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->''"Cool -- you're a ghost, and you don't know it."''
-->-- '''Tucker''', ''Series/AreYouAfraidOfTheDark''

[[MemeticMutation You probably thought these characters were alive.]]

[[MemeticMutation NOPE!]] [[TheReveal They're not. They're dead.]]

TomatoSurprise [[JustForFun/XMeetsY meets]] DeadToBeginWith. A character is dead. Really dead. However, because PowersThatBe wanted him back, he is. He walks, he talks, he breathes just like everyone and neither the characters (sometimes, not even himself), nor the audience suspects anything fishy until TheReveal, at which point he usually [[KilledOffForReal dies for good]] or otherwise disappears because UndeathAlwaysEnds. Severe DeathAmnesia is mandatory if the character was previously unaware of their condition.

There are variants. Maybe the heroes have been fighting the forces of someone who they later learn has been dead for years; TheDragon may or may not have taken over and not told anyone that the BigBad is dead. Maybe they go to find or rescue or recruit someone, only to find that they're very, ''very'' [[{{Pun}} late]]. Maybe someone was fooling them with a DeadPersonImpersonation or a really good OfCorpseHesAlive. While someone might have ''suspected'' that this character is dead, none of the others really consider it.

Often results in FridgeHorror and/or TearJerker.

Not to be confused with PosthumousCharacter and DeadStarWalking. Compare DyingDream, PrettySpryForADeadGuy, and TomatoInTheMirror; contrast AnAstralProjectionNotAGhost.

!!'''As a DeathTrope, not to mention an EndingTrope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.'''
----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* All of the postal deliverers in ''Anime/{{Shigofumi}}'' are people who died.
* Carrossea Doon in ''Anime/{{Madlax}}''. He only stays around because of both his love for Margaret and the fact that he doesn't even remember he's dead. When he realizes that he fits in here, he actually fades away.
* Souji Mikage in ''Anime/RevolutionaryGirlUtena'' (according to one interpretation, anyway) and Kiryuu Touga in TheMovie. The SegaSaturn game adds Sanjouin Chigusa, sort of a DistaffCounterpart to Mikage. (The latter is, somewhat remarkably, still in the game.)
* Shito and Shiba in ''Manga/ZombieLoan'', and in the former case he was actually ''born'' dead. Don't try to think about that one too much...
* Eichi in ''Manga/FullMoonOSagashite''.
* Leon Schezar, Allen's DisappearedDad in ''Anime/TheVisionOfEscaflowne''.
* Schwarzwald in ''Anime/TheBigO''. Even after it's revealed that he's actually dead, he appears again, even killing a major villain, Alan Gabriel, though how ''alive'' Gabriel really was is a point of debate...
* Enjou in the fifth ''Literature/KaraNoKyoukai'' movie was revealed to have been effectively dead all along, killed and resurrected in an artificial body by Araya, so that he'd bring Shiki to him. Soon after TheReveal, in which Enjou comes across his own preserved brain in the basement of the building, Araya kills him for good.
* Yuzuki in ''[[Anime/HellGirl Hell Girl: The Cauldron of Three]]''. Apparently she died as a young child soon after her parents, because SocialServicesDoesNotExist, but continued her un-life in an illusion of normalcy.
* Mune-Mune in ''Anime/AbenobashiMahouShoutengai''. She passed away before Sasshi was born. Sasshi's reaction to finding out that throughout the whole series, he was flirting with his ''grandmother'' is priceless.
* Yuuko Ichihara in ''Manga/XxxHOLiC'' and ''Manga/TsubasaReservoirChronicle'', who is not "dead" as such, but has simply had a RealityWarper [[RealityBreakingParadox tell reality to ignore the fact that she died for several hundred years.]] When she moves on, things reset and it is as if she had died when she, er, died. Yeah, descriptive words get kinda difficult here. However her death couldn't completely set right the multiverse. The consequences had twisted reality beyond repair.
** There was an earlier story about a girl who thought there was a ghost in her house and wanted it removed. Yuuko [[LiteralGenie tricks her into wording it]] as "for my house to not be scary anymore". As it turns out, that girl is the ghost.
* Three suicidal people in ''Anime/ParanoiaAgent'' decided to meet up after chatting online about how they wanted to end it all. They decided to form a suicide pact, meet up in real life, and discussed how they wanted to end it all. One of them didn't want to die through painfully violent means, like in a car crash or jumping off a building. One of them didn't want to kill himself directly, such as slitting his throat, and the last one wanted to make sure that their bodies would be discovered, so the world would know they existed at all. They soon went through ''numerous'' botched attempts, such as hiding in a condemned building while it was being torn down, and carbon monoxide poisoning by running a car inside a closed garage. Finally, they thought it would be great to get Little Slugger to kill them, after all the media attention this character was getting through the numerous deaths related to him. HilarityEnsues as Little Slugger ends up running away from ''them.'' By the end of the episode, the three become dejected and weigh their options again, while watching the sun set. In an especially ironic twist on this trope, the eldest of the three noticed that none of them had a shadow and slowly pieced it all together. For the audience watching, the point when they lose their shadows was just after the "failed" attempt at carbon monoxide poisoning.
* Appears in the hentai manga ''Alice in Sexland'', of all places. The comic opens with Alice running away from her life of forced prostitution and falling into a hole, as per the original story. Near the end, however, the Queen of Hearts reveals that Alice broke her neck in the fall and that Wonderland is simply Purgatory - and that it's only big enough for one real person, who fills the role of the Queen of Hearts, meaning that the current Queen went through the situation herself and now has to move on to make room for Alice.
* May apply to the Seo Kouji one-shot debut manga, ''Half and Half''. The two protagonists are hit by a delivery truck right from the get-go, and in what smacks heavily of a FridgeLogic-inducer, Kami-sama gives them one week to sort out which one of them gets to die for keeps.
* ''Anime/DigimonTamers''' Alice is thought to be a ghost. She was incredibly pale, and literally disappeared after she did all that she could to help the Tamers. It is also hinted by several characters that she was already dead. ''WordOfGod'' neither confirms nor denies this.
** Shibumi was going to be one of these, with his body dead and his mind uploaded to the digital world. This is openly foreshadowed quite a bit, but in the end the writers liked him so much that they didn't want to shelve him for the entire (earth centric) finale. He turned out to just be in a coma, and eventually woke up.
* Oo no Suefumi in ''[[VideoGame/HarukanaruTokiNoNakaDe Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Maihitoyo]]''. Unfortunately, he isn't quite aware of his true identity either, and by the time the characters discover who this mysterious {{Bishonen}} was, he is already pretty much promoted to being the lead girl's love interest. Yep, LoveHurts.
* In ''Manga/KingOfThorn'', one of the major characters, Kasumi, died before the manga began. The one who appears in the story is a ReplacementGoldfish who was created using a LovecraftianSuperpower. The character doesn't realize it until TheReveal in the final volume.
* In ''Manga/TokyoMagnitude8'', Yuki died sometime during episode 8, as a result of a concussion or cerebral hemorrhage after being struck on the head by falling rubble in episode 6 and then walking across the city during a summer heat wave. This does not become obvious until the end of episode 10, since Mirai and the viewer had been seeing him as a ghost, and Mirai had convinced herself that his death in the hospital was AllJustADream.
* Mayoi Hachikuji from ''LightNovel/{{Bakemonogatari}}''.
* Several of Hiruko's clients in ''Manga/NightmareInspector'' are revealed near the end of their chapter to be dead. Then the end of the series reveals that Chitose, current host to Hiruko the baku, died in the aftermath of the earthquake long ago, and that the one we've seen for the whole series is Azusa's delusion.
* ''GhostInTheShell'' had an episode where Section 9 had to prevent the assassination of a rich recluse. They succeeded, then found out that he had been dead for several months. He'd had computer programs automatically manage his finances for him, that combined with him being quite a recluse, is why nobody realized he was dead.
* In the final episode of ''Anime/BlueSubmarineNo6'', Minosoko:
--> '''Zorndyke''': The day this uprising began, I have been dead ever since that day.
* Suo from ''Anime/DarkerThanBlack: Ryuusei no Gemini'' is revealed to have been dead for about eight years, in the same incident that vaporized Mao's original body. The one in the series proper is a sort of OppositeSexClone made by her brother Shion, whose Contractor power is something a sort of duplication.
* Inverted in ''Kagen no Tsuki'', where it's assumed that Mizuki is dead, due to her ghost being one of the main characters. About halfway through the story, the main characters (and the reader) discover that she's really in a coma.
* The Bishops/Ghosts of ''Manga/ZeroSevenGhost''.
* In ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', Uchiha Madara is revealed to be dead when Kabuto resurrects him. The BigBad claiming to be Madara is in fact [[TakeUpMySword the person Madara chose to complete the plan]]. However, Madara ''had'' lived well beyond his supposed death in battle and ultimately died of old age long after his natural lifespan ended.
* ''Manga/HunterXHunter'': The Chimera Ant Nerferpitou has Kite's head in his hands after their fight, but nevertheless, Gon convinces Killua and perhaps the entire audience that he was still alive. Even after witnessing Kite in a zombified state, he believes that the Ant still can restore him. However, Pitou reveals that he was just a moving doll, unable to ever come back to life, leading Gon to forget any value for both his life and Pitou's.
* Kumoshichi from ''Manga/AyakashiAyashi'' was revealed to have died a long time ago with Atl causing Yukiatsu to realize that he's been talking to a ghost that only the two of them can actually see.
