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

[[WebVideo/RhettAndLink 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 the 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. Sometimes a character only realizes this upon [[DiscoveringYourOwnDeadBody finding their own corpse]].

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, DeadStarWalking, or YouAreAlreadyDead. Compare DyingDream, PrettySpryForADeadGuy, and TomatoInTheMirror; contrast AnAstralProjectionNotAGhost.

!!'''As a DeathTrope, plus an EndingTrope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.'''


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* 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 UsefulNotes/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...
* 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 ''LightNovel/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: 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/MagicalShoppingArcadeAbenobashi''. 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 also 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.
* In ''Manga/ChieShinoharaTheBestCollection'''s ''Someone In the Dark...'', Masami's mother and younger brother were dead all along. They were killed by the robbers Masami encountered on her way home, but their spirits appeared, in order to keep Masami safe.
* ''Manga/KiriNoMoriHotel''
** Yui Aizawa, who was going to choose between her two lovers, but was killed by one of them before she could tell them her decision.
** Riyako Hidaka, Mariko's abusive mother. She has actually been dead for years and it was merely her spirit that was in the hotel, so that Mariko, now an adult, could come to terms with her past.
* ''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 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 ''Anime/TokyoMagnitude8'', Yuki died sometime during episode 8, as a result of either 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/hallucination, and Mirai had convinced herself that his death in the hospital was AllJustADream.
* ''Anime/DeathParade'': Every OneShotCharacter who winds up at Quindecim turns out to be this, their memories are erased and slowly return as a Test of Character to determine if they are sent to [[{{Reincarnation}} Heaven]] or [[CessationOfExistence Hell]] based on their actions during a chosen event.
* In the film version of ''Manga/{{AKIRA}}'', the eponymous psychokineticist has been dead for a long time, his organs kept in cryopreservation.
* 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.
* ''Anime/GhostInTheShellStandAloneComplex'' 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.
* 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 their 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.
* The curse of Class 3-3 in ''Literature/{{Another}}'' causes a dead person to be added to the class roster each school year. Because the "extra" is not aware they are dead and everyone else's memories are altered to accept their presence, it's nearly impossible to tell who in the class is the "extra" until they vanish following graduation. In the meantime, the members of the class suffer any number of {{Cruel and Unusual Death}}s as reality attempts to [[BalancingDeathsBooks correct itself]]. This has been going on for two and a half ''decades'' - in 1998, the year the story takes place, the "extra" is assistant homeroom teacher Ms. Mikami, aka 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.
* ''Manga/MakenKi'' used it as both [[TheReveal a major reveal]] and as its WhamLine, regarding [[{{deuteragonist}} Himegami]] at the end of chapter 49. Which was delivered by [[BigBad Ouken]] [[BadassGrandpa Yamato]] in [[BreakThemByTalking an attempt to demoralize Takeru:]]
-->'''Ouken:''' ''[at Takeru]'' [[EvilCannotComprehendGood I don't understand]] -- Why are you helping that girl? [[http://www.mangatown.com/manga/maken_ki/c049/24.html She isn't even a human.]] She's nothing but a doll. That body is made of [[http://www.mangatown.com/manga/maken_ki/c053/7.html what's left of the real Kodama Himegami.]]
* 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. It's 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 were mortally injured in a car accident ''and'', before kicking it, [[ABNegative they donated their blood to their daughter]] [[HeroicSacrifice so she would survive]]; when Aiko fell into despair and made a DealWithTheDevil with a Shinma, said Shinma recreated Aiko's old life... parents included. This worked so "well" that [[NiceJobFixingItVillain they were the ones who hired 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.
* The BigBad of ''Tentacle And Witches'' went through the trouble of resurrecting his dead master. However, the male protagonist says he never was a disciple to begin with and was just a twisted incarnation of them set on reviving himself. It was up to the main character to [[SealedEvilInACan seal him up for good.]]
%%* Kyousuke in ''Manga/GirlsGoAround'' during the supposedly-original time loop of the series.
* Megu-nee, the only adult and the cute SenseiChan, from ''Manga/SchoolLive''. She became a zombie before the series began and what we see as Megu-nee are really just [[ThroughTheEyesOfMadness Yuki's hallucinations]].
* Late into ''Manga/GoodnightPunpun'' we learn that Shimizu's mom has been dead since long before the manga started. She was hit by a car on his first day of kindergarten. Shimizu is an immature, [[{{Cloudcuckoolander}} imaginative]] and somewhat delusional boy who acts like she's still alive even into his 20s. We only ever saw [[TheFaceless his moms hand]], never her body.
* In ''Manga/{{Pluto}}'', the real Doctor Abullah died in the war between Persia and Thracia. The "Abullah" that is acting as the BigBad is actually Goji, the android with the most advanced artificial intelligence ever built. Doctor Tenma used a memory drive with Abullah's last thoughts to stabilize Goji. Unfortunately, since Abullah's last thoughts were full of hatred and a desire for revenge, this turned Goji into a doppelganger of Abullah wholly dedicated to destroying everyone involved in Persia's downfall. Goji/Abullah has a breakdown when Tenma reveals the truth, reverting to his blank nondescript appearance.
* In ''Manga/ArataKangatari'', Akachi has been dead since long before we meet him for the first time. He's only alive because he made a deal with the Hayagami Okoro (as he was dying) that he would only stay alive for as long as he keeps winning in fights. [[TearJerker He dies for real after losing his fight with Kannagi.]]
* In ''Anime/YourName'', it is revealed halfway through that Mitsuha had already died three years in Taki's past when a part of the plot-vital comet split off and became a meteorite that hit her hometown. Later subverted when ChekhovsGun enables them to SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong.
* In ''Anime/TheVisionOfEscaflowne'', Allen Schezar's father Leon was believed to have disappeared and abandoned his family, which Allen can't forgive him for. It turns out he had been murdered years ago by the Zaibach Empire, because [[HeKnowsTooMuch he was about to unlock the truth behind their plans]]. The one Allen gets to confront and call out is actually Leon's spirit, and he manages to explain what had truly happened.
