Backup from Otherworld
Wherein somebody no longer of this world (often a dead friend or relative) assists a living character, directly. This doesn't refer to mere advice or moral support; this is when the dead character actually has a physical (usually magical) effect on the world of the living. This can include Spirit Advisor, offense, defense, and often healing. See also Not Too Dead to Save the Day. If the backup comes all the way back, it may be a Climactic Battle Resurrection. Compare Army of the Dead, where this trope is applied to an entire fighting force. See also Guardian Entity.
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
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Anime and Manga
- Goku at the end of Dragon Ball Z's Cell Saga is the Trope Namer, when he assists Gohan in delivering a superpowered Kamehameha Wave.
- A couple even more direct examples occur in the Buu Saga, where first Goku (still dead from the aforementioned example) helps take on the various villains of the arc before he has to return to the Afterlife, and then later, when the previously-deceased Vegeta is allowed to return to Earth to help fight Buu after his Heroic Sacrifice didn't finish the monster off.
- In Bojack Unbound, Goku teleports himself out of the Otherworld for an instant and punches Bojack in the face to save Gohan.
- The first DBZ example is spoofed/homaged at the end of Excel Saga, when Pedro and his son are helped by the ghosts of every major character who died up to that point, and their combined Kamehame Hadoken blasts That Man into dust, finally rescuing Pedro's wife and the Great Will. The scene is goofy, badass and heartwarming at the same time.
- Cardcaptor Sakura: Sakura's mom, Nadeshiko, catches Sakura after an illusion (of Nadeshiko, go figure,) tricks her into walking off a cliff. Nadeshiko reappears at the end of the episode long enough to see Sakura off to school before vanishing again.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Jack Rakan forces himself back into existing by sheer willpower, and snaps Negi out of his Superpowered Evil Side. With his fist.
- Aerith at the end of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. First, she joins in with the party using a Fastball Special to propel Cloud toward Bahamut SIN; and later, her Level 4 Limit Break heals Cloud's geostigma.
- Appleseed (2004). While Deunan is trying to deactivate the attacking robots at the end of the movie, her dead mother finishes entering the abort code for her and saves the day.
- Subverted in Higurashi: When They Cry. In Minagoroshi-hen, Rika's True Companions come back to help her right when the Big Bad is about to ritualistically kill her... with moral support. She does die, but she gets better.
- Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch has Sara who comes back as a glowing spirit to save Luchia's little pink behind.
- In YuYu Hakusho
- When Kuwabara needed to study for an exam while Yusuke was dead, Yusuke went into his dreams and helped him study.
- He also possessed a girl for a few minutes to beat on some bullies and a few other minor things before being brought back. This is the anime version; that arc of the manga is significantly longer.
- How Mato found Yomi when she went to the Otherworld in Black★Rock Shooter; through the help of the eponymous being; if one goes by the "BRS is a spirit" interpretation.
- In the climax of Zeta Gundam, Kamille uses his Psychic Powers (with a boost from the Zeta's Biosensor) to call for help from the spirits of his slain friends and allies, which shuts down Scirocco's Humongous Mecha and allows Kamille to ram it.
- Done again at the end of Double Zeta when the spirits of various deceased characters gives Judau's ZZ Gundam a power boost to use against Haman.
- Shep from Interstella 5555 dies rescuing the band, and comes back to save them from an Eldritch Abomination attacking their ship in the climax.
- In DC Comic's Infinite Crisis while The Flash (Bart Allen iteration) is battling Superboy Prime a rift in the speed force opens up and from it emerge Max Mercury, Johnny Quick and Barry Allen to help him pull Superboy Prime in.
- Wolverine once had to face several of his foes that had gone to hell, and received help from Colossus. Though since then Colossus has been retconned to have never died in the first place, this is not brought up ever.