* In ''Franchise/DragonBall'', Uranai Baba's fifth fighter was revealed to have been dead all along when his true identity was revealed as Son Gohan, Goku's adoptive grandfather, who had already had his DeathByOriginStory.
* Mixed in among Class 3-3 in ''Literature/{{Another}}'' is a person who is dead but has no awareness of it. Nor does anyone else, thanks to a combination of FakeMemories and {{Retconjuration}}. This "Extra" is the catalyst for a curse that causes those in the class and their immediate relatives to be vulnerable to {{Cruel And Unusual Death}}s of varying degrees. The "Extra" is different each time, there is typically no way to identify the student until ''after'' graduation when he or she fades away, and this curse has been victimizing 3-3 Students for two and a half ''decades.'' The dead person in 1998, the year in which the story takes place, is actually the assistant to the home room teacher, Ms. Mikami, who is also Kouichi's aunt Reiko.
* ''Popotan'' provides two versions:
** The little girl in episode 4 is a ghost. Not surprising, considering her general {{creep|yChild}}iness.
** The fact that Konami's dead is the ending twist of episode 9. ''Very'' surprising, given that the series had been moderately upbeat previously.
* In its final chapter, ''Manga/SayonaraZetsubouSensei'' turned its own continuity on its head big time. [[ThePollyanna Superoptimist]] Kafuka Fuura died long before the series began, and her organs were transplanted into all of Nozomu's students, which gave them her optimistic genes and ability to see her, as sort of a psychological experiment on Nozomu. Try watching/reading this series again, with that in mind.
* Kobato herself in ''Manga/{{Kobato}}''. At least in the anime. In fact, the reason why she wears her {{Nice Hat}}s is to hide a spiritual crown that signals her as being dead.
* Aiko's parents in ''Manga/VampirePrincessMiyu'' turn out to be this. They actually died few after being mortally injured in an accident ''and'' [[HeroicSacrifice after donating their blood so their daughter would survive]]; when Aiko falls into despair and makes a DealWithTheDevil with a Shinma, said Shinma recreates Aiko's old life... parents included. This works so "well" that [[NiceJobFixingItVillain they're the ones who hire Himiko to "exorcise" the demon that supposedly has possessed Aiko, thus bringing her into the story]]...
* ZigZaggingTrope as part of a TwistEnding in the ''Manga/ZekkyouGakkyuu'' story "The Ocean is Calling." It foreshadows that the main character drowned before the events of the story, and everyone is acting nice to try to keep her from remembering and passing on, while her love interest is being deliberately cold to her to try to get her to. Except that it turns out it's the exact opposite situation -- she's the only ''survivor'' of an accident where her class' bus fell into the ocean. The others wanted to keep her from waking from a coma so she could join them forever, while the love interest was saving her life, making her question the situation so she'd wake up.
* Since his first appearance in ''Manga/KenichiTheMightiestDisciple,'' Tsutomu Tanaka has appeared to be a HenpeckedHusband-slash-{{Badass}} on a quest to avenge his master. We learn however, that his wife and unborn child died at the same time and the wife he was always on the phone with was just an automated line he was calling.
* ''Forever Honey'' is a short manga about a single dad and his daughter. Near the end we learn Honey had been killed in a car accident and she was a ghost that only her dad could see.
* ''Manga/RosarioToVampire'': The anime adaptation of Ruby's introductory arc changes it so that Ruby's master had died long ago; Ruby, having become delusional over the years, believed her master to still be alive until Tsukune came across said master's corpse and informed her as such.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In Creator/AlanMoore's version, this happens to Alec Holland in ''Comicbook/SwampThing'' - Comicbook/SwampThing was actually a totally non-human plant elemental which had arisen from Holland's dying body, and possessed his memories.
* ''[[Comicbook/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtlesMirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles]]'', Mirage continuity: In the Rat King's first appearance, he was revealed to apparently still be alive after his battle with the turtles in an abandoned factory. Later on, when an injured Splinter is trapped in the same factory, The Rat King appears periodically before him and acts as the rat's spiritual guide. Two months later, after Splinter heals enough to leave, he finds The Rat King's rag-covered skeleton.
* In ''ComicBook/{{Hellboy}}'', certain ghosts look and act just like living people, and even seem to fool characters who ''know'' that they died years ago. This includes the Lobster in "Conqueror Worm", a group of sailors that shares a drink with Hellboy in "The Island", and Harry Middleton in "Darkness Calls".
* In ''[[Comicbook/GrantMorrisonsBatman Batman RIP]]'', an amnesiac Bruce Wayne is helped out by a strange homeless man, Honour Jackson. It's not until Jackson and Bruce part ways that Bruce discovers Jackson died some time before Bruce met him.
* This may turn out to be the case with ''Comicbook/{{Empowered}}''; it was certainly implied very strongly in volume 6, wherein it is revealed that capes who got their powers through mysterious bargains [[NotUsingTheZWord come back]], and that Empowered may have gotten her powers through such a bargain, ''and'' that she may have actually died on her first mission without actually realizing it. It makes sense (sort of) in context.
* In ''Comicbook/TheSavageDragon'', there was a SelfDemonstrating/DoctorDoom {{Expy}} named Dreadnaught. He was an armored villain that was ruling over an entire country. After his initial fight, it was revealed that he had been dead for years and his armor was running without him.
* In ''Comicbook/NthManTheUltimateNinja'', it is ultimately revealed that the protagonist is an imperfect copy created by a psychopathic RealityWarper after the original was killed in an accident. This imperfection is why the present-day character is willing to kill as a ninja assassin, despite being an [[IncorruptiblePurePureness incorruptible pacifist]] in his youth.
* ''Creepy'' #24:
** In "Black Magic" a necromancer tried to raise a century-dead corpse only to end up with a mindless zombie. When he cast the spell to turn it back into a lifeless corpse he discovered that ''he himself'' was an ex-corpse which had been raised and trained by the mentor he [[APupilOfMineUntilHeTurnedToEvil scorned and despised]].
** In "You Do Something to Me" the main character destroyed a black magic amulet which he believed his wife was trying to kill him with, only to discover that it had actually been keeping him "alive" since his accidental death three years ago.
* ''Comicbook/OriginalSin'' reveals that Dum Dum Dugan actually died in the 60s, and the Dum Dum we've seen since then is a Life Model Decoy.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* In reality, it's a shame to read ''Fanfic/ConceptRoad'' while keeping something like this in mind from the start, since the inevitable reveal is more shocking otherwise. Or perhaps many subtle things will make more sense, thus creating a more unique experience. Either way, this story offers a great example of this trope in the end.
* In [[Gensokyo20XX Gensokyo 20XXV]], Reimu asks this is as a question in relation to An, who hasn't been seen since chapter 77, which would mean what memories they have her were actually ones born of grief. At the same time, she also touched upon the alternative in that they could have seen her but didn't recognize her as An and probably thought she was someone else.
--->'''Reimu''': "Is it possible that she was dead all along and died a long time ago or is it possible you did see her but couldn't recognize her?"
** It was later confirmed in chapter 96 that An did pass away but their love for her and grief and denial of her death is what called her back.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* ''Back of Beyond'': Tom [=McGregor=] is revealed at the end to have been a ghost inhabiting the petrol station after he died in a motorcycle accident.
* ''Film/BunnyAndTheBull'': The Main character's best friend was viciously gored to death in front of Stephen, causing what is strongly implied to be a mental breakdown. A clever viewer can pick up subtle hints starting from about halfway through, but it's still a massive shock
* Creator/AnneHathaway and the 'plane crash survivors', who actually were all passengers in ''Film/{{Passengers}}''. The reason the passengers were disappearing one by one from the protagonist's group therapy sessions was not because of a conspiracy, but because they accepted their deaths and were able to cross over.
** Averted with David Morse's character. He was the pilot on the and knows he's dead, but can't move on because of his guilt over thinking (incorrectly) that he caused the crash. In a rather poignant turn, he adopts the persona of a CorruptCorporateExecutive who insists that the cause of the crash was pilot error and not mechanical failure. This is because he blames himself for not being at his post and being distracted when the engine caught fire.
* ''Film/TheSixthSense'' (See ItWasHisSled).
* Jennie Appleton in ''Film/PortraitOfJennie''.
* Toyed with in ''Below'' they weren't, and probably a TakeThat to ''The Sixth Sense'' and its imitators.
* ''Film/{{Beetlejuice}}'': Adam and Barbara Maitland don't know they're dead until they find the handbook, and the plot doesn't kick into gear until ''after'' they figure it out. Several "recently deceased" football players take a while to figure out they didn't survive the crash they were in.
* Randi James in ''Film/DeadHeat''.
* Everyone shown until TheReveal in ''Film/TheOthers''.
* [[PlayingWithATrope Played with]] in ''Almost An Angel''. The hero gets hit in a traffic accident, and when he wakes up, he's convinced (thanks to overhearing a TV about, curiously, the same thing, and taking it for real) that he's been sent back to Earth to help others. His delusions are helped several times by happenstance (he's shot at point-blank range by a robber with no injury, but shortly after another robber reveals that he put blanks in his partner's bullets, because the guy was so twitchy he might accidentally gun down a bystander) and he carries on his 'heaven-sent' mission. Near the end, a truck drives right into him - and passes through him. He cheerfully tells his friend, "I told you I'm immortal" and wanders off into the ending.
