Death Is Cheap

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Lynne: Ha ha! I died again!
Sissel: ... I thought you'd be a little more grave, under the circumstances.

Lynne: Yeah, well, this is the third time after all...

So you had your big, important fight. The enemy is defeated, and wasn't even Left for Dead. They did, in fact find the body. No One Could Survive That, and no, he didn't. He's not pining for the fjords either - nor did he Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence. He's just dead. Sure, because, as everybody knows, Anyone Can Die.

Except he's back the next time the story requires it. Be it resurrection, reincarnation, time reversal or some other form of magic, death is quick but seldom permanent.

This is an old fighting Shōnen manga and comics trope. Important characters will have a terrible tendency to die dramatically, but will not, under any circumstances, stay dead. This of course requires a lot of supernatural involvement, but that's not so uncommon either. Viewers are often shocked when they are exposed to this for the first time, but it's just a variation of the Not Quite Dead tropes listed above, since it merely hinges on a rather different value of "dead". This separates it from the Western Back from the Dead in the respect that it's quite often planned, and not the result of just lazy writers (well, at least writers lazy in another way), and requires less obvious plot hacking to enable. The character was not really Killed Off for Real, the chance of him coming back was always there. However, this tends to cheapen the dramatic death of a character to the point of being little more than a flesh wound if overused. If you ever hear passing mention of any form of afterlife in a series, be warned that the value of "dead" has become a whole lot less all of a sudden. Similarly, if the entire supporting cast is being killed off left and right, expect a resurrection by the end of the current arc. This trope became so common in some series that most people are more likely to be shocked if a character does not come back from the dead than when it does.

Also, it relies on the character being important - since few people are able to come back from the dead on their own accord, it must be important enough for the rest of his posse (or the Writers) to care enough to resurrect him. And a minor Red Shirt just doesn't have enough clout for that, and will probably never be heard of again.

Since villains tend to do this often, it is usually necessary to kill them Deader Than Dead to ensure they don't just come back eventually. Because normal death means little, this "advanced form" is usually permanent. If it works as planned.

So common is this trope in comics that many other sources refer to it as Comic Book Death. Comics have a slew of means to undo death, often involving Opening a Can of Clones. Usually the only characters in comics to stay dead are those involved in a Death by Origin Story.

See also Disney Death, and the Sorting Algorithm of Deadness for a closely related phenomenon. Immortal Hero applies when this applies to heroes, but not villains. Compare Death by Origin Story. Death Is a Slap on The Wrist is a gameplay equivalent of this trope; oddly, so is Continuing Is Painful, even though it basically amounts to Death Is Expensive. Not to be confused with video games that make you die frequently. When this applies in the afterlife, as in the myth of Valhalla, see Warrior Heaven or Hell Is War.

May cause villains (or readers) to exclaim Why Won't You Die?

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.

Examples of Death Is Cheap include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Dragon Ball and its sequels are notorious for playing this trope to death. Everybody and their grandmother dies and is resurrected at some point. Much of the show is in fact motivated by collecting the Dragonballs to be able to wish somebody back to life. By the time Dragon Ball Z ended, only Mr. Satan the Fake Ultimate Hero and a few gods hadn't died at least once. Counting GT, Krillin died four times.
    • Prior to the Namekian Dragon Balls, a person could only be restored once, as the same wish couldn't be granted twice.
      • Avoided in Future Trunks's gloomy alternate universe, probably to show what the series would be without its Reset Button (i.e., depressing). The reasons why are All There in the Manual
    • Dragon Ball death is so cheap, in fact, that when "Super" Buu goes up to the lookout in the hopes of finding the strong opponent he was promised, Piccolo actually suggests he pass the time it'll take to get Gotenks ready to give him a full challenge by killing all the humans. A What the Hell, Hero? moment to say the least… until you remember that they could all be wished back with the Dragon Balls. For once, this was horribly subverted… when Buu didn't even leave the Lookout, let alone take a day, but rather in one effortless rain of ki leveled Earth's population below 20 in under three minutes. Meaning not only was every civilian killed for nothing, but they didn't even gain nearly the time Piccolo thought they would for Gotenks to face Buu at his best (and would've had even less than they did get if not for the Fake Ultimate Hero's daughter), not to mention the terrifying depth of Buu's power and sickness this was a glimpse into.
    • Not to mention showing that Buu probably knew what Piccolo was trying to do, and killed everyone that quickly as if to say "yeah, nice try." He's smarter than he looks, evidenced by his plot to absorb Gotenks and Piccolo (and later Gohan).
    • It is stated outright in the English version of Dragon Soul

Nothing Ever Dies We'll Rise Again.

  • Naruto often varies between this and Killed Off for Real, falling into this during the Sasuke Retrieval Arc (when Neji and Choji both survived massively bodily harm for no apparent reason) and more recently The Pain Invasion Arc, which ends with Pain/Nagato entrusting his ideals to Naruto and performing his last technique that revives everyone in Konoha previously killed in action by him, including three named characters: Kakashi, Fukasaku, and Shizune, albeit at the cost of his life.
    • One of the most powerful forbidden techniques in the series involves reviving as zombies whoever you want, though it requires a living sacrifice and the DNA of the revived to do so. The only ways to counter this are to destroy any traces of their DNA, permanently bind the soul so it can't be summoned, or completely bind the zombie's body so it can't move.
    • Chiyo managed to revive Gaara, but it had a cost in this case; bringing someone back from the dead with her jutsu kills the one performing it. Equivalent Exchange.
  • In Bleach a number of people did in fact die (though only villains. Heroes' apparent death scenes almost always result in someone being Not Quite Dead), but the fun twist is that most characters of Bleach are technically already dead, since a huge portion of it takes place in the afterlife. As well, one character has the power to make things like death unhappen. This later becomes a key plot point.
    • If the rules of the afterlife in this show are understood correctly, the regular world and the afterlife are really just two regular worlds, souls essentially go back and forth between two different worlds, and once a soul has died in both, unless they become a Hollow or something, they continue to live as something. It seems death is originally cheap to begin with but then regularly sold at a major discount price in the Bleach universe.
  • Fate/stay night has the main character uttering the line "People die when they are killed" at one point, which is a blatant tautology out of the show's context and a blatant lie inside it. (It Makes Sense in Context, because he's figured out the source of his immortality and is giving it up, but Memetic Mutation has made it into a synonym for Captain Obvious.) Berserker, on the other hand, has the power to be killed 12 times before he dies, and comes back instantly without any adverse effects. This is supposedly a huge difference from mere quick regeneration. Not to mention it then makes him permanently immune to whatever killed him after he regenerates.
    • It's not without averse affects. After losing five lives taking down Archer his combat abilities are severely weakened to the point where, left to his own devices, he would not have chased after and fought Saber.
    • Fate/hollow ataraxia plays it differently: You learn quite early that there's a time loop that occurs whether the main characters live or die. Thus, Shirou is free to get killed off much more quickly than in FSN. In fact, you have to die multiple times.
  • Phoenix Ikki from Saint Seiya keeps coming back (and stronger), regardless of how soundly he gets beaten. Well, he IS the Phoenix after all.
  • It's a regular theme in Yu Yu Hakusho - the main character dies in the first episode and manages to come back to life, as well as dying again and then spontaneously resurrecting later in the series; the main character's mentor is killed and then subsequently resurrected about ten episodes later; also, the main villain of the first arc kept resurrecting himself by virtue of having lots of disposable (but equally powerful) clones.
    • Actually, Yusuke was already dead by the time the first episode started. It did show his death in a flashback shortly after the beginning, though.
    • Elder Toguro survived getting blown into pieces and shot into the ocean by virtue of his regenerative powers, and survived being eaten by taking over his consumer's body from the inside. It's stated that he never died to begin with; as he is unable to ever die, ultimately leading to his eternal suffering.
    • Also, late in the series, both Hiei and Shigure (his mentor in swordsmanship and the man who implanted his Jagan) are effectively both killed in their battle, Hiei by blood loss and decapitation, and Shigure by having his head chopped in half. Mukuro revives both of them and reattaches their bodies through some sort of machine.
  • The ability to resurrect people is explicitly one of Sailor Moon's powers. Needless to say, the main cast dies a lot. This protection does not extend to non-main characters however, as many a villain trying to pull a Heel Face Turn learned. Poor Mamoru seems to die at least once per storyline.
    • The total death count is: Moon: 1, Inner Senshi: 3, Uranus/Neptune: 1, Saturn/Pluto: 3, Mamoru: 3. And that's just the anime version.
    • In the manga we have Sailor Moon and the rest of the Inner Senshi and Tuxedo Kamen get killed in the backstory and are revived by Queen Serenity. During the main story we have Heroic Sacrifice by the Inner Senshi against Queen Metalia, and Tuxedo Kamen killed by Sailor Moon. She revives everyone later with the Silver Crystal as well as using it as reset button for the whole planet after Metalia's rampage. In the final story arc, we have Sailor Galaxia kill EVERYONE except Sailor Moon and Chibi-chibi, revive them and turn them against Sailor Moon, who kills them again hoping to revive them, but Galaxia destroys their Star Seeds, making them Deader Than Dead. And Sailor Moon still revives them all.
  • Kikyo of Inuyasha has died four times, and came back three times (though the second and third "deaths" were more cases of No One Could Survive That (she came back from the dead and they thought she died from falling off a cliff?), and the fourth time she dissolved right in view).
    • The shikkon jewel is, evidently, so powerful that just a small fragment of it cannot only wake the dead but effectively keep them from dying until it's removed.
  • In Digimon, "death" only returns a Digimon to egg form, though that didn't stop characters from treating it as the sort of event that a human's death is. Dead Sidekick angst and resulting Captain Ahab-ness loses something when the 'dead guy' is standing right next to you, and seems to be handling things just fine. The Darker and Edgier third season did away with this, but it returned for seasons four and five... but in the fifth season, the evil Professor Kurata devises a way of corrupting a Digimon's data, causing permanent death.
    • The rebirthing didn't apply to any of the Digimon that died during the Dark Masters arc as the Digital World was corrupted, though (at least, the heroes believed) taking out the Dark Masters and Apocalymon restored things, allowing those Digimon to survive. It is also believed to not work on any Digimon that dies in the human world, such as Wizardmon who was killed by Myotismon in season 1 and was a ghost in season 2. Of course, that would mean the ghosts of Myotismon's entire army are still hanging out in Tokyo, at least some substantial enough to cause all manner of disruption.
    • In season five, it's made a little less cheap: Though death isn't permanent, there is no guarantee that the reborn Mon will remember its prior life, in most cases being very unlikely. And then Kurata figures out how to make a Digimon Deader Than Dead.
    • Digimon's reliance on this trope causes a huge Player Punch when it's brutally subverted in Digimon Tamers. A Leomon dying became memetic after this instance. However, it soon becomes apparent that this particular Leomon won't be coming back at all.
  • Bludgeoning Angel Dokurochan: Every time Dokuro violently kills Sakura, she resurrects him right on the spot a couple seconds later, none the worse for wear.
    • It still hurts though.
  • In Kinnikuman, Choujin who have died can come back by completing certain trials in the afterlife. Thus, it is entirely possible for a character to be graphically killed off then show up in the next story arc with no-one batting an eye. Note that this doesn't work for those who die of old age, though.
  • The last third or so of the chapters in Shaman King. Can we say overkill?
    • And half of those instances were plot device for sake of power up.
  • Excel Saga plays this for laughs, with the Great Will of the Macrocosm acting as a (mostly) death-specific Reset Button.
    • There's also Hyatt, the alien Ill Girl who dies every 3 minutes, with (or without) the slightest provocation.

