Resurrection Sickness

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Susan has recently come Back from the Dead. It may be thanks to cloning, an Emergency Transformation, a holy miracle, or the foulest of The Dark Arts. Whatever the means, she's taken the trans-celestial concorde back to the land of the living. But man, does she have a bad case of karmic jet-lag!

It's not that Susan Came Back Wrong (her Soul was in her carry-on luggage and she bought traveler's Body Horror insurance), but that the after effects of being resurrected are making her feel less than her pre-mortem self. Susan may experience physical ailments like tremors, sweating, nausea, and other symptoms of real life jet lag. Of course, being that her resurrection was likely at least skirting the wrong side of the Scale of Scientific Sins, she'll probably also experience Hallucinations, vivid flashbacks, and phobias related to however she died.

Where this can get really freaky is if Susan was resurrected with Easy Amnesia of her past life, as is often the case with clones. Even if she's resurrected from infancy and lived an entirely new life, she may experience Resurrection Sickness when the Genetic Memory of her past life is awakened. In both cases, a Split Personality may develop as the past life tries to assert control.

If Susan is in a videogame, this will be represented as a drop in her stats and various penalties that go away over time.

See also Damaged Soul, where bouts of depression post-resurrection affect the resurrected.

Examples of Resurrection Sickness include:

Anime and Manga

  • Zest Grangaitz in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S was brought back via cloning but suffers an Incurable Cough of Death as a result.
  • Seu, Mensab's Knight in Shining Armor-like bodyguard from Blame has been brought back to life so many times that his personality is suffering a major case of software rot.
  • Hentai anime Suki Da Yo has Mina, a childhood friend of the protagonist, who left with her father after being hit by a car and suffering serious injuries, but comes back into his life as a young woman. Turns out she wasn't just injured in the accident, but killed - and the girl who returns is actually a clone who ages three times as fast. Not exactly sickness, but a condition that may lead to an early death...

Comic Books

  • In Batman comics and cartoons, Ra's Al Ghul usually has bouts of madness directly after using the Lazarus Pit.

Fan Works

  • Akane briefly suffers from this after an attempt to wake Ranma with a bucket of cold water gets her run through by a jumpy Sailor Uranus in the Ranma ½/Sailor Moon Crossover Fic Heir to the Empire. Fortunately, Sailor Saturn resurrects her, but Sailor Pluto notices and even muses about "rez sickness" being a bitch.


  • In The Princess Bride, when Westley is brought back from being "mostly dead", he can't move his body or even hold his own head up (though for some reason, he can work his jaw muscles and speak just fine). His strength slowly returns, but he's pretty much a rag doll for the rest of the film.
  • Not quite the same, but close enough to warrant mention: In Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, when Han Solo gets unfrozen from being held in stasis in a block of carbonite, he suffers Hibernation Sickness, which makes him seem unsteady and shaky for a while, as well as removing his eyesight for a significantly longer period of time.
  • In The 6th Day, the villain's lackeys die and are resurrected through Brain Uploading into new clones. Though these clones are made from backups and shouldn't know how they died, one started to experience flashes of how he'd died (including physical effects).
  • During the Final Battle in Terminator 2, the T-1000 gets frozen with liquid nitrogen and shattered into millions of pieces. Once the pieces melt and re-form, it seems to be back to its old implacable self...but has trouble maintaining its form, merging with almost everything it touches, and refreshing its entire body repeatedly.


  • A sci-fi book called Good News from Outer Space has this as a side effect of resurrection treatment.
  • In Circle of Magic, Rosethorn's death, and subsequent bringing Back From, leaves her with a slight tremor and a slur in her speech. These diminish over time (something like a stroke victim), but never truly go away.

