The great love of the hero's life has died,
and the hero simply cannot take the grief
. Desperate to have his significant other returned to him, the character delves into things better left unlearned
and discovers a way to bring the loved one back.
Unfortunately, something goes horribly awry
, causing them to come back wrong
The loved one's body has been restored, and more importantly her soul
came back too. The good news is she isn't a Soulless Shell
. The bad news is, her soul got damaged on the way back to the body. Perhaps it was the very act of dying, or the process of being resurrected. Maybe it was being forcibly torn out of Heaven
, or spending any amount of time at all in Hell
. Or perhaps it was just brain damage caused by the body's decomposition
. Whatever the reason, the loved one has woken up screaming and insane.
This can be subtle or overt: the damage may manifest either as a progressively worsening tic
, a mental illness
, or perhaps a lack of conscience. Or it could manifest as an unstoppable, screaming berserk fury
. Unlike a Soulless Shell
, a Damaged Soul is extremely
motivated: if they aren't driven to suicide, they are very
likely to be pissed off at whoever brought them back from the dead
as well as their own unnatural condition
. Either way, they'll be out to put an end to them both
Alternately, this might actually
be a Soulless Shell
whose sociopathic tendencies are due to the conscious mind reacting violently to becoming Soulless
. Or maybe Demonic Possession
. These unhappy Lazarenes are probably Stepford Smilers
or Mad Artists
. Compare Resurrection Sickness
, where the soul is fine, and side-effects are due to "jet lag".
As a Death Trope, all spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
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Anime and Manga
- In InuYasha, once the resurrected Kikyou regains part of her soul, she goes from an Empty Shell to consumed by the rage and bitterness with which she'd died. Her first act is to blast Urasue, who'd resurrected her, into oblivion, and she spends quite awhile afterwards trying to kill Inuyasha, Kagome, or both together. She actually regained all of her soul initially, but most of it was returned to her reincarnation, Kagome. Which was why in all her later appearances Kikyou had to take the souls of recently deceased women to survive. Whether she destroyed those souls in the process or merely borrowed them temporarily is never made clear, but aside from the soul-eating bit she eventually focuses her attention on destroying the Big Bad, who should have been the target of her anger in the first place.
- A story arc in Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service revolves around a girl with the power to bring people back from the dead. The problem is, those who are brought back from the dead are overcome with a feeling of "wrongness" about their continued existence and eventually go Axe Crazy.
- Nae in Mermaid Saga, who was brought back to life with mermaid ashes, couldn't remember anything about her past life except for her promise to Yuuta, and had a tendency to kill people.
- Most resurrectees in Franken Fran are either this or a Monster from Beyond the Veil.
- Something akin to this is what happens when you use alchemy to revive the dead in the 2003 anime version or Fullmetal Alchemist. The homunculi start out as barely living, messed up beyond belief piles of organs, but eventually evolve into The Soulless who for all intents look completely human. All of them are inhuman sociopaths mentally, however, and have no memories or other connection to their previous lives apart from looking exactly like the deceased.
- Also, what Big Bad Dante and Hohenheim do to extend their lifespans does this as well. When they transfer their souls to a new body they aren't complete and as a result their bodies begin to decay faster since their souls aren't enough to maintain their new body. The more they do this the more of their soul is left behind and they're slowing draining the time they can live in their new body. Since Hohenheim doesn't do it as often his body holds up for a lot longer than Dante's. Towards the end of the 2003 anime, Dante's new body begins decaying after only a few months.
- Recently in X-Factor, bringing people back from the dead but with damaged souls was revealed to be Layla Miller's real power. The 'knowing stuff' power turns out to be as a result of a stable time loop.
- When Javi came back from the dead in Negation, he was little more than a zombie, who just barely remembered who he was and how he died. Charon had to restore his mind and body to full consciousness.
- Shade, the Changing Man came back deranged, not due to the death, the resurrection, or even the hell of fighting in the Land of the Dead, but because the Angels took a part of his psyche in order to have a hook into him. Far from the worst example of the trope, as this was Shade's most entertaining incarnation.