* In ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'', Eren Jaeger spends five years wondering about his DisappearedDad, who vanished after leaving him with cryptic instructions to retrieve something from their basement. Grisha Yeager's disappearance remained a major mystery in-series and for the fans, up until Eren learns the truth. His father didn't disappear... he played a ThanatosGambit by letting himself be EatenAlive [[SelfMadeOrphan by an Eren who had just been turned into a Titan]], in order to pass the McGuffin and his knowledge on to him.
* In ''Manga/MyMonsterSecret'' it's eventually revealed that Principal Shirayuki is actually a ghost, who is finally able to pass on after Akane proves that humans and supernatural beings are capable of coexisting peacefully.

[[folder:Audio Plays]]
* In the ''Radio/TorchwoodTheLostFiles'' radio play "The House of the Dead", Ianto is revealed as having been dead the whole time. The original set up made it seem as if the events were taking place after the deaths of Tosh and Owen but before Ianto's death. The ending reveals that it actually took place after the 4-5-6 incident.
* [[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: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/{{Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles|Mirage}}'', 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/SavageDragon'', there is a Doctor Doom {{Expy}} named Dreadnaught. He is an armored villain that is ruling over an entire country. After his initial fight, it is revealed that he has 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 tries to raise a century-dead corpse only to end up with a mindless zombie. On casting the spell to turn it back into a lifeless corpse he discovers that ''he himself'' is 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 destroys a black magic amulet which he believes his wife is 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.
* For most of the first volume of ''ComicBook/RachelRising'', the main character Rachel is in denial about having died, despite the fact that she started the book by climbing out of a shallow grave after being attacked, (rationalizing that the person made the mistake of thinking she was dead only for her to later come to in the grave) and later waking up in the morgue after being knocked off a five story building. It's only after her Aunt Johnny points out all the many, many, medical signs that something is deeply wrong that Rachel begins to accept that she's something like a RevenantZombie.
-->'''Johnny:''' [After performing some basic physical checks on Rachel's condition] Tonight you fell five stories onto a car, Rachel. They had to pry you out of the roof you crushed. The [=EMTs=] at the scene found no signs of life and declared you legally dead. But here you are two hours later standing and talking to us, so either Jet and I are sharing a grief-induced illusion or you're not dead. At least, not medically. But the state you're in is not conducive to life either. Your pulse is down somewhere around six beats a minute, your skin is cool to the touch, your breathing is almost undetectable... you're deathly pale but still pink, indicating some, if minimal, circulation. The acute petechial hemorrhaging in your eyes is caused by the blood vessels bursting during the trauma of asphyxiation. The marks on your neck are from strangulation. Rachel, you should not be alive. By all known medical reason, your next breath should be your last.
* In ''ComicBook/{{Amulet}}'', it's revealed that the Elf King has been dead for years, despite the fact that he rules his kingdom and seems alive. His corpse is actually [[PeoplePuppets being used as a puppet by the spirit of the Amulet]]. And again, in The Last Council, it's revealed that Ronin, Pierce, and all the other Academy students bar Max and Emily are dead, having been nothing more than reanimated statues that took on the appearances of people who died.
* This is the twist at the end of ''ComicBook/DeathOfX'': [[spoiler:ComicBook/{{Cyclops}} died very early on, and the "Cyclops" we've been following throughout most of the story is merely a psychic illusion created by Comicbook/EmmaFrost]].
* In ''ComicBook/{{Nightwing}}'' one of the heavy hitters in Bludhaven's illegal drug trade, Freddy Minh, whom Nightwing can't find and the police have no leads on [[spoiler: was killed by his wife years before the start of the story, which she kept secret so she could continue to run the business]].
* Cherry Poptart in a story in Cherry #9 ("[[BewareOfHitchhikingGhosts The Phantom Hitchhiker]]"). This being a Cherry story, she has sex with the truck driver before disappearing.
* ''Franchise/WonderWoman'': Vance Trotter. His twin brother Globe kept his death a secret as part of a plan to get their uncle's fortune.
* In ''ComicBook/TheSupergirlSaga'' from Creator/JohnByrne's run on the ''Franchise/{{Superman}}'' titles in 1988, Supergirl first appears unto Superman in the form of Lana Lang and was originally mentioned to be the Pocket Universe version of Lana Lang who was given superpowers by her universe's version of Lex Luthor. As it turned out, though, Pocket Universe Lana Lang was already dead, and Supergirl was an ArtificialHuman given her memories and likeness so she could gain Superman's trust.

[[folder:Fairy Tales]]
* The essence of the original "grateful dead" trope is that the KnightInShiningArmor or TalkingAnimal that helps the hero in his quest reveals, at the end, that he was a dead man, whose burial the hero had arranged for. Very widespread. [[http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/authors/crane/fairbrow.html Fair Brow]] is an Italian version; [[http://www.mythfolklore.net/andrewlang/412.htm The Bird "Grip"]] a Swedish one.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* 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 ''[[Fanfic/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. It turns out she was right, as 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.
-->'''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?
* ''Anime/KillLaKill'' fanfics:
** The fanfic titled [[http://archiveofourown.org/works/2643950 Rest]], when it implies that Ryuuko had passed away of an unknown cause] and the one that was sleeping by Satsuki was the aforementioned's ghost.
** Another fic, titled ''[[http://archiveofourown.org/works/3276602 One Day]]'' by the same author is done the same way. At first it seems like Mako is spending the day and reminiscing with Ryuuko but, when Satsuki comes over to visit, its revealed that Ryuuko had passed away some years prior.
** As seen at the end of ''Paper Cranes'' by Creator/{{Amoridere}}, Ryuuko was writing her letters to a passed-on Satsuki as a way of remembering and dealing with her grief.
* ''[[Fanfic/IcedFairysANewWorld A New World]]'' - Yukari's BatmanGambit hinges entirely in the Lunarians being too stubborn to admit she's dead.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* The part of ''WesternAnimation/AllegroNonTroppo'' (known as the "Italian answer to ''Disney/{{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).
* This is implied to be the case with Champion's grandmother Madame Souza and, their dog, Bruno at the end of ''WesternAnimation/TheTripletsOfBelleville'', depending on whether or not you see the movie until that point as a flashback or the ending as a GainaxEnding.
* ''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.
