"Why, yes, Dr. Venture, I can see people just lining up for your resurrections!"
"Sometimes, dead is better."
Sometimes, death is not a cheap event that's easily undone
, but a dramatic, soul-scouring event
. Even if Magic and Powers
exist, most would say cheating it
is flat-out impossible
. However, if you really love someone
, nothing's impossible, right?
By technology or magic, by the power of the Gods or the grace
of the Old Ones
, surely there is a way...
...Well, yeah, it is
possible, but you won't like the result
. Seriously. It's not a pretty picture.
Basically, an attempt to resurrect someone from the dead — usually
a Love Interest
, sometimes a family member, a close friend
or even one's self
— will end badly
. This can be due to unfortunate circumstances, external tampering, or the setting itself being constrained by an Equivalent Exchange
or Fantastic Aesop
that makes all such attempts Go Horribly Wrong
. There are several ways this could go badly:
Often falls under Equivalent Exchange
explaining why it doesn't work. Other times a Fantastic Aesop
behind why those who've had Death by Origin Story
can't come back. If Only Mostly Dead
has also been used or the setting includes powerful White Magic
, it can seem like Sour Grapes
Sometimes this can happen even in a universe where coming Back from the Dead
can be done without incident, if the resurrection's not performed competently, done without important supplies
, or intentionally sabotaged.
Compare Creating Life
and the opposite, Came Back Strong
. See also Harmful Healing
, Unwanted Revival
and Resurrection Sickness
Sometimes a Zombie Apocalypse
can be a Came Back Wrong on a massive scale.
Most examples fall into one of the above-listed subtypes. Only examples that don't fit one of those should be included specifically on this page.
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
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Anime & Manga
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, attempts at reviving dead people with alchemy creates a badly-constructed human body made from chemical elements. This body, which has no soul or consciousness and only the most rudimentary of biological functions, inevitably expires within moments of its 'birth'.
- Most times, yes; but in some cases, it's possible that it survives. However, that doesn't mean that the person's been brought back exactly as s/he was before. In a side story, an alchemist working for a wealthy family attempted to resurrect the young daughter of his masters, losing his eyesight in the process. Unfortunately, all he managed to create was a zombie-like corpse barely capable of moving, with a soul that may or may not be the child's real soul. In the end, the family had to adopt a little girl to impersonate the dead one, so that the alchemist may live the rest of his life believing the child was alive again.
- In the 2003 anime version, however, attempts at reviving dead people with alchemy create homunculi. Homunculi are beings with the same chemical makeup and appearance as the human that was supposed to be resurrected, but they have no souls or conscience. As a result of having no soul they cannot perform alchemy, but instead have a single alchemy-related super power. Many of the homunculi are Beta Test Baddies who have thrown their lot in with the Big Bad for the promise of a soul.
- The manga ultimately subverts the trope, in that the "revived" people are entirely different beings. (Trisha's hair was brown, the body the Elrics created had black hair, etc.) This revelation leads Ed to conclude reviving the dead is impossible and relieves Alphonse and Izumi Curtis, who had been suffering immense grief over killing their loved ones with failed transmutations.
- The priestess Kikyo from Inuyasha is brought back in a clay body, but the body itself is soulless. Kagome's soul, being a reincarnation, was needed to complete the ritual, but it was interrupted so the only thing Kikyo was able to gain was the anger and hatred for Inuyasha. She then needs to feed on the souls of the dead in order to stay "alive."
- Yuno of Mirai Nikki realizes this during the first time loop. She and Yukiteru, who are in a relationship, decide on a Suicide Pact. However, Yuno doesn't swallow her pills purposefully, so that she can become God and resurrect Yuki. However, when she does, Deus tells her that it is impossible to resurrect a soul.
- Spoofed in Haruhi-chan. Ryoko Asakura restores her being... but ends up as the incredibly cute and tiny Achakura. Nagato takes her home.
- In Zegapain coming back from the dead is possible, but there's a very good chance of losing body integrity and/or missing memories , turning people into different persons. Bad thing when your loved ones don't remember you, have become emotionless or have half their head turned into a hollow blackness.
- In Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin, Kozue is killed and reanimated as part of a Flatline Plotline, but she comes back as a boring rationalist. On the flip side, she no longer needs glasses.
- Sankarea presents a unique case. Rea came back alright... for now. It can be said that she is sliding towards this trope.
- However she is a unique case in and of herself -as noted by zombie researcher Darin- because she took the reviving drug before she died.
- In Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest, a blood transfusion from Inugami to Chiba (after Haguro brutally murders him just for talking with Inugami) turns him into a human/werewolf hybrid.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Hoo boy. The Magical Girl transformation process basically kills them and brings them back as Liches. Not only do their bodies start decaying if they're removed from their Soul Gem for too long, their removed souls also decay into "Witches", the Big Bads they have to spend eternity fighting. Think of Death Becomes Her with the Black Comedy replaced by just plain blackness.
- Brook from One Piece ate a Devil Fruit that allowed his soul to return to his body after he had died... too bad it got lost at sea and only found his body after the corpse had decayed into a skeleton, causing his current Dem Bones appearance.
- Fate Testarossa from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: When Precia Testarossa attempted to bring back her daughter Alicia after her accidental death, Fate was the result. Fate looked like Alicia and had all of her memories, but she was different. She had different preferences, a different attitude, and she was right-handed instead of left. Precia did not take this well at all.
- Tokyo Ravens: Suzukaīs brotherís body was possessed by a wandering spirit following Resurrection. Then Natsume as a lich following a botched Sacrificial Revival Spell.
- Nanatsu No Taizai: Death is medium priced. One spell is capable of reviving a mostly-intact corpse with their soul returned twice. Unfortunately, the mental decay from the first resurrection causes the being in question to become high-strung and obediently loyal to the caster. The second resurrection leaves the being a tormented thrall, having lost most of their skill power and free will. Any further resurrections will result in a classic zombie, with some ingrained skills.
- A more humorous one happened in Tenchi Muyo!. Z kills Ryo-Ohki by slicing her ship form in half, reverting one of her crystals into an egg. When the egg finally hatches, there ends up being two Ryo-Ohkis. Ryoko will have none of that, closes the egg up, shakes it, and fuses the two Ryo-Ohkis.
- In Blame, Seu, an enhanced human who acts as muscle for an AI control system, is repeatedly healed using a Matter Replicator, but each time his mind degrades more and more.
- Inverted with the titular creatures of Digimon. When they "die" their data is merely recycled and they eventually come back. More than a few times in the series a villain or evil mon has died, only to ultimately come back as a neutral or even benevolant character.
- Most Lazarus Pit stories have this as a temporary effect. Coming back drives you around the bend. Some recover. Not all do. The wife of Mr. Freeze was put into a Lazarus Pit and revived in the last arc of the Batgirl series. It wasn't pretty. Mostly since she was in pieces at the time, and Freeze didn't wait to get everything aligned properly. The good news is, she's alive. The bad news is, she's nuts and has superpowers. Oh, and the really bad news is that the powers are heat based. Think on it for a sec.
- In the Marvel Universe, the ancient clan of ninjas known as the Hand, when they aren't serving as disposable cannon fodder in stories featuring Wolverine, Daredevil, and/or Elektra, can bring recently-slain people back from the dead; dozens of the ninjas give up their lives voluntarily, reanimating the dead person by donating their life force. Upon resurrection, the person in question typically does a 180-degree alignment flip, and often acquires a near-total devotion to the Hand and its goals. This can often be undone through extensive deprogramming.
- In the original comic book The Crow the titular character is arguably somewhere between Types 1, 2 and 4. He's not a monster, and appears to have returned from the dead relatively human, but virtually the only memories left in his head are of his and his fiance's deaths, the people who caused them, and an unstoppable desire for revenge. During the story arc, he experiences moments of Empty Shell, rage and near superhuman physical abilities, and very human moments. The movie version didn't bring this across quite as clearly, possibly because further scenes of his resurrection had yet to be filmed when Brandon Lee died on-set.
- An odd variant appears in Teen Titans. Terra was resurrected as Terra 2. There's really nothing wrong with her, but her personality was the opposite of the original. While Terra was a sociopathic villain, Terra 2 was a true hero at heart. Later retconned: Terra 1 was given "Dr. Wilson's "I'm Evil Now" Juice" by Deathstroke (the same stuff that he gave Batgirl and Ravager much later). Terra, apparently, has always been a true hero deep down.