- One comic involves a Bad Powers, Good People teenage girl attempt to bring back her dead mother who committed suicide, who comes back in the form of a harmless yet seemingly mentally dull zombie. Of course her father doesn't take it well.
- This might be the same comic, but a similar situation happened with Lori Manning aka Black Alice. In one Birds of Prey story, The Society of Villains attempted to recruit her by partially resurrecting her mother as a zombie and offering to complete the resurrection if she joined them. This backfired — Black Alice was furious that they desecrated her mother this way and temporarily stole the magic of the Society mages present to complete the resurrection herself. Unfortunately for whatever reason, her resurrected mother was a listless shadow of her former self who did nothing but make pancakes and say "I love you" to Lori day after day. Her father started hitting the bottle pretty hard, unable to cope with the double whammy of his daughter's powers and his wife coming back from the dead as a mental zombie.
- Depending on the Writer, this may have happened to Jason Todd. Since no one is exactly sure how he came back to begin with, (in-universe, and even outside the universe what exactly Superboy Punch! did is unclear) but it left him a bit of a catatonic zombie, and then he was put into a Lazarus Pit on top of that, it would make sense. But it's always open to interpretation how much is down to crazy, and he always made his own choices.
- Red Hood: The Lost Days treats him as having contracted sociopathy and violent insanity since dying, mostly from the Lazarus Pit. Particular focus is given to his calm focus in planning various murders, as opposed to killing in fits of rage. R'as al Ghul has dire predictions about the kind of monster Talia's unleashed, but he has ulterior motives to discourage Lazarus Pit use by anyone but him.
- "Immortality Syndrome": A Powerpuff Girls Dark Fic, in which several characters are brought back from the dead as mass-murdering psychopaths.
- "Slayer Academy": A virtual spin-off of MZP's Buffy the Vampire Slayer continuation. Those brought back by the Cabal's resurrection machine do so being able to feel very little emotion.
- This is the whole premise behind the Axis Powers Hetalia fanfic "Twisted", one of many sequels to the Financial Crisis Gangbang comic. After America is Driven to Suicide, England, desperate to atone, brings America back, only to get a very angry, horrible monster borne of darkness with a mind twisted anger, pain, and unfathomable powers, and hellbent for bloody revenge. A slightly lesser example occurs with America's resurrected children Anthony and Emily, who have been dead for over a century and aren't exactly coping well with their new situation.
Films — Live-Action
- James Angelov in Practical Magic was a sadistic murderer to begin with, but after his girlfriend accidentally poisons him, then resurrects him in a very improvised ritual to dodge murder charges, he surges back to life as a screaming, incoherent psychopath who tries furiously to strangle Gilly until her sister brains him with a frying pan.
- Spock has a very mild case of this in Star Trek IV. His intelligence and memories are intact, but there's just something missing at the start of the film. Fortunately he's back to normal at the end of the film.
- Julie Walker in Return Of The Living Dead 3 had her neck broken in a motorcycle accident, but her boyfriend sneaks her into an army base to use new reanimation technology on her. She comes back, with her soul, but she has an intense craving to devour human flesh and mutilate herself.
- A sci-fi version occurs in Alien: Resurrection, in which Ripley is brought back from bad case of falling-into-molten-lead, but as Alien DNA gets into the mix she is now a jerk with violent urges.
- Alice in Wake Wood: When she's first brought back, she seems like the normal bright child she was in life, but quickly picks up a habit of mutilating animals and later shows no compunction in killing anyone who gets in her way. Normally, the town's resurrection ritual doesn't have such complications - the reason she came back this way has to do with her having been buried a bit too long.
- In the Grimm fairy tale, "The Three Snake Leaves", a princess comes back thanks to snake leaves (like snake's skin). However, she has no love and plots to kill her husband.
- Stephen King's short story "The Jaunt" includes a Damaged Soul returnee, a child who spends an eternity with his mind trapped in a void before coming back thoroughly insane.
- 'Longer than you think, dad! Longer than you think!'