* The titular Marnie from ''Anime/WhenMarnieWasThere''. She is Anna's grandmother as a child and died quite a bit prior to the film.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Several Creator/AmicusProductions anthologies use [[FramingDevice framing stories]] in which a group of characters are given premonitions of their gruesome deaths, only to find in the end that they've already died (''Film/TalesFromTheCrypt'', ''Film/VaultOfHorror'', ''Dr. Terror's House of Horrors'').
* There is a film called ''Film/{{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.
* [[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.
* ''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/{{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.
%%* Toyed with in ''Below'': they weren't, and probably a TakeThat to ''The Sixth Sense'' and its imitators.
* ''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.
* 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.
* Several times in ''Film/CaptainAmericaCivilWar'', Zemo calls his wife and child on his phone. Near the end, we learn that he's been listening to a recording and that his wife and child had died in [[Film/AvengersAgeOfUltron Sokovia]].
* The main character in classic horror film ''Film/CarnivalOfSouls''.
* 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.
* ''Film/ComingSoon'': The films main characters, Chen and Som, are told that the actress who plays Shomba, the BigBad in the [[ShowWithinAShow film within a film]] "Evil Spirit", is still alive. However, this is proven otherwise when Chen finds a behind-the-scenes featurette showing the production of the scene in "Evil Spirit" where the village folk hang Shomba - the safety rope holding up Shomba's actress broke.
* Randi James in ''Film/DeadHeat''.
* In ''Film/DeadMansShoes'', Anthony has been in Richard's head the whole time, and has clearly driven him completely mad.
* The girl who ''thinks'' she's the FinalGirl in ''The Devil's Ground''.
* [[InvertedTrope Inverted]] in ''Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack''. Up until that point, Luke had believed that his father [[YouKilledMyFather was killed]] by the villainous [[TheDragon Darth Vader]], but as anyone who hasn't been living under a rock [[ItWasHisSled knows]], [[LukeIAmYourFather that's not the case]].
* 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.
* In ''Film/GoodnightMommy'', Lukas died in an accident before the film started (or possibly in the very first scene with the cave).
* ''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/TheIInside'' turns out to take place in what is half a DyingDream, half a self-created hell.
* In ''Film/JohnDiesAtTheEnd'', Arnie Blondestone is revealed to have been murdered before he even met David. ItMakesSenseInContext.
* In ''Film/JustLikeHeaven'', David and Elizabeth think this is what happened to Elizabeth. She's NotQuiteDead, but has been in a coma.
* Everyone shown until TheReveal in ''Film/TheOthers''.
* ''Film/PaleRider'', which has Creator/ClintEastwood revisiting the concept of "the dead coming back for justice".
* Creator/AnneHathaway and the 'plane crash survivors', who actually were all passengers in ''Film/{{Passengers|2008}}''. 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. This is averted with David Morse's character: He was the pilot of the plane 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.
* 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 the 1945 JamesMason picture ''Film/APlaceOfOnesOwn'', 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 fiancé. 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.
* Jennie Appleton in ''Film/PortraitOfJennie''.
* The protagonist of ''Film/APureFormality'' is dead after committing suicide, but he only realizes this by the end of the movie.
* The BigBad in ''Film/{{RIPD}}''.
* The three main characters in ''Film/{{Salvage}}'' are all dead with Duke reliving Claire's brutal murder at his hands over and over again.
* ''Film/TheSixthSense'' is a popular example with Bruce Willis's character being a ghost the whole time.
* ''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.
* Halfway through ''Film/SourceCode'', we find out that this is what's happening to our protagonist. Kinda.
* 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.
* The two title characters, in ''Film/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.
* ''Film/TalesFromTheHood'': The three drug dealers in the FramingStory.
* The little sister in ''Film/ATaleOfTwoSisters''.
* ''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.
* 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.
* In ''Film/VoiceFromTheStone'', it's revealed that Lillia, the housekeeper, committed suicide the day of Malvina's death.
* 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.
* Sara Havel in ''Film/HellHouseLLC'' is introduced as the only staff member from Hell House who survived the disaster that happened on the tragic opening night that killed fifteen people and the rest of the staff. She provides the documentary crew with footage of what happened in Hell House during the setup and encourages them to investigate the place themselves after finishing her interview. It's only after the rest of the documentary team goes to check the place out they find out she was killed with the rest of the staff where she's waiting for Diane and Jonathan, much worse for wear, right before they're attacked by the same faceless beings that killed Alex and Mac.
* ''Film/{{Adrift 2018}}: As the film progresses, we learn that Richard did not survive the hurricane, and that Tami was only talking to a vision of Richard from her own delirium.

* 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 [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRFLZfv7Vw8 here]].
** [[http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=6082 Strange things happen in this world!]]
** Other versions of the story have the hitchhiker vanishing after warning the driver about an upcoming turn ("What about that turn?" "I died there"), or insisting to be left by a dark side of the road, sometimes in the pouring rain, for no apparent reason. The driver acceeds, but gives the hitchhiker his jacket to cover herself. He then watches her get in a cemetery and finds his jacket hanging on a tombstone. In other versions, the driver doesn't see the cemetery but returns to the same place during the day, finding the cemetery and then his jacket on a tomb.
* Yet another similar story has a driver picking an elderly male hitchhiker. The man has been driving for a long time and is tired. A one point he is about to fall asleep, but the old hitchhiker wakes him up, just in time to avoid a coming truck. The hitchhiker has however disappeared, and the man ponders if he has just dreamed the whole encounter. When he arrives in his destination (usually a hotel or a home for the elderly) he is told that one of the guests died the day before, and you guessed it, it was the old hitchhiker.
* There is a story in Japanese folklore, called ''[[http://hyakumonogatari.com/2010/09/14/the-yurei-child/ The Yurei Child]]'', which involves a man named Kenhei and his wife. He was due to marry her but he fell ill before he could bring her back to Edo, leaving her to think she was betrayed, thus dying of a broken heart. She returned to him as a ghost and, after explaining what had happened, he married her, had a child with her, and lived like that for three years. After three years, she disappeared and, unaware, he went to her mother's house, where the old woman informed him that she had died. This was alluded to in ''Fanfic/Gensokyo20XX'' with chapter 96 as per the author's note.

* 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 who reached the conclusion that he might have risen from the grave.