- Man-Thing was once Dr. Ted Sallis before a scientific accident (plus a little magic) turned him into a hulking, mindless mound of empathic sludge.
- Malibu Comics's hero Gravestone had the power to come back from being killed seemingly with ease... in truth, his soul had to fight his way out of the underworld each and every time. One story had a girl's soul tag along (without his permission) so she revived too... except an ancient evil also tagged along in her, causing her to turn into a monster who kills her family.
- Subverted magnificently in an Avengers story: the supervillain Grim Reaper turned several dead Avengers into undead beings hoping to use them against the current team... but he underestimated the power of their Heroic Willpower and they turned on him. Reaper's brother, the hero Wonder Man, even remarked to his face how stupid his plan had been.
- A Fantastic Four story had an ancient artifact called the Resurrection Stone which had to be retrieved for contrived reasons. It was in two parts, one would animate the body (but leave it a soulless husk) and the other would replace the soul (in an inanimate body). The people who used the two pieces are also driven completely insane by using them.
- People injected with Compound V in The Boys have a small chance of turning back to life... as brain-dead zombies prone to soil themselves.
- The Flash: Played with when the real Barry finally comes back to life. He feels off, like he shouldn't be alive. Turns out Professor Zoom brought him back with a corrupted Speed Force. Unlike most examples of this trope, they get it fixed.
- This is the powerset for adult Layla Miller, aka Butterfly from X-Factor. She can resurrect the dead, but the soul doesn't get reattached to the revived body.
- This was the case for Green Arrow. Hal Jordan, before his Heroic Sacrifice in reigniting the sun, recreated Ollie's body after his own Heroic Sacrifice. However, he couldn't bring the soul back and it took Hal as the Spectre and an appeal from body to soul to fix that little problem.
- Knuckles had this happen in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog. When he's killed trying to save Dimitri from Mammoth Mogul, Knuckles ends up passing through the Chaos Force and meets his ancestors. However, he decides he's better off in the living world and returns. However, when he does so, his powers don't follow him. He spends a year powerless and it isn't until Sonic returns that Knuckles is able to get repowered.
- Ty-Chou/Ghost of the Dawn's series. After Crystal dies in "Ghost In The Machine", she's brought back... as a Transformer. She immediately punches out Prowl, the one responsible, yelling "I'm your friend! You're supposed to let me die with a little dignity!" There are currently four such fictions on Fanfiction.net: "Small Problems", "Ghost in the Machine", "The Autobot Files", and the newest, "The Secret Lives of Decepticons".
- In "Sweetie's Mansion" all of the mane cast that has been brought back to life from being paintings -thanks to Sweetie Belle using the Amplifier Artifact given to her by Madame Fleur, has no cutie marks and not only that- their cutie marks and their talents are really transferred into Sweetie Belle each time she catches each of their ghost form.
- There's another problem in that the mane cast may not have come completely back to life from the paintings. Sweetie ran into their lifeless bodies with grayed out cutie marks that were being controlled by other ghosts (ghost dogs) when Sweetie was hunting Ghost!Pinkie. It was established in that same chapter that when a pony is dead, their cutie mark is grayed out.
- This brilliant Sherlock fanfiction, which has the exact prompt.
- In War Without End though Light would never admit it, after his resurrection he is seeking comfort in Misa— something that would have been Out of Character for him to do before.
- Horseshoes and Hand Grenades has Gentaro resurrected, but not by Kengo and the Cosmic Switch. He was revived by an evil serpent known as Ophiuchus who twisted his mind to focus on how his friends left him to die when Ryusei killed him. As shown in future chapters, people who have died just like Gentaro also are resurrected badly. This includes Shun, Shotaro and Haruto.
- In Quick To The Trigger, David Trueheart—Tommy Oliver's old brother from his Zeo days—was revived this way by Hayato. So far, he's shown as a quiet, mindless zombie which really doesn't bode well with Dr. Oliver.
- This is the basis for White Devil of the Moon: Queen Serenity accidentally botches the resurrection spell and placing the soul of Princess Serenity not in Usagi Tsukino, but Nanoha Takamachi. This has serious consequences as not only are the Sailor Senshi, without Usagi's guidance, not the incredible True Companions that they are in canon, but when Nanoha learns of her past, she's utterly disgusted with it and renounces everything, preferring how she is now. Luna doesn't take this well at all.
- The premise of Immortality Syndrome, a Powerpuff Girls fanfic.
- In Mega Man Reawakened, Robert is this due to returning from the dead.
- In Mega Man Recut, Snake Man comes back wrong after bodyswapping with Mega Man, s his mind begins to outstrip his original body's programming.
- Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race has Dark Man, who was given a new memory core after death, and became, essentially, a zombie. The author stated that this was like putting a new soul in the same body.
- Goddess Reborn Chronicle has Cambions and Guardians, whose transformations are horrifying.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- Used in Wes Craven's Chiller. A man named Miles Creighton is revived from cryonic preservation 10 years after being frozen due to having an incurable disease. With technology now advanced enough to resurrect people preserved this way, Miles is brought back to life, but has undergone an unpleasant change of personality, becoming cruel and sadistic, with the implication that he has lost his soul.
- Happens to the protagonist in Enter the Void after his death. At least that is how his sister imagines it in a nightmare she is having.
- The upcoming horror film The Lazarus Effect appears to be based around this. The trailers show a team of scientists attempting a process to bring the dead back to life, testing it on a dead dog. When one of their team dies in an accident during the trial, the head of the team (her fiance) desperately tries the process on her. She comes back, but she's inexplicably evil and demonic now.
- The Radix: Discussed and subverted. John Brynstone's baby daughter dies, and he brings her back with the power of the Radix. Cori Cassidy fears that this could happen to the kid. Later she finds out that baby has Came Back Strong, getting a Healing Factor.
- The basic premise of Pet Sematary is that what you bring back is not what first died. To disastrous degrees. Specifically, while they stop decaying and can pass for alive if cleaned up, what comes back is a moving corpse that cannot heal, saddled with whatever injuries may have killed it. To further worsen the deal, while the corpse has all the memories and echoes of their personality, what "comes back" is not the soul of the deceased but some form of Demon or Monster from Beyond the Veil bent on making the one who resurrected it suffer through killing those they hold dear, and then them.
- There is a short story by Edmond Hamilton about the last man on Earth (an immortal) who tries to bring humanity back. He tries to resurrect the dead, and they, while alive (and sentient) are devoid of any human emotion, even the children they bear. Then he tries to bring people from the past - and the travel makes them raving mad.
- In one of HP Lovecraft's more famous works, "Herbert West: Re-animator," the title character becomes convinced that life is strictly chemical, and repeatedly attempts to bring the dead back to life. His first revived human attempts to claw its way back into its filled-in grave, and the others exhibit similar signs of madness when revived. Finally, the abominations that West hauled back from the great beyond find him, and silently tear him to pieces in front of the narrator, before leaving without a trace with West's remains. The last one of West's experiments does appear to be quite sentient: a pilot decapitated in an accident, whose head and body live separate from each other but act as one entity. He is not only able to understand what West did to him and desire revenge, but also bend the other research subjects to his will, as well.
- The protagonists of the horror short story "The Monkey's Paw" get Three Wishes with the title artifact, only to find out you have to Be Careful What You Wish For. The first wish is for a pile of money, which they get as compensation for the horrific death of their son. The second wish, made in a rash moment of extreme grief, is for their son to come back. The father quickly realizes this trope will be in effect given the way the first wish came about. The audience/reader never actually sees what comes back, because just as the mother is about to open the door and let their "son" in, her husband uses the third and final wish to undo the second one and she finds nothing and no-one there.
- In K.J. Taylor's The Fallen Moon, Arenadd is brought back by the Night God to be her avatar and prophet. Unfortunately, she is the goddess of death not life, so this is without a heartbeat. Later resurrections cause him to lose/give up increasingly more of his weaker, human, qualities, including his memories.
- George Martin's Wild Cards feature two examples:
- Demise. After drawing the Black Queen, Demise was treated with the experimental Trump cure. It seemed to work, as he survived, retaining his human shape, sanity, memory and personality, thus not fitting any of the 5 subtropes above. Demise also gained absolute regeneration, thus becoming an Ace. The only problem was apparently being conscious during death and aware of the entire process, requiring massive therapy afterwards. Now Demise can, upon locking eyes, telepathically project memories of death, which can shock, stun or kill the recipient depending on the dose.
