Going Out With a Bang

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Some of our readers would prefer a more exciting exit from this Earth than slipping away in your sleep. One points to the Star Trek clip seen above: “It’s a bit dramatic, but I’ve lead such a low-key life that this kind of going out fireworks would be grand.” Another reader:

I want to die in an explosion during an alien invasion where I’m protecting my wife and daughter. I’m killing a lot of aliens, but there are too many and I need to detonate a bomb in order to protect them. My wife gives me a kiss and my daughter is crying and they flee. Then I arm the bomb, wait for the aliens to surround me and say “Let’s have a bomb”—dying in a blaze of glory and live on in history books.

Another replies, “Same, but SKELETONS instead of aliens and I’d be protecting 35,000 cats.” Update from reader Doug:

The reader who wrote about going out in an alien-massacring blaze of glory seems like they just saw Independence Day recently. He combines the elements of Russell (says goodbye to kids and sacrifices himself) and Steve and David (allow the aliens to surround them and deliver cheesy line before escaping … and delivering more cheesy lines)—which, all in all, would be a pretty good way to go out.

Another reader quotes a classic line from Will Rogers: “I want to go peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather—not screaming in terror, like the passengers in his car.” This reader looks to literature:

There is a story within a story I recently read, called “50 Going Down.” There is no universe of decay and decrepitude, as one sinks closer and closer into the yawning mouth of the grave. The Creator in the writer’s world is kinder than ours. He chose 50 to be the apex of existence, not a toothless or debilitated 90, robbed of our mind and body. When you reach the magical plateau of 50 you begin to go down. Life reverses itself and you grow younger and younger until you are an embryo and then disappear.

That’s the way I want to go.

Another reader goes with:

At an advanced age, shot by a jealous husband. “He died doing what he loved.”

Another randy reader points to a creative death scene from Monty Python (NSFW because bewbs):

Do you have an unconventional death scenario you’ve ever daydreamed about? Is there a death scene from a movie you’ve always admired? Drop us a note and we’ll update.