Joe'll be okay! Danny:
...but he's dead. Walky:
Since anything is possible in fiction, including bringing people Back from the Dead
(even in fiction grounded in Real Life
), fans often expect characters not to stay dead, or even assume the character isn't dead at all (as this often is how a character is brought back).
But sometimes, the anticipated resurrection doesn't happen yet; the reaction to this forms this trope.
It can lead to Internet Backdraft
if the character they want back is on the low end of the Sorting Algorithm of Deadness
(often in the form of Fix Fics
and Fanon Discontinuity
), but conversely it can also lead to Internet Backdraft
if the character they don't want back is on the high end (often in the form of Dropped a Bridge on Him
in their Fan Fiction
, or once they start Running the Asylum
). The latter is common in those who complain about resurrection in Superhero Comic Books
Despite what some think, Back from the Dead
isn't always caused by Pandering to the Base
or Executive Meddling
. Sometimes the writers genuinely intended for a character to come back
. On the other hand, characters can stay dead for those very reasons. But of course there will be Fan Dumb
making up their own reasons for either.
This trope is loathed by some, but thought of as perfectly normal Wish Fulfillment
by others. Like most tropes, it's all in how it's handled.
Compare Urban Legend of Zelda
, Inferred Survival
, First Law of Resurrection
, Elvis Lives
, Unexplained Recovery
. See also Viewers In Mourning
. When he really is
just hiding, it's Faking the Dead
Warning: This is part of Death Tropes, so spoilers abound. Don't come crying to us. We repeat SPOILERS AHOY!
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Hunter J and her crew from Pokémon, by Never Found the Body. Then again, they probably won't, since they all blew up.
- Alto Saotome, the hero from Macross Frontier. Movie-verse only. It is unclear whether the person died or survived, but at the end of the movie Ranka told a comatose Sheryl that she will wake up when Alto comes back. At that moment, Sheryl's mouth twitched and her earrings glinted. Word of God has stated that this is indeed the case.
- Gai Daigouji from Martian Successor Nadesico; lampshaded with both an Identical Stranger and a subversion of Back from the Dead. Naturally, in many Super Robot Wars games he really is.
- L Lawliet from Death Note; also the point many consider where the series went downhill and never came back but that was not the case when Teru Mikami appeared in the scene shifting the story's level.
- The live-action adaptation actually uses one escape theory: When Rem tries to kill L and Watari to save Misa, L actually escapes death — because he'd already written his own name in the Death Note to die at a later date.
- And that's not to mention the deluded fangirls who are convinced that Light somehow made it. You know, despite having Ryuk write Light's name in his Death Note, just like he said he would in the VERY FIRST EPISODE, which is pretty damned final by the standards of pretty much everyone else.
- Though not exactly the most beloved character of the series, fans have hoped that if there's another season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Precia Testarossa should return. She's noted to be the one of the cruelest villains ever in the series (on par and maybe surpassing Jail Scaglietti in Season 3), but the final battle against her doesn't have much action, thus fans wanted to at least have her return and be defeated in a more epic battle. Besides, for her Season 1 death, she just fell over a cliff to a never-touched, but interesting world and they never really bothered to see if she's dead for good, fueling possible scenarios where she survived and returned with a more insane plan.
- Fans of Jiraiya deny that he died, despite the fact that he was impaled through the chest repeatedly, lost copious amounts of blood, had emotional flashbacks reflecting on his failures and accomplishments in life, transferred his knowledge of the enemy to a frog messenger for Naruto, and sunk to the bottom of a lake while his vision faded to blackness. The fan rationale? It was just one of his shadow clones (even though those would disappear after even one of those things happened).
- Itachi's death was questioned, despite Madara implicitly stating that his body is lying around somewhere by saying Sasuke could have taken his eyes. Made even worse during the winter break of 2009/2010, when he made a "reappearance" which more Genre Savvy readers could tell was just genjutsu from a mile away. And then completely finished off when Kabuto used Impure World Resurrection, which only works on the dead, to briefly bring back zombie-Itachi.
- Many fans believed that Obito Uchiha was just hiding, as Tobi of all people. He was.
- Lockon Stratos in Mobile Suit Gundam 00. While the way he died made it impossible to recover the body, Word of God has confirmed it — as if the 5-minute montage and monologue sequence wasn't enough. The PS2 game Gundam Meisters made Lockon's Death even more explicit, showing Lockon's faceplate crack off, a scene added to the special edition release to further solidify his death as final.
- Of course, he was then replaced in the second season with his twin brother who takes on the same code name. Though he doesn't mirror his brothers motivations.
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED had the planned death of Mu la Fraga, at the end of a season. Anyway, since fans were revolting, he was decided to be brought back, with amnesia. Even his lone helmet in space which was originally shown, was removed, to make his survival possible. The fans did it! (In 00 it didn't work, though.)
- The fate of Amuro Ray and Char Aznable at the end of Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack has become a somewhat legendary topic of debate among certain fans of the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise. The intentional lack of a definitive Word of God doesn't help to settle this, and whenever the story appears in a crossover game, such as Another Century's Episode 3, the hero Amuro always survives one way or another. Char's fate is often sealed.
- From Cowboy Bebop, fans of Spike will swear up and down that the character is just hiding, despite having suffered fatal injuries from a personal nemesis, being surrounded by Mooks from the Syndicate (while in the Syndicate Headquarters,) collapsing in a pool of his own blood, and the entire series leading up to exactly that climax.
- Notable in that the guy writing the stuff isn't entirely sure if he's dead or alive, either.
- Given the nature of the Syndicate in question, Spike would be made its new leader if he survived, since he had just killed the previous leader, Vicious, who in turn had assumed power by killing his own predecessors.
- It really doesn't help that Spike was previously shown to survive a similar scenario (specifically he was shot, skewered, and jumped off of a four storey building), albeit barely, so fans of his survival have at least some ammunition.
- Watch carefully in the end, you will noticed the brightest star disappears, alluding to the lampshading of the Indian Chief has stated that means someone has died. Basically confirming that Spike has indeed died.
- Laughing Bull's description of the warrior who died could just as well refer to Vicious as Spike. Every part of the show's ending is supposed to be heavily ambiguous.
- Code Geass
- Despite seemingly overwhelming evidence, many fans refused to accept the deaths of Euphemia, Jeremiah, Shirley, and Nunnally. Interestingly, Jeremiah and Nunnally actually were Faking the Dead, and show up later in the series.
- Many fans also believed Lelouch survived his Thanatos Gambit in the Grand Finale of the series, either by faking his own death or accidentally absorbing the Big Bad's Complete Immortality in an earlier episode. While the series writer stated the ending was made to be a Really Dead Montage for Lelouch, the series director's Shrug of God that "the happy or sad nature of the ending is up to the fans" was interpreted by some as meaning Lelouch's death was up to personal interpretation. Multiple Death of the Author arguments and Broken Bases inside the fandom ensued.
- One Piece is set in a World of Badass, which means hardly anyone ever dies; as such, any apparent death is generally assumed to be a case of this. Any other fandom would declare them dead. The One Piece fandom insists that no named character has ever died (except for in flashbacks). You can't really blame them, though, because other characters - even fairly minor ones - have come back from worse; after ten years of storyline, the number of named people that are confirmed to have actually died in the main storyline (aside from anime filler characters) doesn't even reach into double digits.Namely...
- For instance, Miss Monday and Mr. 9 were last seen making a Heroic Sacrifice and getting blown up, and failed to show up in any context for years, but were still assumed to be alive. And sure enough, both are revealed to be alive in Chapter 632's cover story. Not only that, they had a kid together.
- Gin, The Dragon to one of the earlier antagonists who developed a friendly relationship with Sanji and Luffy, seems to be fatally poisoned when he's last seen, but he is never shown dying, leading some to believe that he may have survived (although neither he nor any of Krieg's pirates have been seen since the East Blue saga).
- Bellamy from the start of the Skypiea saga, seemingly a throwaway villain with too much pride and not enough power. He gets on Luffy's bad side, and gets taken out with one punch. At the end of that saga, we see him getting a You Have Failed Me treatment from his boss, Donquixote Doflamingo, an absurdly powerful and influential pirate who can be considered One Piece's rendition of The Joker. Fast forward about five hundred chapters, and we see him alive, well, and significantly more mature, with only a scar to hint at his punishment.
- Gekko Moria of the Seven Warlords of the Sea made the mistake of challenging the Straw Hat Pirates. The last Warlord who made an enemy out of them, Crocodile, had his plans ruined, got beaten to a pulp, and imprisoned in Impel Down. Moria suffered the former two fates. Later, after the War of the Best and his less-than-satisfactory performance, Doflamingo comes after him with a small army of cyborgs, each akin to The Terminator, the top brass of the World Government having ordered his execution. He escapes, allegedly with his powers, but Doflamingo claims that he was injured too much to survive. Obviously, he was wrong; not much is known about Moria's current status, but what is known is that... He's Just Hiding, somewhere in the New World.
- Another particularly egregious example is Nero, a very minor character who had just enough screentime to get his butt kicked by Franky. He was thrown off a speeding train. Into the ocean. In the middle of one of the biggest, most powerful storms in the world. And he was unconscious at the time. And also horribly wounded. Fans assume he survived. They're probably right.
- The Alabasta arc has two egregious examples of this. First, Igaram is caught in a massive explosion that converts a galleon to scrap-wood, mourned over for the entire arc, and then wanders back in at the end to be supportive. Even worse, Pell carries a bomb with a reported blast radius of five kilometers, which was supposed to kill every living thing in the capital city, high enough into the sky that it doesn't even char the buildings; he's not only caught in the blast, he's actively carrying the thing (and doing nothing to defend himself). After that, he must have fallen the, oh, three miles to the ground. He walks back to the capital on crutches, apparently with no permanent injuries, and in fact wearing the same clothes, which are hardly dirty. And when we see him again one saga later, he's perfectly healthy. Both cases ruin a perfectly good Heroic Sacrifice.
- Bentham, better known as Mr. 2 Bon Kurei, has fallen under this trope twice, both times as a Heroic Sacrifice to help Luffy and his allies escape. The first time, he and his crew face off against a crew of Marines, and his boat is destroyed. Later, a mini-series in the manga shows that he survived…but was incarcerated in Impel Down. The second time, after Luffy's break-in of Impel Down, he alone stays behind to make sure everyone else escapes. This has him facing down a ton of guards and the prison's warden, Magellan, whose Venom-Venom Fruit powers had let him Curb-Stomp just about anyone who challenged him, including Luffy himself. Heck, Magellan had effortlessly sent Luffy to death's door a few chapters prior. And post-Time Skip, in chapter 666 (make of that what you will), it's revealed that he somehow survived and is now the "queen" of the secret sanctuary in the prison.
- Sabo. Luffy's brother. Only seen in a flashback involving Luffy and Ace's past, and seen having his raft bombarded at the end of that flashback, with only a tattered hat at sea to indicate his fate. Many, many fans insisted that he was still alive (and a member of the Revolutionary Army), even after his death was confirmed in a One Piece Databook. And as of Chapter 744, it's finally been confirmed that they were right on both counts. Well, sort of on both counts; he's not just a member of the Revolutionary Army. He's second-in-command of the Revolutionary Army.
- Oda seems to counterbalance this by killing off people by the truckload in flashbacks. From heroic doctors to beloved mothers to whole pirate crews and the entire population of an island, flashbacks are infamous not only for their body counts, but for the deceased never ever coming back...except for Brook, that is.