* Tekla, Ida's mentor in ''Literature/ShamanOfTheUndead'', skirted [[MentorOccupationalHazard this whole "dying" part of being a mentor]] by dying two years before meeting her student. She hangs around as a ghost, although Ida only learns about it when she sees Tekla pass through a solid wall.
* Ambrose Bierce's 1890 short story "Literature/AnOccurrenceAtOwlCreekBridge", which later became many films, the most famous of which was the French adaptation ''La rivière du hibou'' which won an UsefulNotes/AcademyAward and later became a ''[[Series/TheTwilightZone1959 Twilight Zone]]'' episode.
* Parl Dro the ghost hunter, in Creator/TanithLee's ''To Kill the Dead''.
* In ''Literature/BlackLegion'', it turns out that Nefertari died years before the story begun, but Khayon kept them alive through his sheer force of will and psychic powers. He also erased their memories of the death, for fear that if they remembered, they'd die.
* The short story "The Thing in Auntie Alma's Pond" by Creator/BruceCoville is about 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's ''Literature/PaladinOfSouls''. There are multiple hints both subtle and otherwise that 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.
** Bertha Jorkins, a member of the Ministry of Magic, has been referred to as missing through most of the timeline in ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheGobletOfFire''. It's only late in the story that reveals that [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness Voldemort kills her after finding out all the information he wants out of her via torture]].
* After much confusion, this is revealed (to the reader) to be the fate of the main character in Flann O'Brien's ''Literature/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 sleeps with turns out to have been beheaded the day before.
* ''Literature/{{Liar}}'' provides an interesting example. 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.
* In the first book of ''Literature/TheRavenCycle'' we find out towards the end that Noah is a ghost. Considering one of the first things he says in the series is "I've been dead for seven years" one might think this would come as less of a surprise. His friends don't take him seriously until they find his bones.
* ''Literature/MoreThanThis'': Owen never came back from 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]].
* ''Literature/MadgieWhatDidYouDo'': This happens a couple of times 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.
* ''Literature/JourneyToChaos'': Kasile's father died pre-series. An enforcer was possessing his body and moving it as if it were alive. After Tasio evicts it and takes it away, the king's body quickly decays.
* In a poem titled ''Watching'', the female character is implied to be a ghost, as she is wearing white, thus not being dressed for mourning, nor is she getting wet from the rain and, likewise, the funeral that she is watching is probably hers.
* The TwistEnding to ''The Good Girls'' by Sara Shepard (sequel to ''The Perfectionists'') is that Parker Duvall is actually a SplitPersonality of Julie Redding. The real Parker Duvall was killed by her abusive father some time before the first novel.
* "Literature/TheGhostOfPhilinnion": A young man, Machates, is visited by Philinnion, a girl who has fallen in love with him, and spends two nights with her before her mother tells him that Phillinion has died months ago. Even then he cannot believe his visitor is a ghost, and prefers to believe that some other girl is impersonating the dead Philinnion.
* In ''Literature/{{Starchild}}'', Boysie Gann is mysteriously transported to a remote part of the reefs of space, where he meets a settler named Harry Hickson, who gives him food and water and sends a message to a nearby town. When Gann arrives at the town, though, people are extremely skeptical of his story, and to explain why, take him to see Hickson's grave. Hickson had died three years previously.
* Creator/HarryHarrison's short story "The Pliable Animal" deals with the murder of a prince visiting another planet. The prince rode a car from the planet's royal palace home when he suddenly shouted at the driver to stop, ran into a dark alley, and was found dead there. It turns out toward the end that [[spoiler:a SecretUndergroundPassage lead to that alley from the palace. An imposter entered the car, shouted for the driver to stop, and ran for the agreed upon spot where they placed the prince's corpse.]]
* In Mark Twain's short story, "The Californian's Tale", a traveler meets a man who proudly shows him a picture of his beautiful wife and insists that the traveler stay long enough to meet her when she comes back from visiting her relatives. As the time of her return draws nearer, however, the man grows increasingly agitated until his friends serve him a drugged drink that knocks him out and they explain to the traveler that his wife has been dead for nineteen years and he went so mad from grief that they have to play along with his delusions that she's still alive and then drug him to sleep on this day every year to prevent him from going wild.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* 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.
* 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.
* Parodied at the end of the ''Series/AdamRuinsEverything'' episode "Adam Ruins Halloween": Adam lectures a kid named Stuart about hoaxes related to Halloween and the supernatural, but when Stuart tells his parents about it, his father informs him that the show has been canceled for 50 years.
* 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.
* Cordelia in the ''Series/{{Angel}}'' episode "You're Welcome".
* ''Series/AreYouAfraidOfTheDark'':
** "The Tale of the Dream Girl", itself the [[OlderThanTheyThink inspiration]] for ''Film/TheSixthSense''.
** "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.)
* In ''Series/{{Arrow}}'' "A Matter of Trust", Diggle becomes cellmates with Floyd "Deadshot" Lawton two seasons after Lawton's death. Lawton says it's a classic case of NeverFoundTheBody, and viewers are aware of a recent CosmicRetcon that could have brought him back, but it turns out Diggle's just hallucinating.
* It's revealed in the finale of ''Series/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 ''Ashes to Ashes''. It's implied that Alex dies for real at the end of Season 2 of ''Ashes to Ashes'' 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.
* In the series finale of ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}'', 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.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'':
** Subverted with Giles in the last season. 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 those who have died. 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 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.
* 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.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** In [[Recap/DoctorWhoS27E3TheUnquietDead "The Unquiet Dead"]], the Doctor feels Gwyneth's pulse and realizes 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"]]: One of the archaeologists follows the Doctor around for quite some time before he 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 desiccated 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. The same thing happens in [[Recap/DoctorWho2013CSTheTimeOfTheDoctor "The Time of the Doctor"]], when the Doctor visits the Papal Mainframe again. Tasha Lem is furious with the Doctor and lets it slip that the Daleks attacked the Church and killed everyone. When the Doctor is incredulous with Tasha for letting it happen, she angrily shouts "I ''died'' for you!" Then she realizes what she said, and a Dalek eyestalk starts coming out of her forehead. Fortunately, the Doctor convinces her to fight for the control of her body, and she ends up helping them.
