable First Lines in Literature

By Sarah Jane Abbott | April 2, 2015

7 Favorite Children’s Classics from Off the Shelf Readers

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 13, 2014

8 Book Characters Robin Williams Made Better

By Off the Shelf Staff | August 19, 2014

Close

The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Some consider it “the great American novel.” The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his powerful love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan is an exquisitely crafted tale that has been essential reading since it was published.

Read the full review here.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

A Boozy Reading List: 5 Books as Classic Cocktails

By Maddie Ehrenreich | June 24, 2019

7 Books That Are Completely Different Than Their Adaptations

By Leora Bernstein | May 22, 2019

8 Scandalous Books About Cons, Scammers, and Frauds

By Carrie Cabral | April 19, 2019

17 Amazing Books Featured in the “Fahrenheit 451” Movie

By Sarah Jane Abbott | July 19, 2018

Party Planning Tips from the Scenes of Your Favorite Novels

By Sarah Woodruff | July 2, 2018

The Mother-Load: 14 Books Our Moms Love and Recommend

By Off the Shelf Staff | May 8, 2018

Close

Thank you for joining our email list!

If you create an Off the Shelf account, you'll be able to save books to your personal bookshelf, and be eligible for free books and other good stuff.

Click here to create your free account.

You must be logged in to add books to your shelf.

Please log in or sign up now.