Live Action TV

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer wasn't all there for a bit after resurrection, and had no will to live for most of the season.
  • In season 2 of Angel, Darla is resurrected by Wolfram & Hart, but as a human, not as a vampire. This has the consequence that she comes back with the same terminal case of syphilis that she was going to die from before The Master sired her.
  • Several of the Doctor's Regenerations in Doctor Who left him loopy, sick, or otherwise out of sorts when bringing himself back to life. For example:
    • Two is in pain for a while right after regenerating.
    • Three spends an episode escaping from a hospital.
    • Four spends an episode trying to convince everyone that he doesn't need to go to the hospital because he's fit as a fiddle, but instead convinces them that he's not particularly sane.
    • Five removes random articles of clothing, forgets and remembers everything about himself at random intervals, temporarily reverts back to previous personalities, passes out multiple times, goes crazy, rides around in circles an motorized wheelchair, floats in the air, spends an episode in a cabinet-coffin thing that his two female companions have to carry him around in, and loads more ridiculous things. Needless to say, he had the most known problems thus far. This was true to the extent that the TARDIS thought it appropriate to drop medical supplies on his head at one point.
    • Six acts schizophrenic and tries to strangle his companion.
    • Seven and Eight both lose their memories for a while.
      • Although for Seven that was more because he'd been drugged by the Rani. When he first wakes up, the Seventh Doctor seems perfectly lucid.
    • Ten spends an episode in a dramatic coma and at one point, thanks to being woken up too early, his brain almost collapses.
    • Eleven has random fits of hitting himself, sometimes spasms painfully, has erratic and odd cravings for food, and walks into a tree. "Early days. Steering's a bit off."
    • The Master's botched resurrection left him an undead horror with an insatiable hunger and weird electrical powers.
    • When the Eleventh Doctor's ganger is born, he attacks his real self and then cycles through several of his past regenerations.
  • In the Firefly episode "Ariel", Simon and River are given a drug which simulates death. Waking up from this state causes nausea and vomiting.
  • The Cylons on the new Battlestar Galactica. Successive resurrections get progressively more unpleasant.

Tabletop RPG

  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In 1st and 2nd Edition, being brought back to life with a Raise Dead spell left the recipient weak and helpless and needing 1 day of bed rest for each day they were dead.
    • In 3.5, the character being brought back would lose a level (or some stats if they were level 1), and the lowest-tier resurrection spell would leave them with only 1 hit point. The third-tier version, True Resurrection averts this trope, bringing them back without the level loss, but quintuples the financial cost in comparison to it's first-tier variant.
    • Fourth edition has a temporary resurrection penalty that goes away after 3 milestones (a milestone being two encounters on the same day).
  • In 7th Sea some Master Glamour Mages can return from the dead, but doing so permanently reduces their Resolve by 2 (out of a possible 5, or 6 with a specific Advantage). If the drop would lower the mage's resolve to 0 or less, the resurrection fails. Since 7th Sea uses a freeform Point Buy System, the stat can be bought back up, but it's expensive and takes awhile.

Video Games

  • In Dragon Age: Origins, although combat only has Non-Lethal KO-type deaths, each time your character is "killed", they come back with an injury (stacking penalty on the stats).
  • The Trope Namer is World of Warcraft's Resurrection Sickness. Killed characters have two choices: run across the landscape as a ghost to the place you died and revive without penalty, or choose to have the Spirit Healer resurrect you at the Graveyard. Those that choose the latter option get 10 minutes of Resurrection Sickness (less for low level characters, and as of later changes none until after they have several levels), a debuff that causes 75% reduction in stats, damage, and armor. It also damages all your equipment, requiring you to pay for repairs (and, unlike death itself, applies even to equipment you weren't wearing when you died). But some time and some gold will make your character right as rain again.
  • MMORPG's tend to have this in general, to ensure that players may not infinitely resurrect in a too-difficult quest and still expect to function at 100%. Just for two, Guild Wars has a death penalty that reduces maximum HP and energy by 15% per death, and Dungeons and Dragons Online afflicts the recently-resurrected with a negative level—up to five if the character dies and resurrects repeatedly within a short time.
  • In Planescape: Torment, the lead character, the Nameless One, is immortal (although this doesn't mean he can't die, he just doesn't stay that way). The reason why he is called the Nameless One is because when he dies, he loses all his memories (although in-game he dies several times without this happening, which is a plot point). He has lived an almost countless number of lives with varying degrees of Resurrection Sickness: some incarnations were raving mad, while others were Complete Monsters. It is alluded to in the game that if he dies enough times, he'll eventually become nothing but a catatonic husk.
    • It's also implied that every time he would die, someone else dies instead, meaning that the Nameless One passes a lethal Resurrection strangers.
  • In Mass Effect Shepard clearly Came Back Strong after dying at the hands of the Collectors and brought back to life via Cerebrus' miraculous technology, but she was in a coma for two years after the surgery before she could function. Nobody ever said Applied Phlebotinum was completely without flaws.

Western Animation

  • In Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, being revived from the Psychocrypt leaves the victim with ill effects. Zachary reports that his head hurts and he feels "uncoordinated" after his revival. The other three have to practically carry him into the evacuation vessel.

Real Life

  • If you kill a fly by drowning it, you can resurrect it by burying it in salt. However, it will be unable to fly and will stagger around as if drunk.
  • Both in fiction and real life (if they existed or will exist) are zombies. Being dead will make a once normal person into a feral, retarded, insane and agressive monster that is a zombie. Some stories have the zombies in constant pain for being dead.