- Perhaps the biggest example from Bleach is Ulquiorra. Fans saw his body disintegrate, but they still cling to the hope that he'll come back. The fact that his death was so touching and poignant doesn't help matters. Other notable cases include Szayel (he is just that Crazy-Prepared), Starrk (Never Found the Body + capacity for a Soul Jar). and Harribel (negates the bridge drop). Some would be tempted to put Grimmjow on here as well, but he wasn't exactly dead the last time we saw him.
- Fans of Ulquiorra have even more to be worked up about now. Word of God pointed out in a recent interview how surprised he was by the worldwide response to Ulquiorra's death. He refused to confirm whether that was the last of Ulquiorra.
- Gin Ichimaru is theorized to be alive by some based on his fan-favorite status, the fact that he was still alive when he was last seen (his last words in his head were "great, now I know I can leave things to him," but it's not made clear if he means he can trust Ichigo to take down Aizen after his death or after he's no longer in any condition to fight), and the fact that Orihime showed up just a few chapters after his apparent death. There's also the fact that after the saga is over, Rangiku laments that Gin is gone, but never mentions if he's dead or if Orihime did heal him and he just took off somewhere.
- Recently, Kaname has been added, with some fans suggesting that Mayuri is working on reviving him for...some reason.
- Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto. There are numerous theories about how he could have "faked it," including reviving himself as a zombie, being stored in his Zanpakuto somehow, and collaborating with AIZEN, of all people. All of these ignore that, even if he was just hiding, Soul Society really, REALLY needs him, and he's not there. The Kyoka Suigetsu theory sometimes counters this with Aizen is doing it as a practical joke. Yeah. One other thing that often gets cited is the statement that "no body was found," but this is because it was vaporized onscreen.
- Szayel in a separate chapter was shown to be in hell. Ulquiorra and Starrk were confirmed as dead in Unmasked, which is considered pretty definitive. Gin was later confirmed as dead in the Germany Interview.
- But it turns out that Harribel really was Just Hiding - Orihime healed her (and her Fraccion) off-screen, and she's mentioned after the Time Skip. Guess Tite Kubo realised how stupid killing her off so anti-climactically was...
- As of the latest arc, Byakuya Kuchiki can be added to that list. Ever since his apparent death, many people have denied it. Granted the chapter where he apparently died just came out so this might be a little premature, it still counts.
- Nope, Byakuya as of the latest chapter did in fact survive. Though it also has people rolling their eyes at Kubo since it's just another example of him refusing to kill off his dear soul reapers. Kenpachi survived the ordeal too, but his survival is at least somewhat justified due to the guy beating him turning out to be a complete fake of the Big Bad.
- What was so aggravating about Byakuya surviving was that there were multiple points where it was indicated that he had died (i.e. Haschwald saying he'd died, Byakuya giving a farewell speech to a murderous Ichigo and finally his Zanpaktou falling down and breaking with a shot of him having so called "final thoughts"). It's jarring to see it was just cheap drama.
- On the other hand, all of this is pretty standard for a fake-out death in Bleach. The things we've seen that generally confirm a character's death are destruction of the body, decapitation, and/or not appearing again for many chapters after being declared dead.
- Maria Ross in Fullmetal Alchemist Turned out true in one series, but false in another. The least spoilery way to put it.
- The fandom for Conqueror of Shamballa, the movie sequel to the 2003 anime version, has an actual holiday for when Alphons (Heidrich) dies. He gets shot in the back, but we don't see the shot actually hit him. They call it Denial Day, and it's November 8th (or 9th).
- Never Found the Body covers a multitude of sins. In the case of the D.Gray-Man fandom and General Cross, this includes disappearing from a room several stories above a lot of sharp rocks, leaving behind the cracked, bloody remains of his Cool Mask, his Empathic Weapon (which is no longer attuned to him), and more blood than a human can lose and survive, all of which was confirmed to be his. That said, there's still one hell of a lot of mystery surrounding his death/disappearance, since, well, they Never Found the Body.
- Guyver fans keep hoping very much that Purgstall will come back from the dead. He was a commonly suggested suspect of Appolyon's identity.
- Akai Shuuichi from Detective Conan is an interesting example. Immediately after his death, people declared him to be alive, due to the numerous inconsistencies around his death, as well as some notable differences between two shots of the body. Even though that, due to this, there was never much of a doubt in the community that he wasn't dead at all, there are a lot of arguments on who he is - is he Scar Akai, who looks just like his mirror image, but seems to have lost his memory? Or is he in fact the scary Subaru Okiya, who displays a lot of non-obvious similarities to Akai? Or is he even someone else? Only time will tell.
- A later Mystery Train arc pretty much settles this dispute; answering who's who as clear as day. Tooru Amuro is confirmed as the real Bourbon, Vermouth and Tooru conspired the creation of Scar Akai to confirm the FBI's reaction to a living Akai and Subaru Okiya is infact Akai-in-hiding.
- The anime of Sentou Yousei Yukikaze has an in-universe example of this trope: during the evacuation of Faery, Rei Fukai breaks off from the rest of the FAF fleet to lure the JAM toward him & Yukikaze as the fleet is traveling through the hyperspace Passageway to escape back to Earth. When he's at the center of the Passageway, the three Flip Knight drones escorting Rei then detonate their nuclear bombs and collapse the Passageway. Repeat: Rei was at the freaking center of a triple nuclear explosion in a collapsing alien wormhole. Back on Earth though, his commanding officer Jack Booker tells a journalist that he's pretty sure Rei didn't die and is living happily somewhere else in the universe. Considering that the Passageway was created by the JAM, coupled with the fact that we have no clue how it works, this may be possible. Maybe he really did get teleported somewhere else in the universe.
- Haruto from Valvrave the Liberator is getting this for how unrealistic his death was. He just lost all of his memories. There is a 30 second scene of a girl mourning his death and even a memorial around him but poor delivery of all of this made people believe he still lives in vegetative state.
- Many fans theorized this was the fate of Shiro after the last episode of Project K. Turns out they were right as the movie went on to show.
Films — Animation
- Prince Charming was speculated to have survived the events of Shrek the Third by the window falling on him after the huge realistic prop tower was knocked onto him by Dragon.
- In the same vein as Zhao, Tai Lung's ambiguous fate at the end of Kung Fu Panda has led to many, many a Fix Fic.
- To be fair, the directors' commentary made it clear that the creators never intended to reveal Tai Lung's actual fate. Whether this was a cunning move on their part to prevent it being obvious he'd appear in a sequel will only be revealed in time. But with the exact words being 'Nobody knows what happened to him, it's just a mystery', they clearly don't mind if some fans believe he's only hiding, and may even be just encouraging it.
- Same for Oogway's disappearance in a puff of petals. Seems to be a natural result in a movie that shows no bodies and never says die.
- And then there's the Wolf Boss in the sequel, who takes a few knives to the throat and presumably dies afterwards. Word of God is clueless on whether or not he survived.
- Beauty and the Beast: There are still a great many people (even his voice actor, of all people) who believe that Gaston could still be alive, even after Word of God confirmed (well, mostly confirmed, at least, since his voice actor begs to differ) that he did, in fact, perish. Either that, or the Fan Dumb just refuse to accept his death. Apparently, no one survives a three hundred foot drop into a river like Gaston.
- Starting with Optimus Prime and Starscream's deaths in Transformers: The Movie, the weeping of thousands of small children over the former, and their returns in the later stages of the cartoon's third season, it's gotten to the point where nobody's surprised when dead Transformers don't stay that way. Optimus Primal came Back from the Dead three times. Had young fans come to terms with the death of their hero somehow, the world of the Transformers might have been a very different place.
- Prime's death in the G1 movie had such a profound effect, it actually caused an aversion in another Hasbro toy based movie; protests over it caused the creators of G.I. Joe: The Movie to turn Duke's death near the end into a coma. Which is even more ironic when you find out that apparently, the idea to kill off the leader originally came from the guys writing the GI Joe movie. The Hasbro execs liked it so much as a way to clear old stock off of shelves that they suggested the Transformers movie do the same. Then the GI Joe movie got delayed, Optimus Prime died, and the rest is history.
- This is also an in-canon rumor about the single, unnamed SAW Viper who notoriously killed four Joes before being hunted down by Snake Eyes in revenge.
- After being defeated in her One-Winged Angel form, Maleficent of Sleeping Beauty noticeably does not leave behind a corpse—not a dragon corpse, not a fairy corpse. This has caused many fans to speculate that she did indeed survive, and spawned many a Fan Fic.
- Thanks to his death occurring in a Gory Discretion Shot, fans of The Lion King believe the villain Scar to have survived and is in hiding somewhere far, far away from the pride. The fact that he's a Draco in Leather Pants and he makes several cameos in the questionably-canonical animated series doesn't help matters any.
- Scar also had the trope similarly invoked on him in Kingdom Hearts II. Despite his being dead, there were a few hints that Scar, even after his Heartless was defeated, still lived on as a ghost hive and later the Earthshaker, and he might have even created a Nobody of himself as the result of his transforming into a Heartless, going by several heavy implications of what happens to people when they become heartless. Plus, if what is implied to have happened to Master Xehanort/Terranort after Kingdom Hearts II is anything to go by, destroying both his heartless and nobody would most likely bring Scar back to life.
- The same treatment is often given to Zira and less often Nuka and Mufasa.
Films — Live-Action
- Star Wars
- Inverted by the fandom, who desperately, desperately, wanted Jar-Jar Binks to be hiding... on Alderaan. (Or better yet, accidentally shot by a passing clonetrooper. In slow-mo.)
- The fans who believe Mace Windu survived the electrocution and several hundred story fall in Revenge of the Sith and has been hiding on Coruscant ever since. It doesn't help that official sources seem to intentionally avoid saying the word "death" here. Well, there are characters in SW canon who survived similar situations, namely Darth Krayt and Rahm Kota.
- Then there is Samuel L. Jackson wanting to appear in the new SW films and saying that Windu may not have died...
- Similarly, some think Kit Fisto survived his gut-slash from Palpatine. The claim is based in the fact that the slash didn't appeared to be too lethal, just barely hitting his torso.
- The fandom in general loved Boba Fett so much, retcons occurred to keep him alive in the Expanded Universe after he was thrown into the Saarlac pit. George Lucas himself says (in the commentary track on the Return of the Jedi DVD) that he regrets killing off Boba Fett, and that he seriously considered adding a scene to the DVD showing him escaping from the pit. According to Lucas, the only reason he didn't add the scene was that it didn't seem necessary when most of the fans already believed he survived anyway.
- Aayla Secura, a very minor (in the films, anyway) Jedi killed onscreen during the Order 66 sequence, has attracted speculation that she may have survived. This in spite of the fact that the film goes to fairly great lengths to show her being shot In the Back, collapsing, then continuing to be shot for some time.
- Similarly, Shaak Ti, another minor Jedi, has a habit of surviving not only situations that should have killed her, but also two that actually did. She was filmed dying twice in Revenge Of The Sith, at the hands of both General Greivous and Darth Vader, but both scenes were dropped. She was last seen falling into a Sarlacc pit in The Force Unleashed, and we all know No One Could Survive That... She was also supposed to die during the first animated Clone Wars series, making it 3 times she's cheated death.
- They've recently been killing off all sorts of characters. There's a whole genre of fanfic dedicated to Anakin (Solo) and Mara getting better. And many believe Luke's going to survive even into Legacy, but for some reason he has to appear to Cade as a blue ghostie.
- The official Star Wars board had a joke movement saying that the background character San Hill is still alive and well because he is never shown being killed in the movie and his body isn't there after Anakin kills the Separatist council. Word of God by a continuity manager squashed this, though this doesn't explain the appearance of another San Hill (but a human one, not a muun) in the same position in the game Forces of Corruption.
- Knights of the Old Republic fans have this attitude toward Revan. Which definitely isn't helped by the fact that his fate after around a year after the game is set was never revealed. They were right this time around. He's still alive and kicking 300 years later. Well, for certain definitions of "alive."
