In this type of Immortality
, a character is not particularly invincible
. They can be hurt and killed, and they usually age normally. However, if they should die, they will immediately be reborn as a child.
This child may or may not be identical to the original body, but will usually have all the memories of their past life or lives. Note that this is not always Reincarnation
- the child may not literally be born, but instead appear or grow on its own.
If they "respawn
" as an adult (or at the same age they died, if a child), then it's Resurrective Immortality
This type of immortality rarely overlaps with the other Immortality
tropes. See also The Phoenix
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Anime & Manga
- All Digimon in most seasons have this, though Digimon Tamers averted it. When they're killed, they merely turn into a Digi-egg and are reborn, though it varies if they remember their previous life or not. A plot point in Digimon Savers is the Big Bad, Kurata found a way to prevent them from coming back to life after death.
- Asakura Hao in Shaman King, who reincarnates himself every 500 years (having done this twice at the time of the series) to compete in the Shaman Fight. Could possibly reincarnate more frequently, just chooses not to.
- The Phoenix King Saffron from Ranma ˝. Initially seen as a child, he undergoes a process that matures him to adult form within a day, and is then frozen solid and shattered in battle. He immediately regenerates as an egg and hatches again, but as a baby. It's implied that he can keep his memories, but he can also be raised differently to be a better person than his previous incarnation.
- When Demon King Piccolo is killed by Goku in Dragon Ball, he creates an egg with his reincarnation, Piccolo Jr, who becomes the new, less evil, Piccolo for the rest of the series.
Film - Live Action
- A variation with the Helmacrons from Animorphs. When one of them dies, their consciousness is transferred to another, living, Helmacron. This doesn't really make them more effective, however, because as a race they are batshit insane.
- In the Discworld book Thief of Time, we find the Abbot of the History Monks does this. He lives a normal life, and remembers each of his previous incarnations, but when he dies, he is immediately reborn somewhere in a village at the foot of the mountain. Lu Tze, on the other hand, has mastered circular aging, so he does not age.
Live Action TV
- On Blood Ties a couple of lovers had this power. After death they would be reincarnated and their old memories would come back once they reached puberty. They would find each other again and they would spend another lifetime as a couple. Things go awry when the woman dies in an accident that also puts the man in a coma for ten years. When he finally reincarnates and gets his memories back he can't find her. It turns out that she waited for him for years, but gave up, fell in love, got married, and had children. He initially tries to convince her to leave her husband and children but, eventually, relents and agrees that maybe they're not fated to be together (since their deaths are never natural).
Myth, Legend, Religion, and Oral Tradition
- The Phoenix, according to ancient Greek writers. When it reaches a certain age it incinerates itself, and a baby phoenix crawls out of the ashes.
- Every Dalai Lama is believed to be the reincarnation of the original Dalai Lama, who returns to help his followers rather than Ascending to a Higher Plane of Existence.
- Unlike other beings and even other lamas, tulkus, in Buddhism, are able to choose the form of their reincarnation.
- Egyptian Mythology: The Egyptian gods are immortal in this way. Although they are depicted as being killed, and aging, in several myths, they always come back to life. The sun god Re dies each and every evening, and is reborn every morning as a child. Though the evidence isn't entirely clear, it appears that all gods were thought to age, die, and resurrect. It is also somewhat unclear, however, whether some of them skip the infancy stage.
- The Reborn of the New World of Darkness (found in the Immortals sourcebook) are effectively human in every way that matters - but every time they die, they're reincarnated as babies, and have to grow up all over again. As they mature, each new incarnation recalls the memories of all their previous incarnations.
- Explained in the background of Warhammer 40,000 as the origin of the Emperor. Back before humans were civilised, there was a secret society of shamans who utilised this trope. When their numbers started dwindling, due to their souls being eaten by the newly formed Chaos gods before they had the chance to be reborn, they sacrificed themselves to give all their power to a single human who would be the regular kind of immortal instead.
- The Samsaran race in Pathfinder have this as a racial trait. Consequently, their numbers are effectively fixed, and any children they have are ordinary humans; only in very rare cases is a new Samsaran born, as opposed to being reincarnated after dying in a past life.
- From Bloodrayne, a Flower Child’s life cycle is a true cycle. They can die and be reborn a seemingly unlimited number of times, provided they aren’t killed before reaching physical maturity. Once they die, a large plant grows from their grave (that plant being whatever type of flower they’re based on). This plant bears a ‘fruit’ which is basically a womb, in which the Flower Child’s new body develops. They are then ‘born’ exactly one year after their death, in the form of a five-year-old child.