* ''Film/TalesFromTheHood'': The three drug dealers in the FramingStory.
* Several Creator/AmicusProductions anthologies - which probably inspired ''Tales'' - use similar [[FramingDevice framing stories]] (''[[Film/ECComics Tales From the Crypt]]'', ''[[Film/ECComics Vault of Horror]]'', ''Dr. Terror's House of Horrors'').
* There is a film called ''Alice'' where the heroine seeks refuge in a castle after a car crash and becomes trapped there. It turns out she died in said crash.
* The main character in classic horror film ''Film/CarnivalOfSouls'', which provided the above screenshot.
* ''Film/SkyCaptainAndTheWorldOfTomorrow'': MadScientist Dr. [[PropheticNames Totenkopf]] has been dead for over twenty years, leaving his army of robots to complete his scheme to destroy the Earth and begin life again on another world.
** Even more appropriate, in a way, in that Totenkopf's actor (Sir Creator/LaurenceOlivier) had been dead for 15 years when the movie was filmed, and his parts were entirely spliced in from scenes from old movies. So essentially, an actor who had been dead for 15 years played a character who had been dead for 20 years.
* In ''JustLikeHeaven'', David and Elizabeth think this is what happened to Elizabeth. She's NotQuiteDead, but has been in a coma.
* The little sister in ''Film/ATaleOfTwoSisters''.
* The girl who ''thinks'' she's the FinalGirl in ''The Devil's Ground''.
* Averted in ''Film/AVeryLongEngagement'' where you slowly find mounting evidence that the main character's fiance has died. He is saved by another soldier who is an impostor after having been shot by a passing German plane, and given a dead young soldier's identity. When the soldier's mother visits the hospital, she realizes instantly her son is dead, and the young man in front of her has severe amnesia. Rather than turn him in, knowing the penalty would be death, she adopted him, and he lived as her son until she died, then he was committed to an asylum.
* ''Film/HighPlainsDrifter'' suggests that TheDrifter who [[TrainingThePeacefulVillagers teachers the cowardly townsfolk to fight]] is in fact the spirit of the dead town marshal, who was beaten to death by the outlaws threatening the town and is now out for revenge on them. Unfortunately for the townspeople, since they betrayed him to them and then stood back and watched them beat him to death, he's not very happy at them either...
* ''Film/PaleRider'', which has Creator/ClintEastwood revisiting the concept of "the dead coming back for justice".
* William Blake, Creator/JohnnyDepp's character in ''Film/DeadMan''. Though he might have just been dying slowly the whole time. Nobody probably knows for sure.
* ''WesternAnimation/WakingLife'': Played with - the audience is never told if The Dreamer is alive or dead, though he strongly suspects he is, and the film keeps hinting at it. It's all up to the interpretation.
* Halfway through ''Film/SourceCode'', we find out that this is what's happening to our protagonist. Kinda.
* Inverted in ''Film/GhostDad''. The main character spends most of the movie believing that he died in a car crash and came back as a ghost. He's actually in a coma and using astral projection, an ability that apparently runs in his family.
* The horror film ''Walking The Dead'' focuses around a village full of dead people. The only people who seem to be alive are the American reporter, a drunk ex-cop, an axe murderer,a woman looking for her daughter and said daughter. Turns out the only people who were really alive were American reporter, a drunk ex-cop and the daughter.
* Franklin and Celia in ''Film/WeNeedToTalkAboutKevin''. It seems at first that Franklin divorced Eva (in a flashback he told Eva he wants a divorce) and got custody of Celia after the massacre at the school (Kevin was imprisoned, so neither parent would get custody of him), and hasn't spoken to Eva in a long time. However, the truth is, as the nonlinear timeline shows, Kevin actually killed Franklin and Celia BEFORE the massacre at the school. That's why Franklin never answered Eva's calls as Eva was out witnessing the aftermath at the school.
* In ''Film/DeadMansShoes'', Anthony has been in Richard's head the whole time, and has clearly driven him completely mad.
* ''Film/TheUninvited2009'' has Anna's sister Alex revealed to be dead by her father at the end. Anna looks down and realizes that ''she's'' the one holding the knife that has just killed her stepmother, not Alex, who's now gone. Alex died in the same explosion that killed their mother, which was also Anna's fault.
* The 2012 film ''Static'' reveals that the young couple who are being terrorized have been dead all along. The wife had shot and killed her husband and herself after their son drowned. The mysterious intruders terrorizing them are actually ghost hunters called in to help them pass on to the afterlife. The young woman that the supposed intruders were after is actually a spirit medium working with the ghost hunters.
* ''TheIInside'' turns out to take place in what is half a DyingDream, half a self-created hell.
* The BigBad in ''Film/{{RIPD}}''.
* Large Marge, the truck driver, picks up Pee-Wee Herman in ''Film/PeeWeesBigAdventure'' and relates the story of a truck driver who was killed making one final run. When she drops him off at a roadside diner, she tells him, "Be sure and say 'Large Marge helped you."' When he does so, the whole diner gasps and one of the drivers starts retelling the same tale, pointing to a picture of Large Marge hanging on the wall.
* In ''Film/JohnDiesAtTheEnd'', Arnie Blondestone is revealed to have been murdered before he even met David. ItMakesSenseInContext.
* Luke in ''Film/ChildrenOfTheCornVFieldsOfTerror'', who was positioned as the leader of the cult for the outside appearance since he is the only adult in its premises. When the charade is over, he burns away, killing the sheriff who tried to arrest him too.
* The protagonist of ''A Pure Formality'' is dead after committing suicide, but he only realizes this by the end of the movie.
* The TwistEnding of ''Film/CampfireTales1997'' is that the characters telling the stories to each other were actually killed in the car crash that stranded them.
* The two title characters, in ''SuzannesDiaryForNicholas''. Near the end of the movie we learn that instead of being alive as the protagonist thought, they actually died in a car crash.
* In the 1945 JamesMason picture ''A Place Of One's Own'', Annette is possessed by Elizabeth, her home's previous resident, who may have been poisoned. Annette becomes very weak and ill. Elizabeth, through Annette, asks for Dr. Marsham, her fiance. Annette's guardian asks the local constabulary to find Marsham, so when he shows up at the door late that night nobody is surprised. The next morning, Elizabeth is gone, Annette is fine, and the police report that Marsham was already en route to Annette's house when he died -- an hour before he arrived.
* The three main characters in ''Film/{{Salvage}}'' are all dead with Duke reliving Claire's brutal murder at his hands over and over again.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Folklore]]
* A WWII Flying Fortress is hit over Europe. The young co-pilot manages to get her home, saving all aboard, thanks to the advice and moral support of his highly experienced but critically wounded captain. As soon as they land the kid runs to drag a medic onboard for his CO. The man examines the apparently unconscious officer and shakes his head. "Sorry, son," he says. "He's gone, must have died instantly."
* The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanishing_hitchhiker vanishing hitchhiker]] UrbanLegend. The story usually goes like this: Bob is driving home when he picks up Alice, a teenage hitchhiker. He drives her home and she goes into the house. He then realizes that she forgot her jacket and goes up to the house to give it back to her. Her parents answer the door. They tell him that Alice died ten years ago on the very road where he picked her up, but confirm that it is her jacket.
** Subject of Bringing Mary Home by The Country Gentlemen. The jacket being replaced with [[TearJerker a monologue by the mother of the girl thanking him ]], you can watch it played live here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRFLZfv7Vw8
** [[http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=6082 Strange things happen in this world!]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* All seven protagonists in ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfNarnia:'' ''Literature/TheLastBattle'' are revealed to be dead and [[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence in Heaven]].
* Constantin, the brother of the titular [[http://www.amazon.com/Doruntine-Ismail-Kadare/dp/1561310328 Doruntine]], rose from the grave to keep [[ThePromise the besa]] that he made to his mother. This phenomenon was investigated for a long time by the {{narrator}}, [[DeadpanSnarker who couldn't accept this nonsense]], and was reached the conclusion, that he might have risen from the grave.
** This is only the book version. This story has [[OlderThanTheyThink pre-Christian origins]].
* Ambrose Bierce's 1890 short story "An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge", which later became many films, the most famous of which was the French adaptation ''La rivière du hibou'' which was won an AcademyAward and later became a ''[[Series/TheTwilightZone Twilight Zone]]'' episode.
** Actually, the story takes place in the few seconds between life and death, so it's not even a DyingDream - it's a FlashForward variation of MyLifeFlashedBeforeMyEyes.
* Parl Dro the ghost hunter, in Creator/TanithLee's ''To Kill the Dead''.
* [[EpilepticTrees The possibility exists]] that [[Literature/HouseOfLeaves Johnny Truant]] was never alive, or, was alive for three days. [[LiteraryAgentHypothesis The parts of the book written by him might have been written by someone else.]]
* A short story by author Creator/BruceCoville in a horror anthology in which a girl running away from home to her aunt's house and being terrified of the pond there. The girl later swims to the bottom of the pond and realizes she had actually drowned at the bottom of the pond when her leg got caught after finding her swollen, decayed body at the bottom.
* ''Literature/{{Goosebumps}}'' gave us ''The Ghost Next Door'', where the narrator is actually the ghost, along with the grandparents in ''Ghost Beach''.
* The protagonists in Creator/StephenKing's short story ''Willa'' from ''Literature/JustAfterSunset''.