- After the advance screenings of Serenity, a whole website/blog was established devoted to saving the character of Wash, because some fans found his death too upsetting and felt that it ruined the movie's good vibes. In this case, it wasn't so much a matter of making up fanonical ways that he could still be alive (being impaled through the chest with a giant wooden harpoon being a fairly definitive death) as pressuring the filmmakers to go back and change the movie's final sequence to have Wash survive somehow ("he can just be trapped offscreen during the final battle!"), as though it would have been possible/cost-effective to bring back the entire cast and crew, remake the final thirty minutes of the movie, and have it ready for the movie's September release, which at that point was three months away.
- Joss Whedon has said that this is what he fully intended the reaction to be, to an extent; he knew that the fandom would not react favourably to the death and in this way made the connection with the character all the stronger by proving that they were genuinely sad that he was gone.
- Many fans of Star Trek didn't like the way Captain Kirk was killed in Generations. And neither did William Shatner, who co-wrote a series of non-Canon Trek novels set after Generations which resurrected Kirk. Fans call this series the "Shatnerverse", though whether lovingly or derisively depends on the Trekkie.
- Harvey Dent/Two-Face in The Dark Knight. He wasn't moving after he hit the ground and there was a funeral, but some fans say that they "saw him breathing" after his fall. The fate of the character was addressed in a recent interview where Aaron Eckhart revealed that Harvey did in fact die and that he had to ask the director if the character was really, truly dead from the fall. This, of course, has led to fans pointing out the possible loophole that while Harvey might be dead, Two-Face might have survived.
- A lot of the speculation was likely also because Heath Ledger's death left a void in what would (presumably) have been the main villain of the next movie, leading some fans to believe that Two-Face's death might be retconned even if it had been intended as final.
- As it happens, Nolan himself confirmed in an interview that had Heath Ledger not died, half the plot of the third Batman movie would have involved Two Face going on a rampage through Gotham while The Joker stood trial.
- In-universe examples: Two people fake their deaths. Gordon in The Dark Knight, and Batman himself in The Dark Knight Rises.
- After Dr. Gordon's grim (but not conclusive) fate in the original Saw film, fans were rabidly divided as to whether or not the character should, or even could return in a later film. He did, in Saw 3D.
- Cleon of The Warriors is given this treatment by some of the fanbase. The last time he's seen in the film, he's being beaten up by The Riff's after being accused of killing their leader. He's never seen or mentioned after this. The fact that the novel character he's based off of actually survived continues to fuel the theories.
- Rinzler, who is actually a corrupted Tron in TRON: Legacy, especially since it's uncertain as to whether he drowned or not in the cubey-sea.
- In Captain America: The First Avenger, it was speculated that Red Skull was actually (possibly temporarily) banished to another plane of existence rather than actually killed in the climax. The main supporting evidence was that the method of Red Skull's "disintegration" into a beam of light was very similar to interdimensional travel and portals seen in other Marvel Cinematic Universe films like Thor and The Avengers.
- And Bucky Barnes had been rescued from some vague experiments before his apparent death falling from a train, leading to speculation that he'd been made into another super-soldier who could have survived such a fall. Further evidence is that something similar to this had happened to Bucky in the comics. The sequel all but confirmed it from the moment it was subtitled The Winter Soldier - Bucky's post-"resurrection" codename from the comics.
- Then, after The Winter Soldier, there are a large number of fans who suspect/hope that Arnim Zola had some secret means of escaping before his home got blown up.
- Like with Coulson fans are now wishing the same of Sitwell to both still be alive and be a triple agent instead of a traitor. He even has his own hashtag campaign like Coulson did called #ibelieveinsitwell.
- In The Avengers, it was widely speculated that Phil Coulson survived being stabbed by Loki and Nick Fury lied about him dying to motivate the Avengers. We know that Fury was lying to the team anyway - Maria Hill pointed out that Coulson wasn't actually carrying the bloodstained Tragic Keepsake that Fury showed the team afterward; and while we saw the medics arrive it was Fury that relayed their verdict to everyone else. The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series later provided an answer, but it's complicated: Coulson was dead, for days, before being revived through horrific experimental procedures. We still don't have all the details.
- Kirby is stabbed twice in Scream 4 and left for dead by the film's co-Ghostface Charlie - but as many fans of her character and/or Hayden Panettiere have pointed out (as do director Wes Craven and Panettiere herself on the DVD Commentary), it's never actually confirmed in the film that she kicks it; the last time she's seen she's still alive, and this series generally makes very sure to let us know who's Killed Off for Real and who isn't. Admittedly the film's designated Ghostface Jill includes her in the rollcall in the hospital, but she wasn't around when it took place and it's reasonable to presume she only assumed it went according to plan, as everything else had up to then. (Interestingly, a lot of Scream 5 fan fiction brings back Kirby.)
- People unhappy about Irene Adler's bridge dropping have proposed that she's still alive and is being held captive by Moriarty/Moran, and that her rescue (and Moran's survival) will drive the plot of the inevitable third movie.
- And, of course, Holmes himself, for some reason, actually is hiding.
- G.I. Joe: Retaliation: Any Joe not seen killed on screen during the big massacre who was a character in the original might be presumably still alive, out there somewhere. Candidates include Scarlett, Ripcord, Breaker, and pretty much anyone else still alive at the end of Rise that didn't make it to screen in Retaliation.
- Pacific Rim: Plenty of comics have been made retconning the Kaidanovskys' death.
- Harry Potter
- Sirius Black. The denial of his death has become an international meme known as "Sirius denial". The name comes from one of the Epileptic Trees planted by the manner of his death - literally going beyond the veil separating the world and the afterlife, leaving him Deader Than Dead.
- The death of Albus Dumbledore set off an equally large reaction, if not larger. This despite the fact that there were no less than three factors to the death, any one of which would have killed him on its own. Four factors, if you've read Deathly Hallows.
- Parodied in Deathly Hallows, when Mad Eye Moody dies off-screen and the characters spend several minutes debating if he was really dead or not. Ron remains unconvinced even after Hermione pointed out that what would have had him survive, well, pretty much the same things that killed Dumbledore, required stunning leaps of logic. The nail in the coffin comes when Harry sees his magic eye implanted in Umbridge's door.
- Also parodied by the site "Hedwig is Not Dead".
- Although the reaction was not as large, a large number of Snape fans believe that the character is still alive (secretly) after the final book. Normally the fan suggestion is that he would have left the country due to a lack of reason to stay and the antagonism that would have remained around him even if Harry fought for his name to be cleared. The most frequent evidence for Snape being alive are: a) he did not appear immediately in a painting in Hogwarts on the wall of dead Headmasters the way that Dumbledore did (something that has been explained by Rowling as him leaving his post without dying or officially retiring), b) the fact that he was a Potions Master with an extensive knowledge of poisons and antidotes, c) that Arthur Weasley survived multiple bites from the same snake in an earlier book, suggesting the venom is not fast-working, and d) that because there was no immediate spurt of blood the snake did not actually pierce the jugular.
- The film adaptation adds an additional wrinkle to the death scene by having Voldemort also use the Sectumsempra curse, which itself is lethal in time. Regardless, this death stands out because Snape almost certainly could have been saved with sufficiently quick medical attention, and also because it's the only time Voldemort has ever been shown to kill someone without using the Avada Kedavra curse.
- Wellsie's vicious murder in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series left fans not only heartbroken, but scrambling for this trope.
- When Sherlock Holmes went over the waterfall in "The Final Problem", Conan Doyle got scads of hate mail, apparently-sane young men wore mourning bands, and he was offered scads of money to bring him back. Of course, since they Never Found the Body, it turned out that he was just hiding with the Dalai Lama, having somehow won his death-struggle by means of a mastery of "Baritsu, the Japanese system of wrestling".
- A Song of Ice and Fire is an excellent source for these theories.
- There are people out there who still think Eddard Stark is alive... Somehow... Without his head... Well, the theory is that it was an imposter who lost his head (which is not completely an Ass Pull, as it's been explicitly established in the series that shapeshifters exist — Of course, they're all a secret order of death-obsessed assassins).
- Two words: The Hound. There is even sufficient evidence that he is still alive, unless Martin is pulling a gigantic dick move. Word of God says that The Hound is dead. Sandor Clegane is at rest. That just screams Jedi Truth. The Hound is dead (because Sandor Clegane has stopped being a murdering psycho). Sandor Clegane is at rest (since he has pulled a Heel-Faith Turn).
- There's also the matter of the fake!Hounds. Brienne, even knowing that Sandor is "at rest," refers to Rorge and then Lem as "the Hound" in her narration after they each appropriate the Hound's distinctive helmet. This gives more support to the idea that "the Hound" is only a title/Legacy Character-situation, an identity which has now become detached from Sandor Clegane himself.
- And then there's Bran and Rickon, who really were just hiding after Theon apparently killed them in A Clash of Kings.
- Syrio Forel. Given how he easily disarmed several armed men using a stick and his actual death wasn't shown on-screen, some deny his death, even going so far as to claim he's actually Jaqen H'ghar. Word of God says he's dead, that men-at-arms are one thing and a well-trained Knight of the Kingsguard in full plate armour is something else entirely.
- When Ian Fleming killed off James Bond in From Russia with Love, there apparently was a large outcry for Fleming to reinstate Bond in the next book, Dr. No.
- Rudolf Rassendyll in Rupert of Hentzau (the little-known sequel to The Prisoner of Zenda) is an early example of this phenomenon, as is Fuchsia Groan of Gormenghast fame. In both cases made particularly ridiculous by the fact that they had on-page state funerals.
- Stephen King lampshades this trope in Misery. When Loony Fan Annie Wilkes finds out that Paul Sheldon killed off her favorite character in his most recent novel, she forces him to write a sequel in which Misery is shown to be still alive. When she reads Paul's first draft, which revises the ending of the previous book, she accuses Paul of cheating.
- Many fans of The Underland Chronicles refuse to believe that Twitchtip is dead, mostly because Gregor (and the audience) only found out about her "off screen" death through a bit of intercepted information. Some say she faked her death and is out running in the Underland somewhere while others say the rats were just lying to each other.
- Quite a few old-school fans of the Star Wars Expanded Universe refuse to believe that Grand Admiral Thrawn was killed at Bilbringi, to the point that it's a Fandom Specific Plot that he survived his Bodyguard Betrayal due to armor embedded under his skin/nanites/Bizarre Alien Biology, despite the fact that all media set past that point makes no sense if Thrawn lived. This plot featured in some of the "Zahn fixes" that came up in reaction to some of the events in the EU. Timothy Zahn semi-addressed this in the Hand of Thrawn duology and Survivor's Quest; Hand of Thrawn has a clone, the Big Bad Triumvirate creating the illusion that he was Back from the Dead, and Grodin Tierce. Survivor's Quest just hints rather strongly and has Luke and Mara speculate that there was another clone.
- Fate of the Jedi has an inversion: Because of it being released either after or around the same time as the Legacy era comics (which has Luke Skywalker as a force ghost), several fans are speculating that Luke Skywalker might end up dying by the end of this book series.
- In-universe, it's stated that if Corran Horn ever dies for real (he's been thought dead more times in the X-Wing Series than he's actually appeared in it), everyone will assume he's alive somewhere and will reappear soon.
- In Charles Dickens' last and incomplete novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the title character Edwin disappears mid-novel and is assumed to be dead, a victim of murder, although no body is found. Because the author died before completing the book, the intended resolution is unknown, and subject to much speculation. One theory is that the character Dick Datchery is actually a disguised Edwin.
