In fiction, Death is relative [[Literature/{{Discworld}} (no, not that kind of relative!)]] and [[HowToCheatDeath less than permanent]] at times. So just as [[InferredHolocaust survival is unlikely]] for some, death is unlikely for others.

Perhaps the AntiHero was LeftForDead in a HeroicSacrifice [[NoOneCouldSurviveThat that no one could survive]], but since they NeverFoundTheBody, and they already had a penchant for FakingTheDead, their survival [[SortingAlgorithmOfDeadness isn't so far fetched.]] Perhaps in the supposed BolivianArmyEnding there is a [[ForgottenPhlebotinum power, technology]] or [[ChekhovsSkill ability]] that, while not explicitly mentioned, could save them. Perhaps the perennial ArchEnemy has been bested in a final showdown and, refusing the [[SaveTheVillain hero's offer to save them]], seemingly [[DisneyVillainDeath plummeted to their doom]], but [[GenreSavvy the audience knows]] [[JokerImmunity how many times this has happened]].

Any time an author leaves the door ajar on a character's death to [[FirstLawOfResurrection later bring them back]] [[StayingAlive plausibly]] if [[SchrodingersGun the plot requires it]]. Compare HesJustHiding. Often a result of EpilepticTrees and/or FridgeLogic, or even WordOfGod.

See also the WildMassGuessing WMG/SortingAlgorithmOfDeadness for the odds of some characters returning.

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!!Examples

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[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Protagonist of ''Anime/{{Witchblade}}'' Masane Amaha supposedly died in the ending in such a way that even [[NighInvulnerability nigh indestructible]] (it ''caused'' [[spoiler:The Tokyo Fireball]] once, with itself in the center) Witchblade itself wasn't left behind. However, due to the fact that this disagrees with the comic book canon (which the anime is part of), her death is called into severe question. It only get worse when you realize the ending contains equals parts {{Cliffhanger}} and NeverFoundTheBody.
* [[spoiler:Lelouch]] from ''Anime/CodeGeass''. CompleteImmortality exists in universe, and he had time to plan for what eventually happened to him, so it is possible. WordOfGod denied it, although [[LyingCreator this particular God]] has lied about who's dead before...
* ''OnePiece'': Zoro's childhood Kuina was supposed to have died (and in the manga, we see the body), and now we have IdenticalStranger Tashigi. This trope wouldn't come up if it weren't for how ''One Piece'' is a WorldOfHam where [[spoiler:women can hold babies in their bodies for 20 months]], states again and again that [[PowerOfFriendship true friendship never ends]], and that Zoro working on their promise alone isn't thematically consistent with "No one is alone at sea." Though, WordOfGod has shot down that Tashigi and Kuina are the same person/even remotely related to one another and that it's just coincidence. Still, in the world of OnePiece, anything can happen.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'': WordOfGod has not confirmed that Grimmjow is dead, and the EstrogenBrigade refuse to believe so either, but many accept that as he's been [[PutOnABus out of the picture so long]], he's not coming back. He ''was'' alive the last time we saw him, if only barely, and knowing Kubo Tite's policy of effectively killing characters several times over and ''still'' keeping them alive, it's definitely possible. Kubo later confirmed that Grimmjow will appear for the final arc.
* 4Kids loves applying this trope in their dubs, even when in the original Japanese version it is blatantly obvious that the character died.
* {{Funimation}} adamantly refused to admit that anyone in ''Manga/DragonBall Z'' died, or if they did they were merely [[NeverSayDie "in another dimension"]] [[note]] Which is technically true but the trope still applies [[/note]]. The best example is in a relatively early episode in which Vegeta and Nappa arrive on Earth in the middle of a city, surrounded by curious people. Nappa makes a gesture and instantly vaporises an enormous portion of the city, forming an suitably wide crater, then mentions that everyone evacuated.
* Despite how most chose to [[KillThemAll interpret]] the ''[[Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion End Of Evangelion]]'' [[spoiler:ends with this, as narration make clear anyone can regain their individuality if they want to]].
* The fate of [[spoiler:Chrono]] in the epilogue of ''ChronoCrusade''. [[spoiler:He is shown to have survived the final battle with Aion, but was last seen seven years later at Rosette's death. His survival to the last point of the epilogue, sixty seven years later, is not proven. Still, ''somebody'' had to be leaving those flowers on Rosette's grave every year without ever being seen...]]
* WitchHunterRobin lampshaded this regarding [[spoiler: Robin and Amon at the end of the series.]]