* In R.Chetwynd-Hayes's short story "[[http://www.mediafire.com/?t6f8g81xtnj4cmq The Ghost Who Limped]]", a family is haunted by [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin said ghost]]. Of course it turns out that the family is dead and the "ghost" is the one who's alive.
* It's actually at the beginning, but in ''Literature/TheLovelyBones'', the protagonist thinks she's escaped and only realizes she's dead (and falls into a limbo-like area) when she notices her corpse.
* A character is revealed to be such midway through [[Creator/LoisMcMasterBujold Bujold's]] ''[[Literature/{{Chalion}} Paladin of Souls]]''. There are multiple hints both subtle and otherwise and something odd is going on, but the formal [[TheReveal reveal]] awaits Ista accepting her status as CosmicPlaything once more.
--> "You have no fever. You don't even sweat. Your skin is the same temperature as the air, and if it weren't so beastly hot in this climate more people would have noticed by now!"
* Various characters in Creator/PhilipKDick's ''Literature/{{Ubik}}''.
* In Creator/FrederickForsyth's ''The Shepherd'', a young airplane pilot gets into trouble when his instruments fail, he gets lost in the English fog, and is low on fuel. When he thinks everything's lost, a Mosquito plane (UsefulNotes/WorldWarII plane, already out of date in 1957 when the story is set) shepherds him to an old dispersal field, and he survives. There he finds hints that the man who saved him apparently was WW 2 pilot Johnny Kavanagh (the other plane had "JK" written on it), who shepherded many planes during the war. But then he learns that Johnny actually died fourteen years ago...
* [[BigBad Brona]], [[SorcerousOverlord The Warlock Lord]] in ''Literature/TheSwordOfShannara'' is revealed to be a mobile corpse, motivated only by his own [[{{Determinator}} conviction]] that he cannot die. Touching him with the titular Sword, which reveals the complete truth about any object it touches reduces him to dust.
* ''Literature/HarryPotter''
** A particularly {{squick}}tastic example occurs with Bathilda Bagshot in ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheDeathlyHallows''. Bathilda's corpse was reanimated by Voldemort, and Nagini hides ''inside the corpse'', lying in wait for Harry and Hermione.
** For a personal example, it's been surmised that Professor Binns, the ghost who teaches History of Magic at Hogwarts, doesn't know he's dead. He is extremely boring and, as the story goes, was so settled into his routine that after dying in his sleep he just got up the next morning anyway.
* After much confusion, this is revealed (to the reader) to be the fate of the main character in Flann O'Brien's ''TheThirdPoliceman''.
* In "Christmas Meeting" by Rosemary Timperley, a woman alone at Christmas is startled when a young man comes into her room, mistaking it for his (he was lodging in the same house.) She discovers that he is a writer, and when he vanishes suddenly, she reads the book of his own work that he left behind him. It contains a note from the publisher, stating that the man mysteriously died of a heart attack hours after seeing the ghost of a woman (from the description, obviously her) in his room.
* ''Literature/TrappedOnDraconica'': Lucia is implied since Kazebar possesses him from the start.
* In ''Literature/FlowersInTheAttic'', by the time the children escape from the attic, their grandfather has been dead for over a year.
* In Creator/StephenKing's ''Literature/DoloresClaiborne'', Donald and Helga Donovan, Vera's son and daughter have been dead since TheSixties, and this fact is unknown to Dolores until after Vera's death.
* Julia Jason Andelius, from Maria Gripe's ''The dung-beetle flies at dusk''. She somehow found out about the mysteries behind an old house she owned in the Swedish countryside, but died before she could reveal them to the public... so, via mysterious phone calls, her ghost started dropping hints to the teenagers who spent a whole summer taking care of said home. It's not until the whole mystery is solved by the kids that we find out about Julia's passing.
* In Washington Irving's "The Adventure of the German Student" a beautiful woman the title character slept with turned out to have been beheaded the day before.
* ''Literature/{{Liar}}'' provides an interesting example. [[spoiler: When he was introduced, Jordan was just an ordinary AnnoyingYoungerSibling to Micah. Then, [[UnreliableNarrator Micah]] tells the reader that she had been lying and Jordan never existed. ''[[MindScrew Then]]'' she tells us that he actually did exist, and he died in an accident when he was eight.]]
* Another interesting example in ''Literature/TheRavenCycle'' with Noah. Mostly interesting because in ''The Raven Boys'' he did tell people on more than one occasion that he was actually dead, they just didn't believe him.
* ''Literature/MoreThanThis'': [[spoiler:Owen]] never came back from [[spoiler:the kidnapping]] in reality. The version Seth remembered was just a simulated program.
* About halfway through Geoph Essex's ''Lovely Assistant'', we finally find out that we haven't seen one single scene where main protagonist Jenny Ng was alive: the first paragraph of the first scene that introduces her is the exact moment of her death. Everything's [[TheGrimReaper okay]], though, and her technically-deceased status ''does'' come in handy when she has to [[SaveTheWorldClimax save the world]].
* This happens a couple of times in the [[Literature/MadgieWhatDidYouDo Madgie]] Series, with Toki. In ''Madgie, what did you do? LIV: Radioactive Rain'', it is implied Toki may have committed suicide, if not died of radiation sickness, not too long before Bunny arrives back to the BadFuture and, in ''Madgie, what did you do? XXVI: Requiem II'', where it is implied that she may have died a little while before then and that they weren't aware that she's died, with life continuing as somewhat usual. The latter is more evident in that Toki is [[BloodFromTheMouth bleeding from the mouth]] and said bleeding should have killed her or should have stopped.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Titus}}'': The episode "The Visit" has Titus, Dave, Tommy, and Ken (Papa Titus) trying to capture Juanita (Titus's homicidal, manic-depressive schizophrenic mom) whom they think escaped from the mental hospital again and is out to ruin Titus and Erin's chance at adopting Amy [[note]]who was sent to live with Titus and Erin after Amy's disastrous birthday in her run-down apartment, which featured her drugged-out mom passing out on the cake and her drunk stepfather nearly beating Amy when she confesses to calling Child Welfare on him[[/note]]. Titus, Dave, Tommy, and Ken have her cornered in the closet -- until Erin comes in and tells Titus that she got a phone call from the Missouri police department with news that Juanita killed herself four hours ago. To drive the point home, Titus opens the closet and finds no one there and the episode ends with [[TearJerker a heartbreaking message about how hard it is to be a parent and how Titus forgives his mom -- even though everyone now thinks he's crazy]].
* Cordelia in the ''Series/{{Angel}}'' episode "You're Welcome".
** And Angel himself, of course.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' episodes "Road Kill" and "[[SupernaturalS09E09HolyTerror Holy Terror]]"
* "The Tale of the Dream Girl" from ''Series/AreYouAfraidOfTheDark?'', itself the [[OlderThanTheyThink inspiration]] for ''Film/TheSixthSense''.
** Also "The Tale Of The Prom Queen", where [=DeDe=] [[TheReveal reveals herself to be the prom queen's ghost]] at the end. (Note: There was a subtle clue to that fact earlier in the episode. She described something as being "keen", which was outdated slang at the time.)
* Subverted with Giles in the last season of ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''. Fans speculated that he was another aspect of The First Evil, who was intangible, because he didn't touch anything. Which would have meant that he was dead, because the First only impersonates the dead.
** Oddly enough, this particular {{epileptic tree|s}} was deliberately planted by Joss Whedon throughout the first half of the season. Anthony Stewart Head later told an interviewer that, given all the retakes and effort involved, he didn't think the [[{{Jossed}} payoff]] was worth the trouble.
** Played straight with the potential slayer Eve, in the same season, who was revealed to have been the First Evil in disguise when the real Eve was found dead in a motel room.
* In ''Series/{{Lost}}'''s sixth season and the final scene of the fifth, all of the characters in the flash-sideways are often considered to be dead as they have moved beyond their original early-season lives and into their next and even then they are gathering, one by one, in preparation on moving yet again into their next (and inferred higher) level of existence in the GrandFinale.
** ABC's decision to show footage of the wreckage over the credits for the finale led some viewers to believe that the characters had in fact died in the crash. [[ViewersAreMorons Viewers who didn't find the lack of bodies puzzling and ignored in and out of universe indications that the island was not any form of purgatory]].
** John Locke dies in the events of seasons 4-5 and is revived midway through the fifth season. Then it turns out that Locke actually was never brought back and is still dead; the person that's appeared to be Locke walking around for the remainder of the series has actually been [[BigBad The Man in Black]] assuming his form.
** [[http://tv.yahoo.com/blogs/tv-news/12-highlights-from-the--lost--paleyfest-panel-054715551.html This recent interview]] [[WordOfGod with the creators]] reveals that this trope was actually subverted--the island was not purgatory after all, but a real island, and the characters were very much alive there. (The scene with everyone gathering at the church, though--''that's'' where the characters are dead.)
* In the ''Series/{{Scrubs}}'' episode "My Screw Up", Dr. Cox spends the second half of the episode being absolutely furious with JD after one of his patients died. It's revealed at the end that the patient who died was not the elderly man JD was seen treating earlier, it was Dr. Cox's brother-in-law and best friend Ben. Several hints are dropped during the second half of the episode, such as Dr. Cox being the only one who interacts with Ben and Ben not carrying around his camera (earlier in the episode he said he would carry it around till the day he died).
** In season six Laverne is in an accident and declared brain dead. While the other characters come to say their goodbyes, Carla refuses to do so, and is followed around by a "ghost" Laverne until she finally accepts the loss.
