Before they’re executed, people have little control over their fates.But they do have an opportunity to share their last observations about the world, their deaths, or even their executioners.
While strapped into the electric chair or tied to a noose or standing before a firing squad, the condemned have uttered one-liners that grabbed headlines or even made history books.
King Henry VIII of England ordered his wife Anne Bolelyn's execution for alleged incest, adultery, and conspiracy to murder him.
But she maintained a curious loyalty to him before she was beheaded in 1536.
Here's the juiciest bit from her execution speech, as reported by PBS.
'I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord.'
An earlier version of this story indicated that Boleyn was hanged, not beheaded. The error has been corrected.
The 'killer clown' was convicted of killing 33 boys and young men in suburban Chicago between 1972 and 1978, raping and torturing his victims, according to the History Channel.
John Wayne Gacy earned his moniker, and possibly started the scary clown phobia, because he dressed up as a clown to entertain sick children, the History Channel reported.
On his way to his execution, Gacy told a prison guard, 'Kiss my arse,' according to his hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune.
G.W. Green was convicted in 1991 of killing John Denson, a Montgomery County, Texas juvenile probation officer. He was executed Nov. 12, 1991, The New York Times reported at the time.
Here were his last words, as reported by the Times: 'Lock and load. Let's do it, man.'
Herbert Mudgett was one of the nation's first serial killers, and he was sentenced to death by hanging for murder, according to an 1896 New York Times article.
His actual last words were 'yes, goodbye,' but before that, he reportedly gave some thoughtful advice to his nervous executioner.
'Take your time; don't bungle it,' he said.
At least he died a football fan.
Robert Charles Comer, who pushed for his own execution, was put to death for murdering a camper east of Phoenix in 1987 and for raping a female camper, the AP reported at the time.
When asked if he had any last words, Comer reportedly said, 'Yes, go raiders.'
Nike's popular 'Just Do It' campaign was actually inspired during an execution, The New York Times and other news outlets have reported.
Gary Gilmore, who was killed by firing squad in 1977, was the first person executed in the United States in a decade, the BBC reported. Gilmore was convicted of killing a motel manager in Provo, Utah.
His last words -- 'Let's do it' -- inspired the ad campaign, and his entire story spurred Norman Mailer to write the Pulitzer Prize-winning true crime book 'The Executioner's Song.'
The American revolutionary's final words to the British have become famous in America as a solid display of patriotism. Hale, who was hanged by the British in 1776, has been memorialised as the hero of Connecticut.
'I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country,' he said, according to the CIA's website.
Benito Mussolini was the 40th Prime Minister of Italy.
He was executed in 1945 by Walter Audisio under orders from the National Liberation Committee, according to an extended definition on Mussolini from Webster's Dictionary.
Mussolini reportedly screamed 'Shoot me in the chest!' and Audisio obliged.
Robert Harris was convicted of abducting and brutally murdering two teenage boys, according the Department of Corrections in California, where he was executed.
He used the boys' car to rob a bank, and was executed at the gas chamber in San Quentin in 1992 -- the first execution in California in 25 years, according to the state's Department of Corrections.
These were his last words: 'You can be a king or a street sweeper, but everyone dances with the grim reaper.'
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.