Excel: Please, Ha-chan, do something about your habit of dying!

  • Dead players in Gantz can be revived at the cost of 100 points. Now getting those points is another story entirely.
    • Gantz toys with this trope mercilessly. The eponymous entity in the black ball seems to effortlessly bring back the dead, but it turns out to be recreating them from records in its data buffer. Kishimoto was "revived" by Gantz originally despite not actually dying, leaving her as a redundant clone until she was eventually killed off permanently. Furthermore, there are now two active copies of protagonist Kurono, and the second one was understandably pissed off when he found out. Life is cheap and disposable in the Gantzverse.
  • CLAMP is usually obsessive about averting this, but it crops up in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. Due to reincarnation back in time and the tendency for reincarnations to be identical (complete with memories) of past lives, Cloney returns (as Syaoran Sr.) approximately five minutes after his Heroic Sacrifice, although of course it was a lifetime to him.
    • Of course, the only reason that this was possible was because he was a clone and the cost of this wish was the life of the most powerful sorcerer ever to exist...
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni has this, thanks to the show's Groundhog Day Loop.
    • Death is even cheaper in Umineko no Naku Koro ni thanks to the Endless Witch being able to kill and revive endlessly at will. Hell, even outside the fantasy aspect and into the meta-world in EP5 some characters like Battler "die" since he stopped thinking and his body stopped as well, but then makes his awesome comeback when he reaches the truth. AND then in EP6 he revives a gone Beato with, uh, magic (it's a complicated process, don't ask).
  • Angel Beats! takes place in a world where everyone is immortal. So death is just a minor inconvenience.
    • Technically everyone in that world is already dead and the ultimate goal of everyone living there is to take care of whatever part of their former life was left unfulfilled before moving on. At first the protagonists don't know this and think that disappearing as a result of finding that fulfillment is a bad thing.
  • Most of the main cast in Season 3 of Yu-Gi-Oh GX is killed off at one point or another. Nearly all of them are revealed to actually be trapped in another dimension (and not just in the dub, either).
  • Jellal (Gerard) from Fairy Tail gets to come back after having supposedly been broken down at the atomic level during fusion and fired into the sky. The best possible explanation for how he simply ended up in a coma elsewhere about 50 chapters later is simply that he's the manga-ka's favorite villain.
  • Kara no Kyoukai has an interesting/bizarre example. In the fifth movie, Touko got her body torn apart and then had her head crushed into bits. Then, she makes comeback by rebooting her spare copy, a doll to finish the job.
  • The Sengoku Basara anime becomes this in the second season: Not only does no-one apart from Hideyoshi and Hanbei die, most of the cast killed off in the first season are alive and kicking for no real explained reason.
  • People from Wonderland have clocks instead of hearts. When they die, they can be replaced. This knowledge leads to the place being so violent.
  • Elfen Lied - but only the manga. A lot of people who die stay dead, but the ones who don't, do so so annoyingly that it definitely fits this trope. Specifically: Kurama, Bando, Kaede/Nyu/Lucy.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Nobody believes in death any more, either. Marvel Comics and DC Comics spend most of their time assuring us over and over that the characters they killed off are dead FOR REALLY REAL THIS TIME YOU GUYS! No one ever believes them. For example, no matter how many times the Marvel editors stated outright that Captain America (comics) wouldn't be coming back, most fans were just making wagers on how long it would take. Turns out it's about a year.
    • As the old saying goes, "Nobody stays dead except Bucky Barnes, Uncle Ben, and Jason Todd." Of course, since that saying was coined, both Bucky and Jason Todd have found themselves resurrected. (And briefly, Uncle Ben as well)
  • The skepticism has reached a point where comic writers need to keep it in mind when they really are faking a character's death, since they know that everybody will guess exactly right that they were just trying to fool the readers. In 52, Booster Gold is apparently killed in a grand display of heroism. This was not meant to be a permanent (or even semi-permanent) death, as it was an in-universe scheme to trick the villain, but the writers still wanted it to look like he was really dead, and they could think of no way to actually do this, since every reader would automatically know he was not dead. They went through several sketches of having his dismembered body fall to the ground in several different places (Since that way readers would say "Well, with that kind of damage he can't just be 'in a coma,' he might actually be dead"), but it ended up just looking ridiculous. Surprisingly, their eventual decision, to have his burned, blasted body fall to the ground, actually did fool the readers (in a way), since many of them thought he was at least out of this story completely, even if they expected him to come back sooner or later.
    • It didn't help that 52 was a prequel to the One Year Later books, i.e. other stories taking place after it but released before it had already shown Booster Gold.
  • It's gotten to the point where, when Banshee apparently dies, his daughter, Siryn remains convinced that it's a trick, pointing out all the other X-Men who have also been reported dead only to return. Her less Genre Savvy teammates believe she's in denial. Eventually, she accepts his death.
    • The story behind this is amusing enough to note here. When Banshee died, Siryn was in a different comic, and nobody thought to tell those writers that Banshee had been killed off, so she never responded to his death. When the writers finally found out, they decided that since Death Is Cheap, instead of trying to retcon her grieving in to have her just be in denial.
    • The X-Men death frequency is spoofed here.
  • Lampshaded endlessly in Incredible Hulk issues #397-#400. When a distraught Rick Jones goes to Doctor Strange so that he can resurrect his girlfriend Marlo, Strange explains how it's impossible. Rick goes on to point out how many other characters have died and come back, asking if Strange' assistant had (responding "Actually, yes"). It gets to the point where Marlo does get brought back to life by a magical priest and a crystal chamber simply called the "Deux Ex Machina." She comes back... but is left a complete shell from the experience. (She gets better before issue #418 [their wedding], though.)
    • And lampshaded again in another issue during Nick Fury's funeral, where his friends laugh and crack jokes, saying things like "What dya think it is this time, aliens?" By the end of the story they realize that he's not coming back, and look genuinely mournful. Of course, as we all know, he did come back anyway.
    • Someone even called Marvel out on their frequent use of comic book death in the letters pages of that very same issue, to which the response was "Okay, okay, we won't kill Nick Fur--Oops."
  • Lampshaded by Hammerhead in Ultimate Spider-Man. His first appearance ended with his skull being exploded by Gambit. When he returns a Mook remarks "geez Hammer I thought you were dead". Hammerhead responds with "I was. It sucked. I came back".
  • A brilliant quote from Fabian Nicieza after fans attacked him for apparently killing off two members of the Legion of Super-Heroes: "In that case, I want to take this opportunity to formally apologize to all the readers for having killed off a shapeshifter and a teleporter in a superhero comic book."
  • A scene in the '90s DC comic Titans had a couple of junior members being shown around the Hall of Deceased Former Titans to show them the stakes being played for. The lesson didn't really take, as they had been hanging around other superheroes long enough that the senior member had to explain "You realize when people die, they don't usually come back... right?" The former Titan in question eventually came back.
  • Similarly, in Martian Manhunter, a government agent discussing the Martian's "death" with the Justice League of America is openly skeptical about superheroes really dying, much to the annoyance of The Flash, whose predecessor and former partner did stay dead... for an unusually long time by superhero standards, at least. (And of course, we the readers already knew J'onn had faked his death as part of a plan.)
  • After Metamorpho died in the pages of Justice League of America, Superman was the only attendee at his funeral. The priest giving the service explains that nobody bothers with superhero funerals anymore, as they always end up coming back. Sure enough, Metamorpho is currently alive and well.
    • To emphasize the point that death is permanent, the panel also showed off a few statues of superheroes who died and stay dead. Every single one of them is now alive again.
    • Metamorpho has in fact died and come back at least three times, depending on how you count.
  • As mentioned above, Barry Allen, The Flash, died in 1985, and he's stayed dead... but he turns up so often in time-travel plots you wouldn't know it. He popped up again as part of the Final Crisis story arc, apparently to stay.
  • Interesting exception in comic aimed for children: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures from Archie had several characters killed during its run. When the Mighty Mutanimals were killed off prior to a certain major story arc, they stayed dead. Not even their notable popularity among readers would bring them back. The scene of them in Hell was fortunately just an illusion conjured up by a villain. The same applied to all dead characters. (Hitler's brain was surprisingly resilient, though.)
  • The entire Blackest Night event of 2009 seems to be this trope played out in the grandest, darkest way imaginable.
    • In addition it does some Lampshade Hanging on death being cheap; the whole reason it seemed to have started is because Nekron was pissed at having been cheated so often. But then in issue #5 it's revealed that this was all bullshit; Nekron was responsible (or at least allowed) for all of the resurrections in the DCU so far. Thanks to their previous deceased status everyone who ever "cheated" Death is vulnerable to Black Lantern ring possession.
      • And the ending is essentially one giant burst of Death Is Cheap bringing back most of the characters DC killed over the last several years but also some characters whose resurrections will cause problems. In spite of this, the series ends with one of the characters saying "I think death is death from now on" since Nekron was defeated.
      • On that very same page, though, they observe that another character who had been presumed dead (Batman) probably wasn't. So DC superheroes will still have to deal with Comic Book Death in the form of deliberately faked deaths, Disney Villain Deaths, deaths of clones, deaths of Alternate Universe copies, death followed by being cloned with memory implants in the clone, being saved at the last second by Time Travel... just not true resurrection. Meaning they'll wait two or three months before they start bringing people back to life for real again.
      • Amusingly Inverted Trope by the resurrection of Deadman, who has been a ghost since the character was introduced forty years ago. Since Status Quo Is God, he was soon killed off and back to normal.
    • One of the followup storylines saw Lex Luthor meet Death of the Endless - who is supposed to be the Anthropomorphic Personification of Death, period - and ask her about how cheap death is. She answers that a few years or decades isn't much to her; everyone will meet her eventually.
    • Despite Blackest Night supposedly closing the door on resurrections, the Post-Flashpoint reboot immediately brought back several deceased characters. Ryan Choi, Kendra Saunders, Black Orchid, the original Ventriloquist, B'wana Beast, Golden Glider, Doctor Mist and Kid Eternity have all been restored to life, just to name a few.
      • The supposed "Dead Means Dead" rule was broken before Flashpoint even ended. The second-to-last Secret Six storyline featured the resurrection of the villainess Knockout.
  • Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow, in the 'Quiver' story arc, comes back from the dead after being resurrected by Hal Jordan, as Parallax, before Hal's own death. Queen later meets Hal Jordan on a trip to the after-life, although Jordan has since taken on the role of The Spectre. When later mentioning to Batman of Jordan's involvement, Batman replies, "It seems none of our former allies know how to stay dead."
  • Remember how devastating it was for Tim Drake when Superboy and Kid Flash died? Well now they're both back thanks to Legion of Three Worlds.
    • Red Robin hasn't caught up to the current state of the time-line yet, but he's still devastated now his foster father has been murdered.
  • When Martian Manhunter was killed in Final Crisis, Superman gave a eulogy that amounted to "Let us honor his memory. And pray for a resurrection."
    • Then Blackest Night came along and the Manhunter became a zombie Black Lantern. Perhaps Supes should have been more specific. (Don't worry, he got better.)
  • Subverted in Elf Quest. When One-Eye is killed, Leetah manages to revive him, more or less. When his lifemate learns that his breathing, living body is just an empty shell, she has it put in wrapstuff for magical suspended animation and swears to protect it until his soul (which is hanging around) returns to it. Eventually she comes to terms with the fact that he does not want to come back, frees the body, and lets it die.
  • In The Boys, the stuff that gives people super powers can even resurrect them from the dead... but not in a good way.
  • Darkseid can revive the people he kills with his Omega Beams using those same Omega Beams. This just means that Darkseid can kill underlings that annoy him without any worries, since he can bring them back if he needs them again. He can also kill and revive people over and over again for fun.
  • In the Batgirl 2009 series, Stephanie Brown spent a lot of time thinking about what would happen if Bruce Wayne ever returned as Batman. "I've just been worried that if you ever popped up again - and I mean, who really stays dead nowadays anyways, right? You missed the zombies, by the way." When he does reappear, she slaps him. And then freaks out and runs away.
  • Two Words: Obvious Trope: The Immortal. Aside from that, though dead = DEAD. The only other characters to come back had some obvious way for Genre Savvy readers to see that they might not have actually kicked the bucket.
  • Both the Justice League of America and The Avengers have actually enacted plans that involved the entire team dying with the assumption that they'd come back to life. The JLA did it to deal with being trapped in the distant past and hunted by foes they couldn't defeat by letting the foes kill them after first arranging for an ally to cast a spell that would resurrect their skeletal remains in the present day. The Avengers did it to rescue teammates from the Grandmaster who'd arranged their deaths so he could use them as pawns in the afterlife (being dead himself at the time) by drinking poison and more-or-less assuming they'd figure out a way to get back to life once they'd sorted everything out on the other side.
  • In Marvel The End, Thanos discovers that the universe is unraveling because of all the heroes coming back from death. He specifically blames things on Wonder Man, who was arguably the first resurrection in the Marvel Universe. Thanos then unmakes and remakes the universe, and states, "This time, dead is dead." Sh-yeah, right.
  • Averted by most 2000 AD strips. Starting with M.A.C.H.1, it has a long tradition of killing off characters for real, the most notable example being Johnny Alpha, though The Death And Life Of Johnny Alpha is bringing him back through sorcery.
  • Though it doesn't displays it as much as Marvel or DC, Les Legendaires makes a heavy use of this trope as well: the titular protagonists got all killed at least twice each ones of them, but they always are resurrected at the end of the arc, whether it's through an Eldritch Abomination's doing, Time Reset, reincarnation... in a surprising subversion of the trope, however, the Legendaries' Arch Enemy Darkhell was actually Killed Off for Real.
  • Once, when Spider-Man was asked if the villain of the day was dead, Spidey said "Probably. Half the guys I know have been dead once or twice. Usually did 'em a world of good."
  • A Massively Multiplayer Crossover whose name this troper doesn't remember involves two characters previously thought dead. They say to each other "I thought you were dead!" "I thought you were dead!" and then it is not mentioned again.
  • Sabretooth is the character who's given the Reaper the biggest middle finger recently. Forget "big explosion but we Never Found the Body," Skrull impostors, etc. Sabretooth had his head removed via a sword whose wounds are explicitly Healing Factor-proof. We next see him in freaking Hell. During a battle in hell, he is decapitated again. With another sword whose wielder says that if he's killed with it, there is NO. COMING. BACK. AT ALL. EVER. Surely he's Deader Than Dead, right? Nope, he's back in less than a year. No reason given, he just is. Yep.
  • Jean Grey from X-Men: an endless cycle of Jean dying, coming back, and dying again.


