Created By: TARDIS2468 on June 23, 2012 Last Edited By: TARDIS2468 on September 21, 2012

Cheated Death, Died Later

A character narrowly survives being killed, only to die in different circumstances later.

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Trope
Alice receives a phone call and is told that there has been a fire at the office Bob works and he is missing, presumed dead. She is called again later and is told Bob has survived, much to Alice's relief.

Then only a half hour later, Alice receives yet another phone call. Bob is dead. He crashed his car driving home from the office.

Yes, this is a death trope, so spoilers ahead.

See also Take a Moment to Catch Your Death and Life Will Kill You.

[[folder:Literature]]
  • In a Harry Potter in - universe fairy tale, three wizard brothers cheated Death. Death made plans to ensure they wouldn't live to see old age. Two of the three died fairly soon after (it's not entirely clear from the story exacly how much later IIRC), but the third went into hiding and was not taken until he was very old.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
  • It's debatable if this kind of thing counts (because she never stayed dead), but in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy dies and gets revived again twice, although her two deaths are pretty far apart.
    • In "Help" Buffy saves a girl (who believes she will die on that day) from being killed by a cult; then just before midnight the girl collapses & dies of a congenital heart defect.
  • In one episode of Red Dwarf, Rimmer travels back into the past and somehow alters his own history in a way that when he returns to the present he's still alive instead of being a hologram- only to be killed moments later.
  • Inversion? In a post-9/11 episode of NYPD Blue a woman's body is found buried in concrete. It turns out she worked at the World Trade Center and was missing/presumed dead from that, but she was actually killed by her lover earlier that day.
  • The Unusuals: A woman who claims to be psychic believes she is going to die on a bus, and confesses that much to Leo - who himself is afraid of dying at age 42 because all his male relatives died at 42 (and he's 42 now), so he always wears a bullet proof vest. She keeps getting on buses she somehow knows are going to be hijacked by a man with a grenade. Leo followes her onto one of the buses. When the hijacker drops the grenade, Leo falls on it. But it was a fake, and obviously didn't explode. The psychic is confused, but Leo thinks he's found a way to Screw Destiny. He even gives up his bulletproof vest. Until later that night, he gets a call: there was a bus accident and the psychic had been killed in it. Cue Leo buckling up his vest again.
  • Burn Notice: Larry. Yes, dead Larry.
  • In CSI: New York, it's revealed that Mac's wife (who died in 9/11) made it out of the first tower, only to be crushed by falling rubble from the second.
  • Season 1 finale of Being Erica: Erica goes back and saves her brother Leo from dying. When she's back in the present, he's alive for 5 minutes before he dies in a car crash. This was because she broke the rules of time travel and the universe repaired itself.
  • In an episode of Bones, Sweets meets a young man on the subway who had just gotten clear of cancer. Then an earthquake hits DC and the young man is killed.

[[folder:Film]]
  • The premise of the Final Destination franchise is that a moment of premonition allows people to predict, and avoid, an accidental death. Then, a strange force ensures that all of those people will die soon afterwards in similar accidents.
  • Goldeneye: Boris survives the destruction of Janos' base in Cuba, only to be frozen solid by an exploding nitrogen tank moments after he celebrates his good fortune with his catchphrase 'I AM INVINCIBLE!'
  • The 2004 (or so) Death Race had a character crash into a wall. He almost dies in a car crash and gets out to say, "You can't kill me!" (or something to this effect) then dies shortly thereafter.
  • In The Matrix, Neo brings Trinity back from the dead only to have her die later anyways.
    • The same thing happens to Neo. Trinity saves him at the end of the first movie, and he also dies at the end of the third.

