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First Episode Resurrection
Dead, now undead. Problem solved... sorta.

Just when the caterpillar thought its life was over, it became a butterfly.

Have you always wanted to try your hand at being The Hero but you're too boring and unskilled to have what it takes to get the job done?

Have we got a solution for you!

All you have to do is die in front of a supernatural protagonist (often of the opposite sex) by the end of the pilot episode of your series. Sacrificing yourself is a huge bonus. Chances are good that you will be resurrected in short order. Most of the time, you will be granted some form of immortality — and, if you're lucky, you may even get other powers to go along with it.

Congratulations! Once you've experienced the horrific pain of death, the series will now focus around you and the being that resurrected you. Happy hero-ing!

Based on ancient archetypes about death and transformation; usually a hero has to go through his darkest hour to get a powerup, but in some series, they cut to this moment right away. Compare Sacrificial Lamb, Death by Origin Story. See First Episode Spoiler for when it is supposed to be a surprise. Can overlap with Dead to Begin With.

Examples

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    Anime 
  • This is the basis for Hiro's servitude to Hime in Princess Resurrection. Hiro dies saving Hime, and she brings him back to life. The catch is that he has to be her servant forever, protecting her from all the dangers that come with the job. This makes him effectively immortal, being able to heal from any injury...as long as he gets regular blood donations from Hime. If he doesn't, he dies.
  • Genkaku Picasso! starts off with our, uh, "hero" Hikari getting killed by a helicopter crash and resurrecting thanks to his only friend Chiaki (who did die) getting the gods to keep him alive in exchange for using his new powers to help others. Chiaki also comes back, but as more of a guardian angel than an all-living person.
  • One of the first and most infamous examples was actually from a Magical Girl series, Magical Princess Minky Momo, and it was more of a First Episode Reincarnation, but still.
  • Seras/Celes/Ceres/Seres/Whatever from Hellsing; unlike most of those listed here, however, she occasionally regrets it.
    • A double subversion in fact, as Alucard first fatally shoots her to kill another vampire, then offers her a choice of either dying or becoming immortal.
  • Yakumo from 3×3 Eyes.
  • Yusuke from YuYu Hakusho dies in the first episode, but it takes an entire arc for him to come back to life with supernatural powers.
    • You can tell the author loves this trope, considering that the series begins with the narration: "This is Yusuke Urameshi. He's fourteen years old. He's supposed to be the hero of this story, but unfortunately, he's dead."
    • The original idea for this series was actually a punk ghost boy floating around and undergoing Character Development while trying to earn his life back. This apparently got boring, and the hooks for it as an extended process were cut short; Yusuke abruptly came back to life and the manga became a fighting series instead, turning some of the beginning into Broken Aesop stuff. Then it was going to be a series of short 'case' storylines, with hooks for that in the form of the spirit tools, which Yusuke was supposed to get more of as he could handle them. Then all was devoured by tournaments.
  • Bleach somewhat changes the order around; Ichigo intentionally stabs himself with Rukia's Empathic Weapon to temporarily gain her Shinigami powers.
  • Tsuna from Katekyo Hitman Reborn!. Of course, Reborn is the same gender as him (not to mention one year old), and Tsuna gets a First Episode Resurrection about Once an Episode, thanks to Reborn's "dying will bullets".
    • Reborn kills him, rather than resurrecting him. Also, he's been one year old for a long time now.
  • .hack//tasogare no udewa densetsu begins with Shugo dying and being given the eponymous Twilight Bracelet by Aura; note, though, that he died in a computer game, not the real world; it's more of a respawning than a resurrection, so it's a bit more believable.
    • .hack//Roots begins the same way.
  • Tsutomu from Tetsuwan Birdy.
  • Spoofed in Excel♥Saga, where Excel gets hit by a bus at the start of the first episode, and the Great Will of the Macrocosm has to resurrect her (after chastising Excel for getting killed in the first episode). Excel then gets killed (mostly by Lord Il Palazzo) and resurrected three more times before the episode is finished.
  • Shirou from Fate/stay night. Though he didn't actually die, he was taken for dead by both his attempted killer and the one who tried to revive him.
  • The first episode of Gungrave ("Destroyer in the Dusk") shows Brandon Heat, freshly resurrected as Beyond the Grave, in action, and the rest of the series is an extended flashback of Heat's mortal life until it catches up with the first episode.
  • Played straight with Rumina in Tokyo Underground.