- In the series Mortal Engines, cyborg soldiers known as "Stalkers" can be made by combining robotic life support systems and a robot brain with a dead human. Most of these are a Soulless Shell, but a few [Shrike, the original Stalker Fang (and the non-Anna part of her second incarnation)] come back as damaged souls, capable of emotion but deeply troubled and in some cases, thoroughly insane. Shrike might develop enough by the end to be considered an Inhuman Human.
- In H. P. Lovecraft's "Reanimator", Dr. Herbert West's (the titular reanimator) attempt to bring people back from the dead at first resulted with either the subject coming back to life for a few seconds, letting out a terrifying scream and dying again, or in the Damaged Soul, becoming insane cannibalistic zombies. Dr. West believed this to be because the brain gets damaged even during brief periods of death (or, as he explains after one of his test subjects breaks loose "Damn it! It was not quite fresh enough!"). In the end he succeeds in perfecting his methods, resulting in a Soulless Shell as well as some actually intelligent zombies that eventually lead a horde of mindless ones to kill him.
- In the films of the book, Dr. West actually does manage a couple successful resurrections where the resurrectees come back pretty much the same as they were in life. Unfortunately, in both cases the resurrectees were utterly evil bastards in life, and continued to be so after being revived.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: Catelyn Stark is a combination of a Damaged Soul and an Inhuman Human. She comes back as a visibly rotting zombie with the inability to speak, and pretty much only cares about revenge and wiping out her enemies. And anyone vaguely associated (past or present) with her enemies. And anyone she just doesn't like. Things have changed since she was a reasonable Team Mom.
- Lord Beric Dondarrion was a fairly mild Damaged Soul who seems fine at first glance, but whose personality has changed, (going from a cheerful, outgoing young man to a grim Death Seeker) and who mentions that he finds a lot of his memories are fading as a result of his repeated resurrections. This is notable because he was brought back using the same method as Lady Stark, however he was brought back immediately upon dying instead of being dead for several days and he had the advantage of not having been driven insane with grief before death. It's hinted that these are the reasons for him suffering far less damage.
- An odd form of Damaged Soul resurrection occurs with Bubba (Elvis) in the Sookie Stackhouse novels. Elvis was turned into a vampire and is explicitly described as having 'come back wrong' - due to the combination of drugs and embalming chemicals. However, the outcome isn't nearly as bad as most Damaged Soul resurrections - Bubba isn't much more dangerous than any other vampire, but acts kind of mentally disabled. (Though reminding him of who he was constitutes a big fat Berserk Button for him).
- In the Gene Wolfe story "The Other Dead Man" some of the crew of a badly damaged spaceship are turned into highly motivated zombies when the captain orders the medical pods to resuscitate crew no matter how far gone they are. Ends with an example of Tomato in the Mirror.
- In a rare non-supernatural example, a boy ironically nicknamed Fish is narrowly rescued from drowning in Australian novel Cloudstreet. But, as you'd expect... Not all of Fish came back.
- The main point of the titular "semetary" in Stephen King's Pet Semetary. Pets buried there will come back to life, but they'll be profoundly off. When the main character's son is hit by a car and buried in the Semetary, we find out just how off. An ordinary toddler who was still learning to talk when he died, the revived child speaks like a rather erudite adult—and a highly murderous one at that.
- In Holly Black's The Good Neighbors, people are stabbed in the heart with ritual daggers to turn them into trees. This is reversible, but the one example shown came back as a wood-hearted sociopath.
- Xanth novel Ogre, Ogre has a non-death-related version. Smash and Tandy are both half human and therefore possess souls, but survive without souls, albeit relapsing to their less intelligent monster heritage without one. In the course of the book, souls are divided and shared a number of times. Having a partial Damaged Soul manifests itself in physical weakness and a general sense of injury.
- Although souls explicitly regenerate over time, as long as you are the original owner. So when Tandy sold half of hers to Mare Imbrium, it started to grow back for Tandy, but Imbri stayed stuck with 50%. When Imbri is temporarily destroyed in a later book, the half-soul reverts to Tandy, leaving her with more than a full soul (an experience she doesn't seem to enjoy). Fortunately, she is able to expel the extra half-soul once more, which resurrects Imbrium.