* Episode "New Year's Eve" of the anthology series ''Series/FearItself'' is about a ZombieApocalypse and turns out that [[spoiler:the protagonist was a zombie all the time]].
* 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 ''Film/TheSixthSense'' premiered.
* In ''Series/{{Fringe}}'':
** The 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.
* Melinda's best friend/business partner in the season 1 finale of ''Series/GhostWhisperer''. This is hinted by the fact that no one visibly interacts with or even acknowledges her after the plane crash.
* Wilson was originally going to be revealed as this in the final episode of ''Series/HomeImprovement''.
* ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'':
** One episode 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.
** The SeriesFinale revealed that The Mother had died six years before Ted began telling the story.
* ''Franchise/KamenRider'':
** In ''Series/KamenRiderRyuki'', 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.
** 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]].
** ''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.
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'':
** In the 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. 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 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 ''Series/{{The Lost Room}}'', the villain's son.
* 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.
* 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.
* ''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. Later, in Season 5, it is revealed that Lancelot really is still alive, and was in hiding, trying to stop King Arthur from reuniting The Dark One's Dagger with Excalibur.
* 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?
* 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).
* In the first episode of ''Series/PrettyLittleLiars'', the girls receive text messages signed "A" that refer to secrets that only the four of them and their missing friend Alison knew. They assume the messages are from Alison until [[FinallyFoundTheBody her body is discovered buried behind her old house]].
* 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.
* 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.
* In the ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' episode "Visage", Lana's old flame Whitney returns from a tour in the Marines but is [[NotHimself acting suspicious and aggressive.]] It turns out he died in combat, and the new Whitney is a shape-shifting StalkerWithACrush.
* 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.
* 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.
* Subverted in ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' where Janeway seems to be this in one episode - but really isn't.
** A variation in another episode. The crew finds a wormhole that allows them to communicate with a Romulan captain back in their home quadrant. While the wormhole is too small to allow a ship to pass through, they are able to teleport people through it. The Romulan captain beams over, only for them to find out that the wormhole connects to the past. They decide that sending everyone through would be a mistake, as they would risk altering the timeline. The Romulan agrees to take messages to Starfleet and their loves ones with him to deliver after the ''Voyager'''s disappearance. Unfortunately, after he leaves, Tuvok reveals that, historically, the Romulan died long before the ''Voyager'' launched. Their only hope is that he entrusted the messages to someone before death.
* ''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.
%%* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' episodes "Road Kill" and "[[SupernaturalS09E09HolyTerror Holy Terror]]"
* ''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]].
* ''Series/{{The Twilight Zone|1959}}'':
** The 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.
** Everyone in "The Passersby".
* ''Series/UltramanNexus'': Komon's girlfriend Riko was killed along with her family by Mizorogi/Dark Mephisto and the [[{{Kaiju}} Space Beast]] Nosferu a year before the series began, and then revived by Nosferu's necromantic powers to become a host for Dark Faust. However, she's not aware of this herself, bu when she does [[GoMadFromTheRevelation the results are horrifying]].
* Many episodes in ''Series/WithoutATrace'' have the team discover that the victims were killed after they went missing, or that they went missing ''because'' they were murdered and their killers hid the body. Just like in [[TruthInTelevision many missing person cases]] in RealLife.
* 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.

* 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]]", which is from the point of view of a soldier returning home from war only to find that his wife has committed suicide after being sent a telegram saying that he was killed in action. It's a little hard to catch thanks to the LyricalDissonance and the lead singer's lack of coherency. It's more explicit in the Music/IronAndWine [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugx0zC3Otwk version]].
* The ending to the music video to "Someday" by Music/{{Nickelback}} reveals that the man had died in an accident earlier that day. It initially seemed like his girlfriend was just breaking up with him. After she is killed in a car accident they end up TogetherInDeath.
* 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".
* The last verse of Music/WeirdAlYankovic's "Melanie" reveals that the latest of the increasingly-bizarre things the singer/stalker has done in his obsessive efforts to get Melanie's attention was to jump to his death from the apartment window above hers.
* Music/TheLonelyIsland's "Jizz in My Pants": One of the many things that caused the singer to jizz in his pants was TheReveal at the end of ''Film/TheSixthSense''.
* The protagonist in the Marty Robbins ballad "El Paso", revealed to have died in his lover's arms after being shot in a gunfight.
* Red Sovine's "Phantom 309" about Semi Driver 'Big Joe' picking up a Hitchhiker, the Narrator... no doubt the inspiration for "Film/PeeweesBigAdventure" as the Passenger learns of it upon citing the Trucker at a local Diner where Large Marge/Big Joe are well known as heroes in death, as well as the afterlife

[[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!

* Gabe in ''Theatre/NextToNormal''. [[RewatchBonus On second viewings]] there are multiple hints that he's just a recurring hallucination.
* {{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/{{Peter Pan|1904}}'' 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.
* In ''Theatre/LikeDyingThingsDo'' it is revealed at the end of the show that Adam has committed suicide and is narrating the story from beyond the grave.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* 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]]. She wasn't dead, just crystallized.
* 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 ''VideoGame/{{Killer7}}'', in fact, [[AllThereInTheManual according to the supplementary material]] Dan, Con, Mask, Kaede, Coyote and Kevin have each died THREE TIMES and Garcian has died at least once, possibly twice depending on who wins the Third World War and if you consider LossOfIdentity to be an actual death.
* 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.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'', after completing at least a couple of the Hunts, you find that the petitioner or someone else involved with the Hunt actually nipped it a while back and is petitioning from beyond the grave.
* Velis in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIIRevenantWings''.
* ''Franchise/SilentHill'':
%%** Lisa Garland in ''VideoGame/SilentHill1''.
** The [[MultipleEndings worst ending]] of ''VideoGame/SilentHill1'' shows Harry, either dead or dying, still in his crashed car at the beginning with the implication being the entire game was his spirit stuck in limbo or even [[MaybeMagicMaybeMundane just a dying hallucination]].
** 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, which was [[MaybeMagicMaybeMundane possibly]] manifested by the town into an actual entity.