- Crypt Kicker. His Wild Card kicked in as he went postal, at the moment he shot himself. Crypt Kicker has kept the human shape, (debatable) sanity, personality and memory, thus not fitting any of the subtropes above, and gained the Ace ability to excrete unspecified caustics and toxins from his palms. While technically immortal, he has no regenerative abilities, gradually losing parts through the books, until someone releases him from the mortal coil.
- George Martin has stated his like of this trope in the past.
- He uses it in A Song of Ice and Fire, with the red priests.
- Thoros of Myr is able to bring people back from the dead, and in A Storm of Swords you see him do this to one person repeatedly, who continually loses more and more of his original self in the process.
- The finest example of all, though, is Catelyn Stark. Dead for days before she was revived and murdered under circumstances that simply scream a need for vengeance, the loving mother that dies is brought back as a merciless, half-decayed killer.
- Harry Potter:
- Subverted in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with Voldemort's resurrection. His revived body is distorted and disfigured, and his soul is damaged, but these are due to a separate bit of dark magic and it's implied he came back the same as he was before he got blown up.
- In a fairy tale from the Potterverse, "The Tale of the Three Brothers," a guy gets a magic stone that can bring his loved ones back from the dead. He brings back his girlfriend, but she's sad and cold, and doesn't seem like she belongs. Eventually, the guy commits suicide so he can truly join her. Harry actually uses the stone, but with much better results, since he never intended it to be permanent.
- In The Death Gate Cycle necromancy is possible with both patryn and sartan runes... but for every soul brought back untimely another dies untimely. It is implied that the sartan almost drove themselves to extinction because on one of the worlds they were bringing back everyone who died, so their brothers and sisters on the other worlds were dying in their sleep. Also, both patryn and sartan languages transfer more than just the words to each other, so the sartan who did not live on that world felt "lighter" when they spoke, and the ones who practiced necromancy made the listener feel "wrong", heavy, and sometimes cold.
- In the Dean Koontz novel Shadow Fires, Eric, a wealthy man with an extreme fear of death, subjects himself to an expermental regeneration formula, then is killed by a truck. However, he is brought back to life by his regeneration. That's the good news (in his opinion). The bad news? His death causes his Healing Factor to go out of control and starts mutating out of control in several horrible ways.
- In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Lady Pole is resurrected by a magician who made a deal with a faerie to let her half her life back, provided the faerie can have the other half. However, she is languid, appears ill and exhausted and does not demonstrate any pleasure in life or happiness that she is alive again. She also often speaks nonsense due to a spell that prevents her from telling anyone the truth about her condition and the implications of the deal which means she is taken into the underworld every night and forced to attend balls and dance all night long.
- In the Philip K Dick story "Upon The Dull Earth", Silvia sacrifices herself to some angel-like creatures to be among them. When her boyfriend Rick gets them to bring her back, they do so by transforming another living human (her sister) into Silvia. She seems to come back completely unchanged from the experience. Then it turns out that this upset the natural balance, and as a result everyone in the world is slowly turning into Silvia, both mentally and physically.
- Descent Into The Depths Of The Earth has a climactic battle sequence in which the sidekick Polk the Teamster is brutally killed. Following the trial scene (it's a rather involved story) he gets brought back...by a Faerie priest, who doesn't have access to Raise Dead, having to use Reincarnate (this is an AD&D Novel, firmly rooted in 2nd Edition although 3rd was already long out). He comes back as a badger. Which has the ability to function normally after drinking approximately his own body weight in alcohol, which the severely alcoholic Polk thoroughly enjoys.
- In the fairy tale "The Three Leaves Of The Snake" the hero uses the titular leaves to bring his wife back from the dead. At first it seems fine, but after being resurrected her love for him has turned into hate and she tries to murder him on a sea voyage. He is rescued by a faithful servant and she is executed.
- In a disturbing scene in The Book Of Sorrows Lord Russel the fox, who recently died of an infection, returns as an undead creature due to Wyrm's evil power.
- The Dresden Files has Butters fearing this in Skin Game in regards to Harry, who was revived after being shot in the freaking heart. In one of the most tearjerking scenes in the book, he details exactly why he thinks this, because after Harry died the world became horrifyingly dark. The ones left behind had to damage themselves greatly just to try filling his shoes. Then he came back, and it was like the sun rising up. Except Harry didn't help. He just became distant and cryptic, asking them to put insane amounts of trust in him without giving explanation as to what he was doing, and actually admitting to working with the bad guys to boot. No wonder he cited Pet Sematary.
- A milder example in Galaxy of Fear: City of the Dead. Inject a rotting corpse with the reanimation serum, get a rotting clumsy zombie. Fresher corpses produce more useful zombies. The freshest ones - like, say, someone an inquiring scientist has just murdered - come back with some of their old ability to speak and remember, but still obedient. Zak Arranda, finding his new friend Kairn turned into a zombie in such a fresh way, thinks he's changed - he's more morbid, can't seem to follow a conversation very well, and oh yes he helps the scientist capture Zak. Said scientist injects himself while still alive. When he's killed, he comes back right, the only negative effect that seen being a periodic uncontrollable spasming. Kairn didn't come back right, exactly, but enough of him remains that when Zak appeals to him for help, he's able to struggle against the scientist's control and help his friend.
- Subverted in Ixia and Sitia wherein it turns out there are perfectly valid psychological reasons why the experience of dying might affect your emotional state. Who knew?
- In Seanan McGuire's Velveteen Vs series, the alternate universe Velveteen, Marionette, is animating herself based on the life of those about her. Most Marionettes are evil. One is supported willingly by a friend until she defeats the Patriots. This one helps Jackie to deal with how Velveteen brought Tag back — wrong in that it's slowly killing her.
- Nicolae Carpathia's "resurrection" in the Left Behind book The Indwelling turns out to be Satan indwelling Nicolae's body, imbuing him with supernatural abilities.
- This is the central premise of Leonid N. Andreyev's short story Lazarus, which tells the story of the titular character following his resurrection by Christ.
- The Igors of Discworld can bring back a fresh or properly preserved person with the right equipment and a bolt of lightning, but even they admit the result isn't quite right (and they even routinely do this for each other). Fortunately, the main drawback is giving the resurrectee "The Love of Iron" (a.k.a. they become magnetized).
- Duke Roger, the Big Bad of Song of the Lioness, is killed in the second book and brought back in the forth. He was actually Not Quite Dead, but being trapped and immobile in a coffin for over a year drove him around the bend and his plans changed from "usurp the throne" to "DESTROY EVERYTHING."
- The short novel Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky Brothers tells how the protagonist's father, who had died and been buried years before, is inadvertently resurrected by whatever the alien artifacts are emitting. He's not quite himself, rather behaving like a machine.
- Gabriel from Ro Te O should have been an angel coming back from resurrection but ends up as a demon instead.
- Bubba from The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries was a rock star who died of a drug overdose. One of the morgue attendants on duty was a fan of his who happened to be a vampire. He tried to turn Bubba, but the drugs already in his system interfered with the process, turning him a partially-amnesiac, feeble-minded Gentle Giant, with who tends to go berserk when confronted with memories of his former life. Even saying who he looks like is enough to trigger a rage episode. Bubba's real name is only mentioned a couple of times, other than his origin: Elvis Presley.
- In Spirit Bound, after Dimitriís recovery from being a Strigoi, he is convinced this is the case. Feeling unable to feel proper emotions. He was wrong.
- This tragically happens to Grianne Ohmsford after she had transformed into a different, happier existence for over a hundred years in the latest books of the Shannara series, Dark Legacy. The plot revolves around Tael Riverine, the Bigger Bad from the (chronologically) most recent trilogy, who is still fixated on making her his bride. She's been gone, but the protagonists try to retrieve her from her new existence in the belief that she can help stop Riverine. The ancient being that allowed her to ascend grants her return to humanity, but not quite as the protagonists wanted... Tragic especially because she had wanted to be free from the doubt and pain of human life, only to be dragged back again to finish her unfinished business.
- The Returned in Warbreaker. Returned lose their memories, and must consume one human soul a week to stay on this plane of existence.