- As a curious inversion, in A Swell Foop the demons E(A/R)th and Fornax are temporarily given souls (demons are normally soulless) and find the experience highly disturbing, especially the feeling of caring and altruism, and are desperate to rid themselves of it.
- In Harry Potter, one of the central rules of magic is you can never truly bring a person back from the dead—there are, however, forms of magic that try to mimic this. Inferi are just reanimated corpses, basically controlled zombies. Horcruxes keep your soul tethered from something other than your body, effectively bringing you back from the dead upon bodily death, although producing a Horcrux horribly mutilates your soul. The Resurrection Stone only produces pale shadows of those who have died, as though there's a veil separating them from life.
- The Sten series has the Eternal Emperor, who has earned his title by always coming back to the dead shortly after his assassination. However, when he comes back from the dead in Return of the Emperor, something goes a bit wrong with the process, changing him from a Reasonable Authority Figure to The Caligula.
- When he was a baby, Warlock of Spellbent was murdered and then resurrected. As a result, he is missing a part of his soul, the main consequences of which are prophetic nightmares and an inability to use White Magic.
- In Cold Kiss, Wren's First Love Danny dies in a car crash. Wren uses her Psychic Powers along with Black Magic to bring Danny back. He starts out as a child-like being who wishes that Wren would stay with him forever. However, he becomes more and more curious (and violent) as to the circumstances of his death. The story ends with Wren re-killing him, so to speak.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, vampirism can act like the Damaged Soul version on the few occasions when it was used in an attempt to save someone who was terminally ill.
- The idea that Buffy was affected by her own resurrection is toyed with. She faces pretty severe issues as a result of being pulled out of heaven (one of those is a self-admitted inability to feel anything) and Spike's chip no longer recognises her as human (Spike even taunts her with the exact trope name). However, it turns out that she's just experienced a cellular sunburn that confuses the chip. Her actions after being pulled out of Heaven can't be blamed on non-Buffyness. This doesn't make her feel better.
- This is also played with in season 5, following Joyce's death; it's implied that she would've returned as something quite different after Dawn's resurrection spell succeeded, but the spell is undone before Joyce makes it home. This is the Trope Namer.
- Sayid from LOST has a rough go of it in season six thanks to this trope. He dies in the season premiere and returns to life as a sociopath. Bummer. But he got better. He soon died again, but this time for real, and went out with a Heroic Sacrifice.
- Supernatural: "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things": The resurrected girl looks just like she used to, but she's gone Ax-Crazy and started murdering the people she blames for her death. Also possibly subverted. The Yellow-Eyed-Demon implies this when Sam was resurrected, but so far there isn't any evidence of the sort.
- As of Season 4, both Sam and Dean are heavily implied to be this, both for different reasons. Dean at least has a better explanation, seeing as he was in Hell for a time period roughly equivalent to 40 years. Sam's status is still a bit iffy.
- Sam as of Season 6, once he gets his soul back. While a safeguard is in place to suppress the symptoms of a damaged soul, there's a possibility it might break down; he's already had one episode involving seizures and being overwhelmed with memories of hell, and when his soul was first returned, Castiel thought he might be comatose.
- It broke down, with 180 years of being tortured in Hell flooding back (later fixed by Castiel).
- The Twilight Zone episode "The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank" has the titular young man (played by a very young James Best) wake up at his own funeral. He can't explain it, but counts himself lucky to be alive, and some of the townspeople are scared that he's actually a demon possessing the man's body. Eventually, after he gives a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming speech, his family and fiance put aside their doubts and trust that it's a miracle and he's the same man they've always known. And then he lights a match without striking it on anything so he can light his pipe. When his fiance points this out, he says she must be imagining things. As they walk off, the gate to their house closes behind them of its own accord.