- In The Dresden Files short story Aftermath, this trope is invoked at the end, when Murphy says, "There's this voice inside me that keeps pointing out that we haven't seen a body. Until I have, I can't believe [Harry] is dead."
- In Ghost Story she refuses to believe that Harry's ghost is him, because that would mean admitting he's dead. She finally accepts it at the end of the book, and breaks down.
- Of course, she has no way of knowing that he was resurrected less than an hour later.
- Weirdly inverted in Catch-22. Due to his previous manipulations (writing himself into flight rosters to get the flight bonus without actually flying), Doc Daneeka is recorded as having been inside of a plane that crashes. He's marked down as dead, and the administration refuses to correct the error, even though he is standing right in front of them, clearly alive.
- A more straightforward example is Orr, who is presumed dead when he disappears in combat, but has actually fled to Sweden.
- Applied In-Universe in "Laura and the Silver Wolf". Near to the end, Laura tells Eileen that she will go to Ice-Land and stay there and that it will probably look like she is dead - but she isn't and Eileen should tell that to her father. And the she does go to Ice-Land. The End But maybe... she was right?
- An in-universe case. Fans were unhappy when Zilpha Keatley Snyder killed off Raamo in the Green-Sky Trilogy. Snyder herself came to regret the decision as well...leading to her allowing for a Canon sequel to her work in the form of a video game. The game's quest is to gather information, strength, and tools in order to rescue the poor fellow.
- Most Fanfics for Bridge to Terabithia fall into two categories: "What If Leslie didn't die?", and " Leslie didn't die, period". This is actually done In-Universe as well, with Jesse believing that her death is all lies, believing she saw her over at her house when they went to pay their respects, and finally mistaking May-Belle's voice for Leslie's.
- In-Universe example in John Green's Looking for Alaska. When Pudge learns that Alaska is dead, he tries to convince the Dean of the school that she's just pulling a prank. The Dean then tells Pudge he saw her body.
- When Marcus Cole was removed from Babylon 5 in Season 4, he was last seen in a coma, and viewers weren't shown or explicitly told that the plug was pulled. This led many fans to believe he was still in a state of living death, and would be revived later. This fanon theory was seemingly confirmed by a shot in the credits of the Distant Finale, and later confirmed in the more-or-less canon short story "Space, Time, and the Incurable Romantic", where Marcus is revived several hundred years later and lives happily ever after with a cloned Ivanova.
- In the first NewsRadio episode after actor Phil Hartman's death, his character Bill McNeal is said to be alive but hiding in an increasingly ridiculous series of stories by his friend Matthew.
- Many people were devoted to the relationship of Willow and Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and were devastated when Tara died near the end of season 6. There are many websites of Willow and Tara fanfics. In half of these stories, the events of season 6 are changed to keep Tara from dying. In the other half, Tara dies, but is somehow brought back from the dead afterwards. After all, Buffy was resurrected by a magic spell at the start of season 6, so why not Tara? Willow tried and failed to use magic to bring back Tara on the TV show, but in fanfiction the First Law of Resurrection applies.
- There were several areas where Benson might have come back. As the First, but Benson was available. Also, the original planned finale was to give Buffy one wish, which she would spend the episode trying to figure out how to spend, before ultimately bringing Tara back for Willow. Whedon later stated that, even though neither of those theories panned out, he likes that she stayed dead because it sent the message that Willow could still find love and move on with her life.
- That said, fans still have reason to be annoyed, because he continues to tease the possibility in the comics, and pretty much everyone else that died during Season 6 was revived, often under very contrived justifications. If he wasn't so quick to use resurrection as a plot device, it might be understandable, but nearly the entire main cast has been brought back at least once.
- Spike was killed off in the series finale, but was later resurrected in Angel. The WB's website was advertising Spike joining the cast of Angel the same day that BtVS aired its last episode, if not before. It irritated Joss, since it prevented him from doing a shocking intro for anyone who had even looked at the website or read articles pertaining to the show.
- Dr. Beckett's Dropped a Bridge on Him death in Stargate Atlantis spurred outcry from fans. The character returned as a clone, though one with all the original's memories.
- Janet, Martouf and Jacob Carter/Selmak are on a super sekrit mission together.
- Daniel Jackson died and was resurrected so many times he wouldn't stay dead even if he was shot in the face at point-blank range with an Asgard beam weapon. Fans don't even bother with this trope when he dies.
- Done in universe by O'Neill when he refuses to have a funeral for Daniel after one of his many "deaths."
- Inverted in 24, in which a number of fans claim that the impending resurrection of popular character Tony Almeida in season seven may actually be a sign that the show is finally Jumping the Shark, especially after the lackluster sixth season. Of course, much of this may be due to the fact that 24 is known for being a show where Anyone Can Die, and fans believe that cheapening the death of a character so high up on the Sorting Algorithm of Deadness (3.5) may limit the emotional intensity of future character deaths. Other fans just think they should bring back Jack's dad instead.
- Actually Tony's return was a bit of Fridge Brilliance. We never actually saw him declared dead in season five and, more importantly, there was no silent clock. Much lesser characters who died much less dramatic deaths got the silent clock so the fact that Tony didn't made many fans say right away that he wasn't dead and would surely be brought back.
- A version of this happens on Veronica Mars — Logan doesn't believe his mother killed herself; he thinks she faked her death and ran away. Unlike most fans, however, he lives in the "real world", and after his last ounce of hope is stolen, breaks down.
- Richie from Highlander. Not only was he a rather popular character handed the Idiot Ball after being taught for over a season how to survive as an Immortal, he gets killed by Duncan, who was under the influence of a demon at the time and thought he was surrounded by his enemies. Many fans, not just Richie fans, disavow that this episode ever happened, and decided Richie just moved out.
- Even though it wasn't a case of a truly major character, the death of Rousseau on is an example. Even though she was shot, her corpse was later found in a shallow grave, and a guy who talks to dead people heard her voice there were still people on-line trying to come with survival scenarios.
- Michael and Jin were both on a boat when it exploded. The latter was shown to have survived in this explosion. The former's fate is still up in the air.
- But Jin was on the deck and could've jumped ship. Michael was next to the bomb when it exploded.
- In what may be a subversion, many fans of Lost took the close-shot of Ethan's corpse and the motion of him breathing (which appears to have been a goof) unnoticed by the Losties as a casual foreshadowing that the character would come back. While he featured frequently in flashbacks after the episode of his death, he never made his return in the "present day".
- Another example would be Rose who, in season one, refused to believe her husband had died in the crash. Come season two...
- Frank Lapidus was thought to be just hiding when he went down with the sub. Turns out, he was.
- And then there's the time the Smoke Monster punted Richard into the jungle with no mention of whether he was okay or not until the series finale.
- Archie Kennedy dies a gloriously tragic on-screen death in Horatio Hornblower... but there are so many fics about him surviving that post-Retribution fics usually feature either the label 'LKU', or 'DKU', as in Live Kennedy Universe and Dead Kennedy Universe.
- Law & Order: UK fanfic writers have resurrected another of Jamie Bamber's characters, Matt Devlin, (who by some eerie coincidence also died making a Heroic Sacrifice), penning stories where he recovers from his gunshot wounds (an especially poignant story has him left paralyzed from the waist down) and finally embarks on a relationship with Alesha Phillips. By some equally bizarre happenstance, a story such as this was written a full year before the episode "Deal". Even stranger, a recent fanfic has provided readers with a literal example of this trope — he lives, but is sent into hiding to recover from his injuries and to protect him from his would-be killers. For their own safety as well, his clueless loved ones are left to grieve for him until he's brought back in order to testify against his assailants and resume his normal life. One of them even combines the two series (possibly lampshading the tendency of Bamber's characters to get killed off) with Highlander, having it turn out that Matt Devlin is in fact Archie Kennedy himself and that he survived his injuries and all subsequent ones because he's immortal.
- Doctor Who:
- Fans are known for mourning their favourite Doctors after their regeneration, even though the character isn't technically dead, and cooking up elaborate theories for how Doctors can regenerate back into whatever the fan's preferred version of themselves is. These theories were eventually confirmed in "The Day of the Doctor", in which Tom Baker, who played the very much loved Fourth Doctor, reappears as a curator who "might" be a future Doctor, playing Eccentric Mentor to his young self and assuring him that maybe he'll find himself 'revisiting old favourite faces'. However it is deliberately left ambiguous.
- Possibly confirmed in "Timewyrm: Revelation" where it is claimed that when a Doctor regenerates he lives on in the Doctor's mind.
- The Time Lords were all killed, with the Doctor as the Last of His Kind. Then the Master was revealed to have concealed himself by temporarily becoming human, leading fans to endlessly speculate about who else did this (the Rani being the most popular choice). "The End of Time" and then even less ambiguously "The Day of the Doctor" revealed that Gallifrey was actually locked away from the rest of the universe rather than being destroyed, and could potentially be rediscovered.
- "Journey's End":
- Theories regarding Donna's Time Lord memories/self/whatever and how she can regain them are similarly endless.
- In the commentary producer Julie Gardner expressed her belief that Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister wasn't dead and had escaped through a trap door.
- "Death in Heaven":
- Fans were quick to notice that if Danny had the opportunity to return to the living world two weeks after his Cyberman body was killed, similar means could be used to resurrect any other character killed in the episode. Especially Missy.
- Fans are also adamant that Missy killed a Zygon and not the real Osgood.
- Ingrid Oliver, Osgood's actress, would certainly like to think her character's just hiding.
- Missy had been using her disintegrator device to blast people into a fine red dust left and right. It seems kind of odd that the same device disintegrates her into a fine blue dust instead, not unlike her teleportation earlier. To this, many point out that the reasoning is because the device itself wasn't used to disintegrate her, with it instead being the Brigadier's Cybermen artillery that did the job. That said, Moffat himself enforced this trope with his comments immediately after the episode aired, noting that he hoped Missy would emulate Anthony Ainley's Master in reappearing without a scratch after getting involved in Deader Than Dead situations.
- Since Seb isn't actually alive, but an A.I., it's unlikely he would have been "killed" by Missy. This, in turn, provides a small Hope Spot regarding Osgood's survival.
- There are still people out there claiming that Adam Monroe's death in Heroes was a part of a yet unrevealed plan.
- This started amongst Torchwood fans when Ianto was killed in "Children of Earth".
- With the second season opener of Fringe, many people are suspecting/hoping this about Charlie. Some have several reasonable reasons for how it's improbable for the shape-shifter to have killed, body-copied, hid the body and clothes-swapped in the confined time. Wither this remains as a plot hole, red herring or foreshadowing is up in the air. It doesn't help that one of the first series episodes, heavily featuring Charlie, was held back and became part of the second series. Leading to him turning up again with no explanation.
- When Neighbours revealed that Mark Brennan had died in witness protection, an Internet campaign (possibly the work of one person) insisted he was actually alive in witness protection. This turned out to be true but shortly after his return, his alleged One True Love Kate Ramsay was killed. Despite her being shot and pronounced dead on screen, the campaign immediately started insisting that she was now alive in witness protection, citing the lack of blood (which is mainly because it's that sort of show).
- There's quite a bit of "Kate is not dead" fanfic, despite her death being caused by sniping. To the head. There are some crazy theories, like some are suggesting a body double. The reason for the body double? So that Kate and Ari can run off and elope.
- There's also a huge amount of "Jenny Shepard is not dead" out there, and the prevailing theory is that she faked her gunfight death to continue her rogue activities unhindered before her disease kills her. Lending credence to this is the fact that the storyline about her dead father (who she thought was alive and in hiding, and could very well have been) didn't have a definitive ending.
