Bartok: Master! You're alive?
Rasputin: In a manner of (eyeball pops out) speaking.The great love of the hero's life has died, and the hero simply cannot take the grief. Desperate to have his significant other returned to him, the character delves into things better left unlearned and discovers a way to bring the loved one back. Unfortunately, something goes horribly awry, causing them to come back wrong. The inverse of a Damaged Soul, in this case the soul is absolutely fine... it's the body that's a complete mess. Much like an Emergency Transformation, the resurrected character is brought back as something they probably dislike, or would rather not be, and may wonder "What Have I Become?". This is the most "livable" of the various botched resurrections, though suicidal tendencies here are still high. Villains who plan to come back from the dead as a One-Winged Angel may vacillate between a Monster from Beyond the Veil and an Inhuman Human, depending on their sanity. Regardless, this particular type of resurrection is the most likely to curse the resurrectee with powers. These unlucky souls will likely become a Vampire Refugee, Reluctant Monster or Body Horror that Can't Stay Normal. A Sub-Trope of Came Back Wrong.
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
open/close all folders
Anime And Manga
- In Naruto, it's possible to bring the dead back into the world of the living using the kinjitsu "Summoning: Impure World Reincarnation." However, this can only bring the deceased's soul back, not their body. A living human must be sacrificed to perform the ritual, in which the sacrifice's body is reshaped like clay to resemble the returning soul that will posses it. Upon death, the body will revert to the form of its previous owner. Orochimaru used this ritual in combination with a mind control jutsu to bring back two of the most powerful ninjas to have ever lived and force them to fight for him.
- Ironically enough, it turns out one of the ninjas he resurrected was the guy who invented this technique.
- Yakushi Kabuto can now use this same technique, only on a massive scale, and his versions are able to retain their original personality and style of fighting. They're still very unsettling, as they have very hollow looking eyes, are wired directly to Kabuto's control, and are essentially immortal zombies.
- Tempered by the fact that he seems intent on matching them up against people they knew in life (he claims for psychological damage to the enemy), but so far this has worked out against him almost every time, since the "resurrected" ninja starts trying to fight back against his control either directly or even just by giving their former comrades tips on how to beat them.
- In One Piece, Brook, vice captain of the Rumbar Pirates, ate the Yomi Yomi fruit, which gave him the ability to come back to life after he died. Problem is, he died in a very foggy region of sea, and it took him an entire year for his soul to find his body again. By this time, all that was left of it was a skeleton and a massive afro. Fortunately for him, he's charismatic enough that he remains more Crazy Awesome than anything.
- Although they enter the stage already reanimated, the EVAs from Neon Genesis Evangelion are really, in effect, their very own variant of an Inhuman Human.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Ed's brother Al would be considered this. After trying to resurrect their mother, his body was sucked into the gate. Ed was able to bring his soul back, but only by attaching it to a suit of armor to serve as a surrogate body.
- This happens to Al twice. It was his soul that was put into the botched recreation of Trisha's body, which was almost immediately rejected. Ed bound Al's soul into the suit of armor soon after that.
- In Green Lantern, when Kyle Rayner's mother dies, he reaches her death bed a minute too late and uses his powers as Ion to bring her back. She tells him that he knows it's wrong and dies again.
- Jay Garrick, the original Flash, tried to save the dying Thinker, a reformed supervillain from the 1940s. The Thinker once had a special helmet that amplified brainwaves, resulting in making him a supergenius, but had lost it. Garrick was certain that if he found it Thinker could devise a cure for his disease. After searching for the entire issue, he finally locates it and returns just in time to learn that Thinker has died. Knowing that the brain remains active for a short time after death, Flash puts the helmet on him and he "wakes up". However, Thinker has accepted his death with grace and after saying goodbye, simply removes the helmet and re-dies.
