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[[quoteright:322:[[Franchise/{{Batman}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/jokerfall_001_2536.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:322:"Do you have any idea how many suits I go through because of these situations?"]]
->''"I know Darth Vader's really got you annoyed,\\
But remember if you kill him then you'll be unemployed"''
-->-- '''Music/WeirdAlYankovic''', "Yoda"

Let's face it -- some {{Big Bad}}s are popular enough that it might be a bad idea to [[KilledOffForReal kill them for real]]. Because of this, even though the good guy usually beats him, the villain always finds a way to come back. It's a specific form of ContractualImmortality, which could be for any one of a number of reasons:
* The villain is so popular and lucrative that getting rid of him risks losing the fans' interest in the franchise. This is especially true in a VillainBasedFranchise or works where defeating the villain is the SeriesGoal, so killing off the villain will effectively end the series.
* The story exists in ComicBookTime, so even though it ''seems'' like the villain has been active for a long time, we're really seeing a short reign of terror stretched out over several installments.
* The installments are in AnachronicOrder and the villain's death has already been established or shown; logically, he'll survive any story that occurs before then chronologically.
* The villain is a real person RippedFromTheHeadlines who isn't dead yet; this is rare nowadays, but you see it often in {{Wartime Cartoon}}s, where the characters fight UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler but can't kill him because he hasn't died yet in RealLife.
* The villain is very heavily identified with a particular hero, and their exploits are thus part of the hero's overall story. This is what happened with the {{Trope Namer|s}}, the Joker; he's so influential to Franchise/{{Batman}} that killing him off would essentially rob the series of a big part of its identity, even if it could continue in theory without him.

InUniverse, the explanations tend to be [[HandWave somewhat flimsier]]. The strongest such explanation is that heroes with [[ThouShaltNotKill a strong moral code against killing]] aren't just going to [[WhyDontYouJustShootHim kill the villain]], even if that makes things easier on them in the long run. Writers who go overboard with this trope risk losing the audience's patience, [[TheWorfEffect undermining the hero's perceived effectiveness]], or forcing the villain over the MoralEventHorizon such that the audience will demand his immunity revoked.

But Joker Immunity ''can'' be revoked eventually, if the villain indeed crosses the MoralEventHorizon, suffers VillainDecay, or gets [[SortingAlgorithmOfEvil overshadowed by something even more evil]] (who will often [[MakeWayForTheNewVillains revoke the immunity himself]] to show how much of a threat he is).

The heroic equivalent is an InvincibleHero. Compare VillainExitStageLeft (where the heroes stop the villain's plan but do nothing to stop him escaping); CardboardPrison and TailorMadePrison (where the heroes ''think'' they've stopped the villain but he breaks out of confinement); and occasionally VillainSue (who has Joker Immunity for [[MarySue all the wrong reasons]]). Contrast SuperheroMovieVillainsDie (villains who otherwise have Joker Immunity get KilledOffForReal in the film adaptation). See also JustEatGilligan (someone other than the direct villain has the immunity); PopularityPower (the character gets his way because the fans like him); and KarmaHoudini (the villain escapes legal and cosmic punishment).

'''Administrivia/NoRealLifeExamplesPlease''' Standard procedure for [[{{Villains}} villain tropes]]; you can't really call a RealLife figure a villain, nor are there cosmic fanboys who can save you from death.

[[noreallife]]
----
!!Examples

[[index]]
* JokerImmunity/ComicBooks
[[/index]]

[[foldercontrol]]

%%[[folder:Advertising]]
%%* Played for laughs with ''Mortein'''s cartoon mascot Louie the Fly.
%%[[/folder]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'', James and Jesse of Team Rocket try something villainous OncePerEpisode and always fail, but they're always back to try again. This in spite of them occasionally being last seen in situations where NoOneCouldSurviveThat, only to be [[SnapBack right back at it next episode]] with no explanation as to how they survived. Over time, their consistent failure to do anything meaningful has led to VillainDecay, so on the rare occasions that Ash actually bothers to tell the authorities about them, they're not considered a priority (at least compared to their more villainous teammates). They're also [[VillainExitStageLeft very adept at escaping custody]]. Their boss Giovanni shares this immortality, surviving Mewtwo's destruction of Team Rocket's headquarters without so much as a scratch in ''Mewtwo Strikes Back''.
* ''Manga/InuYasha'' was infamous for its repeated use of Naraku, who's the only antagonist still causing trouble after several hundred issues, despite half of feudal Japan wanting his head. Author Rumiko Takahashi knew the fans wouldn't believe he would be gone unless he was DeaderThanDead, so [[spoiler:Kagome wishes what was left of his spirit ''out of existence'' along with the Shikon no Tama]].
* The three main bandits in ''VisualNovel/KoihimeMusou.'' Simply why can't the Black-Haired Bandit Hunter just kill them?
* In ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'', [[AGodAmI Aizen]] was the BigBad for about 400 chapters. His eventual defeat left room for a vague comeback [[spoiler:because he's not dead, only DePowered, partly because he actually has complete immortality]].
* Orochimaru from ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' just won't stay dead or sealed, even if he can be PutOnABus for quite long periods.
* ''Anime/{{Monster}}'''s sequel ''Another Monster'' shows that [[spoiler:Johan Liebert]] is still inexplicably active.
* The end of ''Manga/{{MW}}'' shows [[spoiler:Michio Yuki]] is still around.
* Katsuhiko Jinnai and the Bugroms from ''Anime/ElHazardTheMagnificentWorld'' always ran away so they could return in future installments.
* ''Anime/YuGiOh'':
** Yami Bakura consistently comes back from defeat. By the Duelist Kingdom arc, he is believed to have been sent to the card graveyard, but he [[BodySurf takes over Mokuba's body]], gets banished again, and comes back a second time at the end of the arc. Yami Marik banishes his soul to the Shadow Realm in the Battle City arc, but he returns to normal when Marik is defeated. In the last arc, multiple versions of him return as the BigBad; only here is he finally destroyed for good.
** ''Anime/YuGiOh5Ds'' has Divine, Aki's EvilMentor. His confrontation with Dark Signer Carly ended with him plummeting about thirty stories from the top floor of the Arcadia building; [[UnexplainedRecovery somehow, he survived]], and appeared in a later episode, only to be [[JustDesserts swallowed by Earthbound God Ccarayhua.]] WordOfGod claims that, despite not appearing again, he survived that too, recovering along with the other victims of the Earthbound Gods, but that doesn't mean he was a KarmaHoudini; he was quickly caught by Sector Security and hauled to jail.
* Hao from ''Manga/ShamanKing'' has been defeated and killed in ages past over and over; not only does he keep coming back, but he also retains his knowledge from his previous lives and grows more powerful each time. Even at the end of the series, [[spoiler:after becoming the Shaman King, he's not turned good, but merely been convinced to wait a bit and see how humanity is doing, instead of just killing everyone outright]].
* If any villain in ''Anime/{{Digimon}}'' deserves this designation, it's Myotismon. Like the vampire he resembles, he just refuses to stay dead. After being blown to little bits by Angelwoman, he returned as [=VenomMyotismon=]. Then he was torn apart by [=WarGreymon=], only to return in the SequelSeries as [=MaloMyotismon=]. And of course, being a Digimon, he TookALevelInBadass with each evolution, as if he needed it, having defeated the [=DigiDestined=] ''multiple'' times even in his ''original'' form.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Referenced in ''Fanfic/TheTwoSidesOfDaringDo''. Apparently, Yearling's audience complains about Ahuizotl having Joker Immunity. It's also justified with the real Ahuizotl; he's actually immortal and ''can't'' die.