Fanfiction[edit | hide]

  • Deconstructed in Bleach fanfic Calm After the Storm. Orihimie managed to bring her friends back to life multiple times (Ichigo stopped counting after 5) but there are still people who couldn't be saved. Seeing friends dying, even if they come back later still traumatized the heroes. There is also a sense of guilt that always touches survivors.
  • In With Strings Attached, As'taris has one of the shortest deaths imaginable—about half a page later, he's been resurrected. Turns out resurrection is cheap 'n' easy in Baravada.
    • And the resurrectionist quotes, “Death is cheap, life is expensive” when Grunnel complains about the price.
      • Which seems rather petty of him, given how much money he has.
    • The narrative mentions that some of the Mooks in Ehndris are “awaiting resurrection.”
  • In The Prayer Warriors, a character can be killed off one chapter and somehow come back in the next chapter.
    • An example of this is Grover, who dies so many times that we've lost count.
  • In the Pokémon fanfic Legend Has It the main character Justice dies a total of four times (the last time being permanent). The first time he died he gave his life to Arceus in order to fix everything that Cyrus had undone about the world. The second time, he was briefly brought back to life by a Celebi (which turned him into a White-Haired Pretty Boy in the process) only to die right after completing Celebi's task. Then Arceus resurrected him to stop the war going on between Teams Rocket and Plasma. During that time he is killed by Archer and his Giratina immediately tries to bring him back by using a bunch of Dusknoir. The process forces him into a kind of Heel Face Turn that makes him go absolutely crazy and has him attempt to destroy the world, only to be shot out of the sky by Arceus in a Curb Stomp Battle that kills him for good.


Film[edit | hide]


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In the Malazan Book of the Fallen book Midnight Tides, Rhulad Sengar returns from the dead moments after being killed, thanks to the cursed sword in his hand and the time. Since the whole dying thing is agonizing and mind-warping, and the process of returning is even worse, this ends up being a case of being Blessed with Suck.
    • It's not so much the resurrection that's traumatic than that The Crippled God (the series' Big Bad Evil Guy and the power behind the sword) takes the opportunity to torture Rhulad's soul before sending him back. Not to mention the sword inhibits his body's healing process AND nullifies magic healing. The end result is the same, though.
    • It's also arguable that with people ascending left and right and then having other Ascendants intervening in mortals lives/deaths, the Malazan Universe just doesn't seem to have same concept of death our own.
      • At least some amount of Divine Intervention or complex magic is needed for people to come back in the Malazan universe.
        • Yeah, but the gods intervene in everything and you can't spit without hitting a super-powered wizard.
  • In The Dark Tower, both Jake and Father Callahan arrive in All-World by dying in our world. When Jake dies in All-World, he gets saved by Time Travel.
  • Cory Doctorow's Down And Out in the Magic Kingdom takes this trope to its logical conclusion by having everyone take resurrection for granted. Thus, the narrator (Julius) is killed early in the novel and spends the rest of the story fighting back against those he believes responsible for his murder. He theorizes that they timed his death carefully so that he'd be out of commission at the exact point when his enemies were putting a plan into effect, since obviously if they killed him too early he would be alive again at by that point.
    • And in both that book and Ken MacLeod's Newton's Wake, resurrection is so automated that other medical skills have atrophied or been lost; it's easier to get a new body than to fix the one you have. Like consumer electronics today.
  • In The Light Fantastic, Death lampshades this when Rincewind and Twoflower escape from his house, saying, That always annoys me. I might as well install a revolving door.
  • In Dragaera, it's a relatively simple process to become "revivified" after death. It's fairly expensive, however, and some circumstances can make it impossible. Assassinations among the Jhereg criminal organization often do not take. In the first novel, Vlad even claims that someone might be assassinated as a warning to back off, though this level of cheapness is not carried over into subsequent novels.
  • The Takeshi Kovacs novels by Richard K. Morgan take place in a largely post-death world where a person's consciousness is housed in a chip in his brain, called a "stack." When his body dies, his chip is inserted into a new one. Bodies, now called "sleeves," are bought and traded like garments. In the first book of the series, a centuries-old magnate hires the hero to find out how his previous sleeve was murdered.
  • In Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series, the same advanced alien technology which resurrected everyone on Earth who had ever died remains active. Anyone who dies on the Riverworld is brought back to life the next day somewhere else. A few characters use this "Suicide Express" to deliberately, though randomly, explore the Riverworld. Later on, the machinery breaks down.
  • Played with in The Lost Symbol. Robert Langdon appears to have been most unambiguously drowned in a tiny coffin filled with liquid, and for a few chapters afterward he's caught in a trippy dream state where both he and the reader assume he's dead, but then it turns out that the liquid in the tank was breathing fluid laced with paralytic drugs, an advanced sensory deprivation chamber used by the Big Bad as a torture device. His "rebirth" is unpleasant, but far from supernatural.
  • The Biting the Sun books take this trope to extremes. Resurrection is a normal use of technology. Even the rare occasions when a character in those books does want to be Killed Off for Real, their base personality will get transferred into a new body—effectively meaning mandatory artificial reincarnation.
  • In The Worm Dieth Not a depressed superhero agonizes over the fact that heroes and villains kill each other constantly and never stay dead. He compares their never-ending conflict to the trial of Sisyphus and ultimately decides to commit suicide as a means of escape, realizing at the last minute that he'll just show up alive again in time.
  • Occasionally in A Song of Ice and Fire. Most of the time dead means dead, but there are notable exceptions. Most notably, Thoros of Myr's resurrection of Beric Dondarrion and later Catelyn Stark.
    • Equally Martin frequently appears to kill people before revealing it was only a flesh wound.
      • Bran's fall in Game of Thrones, the Hound hitting Arya with an axe during the Red Wedding, Brienne's hanging in Feast for Crows and in Dance with Dragons, Tyrion falling into the river, Asha losing her battle with Stannis, the revelation that reports of Davos' death in Feast for Crows had been exaggerated and Theon's re-emergence from two books of captivity all count here.
      • This is why the vast majority of fans believe the letter claiming Stannis is dead is a lie and that Jon Snow will not actually die/stay dead after being repeatedly stabbed and falling unconscious.
    • In a similar fashion, the discovery that Prince Aegon, previously thought to have been killed as an infant was alive and well makes the death of many other characters fall into question.
    • The general rule for character deaths in A Song of Ice and Fire is that unless you witness a character definitively die from someone else's point of view, that character is likely not dead for good. Of the POV characters that have been killed, Ned's execution was from Arya's POV, whereas Catelyn got her throat slit in her own POV chapter. Ned's definitively dead whereas a resurrected Zombie Catelyn is wreaking havoc in the Riverlands. Arys Oakheart died from Arianne Martell's POV. Quentyn Martell may have sustained his fatal injuries in his own chapter, but his death was witnessed from the perspective of Barristan Selmy. Almost all of the Only a Flesh Wound reveals mentioned above came at the end of a POV character's own chapter. The exception to this overall rule is the Prologue and Epilogue characters—they ALWAYS die at the end of their lone chapters.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