- Ghost Whisperer has the phenomenon of "Step-Ins", ghosts who take over freshly abandoned bodies in a desperate effort to return to life. Unfortunately the rules of reincarnation state that you can't expect to remember your previous life perfectly, which leaves them with an unfortunate case of double Laser-Guided Amnesia since in addition to their previous life they've also got contend with the life of their body. The Step-In can be very confused, depressed, and possibly violent, depending on why they wanted to stay — not knowing why, for instance, you're stalking someone you can't remember and have no connection with while experiencing intense feelings that you can't explain can be one heck of a Mind Screw.
- Fortunately the two Step-Ins we meet eventually get help, and one of them even regains their old memories.
- One should note that they also make the distinction between a "step-in" and a "walk-in", which is basically the same thing except the inhabiting ghost retains all of their own memories...and the only reason the particular walk-in of the episode of the same name was disoriented was because he needed time to get used to walking because he died of muscular dystrophy 10 years ago.
- Neelix from Star Trek: Voyager was resurrected with Seven's nanites in an episode (to the dismay of many fans)). He was extremely depressed through the whole episode, contemplating suicide, because he didn't see the Talaxian afterlife while dead.
- If he had, chances are he would've been even more depressed for being ripped from it.
- The original script was much, much darker. Ensign Wildman would die and then be brought back, but in the spirit of this trope, not brought back right - becoming what the scriptwriters termed "zombie mom". Connected more with death than life, she would find it hard to re-integrate with the crew, and struggling with her new identity would decide to kill her own daughter to bring her back the same way, so she would have someone who could relate to her. The writers were initially thrilled with the prospect of a dark, macabre and humbling episode - but upon reading their own script realised they could not film it; it was far too dark and entered territory nobody was comfortable with. The final product was arguably close to the latter point.
- Arguable example from the WWE, but at one Pay-Per View, the Undertaker (then portrayed as a Badass Biker) fought a buried alive match against Vince McMahon. Kane interfered and the Undertaker lost (and was "buried alive"). The Undertaker then disappeared for a while, though occasionally his older entrance music (when he was portrayed as a Zombie Gravedigger) would play and screw with Kane's head. Eventually, The Undertaker, again in his Zombie Gravedigger persona, showed up and beat Kane at Wrestlemania.
- The Nameless one from the Planescape: Torment. He had an insane evil hag strip his mortality from him and thus render him immortal- he could resurrect from the dead and even completely heal all but the most severe wounds. But because of some unaccounted flaws in the process (or perhaps because the executant was an insane evil hag) each time he resurrected, he would lose his memory. His mortality on the other hand gained consciousness and became an Inhuman Human. It regained all memories and abilities it acquired (and even channeled those the Nameless One got) but it's body deteriorated until it was but a specter clad in enchanted wicker armor.
- Shin Megami Tensei's recurring Dark Magical Girl, Alice, once was a happy, normal girl. Following a terribly traumatic transformation involving her death and revival, she still was. Prob is, she remained as such for ever and ever, which along with the massive magical upgrade she got really wasn't good for her ability to understand there's a reason it's frowned upon to kill and eat your friends.
- This is a key plot point in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. The emperor of Grado died and was resurrected by his son, Lyon. The Demon King restored his body and used as a puppet to wage a massive war. Plus, Lyon had to tamper with a Sealed Evil in a Can to do it, which allowed the Demon King to drive him insane and posses him. Of note is that that the same method produces "Orson's wife", an example of an Empty Shell.
- Ruby Quest features an interesting take on this: All the characters have been resurrected quite possibly countless times over the course of a year, but only the first time went wrong, and even that only temporarily. Afterwards, they've been quite fine. At least mentally.
- The Lucasarts Adventure Game The Dig revealed that the Precursors had created Applied Phlebotinum crystals that had this effect (among others). The human character who is revived with one rapidly grows obsessed, paranoid, and addicted to them. Another character deliberately makes the player character promise not to revive her that way; if you do after her death, she immediately commits suicide and you get the BAD END.
- A member of the Precursors can be found in a state somewhere between death and suspended animation-reviving him with these crystals is necessary to proceed, whereupon (with the linguist's help) he reveals that they had the same effect on his people, ultimately leading to their downfall, and that one builds up a resistance to their effects with repeated use, stating that this is the last time using the crystals will work on him. Further attempts to revive him prove fruitless.