* ''Fanfic/SoulEaterTroubledSouls'' gives Medusa Gorgon Joker Immunity. She [[spoiler:survives expulsion from Rachelís body via Majin Hunter by using the same spell she used to live in her battle against Stein and Spirit. Now, she is the ArcVillain of one of the fic's darkest Story Arcs]]. This woman refuses to stay dead.
* ''Blog/AskErnstStavroBlofeld'' survived death ''at least'' three times. He survived [[Film/OnHerMajestysSecretService getting his neck apparently snapped when it hit a branch while he was bobsleighing]], [[Film/DiamondsAreForever being in the middle of his oil rig lair while it burst into flames]], and [[Film/ForYourEyesOnly being dropped down a factory's chimney from a helicopter while wheelchair-bound]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* As many {{Slasher Movie}}s are part of a VillainBasedFranchise, their protagonists tend to have severe Joker Immunity. These include Freddy Krueger of ''Franchise/ANightmareOnElmStreet'', Michael Myers of ''Franchise/{{Halloween}}'', Jason Voorhees of ''Franchise/FridayThe13th'', and Chucky from ''Film/ChildsPlay'' (who explicitly references his immunity in ''Film/BrideOfChucky'', gloating that he can always come back from death). In fact, the ending of the original ''Film/ANightmareOnElmStreet1984'' was altered to ensure that Freddy survived (which ''really'' pissed off Creator/WesCraven). {{Discussed|Trope}} in ''Film/TheMonsterSquad'' where the dad is confused by how horror movies keep having all these sequels when the last one was said to have killed the villain once and for all.
* ''Franchise/JamesBond'':
** Jaws from ''Film/TheSpyWhoLovedMe'' is MadeOfIron and routinely survives otherwise catastrophic disasters by just dusting himself off. This allowed him to survive for ''Film/{{Moonraker}}'', where he underwent a HeelFaceTurn.
** ''Film/LiveAndLetDie'' has voodoo master Baron Samedi thrown into poisonous snakes, only for the film's last shot to show him laughing on the engine of Bond's train.
** Ernst Stavro Blofeld appears to die twice; in ''Film/OnHerMajestysSecretService'', he comes back in the same movie. He was technically killed off in ''Film/ForYourEyesOnly'', but only to [[WritingAroundTrademarks resolve a legal dispute]]; he came back decades later in ''Film/{{Spectre}}'', where [[spoiler:Bond refuses to kill him when he has the chance and has M arrest him instead]].
* Most {{kaiju}} have this ability, Film/{{Godzilla}} being the best example. Future appearances had him dropped into lava, or blown up by some super-weapon. He always returns to menace Tokyo (and other cities) again. However, the continuity for Godzilla movies is loopy at worst, tenuous at best. The original monster killed by the Oxygen Destroyer often stays dead, and it's an all new mutated monster attacking this time. Or time traveling aliens messed with history. Or they abandon all notion of the '54 Godzilla existing and that Godzilla is the first encounter (as in Shin Godzilla).
%% * Applied to all the [[MonsterMash classic Universal and Hammer movie monsters]], including those that [[Film/TheWolfMan1941 would've far preferred]] to [[Film/BrideOfFrankenstein just stay dead]].
* Although comic book villains are very prone to [[SuperheroMovieVillainsDie lose their immunity in film adaptations]], this hasn't happened to [[Film/{{Thor}} Loki]] in the Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse; he's [[spoiler:survived all three films he's appeared in, despite apparent death in both ''Thor'' movies]].
* ''Film/SuicideSquad2016'' has the {{Trope Namer|s}} himself, the Joker, appear to die when his helicopter is shot down about halfway through the movie. To absolutely no one's surprise, [[spoiler:he shows up alive and well in the final scene]].
* The ''Film/DoctorMabuse'' films apply this trope to the extreme. Mabuse [[spoiler:dies in ''Film/TheLastWillOfDrMabuse''; the rest of the movie concerns an insane and possessed psychologist enacting his plans]]. In the '60s films from ''Film/Die1000AugenDesDrMabuse'' onward, he dies in seemingly every installment but comes back for each sequel. When [[spoiler:he finally [[KilledOffForReal dies for real]] in ''The Terror of Dr. Mabuse'', he comes back [[AssPull as a ghost]] in the next movie]].
* In ''Film/FlashGordonSerial'', Ming the Merciless had the annoying tendency to not stay dead. In the first movie, he supposedly fakes his death by walking inside a crematorium, but they NeverFoundTheBody. In the second movie, he is trapped inside a chamber and bombarded with death rays, and the characters are sure he's dead this time ([[TakeOurWordForIt and his body is now shown to the viewer]]), but in the third movie, he inexplicably returns to life once again. Flash finally finishes him off by crashing a spaceship into his tower while he's locked inside it.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfNarnia'':
** Creator/CSLewis manages to {{subvert|edtrope}} this trope in ''Literature/PrinceCaspian'', where the villains' plan to resurrect the White Witch fails after all. [[Film/PrinceCaspian The movie]] played this up even more.
** In ''Literature/TheSilverChair'', a villain shows up who ''appears'' to be the White Witch resurrected, but it's uncertain whether it's really her; nobody was left at the end of ''Prince Caspian'' to follow through on Nikabrik's plan, but she was the last member of her race ([[GenocideFromTheInside by her own doing]]), so it's not as if she could conceivably be a different witch.
* In ''Literature/WarriorCats'', Tigerstar takes this to the logical extreme, since he keeps appearing even though he dies in the first series. However, his limited interaction with the living world makes him much less of a threat then when he was alive, and his involvement in the earlier books of [=tPoT=] was somewhat lacking. Eventually, after four series, they do manage to finally make him DeaderThanDead.
* Averted in the ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' novels for the ''Literature/{{Ravnica|Cycle}}'' setting. The leader of House Dimir (Ravnica's BigBad) was actually arrested and killed at the end of the first book. But this bites the heroes in the butt in the third book, when it's revealed why [[TheWorldIsAlwaysDoomed Ravnica has experienced a rash of major disasters]]: because the complex system running the world was dependent on having a BigBad.
-->'''[[TheHero Agrus Kos]]''': So I should've just [[spoiler: let [[BigBad Szadek]] drain [[CosmicKeystone Selesnya's]] life away]]? That makes no sense.\\
'''Grand Arbiter Augustin IV:''' [[LampshadeHanging It is a paradox.]]
* In the ''Literature/HarryPotter'' books, the SeriesGoal is to defeat Lord Voldemort, so obviously he can't be killed until the end of the last book. All of the heroes' prior encounters with him are just trying to avoid getting killed.
* ''Literature/ArtemisFowl'' and Captain Holly Short will stop being tormented by Opal Koboi when readers stop finding her mania amusing. And considering all she's survived so far, it doesn't look like that world's most insane pixie will be going anywhere any time soon. In the final book, [[spoiler: she finally gets a rather nasty death in which her black magic essentially eats her from the inside out]].
* Visser Three (or, after his promotion near the end, Visser One) in ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' ended at least two books in some kind of highly ambiguous, possible-death situation only to reappear in later books.
* Downplayed by Count Olaf in ''Literature/ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents'', as he is rarely in explicit danger; what he repeatedly avoids is arrest, which serves the same goal as ordinary Joker Immunity. The straight form of this trope is subverted in ''TheEnd'', where he dies in the [[ArcNumber thirteenth chapter of]] [[ThirteenIsUnlucky the thirteenth book]], [[spoiler: and there's still [[TheStinger one]] chapter left]].