- Dracula in the Castlevania series has this in addition to his continual resurrections. After being Killed Off for Real (supposedly) in the Battle of 1999 and his soul sealed away, he was reincarnated to live as a human again, until said human found out he was Dracula and the Sorrow games happened. Interesting in this case because the reincarnation didn't happen immediately. Pieces of Drac's power were incarnated in Graham, Dmitrii and Dario, who were born at the time he was defeated, but the actual inheritor of his soul, Soma Cruz, was born about sixteen years later.
- Cain, AKA Naoya in Devil Survivor has suffered of this for quite a while. This is not willing. In the slightest.
- The fae and arasai in EverQuest II. When they die, either of natural or unnatural causes, a spirit bud is created which regenerates the body until they are ready to be reborn. However, the spirit bud can be destroyed, which leads to the fae or arasai's permanent death.
- Dogmeat in Fallout 3, if Broken Steel is installed and a certain perk is taken, gains this form of immortality. Every time he is killed, he is reincarnated in a new body as Dogmeat's Puppy.
- The seeress Paddra Nsu-Yeul in Final Fantasy XIII-2 lives to be only about 17 before her visions kill her, and then she is reborn as an identical new infant of the Farseer tribe. This happens again and again throughout all of history. Yeul was the first human created by the goddess Etro, and she's still present in the post-apocalyptic world of 700 AF. Seeing so many Yeuls die young eventually drives her/their immortal guardian Caius insane, which is why he's the Big Bad of the game. His goal is to cause a Time Crash, so that there's no future for Yeul to see.
- The Chao in the Sonic Adventure Series can come back from death this way if raised correctly. In fact, dying and being reborn twice is one of the requirements for a Chao to become a perfectly immortal Chaos Chao.
- Zasalamel from the Soul series was originally one of the protectors of Soul Calibur. Against the warnings of one of his fellow tribesmen, Zasalamel discovers the secrets of reincarnation. Over the ages, he regrets this decision, as he realizes that his newfound powers aren't all they're cracked up to be. Thus, he maddeningly seeks the means to end his life for good. After killing himself with Soul Edge and being unable to find the spirit sword he was once tasked with protecting, Zasalamel spends the duration of Soulcalibur III plotting to restore the soul swords to their full power so he can absorb their energies and finally break his cycle of death and rebirth. He succeeds, but sees a vision of the future during his ritual. Amazed by the potential of humanity, Zasalamel, feeling an urge to live again, decides to keep his "curse" and guide mankind toward the vision he glimpsed.
- Michael Roa Valdamjong from Tsukihime invented a magic that allows him to reincarnate in a previously selected infant body if his current one is killed.
- Ganondorf, King of Evil, achieves this in The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures after having been slain in Twilight Princess. Reborn to the Gerudo tribe once again, as soon as he is old enough he rushes to the Pyramid of Power to retrieve his trident and become Ganon once again. Justified in Skyward Sword since he's the embodiment of Demise's eternal hatred for the heroes and their reincarnations.
- Immortals in El Goonish Shive "die" every 200 years or so to be reborn with their basic personality but essentially none of their memories. They will know anything their previous self deemed important, though it will be more like information from a book than an actual memory. Not "dying" every so often leads to problems from increasing power, boredom, and decreasing sanity (Pandora Chaos Raven is a good example of what happens when an immortal does not reset themselves).
- In Koan Of The Day, the sunflower is reborn a hundred times each time she dies.
- In South Park, a mixture of this and Resurrective Immortality happens to the character of Kenny McCormick. When he dies, his mother instantly has another child, who ages to Kenny's age overnight. Only the new Kenny, who has all the old Kenny's memories, and his parents remember what happened, but the latter assume it's just a drug hallucination. Everyone else just thinks Kenny bailed on them.
- In Wakfu, the six original Eliatropes including their king Yugo have this, as do their dragon siblings. Qilby and possibly his dragon sister Shinonome are the only ones who retain the memories of their past lives.
- The Avatar Spirit, from The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. Being partly based off of the above mentioned Dalai Lama, the Avatar Spirit itself will always be reborn in mortal form. The current incarnation technically has access to the power and wisdom of all of the previous incarnations, but learning how to access that can be difficult.
- It's a jellyfish, not a bird, but the Turritopsis nutricula has the phoenix-like ability to indefinitely revert to its juvenile state instead of dying, effectively achieving true immortality.