*** Carla then asks Dr. Cox if he's ever seen ghosts of dead patients. In true Coxian fashion, he tells her "No, but then again, I'm not a crazy person." The writers wanted Ben to show up again then, but Ben's actor was busy doing something else, forcing them to do a much worse joke.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'';
** In the episode [[Recap/DoctorWhoS27E3TheUnquietDead "The Unquiet Dead"]], the Doctor feels Gwyneth's pulse and realises she's cold and has been dead for some time, even though she's still moving and talking.
** [[Recap/DoctorWhoS30E8SilenceInTheLibrary "Silence in the Library"]]/[[Recap/DoctorWhoS30E9ForestOfTheDead "Forest of the Dead"]] does this, as well. One of the archaeologists follows him around for quite some time before the Doctor points out that she no longer has two shadows and has had the flesh eaten off her bones. (He'd realized some time before, but didn't want to distract the others from following his plan.)
** In [[Recap/DoctorWhoS31E4TheTimeOfAngels "The Time of Angels"]], the Doctor is talking to Sacred Bob on the comm device, who tells him he's coming to them. Bob then reveals he's dead, the angels are using his voice, and by him coming to them, he means ''the angels coming to get them''...
** In [[Recap/DoctorWhoS33E1AsylumOfTheDaleks "Asylum of the Daleks"]], Amy and the Doctor meet a young man outside the Dalek Asylum who is surprised to find that his shipmates are all long dead since he swears he spoke to them a few hours before. He then remembers that he died outside the ship nearly a year ago so the cold preserved his body (unlike the dessicated skeletons of his comrades.) He then says "I forgot about dying" the way one might say you forgot to pick up milk at the store.
* Melinda's best friend/business partner in the season 1 finale of ''Series/GhostWhisperer''.
* Subverted in ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' where Janeway seems to be this in one episode - but really isn't.
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' had an episode wherein the ''Defiant'' stumbles upon a [[DistressCall distress signal]] from a [[CanonSue Starfleet captain]] and is eventually able to communicate with her. They become friends and eventually discover that she's running out of supplies, but if they push their engines to the limit they should be able to get there in time--until it's discovered that some of her supplies are tainted, moving the deadline up significantly. Taking a big risk, they push the engines to the limit and found the planet--only to discover that the captain had been dead for three years. An [[NegativeSpaceWedgie unusual energy field]] had been playing havoc with time; she was dead before they started.
* In the series finale of ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}'', it's revealed that Starbuck really did die when her Viper exploded. The "returned" Kara Thrace is an "angel", just like Head Six and Head Baltar, the only difference being that everybody can see Starbuck.
** Another theory is that Starbuck was literally returned from the dead in another corporeal body, not as a "Head" character. This would fit with older European religious beliefs such as the Greek.
** To clarify for those not familiar with the series: nothing is actually explained, and the matter is left open to [[WildMassGuessing speculation]]. However, she does pull an otherwise improbable StealthHiBye in the middle of an empty field.
* In ''Series/{{The Lost Room}}'', the villain's son.
* In ''Series/{{Fringe}}'', our universe's "real" Peter Bishop died as a young boy; his father Walter kidnapped Peter's AlternateUniverse counterpart and raised him as his own.
** In the second season premiere, Charlie Francis chases after a shapeshifter that attempted to kill Olivia and is able to fight him off. Then at the very end of the episode it turns out the shapeshifter killed Charlie and was impersonating him for the remainder of the episode.
* The horror anthology ''Night Visions'' had two episodes like this. In "The Passenger List", a TSA official investigating a plane crash ultimately learns that he was one of the victims. In "My So-Called Life And Death", the protagonist suspects that the reason the guy she has a crush on can't see or hear her is because he's a ghost, but the real reason is that she and her family are ghosts.
* It's revealed in the finale of ''AshesToAshes'', that the series and its predecessor ''Series/{{Life On Mars|2006}}'' take place in a type of limboland for police officers, most of whom died in the line of duty. Meaning that all the characters involved are dead already (but don't realise it), except the protagonists - Sam was in a coma (his body kept alive while his mind/soul were mostly dead) in ''Series/{{Life On Mars|2006}}'' and Alex has just been shot at the beginning of ''AshesToAshes''. It's implied that Alex dies for real at the end of Season 2 of ''AshesToAshes'' as she stops hearing/feeling things from the 'real world', and focus shifts off her fight to get back to her daughter, implying that she may be beginning to either forget her old life or accept death in Season 3. In the Series Finale, Alex is stated to be dead.
** Depending on interpretation, the final episode of ''AshesToAshes'' may also imply that ''Series/DixonOfDockGreen'', another British [[PoliceProcedural cop program]], was also set in the police limboland, the main character having died in the earlier film ''The Blue Lamp''.
* In the ''Series/RedDwarf'' episode "Stoke Me a Clipper", Ace Rimmer (what a guy!) reveals after being fatally wounded that he's actually a [[VirtualGhost hologram]], the original Ace having died after his encounter with the crew.
* The British SitCom ''Series/TwoPointFourChildren'' implied this with the mysterious man on the motorcycle who showed up randomly when Bill needed help. Considering [[MagicalRealism the nature of that show]], it wasn't actually that odd.
* The ''Series/OneFootInTheGrave 2001'' UsefulNotes/ComicRelief skit. Obviously it's set before the TearJerker finale of the series. And Margaret isn't reacting to anything Victor says because she quite often ignores him when he's on one of his rants. Right?
* ''Series/TheTwilightZone'' episode "The Hunt" is about an old man who goes out hunting at night with his dog and comes home to find that he died on the trip and is now a ghost.
** The episode "The Hitchhiker" opens with a woman who's nearly lost her life in a car crash. Soon after, she starts seeing a mysterious hitchhiker which appears to her and only her, and she starts to think that Death [[BalancingDeathsBooks is coming for her]]. It's only when she stops to call her mother that she realizes that she didn't survive that car crash.
* There was an episode of ''Series/SoWeird'' where somebody kept writing the message "YOU'RE DEAD" for an old woman to find. It turned out that it wasn't an enemy threatening her, it was the ghost of her husband trying to ''tell'' her that she was, literally, dead.
* The ''Series/{{NCIS}}'' episode "Swan Song" starts out with a body bag being loaded into the van in a [[DramaticThunder thunderstorm]], hinting that someone important has been KilledOffForReal. The episode continues through flashbacks interspersed with Gibbs standing by the body in the autopsy room, while Mike Franks is standing behind him. It is foreshadowed a few times (notably when Gibbs sees Franks sitting in his couch before he actually arrives, or when Franks enigmatically tells him that he hears ghosts), but the big reveal comes near the end: The dead guy, of course, is Franks.
* One of the twists late in season 6 of ''Series/{{Dexter}}'' is finding out that Professor Gellar, the BigBad of the season, was dead the whole time, and Travis, his accomplice and murderer, was imagining him and committing the murders he thought Gellar performed.
* In ''Series/KamenRiderDouble'''s movie, the main antagonists are a group of mercenaries-slash-terrorists called NEVER. It eventually turns out that they're the results of a failed SuperSoldier project which revived dead people with superhuman strength and speed (NEVER is a contraction of Necro-Over). The BigBad reveals that the project was inspired by Philip, one of the deuterotagonists, and keeps trying to pull NotSoDifferent moments, only for Philip to keep responding by telling him to [[ShutUpHannibal shut up]].
* Multiple characters on ''Series/AmericanHorrorStoryMurderHouse'' are revealed to have been dead for years and their ghosts have become trapped in the house. Other characters die during the show itself, but it isn't known by themselves, other characters or us for several episodes.
* One episode of ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'' plays with this and the show's gimmick of Ted narrating to his future children. The show has Robin talking to her future children about how she got with their father Barney despite not wanting children. We find out she's unable to conceive, and she's alone on a park bench apologizing to her imaginary future children that they will never exist. Major MoodWhiplash.
** It was a theory a while ago, but [[spoiler: The Mother is long dead by the time the story is being told]].
* In the ''Series/{{Friends}}'' episode "The One with Joey's Big Break", Joey's character's {{Love Interest|s}} having been Dead All Along is the TwistEnding of the [[ShowWithinAShow Movie Within A Show]] ''Shutterspeed'', which up until TheReveal is scripted as a love story. Joey's friends find the idea of such a movie laughably ridiculous, which became HilariousInHindsight [[ItWillNeverCatchOn three months later]] when TheSixthSense premiered.
* In several episodes of ''Series/CriminalMinds'', characters who initially appear to be associating with the unsub turn out to be this, as they were either the culprit's hallucinations or alter-egos, or corpses they'd kept around as if they were still alive.
* ''Series/OnceUponATime'' has Lancelot in "Lady of the Lake". Turns out that, for the entire present-day storyline, Cora has been posing as Lancelot, having actually killed him sometime before the events of the episode.
* In the ''Series/StargateUniverse'' episode "Visitation", Dr. Caine is shocked to learn that he and his companions have died on the planet they called Eden and then been temporarily reanimated by {{Sufficiently Advanced Alien}}s.
* In an early season two episode of ''Series/PersonOfInterest'', Reese, having successfully blackmailed The Machine into giving him a lead to finding the kidnapped Finch, investigates the life of Hannah Frey, a girl who went missing more than twenty years before and who Reese believes grew up to be Root, the kidnapper. After he and Carter investigate for a while, they end up finding Hannah's body buried in the back yard of a person who Root had murdered years before - Root was actually Hannah's best friend, who lost faith in humanity when nobody listened to her when she reported Hannah's kidnapping (which ultimately led to her murder).