* The Man in Black (''a.k.a.'' Richard Fannin, Randall Flagg, Marten Broadcloak, etc.) from ''Franchise/TheDarkTower'' seems to have a form of Joker Immunity. He always turns up again even if defeated, and none of the protagonists are able to kill him. [[spoiler:Mordred, however, gobbled him up because he was hungry, effectively ending his immunity.]]
* ''Literature/BlackCompany'' has Soulcatcher, {{chronic backstabb|ingdisorder}}er, who cannot be killed off no matter what the villains try despite being their primary source of grief. Similarly, the Limper can escape or survive punishment from both the good guys ''and'' the bigger villains, [[spoiler:until it stops being funny and he's KilledOffForReal]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* On ''Series/{{Farscape}}'', off-and-on BigBad Scorpius was only supposed to be part of a two-episode arc, but he ended up becoming very popular and kept returning, even after being shot and buried on screen. The show also started making a point of how he's a CrazyPrepared MagnificentBastard, which helps explain how he keeps surviving. He even earned a PromotionToOpeningTitles after we learned that he's actually a WellIntentionedExtremist with an enemy in common with the heroes.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** The Master may be a Time Lord, but he should still be dead by now. In the 80s, he would start getting into apparently fatal situations at the end of each story. He was seemingly killed off in "Planet of Fire", in the MadeForTVMovie, in "The Last of the Time Lords", and in "Death in Heaven"; none of them stuck. He died ''twice'' since the show's revival; both times, the fan response to the character was so strong that he survived them both, despite the second time showing him [[spoiler:or rather her]] being [[NeverFoundTheBody vaporized]]. The Doctor knows he's got immunity, too; he never believes he's really dead even when he sees it with his own eyes.
** The Daleks rival the Master for the number of times they've been "killed off completely"; it's happened seven times to date[[labelnote:In order:]]"The Daleks", "The Evil of the Daleks", "Remembrance of the Daleks", "Dalek", "The Parting of the Ways", and "Journey's End". Twice more they're left with only a few survivors, in "Doomsday" and "Evolution of the Daleks".[[/labelnote]], with none of them sticking. They're very analogous to the Joker, as they're the Doctor's defining villains (Creator/RussellTDavies has said you basically can't have ''Doctor Who'' without the Daleks) and the Doctor has a strong moral code that would make him hesitant to wipe out an entire race. That said, he ''really'' hates the Daleks, he ''has'' pulled the genocide trigger before, and he has been known to fly into a rage when he rediscovers them (such as in "Victory of the Daleks", when he finds them apparently behaving as docile British weapons wandering around World War II-era London).
** Davros, the Daleks' creator, was genuinely intended to suffer a permanent KarmicDeath at the end of his first story by the writer and then-showrunners. This turned out not to be permanent, and since then he's survived apparent death at least once. Creator/RussellTDavies responded with a ShrugOfGod when asked if he had survived the ending of "The Stolen Earth"[=/=]"Journeys' End", [[Recap/DoctorWhoS35E1TheMagiciansApprentice which was later conclusively answered]].
** The Cybermen are frequently killed off or otherwise sealed away, though due to severe AnachronicOrder of their stories and [[http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Cyberman_%28disambiguation%29 multiple factions]] of Cybermen this can muddle things incredibly. It's justified on their part; even if the Cybermen themselves are wiped out, their technology can [[TheAssimilator convert or assimilate something else]] into a Cyberman, which can multiply from there. The Twelfth Doctor said that Cybermen [[http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Creation_of_the_Cybermen "evolved" on multiple planets independently]], and were inevitable once a human population in dire straits reached a certain level of technology.
** The spin-off ''[[Series/Class2016 Class]]'' has a subversion. The team's [[ArchEnemy greatest enemies]] and major recurring villains are Corikanus and his [[OmnicidalManiac legions of Shadow Kin.]] The first time they're beaten, the Doctor himself drives them back to their planet. The second time, it's [[spoiler:April who beats their King, takes his title]] and drives them back to their planet. The ''third'' time they show up, [[spoiler:it ends with their entire planet getting imploded and the entire Shadow Kin race being rendered extinct]]. [[RealityEnsues Human teenagers are a lot less strict about pacifism than an ancient Time Lord]], especially when you start [[spoiler:killing their parents]].
* On ''Series/{{Heroes}}'', Sylar seems to have the universe bending over backwards to keep him alive, largely because he's a very popular character. He was originally intended to be killed off at the end of Volume 1, but since then he's survived:
** Being [[DeathIsCheap technically killed off]] at the end of Volume 3, only to appear at the start of Volume 4 without so much as a HandWave (which came eventually but was [[VoodooShark pretty stupid]]).
** [[spoiler:A kill squad getting the drop on him]] in the Volume 4 opener, only for them to [[spoiler:inexplicably use tasers instead]]. What's particularly dumb is that [[spoiler:they had discussed beforehand how to make him DeaderThanDead]].
** [[spoiler:Getting knifed in the back of the head]] in the penultimate episode of Volume 4. He survived that [[spoiler:by getting back up right away, which completely violates the show's [[MagicAIsMagicA established rules of regeneration]]]]. They HandWave this by saying that he [[spoiler:shapeshifting in a way that moved "the button" that turns the brain off -- which implies that he shifted his brain stem to his rear end or something]].
** [[spoiler:Getting knocked unconscious]] in the Volume 4 finale, which gives the heroes a single chance to end him for good. They [[spoiler:blow it when Angela and Noah order Matt Parkman just to erase his memories and force him to assume the life of Nathan Petrelli, whom he had KilledOffForReal]]. This lasts for four episodes before [[spoiler:Sylar reverts to his old self]].
** Not one, but two {{Heroic Sacrifice}}s in Volume 5, neither of which work. [[spoiler:Nathan's involved jumping off a building; it was undone before he even hit the ground.]]
* On ''Series/MacGyver'', Murdoc the Assassin keeps "dying" in over the top ways (dying in a collapsing building, diving off a mountain after [[CutTheSafetyRope cutting his own rope]], plunging into a fiery pool after being electrocuted, carelessness with dynamite, drowning in a flooded mine shaft, driving a Jeep off of a cliff). But even though he's pronounced dead each time, [[NeverFoundTheBody they never find his body]] and just rationalize that [[NoOneCouldSurviveThat he couldn't possibly have survived that.]] It's never adequately explained how he just keeps surviving certain death. After a while, [=MacGyver=] starts to assume that if there isn't a body, Murdoc will turn up to try to kill him again, an expectation that's the cause of increasing tension as time goes on.
* Several villains from ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' evade death repeatedly, including [[EnsembleDarkhorse Spike]], Dru, and Darla (who technically dies about four times over the course of ''Series/{{Buffy|the vampire slayer}}'' and ''Series/{{Angel}}'', but only the last one takes).
* Apophis is like this in the early seasons of ''Series/StargateSG1''. When they finally manage to make his death stick, [[spoiler:Anubis]] takes on the mantle.
-->'''O'Neill:''' Son of a bitch! Someone's gotta teach that guy how to die.
* Ben Linus from ''Series/{{Lost}}'' is too adored by the fanbase to get rid of. He [[ILied lies]], [[TheChessMaster manipulates]], and murders to his heart's content. He's tried to kill Locke so many times we lost count, [[spoiler:and he succeeded in season 5]]. He's killed (directly or indirectly) four main characters by the end of the show. Despite this, Sayid is the only one to actually try to kill him -- but [[spoiler:Ben is a child when he tries, so the attempt not only fails, but is also implied to [[WhatTheHellHero make Ben what he is today]]]].
* On ''Series/{{Smallville}}'', ComicBook/LexLuthor has been shot, stabbed, and [[EasyAmnesia mindwiped]]. He's had the Fortress of Solitude collapse on his head reducing him to an EvilCripple, and he's been blown up in a truck explosion shortly afterwards. The series concludes with his resurrection from the dead, which was of course, a ForegoneConclusion. It's been suggested, but not outright confirmed, that his immunity derives from his GreenRocks-given ability.