I've crushed his head a few times,
Memories like nursery rhymes.
No one dies like my TV's Frank.
No sweet blood to distill, no cute tummy to drill,
Who, who will I kill?

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Buffy Verse in general do this all the time. Buffy has died twice, though the first time she was only technically dead and brought back by good old-fashioned CPR. Angel "died" when sent to hell, but came back. Spike pretty much explodes in the Grand Finale of Buffy, comes back as a ghost in Angel, and then comes back to life. Darla, staked in the first season of Buffy, returns in Angel. And in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 comics, it turns out Warren didn't stay dead when he had the skin ripped off his body and was visually incinerated.
    • In fact, Darla technically died four times in the history of the shows, once as a human when she was turned into a vampire by The Master, once as a vampire in Buffy, then in Angel she was resurrected as a human, made vampire again by Drusilla, and finally died as a vampire again.
    • It's established that people killed by magical means can potentially be resurrected. People killed by natural means are dead for good.
    • Subverted with some permanent deaths: Jenny Calendar, Joyce, Tara, Cordelia, Doyle, Wesley, and Fred.
    • It seems that not even Buffy can permanently kill Dracula.
  • Doctor Who: The Master was apparently killed off for good at the end of The End of Time after forcing the rogue Time Lords back into the Time War, averting the end of time.
    • Just to put this into context this will be the fourth time the Master has come back from being killed onscreen. In a row. (The other three are his execution at the start and being sucked into the Eye of Harmony at the end of the TV Movie, and being shot by his wife (and cremated on a funeral pyre, no less) in series 3, in case you were wondering.) One time, after returning from certain doom again - not any of these situations, there's more - the only answer he gave on the subject was "I'm indestructible, everyone knows that." He even manages most of these without regeneration, as for much of the old series he was incapable of regenerating (he was at the end of his last life, and had body-hopped into a non-Time Lord.)
    • Davros, the leader of the Daleks presumably dies at the end of series 4. Even Word of God says it won't take.
    • In "Forest of the Dead", the people inside the Library who were killed by the Vashta Nerada had their neural relay uploaded to a computer.
    • In "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances", Jamie, after being struck by a bomb in the Blitz was resurrected by Chula nanogenes, though it took until the end of the story to be properly fixed.
    • At the end of "The Doctor's Daughter", Jenny is shot in the chest and appears to die without regenerating. For not clearly explained reasons, by the end of the episode she suddenly gets up again ready to see the world.
    • In "Cold Blood", Rory is shot by a Silurian and erased from existence. In "The Pandorica Opens", he gets brought back in Auton form, and by the next episode "The Big Bang", he's brought back to life with his centuries of memories as an Auton centurion intact.
    • In "The Pandorica Opens", Amy is shot by Auton Rory. The following episode, she gets placed inside the Pandorica where its restoration field, combined with the DNA of her alternate timeline self in 1996 puts her right on her feet.
      • This hardly scratches the surface of the number of times Amy and Rory have "died," especially Rory. The Doctor himself's gotten in on the Disney Death action once or twice.
    • At the end of "The Parting of the Ways", Rose brings Jack back to life after he is shot by the Daleks; as a result he can't die of natural causes, but a fatal wound will simply kill him... for a few seconds. Unfortunately it seems to have come with a side of Good Thing You Can Heal.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • The number of times Daniel has died as become a bit of an injoke for the series. Depending on how one classifies "dead" then it ranges from a minimum of 4 explicitly stated times up to possibly 22. The presence of time travel, alternate realities, virtual realities, Nox healing technology and the resurrection sarcophagi means that nearly every main cast member has died at some time. Lampshaded by O'Neill of course, who by season 8 refuses to acknowledge Daniel's death or grief over him. Because each time he did, Daniel came back.

O'Neill: All we know for sure is that he's missing.
Carter: Sooner or later --
O'Neill: Forget it! I'm not fallin' for it this time.
Carter: "Falling for it"?
O'Neill: Yeah! How many times have you thought he was gone, and then he shows up, in one form or another? I'm sorry, but we're not having a memorial service for someone who is not dead. [to the room] You hear that? I'm not buyin' it!
O'Neill: What? He's just waitin' for us to say a bunch of nice things about him. Next thing you know, he'll come waltzin' through that door, [gestures at the closed door] like, right now. [O'Neill and Carter both look at the door, O'Neill hopefully and Carter skeptically.]
O'Neill: Waltzing… now.
[Nothing happens.]

