->''"I did not come to medical school to murder my classmates no matter how deranged they might be."''
-->-- '''Randy Steckle''', ''Film/{{Flatliners}}''

A character or group of characters make it so they [[DeathIsCheap die]] for a certain amount of time (often times by simulating a [[HollywoodHeartAttack heart attack]]) and then are revived. Sometimes this is so they can have an out-of-body experience or [[NearDeathClairvoyance see if there's an afterlife or become a ghost for a certain amount of time]]. Sometimes this will result in their nightmares becoming [[YourMindMakesItReal real]] or sometimes it's a plot for one of the characters to kill another without getting [[KarmaHoudini caught]]. May be part of a FakingTheDead plot.

Extra fail points occur if the victim actually does flatline. Only about 10% are successfully brought back once their cardiac cells have stopped channeling enough electricity to trigger an ECG blip, with preemptive treatment. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinical_death Clinical death]] actually means cessation of breathing and circulation and is not the same as flatlining. Bonus fail points if the victim is then revived with [[MagicalDefibrillator defibrillation]], since a flatline by definition has no heart rhythm to "defibrillate".

Most of the time, this requires some ArtisticLicenseBiology.

Not to be confused with FauxDeath -- that's when the character never really dies in the first place -- or with {{Flatline}}. Compare RevivalLoophole. Compare and contrast with DisneyDeath.



* This is done to Sasuke in ''Anime/{{Naruto}}'' after he defects from the Leaf Village in order to raise the power of the cursed seal Orochimaru gave him.
* Unsurprisingly, the FakingTheDead version has shown up in ''Manga/BlackJack'' at least once. In one story he temporarily induces clinical death in the President he's operating on in order to fool the terrorists who are holding Pinoko hostage so he'll throw the operation.
* In ''Descendants of Darkness'', during the King of Swords story arch, [[spoiler: Muraki does this as the ultimate alibi]].
* An early episode of ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' has Ash and Pikachu go through this, temporarily turning into ghosts after being crushed under a fallen chandelier. This proves key in helping Ash bond with the ghostly trio of Haunter, Ghastly and Gengar.
* In ''Anime/OccultAcademy'', Kozue goes through one to try to get a glimpse of the afterlife [[spoiler:and ends up leaving part of her soul behind]].

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''ComicBook/ElfQuest'' there's a scene where Leetah the healer confronts death by bringing herself to its very brink. It's a huge risk because she aims to revive herself at the exact split-second before she dies. [[spoiler:But it's a flashback story so we know she lives.]]
* One of Batman's plans in ''ComicBook/BatmanTheDarkKnightReturns''.

* ''Film/{{Flatliners}}'', the TropeNamer.
* In ''Film/TheATeam'', "Hannibal" Smith does this while in prison.
* In ''Film/GhostTown'', Ricky Gervais's character briefly becomes one of the ghosts he sees.
* Happened in ''Film/{{Constantine}}''.
* In the ''Film/EvilDead2013'' remake, only ''living'' people can be possessed, allowing an unconventional "exorcism" technique. Bonus points for the defibrillator, purpose-built from scavenged materials.
* ''Film/TheFrighteners'': Frank Bannister does it to experience afterlife first-hand instead of communicating with it, as he did as a medium.
* In the Italian film ''Film/DangerDiabolik'' (the final episode of [[Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000 MST3K]]), Diabolik's elaborate BatmanGambit to rescue Eva and keep the emeralds he stole for her involved ingesting a pill that would make him appear dead for 12 hours, but would kill him if he didn't take the antidote before then. When does Eva bring him the antidote? [[AlwaysClose 11 hours, 57 minutes.]]
* In ''Film/ThePhantomCarriage'', the hero dies and becomes an observer to his misdoings in life which makes him repent and change his bad ways.
* In ''Film/TheInvisible'', Nick becomes a ghost, and sees the rest of the world trying to solve or cover up his murder. Except it turns out Nick isn't ''quite'' dead yet, and once his body is found they are able to revive him.