- Todd McFarlane's masterpiece character Spawn is this; his soul is as human as it always was (albeit in life he was enough of a Jerk Ass to be damned to hell), but his body is an undead horror from the depths of the pit.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- Death Becomes Her. It features a potion that grants eternal life and youth, unless the drinker suffers fatal damage, at which point the body loses the ability to heal and renew itself. This eventually leads to Body Horror.
- At the beginning of Hellboy, Grigori Rasputin gets killed and sucked into the Void. Sixty years later, Ilsa Haupstein and Karl Ruprect Kroenen summon him back to Earth. Rasputin is fine, except he's missing his eyes, and he's got a tentacled monster in his gut. Extra Body Horror comes from the fact that he's come back from the dead like this more than once, and each time he brings an extra piece of his god with him.
- In Hellraiser: Deader the Deaders retain whatever injuries caused their death (slit wrists, bullet holes, etc.) but for the most part seem fine. The exception is Marla, who's all corpsy, her lack of faith in resurrectionist Winter having apparently botched the resurrection slightly.
- In The Last Temptation of Christ, Jesus brings Lazarus back from the dead. At first he's a rotted corpse, but as Jesus completes the resurrection, he becomes a somewhat normal man, though still gray-skinned and slow to move and speak. He's soon re-killed by Saul, later to become the apostle Paul, who's acting on orders to get rid of all evidence of Jesus's supernatural nature.
- In Event Horizon, Dr Weir is resurrected by the ship minutes after being hurled into space: however, his body is carved with bloody runes, and if his newfound telepathic power is any evidence, he's even less human than before. Ironically, his lost eyes have been replaced.
- A rare, non death example happens in both the original and remake of The Fly, as the protagonist of both films is testing a teleporter he created, and eventually decides to go through himself. You should really know what happens next.
- The SF short story "Heal the Sick, Raise the Dead" by Steve Perry also features a form of resurrection that will reliably restore consciousness to a dead body- for about five minutes. The chemicals that make the process possible jump start a dead nervous system at the cost of rapidly burning it out; almost everyone comes back blind. But hey, if all you want is one last chance to say goodbye...
- In the Mortal Engines series, it's possible to create cyborg soldiers called Stalkers—no, not that kind. They are robotic components and a robot brain in a human body, but two of them (Stalker Shrike and the Anna version of Stalker Fang's second incarnation) are closer to Inhuman Humans. Shrike is capable of genuine emotion and love, treating Hester Shaw like a daughter and deeply mourning her death, going into a coma for several thousand years–though he is nowhere near a physical human being. Stalker-Anna doesn't even inhabit the Uncanny Valley, and even when her death-mask is wrenched off, she does not have a lot of Body Horror. Of course, she's younger than Shrike, to the tune of about a thousand years, but she actually approaches Cute Monster Girl territory once or twice, and is almost the same as the real Anna Fang. The only difference is that she's... dead.
- Frankenstein's monster may fall under this type. In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein the monster kills Frankenstein's wife after he refuses to create a monster bride. Frankenstein uses his science to bring her back, but the monster decides that she is rightfully his bride now. They both try to win her over, resulting in a heart-wrenching dance that ends when she sees her reflection in a mirror and immediately kills herself in horror.
- Shadow's wife Laura from American Gods is an Inhuman Human. Her chemically preserved body slowly decomposes, but she still loves her husband and behaves like a normal human (aside from a certain flatness of affect, and her unnerving willingness to kill anyone who poses a threat to Shadow).
- H.P. Lovecraft:
- In "Cool Air", a supremely talented Spanish physician had revived himself after being dead, but unless he "lives" at low temperature, below 56 °F (13 °C), his body would decompose itself like a corpse, and even during this "life" there is something repugnant in his appearance. He eventually dies a second death when his refrigeration system breaks down, but for many months before his appearance had already become scary to people and his mind drifted.
- In "The Thing on the Doorstep", the dead villainess going by the name of Asenath Waite switches minds with her asylum-imprisoned husband and killer... who rises from the grave in the decomposing and liquefying body of his wife to give a last call for aid to a friend. (The situation is rather more complicated than that, but that's the bit that's relevant to this trope.)