- Done by professional authors in the Star Trek Expanded Universe in The Good That Men Do, a novel that basically explains that the holodeck reconstruction in "These Are The Voyages..." is revisionist history and that Trip faked his death. Since the episode in question is universally reviled by cast and fans alike, the basic premise of the novel in question is basically regarded as Canon (although whether or not it happened when and how the novel says it did is up for debate), and everyone pretends that "These Are The Voyages..." never happened.
- Professor Maximillian Arturo was shot near the end of Season 3 of Sliders, and his body was apparently obliterated by a pulsar. But, since there was an episode in Season 2 where the Professor fought his double, many fans speculated that the "real" Professor was still alive, and the evil Professor had travelled with the heroes for a year before being killed off. It also seemed possible that Jonathan Rhys-Davies would reappear as another version of the Professor. IIRC, many years post-cancellation Word of God finally stated that it was the evil Professor who slid (and died). Not that it matters now.
- Some fans of Choujin Sentai Jetman believed that Black Condor/Gai Yuki merely passed out in the final episode after he was stabbed by a mugger, even though he was officially declared dead by writer Toshiki Inoue in ensuing interviews. In Episode 28 of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, which Inoue specifically wrote, any doubts of Gai Yuki's death was cleared up when his spirit escaped from the afterlife to help the Gokaigers unlock Jetman's greater power.
- Series 2 led to the speculation that Moriarty faked his own death and that he'd return sometime in the future. Andrew Scott stated in an interview that Moriarty wouldn't be returning for series 3. The finale reveals that he was bloody lying, how appropriate.
- Sherlock gets this in-universe in series 3. The audience quickly learns in series 2 that he's not dead, but some of his in-story fans theorize and hope that he's just hiding.
- Gabriel's death. The Pepsi commercials don't really reject the argument, nor do the constant rumors that the writers are trying to work out how to bring him back.
- Castiel and Bobby both got this after their respective deaths in season 7. Of course, since Death Is Cheap and Castiel was also a case of Never Found the Body, this was not entirely without merit. Castiel does indeed show up alive and (mostly) well near the end of the season. Bobby returns as a ghost but is still technically dead.
- An episode of the 1990s revival of Flipper featured a man convinced that his dead son was alive and would return home "soon". He went so far as to buy a present for each birthday his son missed, saving them all for the day the boy would come back. He was rather creepily casual about the whole affair, acting as though the fact that his son has been missing for years was absolutely nothing to be concerned about. Surprisingly for a family-oriented show, the son did not turn out to be alive and the episode ended with the man learning to move on.
- In the Season 3 finale of The Mentalist, fans speculated that the guy who was killed by Jane in the ending of the episode was not Red John. Jane's actor also hints at this in a pre-season interview explaining the premise of the fourth season.
- In-story example - in the tv-movie Dark Night of the Scarecrow, mentally-challenged Bubba is gunned down. His mother later has to tell his young playmate Marylee that he's dead; she laughs and says "He's just being silly...he's playing the Hiding Game!" and she's right.
- In Two and a Half Men there's some speculation that Charlie Harper wasn't really killed by being pushed into a train by Rose, some believes that he and Rose conspired to fake his own death so that he would never have to worry about Alan mooching off him anymore.
- Few if any fans really believed Joe Carroll was killed off in the first season finale of The Following. The first promo for season two pretty much confirmed that he's still alive.
- A large chunk of the Orphan Black fanbase refuse to believe that Helena died in the Season One finale. One Wild Mass Guess entry theorizes that, since Helena and Sarah are identical twins, Helena has the same self-repair gene that Sarah's daughter Kira appears to have. Even an online contest to win Helena's signature parka hasn't dimmed "Clone Club's" belief that she will return at some point.
- In the second series, she was, surprise surprise, alive. Although she also showed signs of superhuman healing, the main explanation was that she's a mirror-image twin of Sarah, with her internal organs on the other side of her body to the usual one.
- In Hannibal all that was found of Abigail Hobbs was her ear, and it was cut off while she was still alive. This led to (usually not very convinced themselves) suggestions that Hannibal let her go. There is also the even more dubious suggestion, only offered as a joke, that Miriam Lass is still alive too and just missing her arm.
- Surprisingly, the one about Miriam Lass turned out to be true. Hannibal cut off her arm and had been keeping her captive since.
- In Naka-Choko, Freddie Lounds is implied to have been killed by Will and offered as meat for Hannibal to cook. However, fans are holding out for her to be alive and hiding as part of Will's Batman Gambit to oust Hannibal.
- Played with in-canon in a highly Genre Savvy way in Farscape with the apparent killing of Xhalax by Crais in Season 3. To avoid killing Xhalax in front of her daughter Aeryn, Crais takes her off into the swamp and there's a Sound-Only Death. A couple of episodes later, we see an apparent flashback in which Crais makes a private deal with her and spares her life, but then it's comically revealed to be a paranoid Imagine Spot on John's part. Then a few episodes after that, it turns out that Crais really did spare her life.
- Wicked: Nessarose is not dead! Yes, she dies in both the source material and the musical, but hey, Elphaba and Fiyero got Disney Deaths, so why not her? After all, the way her feet disappeared like that — had to be an illusion...
- The Phantom of the Opera, even though technically, the phantom doesn't die at the end of the play, just simply disappears—this might actually be a literal example of this trope. Sure enough, numerous fic writers have him resurfacing to wreak more havoc in Christine's life.
- Aerith from Final Fantasy VII.
- Referenced in the xkcd strip "Aeris Dies". Among half of the rest of gamer's Internet sites...
- What are you talking about? She was hiding! In Hollow Bastion!
- And in a similar vein, Zack Fair is totally in Hawaii. Just ask Rainbow Serenity.
- Leo from Final Fantasy VI. There are many, many, MANY rumors that claimed his return was Dummied Out, and others give ridiculous methods to revive him that don't work. You can bring him back through a VERY convulted Good Bad Bug that requires you to play for at least 8 hours without saving so you can go back before the Point of No Return, but it's clearly not intentional.
- Tidus from Final Fantasy X disintegrates at the end of his game but makes a brief cameo following the credits. One of the main questions from Final Fantasy X-2 is that if Tidus is hiding or doing something. Turns out the answer is completely unrelated but the cameo reveals that Tidus is alive.
- An extremely similar plot twist could be found in Phantasy Star II, released eight years before Final Fantasy VII. Female lead Nei dies halfway through the game and cannot be revived.
- Sam's daughter in Splinter Cell literally.
- The original Grandia tweaks the trope a bit by giving a female party member an unexpected case of traumatic stress disorder, forcing her to return to her village before the final battle begins.
- Zero of Mega Man X was originally designed to appear only in the first game, and was killed off at the end. However, fans liked him so much that the developers decided to bring him back — his recovery and resurrection comprises the entire plot of X2, and all subsequent games featured him as a playable character. This would happen countless times over the course of the X series, even stretching to his own Spin-Off series.
- Notable in X 5, which was meant to be the last in the series, according to creator Inafune. Alas, X6 was created, in which Zero was literally hiding the entire time up until he returns from the dead.
- Mega Man Zero 4 ended with Zero's death as he broke up a Colony Drop while re-entering Earth's orbit (although Word of God claims that he's MIA in the Mega Man Zero Official Complete Works). Fans were counting the months for his return. Mega Man ZX has his Expy (who is killed within an hour or so) and you find a biometal that has his properties and attitude, but no, he's really dead.
- Super Robot Wars Original Generation fans came up with theories about bringing back Axel Almer and Mekibos after OG2, and Lamia Loveless after 2.5. Given Banpresto's proud history of subverting the "Anyone Can Die" mentality, the only surprise in Axel and Lamia's return in OG Gaiden was the how of it. Also, given Mekibos's death and revival as a cyborg in the original timeline, it's only a matter of time before he comes out of hiding, too.
- Speaking of that kinda hiding, you can't forget how Fiona Gureden got thought to be dead EARLIER in OGs. She got sucked into a dimensional hole, and beforehand still gives out the feel that "I'm gonna die, so don't miss me, Raul...". Then POOF! She comes out from hiding in that dimensional hole in OGG. Damn trailers.
- SRW K gives you a literal 'just hiding' in form of GUN×SWORD's Michael Garret and Fasalina. In the show, they're supposed to be never heard of again after a sudden collapsing ceiling from a destroyed base. In here, after all that happened, if proper actions were taken, they immediately came out from hiding and joins right after.
- In Kingdom Hearts, we have the Wild Card Axel, who ultimately performed a Heel-Face Turn because of Roxas, culminating in a Heroic Sacrifice to save Sora and company and open their passageway to The World That Never Was. We later find out that if a Heartless and Nobody are both destroyed, the Somebody that created them comes back to life. And with that, come Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Axel becomes Lea, and Lea becomes a Sixth Ranger.
- Ansem in the original game: you defeated him as a boss at the end of the original game? Sorry, that wasn't Ansem - the real one really has been hiding. Luckily for the protagonists, the real Ansem is a good guy...to the point that in Kingdom Hearts II, he performs a Heroic Sacrifice to jeopardize the Big Bad's plan.
- Turns out, Ansem the Wise survived that, and, as of Reconnect: Kingdom Hearts, is in the dark realm, memoryless, meeting up with Aqua.
- Although Scar was killed in Kingdom Hearts, the fact that he became a Heartless shortly after his first death and retained his regular form, as well as the heavy implications that an equally strong Nobody would be formed in the process strongly implies that we haven't seen the last of Scar just yet, even after his Groundshaker form was destroyed.
- Devil May Cry: Vergil's last canonical appearance saw him outright exploding. His sword and part of his powers were passed down to his spiritual successor in the fourth game, further indicating that he's probably gone for good. Despite this, some fans still insist that he's just hiding or 'in hibernation.' According to this theory, soon his consciousness will awaken within said spiritual successor, and he'll manifest as an energy-being, and then he'll get a material body again.
- Except DMC 4 made it clear that wasn't Vergil's body that exploded. It's was either his soul or a false body that his soul was trapped in.
- Not just the case with Vergil; let's look at Sparda. The narrator from the first game stated that he died, Arkham in the third game's manga stated that he died, but for some reason the fans insist that he's only "disappeared" (and is likely to return one day), basing it on a misinterpreted line in 2 or Modeus's musing in the animated series. No one ever bothers to answer the question of just what Sparda might be doing if he did simply just vanish.
- A fan theory exists in Fire Emblem: Geneaology of the Holy War that after the first generation was massacred, Ayra still lives and just wanders off to places unknown. Even after being rebuked at the sidequel (Thracia 776), whereas survivors of the massacre were gathered together and turned to stone, which may possibly include her. Fans still don't buy it and merely list her as "just wandering off". "Because she's just too bad ass to be turned to stone", or so they say...
- There's a similar theory for Gheb. Gheb is rumored to have a double Gleb who took his place when he was killed. Gheb's far too handsome to die.
- Might as well latch onto the fact that in FE 10, it is possible to be "too bad ass to be turned into stone", and apply that to a totally different universe.
- Captain Price, Gaz, Griggs, and Soap in Call of Duty 4 all survived the final battle. They were just gravely wounded.
- It is theoretically possible everyone survived. For Gaz, one only needs to remember the story of Sgt. Chuck Grant, who was shot in the brain by a drunken GI shortly after World War II ended. He was operated on and saved, and lived a good many more years. As for Griggs, people have been shot in the neck before and lived.
- Captain Price and Soap are the most likely to have survived. Likewise, Griggs was shot in the torso and it's totally possible he could have gotten medical attention in time too. Conveniently, you are unable to see his body after he's shot.
- Modern Warfare 2 reveals that Soap not only survived, but has been promoted to Captain and will essentially be taking Price's place as the badass squad leader who mentors the player. Whether this was the developers saying "he was just hiding" (not to mention what became of Captain Price) remains to be seen, but so far no one's been complaining.