  • In the first episode/chapter of the Happy World manga and OVA, the main character's house burns down. Thus, he has to go to school in an unwashed uniform. He steps in a deep puddle, and trips, falling over and landing with his hand in a dog poo. Washing his hand at a public tap, the tap snaps off and sprays him in the face. Chucking the tap over his shoulder in frustration, it strikes a vicious dog on the head which then chases him down the road, though he manages to trick it into running into a tree. Unfortunately, he then runs into a telegraph pole himself (kicks it in the manga), and a part of it (the large, metal, corrugated cylinder part) falls off, the corner of it striking his head and killing him. It is at this point that the story's romantic lead, the angel Elle, appears, apologising profusely for being late, and resurrects the hero.
  • The SoulTaker does this with a twist. The absolute *first* scene, prior to even the opening credits, has our hero Kyosuke Date killed by his mother in a church for seemingly no reason. The next scene involves a girl we have no knowledge of pulling up out of a coffin in the ground. It's later explained the trauma of "dying" awakened his powers as an alien. The actual Big Bad in the series, his little sister Runa, went through a similar experience but didn't understand it and freaked out, thinking their mother hated her.
  • UFO Princess Valkyrie sees protagonist Kazuto Tokino getting crushed by a landing UFO and resurrected by its pilot (who is, unsurprisingly, a Valkyrie Princess). Granted, we don't really get the whole story of it 'till episode 2, but it IS seen in a flashback near the end of the first episode.
  • After accidentally killing the main characters of Ultimate Girls, UFO Man sacrifices much of his power and energy to resurrect them, which has the side effect of shrinking his body.
  • Monako from Living Dead comes back to life as an intelligently aware Flesh-Eating Zombie in the first chapter.
  • Kazuki Muto of Busou Renkin sacrifices his life to protect a girl he's just met when she is attacked by a monster. Embarassingly enough, Tokiko happens to be an Extraordinarily Empowered Girl who was just playing helpless to bait out the monster, but fortunately, she feels badly enough about his death that she uses her Arms Alchemy to resurrect him. Now he's got an alchemical stone for a heart. Would you be surprised if I told you it gave him superhuman powers?
  • The main character of Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl dies after being hit by a spaceship, but is brought back to life as a girl instead of a boy.
  • Happens to Kate, Rose, Claire, and Rachel in Red Garden.
  • Inverted in Tsukihime. Ordinary High-School Student kills a supernatural being, who then resurrects herself, and the series becomes centered on their adventures together.
  • This happens in Bludgeoning Angel Dokurochan, but it is a subversion both because Dokuro is the one who kills Sakura, and she kills him in almost every episode, sometimes more than once.
  • The hero of Kuro Kami technically doesn't die, but since he lost an arm, the bleeding would have killed him if Kuro hadn't taken matters into her own hands.
  • Gantz, every character dies before we meet them. When they all meet for the first time they go around the room giving names and method of death.
    • This is established by the first episode's graphical death of Kurono and Kato, and their expository resurrection by Gantz. After that it becomes easy to assume every new character had died. Except for the subversion, Kishimoto. She wasn't shown to have died, and it turned out that she hadn't.
  • Angel Beats! begins with Otonashi dying and arriving in the afterlife.
    • More like getting up after dying, then dying again. Twice.
  • Shindere Shoujo To Kodoku Na Shinigami: Nishigami accidentally pushes Akira off a tall cliff in the first chapter. She is revived as an immortal being by the Snake God (at a steep price), mostly because she didn't want Nishigami to blame himself for her death.
  • Immortal Regis
  • Parodied in Ben-To. The first episode begins with the main character, Satou lying on the ground as the narration explains that this is the day he died. A minute into his Posthumous Narration however, his stomach grumbles and he stands up to get some food. It's at this point that the onlookers realise he isn't actually dead and call an ambulance.
  • High School D×D has Issei Hyodo happening to him in the first episode by Rias.
  • Mawaru-Penguindrum: Himari Takakura dies of her weak heart and is revived by a spirit that resides in her penguin hat. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • UQ Holder opens with the protagonist, Touta, being made immortal by another already-immortal character. Given that Immortality is a primary theme of the series, this isn't surprising.
  • At the end of the first episode of Valvrave the Liberator, Haruto accepts the Valvrave AI's contract to pilot the mecha. After stopping Dorssia's attack, he steps out of the machine, only to be brutally stabbed by L-Elf, and then shot a few times at point blank range for good measure. Haruto, due to having the AI's nanomachines inside of him by this point, simply gets up and bites L-Elf.