* Orochimaru of ''{{Naruto}}'' was absorbed by Sasuke at one point, but it was speculated by many fans he was merely suppressed and waiting for an opportunity to re-emerge. He did, and was immediately killed, but the appearance of a white snake trying to flee the battlefield hinted it wasn't so clean cut. [[spoiler:Turns out Orochimaru's consciousness can hide in any of his cursed seals, so he came back again]].
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[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Example from TheDCU: Due to the ludicrous event regarding [[WomenInRefrigerators her death,]] and since she was simply left for dead in a hospital, this is what some like to think happened to Dr. Light.
** ...and lo and behold, a couple years later, an arc of ''JusticeLeagueOfAmerica'' confirmed that she survived.
* Jean Grey has a tendency to die a lot in all kinds of adaptions. Of course, anyone familiar with the original ''ComicBook/{{X-Men}}'' setting knows that she is, in fact, Phoenix, and has made a career out of coming back from the dead. Thus, when she pulled a HeroicSacrifice at the end of the second ''X-Men'' movie, everybody knew she'd be comming back for the third (and she did)... her death in the ''{{Marvel 1602}}'' timeline is also unlikely to have stuck.
** Apparently the characters in ''X-Men'' are pretty GenreSavvy, since her tombstone reads: Jean Grey-Summers: She Will Rise Again.
** It's gotten to the point where they're barely fazed at all by dying anymore. One of Cyclops's plans began with "Step 1: Die. Step 2: Come back to life," and works flawlessly. Another character remarked that Mutant Heaven doesn't have pearly gates, but a revolving door.
* Used in character by Siryn in ''Comicbook/{{X-Factor}}.'' She refuses to believe her father is dead because X-Men come back from the dead all the time. This is partially treated as unhealthy denial but otherwise seems a logical enough assumption to make.
* Corsair was one of the victims of the "Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire" arc, but unlike the various people who suffer deaths that are ''far'' more gruesome than X-Men's normal (though not to {{Gorn}} levels) his corpse was very non-brutalized. He was then buried on a habitable but uninhabited planet. ''Hmm.''
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[[folder:Film]]
* This might be a reason [[EnsembleDarkhorse Boba Fett]] was allowed to escape the Sarlaac after ''Franchise/StarWars: Film/ReturnOfTheJedi''. Being attached to a jet-pack inside a creature that passively digests its prey over a long period of time no doubt also had a lot to do with it.
** Shaak Ti has "cheated death" two or three times already, including two separate deleted scenes in ''Film/RevengeOfTheSith'', so her official death in ''VideoGame/TheForceUnleashed'' is met with much skepticism.
* Spock's death in ''Film/{{Star Trek II|The Wrath of Khan}}'' was made non-permanent by a tiny little mind-meld with an unconscious [=McCoy=].
** [[spoiler: Data]]'s death in ''Film/StarTrekNemesis'' was given an out by [[spoiler:dumping all of Data's memories into B-4]].
* [[spoiler: Storm Shadow]]'s death in ''GIJoeTheRiseOfCobra'', lampshaded by the director in the DVD commentary. And indeed, the character is back and alive in the sequel.
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[[folder:Literature]]
* Powerful magicians in the RiftwarCycle tend to find new ways to either survive death as essences of the original, or simply revive straight-out. Though this is often used to bring back a popular character after he or she died in the last series, it also serves, at times, to reinforce the permanence of death for non-magical characters.
* [[spoiler:Sandor Clegane]] in ''ASongOfIceAndFire''. He is explicitly stated in ''A Feast for Crows'' to be dead and buried by the priest who found him dying. Clues within the chapter in question suggest otherwise to such an extent that his survival is widely accepted among readers.
** [[spoiler:Gregor Clegane]] may count as well, for varying values of "alive."
** Despite the apparently fatal infliction of [[spoiler: multiple stab wounds]], this is the fandom's general consensus regarding [[spoiler: HeroicBastard Jon Snow]].
* Sir Arthur Conan Doyle may well be the first author to find himself bitten by this trope, when he failed to produce a body or witness to SherlockHolmes' "death" on Reichenbach Falls in "The Final Problem". After many years of fan outcry, he was forced to resurrect the Great Detective in "The Adventure of the Empty House".
* Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse:
** Near the end of the ''Literature/ShadowsOfTheEmpire'' book, Dash Rendar, the SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute of Han Solo, seems to die in a HeroicSacrifice, although his allies NeverFoundTheBody and there are a couple of lines about how if he did live, not informing them is very rude of him. It's like that in the [[EasyModeMockery easy version]] of the video game, too, but the hard mode shows that he survived and flew off without informing anyone. And he did show up in later works. Just not very prominently. What's a Han Solo stand-in without a Leia?