    • It should be noted that Daniel comes back by the end of that very episode.
    • The original Big Bad Apophis managed to come back several time before the show decided to upgrade the villains. Apophis' situation was lampshaded in the fifth season premiere when, after finally being Killed Off for Real, O'Niell assured General Hammond he was 99% sure Apophis was actually dead.
    • After Ba'al cloned himself, it became something of a running gag to have him killed repeatedly (sometimes several times in a row within the same episode) only to have him be back for more a few episodes later.
  • And Stargate Atlantis proudly continues this tradition with the lovely Elizabeth Weir:
    • First she was badly injured in an explosion, and 'repaired' using replicator technology that had been engineered to be safe. Then, she was left behind on a replicator planet, and presumed to be killed by the replicators.
    • Then, she was cloned by the replicators, along with other characters from the show. Even the clone then gets killed.
    • However in a later episode, a version of her consciousness, having first become a replicator, and then having 'digitally ascended', ends up in a computer on the Atlantis base. She and some other replicators convince the Atlantis team to build them new bodies using the Ancients' original replicator creation technology; bodies which were promptly jettisoned out into space by the end of the episode. This ending strongly implied that her character had the potential to return, and probably die again.
  • In Xena: Warrior Princess, Xena and Gabrielle died and came back so many times that Hades probably had a revolving door installed. Which didn't stop Xena from being Killed Off for Real in the finale.
    • And the thing about Xena and Gabrielle dying is that over the course of the show, every time either Xena or Gabrielle visited a new culture or place, that particular afterlife was incorporated into the show's mythology. We saw the Greek Elysian fields and Tartarus, the Amazon land of the dead (which is apparently some place different from the traditional Greek afterlives), Judeo-Christian Heaven and Hell, Xena and Gabrielle were introduced to the idea of reincarnation after visiting India, and of course the finale.
    • Xena's parent series, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, was just as bad. Iolaus died (for the third or fourth time...), came back as a parallel universe character, got his happy ending, then the original one was resurrected.
    • Lampshaded in the episode where the cast portrays actors playing the characters in the show, and they wonder how Iolaus will die next (eaten by dinosaur, spontaneous combustion...)
  • Heroes. Started off as Anyone Can Die, then reverted to this. Characters who can heal get routinely mangled, then it's revealed that their blood can resurrect anyone. This is later completely forgotten about. Still later, characters come back without even a Hand Wave - Sylar in particular gets full-blown Joker Immunity.
  • Charmed, where the core cast and quite a few villains have died numerous times. In total, both Piper and Phoebe died nine times, Paige has died seven, and Prue died thrice. Only Prue's last death was actually permanent, though.
    • And don't forget our local Kenny McCormick - Cole "Belthazor" Turner.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: it was getting hard keeping track of which Weyoun numbered clone was which. Subverted in the finale, when the Female Founder confirmed that Kira and Garak killed the last clone.
    • ...only for the Expanded Universe to bring in another one anyway from a back up sample in the Gamma Quadrant.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: Oh... my... GOD!!!
    • Every single character has died at least once. The entire crew has been offed three times, not including "Course: Oblivion" where the Demon Planet copies of the crew from "Demon" lost integrity and vaporized.
      • The crew died off one-by-one in "Year of Hell", but when Janeway made her Heroic Sacrifice by ramming Voyager into the Krenim timeship, everything went back to the beginning as if nothing happened.
      • In "Timeless", Voyager was downed in a quantum slipstream experiment, killing all except Chakotay and Harry Kim, who were in the Delta Flyer ahead of them and made it home. Kim went back in time to abort the quantum slipstream experiment and save the crew.
      • A duplicate version of the crew were killed when they self destructed their ship to save the real Voyager in "Deadlock".
    • Some individual examples:
      • In "Threshold", Paris died and got better during his transwarp-induced hypermutation. (But this episode has since been retconned by the producers.)
      • In "Cathexis", Chakotay's soul was ripped from his body, rendering him brain-dead until they found and restored it.
      • In "Deadlock", Kim was spaced after the ship and crew had been copied. The copy of Harry Kim is the one that made it home.
      • In "Coda", Janeway was forced to relive her "death" in several different varieties (including being euthanized by the Doctor after picking up the Vidiian Phage), then attended her own funeral before she was purged of a non-corporeal being that was trying to feed on her soul.
      • In "Before and After", Kes suffered a temporal illness that made her consciousness bounce backwards from her death to her conception.
      • In "Mortal Coil", Neelix was killed by a shuttlecraft accident. He was then resurrected by Seven of Nine using modified Borg nanoprobes that reversed his brain death. This was never tried again, as Neelix was rendered suicidal by his experience.
      • In "Relativity", Captain Braxton uses multiple versions of Seven of Nine to try to destroy Voyager, being tired of their "temporal meddling". He gets her killed a few times in his attempts.
    • And then there's Lyndsey Ballard in "Ashes to Ashes", a previously unknown character who was resurrected by a species who reanimates the corpses of other species to "procreate".
  • The plot line of Supernatural plays it straight, averts, and lampshades it at different times of the series. Played straight with the two leads (who have died so many times that the angels and their dead friends (Ash) in heaven are sick and tired of seeing them. Even Death himself has become mildly annoyed as of late because the Winchesters keep coming back from the dead. Averted in the case of any main character that the fan base hates enough (the writers are very, very sensitive to pressure apparently...). And Castiel has a get-out-of-death-free card personally guaranteed by God. That said, death has become cheaper as the series has gone on (in the beginning it was pretty damn expensive). Sanity is now actually far more expensive than death. Once heaven and hell started taking an active (as in 'interactive') interest in the Winchesters, the bigger worry become not what happens if you die but what happens after you're dead. You just know the next time either one of them dies Heaven or Hell is gonna rip them to pieces for the rest of eternity (anyone want to count how many angels and demons they've killed?). Most clear was Dean's reaction in "Dark Side of the Moon" when about to be shot in the head: "Do it. But I warn you, when I come back I'm going to be pissed."
  • Rimmer from Red Dwarf has been brought back to life multiple times. He first dies in the accident he causes (maybe) that wipes out the crew which is the set-up for the whole premise. Then he comes back as a hologram. In series 3 after messing with the timeline, he actually gets a body in one episode, but ends up blowing himself up shortly afterwards. So he's back to being a hologram. Then after hologram Rimmer goes off to be Ace Rimmer in series 7, the original Rimmer from 3 million years ago is resurrected by the nanobots who rebuild Red Dwarf with the original crew. It looks like he's about to die in that season's finale, but manages to escape death (literally, he knees death in the privates). And in the 2009 special Back to Earth, set nine years later, he appears to be a hologram again, whether by nanobot Rimmer dying or series 1-7 Rimmer coming back from his Ace adventure is not made explicit.
    • Has happened to most of the crew at some point. Rimmer, Kryten and the Cat all die in The Inquisitor, but a clever Batman Gambit by Lister erases the titular Inquisitor and all resets all the work he's done, bringing them back. Out Of Time sees the crew attacked by their future selves, killing Lister, Kryten and The Cat and only stopped when Rimmer destroys the Time Drive.
  • This is the beauty of The X-Files; nobody important ever truly dies. Mulder himself died a few times, Skinner has died at least once, Agent Spender was thought to be dead by a gunshot to the face but comes back deformed in season nine, and even CSM died more than once.
    • Mentioned in jest by Dean Haglund (Langly) in DVD commentary: "Nobody ever really dies on The X-Files."
  • Invoked, subverted, and lampshaded to hell and back in Lexx; many of the characters who die in the second season return with seemingly no explanation in the third season, but it becomes increasingly apparent as time goes on that the planets the Lexx is orbiting at the time are, in fact, the afterlife. When the Lexx blows up the afterlife, they all move to Earth. When the Lexx blows up the Earth, too, it seems as though everyone is finally Killed Off for Real, simply because there is no more afterlife to be resurrected from. Subverted again by Kai, who dies in the first scene and stays dead, but animate, through the whole series. In the finale, when a Deal with the Devil backfires, he's brought back to life for real...just in time for an event he can't possibly survive.
    • This means that there are in fact three versions of most characters: the original versions, the Fire and Water versions, and the Earth versions.
  • This trope is why Cylon prisoners are uncooperative under threats: killing them will result in their consciousness being downloaded into the nearest Resurrection Ship, where they immediately tell the others where their killers are. In the third season, one of the Threes does it for kicks; Baltar even lampshades it.

D'Anna: Do you have any idea what you're accusing me of?
Baltar: Yes... intentionally killing yourself over and over so you can download over and over. Death is just a revolving door, isn't it?
(cue a smug smile from D'Anna)

    • This makes Cylon Raiders exceptionally dangerous, as over time a Raider will be killed in multiple engagements - and it not only learns from every death, but every time it gets killed it comes back angrier.
    • Later however the Resurrection Hub is destroyed making Death very real for everyone. Except Starbuck. But not really.
  • In Smallville, characters who die tend to stay that way, even very important ones. Even characters important to his future as Superman wind up dying and we find out that they weren’t that Jimmy or Dr. Hamilton. However, Brainiac is the exception. He’s insanely unkillable, thought dead multiple times, each more final-seeming than the last, and yet, he has an Unexplained Recovery again. (Mind you, this happens to him in the comics, too... but then, it happens to everyone in the comics.)
    • Slightly justified with Brainiac, since he's a super-advanced robot built by a super-advanced civilization and destroyed said super-advanced civilization. If he couldn't bounce back from death, he never would have survived to the main series.
    • Also there is exception with Clark, Chloe, Lana, Lex, and Lois who had a death certificate, coffin buried, or a lifeless body at least once.
  • Passions, due to its status as a Supernatural Soap Opera, abused the hell out of this one. Who knows how many times Sheridan's been involved in situations that would have been fatal to anyone else...in fact, she died at least once, only to have a storyline in Fluffy Cloud Heaven.
  • Being Human (UK) uses this trope with Herrick, who dies in the series one finale and returns for series three, only to keep the mysterious method of his revival a secret.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Opus has had a few near-death experiences, meaning that either he can return from death or he's just incredibly resilient. From what we've seen of him, the former is a lot more plausible.


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • The Undertaker's whole gimmick revolves around threatening to steal his opponents' souls, kill them, and/or send them to Hell. It is unclear, however, what this has to do with winning wrestling matches. The one incident that stands out in particular was when he threatened to send Edge to Hell; at the end of the match, he apparently did just that, by chokeslamming him through the ring apron with flames shooting out, as both he and the announcers proclaimed that Edge had indeed gone to Hell. Edge returned a few months later without explanation. The Undertaker does not seem discouraged by this.
    • Done for Rule of Cool mostly. The Undertaker himself has "died" and come back to life before, quite a few times in fact. There was the 1994 Royal Rumble incident, in which Yokozuna and a bunch of other heel wrestlers bombarded him, opened his urn which caused him to lose his powers, and rolled him into a casket. As Paul Bearer rolled the casket away he was shown on the titantron inside the casket and he gave a speech in which he promised "I will not rest in peace." He then "floated" out of the casket and up to the rafters of the arena, presumably crossing over into the afterlife, only to return again later that year. Then of course there was the 2003 Survivor Series in which Kane buried Undertaker alive, thus "killing" his Biker persona and leading to his return as the Deadman we all know and love at Wrestlemania.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • In Tabletop RPGs, such as Dungeons & Dragons, high-level Divine casters are often so common that any dead hero can be resurrected if their party members have enough GP. So while death isn't literally cheap (on the contrary, it can be rather expensive), it's not difficult to get out of (since PCs tend to accumulate vast amounts of GP.)
    • There are a few spells such as Barghest's Feast that can make it so that the target cannot return to life by mortal magic.
    • This page recognizes the potential implications of cheap resurrection spells for the society and proposes alternative rules, which can roughly be described as "dead is dead, but you'll be surprised what you can live through".
    • In 4th edition, resurrection is less common at low levels, but more common at higher levels. There are some epic level powers that can be activated "once per day, when you die."
      • One Epic Destiny in Martial Powers takes this to a logical extreme: Your character automatically revives 24 hours after each death, for free, in a different graveyard or tomb somewhere in the world. Since the same epic destiny lets you travel anywhere in the world in 24 hours, it means you'll have rejoined your party in 48 hours, assuming you know where they are/were going.
  • Mummy the Resurrection has this as a core mechanic, as the most important ability of the titular mummies is to not die permanently. There's only a handful of ways to kill an Amenti permanently, and the only "mundane" method is to hit them with a nuke. Point blank. And even that just traps them in the Underworld. On the other hand, mostly due to the game mechanics, dying is still really inconvenient...
  • Mortasheen's titular city has this due to cheap and easy cloning in the titular city, something that the genocidal villain civilization of Wreathe finds abhorrent.
  • Paranoia embodies this trope. You are only dead for as long as it takes for your next clone to be shipped somewhere. At least, until you run out of clones...
    • And in the latest versions, you can buy more! Although they start developing genetic defects (you can get these scrubbed out of your template for an extra fee).
  • Warhammer 40,000 has the Tyranids, who give a whole new meaning to Death Is Cheap. Any Tyranid that gets killed in an invasion is just digested and used to make more 'Nids.
    • The Necrons get out of death (most of the time) by just teleporting out and regenerating. Things a Necron can get patched up from include: nanometer thin shuriken, rapid fire missiles, holy napalm, and anti-tank weapons that vaporize almost anything.
    • Dark Eldar have Doctor Frankenstein-esque 'surgeons' known as Haemonculi (and their 'augmented' Igor-like Wracks) who can reconstruct entire new bodies for those Dark Eldar willing to pay an often esoteric price. The best can, given the client's will is strong enough, regrow an entire body from a charred hand. This being Warhammer 40,000, the procedure naturally involves torturing dozens of slaves to death, and the prices can range from slaves to souls to dying breaths. Naturally, the Haemonculi save the best and most reliable methods for themselves; the most senior of their number have died and come back countless times, with. . .varying degrees of extra insanity.
  • In Toon, running out of hit points causes you to Fall Down, but this just means you have to sit out for a few minutes before returning with your hit points back up to full.
  • Car Wars. Death is expensive - you have to buy your clone for $5000 at Gold Cross.
  • BattleTech had "Life is cheap. BattleMechs aren't." as its slogan—given the shortage of giant robots, it was easier to find a replacement pilot than a replacement 'Mech.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Zero from Mega Man X is notorious for his repeated deaths. Even after his final no-really-he's-dead death in Mega Man Zero 4, he was brought back again in the form of an ancient rock that gives suitable people the ability to take up his form and saber.
    • He is dead, really. Just give it a rest, already.
      • This needs further explanation. Zero is dead, for real. Biometal Model Z is not Zero, but rather, his data and memories compressed in a sentient rock that was created when Ragnarok fell to Earth. That doesn't mean Zero himself doesn't have more comebacks than Lazarus, however. He has had a total of 4 deaths, one of them offscreen (Implied at the beginning of the first Zero game), and only the fourth one got to stick.
      • If his data and memories are intact, We Can Rebuild Him.
      • For that matter, the series' favorite side villain, Vile, has died at least 3 times. Obliterated in X1, then in X3, then in X8.
  • Even though the Mortal Kombat series deliberately subjects death to the Rule of Cool, the creators will sometimes, in a high profile move, permanently kill off characters between games for drama. Unfortunately, they can't even get those to stick. The question of whether or not Johnny Cage is still alive remains a running gag to this day.
    • Since characters can conceivably be killed off at the end of every single match, plotline deaths are generally taken with a grain of salt by both gamers and developers alike.
      • It got worse with Deception's stage fatalities, which automatically win the round. "Round", not "match", meaning that it's possible to get killed and get back in action in the same fight.
  • This has been lampshaded in World of Warcraft. In one instance, you can buy an overpriced 'charm' from a shady troll vendor that he cheerily explains will let you do exactly what you do anyway to recover from death. In a more recent example, Arthas the Lich King may casually murder your character for what seems to be the sole purpose of embarrassing you.

