Created By: KnownUnknown on December 20, 2010 Last Edited By: KnownUnknown on January 2, 2012

I Shall Live Again

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It's been three hundred years;
Right down to the day;
Now the witch is back;
And there's Hell to pay!
- Winifred Sanderson - Hocus Pocus

Death is but a door. Time is but a window. I'll be back.
- Last words (alive, anyway) of Vigo Von Homburg Deutschendorf - Ghostbusters II

The day is won, the villain's evil blight is thwarted, and the heroes rest easy knowing they have the knave vanquished and defeated.

But it is not over, the villain has one last curse to bestow, one last spell to cast. Though he may be vanquished today, this isn't the end of it. Destroyed as he will, someday, long after his enemies are dead and buriend, when the conditions are just right, he shall return to threaten the world once more.

Thus, years, decades, even centuries pass, with the world safe from the villain's threat until, one horrible day, the time has come for the stars to align just right, or for the evil to be released from his can by a fool, or for simply the deadline, and the conqueror returns, resurrected into a new era, for a new gang of heroes to hopefully face.

Often this kind of spell comes with a proviso or objective the villain must accomplish to return to life permanently.

Compare As Long as There Is Evil, where the villain cannot die in the first place due to being a living embodiment of badness. See also Sealed Evil in a Can, which is one of the many ways the villain can be ensured to return someday.
Examples:
  • The titular witch in Scooby-Doo And The Witch's Ghost included such a spell to bring her back in her lost spellbook, and a mystery hatches about whether or not she's really been resurrected. It turns out she's not, but the love interest is planning to do so for real.
  • In Hocus Pocus, the Sanderson Sisters cast such a spell right before being hanged in the Salem Witch Trials, and return several hundred years later on Halloween for one night to suck the souls out of the children of Salem and live forever.
  • This is the ghost of Vigo the Carpathian's plan in Ghostbusters II, at first attempting to restore his body by possessing a baby, and then attempting to possess Ray.
  • The is the general plot of The Mummy movies - an ancient curse allows a conqueror to return and attempt to reclaim their kingdom.
Community Feedback Replies: 32
  • December 20, 2010
    tustin2121
    Oh com'on! How could you forget "I'll be back" by old Schwarzenegger in the Terminator movies! :D I mean, he comes back movie after movie PLUS he has the quote to match it! :P Okay, maybe not, but still.
  • December 20, 2010
    KZN02
    Inverted in BIONICLE; after Mata Nui's spirit has been banished into the Mask of Life and ejected out of his hijacked body, the phrase "I will return!" is repeated continuously within the mask as Mata Nui vows to return ... somehow.
  • December 20, 2010
    randomsurfer
    • Smallville: Lana's ancestor Margaret Isobel Thoreaux set up a spell for her return.
      Magistrate Wilkins: You have been found guilty of committing the darkest art, witchcraft. For this affront against God, I hereby condemn you to burn in the fire of hell of which you so eagerly seek communion.
      Isobel: You think this ends with the lick of flame? I sleep but a while. And when the time is appointed my heir will awaken me and I will have my vengeance.
    Would either of these count?
    • General Douglas MacArthur: "I shall return." - a good guy (from our POV), so it may not count.
    • Malvolio, Twelfth Night: "I'll be revenged on the lot of you!" He doesn't return, but it's a Sequel Hook that never got pulled.
  • December 20, 2010
    Darthcaliber
    in the 2002 He-Man series Hordak along with his whole army, gets pulled into Despondos- a hell-like prison dimension. As he vanishes he shouts, "I shall return." Indeed he was supposed to return and be the main villain for the third season but the show was canceled before this could happen.
  • December 21, 2010
    DAN004
    What differs this from Staying Alive and/or Joker Immunity?
  • December 21, 2010
    Arivne
    I think the OP meant this to be a villain who will return from death/destruction/imprisonment some time later, through Applied Phlebotinum (superscience, magic, deity-level power, Destiny/Fate), being released from an Oubliette or Sealed Evil In A Can, or When The Planets Align.

    The Smallville and He Man examples would fit this description.

    If the villain just says that he will face the heroes again in the future and leaves it's We Will Meet Again. The Twelfth Night example would fit under this, and the Douglas MacArthur example is already on the page.

    Literature

    Tabletop RPG
    • Dungeons And Dragons
      • Module I2 Tomb of the Lizard King. 200 years ago the evil lizard king Sakatha was mortally wounded during a battle. He used a Wish spell: "that he might live to drink the very blood of those who had defeated him, and of the blood of their offspring through the ages." Today he has come back...as a vampire.
    • Call Of Cthulhu
      • Dreamlands boxed set adventure "Season of the Witch".
      Hesper Payne was executed for witchcraft in 1692 in Arkham. As she stood on the scaffold, she spat a foul curse on the city and sent her evil soul to the Dreamlands, where she has waited more than two centuries for the time that Arkham should feel her vengeance.
  • December 21, 2010
    dotchan
    Wow, can't believe we missed this one. Why not expand "I'll Be Back" as a Stock Phrase?