    Comic Books 
  • In The DCU, this was the key trope in the origins for Deadman and The Spectre (at least before the latter was Retconned as something completely different).
  • DC's 1990's series Artemis: Requiem had a non-standard version. Artemis had been dead and in the underworld for a while. But at the end of the first issue, she clawed her way out of hell and back to Earth in the process of rescuing her naïve, reckless, superhero sister, who had come to the underworld looking for her.
  • Something like this happened with the second Supergirl, although in this case she was the unnatural character who got merged with a dying human.
  • The Crow
  • The Spirit
  • Drax the Destroyer was raised from death by Cronos and Mentor in order to defeat Thanos, in Marvel Comics. Possibly a subversion, in that almost nothing of Mr. Douglas's personality remains—Drax is a giant green humanoid with energy powers and about the same level of intelligence as that other giant green humanoid from Marvel.
  • Ghost Rider 2099 marginally qualifies. Kenshiro "Zero" Cochrane is dying while connected to the Net, and willing to "upload" his brain patterns as a device to delete information he doesn't want to be collected postmortem. Uber-AIs catch him instead and rebuild as a robotic anti-hero.
  • The Question experiences a non-supernatural version. In the first issue, the angry, two-fisted Ditko avenger is defeated by Lady Shiva, beaten with a pipe, shot in the head with an air gun and dumped in the river. Due to a Million to One Chance and the diving reflex, he survives, but the near-death experience changes his philosophical outlook.
  • The very first panels of Lazarus have main character Forever Carlyle being shot multiple times and killed. As the series is set at least 4 decades in the future and Forever is majorly bioenhanced, she promptly begins healing from her wounds, comes back, and kills her attackers. This turns out to be little more than an Establishing Character Moment, and then the story begins properly getting underway.

    Film 
  • Jonah Hex's near-death experience at the hands of his archenemy gives him the power to talk to the dead.
  • Rise of the Guardians starts with Jack Frost apparently being born from the water of a frozen pond. Even though it isn't explained until late in the movie that he drowned/froze to death in that pond and was brought back to life (with powers!) by the moon, the opening scene still kind of makes it obvious that's what happened.
  • Eric Draven is already dead at the beginning of the film adaptation of The Crow. He is resurrected early in the film, although in the film's chronology he was dead for a year before being resurrected.

    Literature 
  • Kate Griffin's fantasy novel A Madness of Angels, or, The Resurrection of Matthew Swift begins with its protagonist mysteriously waking up after having been dead for two years.
  • Sandman Slim. While he wasn't technically dead, the series kicks off with missing-presumed-dead James Stark crawling out of a cemetery after being in hell a good eleven years.
  • In Gardens of the Moon, the first book in Malazan Book of the Fallen, one of the first things Ganoes Paran manages to do is get himself knifed in an alley by a god in disguise. After no less than five gods show up to bicker over his corpse, Oponn points out that as he was killed by a god, any god can resurrect him. This, of course, backfires almost immediately, as Ganoes is the closest thing the series has to a Hero.
  • Lamb begins with Biff being raised from the grave to write his own version of the Gospel.