** 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/MetalGearSolidVThePhantomPain'' has Paz Ortega, who apparently has amnesia and talks to Snake about the events of Peace Walker when Snake brings her pictures held by former members of MSF. Once every single picture is shown to her, it is revealed that Paz died at the end of ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolidVGroundZeroes'', and in fact, Snake has been seeing an illusion brought on by his own grief and guilt at failing to save her.
* In ''VideoGame/DragonQuestBuilders'', the [[PlayerCharacter Builder]] is revealed in the final chapter to actually be a citizen of Alefgard who had died when the Dragonlord's reign of terror began. The NoobCave you awoke in? That was your ''tomb''! It is through the goddess Rubiss's magic that you are brought back to life to restore the realm.
* ''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.
* ''VideoGame/FatalFrame''
** ''VideoGame/FatalFrameIICrimsonButterfly'' has Itsuki Tachibana, the imprisoned boy that served as a guide to Mio. It's not as shocking as most other examples, as Minakami Village is a ghost town, but it is presented as a shock to Mio and the player to finally enter the storehouse that is his prison and seeing his [[DrivenToSuicide hung corpse]] in a flashback.
** ''VideoGame/FatalFrameIVMaskOfTheLunarEclipse'' has Choushiro Kirishima, one of the player characters. His story begins awakening on the ground of the hospital and trying to find and bring down Yuu Haibara. His final chapter involves trapping Haibara on a roof and [[TakingYouWithMe throwing himself off of it with him]] and the playable Kirishima is shown [[DiscoveringYourOwnDeadBody observing his corpse]]. He seems to take it rather calmly.
--->'''Kirishima:''' So. That's how it is, huh?
* 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.
* ''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.
** He appears again in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to rescue Mason and Woods, but it's left unclear if it's just another hallucination or the real deal. Woods lampshades the absurdity of rescuing his old friend and then disappearing again without explaining where he's been all this time, but from what David said of it, Alex really did believe it was Reznov, and either way it is heartwarming to think that Alex still thinks of Reznov as his friend after all those years.
* 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/XenobladeChroniclesX'', TheStinger reveals that technically ''the entire human race'' has already gone extinct, as the database that housed their consciousnesses in the Lifehold Core has been busted ever since they crash-landed on Mira. This shocks and confuses the heroes, as since the database is destroyed, [[GainaxEnding how come the humans' mimeosomes are active with their consciousnesses intact?]]
* 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!"]]
* ''VideoGame/HeadlessPrisoner'' reveals in the True Ending that Kenji, the man who joined Erina shortly after the beginning, was one of the people to have died in the prison some unknown time ago.
* 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 that you've been talking to was a figment of [[PlayerCharacter Captain Walker]]'s imagination, created by Walker after the White Phosphorus incident to justify the horrific actions he himself has perpetrated in trying to be a hero.
* 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.
* ''Franchise/DragonAge'':
** 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.
** If Leliana is killed in ''Origins'', the epilogue of the Trespasser DLC for ''Videogame/DragonAgeInquisition'' reveals that the Leliana that's shown up in this game and the last with [[UnexplainedRecovery barely any acknowledgement of her fate]] is actually a Fade Spirit [[DeadPersonImpersonation that has been impersonating the original]], who is very much dead.
* In ''Videogame/{{Terranigma}}'' 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). This sets up a revelation at the end that Crysta is just a reflection of the mortal world all along, and now that the real world is restored it is coming undone. Even Ark, the PC, is revealed to be an echo of a dead hero from long ago.
* Rei, or rather, Niko, from ''VideoGame/PersonaQShadowOfTheLabyrinth''. She was an IllGirl who died in 1999 due to TheDiseaseThatShallNotBeNamed, and in the afterlife started to grow resentful when she felt that she was alone and died for no meaning. Chronos, one of the aspects of [[TheGrimReaper Death]], took an interest in her and tried to get her to speak to him by replicating the school she was supposed to go to ([[VideoGame/{{Persona 4}} Yasogami High]]), but [[NotQuiteTheRightThing that only made things worse]] as it reminded poor Rei what she missed out on because she died so early. In an attempt to cheer her up, Chronos [[LaserGuidedAmnesia took away her memories]] and turned the entire replicated school into a festival to make her happy, while sealing any possibilities of her memory returning within the labyrinths of the game, and just to delay the inevitable a little longer, took away his own memories and called himself Zen. Once the player gets through all the labyrinths, Zen's memories return to him, he gives Rei her memories back, and things get sour from there.
* In the Kongregate game ''Innkeeper'', the initial viewpoint character Manuel actually died years ago. His mother Nanay developed a split personality to avoid facing the reality of his death. Building the inn was Manuel's dream before he died, so Nanay works herself to exhaustion trying to fulfill it. It's only after the inn becomes a success that she is finally able to accept Manuel's death. The game is really about helping a grieving mother move past the loss of a child.
* ''Franchise/FiveNightsAtFreddys'':
** The ending of ''VideoGame/FiveNightsAtFreddys3'' shows that William Afton, the serial murderer responsible for the deaths of children at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, had been dead for several years: the spirits of the kids he killed lead him to hide in the same springlock suit he used to lure them to their deaths, [[KarmicDeath only to get a taste of his own medicine]]. His spirit now haunts that animatronic as Springtrap, [[HereWeGoAgain which is used at a new spin-off of Freddy Fazbear's]].
** The "Lorekeeper" ending of ''VideoGame/FreddyFazbearsPizzeriaSimulator'' shows five gravestones[[labelnote:*]]plus a sixth in the background[[/labelnote]]; among which are "Jeremy" and "Fritz". This suggests the protagonists of ''VideoGame/FiveNightsAtFreddys2'', Jeremy Fitzgerald and Fritz Smith, were actually [[WhiteSheep Michael Afton]] and/or [[BigGood the Cassette Man]] using aliases taken from the original murdered children.
* An inverted variation occurs in ''VideoGame/MadFather''. A curse has re-animated dozens if not hundreds of the victims of a mad scientist; most of them are out to get the protagonist, while others are neutral or in need of her help, but one, a boy with half of his face seemingly melted, tries to help and protect the main character. At least, given his disfigurement, even without several comments he makes about how he'll fade when the curse disappears, it's pretty natural to assume he's another reanimated corpse. But a secret scene added in version 2.0, only viewable after earning the true ending, reveals that *gasp* ''he was alive all along!'' It's not entirely clear ''why'' he pretended to be dead, but it's certainly interesting for being an ordinary human to be the big plot twist.