* It is the plot of Bernard Werber's ''Thanatonauts''. The protagonists work on a way to trigger [=NDEs=] ({{Near Death Experience}}s) and to make them progressively longer so as to go further into the afterlife. The book starts as hard-ish science fiction, with several test subjects dying in the process, then proceeds into Werbery philosophical tale with a good dose of silliness when they actually find Heaven and start regularly going there and back.
* Creator/ConnieWillis's ''Passage'' is about a doctor experiment with a drug that can trigger [[NearDeathExperience NDEs]], although it's not dangerous at all. That is until the doctor takes it and finds herself on the Titanic. It's much better than it sounds.
* Terry Bisson's short story ''Necronauts''. The main character is an artist hired to produce paintings of his experiences during the [=NDEs=].
* ''God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian'' by Creator/KurtVonnegut, is a series of interviews with the dead conducted by a reporter getting repeatedly nearly killed by the Doctor.
* The Scott Lynch novel ''The Lies of Locke Lamora'' features a cult devoted to the goddess of death which, as part of its initiation, requires extensive experimentation with near-death experiences. The protagonist, whose mission is to infiltrate the cult, essentially says "the hell with this" and leaves that night.
* In ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'', ghosts are effectively echoes sticking around to take care of unfinished business, not necessarily the actual spirit or soul (or what not) of the deceased. So, when one was kicking his ass, [[spoiler:Harry came up with the plan to die just long enough for a ghost to be created, then have his friends resuscitate him so that he could ''team up with his own ghost'' to beat the baddie.]]
* In Terry Pratchett's ''Literature/{{Nation}}'', it's a way to pay a visit to the local death god.
* Happens inadvertently to Teatime in ''Discworld/{{Hogfather}}'', who takes a fatal fall in the Tooth Fairy's realm and is instantly transported back to the Disc due to death being impossible where he'd been. He lands in the Great Hall of Unseen University, where Ridcully, not realizing he's the villain behind the current troubles, revives him with a back-thumping method he'd used on baby goats in his pre-Archchancellor farm days.
* In ''[[Literature/{{Stardoc}} Beyond Varallan]]'', [[spoiler:Cherijo]] does this in order to break up with [[spoiler:Xonea]] (since that's about the only way one ''can'' back out of a Jorenian engagement). Justified in that [[spoiler:not only is she [[FromASingleCell essentially immortal]], but]] it's decidedly rough on her.
* A ritual among the ironborn of ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' seems to involve drowning boys and then reviving them in order to prove their manhood. Aeron Damphair is famous for never actually having lost a child in this way, but it is left unsaid whether it is magic that brings people back or simply that the boys are only near-dead and not actually dead.
* In Ted Dekker's supernatural thriller ''Adam'', the protagonist does this ''twice'' [[ItMakesSenseInContext to gain clues from the near-death experiences]].
* Played for laughs in ''Literature/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy'', where intergalactic rockstar Hotblack Desiato is spending a year dead for tax purposes.
* Dennis Wheatley's "The Ka of Gifford Hillary" is an entire novel based around this trope. The lead character spends most of the book on the Astral Plane, unable to interfere in dreadful things he witnesses, and ends up being buried alive.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Series/TheATeam does this at the start of the last season, by getting shot by a firing squad with replaced, nonlethal bullets.
* The ''Series/{{Medium}}'' episode "Things to Do in Phoenix When You're Dead" had a doctor doing this so he could [[spoiler:travel as a ghost to see rich people doing bad things and then blackmail them]].
* An episode of ''Series/TruCalling'' called "Haunted".
* ''Series/{{House}}'' once shocked himself and was clinically dead for 97 seconds so he could see what another guy was talking about about the afterlife. [[spoiler:He saw nothing, which confirmed for him that there was no afterlife.]] He did this despite the fact that he'd experienced clinical death ''before'' [[PlotHole and seen visions]], which he'd already rejected as proof of an afterlife.
* In an episode of ''Series/{{Sliders}}'', the team lands on a world where the Egyptian dynasties never ended, and people are conducting afterlife experiments by temporarily killing test subjects. Naturally, one of our heroes gets caught up in it.
* ''Series/{{Fringe}}'' keeps dancing close to this line.
* In ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' episode "Barge Of The Dead", B'Elanna didn't actually die, but she had a near-death experience and ended up in Klingon Hell. Then after she got revived she asked the Doctor to put her in another near-death experience, because she wanted to save her mother from Klingon Hell (which she knew full well existed).
** In another episode, Neelix has a crisis of faith when he is briefly declared dead, but doesn't experience the afterlife he expects. Chakotay has to talk him out of suicide.
%% * This was on an episode of ''Series/{{Smallville}}''.
* Exactly the same idea as ''The Frighteners'' had been inverted about 20 years earlier by ''Series/RandallAndHopkirkDeceased''. In that case, they needed the man they were interrogating to have a near-death experience so Hopkirk (the dead one) could talk to him.
* ''Series/RedDwarf'' tries this once. Except they almost forget one important bit... [[spoiler:Kryten: MR LISTER!!!]]
* Parodied in an episode of ''Upright Citizens Brigade''; Anton is trying to improve his chess-playing skills by hooking himself up to a machine that briefly renders him clinically dead every time he makes a bad move. It doesn't work out well.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}''
** To figure out why the people in a town have stopped dying, Sam and Dean decide to try astral projection so they can see ghosts and reapers.
** In ''Appointment in Samarra'' [[spoiler:Dean has himself temporarily killed so he can contact and make a deal with [[TheGrimReaper Death]]. According to the man conducting the procedure he has a 60% success rate]].
* ''Series/{{Charmed}}'': At least once a season.
* ''Series/DiagnosisMurder'' had an episode featuring this trope - where a group of medical students [[spoiler:induced cardiac arrests in themselves and then gradually increased the amount of 'flatline time' on each occasion to try and make themselves more resistant to death. Then one of the medical students decides to murder another by not reviving him and it goes on from there....]]
* The subject of an episode of ''Series/ForeverKnight''. Nick too crosses over, in order to find if he's damned forever.
* Done in ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'' to "reboot" Agent May's brain after she had been infected, and was seeing monstrous forms everywhere.
* The TV miniseries ''Series/HouseOfFrankenstein1997'', featuring various horror-staple monsters, had a scene where a man carries a dying wolf (his werewolf girlfriend) into the ER and forces the doctors at gunpoint to attend to the animal. He lays her on the operating table, then insists that they ''let her die'', at which point she reverts to human form. They rush to resuscitate her; upon awakening, she remains human and is cured of the curse, as it's the ''wolf'' that died.
* In a season 3 episode of ''Series/{{Sanctuary}}'' Will has himself flatlined in order to make connection to a certain abnormal running amok at the time. This is presented as a last resort after performing a Bollywood-style dance fails.
* In one episode of ''Series/{{Merlin}}'', the only way to break a spell is to make Uther cry, and the only way to make Uther cry is to kill Arthur. He'll be just fine provided he gets the antidote within 30 minutes. 29 minutes later...
* In the ''Series/LaFemmeNikita'' episode "Mandatory Refusal", Madeline is captured by an enemy unit. She is entirely unimpressed, and forces them to treat her well by somehow stopping her own heart; her captors, aware of exactly how screwed they will be if they don't have her to bargain with, give in to her demands immediately.
* ''Series/TheOA'': Has this as a major plot element. [[spoiler:Prairie claims that while she was kidnapped, she and four others were repeatedly subjected to experiments in which they were drown and brought back to life to study what happens when someone dies. She also claims that sometimes when she died, she went to another dimension to gain knowledge necessary to escape]].