* Wilson was originally going to be revealed as this in the final episode of ''Series/HomeImprovement''.
* ''Series/KamenRiderWizard'' pulled this one with Koyomi, the show's female lead, by revealing that she died of an unspecified illness some time before the show began. Her father, Sou Fueki the White Wizard, enacted the original [[BlackMagic Sabbat]] in an attempt to revive her, but the ritual wasn't powerful enough and just brought her back as a "doll" which required constant infusions of mana to survive. Eventually it's revealed that all the mana is crystalizing into a PhilosophersStone, which Fueki wants to use to revive Koyomi for real. A major part of the final story arc is TheHero Haruto coming to terms with the fact that there '''isn't''' a way to save Koyomi without becoming just as bad as Fueki, and thus the right thing to do is to let her die a final death so her spirit can be at peace. Koyomi herself is at first shocked, but would rather die if the price of saving her is untold loss of innocent life.
** This is similar to the situation in ''KamenRiderRyuki,'' where the female lead also died long ago when her AbusiveParents ignored her illness. She's actually merged with her alternate self. However, if you're from one side of the mirror you can only exist on the other for so long. The merging lets her exist longer, but, as she warned her brother, she will cease to exist [[CosmicDeadline around the time of the season finale]]. Her brother, like Fueki, went on to become the BigBad as he tries to save her by any means necessary, no matter how horrible. And like Koyomi, she accepts her death rather than let others pay for her survival. In fact, ''she'' convinces her brother to stop as the remaining Riders are busy with an unending swarm of monsters. Post-ResetButton, everyone who died during the series is back except for her; she ''stayed'' dead when she was a child, and the heroes, meeting each other again in an alternate version of the first episode, will never know that the little girl in one picture on the wall of the LocalHangout was one of their best friends, and saved them and quite likely the world.
* On ''Series/TheXFiles'', the entire reason Mulder lives and breathes the X-Files can be tied back to the abduction of his younger sister when they were children; he blames himself for not protecting her. His ultimate goal, as he tells Scully in the pilot, is to find her. Over the course of the series, we are led (as is Mulder) to believe she's alive. At various points, we even see her as an adult. They all turn out to be clones, but they and various others involved in the conspiracy, continue to give Mulder hope by implying that his sister is alive. Even the episode that wraps up her story-arc is hopeful; after she was abducted, she lived with CMS Spender and his son Jeffrey, and forced to undergo painful tests. She was taken to an emergency room some six years later, but the nurse is unable to tell Mulder anything more than that she just disappeared. It isn't until Mulder and Scully are involved in a seance at the gravesite of many dead children, that Mulder finds out the truth. One child spirit takes his hand and leads him to a field where many children's ghostly forms run and play. One of the spirits runs up to him and envelopes him in a tight hug. As she pulls away, Mulder can see that the child is Samantha. Since before the start of the series, she has been dead, unbeknownst to her heartbroken brother.
* In the eight season of ''Series/TwentyFour'', Jack is rushing to save the life of President Omar Hassan, whose mock trial and execution at the hands of his country's revolutionists is being broadcast on a live televised video feed and will finish being carried out at the end of the hour. Jack eventually discovers where they're hiding out and successfully manages to kill most of them while wounding their leader - only to discover Hassan's lifeless body nearby, his throat slit, even as the feed of him alive continues playing. It was actually a recording, and Hassan had already been killed some time prior to his arrival.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* The marine in Stan Ridgeway's "Camouflage".
* [[AlternativeCharacterInterpretation One way]] to interpret the ending of the Music/NewOrder song "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l36eO6BwPq8 Love Vigilantes.]]" It's a little hard to catch thanks to the LyricalDissonance and the lead singer's lack of coherency. It's better in the Iron & Wine [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugx0zC3Otwk version]], which seems to deliberately be aiming for this ending.
* The protagonist in the video for Music/{{Nickelback}}'s "Someday".
* Manbou-P's A Clingy Boy Sticking For 15 Years, alternatively, Pursuing a Cute Boy For 15 Years. In each of the songs, the singer is singing to a love interest who never responds to their love poems. Near the end of the song, the said love interest is revealed to have "died 15 years ago". Surprise.
* Jin's Music/KagerouProject has an entire cast of dead characters, as that is how one obtains the eye powers everyone is known to have in the first place.
* Brian [=McKnight=]'s character in the "Back at One" video.
* The boyfriend in the video for Armin van Buuren & Adam Young's "Youtopia".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Radio Drama]]
* In the ''Radio/TorchwoodTheLostFiles'' radio play "The House of the Dead", Ianto is revealed as having been dead the whole time.
* [[http://cestlavietheatre.ca/ C'est La Vie Theatre]]'s ''Bestiary'' is a compilation of three stories, all of which end with the narrator's death. The first one - the story of Jonah, from the whale's perspective - treats it as this type of twist, when it turns out that the whale is now a ghost, while the second story is the Hartlepool Monkey's ApocalypticLog, and the third is Laika the dog telling her story just as she runs out of oxygen in space.
* In ''AudioPlay/StrikersSoundStageX'', apparent ArcVillain Toredia Graze is eventually revealed to have died a long time ago, with the true instigator of the incident being a loyal DragonAscendant that decided to continue his cause.
* The main character in Lucille Fletcher's The Hitch-Hiker, originally performed as an episode of "The Orson Welles Show" in 1941 and rebroadcast for decades thereafter.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Deadlands}}'', there is a "Veteran o'the Weird West" Edge that lets you start with a higher experience level, but confers on you a random negative effect such as being alcoholic, wanted or insane. And the most severe of these effects is the player character being a Harrowed (a revenant type undead) without realizing it!
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theatre]]
* Gabe in ''Theatre/NextToNormal''.
* {{Discussed|Trope}} by Domin in ''Theatre/{{RUR}}''.
* ''Theatre/{{Proof}}'' opens with a conversation between Cathy and Robert in which the latter reassures the former that she isn't crazy. Except that she's talking with her dead father, which may punch a hole in that theory.
* One of J.M. Barrie's many revisions of ''Theatre/PeterPan'' was written for an actress who [[AlternateCharacterInterpretations interpreted Peter in this way]]. Specifically, he [[HatesBeingTouched refuses to let anyone touch him]], the implication being that he ''can't'' be touched. He himself has no idea that he's dead.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Videogames]]
* In the short, free game ''VideoGame/{{Serena}}'', there's strong evidence that the protagonist is this.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'', there is a class of these people called Unsent, who stay around due to strong emotional attachment or other unfinished business. Some are dead for years before the plot gets to them.
** Maester Yo Mika, head of the {{corrupt Church}} of Yevon. As he was an incredibly old man when he died, no one who wasn't in on it noticed that he wasn't getting any older lately...
** Maester Seymour, who you have to kill three times after his initial death, follows in Mika's footsteps.
** Auron, who finally reveals that he is an Unsent near the end of the game.
** The summoner Belgemine, who tests Yuna's progress throughout the game, later reveals that she is an Unsent during a sidequest.
** Maechen, the age-old historian and former trope namer for ExpositionBreak, is revealed to be dead in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX2'' in a movie sphere that can be collected on a bonus mission.
* In an interesting variation of the trope, it is revealed towards the end of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII2'' that Lightning fell in battle against Caius Ballad long before Serah and Noel encountered her for the first time, but due to the plot-centered TimeyWimeyBall, she was able to support, assist and meet with them [[TimeTravelTenseTrouble after her inevitable demise in her upcoming battle with Caius]].
* Played with in ''VideoGame/{{Okami}}'' as the opening scene shows that Shiranui (A.K.A Amaterasu), dies at the end of her battle with Orochi. It just took a while for the Goddess to develop a new physical body.
* Everybody in the Smith Syndicate in ''{{Killer7}}'', and it's implied they've all died at ''least'' twice.
* Most major characters in the ''VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou'' except Joshua.
* ''VideoGame/{{Folklore}}'' has a slight twist on this. Keats turns out to be a Halflife, which is similar to a ghost except created from the powers of Messengers and the fears and wishes of humans. He was created in the image of Ellen's dead childhood friend Herve, and the player quickly finds out the "office" they saw at the beginning of the game was in fact another part of the Netherworld.
* Velis in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIIRevenantWings''.
* Lisa Garland in ''VideoGame/SilentHill1''.
** In one of the endings, Harry himself is the embodiment of this trope.
*** In the [[VideoGameRemake 're-imagining']], ''VideoGame/SilentHillShatteredMemories'', Harry died in a car crash years ago, and his journey through Silent Hill is a psychotic delusion created by his daughter Cheryl's grief.
** Although Mary's death is established at the beginning of ''VideoGame/SilentHill2'', the letter from Mary creates doubt in James' (and the player's) mind. That is, until Mary's death is confirmed at the end of the game. The twist is that she died less than a year ago and James killed her, not the illness.
** ''VideoGame/SilentHill4'' has Walter Sullivan.
** ''VideoGame/SilentHillHomecoming'' has Joshua Shepherd.
* The first letter from each chapter of ''VideoGame/DeadSpace'' spell out "NICOLEISDEAD". Which she is. The person Isaac sees on the Ishimura is apparently a mental projection originating from the Marker.