Live Action TV
- This is the main driver in The Outer Limits (1995) episode "New Lease". A scientist invents a regeneration device. When he uses it on a patient, the patient comes back but dies horribly shortly afterwards. When he is shot, he uses the device on himself, and believing he will die soon, murders the robber. He finds out the device worked properly on him - because unlike the test subjects, his body was never frozen - and he will now go to prison for the rest of his life.
- In Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen asks a witch to give her husband Drogo 'life' when she says that he is going to die. The next day she finds that her unborn son died during childbirth and Drogo is a soulless shell. When she asks the witch what she has done she says: "You asked for life". It could be argued that this is not an example of 'Came Back Wrong' because Drogo is not shown to be dead, but he was very close to death, and it is implied that some form of dark necromancy was used.
- Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) has the Cylons routinely resurrect after death in new bodies, with few to no physical or mental ill effects other than the implied trauma and disorientation. One Cylon, Number 3, even found it "rejuvenating". However, a Number 1 described the process as a white hot poker being driven into his skull. Another 1 mentions that the process is more unpleasant each time he does it, although it is apparently less unpleasant than healing up normally after severe injury. Interestingly, the only "downside" to resurrection was that it made Cylons under-appreciate life, as well as allow for some severe post traumatic effects depending on the cause of death.
- Caprica, the prequel to Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) both uses and subverts this trope. It seems the qualifying factor here is that Zoe's technology does not cheat death, but creates life. Granted, life heavily based on existing people, but the mental and emotional health of the AIs seems directly proportional to how much they are treated as separate individuals to their originals. And whether they are aware they are separate individuals.
- After some trauma after the death of her creator, virtual Zoe becomes generally well-adjusted and fine with being an AI clone of the real Zoe and trapped in Cyber Space with the emotional support of Lacy. Zoe-A knows that she is a virtual avatar of Zoe Graystone.
- Tamara's virtual copy does not fare so well, she panics at waking up in a black void and not having a heartbeat. Tamara-A thinks she is actually Tamara Adama.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- As one of the major plot points in season six; the Scoobies bring Buffy back from the dead after her Heroic Sacrifice at the end of season 5. When she behaves erratically and out of character, Spike attempts to convince her that she's lost something in her return to Earth. Buffy herself was convinced she was thrown out of Heaven, and didn't bring this up with the others when they brought her back; as far as they know, they'd brought her back from some deeper part of hell she didn't want to talk about. This makes it all the more heart-wrenching when a musical demon forces them all to tell their truth in song, and Buffy tells them all where she had actually been and what she thought of her resurrection.
- Subverted however when Tara informs Buffy she hasn't come back wrong. Buffy breaks down sobbing, as this means her Destructive Romance with Spike is entirely due to her own flaws. More specifically, Buffy came back "wrong" only in the form of a mild physiological alteration that confused the human-harming inhibitor chip in Spike's head. Tara likened it to a suntan: a superficial change that didn't actually alter who Buffy fundamentally was. On the other hand given the way she acted since her resurrection and the trauma inflicted on her, Buffy did come back wrong, and the price for such dark magic was the loss of her sanity.
- The Trope Namer comes from a Season Five episode, when Buffy and Dawn's mother dies, Dawn makes her first venture into witchcraft, invoking a spell to bring their mother back. Buffy is furious at Dawn; witchcraft can produce horrific results, especially when done by amateurs. Dawn is obstinate, accusing Buffy of not even understanding how much she misses their mom ó until their mother's silhouette appears outside their window. Suddenly Buffy, who has been trying to be strong for her sister this whole time, breaks down and rushes to the door, yearning to see her mother again. At the same moment, Dawn realizes how much Buffy has also been suffering and that she isn't as alone in her grief and loss as she thought. Dawn revokes the spell, and whatever was on the other side of the door disappears before Buffy can open it. We never learn whether or not Mrs. Summers came back wrong. Considering Dawn got the spell from a guy later revealed to be a minion (possibly The Dragon) of Glory, odds are it was probably designed to make the person it was used on come back wrong.
- Another Buffy episode has her trying to convince her old friend Billy Fordham that his plan to die and come back to cure his illness won't work. He's decided on vampirism and the attempt is made to convince him he will simply die and a demon will wear his body as a meat suit.
- Considering later examples it's interesting that when Buffy dies for the first time at the end of season one (she was only mostly dead) there aren't any major ramifications. Well, aside from the aforementioned disruption in the cycle leading to there being two slayers from then on.
- In Season 9, Eyghon, the demon summoned by Giles and Ethan in their youth, returned and possessed Ethan's body to literally snatch Giles' corpse at his funeral. Eyghon now possesses Giles and has resurrected a recently deceased slayer as well as other people, though not with their own souls as the bodies are possessed by demons.
- Doctor Who:
- As if Rory's death wasn't bad enough, he returns as an Auton constructed from memories. While the Rory persona eventually wins out in the ensuing mental battle, it's not before he fatally shoots Amy.
- Also, Jack. After he gets exterminated by the Daleks, Rose uses her temporary god-powers to resurrect him, but she overdoes it, bringing him back permanently. While automatic resurrection doesn't sound like the worst side effect ever, he's effectively doomed to a lifespan of thousands of years (at least), knowing for a fact that he will outlive every human that becomes his friend or lover as well as any child he has, and at one point gets buried alive and spends the next couple thousand years or so repeatedly suffocating and reviving. It's implied that he's the Face of Boe. Making him billions of years old when he dies.
- In "Silence in the Library," Miss Evangelista is saved, in the computer sense, by the Doctor Moon and CAL. Unluckily, the saving was corrupted and she became horribly ugly yet astoundingly intelligent. By the end of "Forest of the Dead," she got better... still dead, but better.
- During "The End of Time", Lucy sabotages the Master's resurrection, leaving him bleeding energy and eating anything he can get his hands on, including people. On the upside, he gets quite a few super-powers, even if they're part of the bleeding life-force deal.
- While they don't really die in the process, Time Lords have the ability to regenerate, whereby they lose their former personality and looks, but get a new lifespan and heal any wounds, poisonings, etc. It is, strictly speaking, not coming back, but being reborn. Except that they don't really come back "wrong", they just come back different.
- They can also come back desperately ill, as happened with the regeneration from the 4th to the 5th Doctor. He needed to spend at least a few days in a "Zero Room", a special chamber shielded from all outside stimuli, to recover.
- Played for Laughs in the episode "The Snowmen"; Strax is said to have been revived under unknown circumstances from the Battle of Demon's Run by an unnamed friend of the Doctor. However, The Doctor speculates that something went wrong in the process, as Strax is much more of a ditz than before.
- Turns out? Strax didn't even die in the first place. So, serious subversion.
- This trope appears in The Secret Circle. Nick does this, though Melissa finishes him off to save Jake.
- This trope applies to The Vampire Diaries. When Elena dies and comes back a vampire, she's sired to Damon.
- This trope is the impetus for Torchwood: after being killed by Daleks in Doctor Who, Jack Came Back Wrong and subsequently took charge of Torchwood 3 (Cardiff). Also happens more than once to other characters, thanks to the resurrection gauntlet. Both Suzie Costello and Owen Harper are brought back from the dead with some interesting, but different, side effects: Suzie drains Gwen to become permanently alive and Owen comes back with Death, but he gets better...kinda.
- Any dead thing brought back (or not completely dead/outliving its normal life/becoming immortal) in the Supernatural universe: ghosts, demons, zombies...
- In "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things" (S02, E04), a college student-turned-necromancer brings back a woman on whom he had a crush. She is, of course, a vengeful bloodthirsty zombie. Dean even outright says "What's dead should stay dead", and he obviously thinks this applies to himself as well as the zombie because of the deal his father made three episodes earlier so Dean wouldn't die.
- Dean even lampshades it when Bobby's wife returns from the dead apparently normal. Dean, being Genre Savvy and not clouded by emotions, proves to be right.
- Also pointed out by Yellow Eyes after Dean makes a deal to bring Sam back to life—he asks Dean if he thinks that maybe the deal sounded too good to be true and if Sam's possibly been brought back...different.
- Notably subverted this one time when Sam came back: although he did seem to act darker at first after being revived, it turned out that he was actually attempting to toughen himself up to carry on as a hunter after Dean died in a year from the deal to bring Sam back.
- The second (well, technically third, but the second big one) time Sam came back, however, he was definitely wrong. This mainly happened because his soul was unreachable (trapped in Lucifer's Cage), but it probably didn't help that Cas was too distracted with the angelic civil war to double-check his work.