[[folder:Games]]
  • In Dungeons & Dragons v.3.5, the prestige class Death Delver has the nine lives class feature which gives the character (what else) nine additional lives before they actually die. Secondarily, a prerequisite for the class is to have a "near-death experience" (go below 0 hit points, but survive.
  • This is what happened between the end of Mass Effect 1 and the beginning of Mass Effect 2. At the end of the first game, you narrowly evade being crushed by falling debris only to be killed without mercy by the Collectors a month later. He got better

[[folder:Real Life]]
  • Rudolf Diels, the first chief of the Gestapo, had an amazing knack for surviving the deadly political games of the Nazi regime, only to accidentally shoot himself on a hunting trip.
  • There's an Urban Legend about a cat who fell off the top of the Washington Monument and survived just fine, then got killed by a dog while trying to run away from the scene. Its stuffed body is now at the Smithsonian.
  • In a very tragic example, Hilda Yolanda Mayol, a 26-year old American woman, was working in the World Trade Center at the time of 9/11 and managed to survive. She died just two months later aboard the ill-fated American Airlines Flight 587.
    • Also, Jessica Ghawi survived the June 2012 shooting at the Eaton Centre, only to be killed a month later in the July 2012 Aurora shooting.
  • Thomas Edward Lawrence. Lots of firefights, frequently against greater numbers. Survived a plane crash, what, seven times? Got his toe (!) broken by a stray piece of a wheel of a locomotive he blew up. Killed in a motorcycle crash.
Community Feedback Replies: 34
  • June 23, 2012
    CaveCat
  • June 23, 2012
    Shrikesnest
    This needs some reasonable time limits placed on it, or else any character that routinely cheats death and then later dies, even of old age decades later, technically qualifies. I think there's something to this, though.
  • June 23, 2012
    nitrokitty
    Real Life:
    • Rudolf Diels, the first chief of the Gestapo, had an amazing knack for surviving the deadly political games of the Nazi regime, only to accidentally shoot himself on a hunting trip.
  • June 23, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Literature:
    • In a Harry Potter in - universe fairy tale, three wizard brothers cheated Death. Death made plans to ensure they wouldn't live to see old age. Two of the three died fairly soon after (it's not entirely clear from the story exacly how much later IIRC), but the third went into hiding and was not taken until he was very old.
  • June 23, 2012
    Sylviagrace
    I'm not sure if this kind of thing counts (because she never stayed dead), but in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Buffy dies and gets revived again twice, although her two deaths are pretty far apart.
  • June 23, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    In one episode of Red Dwarf, Rimmer travels back into the past and somehow alters his own history in a way that when he returns to the present he's still alive instead of being a hologram- only to be killed moments later.
  • June 23, 2012
    mahaffass
    In Dungeons & Dragons v.3.5, the prestige class Death Delver has the nine lives class feature which gives the character (what else) nine additional lives before they actually die. Secondarily, a prerequisite for the class is to have a "near-death experience" (go below 0 hit points, but survive.
  • June 24, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • Inversion? In a post-9/11 episode of NYPD Blue a woman's body is found buried in concrete. It turns out she worked at the World Trade Center and was missing/presumed dead from that, but she was actually killed by her lover earlier that day.
    • The Unusuals: A woman who claims to be psychic believes she is going to die on a bus, and confesses that much to Leo - who himself is afraid of dying at age 42 because all his male relatives died at 42 (and he's 42 now), so he always wears a bullet proof vest. She keeps getting on buses she somehow knows are going to be hijacked by a man with a grenade. Leo followes her onto one of the buses. When the hijacker drops the grenade, Leo falls on it. But it was a fake, and obviously didn't explode. The psychic is confused, but Leo thinks he's found a way to Screw Destiny. He even gives up his bulletproof vest. Until later that night, he gets a call: there was a bus accident and the psychic had been killed in it. Cue Leo buckling up his vest again.
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "Help" Buffy saves a girl (who believes she will die on that day) from being killed by a cult; then just before midnight the girl collapses & dies of a congenital heart defect.
  • June 24, 2012
    Astaroth
    • Goldeneye: Boris survives the destruction of Janos' base in Cuba, only to be frozen solid by an exploding nitrogen tank moments after he celebrates his good fortune with his catchphrase 'I AM INVINCIBLE!'
  • June 24, 2012
    surgoshan
    This should be marked as a "Yes, this is a death trope, so spoilers ahead."

  • June 24, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
  • June 24, 2012
    LittleLizard
    This is what happened between the end of Mass Effect 1 and the beginning of Mass Effect 2. At the end of the first game, you narrowly evade being crushed by falling debris only to be killed without mercy by the Collectors a month later. He got better
  • June 25, 2012
    Bisected8
    @Tuckerscreator: Back For The Dead is when a character returns to the show after being Put On A Bus so they can be killed off.