* Edge in ''VideoGame/PanzerDragoon Saga''. He's killed by Mustava right in the opening cutscene, restored to life by the [[{{AFGNCAAP}} Divine Visitor]] to serve as the newest [[DragonRider dragon's rider]], and once they succeed at merging the Heresy Program into Sestren, Edge is promptly killed once again, for good.
* ''Franchise/MetalGear:''
** In ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'' , Master Miller (who was part of the MissionControl in ''VideoGame/MetalGear2SolidSnake'') was killed at his home before the game started. All conversations with him are actually with [[BigBad Liquid Snake]] with an [[PaperThinDisguise accent, sunglasses, and ponytail.]]
** In the epilogue of ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2SonsOfLiberty'', Snake and Otacon obtain a list of the personal data for the Patriots' high council, only to discover that all twelve members have been dead for 100 years.
** In ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3SnakeEater'', Naked Snake (Future Big Boss) frequently sees a mysterious man who only appears while it's raining. At one point in the game Snake drowns, and in this state of "almost death" meets that man in a dream, at which point he introduces himself as The Sorrow. It's only after the "battle" with him that Snake learns the truth: The Sorrow was the lover of The Boss - Snake's mentor and mother figure - and was also killed by her willingly so when their respective missions forced them to clash.
** In the end of ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4GunsOfThePatriots'', it's revealed that Liquid has been dead since the first game and did not come back as a spirit to possess Ocelot. Instead, Ocelot brainwashed himself into thinking that he was the real Liquid as part of a massive GambitRoulette to bring down the Patriots.
* ''VideoGame/SystemShock'': "The Polito form is dead, insect. Are you afraid?"
** Context: For half of the game the player character has been directed by Polito, apparently the only survivor to have a VoiceWithAnInternetConnection, and although she's often insulting and cold, she's the only human contact that doesn't come through {{Apocalyptic Log}}s scattered around. A couple of those logs actually were recorded by Polito, who apparently used to be a little warmer, and who found an AI artifact that spoke English, or something like. Then the player is guided to where Polito's body is, and SHODAN, the BigBad of the first System Shock, tells you that she allowed you to believe otherwise to "establish trust".
** You're actually given subtle clues that the woman on the other line isn't Polito; for instance you pick up Polito's audio logs where not only does she discover Shodan's mainframe, but she's actually friendly and emotional, as opposed to the cold, heartless bitch who's guiding you. Xerxes outright tells you if you pay careful attention to him when he's taunting you.
* Itsuki Tachibana in the second ''VideoGame/FatalFrame'' and Choushiro Kirishima in the fourth.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Prototype}}'', it is revealed towards the end of the game that Alex Mercer ''did'' die at Penn Station and that the character we play is not Alex Mercer. It is TheVirus which Mercer released before being killed. The Virus absorbed Mercer's DNA and adopted his memories and came to believe he is Mercer; though the [[HumanoidAbomination viral monster]] is actually ''[[HumanityIsInfectious less]]'' of a [[SociopathicHero dick]] than the original Mercer.
* Excellen from ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsCompact2'' was killed during a space shuttle accident before Compact 2 or Original Generation takes place, but was reanimated by a monster as part of the set-up for its evil schemes. Interestingly, she suffers the same fate in the MirrorUniverse, but in that version her MadScientist parents make a cyborg SuperSoldier out of her corpse instead and she changed her name to [[VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsAdvance Lemon Browning]].
* Dante in ''VideoGame/DantesInferno'' didn't actually survive being stabbed in the neck in the beginning of the game. He is in fact just another one of the many damned souls in Hell, albeit one given a little more freedom as part of Lucifer's scheme to free himself.
* Jyoji Hijiri of ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiIIINocturne''. Hijiri died during the Conception and was reborn as a Mannikin, since he's cursed with an endless cycle of death and rebirth as punishment for committing the Ultimate Sin.
* In ''VideoGame/AgarestSenki2'', the Weiss that Aina finds in the middle of nowhere that you see throughout the game is not really Weiss but is actually Chaos forming as Weiss. The real Weiss died during the part where ''you think Weiss stabbed Chaos'' in the beginning.
* In ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps'', it turns out that Reznov apparently died during the escape in the second level, and all subsequent appearances - save for the flashback mission [[AndNowForSomeoneCompletelyDifferent where you play as him]] - are hallucinations caused by Mason's psychosis. "Apparently" being the operative word, and they NeverFoundTheBody. Part of the fandom is quite vocal that Reznov is, in fact, still alive.
** Given that one of the secret messages, the callsign used on each mission, is XREZNOVXXISXXDEAD (Reznov is dead) and the other secret message, the transmission numbers translated with basic alphanumeric substitution, is OR IS HE THERE WAS NO BODY FOUND HE IS NOT WHO HE SAYS HE IS, they creators are definitely encouraging this. The Reznov you interact with for most of the game is not real, though.
** There's also some of the intel files that strongly suggest he is still alive, and emails on the terminal from an alias that strongly sounds like Reznov.
* In ''VideoGame/AgeOfWonders'', Merlin realizes that he can master the death sphere of magic without Gabriel's guidance because he had drowned before Gabriel "rescued" him in the beginning of the campaign.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Strife}}'', attacking the Oracle reveals that under its robe is a human skull on a non-human body. Oh, and its Spectre then attacks you.
* In ''[[VideoGame/{{Xenoblade}} Xenoblade Chronicles]]'', [[TheHero Shulk ]] died 14 years ago next to [[SwordOfPlotAdvancement the Monado]]. His body [[DemonicPossession got possesed]] by the God [[BigBad Zanza]], who uses him as a vessel. During the game, Zanza eventually leaves Shulk's body, who dies again. He later comes BackFromTheDead to [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome kick Zanza's ass]].
* In ''VideoGame/{{Solatorobo}}'', there is the quest giver Galvan, who merely wanted Red to give his son his log and, hence, his last wishes.
* ''[[VideoGame/SoulSeries SoulCalibur V]]'' indirectly reveals that Raphael is the host body that Nightmare uses as "Graf Dumas". The playable Raphael is actually his lost soul, tethered to this world by [[{{Determinator}} sheer willpower alone]] and his love for Amy.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Wizardry}}:'' ''Tale of the Forsaken Land'', ''everyone'' qualifies. The Flash in the backstory actually killed everyone in the kingdom. All of the characters in the game, including yourself, are ghosts. As you fulfill requests throughout the game, the tavern gradually becomes empty since the people you aid move on to the afterlife after you help them accomplish their GhostlyGoals.
* ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy'': "I want to go home! I want to go back to my house by the hill! [[IWantMyMommy I want to see my mother!]]" The girl was shouting now, her face wet with tears. "But I know she's not there! I knew all along that she wasn't out there in the sky! Because... because... [[TearJerker She's sleeping under the tree on the hill!"]]
* In the game ''Deadlight'', your character Randall spends the game going all through a zombie infested Seattle trying to find his wife and daughter. It's only at the end when he and Stella are trapped with her begging to be killed that he remembers that he killed his wife and daughter during the outbreak in his town.
* Colonel John Konrad in ''VideoGame/SpecOpsTheLine''. Konrad spends the second half of the game giving you a TheReasonYouSuckSpeech. When you get his stronghold, it turns out that Konrad actually [[DrivenToSuicide killed himself]] long before the game started, and the Konrad you've been talking to was made up by [[PlayerCharacter Captain Walker]] to justify his own slide into villainy.
** And possibly Walker, if you go with the DyingDream[=/=]SelfInflictedHell interpretation.
* Both [[TheHero Stocke]] and [[BigBad Heiss]] in ''VideoGame/RadiantHistoria''. Both of them died and were brought back from the dead as [[TargetedHumanSacrifice sacrifices]] for the ritual that holds off the destruction of the continent for a few more years. The only reason Stocke doesn't remember being someone else is because Heiss wiped his memories. Similarly, the Prophet Noah died sometime after withdrawing from public life five years before the start of the game (Possibly murdered, though natural causes is also possible given his age). Since General Hugo was the only member of the high command who knew this, he just pretended that the prophet was alive and started making his own declarations in the prophet's name.
* The character Heracles (the party member who actively goes by that name, not the NamelessHero or "General Heracles") in ''VideoGame/GloryOfHeracles DS'' is actually Heracles's nephew, Iphicles. When Heracles agreed to help Daedalus in his experiments to revive his son, Iphicles gets hit by the blast, gains immortality, and believes himself to be Heracles. When the real Heracles is found and Iphicles regains his memories, he explains that he was already dead and simply fades from existance. Luckily, the real Heracles regains his memory and his strength and thus takes the same role in the party.
* Despite apparently committing suicide by jumping off the roof of the hospital, it turns out that Liz, the chatty Welsh nurse from ''VideoGame/TheCatLady'', is already dead by the time we "meet" her, having been murdered by the first Parasite, Doctor X.
* Snowe in ''VideoGame/StarStealingPrince'' was killed in the HopelessBossFight. The only reason he's still around is that the demon didn't want him to die, partly because if Snowe dies the demon dies, and partly for Snowe's own sake.
* Wynne turns out to be this in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins''. This is actually foreshadowed immediately after you meet her in the Mage's Tower, where a fellow mage expresses her concerns, saying that for a moment it looked like Wynne had died defending her from a particularly strong demon. You probably forget about it the moment you enter the next room, as Wynne is obviously alive. Much later, it turns out the mage was right. Before Wynne could fully pass away, however, she was possessed by a friendly Fade spirit that helps her stay in the material world a little longer. Wynne isn't exactly sure why, nor does she know how long she has left, but she intends to make the most of the extra time the (gradually weakening) spirit granted her.