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Orpheus}}'' was all about this trope. The titular corporation flatlined its agents through cryogenics, who would become ghosts and be able to interact with the spirits of the recently deceased on behalf of well-paying clients.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/Left4Dead2'' a defibrillator can be used to revive a dead player. No matter what killed them. No matter how long they've been dead. Even if they were crushed in a car half an hour ago.
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'': Both played with and parodied. The parody is when a security officer states that [[Literature/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy being dead for a year is a popular tax-dodge]].
* ''Franchise/MetalGear''
** In ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'', Snake is able to lay in a pool of ketchup to convince a guard that he has died.
** In ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3'', Big Boss can do a similar trick by using a fake CyanidePill to cause a temporary state of "death". However if you don't use the revival pill before a certain time limit, he dies permanently, causing a TimeParadox.
** Lastly in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4'' it is possible to lay among a group of corpses after a battle and play dead. This usually causes any passing guards to ignore you.

* ''Webcomic/TheAdventuresOfDrMcNinja'': Dracula helps Benjamin Franklin create an elixir of immortality, so that Ben can die and come back to tell him what the afterlife is like. Dracula gotten tired of his own immortal existence, but wants more information before he decides whether to pass on. (It turns out Ben never found out the full details, because he got stopped in Purgatory, where souls may remain for hundreds of years.)
* A ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'' short story has Agatha investigating a team of construct con artists who do this: the front man, if caught by the authorities, collapses and dies. A week or so later, his/her friends, who ''weren't'' caught, dig up and revive the body, and they go to play their moneymaking tricks somewhere else.
** Later on, Agatha, Gilgamesh, and Tarvek all contract a disease, and the best plan for curing it involves killing and resuscitating themselves.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'', [[Franchise/TheFlash Flash]] tricks a captor by speeding up his heart rate until it ''looks'' like he's flatlined.
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/MoralOrel'' involves Orel killing himself in order to talk to God.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Some scientists [[http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_348517.html have managed to replace the fluid in dogs]] with a solution that places them in a state of suspended animation of sorts (they're clinically dead). By then replacing that solution with the proper fluids, the dogs could be revived. Other methods have also been experimented with.
* [[Music/MotleyCrue Nikki Sixx]] is famous for flatlining and then resurrecting. He "died" of a heroin overdose, and a paramedic was able to revive him using a shot of adrenaline. The incident inspired the song "Kickstart My Heart".
* Hypothermia induced flat-lining is also a procedure performed by brain surgeons to increase the amount of time the patient's brain can go deprived of oxygen to facilitate the surgery.
* An less-intentional version of this is drowning in cold water can allow people to survive longer than they might otherwise have because of the hypothermia slowing down the body's processes, and preserves the body in an OnlyMostlyDead state longer.