- A recurring theme in seasons 6 and 7 was that while death might be cheap in the Supernatural universe, everything comes back wrong, including Sam, Dean, and Castiel. Even if your soul is fully intact, you'll end up causing destruction and cursing the people around you. Dean's resurrection (after he began torturing souls in Hell) broke the first seal, Sam's (both of them in different ways) eventually resulted in Armageddon, and poor Cas accidentally wiped out his entire (or almost) species by turning them into Leviathan chow. Even the Littlest Cancer Patient accidentally killed a nurse because her soul wasn't reaped in time.
- In the Fringe episode "Marionette", after trying to bring a girl back to life, the villain realizes that what came back "wasn't her anymore". It's ambiguous whether it was a matter of severe brain decay or something spiritual.
- In Season 6 of LOST, Sayid is drowned in the sacred waters of the Temple. He miraculously lives, but he gradually becomes a Soulless Shell who doesn't care whose side he's on — until he heroically sacrifices his life at the end.
- Season 4 of Star Trek: Voyager has the unusually dark and introspective episode "Mortal Coil". Neelix is killed and then resurrected a while later courtesy of Borg technology. He remembers nothing of his time spent dead and spirals into depression, becoming convinced at one point that the real Neelix died and he is all that's left of him.
- In Misfits, people (and animals) revived by the resurrection power act normally at first, but soon become flesh-eating, plague-bearing zombies. Not quite played straight, because they maintain their intelligence, personality, and a sense of remorse. At one point they make it seem as simple as a change in diet, although it's implied at the end that eventually the hunger takes over and makes them evil.
- In an The X-Files episode with an honest-to-goodness Three Wishes genie, the first master wishes to be invisible and gets killed by a car when trying to cross the street. When his brother wishes for him to come back alive, he appears as a shivering necrotic corpse, unable to speak. His brother wishes for him to be able to talk in spite of the genie's warning, and he screams for minutes straight. After he's all screamed out, he attempts to light the stove to warm himself, complaining he "can't feel his blood." He fumbles the matches with the gas on full blast for many minutes, and when he finally does light one the trailer explodes, killing both brothers (we hope) permanently and ejecting the genie. Be Careful What You Wish For.
- In Pushing Daisies the dead people who Ned brings touches come back just as they are - even if they've been, for example, rolled over by a cement mixer. The fruit that he touches seems to come back as it was freshly picked, so perhaps what matter still exists is returned, in freshness at least, to how it was as a living organism.
- Dead Like Me (also created by Bryan Fuller) does the same thing with freshly reaped souls. If they haven't been reaped before death they keep the damage, and can feel it all. Being found and touched beforehand ensures a painless death. George found out that she couldn't run away from her job when the man she was supposed to reap remained conscious during his autopsy.
- The River has an episode where Lincoln is dead and is brought back to life by a local ritual - but he's been possessed by the spirit of the Boiuna as a result.
- Merlin has had a few resurrections, all of which went wrong. Tristan du Bois: undead wraith, Lancelot: Soulless Shell, Uther: Took a Level in Jerkass, which is quite impressive considering he was a genocidal tyrant in the first place.
- The Twilight Zone episode "The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank" was about a guy who came back from the dead and becomes the town pariah. In the end, he lights a cigarette with his mind.
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has the running plotline where Coulson learns he was killed by Loki and brought back from the dead, his false memories of a near fatal injury and recovery in Tahiti used to make him forget the horrors of the process during which he begged to be allowed to die. He's bothered that people who knew him before comment he seems different now, and he becomes much more worried (to the point of having a Heroic BSOD) when he finds out biological material from an alien was used to heal his injuries, and isn't sure what it's done to him. "Nothing Personal" ultimately reveals that the original head of the project was Coulson himself, via a recording where he explains that the procedure had been attempted on other people, all of whom suffered from mental breakdowns of some variety, and the only thing they found that might counter the effects was removing all of the patient's memories of the procedure.
- Whether Coulson came back wrong or not remains to be seen as of the end of season 1. At the end of the finale, Coulson is seen up in the middle of night scribbling in a weird script on a plastic wall.
- Reno 911! eventually explained that this is what happened to Weigel. She died during a drug raid gone wrong and Dangle revived her. Turns out she had been dead for 14 minutes, causing permanent brain damage. The doctor flat out told him he should've let her die.
- Avenged Sevenfold's "A Little Piece of Heaven".
- Ancient Bards' "Soulless Child".
- Miku In "HYPER LATION".
- The Megas portray Proto Man this way.
- "Eulogy for a Ghost" by Clutch.
Waiting for a dead man's shoes
Have you heard the latest news?
Lazarus is back from the dead, looking as one would expect
Dripping with the waters of Sheol
Babbling about body and soul
- Osiris from the Ancient Egyptian pantheon died repeatedly only to return a short while later, suffering several indignities such as being resurrected without a penis, which was eaten by fish before it could be found and reattached. He averts the Trope in that he never came back in some monstrously horrific form, but true to it in that afterwards he was usually worse off than he was previously.
- In Mortasheen this is a bit weird. For, you see, zombies here can regenerate from any injury with few lethal effects, given that they have a ridiculously powerful Healing Factor and a consciousness distributed all over their body. But, sometimes as they're regenerating, they may accidentally get the organic tissue of some other lifeform stuck in theirs, like say that of a snail or a tree. And then things go a bit awry...
- In Ars Magica, a game where one of the hard and fast rules of Hermetic Magic is that it can't bring back the dead, there is a spell that can bring back the dead... sort of. But you have to roll on a table to see what goes wrong (not if something goes wrong — something always goes wrong.) The results can include almost any of the things named above, except that the original soul can never return — the 'best' possibility is a facsimile with the memories and personality of the original person, but without the ability to learn anything new. You're far more likely to get an emotionless automaton or a possessed body, though.
- The Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition spell Reincarnation had a good chance of bringing the reincarnated character back as something other than what they were before. The consequences of bringing an elf back as a dwarf (or vice versa) would be quite silly, though.
- Earlier editions had a fair number of animals on the list. The elf might come back as a badger. The old Planescape setting actually had a group whose special abilities included having Reincarnation guaranteed to at least give you a player character race.
- Pathfinder has the same spell, though a more player friendly version of it. This is unsurprising, as Pathfinder has the Fan Nickname of D&D 3.75, and over time each edition of D&D after AD&D has been less cruel to the player characters.
- This has also been used to create horror, such as when the elf is reincarnated as an orc or a bugbear or something else which is simply terrifying to them.
- Ravenloft exploits Came Back Wrong on every spell, with the recipient of the spell having a very good chance of being possessed by something suitably blasphemous.
- Eberron, due to the orbital movements of the planes, sets the reliability of any spell that brings back the dead by the proximity of the plane of death. When Dolurrh is furthest from Eberron those spells don't work at all, at its closest point the resurrectee has a chance of being brought back with someone else's soul or possessed by a demon, or accompanied by a horde of ghosts.
- 3.5 book Heroes of Horror recommended this as an optional rule to inject some extra horror into the world, while also making the players less likely to rush through the afterlife's revolving door.
- Some planes in Planescape risked this if you tried to resurrect someone while on them. Particularly in the Abyss, you were likely to end up with a demonic spirit inhabiting the body instead.
- In a mix of 4 and 5, the Black Savants of Talislanta were once living necromancers in Khazad, before the Great Disaster. Their people chose to die temporarily to avoid the predicted catastrophe, expecting they'd be returned to life once things had calmed down. But the spells to resurrect them failed, and the majority of Khazad's souls were lost in extraplanar realms of demons and ghosts. The few who did revive, did so in mute, undead bodies. Now, these Black Savants work endlessly to locate the lost souls of their people and bring Khazad back from the dead. Oh, and creep out other Talislantans.
- In The World Of Darkness, particularly in The New World of Darkness game-lines, there are a number of different ways to bring a recently deceased person back from the dead. None of them result in a mentally- or spiritually-sound being. Here's a quick run: you can make a Revenant out of them, but that gives you a zombie with a supercharged case of OCD. You can try Embracing them, but now they're a vampire and, since you Embraced them after death, their reflection/shadow has come loose and become a separate being that hates them. Making a Promethean out of them opens the door to a laundry list of problemsnote . A Geist can haul someone back if they were the right sort and enough wiggle room exists, but it's never for free. And finally, the least harmful of all of these, a Benediction that resurrects the very-recently-slain... leaves them with a permanent mental illness.