* "Dead Larry" Sizemore of ''Series/BurnNotice'', partly because of his badass spy skills and his [[EvilMentor relationship]] to TheHero, partly because he's just too cool to kill off. [[spoiler:In the season 5 summer finale, it looked like death had finally caught up with him. Then a newspaper article said that two people had been found dead. [[NeverFoundTheBody There were three people in that building.]]]]
* On ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'', Weyoun is killed off at the end of his very first episode. The character proved popular enough to bring him back, but they did so by cloning him; we eventually meet five different clones of Weyoun throughout the show's run.
* Multiple episodes of ''{{Series/Merlin|2008}}'' end with Morgana unconscious or incapacitated, yet Merlin and the other good guys never take the opportunity to finish her off, despite the tremendous damage she has wreaked.
* James Horton in ''{{Series/Highlander}}'' seems to die twice, but comes back both times. The first time, Joe got him to a hospital; as his brother-in-law, he didn't want to stand and watch him die. Macleod finally did off him for real the third time.
* On ''{{Series/Alias}}'', both Julian Sark (whose constant escapes eventually become a RunningGag) and Arvin Sloane (who, at one point, manages to survive [[spoiler:his own execution]]) enjoy this immunity.
* In ''Series/TheWalkingDead'', the Governor seems to have this immunity, to the intense displeasure of a non-negligible portion of the fandom. [[spoiler:His immunity is eventually revoked in the Season 4 mid-season finale, where he is KilledOffForReal during another attack on Rick's group at the prison.]]
* Zig-zagged with Moriarty in ''{{Series/Sherlock}}''. He manages to survive the stand-off in the Season 1 finale, but is apparently killed in the Season 2 finale; most expected this death to stick, seeing as he was KilledOffForReal in the ''Sherlock Holmes'' story it was based on. However, [[spoiler:he ends up returning in the Season 3 finale, which surprised ''everyone'' in-universe, and Sherlock is convinced he's still dead and it's just a very elaborate recording]]. In the season 4 finale, [[spoiler:he suddenly shows up, and his scene goes on for several seconds before we realize it was set [[TrollingCreator five years previously]]; the show is playing on the audience's expectation of his Joker Immunity]].
* Jerome Valeska on ''{{Series/Gotham}}'', who might well become the series' incarnation of the Joker, is stabbed through the throat and dies. He gets better a season later, which is even ''more'' of a hint that he might someday become the Joker.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* The song "The Cat Came Back" plays the trope for laughs (and [[TheCatCameBack named its own trope in turn]]). The feline nuisance will come back no matter what anybody does to get rid of it. Some versions have the cat actually die eventually (for reasons almost entirely unrelated to the owner's attempts to dispose of it), only for it to come back as a ghost.
* Played for laughs in "Scary Song", by the Frankenstein Drag Queens from Planet 13:
-->''The boogeyman only wants to take your life\\
Can't kill him off, he'll just come right back in Part 2.''
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Mythology]]
* In [[Myth/NorseMythology Norse folklore]], Thor repeatedly battles the Midgard Serpent, yet prior to [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt Ragnarök]] it always escapes.
* In [[Myth/EgyptianMythology Egyptian Mythology]], Set is spared the [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge full wrath]] of [[YouKilledMyFather Horus]] when his mother Isis takes pity on him, and he is allowed to flee. Thus, in the Egyptian mythos, evil could be defeated temporarily, but never permanently.
* The Mark of Cain in ''Literature/TheBible'' is often interpreted as having given him Joker Immunity. In the text itself, however, God never states that Cain ''won't'' be killed; just that if he does, whoever responsible is going to get a FateWorseThanDeath.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Pro Wrestling]]
* Wrestling/TheUndertaker is the embodiment of this trope in the world of ProfessionalWrestling. During his career, he has been locked inside several flaming caskets, been buried alive, had his career ended following high profile matches, and at least once ''died and ascended to Heaven''. Despite this, he always returns, once Mark Callaway's nagging injuries have recovered or his holiday time is up. Promos for his match against Wrestling/MarkHenry at Unforgiven 2007 explicitly billed him as [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNLF5hPde-4 "The Man Who Can't be Destroyed"]].
* Wrestling/{{Edge}} is a {{Heel}} who made a name for himself by always coming back (and being a KarmaHoudini in the process); [[EscapedFromHell not even Hell]] can stop him.
* Wrestling/VinceMcMahon, being the owner of WWE both in {{Kayfabe}} and in RealLife, naturally gave himself Joker Immunity which only he can revoke. This makes him extraordinarily powerful, especially given that he can revoke any wrestler's own immunity as well. InUniverse, he's survived such events as limo explosions which allow him to take breaks from television in real life. As he plans to run the company until the day he dies, it's unlikely we'll ever see him revoke his own immunity.
* Subverted by Wrestling/KaijuBigBattel; they really did kill off their BigBad and SeriesMascot, Dr. Cube. People thought he might have Joker Immunity when he came back thanks to TimeTravel, but it was later revealed that this Cube was an impostor wearing his helmet.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons''
** The tarrasque embodies this trope as the memetic "nigh-invincible monster" of the game. It takes a Wish spell on top of massive damage and disintegration to make them stay dead. With Wish gone in fourth edition, the description of the tarrasque outright states it to be impossible to kill permanently without ''launching it into outer space.'' One campaign setting is dedicated to its functional immortality; the one civilization that ''did'' defeat it uses it as a never-ending food source (which also mutates them horribly, but whatever).
** Strahd von Zarovich has his own personal RevolvingDoorAfterlife. He's played the starring role in two 1st Edition modules, a pick-a-path book, an entire 2nd Edition campaign setting, and a 3rd edition hardback adventure; in most he winds up destroyed at the end, yet it never seems to take. Ads for the hardback actually urged 3E gamers, "This time, make sure he's DEAD dead!"; yet the Count's back 'gain in 4E, for a board game and appearance in ''Open Grave''.
* The Quori in ''TabletopGame/{{Eberron}}'' are designed to have Joker Immunity. They are spirits possessing mortal vessels, so the host's death does not kill the inhabiting Quori. Their actual bodies live in another plane of existence which cannot be reached by normal planar travel. This makes them an ideal enemy to throw repeatedly at the party.
* Numerous characters in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' can and ''have'' been killed, but due to the general nature of [[HyperspaceIsAScaryPlace the Warp]], this is rarely permanent.
** Eldar Phoenix Lords live on within their armor, their spirit inhabiting the next person who wears it until they are killed.
** Lucius [[MeaningfulName the Eternal]] (and most probably other Champions of the Chaos Gods) is effectively immortal, as anyone who kills him ''becomes him'', becoming yet another person [[AndIMustScream trapped within his armor]].
** The Daemon Princes and Greater Daemons (also present in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'') can never be killed, only banished to the Warp where they can be summoned again.
** The Tyranid Swarmlord can die, but if it does, its consciousness will be reabsorbed into the HiveMind and stored until the Swarmlord is needed again.
** Kharn the Betrayer was actually killed during the Siege of Terra by imperial forces, but Khorne deemed him too worthy of a champion to slip into the realm of the dead and granted him a perpetual body. No one has been able to kill him since.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'', Vlad von Carstein had a magic ring that would allow him to resurrect every time he was killed, so no matter how many times the Empire thought they put him down, he and his undead hordes would return. Unfortunately for Vlad, his son [[AmbitionIsEvil Mannfred]] betrayed this secret to the Empire, who sent a master thief to steal the ring before Vlad was destroyed for real during the Siege of Altdorf.