- In the Avernum series, the souls of exceptionally revered vahnatai are brought back as Crystal Souls to advise the rest of their tribe. Unfortunately, the odds of the soul going mad in the process seems to be rather high. It is not so much in the process of becoming a Crystal Soul as the thousands of years of being one - particularly the hundreds where the entire Vahnatai race is sleeping to let the environment recover... except for the immobile crystal souls, which just stay there, awake and alone.
- In Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis, the summoner Elrik tries to resurrect his dead wife, but her soul comes back corrupted and possesses his daughter Euphaire. The protagonist must both free Euphaire and stop Elrik from killing her in an attempt to undo his mistake.
- Shadow Hearts: From the New World has this happen, rather than the soulless monsters of Koudelka and the original Shadow Hearts. Both Johnny Garland, and his sister were brought back by their father. Johnny gets away with the occasional BSOD mode... his sister comes back emotion-less and conscience-less, and turns out to be Lady, the mysterious woman you're chasing down.
- Ultimate Deadpool was originally a mutant-hunter killed off in the comics. In Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions he's back from the dead, now a Crazy Awesome TV Show Host) It Makes Sense in Context...kinda.
- NPC Enaremand in Final Fantasy XI has you searching for a necromancer to make a mannequin with the likeness of his deceased wife Alsha more 'lifelike' by summoning the soul of said wife into the doll. It ends with you having to deal with a crazed puppet that both attempts to hurt and heal you, before trying to end it's own existence by casting Fire II on itself over and over. It's up to the player to survive AND deal the finishing blow to truly end the tragedy.
- A short story on Sylvanas from World of Warcraft seems to indicate this is the case for the majority, if not all, of the Forsaken. On death, Sylvanas experienced the afterlife for a brief time but was torn from it by Arthas; "the pain [was] so intense it [left] her soul forever torn."
- The teleporters in Doom 3 are basically gateways to, from and through Hell itself, and everybody who uses them suffers from depression, anxiety and hallucinations. Even more so than the rest of the Marines and scientists, who are being driven crazy more slowly as Hell slowly permeates Mars.
- The Undead in Dark Souls are cursed with Resurrective Immortality, but the longer they spend without humanity the more likely they are to go Hollow and become zombies.
- In DevilBear: When Kristofer Raven and Porklet make an attempt to bring their Plush Bear friend back from the dead, he comes back Axe Crazy and tries to eat his friend's stuffings.
- Happens in the furry webcomic Jack. After Emma Volpe is killed by a virus, her husband uses the advanced technology of the pre-genocide humans and Mad Scientist Kane to resurrect her. She was driven insane after seeing Hell and Heaven and eventually killed herself in front of him to return to her Heaven. Made all the more tragic as suicide is a ticket to Hell in the comic.
- Even worse than that; she was trying to kill herself to get back into heaven; the real world was intolerable to her after that. (Despite that her version of heaven was just "earth with the things that annoy me gone"). There is a way out of hell in this series, but very few damned people make it.
- Early on in Scary Go Round, Shelley Winters (then still a secondary character) was strangled and later resurrected as a zombie with a brain fetish. She got better after being struck by lightning.
- In Sluggy Freelance Oasis's personality and memories tend to get tweaked every time she comes Back from the Dead, making her repeated resurrections more of a crapshoot. Sometimes she comes back and has a somewhat benign or even heroic personality. Other times she comes back crazier than ever before.
- Aradia of Homestuck lingered as an eternally deadpan ghost long after she actually died. When she was granted a robotic body, the only emotional capacity she seemed to have regained was extreme rage, which she vented exactly twice in a pair of rather disturbing episodes. She did display affection towards Sollux before her soulbot exploded, suggesting that her whaling on and relationship with Equius might have been inspired by blackrom feelings.
- Jadesprite (Becsprite + Jade's stuffed dream self) had a Heroic Breakdown and lamented that she was no longer with her friends in the afterlife and that she now remembered her own traumatic death.