"Persistence or stupidity? It matters not. Let this be a lesson learned, mortal!"

    • Used and abused by Blizzard overall in the Warcraft franchise, especially World of Warcraft. Players like recognizable major antagonists, but there is only so much of those in lore and Blizzard has to constantly produce expansions to their main moneymaker. So what do you do? You shamelessly resurrect your major antagonists. If you didn't chop off their head, you're almost guaranteed to have them come back later in yet another dungeon. Even if you DID, the villain may still come back as a spirit or a zombie... or have it turn out the previous version was a decoy... or just come back with no explanations whatsoever.
    • The Spirit Healers are a prime example. If you can't get back to your body for whatever reason, these gals will be happy to return you to your mortal coil because, "It is not your time."

How many times have she and her sisters brought you back from the grip of death itself? You're just all kinds of inconsiderate, aren't you?

  • Allen O'Neil from the Metal Slug series. Killed in 1, 2, and 3 (and even HELPS the player AFTER being killed in the third installment). Somewhat lampshaded, in that it is explained that his will to come back to his family somehow keeps him alive.
  • The whole JRPG Genre can be quite the offender of this as well. (Unless its done by a plot-induced death via a dramatic cut-scene.)
    • The only exceptions are the cult classic Survival Horror RPG Sweet Home and (for the most part) Fire Emblem series. Namely on how they frequently have party members whom can die and stay dead even after a regular battle. (Though the latter would only occasionally make exceptions such as a certain staff you can get later on in the first game.)
  • Died in BioShock (series)? Resurrection is just a shiny booth away.
    • It is, however, possible to turn off the Vita-Chambers in the options menu. This makes the game extremely hard.
  • Arguably justifiable in Borderlands. At the beginning of the game, the local Exposition Fairy and quest announcer hands you something called an ECHO Net communication device and "heads up" display, after which you are directed to a "New-U Station". The latter is explained away as being able to "identify and store" your DNA profile, and you are flat out told that this is done for the purposes of "horrific death and dismemberment insurance". Ever after, every time you die throughout the game you are teleported back to the last New-U Station that you passed with 7% of whatever was in your wallet at the time providing a charge for "reconstruction services". If you were flat broke, the fee is waived. Because, of course, "we at Hyperion value your existence".
    • ...It also brings to mind whether or not how many of the endless sea of mooks and bosses are actually dead as well. There are certain bosses that respawn matching your current level after you kill them, and to top it off you get to fight them all together again in Mad Moxxi's Underdome during a later DLC. Given the canonical explanation of game mechanics, it is entirely feasible that several of your previous foes may possess registration with New-U Stations as well.
    • Claptrap's Robot Revolution shows that only the minor not as well known bosses have been registered to the New-U Station. The Big Bads are brought back cyborg parts, not completely rebuilt of course
  • Resurrection booths also feature in Space Colony, but even before you get them dead teammates turn up perfectly fine in later missions.
  • The Nameless One is immortal and simply returns to the Mausoleum every time he dies in Planescape: Torment.
    • Most of the time. There are a few ways that the Nameless One can get permanently offed.
    • Inverted, sort of, with a rich Sensate lady, who wants to experience a murder but without obvious undesirable consequences. She offers you a pretty sum for a permission to stab you. So, in a way, this death turns out to be quite expensive.
    • Ultimately averted in away, at least as far as the story is concerned. Sure, the Nameless One will get back up again if killed, but every time that happens another person dies in his place and becomes an undead shadow. This actually affects the number of enemies (who are all supposedly shades risen from those who died in the place of the Nameless One) found in the final area of the game.
  • Ganon from The Legend of Zelda series. According to Fanon every appearance of Ganon is the same guy but there isn't proof in the games themselves. Preventing Ganon's resurrection is one of the main goals in Zelda II the Adventure of Link, he is successfully brought back in the The Legend of Zelda Oracle Games then dies again. Wind Waker, Twilight Princess and the first game all have Ganon killed so one of them could be resurrected in the Oracle games but outside of that Ganon is as much of a Legacy Character as Link and Zelda.
    • The Ganondorf of Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and The Wind Waker is definitely the same man but any other appearance is subjective.
    • One fanon theory is that Ganon always returns through the Gerudo tribe, who are cursed to only have one male every hundred years. The problem with this is that Ganon continues to appear when the Gerudo aren't included and such a thing would take away the need for a complex resurrection. Plus the only times the same Ganon unambiguously shows up in different games are cases where he didn't die in the first place! Definitely a legacy character until more evidence is shown.
    • Skyward Sword offers some explanation for this: just before mostly-dying, Demise curses Hyrule to be constantly haunted by evil, which implies that his lingering power is what created Ganon and keeps bringing him back to life after the current Link kills him. Some other villains, like Vaati, seem to recur in the same way, probably for the same reason.
  • Ridley from the Metroid series is a recurring boss and has in fact been in all the Metroid games except Metroid 2: Return of Samus and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. It is understandable why they bring him back, since he is the presumed leader of the main antagonists - the Space Pirates, he killed Samus' parents when she was a kid, and finally he's just such a fun boss to fight. But considering what he's survived or been resurrected from, he should really be long gone by now. Blown to bits in the first game? OK, limited graphics, he might just have fallen over, and he was absent from the second. Returns as a cyborg in Prime, loses his wings and gets blown off a really large cliff before he explodes. Sure, why not. More cybernetics at the beginning of Prime 3: Corruption where he gets shot up and dropped down a really, really high elevator shaft. Returns at the end of Prime 3, hyped up on radioactive drugs, to get slaughtered once again and blown to molecules. Blown into tiny chunks again in Super Metroid? OK, there might have been enough tissue left to—oh, wait, the whole planet exploded thirty minutes later. We are really giving him the benefit of the doubt here if we say he escaped. Finally, Metroid Fusion, the chronologically last game in the series. His now completely organic body is found frozen in a storage room, taken over and destroyed by shape-shifting parasites, which are then in turn blown up and absorbed by the heroine. And yet, we know he will return because he's Ridley, for goodness sake! Death isn't worth a penny to him!
    • Other M reveals that Ridley really was Killed Off for Real in Super Metroid. Scientists unwittingly cloned him with DNA samples taken from Samus' suit, unaware that Ridley had a larval stage with no resemblance to his space dragon adult self. The Ridley clone is just as hard to kill as the original; he manages to reappear for Fusion even after being drained by a Queen Metroid.
  • Played for laughs in the Infocom Text Adventure Leather Goddesses of Phobos. Your faithful sidekick would occasionally get killed in the course of trying to solve some puzzle, with you mourning their loss. They'd show up again with some ridiculous Deus Ex Machina explanation within a few turns.
  • Played with constantly in Metal Gear Solid. Three of the main characters in the series are clones of another main character, and they intentionally abuse this aspect of their identity. To put it simply, a man and his three clone-sons are ALL believed to have been dead at some point in the series, while still being alive in some form or another.
  • Crypto of Destroy All Humans! is like this. Every time he dies they just pull out a new clone with all the previous one's memories. The sequel even lampshades this by saying that the Crypto you play as in that one is a clone of the one in the previous one (ignoring whether or not you died in the previous one).
    • Near the end of the 2nd one you fight can a Bonus Boss who averts this. You have to kill him as many times as you yourself died. So if you died 10 times he'll have 10 lives. Better hope you didn't exploit this trope too much or you'll have a long fight on your hands.
  • In Tales of Monkey Island, Guybrush came back to life in the ending after he was killed by his nemesis LeChuck. Quite literally, death means nothing to LeChuck as he always come back to torment Guybrush and obtain Elaine's love.
  • Reala from Tales of Destiny 2 was reborn in front of the protagonist Kyle in the ending, which is considered a miracle under that circumstance. It can be considered a Deus Ex Machina, since the reason behind this is "Pure Deep love" that Kyle and Reala have for each other.
  • To date, Time Crisis's Wild Dog has been not only killed, but completely blown up five times. Except for that one arm, he always returns good as new. Nobody at Namco has offered even a token explanation as to how he does it.
  • In Temple Run, it only take one click to get back on your feet after death. You have to start over as far as running distance is concerned, but you get to keep all the coins you collected on your previous runs. Plus, you can also buy the ability to resurrect yourself, so you can keep your running distance as well.
  • Your team in Project Eden often die though sheer incompetence, thankfully their health plan includes 'regen' stations that resurrect and heal them.
  • In God of War death is so cheap for Kratos that it raises serious Fridge Logic regarding your suicide, how anyone intends to stop you, and why the game even ends if something kills you. In the first game Hades is your ally and allowed you to return, but after that you pretty much just walk out on your own.
  • In Super Meat Boy, everyone seems to come back to life in one way or another. Meat Boy just respawns, some rise from the grave, squirrels just get better, some pop out from their former dead bodies and so on.
  • What Left 4 Dead usually becomes, although originally, the feature wasn't intended. Players who died will come back trapped in a closet and requires another player to free them. Players who died will also come back in the next map if they weren't found in a closet then. The sequel adds a defibrillator that can bring dead players back into the game on the spot. Realism, VS, and Survival mode take away the ability to come back in closets, becoming Dead for Real.
  • In the online game Echo Bazaar! should your character die from accumulated wounds, (s)he will find herself on the boat of the dead - from where it is possible to return. This is referenced in-story, e.g. you can be hired to assassinate a troublesome journalist - "he'll get better, obviously, but it will serve as a warning".
  • Dracula and his minions from the Castlevania series emerge from death every 100 years, sometimes even less than that. His castle may also count as it collapses again and again.
  • Pretty much the entire point of Ghost Trick. The main character is a ghost, and one of his tricks is to go back a few minutes before a person's death and prevent it. They keep their memory of the event, and if their ghost is conscious they can watch the main character work his magic. One character in particular gets quite used to it, dying five times within the game!

