17 Inspiring Last Words From Steve Jobs and Other Great Leaders
History & Classics  

Someday, we're all going to die. Be sure to read this first.
If you're a parent, you remember the first words your children ever said. My brother's first word was "cereal." Mine was apparently "Watergate." (Granted, it was in the news a lot at the time.)


The more important words are the ones we utter on the way out. If we have time to think about them, they're literally the codas of our lives. Here are some of the most inspiring last words of all time.
1. "Oh wow. Oh wow, oh wow."
--Steve Jobs
Honestly, I hope my last words are this good--suggesting wonder and amazement during the last seconds among the living and the first seconds among--well, that's the point, right? Although, there is some possibility that Jobs was playing a last-minute cosmic joke on the rest of us. Which brings us to--
2. "This wallpaper is dreadful, one of us will have to go."
Oscar Wilde
Dry, hilarious, lasting. If you want to go out with humor, this is the way to do it. Unless--
3. "Plaudite, amici, comedia finita est."
Ludwig van Beethoven
If you view comedy from a more philosophical vantage point, these might be good last words for you. I'm pretty sure this is Latin; anyway, it means, "Applaud, my friends, the comedy is over."
4. "He smelled the garden, the yellow shield of light smote his eyes, and he whispered, 'Life is so beautiful.'"
-- Mario Puzo, The Godfather
No fair cheating--you have to have read the book, not just seen the most amazing movie of all time. Granted, Vito Corleone is a fictional character, but the sentiments here are true-life.
5. "I have offended God and mankind because my work didn't reach the quality it should have."
Leonardo da Vinci 
Really? Da Vinci thought his work wasn't good enough? Forget it, none of our work is good enough. This entire website should probably shut down.
6. "Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven't said enough!"
Karl Marx
That's Karl Marx: a funny, lighthearted guy from start to finish.
7. "Why do you weep? Did you think I was immortal?"
Louis XIV of France
Given that he was known as "the Sun King," and that he was one of the most powerful French monarchs--yes, some of his subjects probably did think he was immortal. But whether it was ironic or sincere, his last words packed punch.
8. "We are all going."
--President William McKinley
The third American president to be assassinated, McKinley was reportedly responding to his wife, who exclaimed as he died: "I want to go too! I want to go too!"
9. "I'm bored with it all."
Winston S. Churchill
This only makes sense given that Churchill was basically the manliest man in the history of manly men.
10. "Pardon me sir. I did not mean to do it."
Marie Antoinette 
The French queen supposedly said this to one of her executioners on her way to the guillotine. She'd stepped on his foot by accident, or so they say.
11. "I love you, Janet."
--Isaac Asmiov
Asimov prophesied that his last words would reflect his devotion to his wife--and they reportedly were.
12. "I die the king's faithful servant, but God's first."
St. Thomas More
Short version: More was an English lawyer who refused to sign off on English King Henry VIII's divorce, and he wound up convicted of treason and executed as a result.


13. "More weight."
-- Giles Corey
In 1692, Corey. accused of witchcraft in Salem, Mass, was pressed to death, meaning he was stretched naked while his oppressors piled heavy rocks on him, for refusing to dignify the proceedings with a plea. Each time he was told to say whether he was guilty, the 80 year old Corey showed them who was the bravest: "More weight."
14. "I've always loved my wife and my children and my grandchildren. I've always loved my country. I want to go. God, take me."
--President Eisenhower
I'm moved by the last words of some of these larger-than-life human beings like Churchill, above, and Eisenhower, who not only led the Allied rescue of Europe but served two terms as president.
15. "Gentlemen, I bid you farewell." 
--Wallace Hartley, bandmaster on RMS Titantic
You probably know this one because you saw that movie with Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio. Facing death, Hartley and his fellow musicians played as long as they could--and accepted the end.
16. "Sacrifices must be made." 
--Otto Lilienthal
Nearly a decade before the Wright Brothers, Lilienthal made 2,000 flights in gliders before one of his designs stalled 50 feet in the air and crashed. He ultimately died of his injuries.
17. "I've had 18 straight whiskies; I think that's the record."
--Dylan Thomas
Okay, this isn't exactly inspiring; maybe it's funny in a black humor sort of way. But it is memorable. I included it here because Thomas is one of my favorite poets--but when it comes to last words, I think you can do better.



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Thought of the day

"I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions."
Stephen Covey