- Price is also back in Modern Warfare 2, and he & Soap survive the events of the game. Still no word on Gaz or Griggs, but things aren't looking too bright in that category.
- Infinity Ward had the same voice actor for Gaz and Ghost, and you never see Ghost's face. So either IW is having a larf with the fans and just wanted conspiracy theorists to come out of their holes, or actually kept him alive for a 3rd is debatable.
- And let's not even talk about the shitload of Epileptic Trees surrounding Ghost and how he survived being shot with a high-caliber pistol and then being set on fire.
- And as of MW3, Soap MacTavish is on the "just hiding!" list.
- The Sims Bella Goth could be called Schroedinger's Hottie, being considered dead despite her family tree portrait not being shaded-out, and being able to be summoned up through means both legitimate and illegitimate (such as sending Alexander to college with Mortimer dead). Also, of course, there's the situation with her having a Doppelgänger. The PSP Sims 2 sequel features her (or a version of her), and explains where she's been. (Abducted, and now in hiding, since you asked.)
- In Final Fantasy Tactics, the ending is just ambiguous enough to support both the theory that Ramza and Alma (at least, but may extend to the rest of the heroes) escaped the Necrohol of Mullonde and lived out their lives in hiding; as well as the theory that they never did.
- Bah, the chocobo Ramza was riding dropped a feather in the river, which subsequently left ripples. Unless it was a ghost chocobo dropping ghost feathers in a ghost river, they lived.
- This is actually a rare inversion of this trope, as fans insist they died in spite of being seen alive, and their chocobos drinking water.
- However, it's a very ambiguous finale, and there are many problems with them being alive. For starters, they were last seen in the middle of a gigantic explosion. While it's true that these aren't always fatal, much less has killed other characters, with an arrow killing Tietra, Delita implying that he only survived an explosion because her body blocked the force, and dying in combat actually being lethal in this game if you aren't revived quickly enough. Even if they did survive, they were floating in the middle of nothingness, and the portal back to Ivalice had been explicitly destroyed earlier. Say we assume there was Deus Ex Machina, like the explosion ripped a hole back into the real world. Why would Ramza and Alma have fled from Orran? He was one of the few allies that Orran had. In fact, why didn't Orlandeu, Orran's adopted father, ever come back for him? Why would they have visited their own graves at all? If they decided they couldn't clear their names, where exactly would they go? By the end of the game, Ramza has all of the knightly orders, the church, and random brigands hunting him relentlessly, and Ramza's family wasn't much liked in the other kingdoms. While he does seemingly disappear during the timeskip, his brother and the church never really lost track of him, they were just observing him. If he could start a new life so easily, then why didn't he come to Orran's aid when he was captured by the church and burned for the crime of heresy? As for the infamous water-drinking Chocobo, there is no immediate evidence contradicting it, but it wouldn't be the first time that impossible circumstances were used in a Final Fantasy game for symbolism. In the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, bodies are often shown dissolving into Lifestream, despite it being canon that corpses are left behind.
- Before the release of Persona 3: FES, many fans claimed that the Main Character hadn't died in the end (despite the 100% HP cost from The Great Seal and that he just fell asleep for no apparent reason...) Needless to say, they were all pissed off by "The Answer".
- Metal Gear fans found Big Boss' death to a cigarette lighter and aerosol can at the end of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake was too cheap and anticlimactic a death for the series' greatest Fallen Hero, given his Belated Backstory in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (not to mention surviving The Fury's flames from his flamethrower, which was stated to use Rocket Fuel to have the fires burn much longer, and surviving being near ground zero of the ICBMG's launch). They were proven right in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
- Big Boss dies again in MGS4, along with his comrades Eva and Ocelot. However, given these characters massive popularity, fan theories have cropped up by the hundreds claiming that all three are still alive and well and their supposed 'deaths' were just a way of hiding themselves from the various militaries and governments who want to abuse them.
- Solid Snake himself has this trope in an odd way... The ending of MGS4 pretty much outright states Snake will die and very soon. But, he doesn't technically expire within the game itself, leading some to assume that Snake lives on in spite of his body's decline.
- An in-universe example happens in Peace Walker, when it's noted that Paz landed in the ocean in her presumed death, the body was never found, and she had been wearing SCUBA gear at the time of her defeat. So it's quite likely she's still alive.
- The trailers for Ground Zeroes confirm she is alive.
- In Left 4 Dead if one of your teammates is killed, they can be found later in a closet or a room, but in the final sequence, if that's happened, its Killed Off for Real.
- The initial teaser trailer for Mass Effect 2 indicated that Commander Shepard, the protagonist of the first game, is considered killed in action. The fanbase immediately began coming up with explanations ranging from "Shepard is Faking the Dead to go undercover" to "Shepard has been converted into a geth". Given that it's only a one-minute teaser, of course, it was all a ruse, as Shepard dies at the start of ME2 but just gets brought back to life two years (and four billion credits) later.
- Fallout 3's much-maligned "Good" ending results in your character's Heroic Sacrifice. It screamed But Thou Must so hard the walls of the Jefferson Memorial should have exploded. Bethesda wrote the Broken Steel DLC to fix their mistake.
- A common fan interpretation of Chrono Cross to account for the off-screen deaths of Crono, Marle and Lucca. That the dialogue describing their current status is either implicit ("I'll send you to see Lucca!") or vague ("We no longer exist in this timeline.") does much to aid and abet such theories. Even if we're not told they're dead, are they any more alive after 10 years of nonexistence?
- In The World Ends with You, Sho Minamimoto's body is found during the last day of the Game, just before you enter the final Boss Rush. As he is a fan-favorite, and the standard death for Reapers involves their body disappearing, some believe that he is, in fact, still alive.
- There's even more evidence in the words of Joshua, the Composer, who states he's been well aware of Minamimoto's Starscream status the whole time but keeps him around because he thinks Sho's crazy betrayal plots are amusing. This suggests he left Minamimoto alive on purpose.
- Since almost every single recent Zelda game ends with The Ensemble Dark Horse (or Navi) somehow being irreversibly separated from the main characters, naturally fans keep coming up with the weirdest Wild Mass Guessing, about how "Character X will return, because he/she is awesome enough to open the portal sealed by the gods/come Back from the Dead!!" Common targets of this brand of Zelda WMG are Midna from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Linebeck from The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (who actually came back, sort of, in form of an Identical Grandson) and, the newest and yet worst offender, Byrne from The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks.
- A group of fans on a Zelda forum created an entire website dedicated to bringing Midna back in a future game — WantMidnaBack.com. Too bad it'll never happen.
- Read this little tidbit of info: When asked if Midna would return for a future game or not in an interview with Game Informer, Eiji Aonuma stated: "Because of the way Twilight Princess ended, I don't see her making a reappearance, but who knows? If we hear enough voices for her to come back, how can we not?"
- Resident Evil fans have a hard time believing Albert Wesker has truly died after Resident Evil 5. Doubly-so due to his cheap death (lava didn't faze him, rockets didn't faze him, but lava + rockets did the trick?). The series producer would have you believe otherwise, though.
- Robert T. Sturgeon from the NES version of Ninja Gaiden II is often assumed to have survived the events of the game despite being severely injured while fighting off the Tribe of Chaos at the end of the game, due to the ambiguity of his final scene.
- Joe in Mafia II, possibly because it was never shown that he was killed (or the acts of killing him), only implied.
- Duncan from Dragon Age: Origins has met with this due to his death not being directly shown onscreen and his body being missing during the Return to Ostagar DLC. Word of God is that he is indeed dead.
- And even if he didn't die then dialogue with Alister reveals that Duncan was suffering from the horrible nightmares that proceed the Calling, and would have died soon after anyway.
- In Ys I and II, Sara is killed off in Falcom's official canon, but goes into hiding in the PC Engine version, returning in the non-canonical The Dawn of Ys.
- Agatio and Karst in Golden Sun: The Lost Age. There is some reasoning behind this, as their last scene had them mortally wounded but still alive and swearing to survive long enough to see Mars Lighthouse lit. Whether or not they actually manage to is left ambiguous. However, several other dying characters were healed by the Psynergy that erupted from Mars Lighthouse when it's beacon was lit, so if they were still alive at the time it's possible they could have been healed as well. On the other hand, they're nowhere to be found during the Playable Epilogue, and if they did survive, why didn't they return to Prox? Dummied Out Mind Read text indicates they did die, though whether that can be taken as canon or not is debatable.
- Illidan Stormrage from World of Warcraft is an odd case. Nobody really thinks he wasn't Killed Off for Real at Black Temple, or at least wasn't intended to be when the raid was created. However, Death Is Cheap in the Warcraft universe, and many fans were unhappy with Illidan's Motive Decay and subsequent death in the Burning Crusade expansion. Since then, several Epileptic Trees have been made explaining how he could have survived the incident or been resurrected afterward. Several members of Blizzard's staff have even teased the idea of bringing Illidan back in a future patch or expansion, though so far nothing has come of it.
- Tomb Raider
- A significant portion of the fandom still believe Alister Fletcher did not die and is somewhere in Avalon, due to his Famous Last Words being "I'll see you in Avalon". There is plenty of fanfiction involving Lara travelling to Avalon/Helheim to find him - despite the fact that one cannot choose to go to Avalon in death, and people who are there are turned into soulless thralls. Other than this, in a similar way to Archie from Hornblower, fans just choose to write post-Underworld fics and state that Alister didn't die.
- Kurtis Trent from Angel of Darkness gets this as well, however it is justified in that the game ended on a cliffhanger and the fate of Kurtis was never revealed.
- In-universe example in Silent Hill 2, where the protagonist James Sunderland believes this about his dead wife Mary, by virtue of Love Makes You Crazy. The game's goal, ultimately, is for the player to rediscover the truth about her death, and decide whether James faces up to the fact that he killed her, or continues to hide from himself.
- Brian Clevinger, the creator of 8-Bit Theater, was so annoyed by his audience's refusal to accept the death of Black Belt that he wrote a strip (entitled "Now shut up."), just to permanently close the door on a persistent fan theory on how he could be brought back.
- When Gordon Frohman died in the final episode of Concerned, you could see tons of messages full of grief, rage and hatred on the comic's forum, most of them written without any regard for spelling or, for that matter, the comic's subtitle: "The Half-Life and Death of Gordon Frohman". (Maybe that's because, in their opinion, he was killed off anticlimactically.)
- The reason for this is more that Frohman apparently went from living to dead without taking damage, which can't happen in the game.
- It was so pervasive, that recently, a fan created a comic titled Concerned 2: A Concerned Ripoff-The Continuing Adventures of Gordon Frohman. In the first strip, Frohman was revived by Reloading from the last checkpoint.
- Miko Miyazaki in The Order of the Stick: The fandom for this webcomic is awash in speculation and rumors about Miko, despite her plot arc ending with her being cut in half, her soul being taken to 'her destination' personally by a ghost, and any possibility of her being brought back as an undead abomination shot down in this strip. Before her death, the author had stated that she would remain in the story for most of its run, so while he could have changed his mind, there is at least that.
- This differs from the norm for this trope in that nobody denies Miko is dead (OotS's format makes that impossible, as any character who dies has their eyes turn into a pair of "X"s), but many in the fandom expect her to come back anyway. But then, OotS does take place in a world where death need not be permanent, and where coming Back from the Dead is so routine, the heroes have actually recommended imprisonment over execution for a recurring villain because they figured his eventual resurrection was more likely than his escape from jail.
- In the same vein, Belkar's predicted death has plenty of people wondering if he'll become undead or some kind of sentient construct, despite the Oracle's ramblings and direct statements. So not so much He's Just Hiding, so much as He Will Be Hiding.