    Live Action TV 
  • Except for the fact that he dies and is resurrected in the last episode of a season, Captain Jack Harkness of Doctor Who and Torchwood fits this trope perfectly. His resurrection makes him immortal, which is a plot point in almost every subsequent Doctor Who episode he appears in, and several times a season in Torchwood.
    • Of course, though his resurrection was at the end of a series, the fact that he's immortal isn't revealed until the the première of Torchwood, when he's shot in the head... and gets back up a few seconds later.
  • Liz in Roswell gets shot dead in the first episode and is healed by alien-disguised-as-shy-high-school-student Max. The (useful) powers that come along with it don't show up until the third season, though.
  • From the opening narration to the first episode of Lexx:
    Kai: The Time Prophet predicted that I would be the one to destroy the Divine Order and the League of 20,000 Planets. Someday, that will happen — but not today. As today is my day of death. The day our story begins.
  • The main character in Now and Again starts as John Goodman - until he gets hit by a train and has his brain placed in an artificial body. Too bad his family doesn't recognize him now.
  • Chuck in Pushing Daisies, though her new life doesn't come with immortality or cool powers.
    • On the contrary, it's heavily implied that she is immortal. Digby, Ned's golden retriever, is past twenty and as spry as a puppy. This probably applies to Chuck too.
      • Word of God confirms that Chuck will not age. No word on death by other causes.
      • Ned thinks she can die again: in the second season premiere, he says that just because he brought her back once doesn't mean she can't die from other things, and that there's a reason he doesn't let Digby play in traffic.
  • The series Dead Like Me begins with the main protagonist's death by the way of a toilet seat from the space station Mir concluding its orbital re-entry right on her head. She is brought back as a reaper; her replacement body can't re-die, or age, and seems to have abnormally fast healing, but it exhibits all other properties of a normal human being.
    • Subverted in the film where the other Reapers try to take down a corrupt head Reaper who is playing with fate. They discover that he is incredibly hard to subdue, even when beaten, burned and drowned for several hours. Eventually they manage to cut him up, cremate him to ash and have the ashes scattered into space so he can't regenerate.
  • Thelma in Hex is killed at the end of the first episode, then brought back at the end as a ghost. A ghost who, it transpires, can eat and manipulate physical objects, but is invisible and intangible to the living. She can go into their dreams, though...
  • Subverted in the pilot episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Jesse, Xander's other bestest ever friend is captured, killed and turned into a vampire, setting him up as something of a recurring villain character. But then he is (somewhat accidentally) staked by Xander before the end of the opening two parter. He's promptly never mentioned again. Sorry, Jesse.
  • The title character in Painkiller Jane dies in the first episode. She then comes back to life, revealing a super-healing ability.
    • Apparently, a simple injection of some drug is enough to turn you into a generation two neuro.
  • Trance Gemini dies in the pilot of Andromeda, and comes back with no problem. No one can even figure out how it happened.
  • Pretty much everyone who has ever combined with an incarnation of Ultraman did so in this manner.
  • The first episode of Heroes shows that Claire is very resilient, being able to quickly heal from rather traumatic injuries. She finally gets killed due to having a tree branch jammed in her head, only to wake up on the autopsy table after the branch is removed. She reacts about how you'd expect her to.
    • Claire's a special case. She's got a Healing Factor she'd discovered pre-series as well as a masochistic streak a mile long. We first meet her jumping off of an oil tower over and over and painfully shoving her bones back into place while her friend videotapes it.
  • LesRevenants features five of them in the pilot. Actually there are even more. It turns out that dozens resurrected in the same episode though they remained in hiding for the entirety of the first season. The five others didn't find the rest of the group in time.
  • Agent Coulson is revealed to have been resurrected in the Agents Of Shield pilot. The circumstances of his resurrection are a mystery even to him early on.
  • Now and Again is about a middle-aged man who is hit by a train and has his brain transplanted into a young body augmented with superhuman strength and agility.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Can happen in any game where resurrection is possible. In fact, Dragon magazine once had one background option for a Dungeons & Dragons character be exactly this.
    • In 3rd edition and 3.5, at least, this is a prerequisite for certain prestige classes.
  • Sin-Eaters are touched by weirdness in their early life (ranging from sensing the supernatural to knowing when someone's about to die), but it's not until they die that they come into power, as they end up at the front gates of the Underworld and a geist offers to bring them back to life... if they get to tag along, that is.
  • Likewise Mummies have to die before becoming immortal and gaining their powers. Demons don't always have to work this way (so long as the soul is basically withered and/or absent, the body can be possessed) but this is one of the common ways it happens.
  • The Abyssal Exalted in Exalted flirt with this trope. While no actual resurrection occurs, they are brought back to vitality from the brink of death by virtue of Exaltation, without which they would succumb. It is possible for a character to play a prologue for their Exaltation scene, and all Abyssal prologues inevitably involve this.

    Video Games 
  • In Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, the Fateless One starts the game dead, but is resurrected by a machine created by a gnome to bring someone back from the dead.
  • The titular character of Abe's Oddysee is killed in a cutscene after the first two levels, just as Big Face shows up to conveniently bring him back to life.
  • The main character of the original Onimusha, Samanosuke Akechi, starts out the game as an ordinary samurai... then he gets killed by a demon, and is resurrected by the Clan Ogres, granted superhuman powers, and proceeds to clean house, Resident Evil-style.
    • It's intentionally ambiguous whether Samonosuke is in fact killed or just knocked unconscious. There's little to no information given regarding his new existence, and it's implied in Onimusha 3 that the power of the gauntlet is what's keeping him from aging.
  • Shepard dies in a cutscene at the start of Mass Effect 2, and is reconstructed right after the opening logo.
  • Altered Beast begins with Zeus resurrecting your hero(es) to rescue his daughter. "Wise from your gwave!"
  • You're killed soon after completing the Justified Tutorial in Rune, only to be resurrected by Odin.
  • Both Kain and Raziel, the two main protagonists of the Legacy of Kain series, started their respective games in this manner. In both cases their resurrections are Faustian bargains with the beings that arrange for their returns - and they're both all too aware of it.
  • The tutorial of Demon's Souls ends with your death.
  • If you play as a Forsaken in World of Warcraft, the storyline starts with your death and resurrection in the crypts of Brill.
    • As of Cataclysm, the Forsaken story now begins as a long-dead corpse being reanimated by a Val'kyr.
    • The beginning moments of a new Death Knight character are similar, except you wake up in Acherus in front of the Lich King prior to your Heel-Face Turn.
  • The protagonist of the flash game series Sonny died prior to the start of the first game (of what is unknown since Sonny doesn't remember any part of his life prior to death, including his name). In his new life, he is a zombie with extraordinary powers.
  • Blood - you literally begin the game getting out of your grave.
  • MediEvil- Fortesque, the fake hero of Gallowmere, is revived as a skeleton and the only one of the undead to retain its independence from the Big Bad. The games plot is all about defeating the evil necromancer while proving Fortesque a hero at the same time.
  • Shadow Of Destiny: you die THREE SECONDS in and are sent back to life. Very plot-relevant since the game is about dying, reviving and then having to travel to the past in order to avoid the root cause of your death. Over and over again.
  • In the first scene of Maximo: Ghosts to Glory, the kingly title character is usurped and killed by the Big Bad, and his queen is abducted. Fortunately for him, The Grim Reaper intends to make use of his talents.
  • Subject Delta, the hero of BioShock 2, dies in the opening cutscene. He then wakes up in a Vita-Chamber, the game's in-universe resurrection device.

