I came across another hackneyed dialogue trope today while I was working. This one thudded from the mouth of a character the show, The Originals, which follows the adventures of some old-school vamps, wolves and demons bashing around in the Big Easy. Vampires. Werewolves. Witches. Original.
Anyway, among the typical overwrought dialogue was this clunker: “You always were a terrible liar.”
This one is typically heard when someone’s about to die, and it goes something like this:
“Am I hurt bad?”
“You’re fine, Jake.”
“I can’t feel my legs.”
Lisa looked, and found herself swallowing hard to keep the vomit from coming up. There were no legs to look at. All that remained were gnawed stumps. Goddamned park rangers. They knew the muskrats were hungry this time of year!
“You’re fine,” Lisa managed to say.
“No, I’m not. I’m dying. I can see it in your eyes.”
“Goddamn it, you’re gonna be okay!” She was fighting back tears.
“I almost had it, Lisa. I was almost there.”
“I know, Jake.”
“Now I’ll never make it to Wonglepong.”
“In Australia. Always wanted to go there.”
“You will, Jake. I promise you. We’ll get you patched up and before you know it, you’ll be standing in Wonglepong.”
Jake chuckled, but it came out something like a gurgle. He coughed for a moment, then managed a smile.
“You always were a terrible liar.”
Gasp. Rattle. Dead.
In a way, it’s a good thing Lisa’s such a terrible liar. If she were any good, she’d be convincing Jake he was okay to walk, and, well… awkward. It’s the kind of thing a lazy writer uses automatically when it comes time to do a death scene. “Isn’t that what people are supposed to say when they die?” I mean, I think it would be funny if the dying person said this to someone he didn’t know, like a paramedic, or a random passerby, but there’s got to be something else Jake could have said. Like “I don’t believe you.” Fitting last words, don’t you think?