- This is pretty much Deadman's entire shtick, especially in his guest star appearances when he's helping out a more "conventional" superhero. Being able to Body Surf pretty much at will helps a lot when it comes to still interacting with the world of the living.
- In A Growing Affection, the Reaper sends the first four Hokages back to capture Orochimaru for her. Earlier, Orochimaru calls back a bunch of souls to fight Naruto for him. Unfortunately only one of the five actually interested in killing Naruto.
- A thousand years into the Dark World of the Pony POV Series, the spirits of the Mane Six's loved ones begin appearing to them to help redeem them. Some have more luck than others.
- Also pops up during the fight with Odyne!Fluttercruel; after her body is destroyed, the spirits of Fluttershy (who died 500 years earlier) and Pinkie Pie (who died recently) show up and prevent her spirit from possessing anyone else long enough to blast her with the Elements of Harmony and banish her from the mortal plane.
- During the Final Battle with Nightmare Paradox, Discord distracts the Nightmare to give Twilight time to power up the final spell to defeat her once and for all. By calling her on Anarchy's cellphone from the afterlife. And Trolling her until she's so enraged she forgets she's in the middle of a battle.
- Princess Twilight's 505th Birthday is set centuries in the future, where Twilight and Rarity are immortal, but the rest of the mane six died of old age. During the big climax, Twilight escapes the bad guy by astral projecting into the fabric of magic itself—then returns with her four deceased friends in tow. They stick around just long enough to blast the bad guy with the Elements of Harmony, then zip back off to the Elysian Fields.
- Ghost (1990). Sam Wheat was murdered and became a ghost. At the end of the movie he saves his girlfriend from being killed by his murderer by accidentally causing the Villain's death.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King had the heroes recruit help from an army of the dead.
- Conan the Barbarian (1982): Valeria appears just in time to save Conan from being killed by Rexor, Thulsa Doom's lieutenant.
Valeria: Do you want to live forever?
- In the remake of House on Haunted Hill (1999), the last two characters are trying to escape from the evil presence, but there is a gate which they can't open. Before they are consumed, a ghost from a character that had entered the house with them under the same pretenses but had died earlier appears and opens the gate for them.
- In Robert E. Howard's Queen of the Black Coast, this role was fulfilled by Belit, the title character of the story, as her spirit intervenes to save Conan from a supernatural horror.
- Necromancers in Kelley Armstrong's Women Of The Otherworld series often get assistance from the dead, usually in the form of advice or spying, although in one book a poltergeist (telekinetic ghost) provided some more direct assistance.
- In Splinter Of The Minds Eye, the very first novel of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, it's not actually stated that Obi-Wan Kenobi briefly possessed Luke Skywalker in order to fight off Darth Vader, but considering the sudden dramatic uptick in Luke's dueling skills and the fact that he told the Sith "I am Obi-Wan", this is generally what fans assume happened.
- It's a pretty minor thing, but in Galaxy of Fear: Ghost of the Jedi, Aidan Bok helps Tash call on the Force to make the Big Bad's aim falter. He then scouts for her as she flees, telling her what is where and how to shut down a machine in a rather more direct, precise kind of advice than most ghosts are known for.
- The Dresden Files
- In Book Three, Harry is being hunted by a ghost who vastly overpowers him. So what does he do? He DIES. But he has someone resuscitate him so he can then team up with his ghost.
- In Book 13, he is the backup, after having arranged his own death.
- In the first Green Rider book, Karigan gets possessed by the ghost of F'ryan Cobblebay (Green Rider and swordmaster in training) while fighting the renegade Weapon Torne. Between the sudden change in skill level and the anti-theft spell on the brooch Torne had stolen from Karigan, F'ryan was able to defeat Torne.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King had the heroes recruit help from an army of the dead.