* ''VideoGame/LifeIsStrange'' has a large focus on Rachel Amber, a girl who disappeared several months before the story begins. Episode 4 reveals that she was killed and put into a shallow grave.
* Both the protagonist and Alice are virtual ghosts re-created by the Se.Ra.Ph in ''VideoGame/FateExtra''.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Chelsea}}'', Daniel turns out to be this.
* In the bonus chapter of ''Phantasmat 3: The Endless Night'' the main character is revealed to have died in the car crash which occurs during the introduction. The twist is that her ''daughter'', who wasn't supposed to have made it either, is somehow saved by her actions during the main game, despite the fact that none of them actually happened in reality.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Wick}}'' the secret ending reveals this of you.
* In the ''VideoGame/{{Skyrim}}'' total conversion mod ''VideoGame/{{Enderal}}'', ''you'' learn at the end that the real "you" has been dead all along (at least since the end of the prologue). Your character, and several others, are copies of dead originals, created by the High Ones in order to further their schemes. While these copies still apparently have free will, the dying wishes of their original become the primary driving motivators of the copies, which allow the High Ones to more easily manipulate them.
* In ''Videogame/EarthBoundBeginnings'', the ruler of [[FluffyCloudHeaven Magicant]], Queen Mary, is suffering from amnesia, and cannot remember an important song. The protagonists slowly [[PlotCoupons piece together the song throughout the game]], and when Mary hears the complete song she regains her memory and is revealed to be a remnant of the protagonist [[TheAllAmericanBoy Ninten's]] long-dead grandmother Maria, who was [[AlienAbduction abducted by aliens]] 80 years before the beginning of the game, and Magicant itself is revealed to be a MentalWorld created by Maria's lingering consciousness. With the song remembered, she can rest at last, and both she and Magicant disappear.
* ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoV'' begins with a failed bank robbery by Michael, Trevor, Brad, and an unnamed driver (who dies during the getaway). What appears to happen is that Michael dies and is buried, and Brad is arrested. Trevor, the other participant in the robbery, got off scot-free and writes letters to Brad from time to time. However, Michael had struck a deal with FIB agent Dave Norton to ensure that he and his family would be safe, meaning that Michael had spent all the time after that FakingTheDead and that it was actually Brad who died and was buried; and Dave had been responding to Trevor's letters as Brad.
* In the ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind'' ''Tribunal'' expansion, PhysicalGod Sotha Sil is built up to be the BigBad who has gone insane following the loss of his godhood. After an attack by his semi-organic MechaMooks on Morrowind's capital city, home of fellow former PhysicalGod Almalexia, she sends you to Sotha Sil's Clockwork City to kill him. After navigating his many death traps, you reach the command center of his city where you find him... already dead by the hand of Almalexia. It turns out that ''she'' is the one who has gone insane and plans to kill you and the other former Dunmeri deities so that only she remains to be worshiped by the Dunmer people.
* If you've played ''VideoGame/NieR'', it shouldn't surprise you to find out that humanity is extinct by the time of ''VideoGame/NierAutomata''. What will be a surprise is finding out that the creators of the machine lifeforms the androids are at war with, the aliens, are also long dead. Then you learn the circumstances behind everything...
* In the short, free game ''P.R.I.C.E'', Ivry is this, as Iva killed him and had his soul put into a puppet before the game. Iva may be this as well, since we see flashes of her beheaded body, and the mysterious man implies that the skull at the end is hers.
* [[spoiler: Alex]] in ''VideoGame/Code7'' is revealed to be this. The reason why nobody notices for most of the game is because [[spoiler: thanks to BrainUploading not even Alex themselves know about their death]].
* ''VideoGame/TokyoXanadu'':
** Shiori was killed by falling rubble during the Tokyo Disaster, 10 years prior to the game's events. However, she lived on thanks to the will of a very powerful Grim Greed; defeating it causes her to fade away from the memories of everybody who isn't able to see the Eclipse.
** Gorou's (at the time) girlfriend, Futaba, also was killed by a Greed during the Tokyo Disaster. Gorou tells Kou that they are in a long-distance relationship, but a little bit of digging on Yuuki's part reveals that he's lying.
* ''VideoGame/{{Pinstripe}}'': Towards the end, it's revealed that Ted and Bo died in a drunk driving accident that's heavily implied to have been Ted's fault.

[[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 (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 during a fight.
* In the fourth episode of ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry'', Beatrice declares that Kinzo Ushiromiya, Battler'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. The two main factors that made him seem as though he was alive and involved in the plot were Beatrice's [[UnreliableNarrator unreliable narration]] and Krauss and Natsuhi [[OfCorpseHesAlive maintaining the illusion]] that he had [[MadwomanInTheAttic shut himself in his study and refused to come out]] nearly two years after he died of natural causes.
%%* In ''VisualNovel/RibbonOfGreen'', this is 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.
* In ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneyDualDestinies'', this turns out to be what happens to Bobby Fulbright -- the Phantom murdered him before the game even began and was masquerading as him the entire time.
* President Di-Jun Huang in ''VisualNovel/AceAttorneyInvestigationsMilesEdgeworth 2''. The Huang seen during the game is actually his body double, who plotted his murder and took his place 12 years prior to the game's events.
* ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneySpiritOfJustice'':
** Played straight with Dhurke Sahdmadhi. He was dead before the events of "Turnabout Revolution" even began, yet he goes investigating with Apollo and is accused of murdering Inga because he was being channeled. [[ItMakesSenseInContext By two different people at different times]].
** {{Inverted|Trope}} with Queen Amara. You are told in Case 3 that she was murdered 23 years ago in a fire -- but it turns out that was just a staged incident only made to frame Dhurke and usurp Amara's throne. She's been alive all this time, disguised as Princess Rayfa's attendant Nayna.
** Played straight with Puhray Zeh'lot. He was dead before the high priest was murdered in Case 3. The game even dares to place Zeh'lot's corpse right there in the praying venue, HiddenInPlainSight, inducing everyone into thinking he was just praying.