* In ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'', the nation/world/culture/force of Phyrexia has Joker Immunity. It affected the storyline of most of the game's sets and was the unambiguous villain of a dozen of them. When it looked like they were finally defeated for good, [[FromASingleCell one single drop of oil]] on Mirrodin was enough to ultimately turn that world into New Phyrexia. Worse yet, [[ParanoiaFuel any plane Karn has been on is potentially infected]].
* In ''[[{{TabletopGame/Rippers}} Rippers]]'', [[{{Literature/Dracula}} the Count]] is given a {{handwave}}d escape from the climax of the book, temporarily fooling the heroes into thinking he was slain while really misting himself as he was staked. Apparently, having another vampire lord rise to villainy wouldn't have proven sufficient motivation for the Harkers to form a group of hunters in the setting.
* The Servitors of the Apocalypse in ''{{TabletopGame/Deadlands}}''. The designers, understandably, didn't want [=PCs=] making things difficult by slaying them all, so they made up the most difficult quests possible: ''e.g.'' Stone can only be re-killed by the bullets that killed him (which are in him), and Reverend Grimme can only be killed by his original magic stick (which he threw into the sea and is not the one he carries).
* The card-based version of ''TabletopGame/MarvelSuperHeroes'' has a section in the rules acknowledging that only lame, unmemorable villains actually die, and otherwise it goes down a list of possibilities to explain how a villain who seemingly died in the campaign is back later.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'':
** Axel seems to die toward the end of ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsChainOfMemories'', only to come back in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'' (albeit with [[DemotedToExtra significantly reduced screentime]]), seemingly die in the prologue, then come back again and ''actually'' die at the end of the game when Sora travels to the [[VeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon World That Never Was]]. He was scheduled to actually die in the prologue; his popularity with the fans bought him some extra time. He returns in ''[[VideoGame/KingdomHearts3DDreamDropDistance 3D]]'', now going by his old human name of Lea.
** The main villain, Xehanort/Ansem, is very hard to get rid of. Sora kills his Heartless in the first game, but ''Chain of Memories'' makes it clear that he's still bumping around inside Riku's mind. He returns in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'' with his Nobody, Xemnas; Riku also takes his form, having somewhat lost his battle with his Darkness. Both are defeated by the game: Xemnas is dead for good, and Riku is back to normal. However, according to WordOfGod, this just means his Nobody and heart will merge to form a whole person again (like Axel/Lea), and Xehanort will eventually be back for another round. The prequel game ''[[VideoGame/KingdomHeartsBirthBySleep Birth by Sleep]]'' reveals that [[spoiler:he's been doing this for a while now, having stolen Terra's body after being defeated for the first time]].
** Maleficent is killed in her dragon form in the first game, but when her pet Diablo brings her cloak to the three fairies their sheer terror of her is apparently enough to resurrect her. She then does the same for Oogie Boogie. The [[UnexplainedRecovery really confusing]] case is Ursula showing up again.
* Franchise/CarmenSandiego can't be caught, at least not for long, no matter which medium she appeared in. The kid's game show came the closest; if the contestant won, she would be captured, but she will have freed herself by the time the next game starts.
* Bowser from the ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros'' series seems to enjoy complete immunity to death. Otherwise it's very hard to explain how he comes back from being [[VideoGame/NewSuperMarioBros melted to a skeleton in lava]], getting [[ComicBook/SuperMarioAdventures crushed beneath a giant wedding cake]], or [[VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy falling into a star]], or any of the other crazy things that have happened to him. Sometimes, though, it's really weird:
** In ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy'', which provides the "thrown into a star" example, Bowser ends up [[spoiler:apparently dying for real, except the entire universe gets sucked into a black hole, resulting in a Big Crunch and a new Big Bang, which recreates the universe -- including Bowser]].
** ''VideoGame/SuperPaperMario'' reveals that he's one of the four heroes (along with Mario, Luigi, and Peach) who are destined to stop Count Bleck from destroying all worlds. Near the end, when [[spoiler:Bowser is seemingly crushed]], Peach says she isn't worried about him because he isn't easy to get rid of and has survived worse. [[spoiler:She's right; he just crashed through the floor]].
** In ''VideoGame/NewSuperMarioBros1'', Bowser is [[spoiler:seemingly killed three times over the course of the game and has to be brought back to life each time]].
** In ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiBowsersInsideStory'', you are actually tasked to ''save'' Bowser from otherwise certain death by activating his body's desperation HulkOut.
** ''VideoGame/PaperMarioTheThousandYearDoor'' {{lampshade|Hanging}}s the phenomenon; during the stages where you play as Bowser, he has infinite lives.
* In the ''VideoGame/StarFox'' series, rival team Star Wolf is more resilient than any villain, always coming back from defeat for another shot at you -- sometimes in the same game. They've survived things other than defeating you; in the default ending of ''VideoGame/StarFoxCommand'', Star Wolf flies into an ''acidic ocean'' to attack the enemy base and come back in one piece. The only exception is ''VideoGame/StarFoxAssault'''s Corneria level where Fox rides on Wolf's wing, where he will die if you fail to protect his ship.
* In''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'', Ganondorf/Ganon continues to appear in the series, no matter how many times he gets killed. It happens often enough to [[HijackedByGanon name a trope]] about situations where a new BigBad turns out to [[TheManBehindTheMan just be a patsy]] for a resurrected Ganon. It's even a plot point; although Link and Zelda are {{Legacy Character}}s and the different games have different Links, the Ganon in each game is the same entity.
** In ''VideoGame/ZeldaIITheAdventureOfLink'', the goal is to prevent his minions from resurrecting him; his ability to do so has been a plot point ever since.
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'' shows Ganondorf's origins and explicitly ''doesn't'' kill him off at the end of the game; he's [[SealedEvilInACan sealed in another dimension]] for until ''TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker''.
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword'' explains his ability to do this as [[spoiler:his being part of a curse on Link and Zelda -- and all their descendants -- by original BigBad Demise]].
* Gilgamesh from ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyV'' has survived everything from getting tossed into the void to [[TakingYouWithMe detonating himself on an enemy]]. He has appeared in half the games in the series (with a few {{retcon}}s) in almost all of them, he gets his ass handed to him by the main party and apparently recovers enough for the next game where the cycle restarts again. Despite all this, the series usually depicts him as utterly incompetent (explaining why he loses all the time).
* ''In VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'', Sephiroth has died a total of three times so far, but he keeps coming back for more. The novellas ''[[http://thelifestream.net/ffvii-advent-children-complete/3881/on-the-way-to-a-smile-lifestream-black-and-lifestream-white/ Lifestream Black and Lifestream White]]'' deal with the specifics in further detail; as long as Jenova cells exist in some way on the Planet, Sephiroth can use their shapeshifting powers to craft a new body for himself. Besides that, as long as he can maintain his sense of self to avoid dissolution, TheLifestream can never claim him and he'll float around the planet for eternity trapped between life and death. Sephiroth's penchant for avoiding death has carried over to the spin-offs: in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'' and ''VideoGame/DissidiaFinalFantasy'', he's defeated but isn't killed, because [[TheOnlyOneAllowedToDefeatYou only Cloud is capable of killing him]].
