Created By: DrakeClawfang on November 30, 2012 Last Edited By: DrakeClawfang on December 5, 2012
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Immortals Fear Death

Immortal and/or invulnerable characters are terrified of dying and have trouble understanding the concept

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Adam: You fear death. Being immortal, you fear it more than those to whom it comes naturally.

In works of fiction, the one thing immortal beings fear above anything else, is death. The very thought of a mortal existence is terrifying, and they may not even be able to wrap their heads around it. And if an immortal is brought down to mortal or discovers their immortality is not absolute, they will refuse to accept this because the idea of their death is something they can not or will not tolerate.

This can also occur if the person in question is not actually immortal but is just very powerful, their ego will not allow them to accept that their power is not enough to ward off the reaper, and they will seek ways to avoid it. In this case, they fear death not because they are immortal, but they sought out immortality because they fear death.

This makes perfect sense, in a way -- when you're immortal and cannot die, and depending on the type of mortality cannot be killed, you would of course want to watch out for the things that can kill you. And it's not like you have anything else to fear, you're immortal, the world holds no danger for you except for that one weapon or that one person who can end your life.

Compare Immortality Seeker, which may overlap with this. See also Living Forever Is Awesome, Who Wants to Live Forever?, Death Seeker.

Examples

Film

  • Mother Gothel of Tangled keeps herself forever young by the power of Rapunzel's hair, but fears aging and losing her youth.

Literature

  • Voldemort of Harry Potter underwent many experiments to avoid death, succeeding by splitting his soul and binding the pieces inside hidden artifacts. Word of God is that if he were to see a Boggart (a creature that shows one's greatest fear), it would transform into his own dead body lying in front of him.
  • In The Last Unicorn, the (immortal) unicorn's first reaction upon being turned into a human is to become near-hysterical, moaning that she can feel her body -- a young, healthy body, but a mortal one -- dying all around her.
  • In the Elenium, the gods are so horrified by the idea of their destructibility that when Azash is killed, the entire world goes into a period of extended depression until Aphrael is able to snap them out of it.
  • In Manley Wade Wellman's John Thunstone stories, the evil immortals fear death so much that if you kill one and bury it under your doorstep, they cannot enter that building due to their dread.

Television

  • Page quote taken from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when Adam talks to a group of vampires about his thoughts on their species, and how contrary to mortal humans, vampires fear death and things that can kill them, like the Slayer, precisely because they are immortal.
    • In the same series, Anya becomes afraid of growing old and dying when she loses her powers as a vengeance demon and becomes mortal, and when Buffy's mother dies she has a breakdown over how stupid the idea of death is to her.

Video Games

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Dragonrend Thu'um specifically exploits this trope to Mind Rape dragons. Dragonrend forces the concept of mortality onto a dragon's mind, and being so powerful and ancient, they grow confused and disoriented and become unable to fly or attack for a time. The Dragonborn's title as The Dreaded is "The One They Fear", because the Dragonborn alone can kill a dragon for good.
    • Throughout the Elder Scrolls series, the Daedra know they will just be reincarnated if they die, but it's an inconvenience they try to avoid. They also cannot understand mortal minds because of this -- the idea that a creative is living a finite life, is aware of this, and yet is not consumed with despair by the knowledge.
  • Final Fantasy III, Xande seeks to cause a Time Crash after his immortality was taken from him by his master Noah, and the idea of dying is unacceptable to him.
  • Final Fantasy IX, Kuja goes into a Villainous Breakdown and becomes an Omnicidal Maniac when he learns of his own mortality, deciding that if he doesn't get to exist, nothing else should either.
  • Blutarch in the Expanded Universe of Team Fortress 2 has cheated death for over a century by a life extending machine that is slowly beginning to fail. Each day it temporarily shuts down, and Blutarch witnesses The Nothing After Death, and is appropriately fearful of the duration increasing each time.

Web Original

  • Interesting variant in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. Dracula is curious about death, but not to eager to go through with it. So he has Benjamin Franklin's clone do it for him. It's a restaurant. With bad service.