- In Aunt Dimity's Death, Dimity helps Lori get rid of an unwelcome visitor (Dr. Evan Fleischer, an obnoxious college classmate) who invites himself to her cottage. She literally slams the door in his face, makes the cottage turn strikingly cold when he enters anyway, fills the living room with smoke from the fireplace, and causes him to break a tooth on one of Lori's oatmeal cookies (which "contained nothing more tooth-threatening than some chewy raisins.")
Live Action TV
- Randall And Hopkirk Deceased: The late Marty Hopkirk comes back to help his detective partner Jeff Randall, who's the only person who can see him except for the odd psychic or drunk. This help includes some limited ability to manipulate objects.
- Veronica Mars season one: the late Lilly Kane is a major motivator in the solving of her own murder. Her ghost appears to Veronica and to her brother Duncan, metaphorically. Or is it? She shows up in season two to save V's life.
- Possibly the end of season two of Being Human (UK) where Annie takes the evil priest through the door.
- John Winchester appears at the end of Supernatural's second season, having escaped through a hellmouth and proceeds to grab and fight with Azazel. He only manages to struggle with Azazel for a few moments before he breaks free, but that still gives Dean the chance to grab the Colt and use it to finish Azazel off.
- In Kamen Rider OOO, Ankh performs a Heroic Sacrifice to enable Eiji to use TaJaDor Combo one final time against the Big Bad, giving up the Medal containing his existence in the process. As Eiji fights, Ankh's spirit appears and begins assisting Eiji in the fight, even helping to fire the Finishing Move.
- In Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, the Jetman tribute episode involves the dead Gai Yuki/Black Condor, directly coming back from the realm of the dead to assist the Gokaigers getting the Jetman's Greater Power, before going back to the realm of the dead again.
- Episodes 5 and 6 of Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger introduce Ramirez, a Kyoryuger from Europe's Dark Ages, returned from the dead to grant the new team the use of his mecha, Ankydon. He even gets to morph like they do!
- In Twin Peaks when Laura Palmer visits Agent Cooper in a dream in the beginning of the second season. She whispers the name of the killer in his ear, except he cannot remember what she said.
- The deceased Lirum in Lost Odyssey revives her children Cooke and Mack after a crippling defeat at the hands of Big Bad Gongora so they can in turn heal the rest of your party.
- Alma from First Encounter Assault Recon, in a twisted way. In the non-canon expansion pack Extraction Point, she often wipes out incoming Replica troops and opens paths for the Point Man, for a good reason. Even better: FEAR 2, the reason being she's in love with the main character, Becket.
- After her death in Ace Attorney, Mia Fey's job is mostly to lend moral support and helpful advice. However, when Maya is kidnapped she shuttles between possessing Pearl and Maya in order to carry messages between the two parties.
- The entire point of Ghost Trick. Sissel and later Missile is the supernatural backup for his human allies.
- Final Fantasy:
- The Final Boss Fight of Final Fantasy IV hinges on this trope, with all the ex-party members aiding the party after the Big Bad defeated them.
- Similarly, Final Fantasy V has the five major characters who died during the game come back and help you out against the Final Boss, though they don't help in battle.
- Auron of Final Fantasy X does this, and has been doing it the entire game having died 10 years earlier — it's only through sheer force of will that he's not passed on.
- Technically, Tidus also does this, as it's revealed very late in the game that Tidus & the Zanarkand he hails from are merely the cumulative dreams of a deceased people known as Fayth. It's subverted, however, as he didn't know any of the other party members (Aside from Auron) beforehand.
- Fang & Vanille pull this in Final Fantasy XIII-2, helping Serah find her way to Noel & out of the vision of New Bodhum she's currently in.
- Kane in the original Shining Force game, summoning a lightning strike to stop the Big Bad from possessing the main character.
- In the final battle of Persona 3, Shinjiro Aragaki chips in with some healing, giving the Player Character the last bit of HP needed to win the fight.
- In the final battle of the A path in Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume, Ancel, who you have to sacrifice in the game's opening, shows up to lend a hand.