Lynne (upon dying for the third time): Ha ha, I died again!

  • The Kurain Channeling Technique and the Fey family are the keys in this in the Ace Attorney games.
    • Maya and Pearl Fey constantly channel Mia Fey so she can help Phoenix in court, after her dying in the second case of the series.
    • The DL-6 incident features this heavily as Gregory Edgeworth is channelled by the then Master of the Kurain Channelling School, Misty Fey to testify about his own death. He names the wrong guy, though whether he knew this, and if he did, why, is left up to speculation.
    • Dahlia Hawthorne is asked to be channelled by her innocent, little half-sister Pearl by their mother Morgan Fey, so they can exact their revenge and become the main family, respectively. This plan all goes wrong, so instead she gets channelled by Maya and is exorcised by Mia's Pre-Mortem One-Liner in the middle of the courtroom.
  • Death is treated as somewhat of a minor inconvenience in Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, as any number of spells and magically restorative items can bring back someone to the land of the living. Companions will actually have unique sets of dialogue available when revived, and generally find the whole affair of being dead to be a rather pleasant experience. One companion's major sidequest even has him being inevitably killed in a hopeless battle, but there are some resurrection scrolls conveniently located on a nearby desk.
    • This becomes a major plot point later in the game, as it turns out that death in ancient times was so cheap that the only way destructive mages such as Arronax could be permanently defeated was by sealing them in an alternate dimension known as The Void. This still doesn't stop some of its inhabitants from trying to take over Arcanum anyways.
  • In Spore, death is rarely anything but a minor annoyance - you're playing as but one member of a whole species, after all. The implication is when you die you are born again as another member of the species. However, this extends even to the Space Age, where you are directly implied to be one person no matter how many times you die.
    • Avoided altogether in Galactic Adventures: disregarding situations when one's spaceship explodes with their Captain in it in the overworld, should you die in an adventures everything resets back to the beginning as if that time was your actual run through of it.
  • The actual gameplay of TF2 wouldn't be worth mentioning here, because respawns are the norm in FPS games. But it's worth mentioning that a large section of the metaplot revolves around immortality machines (with at least one unaccounted for). Also BLU heavy dies in every single Meet The Team video, which may be lampshading the absurdity of respawn mechanics.
  • Played with in Neverwinter Nights 2. In the original campaign, this is averted: party members who lose all their HP simply suffer a Non-Lethal KO (unless the entire party is KO'd) and revive at the end of the fight. Despite being based on D&D rules (see Tabletop Games, above), three friendly characters suffer Plotline Death and can't be resurrected. Possibly justified by the setting requirements for resurrection: you have to be willing, and there can't be anything keeping you back.
    • Played straight in the second expansion Storm of Zehir. KO'd party members will bleed out and die if left unattended, but resurrecting them is as easy as traveling to the nearest temple and paying for a resurrection spell (or keeping a good stock of Coins of Life handy, consumable items that cast resurrection).


Web Animation[edit | hide]

  • Happy Tree Friends picks this trope up, runs around with it and gleefully slams into sharp, heavy, incendiary, acerbic, cursed and furrycidal objects.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • The trope is the subject of this joke from The Order of the Stick.
    • Also subverted; Roy dies fighting Xykon. Haley and Belkar recover his body, but have to lug it around for the next few months with no access to a resurrection spell. He isn't resurrected until more than 200 strips later.
    • This trope is seen again in a recent comic.
    • The prequel book On the Origin of PCs also has fun with this trope. While informing his son Roy that he's about to die for good because he's reached the end of his lifespan (Natural Death being the only form you can't come back from), Eugene mentions that Roy's little sister can't understand her daddy "won't be coming back--this time." Later, Eugene's gravestone is shown with multiple death dates. Even more amusingly, a nearby tombstone belonging to a man described as "the Unlucky" also has multiple death dates - the last four all in the same year.
    • Subverted in another case, where Xykon is mindlessly torturing a captive soldier; Xykon thinks that he can just be resurrected if they kill him by mistake, but Redcloak points out that the soldier's soul has to allow itself to be brought back, and given his situation, he'd probably rather stay in the afterlife. Possibly double-subverted, because the soldier was creating a list of Xykon's spells; he might have chosen to come back if he had died before sending this important information to the heroes.
  • Irregular Webcomic has returning from the dead as a major plot point.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: Words cannot do justice to the eponymous Doctor's death and return (it begins here and continues until the end of the issue). For that matter, another character returns from the dead not long after - though this has more consequences.

Ben Franklin: (Sitting in a restaurant in purgatory) It's alright. I've left this restaurant without paying my bill once before... And I have ensured that it will happen again.
Beeman: That was the most menacing promise of dine and dash I've ever seen.

Gigafyte: "I don't have to spend all eternity around you, do I?"
Grim Reaper: You kidding me? You costumed freaks come back from the dead so often I don't even get to count you towards my quota."

  • Eight Bit Theater tends to do this a lot. Once a main character got kicked out of hell, another time a different character died 50 times in a row over the course of only 7 strips. Of course, when you've got a White Mage following you around who can cure death with just one spell, death isn't a problem. (Fair enough, since that's the way it worked in the video game the strip is based on.) However, when a certain well-loved character was Killed Off for Real the forums erupted with so much pleas to bring the character back, the author had to tell them that no, he's not coming back ever, and the forum rules now say to stop talking about it.
    • On one occasion, Black Mage kills several characters in a fit of rage, only to discover one by one that they are all alive. He expects that Ranger is also alive somehow, but Cleric says no, he's dead. Then Cleric just resurrects him.
    • The Faceless Cult also does this - Black Mage slaughters them all in the ice caps, then they return for no explained reason in the undersea temple near Onrac, now worshipping a new god/goddess and subsequently getting slaughtered AGAIN.
  • In Girl Genius, if your brain is intact, any sufficiently-skilled Mad Scientist can bring you Back from the Dead - it is their purpose in doing so that may be the issue.
    • Note intact. Brain damage sets in quickly, so unless you die in a lab you're probably out of luck. Then there's the fact that most of them come back mad...like really mad. Worse than when they started.
    • If someone of royalty dies; they lose their status and are considered 'dead' in the line of succession.
    • So of course they have tropes for it, too.

Tarvek: The old "bring her family back from the grave" gambit? Have you no shame?

    • In one arc Agatha decides to cure one of her love interests and herself of a deadly disease by killing and revivifying themselves.
    • Supporting character Dr. Mittelmind has been killed so many times he trained his minion to revive him and has an implant for this, with a power source to prevent memory loss.
    • When Vole brings the leader of defeated army to Dr. Sun for medical attention, he only brought his severed head. The doctor's response: "Yes. Well. Tricky. But I've seen worse."
  • Lampshaded in Narbonic: here
  • The Gods of Arr Kelaan used to be able to resurrect on a whim, then Thannatria put her foot down.
  • MS Paint Adventures:
    • In Problem Sleuth, Death is a very mild individual and has some trouble actually keeping people in the afterlife. Pretty much every main character has come back to life at some point by either beating him at a board game, or in the case of the Big Bad, simply walking out of his door.
    • Death is also thwarted in Homestuck on many occasions; however, where the resurrections in Problem Sleuth were played for comic effect, Homestuck has a host of in-universe reasons why death isn't as permanent as it is in the real world. That said, there are still plenty of characters who have been Killed Off for Real.
      • Here's the list as of [S] Cascade (including alternate timeline deaths, dream self/waking self deaths, and deaths reversed due to God-Tier resurrection). This only includes deaths which have been seen. John has died three times, Rose twice, Dave five times, Jade twice, Karkat twice, Terezi twice, Tavros twice (dead now though), Vriska twice (also dead now), Kanaya twice, Aradia thousands of times (not to mention she started the story dead), Feferi twice (dead now), and Sollux three times.
        • The fact that the dream bubble afterlife allows the properly dead characters to still take part in the story (mostly as vehicles for exposition) further cheapens death, for the kids and trolls at least.
  • Nodwick. Justified primarily by Rule of Funny; it's easier to laugh when Nodwick is disassembled as a result of a Zany Scheme if you know he's coming back next time, covered in duct tape and making smart remarks.
  • Sluggy Freelance mocked the idea of bringing back Oasis in this strip before Death Is Cheap became a real trait of her character.
  • Last Res 0 rt lampshades it outright after turning a Red Shirt Galaxy Girl Scout's brains into Pink Mist:

Death is Expensive. Punchlines are Cheap.