* ''VisualNovel/DanganRonpaZero'' has Isshiki Madarai, who somehow survives and escapes numerous lethal encounters, including [[NeckSnap having his neck broken.]] Then it's revealed that "he" is actually a collection of eight [[AlwaysIdenticalTwins identical twins]], all of whom possess superhuman {{synchronization}} skills. Not only are the ones who died actually dead, but the real Isshiki was killed in the student council massacre that sets off the plot and [[ItsPersonal his brothers have been out for revenge ever since.]]
* The old man in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaBreathOfTheWild''. You don't find out until after the tutorial which raises .. questions.

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* ''WebAnimation/{{Starters}}'': Almost all of the inhabitants of Lavender Town turn out to have been dead the whole time.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Tomo Wakeman in ''Webcomic/TheDragonDoctors''.
* Zeno of ''Webcomic/CharbyTheVampirate'' discovers that he died of his injuries after escaping the lab and was brought back as a zombie by the two "elves" that had taken him in prior to meeting Charby and Menulis.
* In ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'' we meet Anevka, who interacts with the world via a clank body due to serious injuries from an accident of her father's. The clank is connected to her actual body, which is preserved in a pod. It's later revealed that the real Anevka passed away years ago in the pod and the robotic double had taken on such a strong imprint of her personality that it simply ''never noticed''. Anevka's brother Tarvek, who built the clank, admits that he only didn't turn her off sooner because it comforted his father and him to still have his sister around in some way, and that finally deactivating her ''was'' hard for him. This later bites him and the rest of the protagonists in the ass when the clank is reactivated with a different personality that [[DeadPersonImpersonation pretends to be his sister since since, as far as anyone outside of Tarvek knows, that clank really is Anevka's mind in a clank body.]]
* ''Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt'': In Chapter 16: [[Recap/GunnerkriggCourtChapter16GhostStory "Ghost Story"]], 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.
* ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'':
** Much is said 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.
** Aradia is downright stated to have been "dead all along".
* In ''Webcomic/LsEmpire'', this is revealed to be the case with [[VideoGame/SuperPaperMario Dimentio]], although he was aware of this the entire time (though he didn't know ''how'' he died). Since he's a master of dimensional magic, it's more of a technicality then being any real hindrance.
* Aylee in one arc of ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance''. [[UnexplainedRecovery She Got Better.]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* 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.
* Website/CollegeHumor: ''[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hksKLHt9Kzg Shyamalan]]'' parodies the decline of Creator/MNightShyamalan's career by casting M. Night AsHimself in a Shyamalan-esque supernatural thriller. At the end the mysterious man who haunts Shyamalan reveals the truth:
-->'''M Night:''' My career is dying.\\
'''Pale Man:''' ''Your career has been dead this whole time''.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'', Billy turns out to have been killed by The Lich some time between his first and second appearance.
* ''WesternAnimation/AnnaAndBella'' has a FramingDevice in which two elderly sisters flip through their photo album and laugh, with the story of their lives being told in a series of flashbacks. At the end a servant enters to call the ladies to dinner—then turns around and flies away with the wings sticking out of his back. Anna and Bella then follow him, flapping their wings. They are both angels in heaven.
* Parodied in the ''WesternAnimation/CloneHigh'' episode "Sleep of Faith: La Ru D'Awakening", in which Gandhi is mentored by a sagacious truck driver who turns out to be the ghost of the deceased Doug Prepcourse (the creator of the S.A.T tests in-universe). A OnceMoreWithClarity montage shows Gandhi conversing with no one, pouring coffee which ''splashes on the ground'' because the cup and the man holding it aren't real, and ''[[RefugeInAudacity floating through the air above the highway at 60 mph]]'' because the semi truck he was riding in doesn't exist.
* 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!]]'''
* The ''WesternAnimation/GooberAndTheGhostChasers'' episode "Aloha Ghost". The beautiful, mysterious girl Michael Gray was trying to hit on turns out to be a ghost; the wife of King Manamoa Clue was seen when the whistle that is supposed to be painful for ghosts affected her as she quickly leaves with her hands over her ears. She shows her identity at the end of the episode.
* 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.
* Jayde from ''WesternAnimation/TheMarvelousMisadventuresOfFlapjack''. In one episode "I'm a Believer", the people of Stormalong have been doing things and saying [[RunningGag "Must've been]] [[ImplausibleDeniability a ghost."]] in the entire episode. After eating the entire birthday cake and getting a stern look from all the partygoers, Jayde 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.
* Parodied in the ''WesternAnimation/RegularShow'' episode "Terror Tales of the Park IV" (in the segment "Unfinished Business"). In a story told by Benson, he chases around the ghosts of Mordecai and Rigby, but it turns out that Benson was actually the undead spirit the whole time. Benson's friends criticize him for using such a cliched twist ending.
* ''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.
* ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsRebels'': In [[Recap/StarWarsRebelsS1E03RiseOfTheOldMasters "Rise of the Old Masters"]], the ''Ghost'' crew sees a broadcast from the VoiceOfTheResistance claiming that Jedi Master Luminara Unduli is still alive and being held in an Imperial prison in the Stygeon system. When they arrive, Kanan can sense Luminara, but says there's something "clouded" about her presence. When Kanan and Ezra enter her cell, they discover her preserved corpse in a coffin, which the Empire had been using to entrap Jedi.
* ''WesternAnimation/TaleSpin'':
** The 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. Despite this, Baloo finds a photo of the two of them together in the ruins of his old office...
--> '''Kit''': Who's that, Baloo? A friend of yours?
--> '''Baloo''': More than a friend kid. More like... a guardian angel...
** 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.
* ''WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2012'' parallels the Mirage comics by having the Rat King be knocked into a pit by Splinter. About two seasons later, Splinter falls into the same pit and encounters the Rat King, who attempts to assert control over Splinter. After Splinter escapes him, he discovers the Rat King's decayed corpse, causing him to write off what he had previously seen as a hallucination.
* 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.
* ''WesternAnimation/VoltronLegendaryDefender'': Season 6 reveals that Shiro has been this since the season 2 finale, with the [[CloningBlues Shiro that joined the team in season 3 being a clone made by Haggar.]] Subverted in that the Black Lion preserved his spirit, [[BodyBackupDrive which allows Allura to transfer it into the clone's body.]]