Western Animation

  • Batman Beyond: Said by Bruce Wayne to Ras Al-Gul "You don't cheat death, you run in fear of it."
Community Feedback Replies: 32
  • November 30, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    bump
  • November 30, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    • Voldemort of Harry Potter underwent many experiments to avoid death, succeeding by splitting his soul and binding the pieces inside hidden artifacts. Word Of God is that if he were to see a Boggart (a creature that shows one's greatest fear), it would transform into his own dead body lying in front of him.
  • November 30, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    Thanks, added.
  • November 30, 2012
    Astaroth
    Also from the Elder Scrolls series, Daedra instinctively know that if they die they will be reincarnated, but death is enough of an inconvenience to them that they still try to avoid it. The fact that they cannot truly die also makes mortal minds impossible for them to comprehend; how can a creature, faced with the knowledge that its existence will be finite, continue existing without succumbing to extreme dispair?
  • December 1, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    Added.
  • December 1, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    • Mother Gothel of Tangled keeps herself forever young by the power of Rapunzel's hair, but fears aging and losing her youth.
  • December 1, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    Added. Added a real life example too, if no one thinks this is a bad idea. Ammended the description to explain that someone who is just really, really powerful may also fear death as something they cannot control.
  • December 1, 2012
    TairaMai
    • Batman Beyond: Said by Bruce Wayne to Ras Al-Gul "You don't cheat death, you run in fear of it."
  • December 1, 2012
    nitrokitty
    • Interesting variant in The Adventures Of Dr Mc Ninja. Dracula is curious about death, but not to eager to go through with it. So he has Benjamin Franklin's clone do it for him. It's a restaurant. With bad service.
  • December 1, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    Added
  • December 1, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
  • December 1, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    Not sure based on that alone if it counts as him being afraid of death
  • December 1, 2012
    SharleeD
    • In The Last Unicorn, the (immortal) unicorn's first reaction upon being turned into a human is to become near-hysterical, moaning that she can feel her body -- a young, healthy body, but a mortal one -- dying all around her.
  • December 1, 2012
    SKJAM
    In Manley Wade Wellman's John Thunstone stories, the evil immortals fear death so much that if you kill one and bury it under your doorstep, they cannot enter that building due to their dread.
  • December 1, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
  • December 1, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    Yup, thanks. New examples added, save for the Manley Wade one - which type of media is that?
  • December 1, 2012
    Generality
    • In the Elenium, the gods are so horrified by the idea of their destructibility that when Azash is killed, the entire world goes into a period of extended depression until Aphrael is able to snap them out of it.
  • December 1, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    Added. I think we have enough examples, though of course more are welcome. Does anyone have any other ideas for improvement?
  • December 1, 2012
    Jaqen
    FILM LOTR: Elrond worries that his daughter Arwen will die from marrying the mortal Aragorn.

    I don't remember such a scene in the Book.
  • December 1, 2012
    StarSword
    ^No, film only. Arwen was just a bit character in the books, with their romance being entirely in the appendices to The Return of the King and Elrond accepting it.
  • December 1, 2012
    SKJAM
    The Manley Wade Wellman example should go under Literature.
  • December 1, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    Thanks, added.
  • December 2, 2012
    Astaroth
  • December 2, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    . (Deleted example due to too much ratio of spoiler-to-nonspoiler content. Will save it for launch, which seems close now.)
  • December 2, 2012
    TheHandle
    If immortals can be killed, they aren't immortal, just long-lived and resilient.
  • December 2, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    As the site itself notes, there's more than one kind of immortality. -_-
  • December 2, 2012
    Tiiba
    ^The Immartality page lists a lot of types of immortals.

    The Qin Shi Huang example violates the "immortals" requirement. There's nothing interesting about a mortal being afraid of death.
  • December 2, 2012
    LOAD
    There seems to be a lot of overlap here with Immortality Seeker.
  • December 2, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    ^To a degree, but the subject in question might not be seeking immortality, they may already be immortal.

    ^^I included him for the part about also seeking immortality because of that fear. But fair enough.
  • December 2, 2012
    Chabal2
    Final Fantasy X: The dead don't actually die until a ritual known as the Sending is performed, if not done they remain as Unsent (undistinguishable from normal humans except that they don't age). It later turns out pretty much all the major villains (and a few other characters) are Unsent, and of course want to stay around.
  • December 3, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    Eh, X isn't quite the same, it's more "unfinished business" over a fear of death.

    I'm gonna launch this later today, thanks for all the examples and help guys.
  • December 5, 2012
    TairaMai
    • Played with in Death Becomes Her, the two immortal characters can't die but they can be injured and they won't ever heal.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=u9xgt0vrw3iwi5k82c75a7uo&trope=ImmortalsFearDeath