** A couple of characters who vanished during a particularly bloody book in the ''NewJediOrder'' survived to be the maimed semi- and actual antagonists in the ''Literature/DarkNestTrilogy''.
** A few characters in the ''ComicBook/XWingSeries'', most notably [[spoiler:Lara]]. This last one is all but confirmed in the tenth book ''Mercy Kill''.
** K'kruhk survived so many certain deaths it's almost funny. He later [[LampshadeHanging lampshades]] it:
-->'''Cade Skywalker:''' K'Kruhk! But... I thought you are dead!
-->'''K'kruhk:''' I died so many times before... [[HealingFactor at least]] [[OrSoIHeard that's what I heard]].
* Fans had strong suspicions that [[spoiler:Hollyleaf]] in ''Literature/WarriorCats'' surivived because of the way her "death" was presented - we "see" it from the POV of a blind character who merely hears rocks caving in and automatically assumes that NoOneCouldHaveSurvivedThat without even trying to dig her out. [[NeverSayDie The characters keep using the word "lost" instead of "died".]] When the other characters finally realize that she might still be alive since they NeverFoundTheBody, they finally dig through the rubble... and find nothing, so they know she must be out there somewhere. [[spoiler:She does return later that book.]]
* A large amount of characters in ''Literature/ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents'' are neither confirmed alive nor dead at the end, and Snicket usually points out that there's evidence to support either fate. However, some are indeed suggested to be alive: [[spoiler:the islanders from ''The End'', last seen leaving the island on a raft. Sunny says, "[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kon-Tiki Kon-Tiki]]" after them, and said raft's occupants survived.]]
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[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Almost any character on ''Series/{{Lost}},'' but particularly Jin. There was a lot of speculation that [[spoiler:Juliet]] was still alive since [[spoiler:Desmond]] survived [[spoiler:an electromagnetic explosion]] in season 2. Leading many to believe [[spoiler:Juliet]] would just wake up in the jungle like he did.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'' has done this sort of thing a lot, most particularly with the popular recurring villains The Master, Davros, and the Daleks.
* The Cigarette Smoking Man from ''Series/TheXFiles'' is another example.
* After certain point, who expected Daniel Jackson to stay dead in ''Series/StargateSG1''? [[LampshadeHanging Not the characters, certainly]]. At one point, after Daniel's last known location was a replicator ship that they're ''certain'' exploded in space (and the audience sees him get stabbed in the chest for good measure), General O'Neill refuses to hold even a memorial service because he's [[GenreSavvy expecting Jackson to pop into his office by the end of the day]]. Even a squad of RedShirts cracks wise about the good doctor's tendency to die repeatedly.
* Happens frequently on ''Series/StargateAtlantis'', to the point where it gets lampshaded often. One of the most noteable examples is Lt. Ford. After going rogue [[Film/ApocalypseNow Colonel Kurtz]] style, he's last seen leading an attack on a Wraith starship that explodes (although whether or not he was actually still aboard the ship at the time is not shown). His fate is left ambiguous, and Commander Shepherd lampshades the fact that a lot of people they know have survived similar events many times before (although unlike most other characters who had this happen to them, Ford never resurfaced in a later episode before the series ended).
* Sara Tancredi from ''Series/PrisonBreak''. The fans complained when she was killed off, so the writers took advantage of the fact her death was done off-screen for dramatic effect to bring her back.
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[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Goddess [[http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Eilistraee Eilistraee]] in ''TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms'', killed along with [[http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Qilue_Veladorn Qilué Veladorn]] whom she possessed. Even "lesser" powers like her may run multiple avatars. But then, possession ain't the same as avatar, so it would be stretched, but not too much -- if not the circumstances of ''Qilué's own birth''. Elué Silverhand was killed while possessed by Mystra, whom this accident neither deterred from acting immediately to save unborn Qilué, nor even lowered in DivineRanks.
* Something of a trend in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'', where numerous characters seemingly deader than disco have returned later, and the persistent ContinuitySnarl makes it difficult to determine when or even if a certain character died in the first place. The most well known is probably the situation with Alpharius, who was supposedly killed by Roboute Guilliman in the years following the Horus Heresy, but lots of doubt (both in and out of 'verse) has been cast on the Ultramarines' account of events, and Alpharius is certainly enough of a MagnificentBastard to fake his own death (and that's before considering his identical twin Omegon).
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[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''AdvanceWars: Dual Strike'', the deaths of [[spoiler: [[BigBad Von Bolt]] and [[TakingYouWithMe Hawke]]]] do this. It's certainly implied enough that [[spoiler: Hawke]] survived, but [[spoiler:Von Bolt]]'s survival is ambiguous.