- In Werewolf: The Apocalypse from the Old World of Darkness, The Gurahl (werebears) had at least one method that would return the deceased, no matter how long they were dead, with no side effects. The catch? The ritual to do so requires fighting the avatar of the literal God of Death. Guess what happens if you lose.
- Another option was to have a soul-shard happen across the recently deceased and make a deal. This one got them brought back better than before, as one of the Amenti, the Reborn. No matter how often they died again, they could resurrect without a hitch (well, barring the waiting period). The OWOD was a bit kinder on this front than the NWOD.
- One of the ironies of the Mage splat in Mage: The Ascension is that it actually is possible to bring people back just fine with no ill effect, it doesn't even require archmastery. The reason it usually goes bad is because the kinds of people that play Mage often can't risk trying to bring you back ... 'better'. And that's sort of handing the GM a free pass to mess with things in a game full of paradox and Id demons.
- In Shadowrun, when people get stuffed with too many artificial implants, they die. This can be averted by having a magician go on a journey to what may or may not be the afterlife in order to bind your soul and force it back into what's left of your body when you cross that threshold of having too much good stuff in your body. On the plus side, you get to avoid the normal limitations on having useful cybernetics, and you become a semi-magical creature to boot. Too bad that you constantly find yourself detaching from the world around you as your soul keeps on thinking that your body is dead and tries to leave. You constantly pollute the astral space around you with the sheer wrongness that you exude, and that you quickly grow more and more depressed, insane, and tumor-ridden, leading up to your eventual death.
- Some versions of Shadowrun have a character become violently insane before they get to the point of dying from too much cybernetics, due to the Cybernetics Eat Your Soul feature built in to the game mechanics.
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: When players destroy or Tribute monsters, they either go to the Graveyard or are Banished. As such, many card effects rely on bringing back said monsters from either location. Monster Reborn and Call of the Haunted were pretty straightforward, but later cards ended up playing every aspect of this trope. The most common types are Empty Shell and Damaged Soul, where a monster's ability to act is limited, or else becomes "dangerous" to the player. Some cards even resurrect your monsters on the opponent's side.
- Warhammer 40,000's Urien Rakarth, the Dark Eldar Master Haemonculus, discovered the secret of resurrecting himself so long ago, and has done it so many times, that things have started to go inexplicably wrong with the process. He now tends to come back with a small physical reminder of each previous resurrection, usually additional vestigial limbs growing from his spinal sump. Being an utterly insane genius surgeon, body modifier, peerless torturer, and obsessive experimenter, Urien regards this condition as little more than a fascinating quirk and certainly nothing to get all angsty about. Indeed, Urien is so jaded that he practically collects deaths and looks forward to seeing what new and unusual ways he will come back wrong in next.
- Necron "resurrection protocols" teleport a damaged unit back to its tomb for repair. Necron platforms are over sixty-five million years old, their tech hasn't always weathered the aeons, they get bashed up a lot, and the lords skimped on the quality of their foot soldiers, so Necrons pick up aberrations as they get refurbished: the foot soldiers are barely sentient anymore and describing some lords as "deranged" would be putting it mildly.
- Craftworld Altansar was one of the last craftworlds to flee the Eye of Terror during the Fall, and failed to escape. It has always been thought long lost, until recently, when it emerged from the swirling Eye. However, they have changed. The Eldar of Altansar never remove their helmets, and speak only in whispers, causing other Eldar to wonder just what has happened to them.
- Deadlands has lots of ways to come back, almost all of them fulfilling this trope. ANY player character who dies may come back as a walking corpse with a demon using their head as a time-share. Players came to expect this trope so much that when the Collectible Card Game offered the resurrection of a dead character as a tournament prize, the writers made it clear that it would avert this trope and be an honest-to-God divine intervention - which in Deadlands is the ONLY way to come back "right."
- While many cards have handled this theme in Magic: The Gathering, mostly Black and mostly involving selfish necromancers raising the dead as mindless servants, this is the defining attribute of The Returned, the chief Black society in the Theros expansion. Returning from the underworld is no small feat, and those doing so for themselves are forced to give up their personalities and identities as toll. Those who Return are not human; They bear only brief flickers of their old memories and cannot form new ones. They have dark bluish-grey skin and no face, wearing a golden mask to hide this. (gold being the most abundant metal in the Underworld due to all the coins entombed with the newly dead as a funeral rite) And just to add insult to injury, the face on a Returned's mask isn't even theirs, because they willfully gave up every aspect of their old identity when they returned, and even if they die again they can never reclaim who they once were.
- All of the players in Anathema. You have almost no memory of your life, you have to murder massive amounts of men, women, and children to survive, and you don't look anything like yourself. No one would recognize you and, if they did, they would likely be horrified.
- People brought back by the Necris process in the Unreal series have, up until Unreal Tournament III, are bodies consisting of nearly no colors at all, and just as happy (if not moreso) to indulge in the sanctioned massacres as the next man.
- In Tales of Destiny, Leon Magnus is brought back as a zombie to fight the party. He begs for death, and is granted it. Later Subverted when he's resurrected with no apparent side effects in the sequel.
- In Tales of Symphonia, the Big Bad plans to revive his dead older sister by turning people into empty shells while they're still alive, so that he can download her soul into them. There's also Tabatha, a living doll who's a mechanical body that looks and sounds just like his sister, but who apparently wasn't actually able to house her soul. By the end of the game, it's shown that Tabatha is capable of it after all, suggesting that Martel simply refused to enter her body the first time. In the one case where the soul transfer does work with a living body, she is shown to be horrified by her brother's efforts, and gives the body back to its original owner shortly after.
- For another Tales example, in Tales of the Abyss, Jade's first attempt at testing out the cloning techniques he invented on a living subject was trying to resurrect his teacher after she was mortally wounded in a fire he accidentally started. He was successful at creating a replica of her, but the replica had none of the original's memories and was extremely unstable. May apply to Ion's replicas as well, since all of them are substantially weaker in some way than the original, deceased Ion- for example, Ion has the original's strong magical abilities but not his strong constitution, while Sync has his strong constitution but not his strong magical abilities. Also applies later in the game, when nearly all of the replicas the party encounters were created from people who had died, and they all have stiff, robotic movements and are unable to speak in anything other than Creepy Monotone.
- In Alan Wake, Thomas Zane tried to bring back his love Barbara through the Rewriting Reality powers the Dark Presence in Cauldron Lake gave writers. Unfortunately, he left a Plot Hole by not giving a reason for how she came back, leaving the Dark Presence to create its own reason...
- Even if he did have a reason, it would have to be a reason internally consistent with the narrative — e.g. the Care Bears couldn't appear out of a cloud of butterflies and revive her with the Power of Friendship — or else the Dark Presence could come in through that Plot Hole instead. This is why Alan has to resort to a Heroic Sacrifice to save Alice and the town — a straight Happily Ever After wouldn't be consistent with the darkly-toned horror story that led up to it.
- In Shin Megami Tensei, Alice is a recurrent character. The problem is, how did she die in the first place? And exactly how deep is the damage? There's this fella in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, and he provides a very comprehensive answer to why a character once known for deep love for all things came back as an unrepentant, undead sorcerous sadist... and it ain't pretty.
- Also in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, Commander Gore is killed shortly into the mission, but restored as an "Ubergestalt" by the "Mothers" of the Schwarzwelt. It seems like it's this trope all over, what with his mindless gaze, otherworldly presence, and obvious manipulation by the goddesses... until you break him loose from the mind control and not only does he regain his humanity, but he gains supernatural brilliance over the Schwarzwelt and mankind's future.
- In The Sims 2 and The Sims 3, a botched resurrection will end up zombifying a Sim. In Sims 3, if you get the opportunity, they'll come back as a ghost.
- In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones Orson's wife Monica is resurrected by Lyon as a 'reward'. The results are so horrifying, Seth and Ephraim kill her out of mercy, without the others seeing. What makes things worse is Orrson's utter devotion to whatever is left of his wife.
- Also with Emperor Vigarde, who is incapable of doing anything except fighting, and crumbles to dust when defeated.