- Mike from College Roomies From Hell. And he's back... as a zombie.
- Earlier in the comic, Dave was originally intended to die in his first encounter with Satan, but fan outcry meant an Author's Saving Throw in the form of a holy shotgun.
- Fans of Schlock Mercenary spent years insisting that psychobear AI Petey was Just Hiding, to the point when the character came back the strip outright lampshaded it.
- Sluggy Freelance actually managed a kind of cruel subversion of this, even though it's an audience reaction trope. For years, the central cast was protected by Plot Armor, so when it appeared that someone had finally very dramatically died for real, a large proportion of readers insisted that they were just hiding. However, when it was revealed that they were in fact alive, and further revealed just what state they were in, some turned around and said it would be better if they were dead, even hoping for that to happen.
- Related to the Real Life section, The Adventures of Dr. McNinja has Dracula keeping Bruce Lee, Tupac, the real Michael Jackson, the real Paul McCartney, Elvis, and Hitler in his moon base.
- Everyone thought Sir Reginald Derby had died in a colossal explosion of his landship but in fact he was seen to be just hiding in the wreckage
- Homestuck. Bro is just faking it, right? Right?
- Fans of Slightly Damned thought this about Sakido so many often that the author went ahead and wrote on her FAQ page that, yes, Sakido is dead for good.
- This is the earlier depiction of a character death in San Three Kingdoms Comic. Dong Zhuo and Dian Wei goes to Hawaii after their novel death, and Lu Bu got sent to Alaska (while wearing a bikini). It looks like latter strips drop this concept, however.
- "Kate" of KateModern was brutally murdered, her blood smeared over a wall, her dying screams recorded, and her killer - a raving, bloodthirsty psychopath - confessed. None of which has stopped fans from speculating that she might still be alive.
- The show has parodied this a couple of times. On one occasion, a character's insanity manifests itself as the belief that "Kate" faked her death. Another time, a character suggests that William Griffin faked his death (despite the body having been found), prompting another character to comment on how unlikely that would be.
- In Survival of the Fittest, if a character is designated to die, and people like him and refuse to believe that he's going to die, there's a special system designed to save them (albeit at the cost of one of your own characters).
- In v3 many handlers suspected that the characters killed off in the inactive clearing were still around Faking The Dead and plotting against the terrorists. However, this was actually proven to be canonical. In v4, some handlers have speculated that the STAR escape group did not die in a fiery boat explosion as the terrorists claim, but for now they're treated as dead by most people.
- Death in Red vs. Blue is rare, but on the few occasions that it's happened, the fanbase tends to react this way. In particular, regarding the deaths of Lopez, Alpha!Church, and the original Tex. The arguments for Lopez and Tex are fairly reasonable (Lopez did mention having backups, and it's never explicitly said the original Tex "died" anyway), but the justification for the original Alpha!Church are a little more contrived, especially because his death has been confirmed by the creators.
- The Simpsons
- Spoofed, if not outright ruthlessly mocked, when Homer becomes distraught over the death of "Lord Greystache" in the Harry Potter knockoff Angelica Button and the Dragon King's Trundle Bed and tries to hide it from Lisa. Of course, it might not be mocked either, as Lisa commented after reading the true ending that she actually liked Homer's rendition of the ending better than the actual ending.
- Played straight with Homer's mother, in her second appearance. She flies off a cliff in a prison van, and explodes. Homer then tries to find a hidden message from her in the newspapers a la A Beautiful Mind, but he doesn't find any. Although, he did find something he thought was a message (I M OK), it just wasn't the lengthy and detailed one she'd really left. She's actually alive. Averted by his Mother's actual death in her next appearance. She later appears in an Inception style dream delving session, where she's confirmed to be really dead, but alive in Homer's memories.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- After Aang was struck by lightning after entering the Avatar State in the second season finale, some fans suggested that the Avatar State had been lost, arguing that Aang had actually died and been brought back to life. This was confirmed by the next episode in a Never Say "Die" fashion.
- Zhao often suffered from this. Apparently, getting dragged underwater by the Ocean Spirit he just pissed off doesn't count. But Season 2 of the sequel series reveals that the fans were right. La didn't kill Zhao…because death would be too merciful. So, La gave him a Fate Worse Than Death, by imprisoning him in the Fog of Lost Souls.
- A very popular fan theory states that a small portion of Air Nomads and Airbenders managed to escape the Fire Nation genocide and went into hiding somewhere. This theory was confirmed only by a non-canon card game.
- Addressed in one of the comics, the Fire Nation had put Air Nomad relics into circulation, and set up bases in various mountain chains, until they ultimately found or lured in every last escaped Airbender and killed them. It's not completely clear if this is canon, they may have all just been killed in the initial attack.
- Similar theories exist for the Sky Bison and Flying Lemurs. These were ultimately confirmed true by the Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, and they've been repopulating.
- This even applies in-character; when Aang is told that the Air Nomads were wiped out, he is initially insistent that the Fire Nation could never have accessed the Air Temples, and suggests that they've been in hiding for the last hundred years. It's only when he discovers the remains of several Fire Nation soldiers surrounding the skeleton of his closest friend and father figure that Aang accepts that he is the last airbender.
- The Legend of Korra Let's face it, there are probably going to be a lot more of these. Starting with Amon, lots of speculation has been that he could somehow have survived his boat exploding in the middle of the ocean & return as the main antagonist, in spite of the fact that this was explicitly done to ensure that he couldn't restart the Equalists. No word on why there doesn't seem to be much speculation about Tarrlok. People also argue over whether or not the Lieutenant died, which is pretty ambiguous at the moment.
- Becomes Hilarious in Hindsight with Varrick's mover idea in Book 4's episode "Remembrances" featuring a zombie Amon that came back from the dead to join a Legion of Doom with the other Big Bad villains of the series. Even Varrick's idea doesn't conclude on what happens to Zombie Amon after the Big Bad legion is defeated.
- Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law: Some fans have the theory that Birdman did not die in the last episode, it was the copy made in the previous episode that suddenly disappeared (or alternatively, the copy lived on to take up his life).
- Many members of the Transformers Animated fandom refuse to believe that Blurr is dead, even though it was one of the single most brutal moments in the show. Seeing as his apparent death came mere moments after his CMOA and Transformers have survived being crushed into a metal cube before, this is to be expected. Being incinerated shortly after, however...
- However, Word of God and a rather insightful bit of released storyboard◊ say that this one might not be forever either...
- As of the end of the series, he's still not back. But the above image, plus the fact that existing Transformer sparks can be transferred into the bodies of healthy protoforms, makes hope spring eternal.
- The Bot Con 2011 comic book, set in the Animated universe and written by Marty Isenberg and Derrick Wyatt, showed Blurr alive, but still stuck in cube form, as Cliffjumper took him to see the Stunticons' stunt show.
- It doesn't help that Starscream's resurrections by an Allspark fragment opens the door to the possibility of it happening to others.
- Beast Wars: Some fans speculate that Dinobot II did in fact survive the exploding ship he was trapped in during the series finale and continued to live on earth alone complete with his memories of being the original Dinobot. The evidence to support this comes from the fact that he had Protoform X's spark in its whole form, which could heal injuries and was already shown to be highly difficult to kill given his transmetal body.
- The first X-Men episode introduced the character Morph, only to kill him off in the first episode. This was supposedly done to prove to the audience that this show had balls. Apparently, his brief appearance made him popular enough to bring back in the second season, where it was revealed Mr. Sinister resurrected and brainwashed him.
- Some Winx Club fans believe that Nabu may still be alive. Since Morgana promised to look after him until he wakes up again, some think that he is just in a coma. The last two episodes still seem to suggest that he really is dead, though... Maybe the writers put that line in just to confuse us. The characters all act as if he's dead and not in a coma.
- South Park: Kenny, of course, died all the time until it was decided that it should be played straight and he would be Killed Off for Real... Until he came back in "Red Sleigh Down" and said he'd just been "hanging out over there" and pointing offscreen. A Cerebus Retcon revealed Kenny has super powers. Every time he dies, he is literally reborn. Thank his parents for being Cthulhu cultists.
- This is what many Generator Rex fans prayed was the case with resident Ensemble Dark Horse Breach. Turned out she was just hiding.
- Sym-Bionic Titan: Young Lance, at his fathers funeral, states simply that "He's not even in there" (They Never Found the Body), and continues to claim that his father will be back soon, until the Tear Jerker ending when he tells the King his father won't be coming back. Though many fans heavily believe that the leader of G3 is in fact Lance's father. Even the episodes he is in highly suggest this.
- Batman seems to be the in-universe version of this trope in an episode of Justice League. After Superman is apparently vaporized by a massive energy blast, Batman is the only member of the League that seems openly resistant to the conclusion that Superman's dead. He searches for evidence to disprove it and even forgoes the funeral "because he's not dead." However, it's later shown that he was apparently just in denial, and in a heartwrenching scene, he finally comes to accept it. Of course, it turns out he had it right the first time.
- Batman (Terry McGinnis) also invoked the trope twice in Batman Beyond in regards to various villains "deaths," especially towards their treacherous relatives. The first time was in "Ascension". Shortly after Paxton is nominated to succeed his father after Derek Powers tried to sink the submarine with Paxton Powers, Batman, and himself still inside, Batman tells Paxton that he "made a really big enemy" that day, in reference to Derek Powers. Powers bluntly says that his father died. After Batman responds, "Sure he did," and walks away, a news report comes up that has the news crew revealing that they never found Derek Power's body in the sunken submarine. The second time was in "Inqueling", where Inque's daughter stabs her in the back by giving her a solvent-laced cure to dissolve Inque. Batman then meets up with the daughter, and she mentions that Inque's dead, and Batman merely replies that "[Inque's] been dead before" prior to leaving. The shadows shift and become heavily inked as she draws her knees to her chest and hugs her legs. Inque is seen again in Justice League, but Powers only appears in unrelated comics. No word on what happened to their children.
- Family Guy
- Wally in Young Justice thinks this after Artemis and the rest of the team's supposed deaths in 'Failsafe', until it's revealed it was just a training exercise to prep them for failure. Wally's death in the Grand Finale had this reaction from fans within hours of the episode airing. The ambiguity: He vanished after the energy of the vortex was drawn into him, leaving the possibility of "sucked into the Speed Force to dramatically return in season three, had there been one" as his fate. We'll never know now, of course.
- From My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Some fans believe that King Sombra, the villain of the season 3 two-part premiere, isn't really dead. This is grounded in the fact that even though his death is actually on-screen, his horn is prominently seen flying away intact, and earlier it was shown that even a small piece of his horn can spread his Corruption. Part of it stems from disappointment in how minimal his characterization and backstory was, and some believe it was intentional to flesh him out later on.
- If it helps, in the IDW comicverse, guess who's a good guy in the Mirror Universe? So we do get a more fleshed-out Sombra, just not this one.
- A disquieting number of people believe that Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison, The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, and Michael Jackson actually faked their own deaths.
- The fact that Tupac is somehow still releasing singles, and has put out more material posthumously than during his lifetime, does help their case a bit.
- Of course, as Frankie Boyle pointed out, Michael Jackson might have something of a hard time hiding out after his "death." B.I.G. as well.
- And a 30 Rock episode: "Wait till I tell Tupac about this! Oh- um..." (awkward silence) Jack: "I didn't hear anything."
- The notion that Tupac is still alive was spoofed in a Chappelle Show skit.
- Mostly Harmless has Elvis singing in an out-of-the-way alien bar. For the record, he wasn't abducted by aliens — because he left willingly.