- "Herbert West, the Reanimator". Dr. Herbert West's attempts to bring people back from the dead at first resulted in examples of Damaged Soul, but in the end he succeeds in perfecting his methods, resulting in some actually intelligent zombies that revolt against their condition and lead a horde of mindless ones to kill him.
- The short story the "Monkey's Paw". The paw allowed someone to make three wishes, but they would all be answered in a way that brought misfortune on the wisher. So, when the Mom wants to resurrect the son who died because of the first wish by being caught in an industrial machine, she wishes the son back to life. A few creepy paragraphs later the disfigured abomination that is their son is pounding on the door, with the mother desperately wanting to embrace it emphasis on the IT. Finally, the Dad wishes his son to have peace, with the mother opening the door to a cold, empty street. Needless to say, it sucks for her.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: It is possible for some priests of R'hllor to bring back the dead, and usually it's a pretty smooth and painless process. At the very end of the third book, this method is used to revive Catelyn Stark—but she'd been a corpse too long and the manner of her death left her not only with a horribly disfigured and mutilated body, but filled her with a terrible sense of vengeance as well.
Live Action TV
- All of the dead Ned brings back to life in Pushing Daisies fall under this trope — they're alive and act like their normal selves, but their bodies remain how they were when they died, often with cartoonishly macabre results. In a few cases where the people have been dead for a long time, the characters all react with horror when they see the corpse talking like a normal person.
- In The X-Files episode "Je Souhaite", the stoner who found the genie wishes for invisibility and is promptly run over by a truck. His best friend uses his wishes to reanimate him. The end result? A screaming yellow zombie who quickly decides to kill his friend and re-kill himself when he opens up the gas and lights a match. Though it may not have been a purposeful attempt at murder/suicide, given that said zombie (when he finally stopped screaming) shivered uncontrollably and said he couldn't feel his blood. Turning on the gas may have been an attempt to warm himself up, and he simply fumbled the matches for too long.
- Doctor Who:
- In the episode "Forest of the Dead", Miss Evangelista is one of several people "saved" to a massive virtual reality scenario following death: unfortunately, due to data corruption, her face is horribly deformed.
- The Master, in "The End of Time". His resurrection is sabotaged by Lucy Saxon's Heroic Sacrifice: instead of thwarting it altogether, however, he becomes incredibly fast and able to leap tremendous distances, develops a Horror Hunger that frequently strays into killing AND eating humans and can focus his life energy into powerful lightning bolts. And his face keeps dissolving into a skull and back.
- This turns out to be at the core of "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances." The Chula warship turns out to be an ambulance loaded with nano-bots; when it landed, it killed a four-year-old boy trying to hide from the bombing, and only had a corpse was a gas mask to go on for a template for the human race. Hence why the boy goes around constantly asking for his mommy and "fixing" anyone he gets too close to.
- In Torchwood, Owen Harper dies. He's brought back, but is still rather dead. Most of his body functions—his circulatory system, digestive system, respiratory system, and so forth—have shut down. He isn't decomposing, and some of his brain's functions work, but that's about it.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series pilot (reused in the two-part episode "The Menagerie"), Sufficiently Advanced Aliens save a dying woman who crash lands on their planet, but she was in very bad shape and ends up a horrific mess due to their unfamiliarity with what humans are supposed to look like. Luckily, to make it up to her, their mental powers allow her to see herself as much more attractive than she actually was.
- The Steam Punk filk group Clockwork Quartet tells the dreadfully disturbing yet darkly catchy story of the Doctor's Wife and the Doctor who will do anything (anything) to save her. She winds up a still-comatose cyborg, more machine than woman, while her husband obsessively watches her for signs of consciousness.