    • In CSI New York, it's revealed that Mac's wife (who died in 9/11) made it out of the first tower, only to be crushed by falling rubble from the second.
  • June 25, 2012
    TonyG
    Take A Moment To Catch Your Death would be a subtrope, where the dead happens moments later.
  • June 27, 2012
    Rognik
    • (TV) Season 1 finale of Being Erica: Erica goes back and saves her brother Leo from dying. When she's back in the present, he's alive for 5 minutes before he dies in a car crash. This was because she broke the rules of time travel and the universe repaired itself.
    • (Film) The 2004 (or so) Death Race had a character crash into a wall. He almost dies in a car crash and gets out to say, "You can't kill me!" (or something to this effect) then dies shortly thereafter.
  • July 10, 2012
    Koveras
    Life Will Kill You is probably a subtrope, too, where a character survives epic dangers but dies of a mundane cause.
  • July 10, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of Bones Sweets meets a young man on the subway who had just gotten clear of cancer. Then an earthquake hits DC and the young man is killed.
  • July 10, 2012
    TBeholder
    Born To Be Hanged Shall Not Drown?
  • July 10, 2012
    randomsurfer
    There's an Urban Legend about a cat who fell off the top of the Washington Monument and survived just fine, then got killed by a dog while trying to run away from the scene. Its stuffed body is now at the Smithsonian.
  • July 10, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    Please be more specific. Everyone that cheats death "dies later".
  • July 10, 2012
    TheChach
    Film: In The Matrix, Neo brings Trinity back from the dead only to have her die later anyways.
  • July 11, 2012
    Arivne
    ^ The same thing happens to Neo. Trinity saves him at the end of the first movie, and he also dies at the end of the third.
  • July 11, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Compared to the other examples, in the case of Final Destination it is in-universe enforced.
  • July 21, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ No, Enforced Trope is an Out-of-Universe concept. Invoked Trope and Justified Trope are the in-universe ones.
  • July 22, 2012
    CrankyStorming
    In Flash Forward, one woman escapes being ran over because the driver committed suicide, only to be ran over by someone else a few episodes later.
  • July 22, 2012
    isk2837
    In Harry Potter fanfic The Power Of The Press, Dumbledore survives almost choking on a lemon drop only to be hit by a bus and killed less than a minute later.
  • July 22, 2012
    Waterlily
    I've never seen it but I've heard a lot of people say this about Van Helsing. The main female survives all kinds of stuff that should kill her but then dies in a riiculous way.
  • July 22, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^^^Both of those, then. Sponsor?
  • July 22, 2012
    captainpat
    These two examples

    are zero context examples. They either need to be removed or elaborated on.
  • July 22, 2012
    NimmerStill
  • July 22, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ It's considered rude to edit an OP in a ykttw when you are not the sponsor.
  • July 22, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^True but he or she could've put the proposed edit in the post.

    Ok, money where my mouth is:
    • The premise of the Final Destination franchise is that a moment of premonition allows people to predict, and avoid, an accidental death. Then, a strange force ensures that all of those people will die soon afterwards in similar accidents.
  • July 24, 2012
    TBeholder
    Real Life strikes again:

    • Thomas Edward Lawrence. Lots of firefights, frequently against greater numbers. Survived a plane crash, what, seven times? Got his toe (!) broken by a stray piece of a wheel of a locomotive he blew up. Killed in a motorcycle crash.
  • September 21, 2012
    TBeholder
    • Skull & Bones d20 sourcebook from Green Ronin has Fortunes "Drownin' Look" and "Hangin' Look". The former gives a penalty to any checks made directly to avoid drowning, but any court will always find just enough of mitigating circumstances to give this character a survivable sentence, the latter have the opposite effect - the character is less likely to drown, but looks deeply suspicious and will be sentenced to death by hanging if ever get tried for any crime, even "suspected jaywalking" (both affect only sentence, not any associated escape, pardon from other authorities, murder, fatal accident other than drowning, etc).
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=sq808mgjjgtrvzsmw14lz4g2