* M. Bison in ''Franchise/StreetFighter'' can't stay dead. Akuma's iconic DynamicEntry moment in ''[[VideoGame/StreetFighterII Super Street Fighter II Turbo]]'', where he pulls the [[DangerousForbiddenTechnique Raging Demon]] on Bison, was {{retcon}}ned away, as ''Anime/StreetFighterIVTheTiesThatBind'' shows Bison [[BetterToDieThanBeKilled killing himself to avoid capture at the hands of the heroes]]. Even then, [[AsLongAsThereIsEvil his soul hovers around post-mortem]] until [[CloningBlues a suitable replacement body can be made]] (much like the aftermath of ''[[VideoGame/StreetFighterAlpha Alpha 3]]''), leading to his inclusion in the events of ''VideoGame/StreetFighterIV''. In his next chronological appearance, ''VideoGame/StreetFighterV'', [[spoiler:his current body appears to show signs of degradation (again, like in ''Alpha 3'') and Bison seemingly dies at the end of "A Shadow Falls" following his battle with Ryu. However, the Capcom Fighters Network profile for "Phantom Bison" (Bison's consciousness manifested through Psycho Power whenever his body is destroyed) as well as the individual story mode for Ed, one of Bison's potential hosts, indicate that he's ''still'' around even after the fall of Shadaloo]].
* Revolver Ocelot, the only surviving boss from from ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'', went on to plague Snake in every subsequent game. [[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2SonsOfLiberty In his second appearance]], he evades doom by wearing a kinetic shield, making him literally immune to bullets. [[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3SnakeEater The prequel]] focused on his early career in Spetnaz, [[ForegoneConclusion so you can assume he's safe in this outing]]; but even then, Creator/HideoKojima can't leave well enough alone, lobbing bullets, bees, rockets, explosions, planes, and who knows what else at poor Ocelot. He survives everything, even a few tight scrapes with Big Boss himself, who consciously spares Ocelot's life (as he feels a certain kinship with a fellow "[[spoiler:Son of The Boss]]"). Ocelot [[spoiler:finally dies in ''VideoGame/{{Metal Gear Solid 4|GunsOfThePatriots}}'']].
* Doctor Robotnik/Eggman from ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog'' hasn't even been in ''prison'' for his crimes (except for the [[VideoGame/SonicAdventure2 one time]] he broke in deliberately), so he's always back to fight the heroes in the next installment:
** Most games have him surviving otherwise inescapable explosions with little more than AmusingInjuries. Most egregiously, his Death Egg burst into flames and crash-landed on Angel island in the climax of ''VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2'', but ''VideoGame/{{Sonic 3|AndKnuckles}}'' reveals that he started work on his next scheme almost immediately after that.
** ''VideoGame/ShadowTheHedgehog'' seemingly subverts his immunity; in three possible endings, it's implied that Shadow broke his neck after defeating him. A DoubleSubversion when these endings were subject to CuttingOffTheBranches.
** Played with slightly in the [[ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog Archie comics]] adaptation. In the ''Endgame'' arc, Julian Robotnik is indeed killed by his vengeful minion and nephew Snively; twenty or so issues played with the concept of other villains and problems following his defeat, only for a second Robotnik from an alternate timeline to enter and take over from his position. This Robotnik would later take the modern "Eggman" form seen in later games and continues being the BigBad to this day.
* ''Franchise/MegaMan'':
** Dr. Albert W. Wily from ''VideoGame/MegaManClassic'' always avoids total defeat. When Mega Man finally lands his ass in prison, he easily breaks out of it (albeit six months later). In ''VideoGame/MegaMan7'', Mega is literally a trigger-pull away from killing Wily once and for all, but when Wily brings up [[ThreeLawsCompliant the First Law of Robotics]] (a robot must never harm a human), he hesitates just long enough for Bass to save him. In ''VideoGame/MegaMan8'', after Mega's apparent sanity break, Wily never actually gets cornered, so Mega doesn't get to try killing him again (Duo takes care of things, keeping Mega from a final blow). ''VideoGame/MegaMan9'' apparently has Mega back to his ThouShaltNotKill attitude for no readily apparent reason, but then, considering [[BagOfSpilling he lost]] his charge shots ''and'' his slide ability, it's no wonder he's lost a few other things.
** In the ''VideoGame/MegaManX'' series, Sigma keeps getting killed -- sometimes he dies twice in a single game. But as he's a sentient computer virus, and there's all sorts of robots for him to [[BodySurf take over]], he won't ever stay dead (though he sometimes [[CameBackWrong doesn't return with all his mental faculties intact]], as infamously seen with the "Zombie Sigma" in ''VideoGame/MegaManX6'' after stretching himself thin during the [[VideoGame/MegaManX5 Eurasia Incident]]). His immunity is finally revoked in ''VideoGame/MegaManX8'', where he's blown up on the Moon, finds that there's nothing to take over on its barren surface, and dissipates harmlessly and somewhat anticlimactically. ''[[VideoGame/MegaManZero Zero]]''-era [[AllThereInTheManual supplemental materials]] pour (more) salt on the wound by having X use the Mother Elf, a "Sigma Antibody Program" created from Zero's data, to completely eradicate the Sigma Virus, deleting Sigma's existence (and finally ending the Maverick Wars) for good.
** In the ''VideoGame/MegaManZero'' series, Doctor Weil/Vile's Joker Immunity is explicitly part of his ability set; he has [[spoiler:eternal life and NighInvulnerability (through regeneration) as [[NiceJobBreakingItHero punishment for his earlier crimes]]]]. He appears to be really dead in [[spoiler:''Zero 4'', but his remnants pop up again as the driving threat of the ''VideoGame/MegaManZX'' series, Model W]].
* Ridley in the ''Franchise/{{Metroid}}'' series has appeared in every game in the series except for ''VideoGame/MetroidIIReturnOfSamus'', ''VideoGame/MetroidPrime2Echoes'' and ''VideoGame/MetroidPrimeHunters''. Interestingly, he's usually TheDragon rather than the BigBad ([[OurDragonsAreDifferent literally, in his case]]), and gamers have noticed that in most of his defeats, they NeverFoundTheBody. That said, he's also Samus' ArchEnemy more than any other BigBad (including Mother Brain), as he is personally responsible for the attack that destroyed Samus' homeworld and killed her parents. Also, the games are in AnachronicOrder, so in some instances his survival is a given no matter what you do to him. In internal chronological order:
** He is seemingly KilledOffForReal the first time you fight him in the first ''VideoGame/{{Metroid|1}}'' (and in ''VideoGame/MetroidZeroMission'').
** His next appearance is in ''VideoGame/MetroidPrime'' as Meta Ridley, implying that he survived with the help of robot tech; in that game, the player [[NeverFoundTheBody never actually sees him die]]. He appears to be "killed" at the start of ''[[VideoGame/MetroidPrime3Corruption Corruption]]'', only to return as Omega Ridley, the guardian of the Pirate Homeworld Leviathan. Players noticed his shadow flying away for a sneaky split second.
** The remake of Metroid II, ''VideoGame/MetroidSamusReturns'' has him show up as the true final boss of the story. His Meta Ridley armor is mostly cast off, but he still maintains some - mostly on his along his spine, wings, left arm, and right leg. It's theorized that his Phazon exposure as Omega Ridley helped heal the organic parts of his being, hence why he's almost fully organic again here - a form known as Proteus Ridley.
** He next appears in ''VideoGame/SuperMetroid'', apparently in his original form after having finally healed enough to cast off his Cyborg Prosthetics entirely. WordOfGod points to his defeat in this game as the point where he's KilledOffForReal, but that doesn't stop him from showing up in future games.
** In ''VideoGame/MetroidOtherM'', a cloned Ridley appears, gets wounded by Samus, and is consumed by the Metroid Queen. He dies a lot faster than the original did. This game also speculates that the original was very good at playing dead, implying his continued survival.