    Webcomics 
  • OOTS-esque webcomic antiHEROES features the death of a character in the first strip and the beginning of her new unlife as a vampire in the second.
  • Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki begins with the protagonist having a gem roughly the size of a fist shot directly into his chest, along with an accompanying huge spurt of blood and shocked expression. He's reborn instantly as a valkyrie, but it seems a safe bet that this killed him.
  • Cherri, as pictured above, (at the time going by her human name Charlotte) starts the comic School Bites like this, arising as an undead after being fed upon by a vampire.
  • Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name uses this trope in a slightly nonstandard way: the eponymous Hanna helps Conrad come back from the dead as a vampire in the first chapter, which is also Conrad's first appearance. He remains a supporting character and Non-Action Guy.
  • Kagerou: Kano finds himself transported into a strange other world, then promptly gets himself killed because he doesn't understand the local magic. Then a member of the supporting cast raises him from the dead He doesn't turn into anything supernatural as a result, though, just gets put back the way he was. Also this technically happens in the second chapter.

    Web Original 
  • More like Eighth Episode Resurrection, but Church's death in the first season of Red vs. Blue kicks off the entire plot by revealing, if those around him had paid any attention, that he's actually an AI, and more directly by being the catalyst that led to Tex coming to Blood Gulch. It also gives him the only remotely useful ability he has (aside from taking responsibility when Tucker doesn't want to, which is always), the ability to possess people.
  • The first Carmilla story of the Whateley Universe begins with famed horror writer Michael Waite dying of cancer. And then waking up in the morgue and completing a horrific transformation into something which may not be human at all. Carmilla then has to deal with supervillains, eldritch abominations, and the fact that Michael Waite's best-selling horror fiction Incongruity is not fiction.
  • It only takes poor Carrow two episodes in JourneyQuest to get shot full of arrows and then be incompetently raised from the dead by Perf. Unfortunately for Carrow, the God of light and purity doesn't exactly like zombies...

    Western Animation 
  • Optimus Prime in Transformers Animated. He managed to cut the Prime Death a new record by dying in the third episode (the three part Pilot, so it still counts) and being resurrected a mere 75 seconds later. That's gonna be hard to beat...
    Optimus: So this is what it feels like... to be a hero...
  • The eponymous hero of Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet does this in the first episode — twice. Granted, the first time left him under the control of a malevolent alien force bent on destroying the Earth, but still. And it was the second time (via an electrical accident) that rebooted his human side.
  • The first Comedy Central episode of Futurama starts with every main character except Fry and the Professor dying when the Planet Express Ship and the Nimbus (Zapp Brannigan's ship) explode, and the episode opens with the Professor resurrecting them, with complications leading to Leela being resurrected in a comatose. Actually, it was Leela who survived the explosion instead of Fry. Fry was rendered somewhat deader than the rest, and when it looked like he was gone for good Leela made a robot duplicate of him out of grief, who shorted out and accidentally killed Leela, which also wiped their short term memories.
  • When we first meet Cubix, he's the mysterious trophy sitting around the Botties' Pit that no-one has ever been able to fix. New kid Connor decides to fix him for his initiation, despite the fact that no-one expects him to succeed.

Faking the DeadResurrection TropesFirst Law of Resurrection
Finish Him!Death TropesFirst Law of Resurrection
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