- In Ultimate Spider-Man, Deadpool was a serious, mutant-hating mercenary who hunted mutants on live TV, and dies at the end of his story arc. He comes Back from the Dead in Spider Man Shattered Dimensions as a crazy, 4th wall-breaking mercenary who trades his hatred of mutants for a sense of humor. For fans who disliked Serious!Deadpool, this was Came Back Right.
- In Lusternia, this was the fate of those resurrected by the Soulless elixir. Pioneered by Fain and his followers during the Elder Wars, it was intended to turn the strength of the Soulless Gods against them - namely, by eating their essence, just as they ate the Elder Gods essence. Only Orlachmar and Thax were brought back from the dead with it: Orlachmar as a death-seeking Blood Knight, Thax just plain Ax-Crazy.
- In Age of Wonders, the elven king Inioch, thanks to his son's fumbling with black magic he didn't understand. Instead of getting revenge on the humans and rebuilding the elven empire, Inioch tries to end all life.
- In the linked game for The Legend of Zelda Oracle games, Twinrova attempts to sacrifice Zelda to resurrect Ganon. When Link defeats her, they sacrifice themselves. Since they are impure, Ganon becomes a mindless, Ax-Crazy beast rather than his usual self.
- In The Dig, Brink is resurrected with an alien crystal, but slowly turns into an obsessed shadow of his former self. Maggie, seeing this, asks Boston not to use a life crystal on her if something were to happen.
- The Boss in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is revived as a computer facsimile of her mind. Her ability to express humanity is somewhat stunted and it's strongly suggested she is suicidal.
- Death knights in World of Warcraft clearly Came Back Wrong (or rather, were deliberately brought back wrong) somehow, but seem to overlap multiple categories.
- Cataclysm gives us the Rotbrain, which are the new villains of Deathknell. One priest sadly notes that they seem human outside, but are sick within. They eventually rally and plan to take over the town, and must be killed.
- An alternate interpretation of the "Rotbrain" is that they've come back wrong in a different way: without the blind devotion to the Forsaken that undead player characters possess.
- Some versions of Rogue allow you to resurrect as an undead character, only faintly able to derive sustenance from normal food and chowing down on dead enemies instead.
- Resurrection doesn't ever look pretty in the Legacy of Kain series.
- And the few vampires who did come back pretty (namely Kain◊ and Raziel◊) either evolved into something monstrous or were mutilated beyond recognition (namely Kain and Raziel◊.)
- A running gag in the Monkey Island series, where the villain is constantly coming back wrong.
- In Dungeon Siege III, Jeyne revives archons who come back as twisted, cold monsters. Then she revives a god. That doesn't work out so well either.
- Mortal Kombat's Raiden is a less extreme example than most, but according to Fujin, he should have been resurrected as a blank slate. Instead, he comes back Darker and Edgier.
- To make things worse, he brings back the late hero Liu Kang from the dead but as berserker zombie.
- The curse of the Darksign makes this inevitable in Dark Souls. The Darksign prevents its bearers from permanently dying, but each resurrection robs them of a little humanity. Eventually they become mindless Hollows. The transformation can be delayed by gathering Humanity, but it's still just a matter of time. The player character doesn't have to worry about this though. Turns out there's a reason for that beyond gameplay mechanics.
- In Vagrant Story, Grissom is killed by Ashley. Because zombies in this game are random dead souls who get trapped in random dead bodies, he could have become just another monster... but he gets trapped into his own dead body by accident, making him fully conscious and horribly disturbed at his own undeath.
- This is a common plot point in the Shadow Hearts series.The Emigre Manuscript allows one to resurrect the dead through vile alchemy, but it brings them back as a monster (due to Malice that is used to create their new bodies).
- In the first game Elaine is brought back to life as a monster, and is the final boss.
- In the second game, the owner of an orphanage decides to resurrect his mother this way, only for her to become a boss for the players to defeat.
- The third game makes this a plot point, as both Roger Bacon and Sgt. Kato use it in a fundamentally different way and don't make monsters: Roger tries to revive Alice, Yuri's lover, but her soul simply doesn't return and the body crumbles, while Kato merely makes a clone of Lt. Col. Kawashima in Ouka.
- In the fourth game Grace is revived through the Emigre Manuscript and given the power of Will, so that she actually does return as she should, but when she notices her brother Johnny isn't returning, she gives up her Will so that he can, turning her into the monstrous Lady.
- Shin Super Robot Wars: After the final scenario, Kouji is disgusted that the Devil Gundam would revive the dead as zombies, and the psychological effect of doing so is plainly visible on Eiji's face as he remembers Gale.
- Sigma from the Mega Man X series usually has no problem coming Back from the Dead. But after the events of Mega Man X5 he had taken such a beating that when he's resurrected by Gate in the next game, he still hasn't fully recovered, resulting in an unstable zombie who can barely speak coherently (though he can still fight and hijack the plot as always.)
- Corpse Party: Book of Shadows has Naomi and Ayumi try to resurrect Mayu. It goes badly.
- A player can use this in Mass Effect 2 to explain why the biotic Commander Shepard in the first game suddenly is a non-biotic soldier in the second, or why the jerkass Renegade is now a compassionate Paragon. There's also conversations in the second game and third game, in story, where the issue is brought up, and Shepard him/herself sometimes wonders if s/he really is the same person who was killed.
- On of the Cerberus Daily News story threads follows the circumstances of North American President Huerta, who is assassinated and then "brought back" via a sophisticated VI programmed with Huerta's memories and personality. Much is made of whether this is (practically or legally) the "same" Huerta, or just a robot that thinks it's Huerta — especially when the former Vice President brings the case to the Supreme Court at least in part because she doesn't want to give up the big chair. In the third game, the hospital Shepard's comrades keep getting sent to is Huerta Memorial, and there's a significant (if background) controversy over that choice of name, which Shep can weigh in on if desired.
- Clive Barker's Undying: Those brought back by the undying curse are twisted shadows of their former selves.
- In Planescape: Torment this is the big problem of the Nameless One. Each time he died before the events of the game, he completely lost his memory and essentially became a new person upon reviving. As is eventually revealed by Morte, some of those incarnations were insane; he specifically mentions one that became convinced Morte was his own skull and chased Morte through Sigil, trying to smash and eat him, before he was fatally hit by a cart. One of the three most important incarnations that the player encounters during the game suffered from such severe paranoia that he became a compulsive killer. In the final stretch of the game, the Big Bad reveals that the Nameless One's soul is being torn thinner and thinner with each resurrection, and eventually, there will be nothing left by a mindless husk of a man. To say nothing of the fact that each resurrection is fuelled by consuming the Life Force of someone else in The Multiverse.
- This happens to an entire species in Halo. After the Forerunner - Precursor war, the few remaining Precursors who weren't taken prisoner by the Forerunner devolved themselves into a dust that was designed to reform them when the time was right. It went badly, with the dust mutating into a disease. The increasingly angry and insane Precursor hive mind turned this disease into a weapon and the once galaxy spanning intelligence of the Precursors became the Flood. A virus so hideous and unstoppable that the Forerunner decided it would be safer to destroy all multi-cellular life in the galaxy than let it carry on.
- One Forerunner leader turned an ancient civilization of humans into robotized proto-hunters. And was preserved from death for 100,000 years, WHICH HE WAS CONSCIOUS TO THE WHOLE TIME. They end up becoming the vengeful antagonists of Halo 4.
- Similarly to the Monica example above, Kylier of Yggdra Union is purposely resurrected horribly by the Big Bad, enforcing her comrades to mercy kill her.
- Happens to Solo in the 2014 Strider. He's brought back from near death as "Solo ZN-2" by Meio's subordinates stronger than ever, but the forceful ressurection process, plus his inability to cope with having been dealt his very first defeat ever, took their toll on his sanity and turned the confident and arrogant Bounty Hunter into a deranged madman hell-bent on taking revenge.
- Miranda Watts, driver of Twister in Twisted Metal Head-On, request as her wish to Calypso to restore her twin sister Amanda, who participated in Twisted Metal 2 and disappeared ever since. What she got was a horrible zombified sister, as Amanda had died millions of years ago due to her wish to break the speed of light sent her back in time to prehistory.
- RuneScape quest "The Death of Chivalry" does this to Sir Owen Sonde... twice, first deliberately killed and transformed into a zombie by a villain, forcing the player to put him down in self defense, and the second time when his own patron god botches resurrecting him, resulting in an undead arm and The Corruption slowly eating away at his sanity.