- A rather common result of the Dungeons & Dragons spell Reincarnate, especially with House Rules or the rules from the earlier editions, although thankfully and surprisingly this doesn't involve shambling undead. The spell returns characters, with their original knowledge and abilities, into the adult body of a random species. That's often not a problem, until your Warrior comes back as a wren, or your Wizard as a badger.
- By Third Edition, the spell's results are limited to a d100 table with only humanoid results, and weighted towards the regular PC races. Chances are you're not going to be the same species you started out as, but you probably will still be something allowed in polite company, rather than a kobold or something. Of course, there's still one entry for the most horrible result of all: DM's choice.
- Fourth Edition did away with Reincarnate (Fifth brought it back): with Raise Dead (a type of resurrection that averts all versions of this trope) available to 8th level characters as a ritual now, there's no reason (at least from a gameplay perspective) to bring back Reincarnation, which was always the poor man's Raise Dead. However, there is the subscriber-only Revenant race in Dragon Magazine that often is the result of being brought back in the manner of an Inhuman Human.
- YMMV, but Raise Dead is a quick way of getting back to status quo, while Reincarnate actually averts Death Is a Slap on the Wrist without killing the character off entirely (even if the character is no longer suitable for play, the difference can be significant to the player. It's all about what kind of setting you want.
- The Harrowed from Deadlands aren't usually this trope—though they do zigzag being a Monster from Beyond the Veil, since they're made undead instead of dead-dead thanks to sharing their bodies with an evil spirit out to cause mayhem, fear and suffering—and instead normally look alive, albeit with a "death scar" and a faint odor of decay that can be covered by perfume or alcohol, but can be this way if they take a Harrowed-unique flaw called Degeneration at character generation. In this case, the Manitou didn't reanimate the body until after it had started rotting, and this affects the Harrowed pretty badly. There's five levels of the flaw, and each is worse than the other; starting at Pallid (grey skin, cloudy eyes, stronger stink), moving on to Slimy (skin oozes slime, eyes are milky, stink is overpowering), from there to Bloated (guts are swollen with rot, noxious fluids oozing out of every hole), on to Tattered (flesh is sloughing off the bone) and finishing at Desiccated (nothing but dried skin over bone).
- At the end of Banjo-Kazooie, the villain Grunty is knocked off the top of her lair and crushed by a boulder. In the sequel Banjo-Tooie, when her sisters get the boulder off her, she's still alive, but her body rotted away while she was under the boulder, making her a living skeleton.
- In Twisted Metal: Head On, Miranda Watts uses her wish to resurrect her dead twin sister Amanda (the original driver of Twister, who died in her Twisted Metal 2 ending). Given that Calypso is a Jerkass Genie of the highest magnitude, Miranda gets a zombie, as Amanda had died millions of years ago after her car passed light speed and traveled back in time.
- In The Sims, if you don't pay Death enough for a good resurrection, you get a zombie, and the zombie is not happy about being brought back all messed up. Also, if you pay only a little less than the money required, you may get someone who has all their personality traits reversed. In both instances, the Sim hates the other person who brought them back.
- In the Might and Magic games, if you try to resurrect your party members in an Evil Temple you usually end up with a reanimated zombie. It is unsure whether they have memories or not, but considering you can control them mostly normally, it seems like they do.
- The Forsaken from Warcraft series are Inhuman Humans, although some also veer into Damaged Soul territory. Most tend to undergo some changes in their personality, although this is more psychological than direct result of being raised from the dead. Some remain mostly the same as they were before death and are searching for a way to restore themselves to the world of the living, but others become consumed with hatred for all living beings.
- Leonid Barthalomew the Revered is one of the few Forsaken who have joined another faction, namely the Argent Dawn. To him, his undeath is merely an illness, and he sees the Argent Dawn as the best shot he (and other Forsaken) have for curing it.
- Their leader, Sylvanas Windrunner, is notably unhappy with her undead state—but considering she's the one who organized the Royal Apothecary Society and set them to work on creating a new Undead Plague that will wipe out all life (and the undead Scourge that the Forsaken oppose) on Azeroth, she's not much interested in finding a cure.