* The ''VideoGame/{{Soulblazer}}'' series, including ''VideoGame/IllusionOfGaia'' and ''VideoGame/{{Terranigma}}'', absolutely loves this trope. The biggest example is in ''Terranigma'', as it's revealed at the end that Crysta is in fact just a reflection of the mortal world all along, and is now disintegrating. Ark, the PC, is revealed to be an echo of a dead hero from long ago. And earlier in the game, a young ingenue hides away in a desert village which is actually a half-collapsed ruin filled with zombies (who don't quite realize that they're dead).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* In ''VisualNovel/HatofulBoyfriend'', near the end of Nageki's route it's revealed that he's been a ghost the entire time, trapped in the library, and that you're the first person to see him ([[spoiler: except in the audio drama, where Ryouta can, and the manga, where both Ryouta and Oko San can... and ''maybe'' Anghel]]). His love for you finally frees him, causing him to depart for the afterlife.
* Itsuki in ''VisualNovel/{{Suika}}'' actually died years ago, beaten to death by her and Sayo's father (the crazy Shinto priest) after she threw Sayo down a flight of stairs fduring a fight.
* In the fourth episode of ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry'', Beatrice declares to the player that Kinzo Ushiromiya, the protagonist's grandfather and the reason the entire mess started, is in fact, dead at the beginning of not just the game in question, but all the other games in the series. And considering the number of important plot scenes the character has [[UnreliableNarrator supposedly taken part in]] at the time of ''TheReveal'', the implications are... [[MindScrew complicated]].
* In ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneyDualDestinies'', this turns out to be what happens to [[spoiler:Bobby Fulbright - the Phantom murdered him before the game even began and was masquerading as him the entire time]].
* In ''VisualNovel/RibbonOfGreen'', this is pretty much the plot twist.
* ''VisualNovel/CrescendoEienDatoOmotteItaAnoKoro'': Miyu never got better, she is dying in the hospital during her whole storyline.
* This is actually reversed in ''[[VisualNovel/NineHoursNinePersonsNineDoors 9 Persons, 9 Hours, 9 Doors]]''. Kind of. June, Junpei's childhood friend, actually died in the last Nonary Game, and she's trapped in a weird loop to try to get Junpei to contact her past self and give her the answer to the last puzzle of the game to save her life. ItMakesSenseInContext.
* A rather haunting example occurs in a volume of VisualNovel/UsagiYojimbo. Usagi walks past a house in which he hears someone telling a story and is invited in. The speaker is Inazuma, an acquaintance of his and she appears to be telling her backstory to a large group of comfortably seated Samurai. Usagi listens until she finishes her tale and takes her leave. He nudges one of the Samurai and asks if he thought the tale was tragic but receives no response. He repeats the gesture and the samurai falls over, knocking down all the rest of them as well and revealing that they had been dead the whole time. What's even stranger is that its clear that Inazuma didn't kill them with her blade. There is no blood and some of the characters are even holding eating utensils as if they were just going on about their business and stopped to listen to the story.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* In ''Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt'', Chapter 16, Antimony meets the ghost of a boy who doesn't realize he's dead. Initially, Annie doesn't realize he's dead either, having [[NoLongerWithUs misunderstood the warning]] from the {{psychopomp}}s.
* Aylee in one arc of ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance''. [[UnexplainedRecovery She Got Better.]]
* Tomo Wakeman in ''Webcomic/TheDragonDoctors''.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'', we hear much of the exploits and greatness of Jade's Grandpa, only to find out he's been dead for some time and his corpse is stuffed and placed in front of a fireplace. Creepier still, [[MummiesAtTheDinnerTable Jade still refers to Grandpa as if he were alive]] and complains of his various elderly tendencies. Let's just say that he was eccentric enough that most readers believed his stuffed corpse was just a doll of himself he kept lying around at first.
** Aradia is downright stated to have been "dead all along".
* In ''Webcomic/LsEmpire'', this is revealed to be the case with [[VideoGame/SuperPaperMario Dimentio]]). Since he's a master of dimensional magic, it's more of a technicality then being any real hindrance.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Originals]]
* The twist ending of movie critic/indie filmmaker Brad Jones' (aka The Cinema Snob) suspense thriller ''[[http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/bj/bs/33788-paranoia-the-writers-cut Paranoia]]''.
* Subverted in ''Machinima/RedVsBlue: Reconstruction'', in which it turns out that Church (who had been a ghost ever since about halfway through season one) was not dead all along, but was actually an AI program who only believed that he had been a real person due to the memories of the person he was based on.
** Then played somewhat straight when it's revealed Tex is really just an [=AI=] created from the Director's memories of his dead love.
** In Season 10, it's revealed that Agent Connecticut was already long dead; the one we see in Season 7 is just her boyfriend masquerading as her.
* In ''WebVideo/ThereWillBeBrawl'', it turns out that Princess Peach had been killed immediately after she was kidnapped.
* One of ''Literature/TheJournalEntries'' has this turn out to be the reason a certain girl warns one of Ken's children away from the place her ship is. (Doubles as a ShoutOut to ''Series/LostInSpace'', right down to the ship being a Jupiter mark II, with four people aboard, including an adolescent girl and a younger boy. Things just ended badly for them.)
* ''WebVideo/{{Smosh}}'': Partway through "Real Ghostbusters," Anthony is killed when Ian accidentally throws the scissors at him, stabbing his head. Later, they are told that only ghosts can see other ghosts...and [[TheReveal IAN WAS ALREADY DEAD]]. When he picked up the scissors, Anthony saw them floating by themselves, and screamed, startling Ian into throwing the scissors at Anthony and killing him... yeah.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The ''WesternAnimation/TaleSpin'' episode "The Old Man and the Sea Duck" featured Baloo suffering [[LaserGuidedAmnesia amnesia]] and having to be trained from scratch by the old pilot who rescued him. Upon regaining his memories and leaving, Baloo returns to find the old man's place in shambles and learns the old man has been dead and gone for quite some time.
** There was also the episode in which Rebecca met her perfect man... who happened to be the ghostly captain of a sunken ship. It was a while before she discovered she'd fallen for a dead guy.
* In the Columbia short "The Jaywalker" (1956), a man, after giving the viewer advice on how to successfully jaywalk, turns to reveal a pair of angel wings on his back--suggesting that he was struck and killed while crossing the street illegally.
* In ''WesternAnimation/ThunderCats2011'', the Tiger Clan was stricken with plague around the time Tygra was born. The more prideful members of the clan rejected Tygra's father Javan's suggestion to seek help from Thundera and convinced him to make a [[DealWithTheDevil deal with the Ancient Spirits of Evil]]. The Spirits agreed to save the clan but demanded that Javan sacrifice Tygra in exchange, since Tygra was destined to become their enemy. Javan couldn't go through with it and sent Tygra away in a hot air balloon to Thundera. The Spirits punished the clan by sending the plague back to the village, killing them all. The Spirits then cursed them with undeath and nightly transformations into mindless horrors.
** Pumyra actually died during the invasion of Thundera. The other Thundercats didn't notice her as she was dying in the rubble, so her last thoughts were of resentment towards them. Mumm-ra resurrected her to be TheMole, a role she took with relish since it gave her a chance for revenge.
* The part of "Allegro non Troppo" (known as the "Italian answer to Fantasia" and not to be confused with "Ma Allegro non Troppo") called "Valse Triste" follows a scrawny cat/kitten wandering through the ruined shell of a city house, showing its memories of how it was once the pet of the family who lived there. Then, just before we hear the crane with the wrecking ball approaching the house to knock it down, the cat suddenly vanishes, accompanied by a purple outline glow - it was already dead. Watch it [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8Oc_J1Lu-o here]] (the film is presented as a comedy-drama and the clip starts with a few seconds of comedy).
* ''WesternAnimation/RoswellConspiracies'': General Rinaker turns out to have been dead for more than 50 years. The man everyone ''thinks'' is Rinaker is actually a Shadoen infiltrator.
* In ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'', Billy turns out to have been killed by The Lich some time between his first and second appearance.
* Arguably Fayde from ''WesternAnimation/TheMarvelousMisadventuresOfFlapjack'' Fits this trope.In one episode the people of Stormalong have been doing things and saying [[RunningGag "Must've been]] [[ImplausibleDeniability A Ghost."]] The entire episode. After eating the entire birthday cake and getting a stern look from all the partygoers, Fayde says the line and smiles creepily as he fades away leaving an empty chair. It doesn't help that they play really eerie music as this happens.
* An inversion of the trope happens in ''WesternAnimation/FostersHomeForImaginaryFriends'' during the pilot episode. The house's owner, Mrs. Foster, is referenced only in past tense for the whole episode. Her imaginary friend and the house administrator, Mr. Herriman, talks to the marble bust of her in the foyer, and when her granddaughter Frankie brings up the fact that she never left him behind, he hangs his head sadly. She shows up at the end of the episode to the surprise of Bloo and Mac, who had assumed she was dead because they never saw any trace of her until then.
-->'''Mrs. Foster:''' It takes a ''very long time'' for me to walk down the steps, dearie. '''[[PunctuatedForEmphasis I. AM. OLD!''']]
[[/folder]]
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