- Hilariously carried on in Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, when some bikers in a bar are playing a trivia game and come across the question of when Elvis died. It turns out the one with the control for the game is Death himself, one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who states that he never laid a finger on him. Of course, he never gets any of the answers associated with deaths wrong. It turns out that Elvis is working in a Burger Lord as a short-order cook.
- Let's not forget the answer provided by Men In Black: "Elvis is not dead, he just went home."
- And then there is Bubba Ho Tep, where it was actually an Elvis impersonator who died. Elvis himself lived to a ripe old age.
- A Kit Kat advert from the 1990s showed a figure wearing Elvis' trademark outfit watching a news report about this trope. He eats a Kit Kat and says, in full Elvis accent: "I'm not dead baby, I'm just having a break."
- Even an episode of Boy Meets World showed Elvis as one of Cory's father's poker buddies. No one seemed that impressed.
- Elvis is alive and well in The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries. Sort of...
- Elvis is alive and well on Marshall's paper route in Eerie Indiana.
- Stephen King has mentioned meeting Jim Morrison at a random gas station. When asked why he wasn't dead, Morrison replied "Don't believe everything that you read", before driving off. King put the unnerving story in the mouth of one of his characters in The Stand.
- Of course, we might as well mention the most famous Real Life inversion, too: Some people believe that Paul McCartney is dead based on "evidence" in The Beatles' songs and album covers.
- Some people believe McCartney faked his death.
- Then he needs to take lessons from Elvis.
- Don't forget Mark Twain: "The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
- Similar to this are the rumors of Walt Disney being cryogenically frozen. Or being installed onto a spider mech that hungers for Cuban children.
- As many as half the members of the Lubavitch Hasidic sect believe that their long-deceased spiritual leader, Rabbi Menahem Mendel Schneerson, touted late in his life as the Messiah, is not really dead. Rather, they claim, he has been mystically "concealed" and will return to fulfill his mission. A much smaller number of Lubavitch messianists have claimed that Schneerson was actually an angel in human guise, or even somehow equivalent to God.
- And then there was that other Jewish fellow, two thousand years ago...
- Subverted, since said fellow has been stated explicitly as having died and been brought back to life. However, this trope is often offered as an alternative explanation for his return by those who reject his divinity (e.g. Muslims and Unitarians) or the supernatural in general.
- And the Twelfth Imam, who is believed to be in "occultation" until the day of Judgement.
- It turned out that the long-lost author of the classic orphaned 1970s Dungeons & Dragons comic Wormy was just hiding, having dropped comics work altogether and gotten a job as a taxi driver, trying his damnedest to sever any connection to his previous work.
- Some people thought that Amelia Earhart succeeded with her attempted world flight and assumed a different identity afterwards.
- There is a book of short stories in which one featured Amelia as an Orthodox Jewish girl who'd always longed to be a pilot. She eventually achieved her goal, but then realized how much she was missing out on, faked her death, and lived out the rest of her life in Bnei Brak or similar.
- The Autobiography of Santa Claus has it that she faked her death so that she could go to the North Pole and become one of Santa's immortal helpers. So did King Arthur, Attilla the Hun, and a few other people, as well as St. Nicolas himself, who basically left a fake body behind him so that people would think he died in his sleep.
- It's worth noting that for a while, people believed Napoleon had actually faked his own death to escape prison. His ultimate fate? A glasses salesman back in France.
- Michel Ney, a French Marshal, was executed after Waterloo as an example to the remaining generals. Some legends have it that he escaped to America, some even say that he had Freemasonic ties and received help from Wellesley, who also was a Freemason.
- There are some indices his execution was indeed fake and he escaped to US, where he became professor Peter Stuart Ney (d. 1846). But if he wasn't, then the true identity of the mysterious professor Peter Stuart Ney was even greater mystery.
- D.B. Cooper, who stole more than $250,000, before leaping off an airplane, with a parachute. The FBI are still uncertain if he's alive, but since most of the money he stole washed ashore, it's generally assumed that he drowned. Apparently, Agent Cooper of Twin Peaks is based on him and is partly this trope.
- Bruce Lee, according to some, faked his death in order to escape his rapidly ballooning fame, retreating into the mountains to meditate and train.
- Mitch Hedberg's death was questioned, due to the fact that his death was ironically announced on April Fool's Day.
- Many Rastafarians believe that Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia didn't die and returned to Heaven until the right time. Or simply that he isn't dead.
- The Nation of Islam apparently believe that former leader Elijah Muhammad and founder W. Fard Muhammad aren't dead and have instead ascended on a high-tech craft Muggles refer to a UFO. Apparently in it, they can extend their lives well beyond 100 years...
- There were Nero sightings throughout the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire for about a century after his death, with people believing either that he had somehow survived, or had come back from the Elysian Fields to usher in a new age of imperial greatness.
- And then there were early Christians, who honestly thought Nero was so evil that they expected he was the antichrist and would return from Hell to bring about the Apocalypse. This can partially be explained by the fact that early Christians read a character in the Book of Revelations as referring to him; his death therefore put a crimp in their readings of its prophecies.
- Many, perhaps mostly Nazis, have believed Adolf Hitler to have been alive long after 1945. Whether anyone still believes it is a mystery. If he is alive then he's the oldest man alive, and is over 120 years old. We might be safe. All depends on how long a human brain can keep in a jar. Or putting his brain in a Great White Shark.
- More serious theories concerned Hitler's private secretary Martin Bormann, and the leader of Gestapo, Heinrich Müller, who both disappeared near the end of the war. Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal believed that Bormann escaped to South America, while others theorized that he was actually a Soviet agent. In 1998, it was confirmed that Bormann died in 1945. Probably so did Müller, but this is still not confirmed.
- Andy Kaufman talked about faking his death from cancer, but decided against it — not long after that, he was actually diagnosed with cancer. Because so much of his work was based on making people wonder if what he was doing was All Part of the Show or not, a lot of people thought his illness was another elaborate hoax, and some still think he didn't actually die in 1984.
- Conversely, it also wouldn't be out of character for Kaufman to want people to think he had faked his own death when he did actually die.
- It didn't help that Kaufman himself stated that if he were to fake his own death, he would return 20 years later. His friends threw a "Welcome Home Andy" party on May 16, 2004 which Andy curiously did not show up to.
- It also didn't help that Tony Clifton (Kaufman's abusive lounge singer character) managed to continue touring after Andy's death. It would probably be more of a puzzler if not for the fact that the entire point of the Clifton character was to present a fictional person as if they were real, and to convince people that it WASN'T simply Andy Kaufman by occasionally having someone else play the role and confront Kaufman on stage, because then there wouldn't be an easy explanation for how a fictional character could survive the death of their actor.
- In short, Kaufman was such a master of Mind Screw that he's still got people confused 25 years later.
- This trope is one of the most common when dealing with monarchs linked to an old lost cause. From King Arthur sleeping in Avalon till the motherland needs him again to the Grand Duchess Anastasia and other members of the Russian royal family, the examples are countless.
- Michael Jackson isn't dead, he faked his death to sell more music.
- Billy Mays didn't die, he faked his death because he wanted to start a new life at the North Pole.
- There are people who genuinely insist that JFK didn't die. Forget the fact that most theories regarding his death border on the insane, there are mountains of evidence (mostly logical and scientific in nature) that suggest that yes, JFK DID die on November 22, 1963. Not to mention that it would be pretty hard for the president of the United States to run away and live a normal life. Which makes me question why these people don't just latch onto the many theories regarding his death.
- Many adherents of Scientology believe that L. Ron Hubbard didn't die. Instead he "voluntarily left his body" to go travel around the universe. Many of the centers keep a writing desk for him, should he ever return.
- There are so many premature obituaries that The Other Wiki has a long article about them.
- This actually was the case for The Tourettes Guy, who was largely believed to be dead for two whole years, even by the official website's owner. The official website now claims he was in prison the whole time and mentions nothing about the death rumors at all.
- Richey James, depressed, self harming Manic Street Preachers songwriter disappeared on the 1st of February 1995, and his car was found near the Severn Bridge. It was pretty obvious he had killed himself, especially considering his mental health and the fact he never reappeared but was only pronounced dead in 2008, having been classed as a missing person for the past 13 years.
- Considering that he had allegedly bought books on how to disappear, and had withdrawn the maximum possible amounts off of his credit card every day for a week before his car was found, it's not as far fetched an idea as it first appears...
- It's died out some now, but after Heath Ledger's death in 2008 a lot of people honestly believed it was faked as a publicity stunt for The Dark Knight.
- As with many other famous people, there are theories about how Richie Valens, Buddy Holly, and The Big Bopper are alive. This was parodied in The Venture Bros. where a flashback hints that two members of the Council of 13 of the Guild of Calamitous Intent are actually The Big Bopper and Buddy Holly and the plane crash that "killed" them both was faked.
- Genesis drummer John Mayhew vanished somewhere between Trespass and Nursery Cryme (he played on the former but had been replaced with Phil Collins by the time of the latter), never even collecting most of his royalty cheques for Trespass. For years rumours circulated that he'd died or fallen extremely ill. He turned up in the 90s, alive and reasonably well, having moved first to Scotland then Australia and taken up carpentry; in the mid-2000's he was actively giving interviews and even put in an appearance drumming with a Genesis tribute band, before returning to keeping a low profile. When his brother went looking for him in 2009, he found out he really had died earlier that year, of a heart condition.
- During the WWE's "higher power" storyline there was some speculation that the Higher Power would turn out to be Owen Hart or Brian Pillman, with their "death" being a publicity stunt. Some fans thought that Eddie Guerrero would show up at Survivor Series 2005, which was the week after his death
- A disturbing number of people (particularly amongst those sympathetic to him) think that Osama bin Laden is still alive, and that reports of his death were "propaganda."
- Even larger amount believes that he had been dead for long time and reports about it were postponed for better time, politics-wise. Both opinions probably take fuel in same...details in reports. One could say that his corpse has been just hiding, for these people.
- Some people think he and Saddam Hussein are still alive on free vacation on Island with help from the CIA. Since these guys did get some help from the US this Conspiracy make some sense.
- Some people think Israeli PM Yitskhak Rabin’s assassination is not quite what the authorities tell them, as some details don’t entirely add up, and a considerable portion of what the Shabak did beforehand is still classified.
- Tenrikyo followers believe their prophet, Nakayama Miki, ‘concealed’ her human form and still lives on. They still bathe her and feed her and read the newspaper to her; how they do it is not known, as it’s performed only by the Shinbashira (hereditary elite Tenrikyo clergy), which is a cause for a serious amount of Squick, or at least Fridge Logic.
- Because of the lack of information about Versailles bassist Jasmine You's death in 2009 (the only information released to the public was that he died of an unspecified illness), there are a few people who believe that he faked his own death for whatever reason—maybe it was a publicity stunt, or he wanted to retire from the music business without being pestered to return, or he secretly identified as a woman and wanted to get a sex change without publicizing it, or he returned to his home planet.
- A rather different example, but this principle applies to Lazarus taxa and living fossils, species of organism presumed to be extinct that pop up much later in the fossil record.
- Many believe that several "extinct" species, like the Thylacine, are still alive in small numbers.
- Some people have had difficulty accepting the proposition that mankind is capable of driving species to extinction. For example, when the passenger pigeon (the most populous bird in the world in the 19th century) was driven to extinction in the early 20th century, some Americans suggested the birds were not really dead, but hiding in Chile.
- The Princes in the Tower. Despite the most popular theory about their disappearance being that Richard III murdered them, there are still ideas that they escaped. Pretenders to the throne tried to capitalise on this, claiming to be them.
- Pretty common with famous criminals/outlaws like John Wilkes Booth, Jesse James, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, even John Dillinger. Either they faked their own deaths or, in Dillinger's case, the murder was staged to save authorities the embarrassment of letting them escape.