- The vampire Melchiah of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver was the last to be resurrected by Kain, and inherited the least of his power. As such, despite being immortal, Melchiah is still decomposing, and has to incorporate the hides of his victims into himself to replace lost tissues—a practice that degenerates into absorbing entire bodies into his flesh. Needless to say, after several millennia, he's pure horror. And come to think of it, Raziel is another example: after being cast into the Lake of the Dead for a millennium, nearly all of his flesh is burnt off, his lower jaw is missing, and he can only exist as a wraith. Somewhat telling is that when Raziel kills Melchiah by crushing him into pulp with a large metal grinder, his last word is "Release!"
- In Vagrant Story, souls of the dead are forced to wander aimlessly and get sucked into any corpse they happen upon, becoming zombies until they're killed again (rinse, repeat). One villain, Grissom, gets killed by the main hero halfway through the game... until his soul accidentally animates his own mutilated corpse. He tries to stay sane once he realizes what has happened, but he doesn't last long.
- Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge: LeChuck comes back as a rotting corpse. This doesn't seem to particularly bother him though, but he's still one evil SOB. Same thing applies to Guybrush when he comes back as a slightly rotting corpse (for a while anyway) in Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 5: Rise of the Pirate God.
- In City of Heroes, Deadly Doctor Vahzilok has sought a way to to cheat death through medical science. Most of his creations are little better than cyborg zombies, save for the Eidolons—they are people who had their brains transplanted into a body (or combination of bodies) from an unwilling donor. They have full intelligence, but their bodies continue to decay, requiring regular transplants from more involuntary donors.
- The tomb-colonists of Fallen London are (generally) people who've died many times over; they wrap themselves head to toe in bandages to hide their disfigurement, and seem to be susceptible to rot. One is left to infer that after doing it a lot, the results of a resurrection start to turn out like this.
- In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Ben Franklin creates a drug that was meant to give him immortality —instead it causes him to come back as a Headless Horseman, as well as every body within a certain radius of him to rise as a zombie. As it turns out, the secret ingredient of the drug had been given to Ben by Dracula, and the Headless Horseman/Zombie Apocalypse nonsense was all part of Drac's plan.
- The webcomic Daisy Is Dead is about a woman who dies and comes back as a zombie. Her mind is all there, but her body needs regular stitching up. And BRAAAAIIINNNSSSSS!!!!
- In this episode of 8-Bit Theater, White Mage attempts to bring Black Belt back by de-petrifying his stone doppelgänger (it makes sense in context). However, due to the statue missing part of its head, Black Belt also comes back missing part of his head. He promptly dies again, spewing blood over everything within a 50-foot radius. Brian Clevinger, 8-Bit Theater's creator, created this strip out of annoyance at the refusal of fans to accept that Black Belt was dead, and titled it "Now shut up."
AARGHH! Every second of existence is like a thousand excruciating deaths!
- Similarly, a guest comic featured Black Mage attempting to impress White Mage by gathering together all the putrescent chunks of Black Belt splattered across the walls of Gurgu volcano and trying to resurrect them. Due to decomposition and Black Mage's terrible white magic, the results were not pretty:
- In this Plastic Brick Auromaton comic humans killed and partly eaten by the Bugs have their remaining parts dumped in a pool of black jelly, which resurrects them and regenerates the lost parts so that they can be eaten again the next day. However, for every time a victim is resurrected, they mutate very slightly: the oldest captives don't even resemble human beings anymore, and neither does the protagonist by the end of the story.
- Unsounded's Duane's sanity remains basically intact, if slightly addled, despite his extensively decayed form.
- One of the story arcs of Jack has a woman brought back from the dead. At first she appears to be completely fine in mind and body—but, as she didn't return to the mortal world willingly, she desperately wants to get back to Heaven and kills herself.