* The Fade To Black ending to ''GhostRecon Advanced Warfighter 2'' makes it appear as though Captain Mitchell died during the EMP bombing, but is ambiguous enough that his return in ''Future Soldier'' many years later is plausible.
* ''Videogame/JakAndDaxterThePrecursorLegacy'': It is strongly implied at the end of this first game in the long-running [[{{Franchise/Jak and Daxter}} Jak and Daxter]] series that the villains, Gol and Maia, were not truly killed at the end of the game, as Samos states that they are dead, "...probably." Funnily enough, the two never make so much as a cameo appearance throughout the rest of the series, telling us that they truly are no more. Seems even WordOfGod can jump the shark at times.
* ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsChainOfMemories'': For a while, there was no solid proof that Zexion was dead, leading many fans to believe he was alive. When the game was remade for PS2, his death was shown in full detail. [[spoiler: However, ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts3D'' reveals that he was eventually revived as a whole being along with most of the other Organization members.]]
* The fate of Officer Cybil Bennett from ''[[VideoGame/SilentHill1 Silent Hill]]'' has long been a source of contention among series' fans, and WordOfGod has been notoriously contradictory on the subject. ''Silent Hill Chronicle: Lost Memories'', the most famous ''Silent Hill'' [[UniverseCompendium information guide]], stated that the [[spoiler:Good]] Ending is the one which leads into the game's direct sequel, ''VideoGame/SilentHill3''. One of the two requirements involved in obtaining this ending is [[spoiler:killing Cybil instead of saving her with the red liquid]]. However, elsewhere in the ''same book'', scenario writer Hiroyuki Owaku claims that Cybil's ultimate fate is left up to the player, causing a vocal minority to insist that the [[spoiler:Good+]] Ending is the true canon ending-- despite Owaku's claim meaning that there isn't ''any'' true canon ending.
** A situation mirrored by his take on [[spoiler:James Sunderland]]'s fate in ''VideoGame/SilentHill2''. Despite ''[[ContestedSequel Silent Hill 4]]'' trying to clumsily override Owaku-san, he said that whatever ultimately became of [[spoiler:James]] is what that player believes should have happened to him, and that there is ''no'' canon resolution.
*** It's never explicitly said in Silent Hill 4 what [[spoiler: the fate of James]] is as of SH4. [[spoiler: It's revealed that James's father has lost contact with his son and his wife, but that still leaves James's fate ambiguous, considering how it can be argued that every ending has a way to account for James losing contact with his father, be it James committing suicide, still being in Silent Hill, or going into hiding to avoid being charged with his wife's murder.]]
* A weird inversion of NeverFoundTheBody has lead many to believe that [[spoiler:Minamimoto]] from ''VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou'' survived. The things is that Reapers normally ''don't'' leave bodies, but they found [[spoiler:his]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* [[InvertedTrope Inverted]] with Terra in ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans''; the writers did it intentionally.
* Expected with [[spoiler:Jet's ambiguous death]] in ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', whose injuries (which didn't seem that bad in comparison to others') weren't explained and whose final fate was never explicitly explained, but WordOfGod stated he died.
** [[spoiler:Smellerbee and Longshot]] were in a similar situation, without any WordOfGod one way or another.
*** They do show up in ''Comicbook/AvatarTheLastAirbenderThePromise''.
* ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars.'' Very few "dead" characters suffered more damage than surviving ones who were tossed into a CR chamber and popped out just fine. Except for [[spoiler:Dinobot, and maybe Tigerhawk if he was completely vaporized]], there's not one of them who wouldn't be just fine if someone were to find them and fix them up. In the comics, it's ''already'' happened to Ravage. [[spoiler:The second Dinobot is even ''last seen on a ship that is going down,'' which is shorthand for "just wait three episodes or so" in cartoon-land. There just... weren't any more episodes.]]
* In ''TransformersTheMovie'', the Decepticons brutally murder the crew of an Autobot shuttle, including Prowl, Ratchet, Brawn, and Ironhide. While it is pretty unambiguous that Prowl, Ironhide and Ratchet died, several people insist that Brawn actually survived, since he was only shot once in the shoulder and has taken tougher injuries in the past. Plus, he showed up in a shot in a later episode (though this was almost definitely an animation error, since the Decepticon Bonecrusher was with him) and was not mentioned among the dead Autobots in another. This theory is reliant on the idea that the Decepticons would leave Brawn alive for the duration of the shuttle ride from Cybertron to Earth, of course.
[[/folder]]

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