- Zig-zagged in Breath of Fire: The first time you reach Romero you find that the citizens who have died have been revived by one of the villains yet, despite being referred to as "zombies" and avoiding the sun, they aren't any different than regular people and their family members are glad to have them back. Unfortunately when you return later, you find the citizens locked in their homes and the now rotting zombies lurching about mindlessly and aggressively.
- Street Fighter V features the return of Charlie, Guile's old friend and mentor, who was implied to be severely crippled or killed at the end of Alpha 3. As it turns out, the truth isn't much better. Now, the entire right half of his body is composed of ashen grey skin with huge stitches holding it together. This includes his face, by the way, which also has some sort of gem embedded in the forehead. Even worse, he appears to have trouble keeping this skin rigid, resulting in zombie-like posture and an odd sort of limp.
- In Girl Genius, science can resurrect persons if their heads (brains) are intact, but there are possible memory loss, insanity and apparently other (unnamed) complications that can make resurrection an iffy proposal. Later on, it's revealed that, if the one operating is an expert, one can be brought back from death even without an intact brain. However, the end result is just a body without a true mind, essentially, a Soulless Shell.
- Because of a combination of this trope and the fact that spark resurrection (especially self-resurrection) that works perfectly is still often a case of Gone Horribly Right, one of the only actual explicit universal laws that the Fifty Families agree on is that a ruler that dies loses his crown permanently, no matter how immortal/invincible/etc she later becomes and whether her mind is intact or not.
- A variation occurs with Tarvek's sister Anevka, given a mechanical new body plugged into life support with what remained of her own. However, Anevka still died, albeit slower than she would have normally, but, as she weakened, the machine itself took on her personality. By the time she was dead, the machine thought she was Anevka and had no idea that anything (such as the death of the real Anekva) had happened, and everyone believed the same, except Tarvek, who knew the truth. The mechanical Anevka eventually became conniving and self-serving, culminating in killing her father after his attempts to restore the Other "almost" killed her. No word yet on whether this cold-hearted behaviour was a result of being a clank or being an accurate copy of a member of the Sturmvoraus family.
- Ian from Errant Story can restore physical life to the dead, even repairing extensive burns and decomposition, but can't restore the subject's intelligence. Since all he gets are Soulless Shell-types anyway, he's stopped putting much effort into making them look lifelike and actually calls them zombies. They work fine as cannon fodder.
- White Mage's attempt to revive Black Belt in 8-Bit Theater. And how.
- Rusty and Co. managed to invert this (White Knight looked better as a wight).
- In Endstone, fear of this trope kept Pablo from reviving his wife, but now the power revived him.
- In Sinfest, the young Baby Blue tried to raise a dove right. Satan intervened to bring it back as a diabolic thing.
- Gamzee from Homestuck brings Vriska and Tavros back to life by prototyping Jane's sprite with both of their corpses. At the same time. It didn't last long, because Tavrisprite blew themselves up, sending both of them back to the afterlife (separately, fortunately).
- Daniel...in spades. For one he develops a lust for blood that wasn't there before.
- In The Gungan Council, Phylis Alince, though in a more benign fashion as she has no memory after being 18.
- Red vs. Blue: Not a physical resurrection, but the Director of Project Freelancer kept trying to bring back his dead love Allison in the form of an AI. He never quite grasps that he needs to just let her go—but Epsilon finally does.
- In That Guy with the Glasses universe Mara Wilson did this, coming back with glowing eyes, unholy strength, and a thirst for REVENGE against...something. General revengy things.
- From AJCO: Egg thought it would be a good idea to summon the ghost of Cameo while investigating their murder. As Cameo hadn't technically died, only been trapped between worlds, they came back as a horrible shambling grey monster. It was probably a good thing the Void claimed them for good when A_J set off the Needle, sending everyone falling through the Void into the next world along.
- Used verbatim in the Charlie The Unicorn Playlist LIVE video to describe the resurrected Jenna Marbles.
- Parodied as the premise of Count Duckula: The last time his butler Igor tried to resurrect him after being slain, there was a mixup in the ritual that substituted blood with tomato juice, resulting with the reincarnated count being a pacifistic vegetarian. Much to Igor's horror.
- South Park parodies this idea when Butters fakes his death and his parents want to bring him back (using a method parodying Pet Sematary. When he arrives home, revealing that he is not really dead, they mistakenly believe that he is a soulless demon trapped in his body and kill a woman so he can "feed."
- In the The Venture Bros. episode "Powerless in the Face of Death", Dr. Orpheus believes that his attempted resurrection of Hank and Dean resulted in the creation of soulless zombies. He didn't. They were clones that were just released from their tubes too early. Apparently they feel like Stretch Armstrongs.
- One of Dean's clones was rejected (meaning Doc casually flushed him into the sewer) for being extremely disfigured. The clone survived, and used the skins of all of the previous dead clones (apparently Doctor Venture just dumps them in a mass-grave on the compound) to make a Dean suit for himself. When he runs out of skins, he attempts to murder the current Dean so he can finish the suit and replace him.
- It probably goes without saying that the rejected clone was severely schizophrenic, and he believed Doctor Venture was guiding him through the process.
- The page image is from one of Venture's more unusual experiments to resurrect the dead; Venturestein. Rusty was apparently more interested in doing it just to see if he could, as he put it "laugh in God's face," but soon found the only application he could have for this particular form of resurrection was selling his zombies to the military for willing suicide bombers.
- When a character attempts to force Anubis to resurrect a dead boy, he point blank refuses, insisting that death is final and must stay that way. Whether this is an actual limitation of his powers or merely a self-imposed law to prevent abuse is left ambiguous, but Anubis appears very unlikely to budge either way. He does note that if there is no death, how can there be birth. According to Word of God, Emir!Anubis very explicitly did not resurrect the various plants, animals, and people killed off by Jackal!Anubis; his declaration that "what is dead and gone cannot be restored" is an absolute.
- Attempts by mortals in that world to use magic and technology to revive the dead inevitably only make them undead, and so far have only worked on those who haven't yet reached a peaceful rest.
- In Metalocalypse, the band decides to sew their nearly-dead chef back together so he can make them more food. One of them remarks that they would probably sew him back together wrong, and they decide that would make a cool song. Which they end up making. "SEWN! Back together WRONG! Back together. SEWN!"
- Van Kleiss from Generator Rex is able to come Back from the Dead as long as he's in contact with the nanite-rich soil of Abysus. After he's seemingly Killed Off for Real, the nanites of Abysus go berserk, and when Rex is brought in to solve the problem, he's coerced into activating a machine designed to resurrect Van Kleiss. This time, however, the resurrected Van Kleiss' Evo condition is curable, and Rex is able to strip him of his powers.
- Solomon Grundy is brought back to life by a couple of amateur sorcerers during an episode of Justice League Unlimited. But thanks to one of them messing up the summoning circle, he comes back soulless, an empty vessel of pure rage. After fighting for almost the entire episode, his friend Shayera finally puts him out of his misery off screen.
- Grundy is already a case of this trope, having originally been a prohibition-era gangster from Gotham City that was murdered and dumped into a swamp, only to emerge decades later as a super-strong zombie.
- In an episode of Adventure Time, Princess Bubblegum creates a serum that revives the dead, but gets it wrong on the first try and turns a cemetery full of departed Candy Kingdom residents into sugar-crazed zombies. She later corrects the formula and restores them to health.
- Sometimes a person who "dies", as in no breath or pulse, can be brought back to life via CPR or other medical care. However, current medical tech cannot get around the fact that most people can only go without oxygen for about 4 minutes before brain damage sets in, 6 minutes tops. The greater the delay, the worse it gets. It can get to the point where the person isn't there anymore and all you have is a body that (with help) breathes and has a pulse. Among other possible results, less hopeless but still not nice by any standards, are people who forget how to read, walk or use the toilet.
- If a person dies while under extreme hypothermia, revivability can be extended much longer due to their lowered metabolism.
- there's a saying in emergency medicine "You aren't dead 'til you're warm and dead".
- You may still suffer damages to your brain, limbs, etc. so that you may not be able to do things as before your revival.
- Phineas Gage, a rail worker with a kind disposition, lost a good chunk of his brain in an accident and survived. After the accident, he became angry very easily and took greater risks, and his friends would describe him as "no longer Gage."