    Real Life
    • Douglas McArthur famously declared "I shall return" when leaving the Philippines. (He makes good on his promise/Badass Boast.)
  • December 21, 2010
    emilywashere
    How about the end of The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time? As Ganondorf is being sealed up by the sages, he bellows, "CURSE YOU...ZELDA! CURSE YOU...SAGES! CURSE YOU...LINK! Someday...when this seal is broken...That is when I will exterminate your descendants!" And, of course, he does come back in later games.
  • December 21, 2010
    tustin2121
    Arivne is right about what this trope is about. I think perhaps the title should be changed so that it separates itself from the confusion of the common catch phrase.
  • December 26, 2010
    KnownUnknown
    Changing the name because everyone seems to think it's about the phrase, which it's not.
  • December 26, 2010
    whynarwhal
    Doctor Who: The Master, usually.
  • January 27, 2011
    Pickly
    Never mind.
  • January 27, 2011
    SweetMadness
    As Long As There Is Evil is very closely related.
  • January 27, 2011
    WackyMeetsPractical
    How is this different than Sealed Evil In A Can?
  • January 28, 2011
    Arivne
    ^ Because it includes other situations, such as the villain coming back from the dead or only being able to act when the stars are right.
  • March 23, 2011
    KnownUnknown
    Last bump before launch: name is ok, yes?
  • March 23, 2011
    foxley
    Mordath, the Big Bad from the Sojourn comic book series from Cross Gen. The series opened with his defeat and death, more than 300 years before the main events of the series. It then jumps forward to him being chosen be a Sigil bearer and returned to life, kicking off the main avtion.
  • May 25, 2011
    MorganWick
    Is the title supposed to be "time is but a window"? Terrible title, gave me an idea that it would be something completely different. I prefer I Shall Live Again. Hell, Death Is But A Door would be a better title.
  • May 25, 2011
    jaytee
    I really don't like the name. Non-indicative, obscure reference.

    Also, count me among those that find this trope redundant alongside Sealed Evil In A Can, We Will Meet Again, As Long As There Is Evil, Joker Immunity, etc etc.

    Considering that, along with the fact that this has zero hats, if it launches as-is, it will end up in the Trope Repair Shop approximately...immediately.
  • May 31, 2011
    KnownUnknown
    "Hats?"

    Anyways, to address all those other tropes, since I never did before:

    • Sealed Evil In A Can: Consider this trope an echelon above that one: sealing themselves somewhere is a method that this one can take place, but is not a necessity nor is it particularly indicative that that situation is taking place.
    • We Will Meet Again: That one is a Super Trope of this one - in it's use it's more geared towards Villain Exit Stage Right, but in any case is far too broad for this to be lumped into it.
    • As Long As There Is Evil: Again, this is a similar but distinct situation, as As Long As There Is Evil deals with characters who cannot die because they embody evil or somesuch, thus they will always return: this refers to characters who cheat death by using magic or whatever to ensure they will reappear at some point in the future.
    • Joker Immunity: A completely different kind of trope: while this is a plan or action by the villain, that is more of a meta trope dictating that the more iconic villains cannot die for long - as such, they don't even necessarily always apply to each other: the use of this may be a sign that Joker Immunity is in place, but it need not be and, in fact many villains are introduced this way, thus meaning it can't be Joker Immunity because they're not coming back after a storyline defeat.
      • Which brings to another point: Joker Immunity, by it's nature, is only applicable towards sequential mediums or media with multiple iterations, like movie serials, television shows, or the trope namer Comic Books. It is not applicable elsewhere, particularly not in stand-alone films and stories, which many of the exmaples.
  • December 22, 2011
    KnownUnknown
    (I forgot abotu this and all the tropes I put on YKTTW)

    So, final verdict - launchable? If so I'll do it within the next few days.
  • December 22, 2011
    IuraCivium
    Perhaps Declaration Of Imminent Return? There's a moratorium on "dialogue-like" titles. Also, there should ideally be five hats (Tropers "throwing their hats in the ring", as it were, on the Trope's readiness) prior to launching.
  • December 22, 2011
    Lumpenprole
    Ma'ar, the evil mage from Mercedes Lackey's Mage Wars trilogy, found a way to have his soul avoid passing on to judgement or afterlife, instead remaining dormant until he could possess one of his descendents' bodies. He did so multiple times over centuries.
  • December 23, 2011
    Arivne
    I'll give it a hat but Iura Civium is right. The name must be changed before launch or Fast Eddie will Cut List it in a New York minute.
  • December 23, 2011
    cityofmist
    Odin in American Gods.

    Also, would this be a subtrope of Thanatos Gambit?
  • December 23, 2011
    JohnDiFool
    Evil Ash, after being dismembered and his body parts tossed in a grave, threatens to come back and thwart Good Ash's plans in Army Of Darkness. He does when the latter goofs up a spell.
  • December 23, 2011
    Antigone3
    Declaration Of Imminent Return would be good.
  • December 23, 2011
    Antigone3
    Almost forgot:

    Film: The lucha film Santo and Blue Demon vs Dracula and the Wolf Man starts out with Dracula being called back to life. It's specified that seven solar eclipses and seven lunar eclipses had to pass after Dracula's death at the hands of the magician Cristaldi before he could be brought back.
  • January 1, 2012
    TBeholder
    I propose I Will Be Back
  • January 1, 2012
    SavvyAngel
    ^ That still sounds like a Stock Phrase and Fast Eddie will kill it faster than you can say egregious.
  • January 1, 2012
    FastEddie
    That's right. No dialog-like names. See Naming A Trope, please.
  • January 2, 2012
    scatterclubs
    I like Declaration Of Imminent Return. Or Declaration Of Evil Return?
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