** The clone's drained, frozen husk turns up in ''VideoGame/MetroidFusion'', where he is consumed by an X parasite; you fight him as [[BodyHorror Ridley-X]]. As this is an X parasite mimicking Ridley, it's about as powerful as the original but explicitly isn't him; the boss's inclusion (as is the suspiciously ''Super Metroid''-like area he appears in) is likely just {{Fanservice}}.
* Eliphas the Inheritor of ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}: VideoGame/DawnOfWar'' is supposed to be dead in ''Dark Crusade'', but due to his popularity, he was inexplicably resurrected for ''Chaos Rising''. He gets killed there to then he's resurrected again. The same happened to the [[LargeHam wonderfully hilarious]] Gorgutz, who canonically didn't win any of the campaigns he appeared in, but keeps getting away; he hasn't shown up yet in ''Chaos Rising'', but there's no evidence he's dead either.
* SNK's Geese Howard is an odd example; in the continuity of ''VideoGame/TheKingOfFighters'', he's alive and well, but in his home continuity of ''VideoGame/FatalFury'' and ''KOF''[='s=] own AlternateContinuity, the ''Maximum Impact'' series, he's dead. And even then, he's appeared in games where he's canonically dead in the form of "Nightmare Geese", a much more powerful "spirit" version of his normal self.
* ''VideoGame/MonkeyIsland'''s Ghost Pirate [=LeChuck=] always finds a way to come back for every new game, despite explicitly dying at the end of almost all of them; as the Voodoo Lady notes, [[AsLongAsThereIsEvil true evil can never be destroyed completely]]. [[VideoGame/TheSecretOfMonkeyIsland The first game]] implies that he was undead to begin with; he gets revived by voodoo as an explicit zombie for [[VideoGame/MonkeyIsland2LeChucksRevenge the second game]], and in subsequent games, he becomes a demon who can [[EscapedFromHell escape the pirate afterlife]]. For his part, {{Medium Aware|ness}} protagonist Guybrush knows that [=LeChuck=] can't die because they need him for the sequels; in ''VideoGame/TheCurseOfMonkeyIsland'', he begs [=LeChuck=] not to kill him because [[AnthropicPrinciple he's also necessary for the sequels]] (and to prove his point, asks [=LeChuck=] if he's ever heard of [[VideoGame/{{Loom}} Bobbin Threadbare]]).
* In the ''Franchise/CrashBandicoot'' series, Dr. Neo Cortex has survived numerous supposedly inescapable demises; then, again due to the series' slapstick nature, this is par for the course for the series' RoguesGallery, which includes [[spoiler:the Evil Twins being eaten by Evil Crash in ''Videogame/CrashTwinsanity'')]]. It helps that Cortex and a lot of other villains are {{Iron Butt Monkey}}s.
* In the first ''VideoGame/NoMoreHeroes'', Travis Touchdown [[HalfTheManHeUsedToBe slices Destroyman in half]]; this doesn't stop him from returning in [[VideoGame/NoMoreHeroes2DesperateStruggle the sequel]] as two separate people (New Destroyman) with cybernetics replacing the missing halves.
* Zig-zagged with Dracula in the ''Franchise/{{Castlevania}}'' series. He spent most of the series being defeated and resurrected over and over again, before [[spoiler:finally being defeated off-screen in 1999 -- and then being reincarnated as Soma Cruz in ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaChroniclesOfSorrow'']]. It's hinted that [[CameBackStrong he gets stronger each time he returns]]. It's enough to discourage at least one member of the Belmont family, who tries to [[RefusalOfTheCall refuse to fight him]] (only to learn the hard way that [[YouCantFightFate he can't]]).
* Mara Aramov from the ''VideoGame/SyphonFilter'' series gets [[BoomHeadshot headshot]] twice, but survives until ''Dark Mirror''.
* ''Franchise/MortalKombat'', being a game populated with bad guys whom you defeat in [[BloodierAndGorier particularly gruesome ways]], naturally gives nearly everybody Joker Immunity. The most JustForFun/{{egregious}} is BigBad Shao Khan's survival in [[VideoGame/MortalKombat9 the reboot]]; TheHero Liu Kang [[TorsoWithAView punches straight through him]] and all his lieutenants surrender, but the next scene shows Shao Khan limping back to his throne and announcing his next evil plan. It takes [[spoiler:the Elder Gods' intervention]] to get rid of him at the end of the game, but ''VideoGame/MortalKombatX'' implies he's ''still'' alive and kicking: [[spoiler:one set of MirrorMatch dialogue for Ermac suggests the emperor's soul is now part of [[ManySpiritsInsideOfOne the myriad collection of fallen warriors comprising Ermac's being]]]].
* King K. Rool in ''VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountry'' has survived getting blown up, punched through windows, attacked by sharks, falling into a volcano, electrocution, destruction of his home country (by his own actions), and just getting beaten up by the Kongs over the course of many games and spin-offs, but he keeps coming back for more.
* Averted in ''VideoGame/DeusEx'', where nearly every boss can be killed before the big confrontation. Sometimes they can be killed while they are still aligned as friendly and through surreptitious and underhanded ways.
* ''VideoGame/{{Executioners}}''' FinalBoss, Cannibal Ed Bujone, survives his defeat (a TakingYouWithMe destruction of the factory) purely because WordOfGod said he's the developers' favorite character. He has a particularly UnexplainedRecovery when he surprises the heroes as they celebrate their victory in a fine restaurant.
* Kane from ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquer'' has survived from the 1950s to the 1990s without aging, survived an Ion Cannon strike, and a metal pole to the chest, all while manipulating the Scrin into invading Earth.
* Albert Wesker from ''Franchise/ResidentEvil''. He gets impaled by a Tyrant in the end of the first game, but it's just used to activate the virus that he injected himself early on that gave him his powers. In ''[[VideoGame/ResidentEvil5 5]]'', he manages to survive from Jill's HeroicSacrifice. [[spoiler:That is, until he dies for real in the end.]]
* In ''VideoGame/HouseOfTheDead'', Caleb Goldman continually comes back, even in the fourth game. However, [[spoiler:it becomes a subversion when it turns out that his appearances are just flashbacks and recorded messages]]. Similarly, the Magician has also returned several times as a BonusBoss, solely because of his popularity.
* ''VideoGame/BlazBlue'''s BigBad Hazama not only has Joker Immunity, he even ''resembles'' the Joker with his green hair and [[EvilLaugh maniacal laughter]]. He's explicitly dead, but [[ThePowerOfHate is kept alive by people's hatred of him]]. And as it's a FightingGame series, leaving him off the roster will just attract the fans' ire. Specifically:
** In ''VideoGame/BlazBlueChronophantasma'', he's [[spoiler:hit by Hakumen's Time Killer, which should theoretically eliminate his future lifespan until the heat death of the universe. His boss Izanami also seems to just want to leave him to die]]. He comes back from this with no explanation.
** In ''VideoGame/BlazBlueCentralFiction'', [[spoiler:he gains a third form by hijacking Hakumen's armor unit (which originally belonged to him in the first place). Ragna finds a way to yank the soul out of that unit and [[DeaderThanDead evaporate it from existence]]]]. This implies that [[spoiler:the other two units (or at least Terumi) have had their immunities revoked, as this is resolves a major plot point for Ragna]]. That said, [[spoiler:Hazama is still probably okay as long as he doesn't antagonize Ragna again]].
* Wild Dog from the ''VideoGame/TimeCrisis'' series. Despite being blown up in every game you fight him, he always comes back for more. Lampshaded by Alan and Wesley in the third game:
-->'''Wesley:''' Wild Dog?!\\
'''Alan:''' [[WhyWontYouDie Don't you ever die?!]]
* ''VideoGame/RocketKnightAdventures'': Although the BigBad always dies at the end of each game, [[TheDragon Axel Gear]] does not.