- Star Fox 64: James McCloud, complete with apparent ghostly spaceship, appears at the end to guide his son out of Andross's Taking You with Me attempt.
- After completing the main quest in Skyrim, you obtain the Call of Valor Shout, which allows you to summon one of the legendary heroes from Sovngarde for a while. And in the Dark Brotherhood questline, you get the Summon Spectral Assassin power, which summons Ensemble Dark Horse Lucien Lachance from Oblivion, who helps out in battle and gives advice on your current contract.
- King, from Cave Story, returns in ethereal form if the player maxes out the Blade, inflicting heavy damage to whatever happens to be in the way - and around the way.
- Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons: After losing his older brother, Younger Brother in the final segment finds himself conquering his fear of water and a couple other tasks that he previously could only accomplish with the help of his older brother. The gameplay enforces this as you need to press Older Brother's interact button to make this happen.
- In the final battle of Eternal Darkness the ghosts of all the characters who died at the hands of the darkness come back one by one to take one last swing at the Big Bad. Except Edward, he instead binds the bigger fish that Alex summoned.
- The Order of the Stick: The truth is, those paladins guarding Soon's gate weren't there to guard the gate alone... they were there as reinforcements.
Soon: Ghost-martyrs of the Sapphire Guard, ATTACK!
- The ghost of Squeeky-Bobo from Sluggy Freelance helps out the Dimension of Pain demons now and then.
- In The Gamers Alliance, the spirits of Deidra Finian, Hiroshi Hayabusa and Megumi Nakamura assist people in the Land of the Living, providing them with a morale boost and valuable information. In Megumi's case her love allowed Hiroshi to cast Shiropyr and sacrifice himself to stop the shamanic mage Taro Ofuchi.
- Prowl pulling Optimus Prime out of the Allspark field in Transformers Animated.
- In Transformers Cybertron, recently deceased Vector Prime lets Optimus borrow his sword from beyond. It becomes physical when Optimus takes it, and he finishes the final battle against Galvatron in victory.
- And a season before that, Superion's fallen brother appears to briefly help him in the final battle with Bruticus Maximus.
- Thunder Cats:
- "The Ghost Warrior": An ancient spirit is menacing the team. It can hurt them (because of its Thundarium Mace), but they can't touch it. The Sword of Omens summons Jaga, the deceased mentor, to wield it in a ghostly battle in the sky.
- "ThunderCats - Ho! Part V": Jaga needs to obtain a sacred item to help Lion-O. The ancient spirit once again faces him -in space!
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Dead Avatars often come to the current Avatar's aid. Sure, to do that, it means possesing his/her body in an Unstoppable Rage, but it does help. (Usually).
- Avatar Kyoshi does briefly take the helm of Aang's body so she could explain to the people of Chin Village that she didn't actually kill Chin.
- The season 1 finale also involved Aang getting some direct help from the Ocean Spirit itself when the Fire Nation finds a way to "neutralize" the Moon (and thus all waterbending). Both the Ocean and the Moon spirits crossed over to the physical world ages ago in Avatar, but they were still otherworldly in nature so it counts.
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), Hamato Yoshi's spirit returns to aid the turtles during their battle with the Demon Shredder, striking a finishing blow that cleaves the tengu in half.
- In G.I. Joe Cobra Commander tried using supernatural forces to call upon the restless spirits of three warriors; his first mistake was thinking he could control them. The second was summoning three who were more likely to side with the Joes' interests. (One of the was even an American World War I pilot.) Lady Jay even made light of the situation when the three spirits changed sides, saying, "I never thought we'd be getting backup from the netherworld."
- In the El Tigre Halloween Episode "The Grave Escape", Manny and Frida end up being punched into the Land of the Dead by a monster Sartana made from the spirits of forgotten ghosts. There, they retrieve help from Manny's ancestors, the Rivera line's various heroes and villains, including the original El Tigre, who return to the living world to fight Sartana.