  • Mountain Time regular characters Dave and Agoraphobic Hamster have each died and reappeared whenever the plot demands it.
  • Don't Look It Sucks uses this frequently, to the point where even the characters expect this.
    • A guest page filler gag is to have Tero, the resident Cute Ghost Girl, go back to life, only to have her killed again in the end of the same page, in the most careless way possible.
    • Also very common in Chapter 3, where the cast plays a game of Team Fortress 2.
    • An odd instance of this trope occurs in Chapter 4, where Moon dies after delivering a fatal, explosive Falcon Punch to Aaron, who tried to steal Moon's life dream. A character brings him back to life in the next chapter. Or so everyone thought. Actually, Aaron, disguised as Moon, was the one brought back to life. Later on, it is revealed that Moon didn't die at all and his weakened, barely surviving body was in fact captured by the comic's Big Bad for researches.
  • In 1/0, every character gets one "ghost point" - they can die and come back as a ghost exactly once. They also have the option of removing themselves from the strip by "pulling a Ribby"; that is, imagining a perfect reality to live in and going there. In fact, none of the characters stay dead. Tailsteak resurrects them all as the strip is winding up, to send them to Oregon. He even brings back characters that pulled a Ribby.
  • In Bob and George, given the really low cost, low quality soviet materials used to build Ran, it's easier to have a machine that pops out a new Ran body every time he breaks the old one (which is incredibly often). As his creator says when asked about how inefficient this is, "Really, really, really cheap!"
    • Naturally, the rest of the characters have abused this in all kinds of ridiculous ways. On one occasion, they gathered a substantial arsenal by getting Ran to hand over his weapon and then killing him (or possibly killing Ran by getting him to hand over his weapon), followed by repeating it on the next clone.
  • Parodied in Sam and Fuzzy: Bitey the Shark, after his arch enemy Darkshark heroically sacrifices himself, laments that "we live in a gritty, x-treme world, where actions have real consequences and the dead stay dead... no matter how popular they are!" A week later, Darkshark comes back without comment.
  • This is the case for dragon-marked individuals in The Law of Purple. Unless the individual in question kills themself, their dragon can always revive them. Blue has already been revived from a fatal crash-landing on Earth and has admitted to reviving after being shot in the face at point-blank range.
  • Death proves cheap three times in the Platypus Comix story "True Believers," starring Spider-Man, since comic book characters "always come back." This trope worked in Spidey's favor after reality-warping writer Joe Quesadilla killed Mary Jane Watson, but she revitalized herself just in time to Retcon Quesadilla's existence, preventing him from making any further attempts to separate Spidey and her.
  • In Casey and Andy, main character and Author Avatar Andy was killed in the very first strip! And many times thereafter, Casey and Andy being mad scientists who leave boxes of antimatter lying around. The first time, C&A appear at the Pearly Gates... but after Andy starts dating Satan, they always seems to end up going to the other place.
  • Schlock Mercenary has people who weren't vaporized, blown up into really tiny bits and so on returning in full health if first aid is available in a few minutes. Where minimal "first aid" is "find the head and roll it into a nanny-bag".
    • Kevyn found one way of bringing back someone from very definitely final death via Time Travel... and the author made it very clear that it was a one-shot deal when the unique wormgate used to make it happen exploded after use.
  • Spacetrawler hasn't used this trope (yet), but the author comments on it in The Rant below this page. He points out that sci-fi has so many ways to bring mortally wounded or dead characters back that an author who wants to permanently kill a given character needs to disintegrate them on-screen (at the very least) to convince the audience that they're dead.
  • Shelly Winters in Scary Go Round dies multiple times, which is lampshaded by Gibbous Moon saying "Didn't you claim on your life insurance three times?"
  • The Non-Adventures of Wonderella has moments like this:

Wonderella: ...Apparently a lot of 'em are dead now.
crowd: GASP!
Wonderella: Superhero dead, guys.
crowd: Ohhhhh.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In The Salvation War series, many first lifers are beginning to think this way. Second lifers on the other hand...
    • "Sadly, just after completing this daring rescue, Doctor Orwell suffered a heart attack and died from his exertions. We will be broadcasting an interview with him shortly."
  • Strong Bad's crudely drawn and amazingly long-running comic Teen Girl Squad exemplifies this trope. Most likely, The Brothers Chap didn't think it would go beyond that one e-mail, but then realized that they had something corny and really easy to animate that they could milk the bejabbers out of and decided to run with it.
  • Parodied recently by Collegehumor in their short "Realistic Superhero Funeral"
  • Averted in Red vs. Blue: as it turns out, the only people who ever officially died and came back actually were AI, and therefore never alive to begin with. Played straight with Donut, though, although it's not seen in the series itself, just a sponsor video. Arguably played straight with the red and blue armies Caboose and Sarge meet.
    • After Church was revealed to be the Alpha, he was destroyed by the EMP at the end of Reconstruction. The one seen in Recreation and Revelation is the Epsilon AI, a fragment of the Alpha that is reconstructed by Caboose telling him stories about the old Church. At the end of Revelation, the Epsilon AI and Tex are permanently sealed inside the unit, essentially killing them both off.
  • Santa Christ came back to life three days after his death. When The Nostalgia Chick calls him on this (specifically, the part about him waiting that long to come back and fix the crisis), Santa Christ asks if she knows of a faster way, or if she has ever come back at all.
    • The Nostalgia Critic and Phelous. The Critic has repeatedly died for the purpose of comedy, and Phelous' main gimmick is dying. Really, it's a safe bet that when death is Played for Laughs, it won't stick. Which may be why Ma-Ti is still dead.
    • Spoony. So far he has been blown up by Dr Insano, killed by Mechakara, and committed suicide. Bonus points for becoming a Black Lantern whenever he's killed.
  • The rules for Marvels RPG allows characters to be resurrected, if the staff approves of the way of resurrection. So far, it has become a running joke of who will kill Daken next.
  • Characters are resurrected, cloned, or body surf frequently on The Gungan Council. While no one wants their characters to die, it's still not that distressing to see a character ripped apart. They'll be back...
  • Susan from Half Full is killed in the first episode only to be brought back a few minutes later, due to a cosmic technicality.
  • In Dolan Life Mysteries episode, Is It Possible To Build A City Underwater?, Dolan drives a van with a few passengers onboard into the ocean, killing all of them. Gooby, a mermaid, is left in horror. However, moments Dolan is just fine and continues on.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • How many times has Optimus Prime died, again?
    • A lot. Though it wasn't always the same character.
    • Pretty much, if your name is Optimus, Megatron, or Starscream, you're not staying dead. Everyone else is fair game.
      • Which got taken to the point of silly in Transformers Animated after Starscream gained an Allspark fragment and was made immortal. Cue a full minute of Starscream dying over and over in increasingly undignified ways.
      • Which is itself taken from the Beast Wars / Gee Wun continuity, where it is said the original Starscream was a mutant, who's spark happened to be immortal. The Maximal High Council tried to use this feature, but the character born from it surprisingly did die for good down the line (admittedly by having his spark ripped to shreds with a shard of raw energon, a substance shown in his first appearance to be able to damage his spark).
  • This became the Overused Running Gag with Kenny in South Park; he died each episode in the early seasons, but was back as if nothing happened in the next.
    • This continued until his surprisingly dramatic "real" death, after which he was acknowledged as being dead for real...until he showed up at the end of the Christmas episode two years later, with no explanation whatsoever.
    • Word of God stated a reason why Kenny's alive. In that episode, Jesus saved him.
    • In the two-parter which reveals Eric's father (well, kinda), we see how he returns...he appears. Out of nowhere. Just like that. Judging from Kyle's reaction, if anyone in South Park ever thought this was the least bit unusual, they've long since gotten used to it.
    • One of the explanations is that a new Kenny is born each time the old one dies.
    • In the "Coon Trilogy" it's revealed that every time he dies he wakes up the next day in his bed. He remembers each death, but no one else does (much to his annoyance). At the end of the 3rd part his mother is shown giving birth to another Kenny (and comments on how often this happens), possibly making the previous explanation official.
      • The reason given for his perpetual rebirth is that his parents were involved in a Cthulhu cult when they were young and, presumably, underwent some occult ritual.
  • In Drawn Together, each character has died many times over the course of the show, sometimes multiple times in the same episode. A few episodes end with all or almost all of the cast dying, and yet they're almost always brought back. One exception was the first episode of Season 2, where Wooldoor was treated as though he was Killed Off for Real after he killed himself, but he returned to the house later in the episode.
    • In one moment in particular, Captain Hero demonstrated his powers of immortality by decapitating himself with a sword, falling off screen dead, and then walking back onscreen.
  • Aeon dies in each of the original Aeon Flux shorts, though there is no continuity between them.
  • Slade in Teen Titans fell into a pit of lava via Terra and shows up two seasons later semi-alive and well thanks to Raven's dad needing a henchman to help destroy the world.
  • The entire premise of Captain Scarlet is based on this trope- something which the fanfic writers have used rather gleefully.
  • With the exception of Peter and Meg receiving snapbacks after dying on Family Guy, this trope was averted with characters such as Mr. Weed, Francis Griffin, and Diane Simmons being Killed Off for Real. Then James Woods showed up in "Tom Tucker: The Man and His Dream". When Peter and Tom tell him that the last time they saw him he was stabbed to death, Woods explains what happened. Due to being a famous Hollywood Actor, he was entitled to top-notch medical care at a Hollywood hospital; his body was transfused with the life force from a 17-year-old girl.
  • Villain Ghostfreak from Ben 10 got killed twice in a Family-Unfriendly Death kind of way (burnt to ashes to be precise). Each time, he was able to come back, the first time by being resurrected by his henchmen and the second by an unknown process (though an explanation exists, since he can come back as long as there is a sample of him in Ben's Omnitrix)
    • Similarly, in future episode "Ben 10000", Vilgax was torn to pieces by the future incarnation of Ben, but was still brought back to life by Dr Animo.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • For some people the idea of reincarnation is this on a Karmic scale, only problem is you tend to forget your old life in the process.
  • Clinical Death, Lazarus Syndrome, and Near Death Experiences is sort of like this for some people.