* Any ''Franchise/StarWars'' video game in which you fight against Darth Vader, either in his TIE Fighter or a lightsaber duel, Vader can't be killed. In games that depict the Battle of Yavin (the 1983 and 1998 games), Vader's TIE fighter can be shot and hit but it will spin out of control; or after his hit points are depleted, he will veer off. Vader's wingmen can still be killed with one shot, however. You aren't told explicitly that you won the lightsaber duel with Vader in the 1998 game, but when he runs out of hit points he does acknowledge that "The Force is strong in you but... you are not a Jedi yet."
* The title villain of the ''{{VideoGame/Diablo}}'' series has already returned from defeat twice, and it's a safe bet that he will have Joker Immunity for as long as the series lasts. Firstly because the lore suggests that he cannot be destroyed, only imprisoned. And secondly because Blizzard would have to rebrand their rather VillainBasedFranchise.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* Both used and averted in ''Webcomic/TheAdventuresOfDrMcNinja'', which is partially inspired by Batman. Certain villains won't seem to die at the end of the story arc despite the Doc not considering prison an option for his foes, including Ronald [=McDonald=], Dracula, and King Radical. However, in the "DARE" arc, which was more inspired by 80's action movies, the villain dies [[spoiler:[[http://drmcninja.com/archives/comic/17p58 NOT!]]]]'', and Doc shows no mercy toward pirates.''
* Oasis from ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' fits this trope perfectly, regularly returning from the dead. The comic even {{lampshade|Hanging}}d the trope after another of her deaths. "Yes, a dynamic character with a proven ability to return from certain death falls from a great height leaving no sign of a corpse? Yeah, We'll never see her again."
* The cast of ''Webcomic/{{Adventurers}}'' are aware of this trope. When [[BigBad Khrima's]] fortress is destroyed in an accident fairly early in the strip, Ardam asks Drecker if he thinks they've seen the last of him. Then they both burst out in laughter.
* Jack Noir/Spades Slick of ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}''. We have seen four different incarnations of the same Archagent, and the only time one of them was seen dead was in an averted timeline. [[spoiler: Creator/AndrewHussie even goes so far as to somehow rescue Spades Slick from the destroyed A2 universe and nurse him back to health in an as-of-yet unspecified location.]]
** Played literally with the revelation that Gamzee cannot die, not because he's God Tier, but because '''he's a clown.'''
* {{Inverted|Trope}} in ''CrushedTheDoomedKittyAdventures''. As MMORPG characters, the protagonists can't be permanently killed; they just respawn at the nearest temple. Villains and monsters, however, have but one life to live. The first BigBad's plan is [[spoiler: permanently undoing this, allowing the villains' greater numbers to win the day]].
* In ''Webcomic/ScandinaviaAndTheWorld'' the countries are naturally hard to kill; however, this is really done with Nazi Germany, a nation that "lived" for twelve years but still comes back to scare the crap out of Germany.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Dr. Insano from ''WebVideo/TheSpoonyExperiment'' arguably becoming a BreakoutVillain for Website/ChannelAwesome as whole, has made a number appearances in other reviewers' shows as well as his series of origin, and his popularity and LaughablyEvil nature means it's unlikely he'll ever be killed off. Even Noah Antwiler departure from Channel Awesome hasn't removed him.
* ''WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall''
** The series' original KnightOfCerebus Mechakara, whose introductory arc ended with him getting turned to scrap, only for him to rebuilt by [[EvilOverlord Lord Vyce]] and sent after Linkara and destroyed a second time; the episode's commentary by Lewis Luvhaug stating he had plans to use him again in the future. Sure enough, Mechakara returned in ''WebVideo/ToBoldlyFlee'' with no explanation for his recovering, WordOfGod being he [[ItMakesSenseInContext regenerated with the magic coin]]. In short, it's unlikely he's finished.
** Likewise Lord Vyce; Linkara originally abandoned him in a parallel dimension, only for Vyce to turn himself into living data and infect Linkara's RobotBuddy Pollo. After getting ThrownOutTheAirlock, he spends several real-world months uploading himself into Comicron-1[[note]]His old spaceship, which Linkara took over after Vyce's initial defeat[[/note]], making it look like Linkara's benevolent A.I. Nimue was going [[Film/TwoThousandOneASpaceOdyssey HAL-9000]] on him. Nimue gets restored and apparently deletes Vyce in a BattleInTheCenterOfTheMind, but the end of the episode reveals that Vyce downloaded himself into the body of one of his {{Mooks}} and escaped. At this point the immunity gets {{lampshade|Hanging}}d by an angry Linkara, who rants that he's spent the last five years dealing with this villain and he's sick of it.
* Jack Slash from Literature/{{Worm}}. [[spoiler: [[JustifiedTrope It's actually a secondary power]] that even he doesn't know he has. He's able to subconsciously communicate with other Para-humans passengers which allows hims to both [[TheCorrupter manipulate their worst urges in order to turn them into monsters like him]] and alerts him to attacks by other para-humans.]] Between this, and Siberian and Bonesaw making him {{Nigh Invulnerab|ility}}le he is able to survive for 2 decades as an AxCrazy mass murderer carving his way across North America. [[spoiler: [[FateWorseThanDeath Even at the end of the story he's not technically dead]].]]
* ''WebVideo/AskThatGuyWithTheGlasses''. Ask That Guy has had a fatal heart attack, passed out from drinking his own blood, shot himself in the mouth, and been erased from existence by Doug Walker. He's always back by the next scene. [[spoiler:Until the finale, that is.]]
* [[http://www.scp-wiki.net/scp-682 SCP-682]] of the Wiki/SCPFoundation, as the entire ''point'' of 682 is that any attempt to kill it (or even send it to another universe) will fail.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In action shows geared towards kids, the hero rarely kills, for [[MoralGuardians obvious reasons]], allowing villains like Dr. Drakken from ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'' or Dr. Claw from ''WesternAnimation/InspectorGadget'' to be let off the hook every time.
** Well, that, and both of the listed villains (among others, of course) are masters of VillainExitStageLeft and the CardboardPrison, assuming they even [[DiabolicalMastermind get directly involved]] to start with. In fact, the closest Gadget ever came to apprehending Dr. Claw was likely the show's humorous opening sequence (and even then, it was a booby-trap left by the villain).
** And in the case of villains like Dr. Drakken, or Dr. Doofensmirtz from ''WesterAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'', they can be a bit bumbling and comical, if not pathetically incompetent, and have someone else do the dirty work for them. Killing them would be unreasonable because they are AffablyEvil.
** In another case with Mumm-Ra in ''WesternAnimation/ThunderCats'', he's shown that the [[GodOfEvil Ancient Spirits of Evil]]'s power can allow him to survive AsLongAsThereIsEvil.
* Interestingly Disney seem to have granted this to Shere Khan of ''Disney/TheJungleBook'' (despite being killed by Mowgli in the original novel). [[Disney/TheJungleBook The Disney animated adaption]] and its sequel are among the very few films in Franchise/DisneyAnimatedCanon to omit a DisneyVillainDeath, while he is about the only villain not to be killed off in the live action adaption. He is also a recurring AntiVillain in ''WesternAnimation/TaleSpin'' and ''WesternAnimation/JungleCubs''.
* Instead of being sent to jail, most Franchise/{{Batman}} villains are sent to an [[CardboardPrison easily escapable insane asylum]].
** [[Recap/TheAdventuresOfBatmanAndRobinE17LockUp One episode]] of ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' featured a guard at the asylum fired for his (relatively minor, all things considered) abuses of the prisoners. He then [[JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope quickly became]] an incarceration-themed KnightTemplar supervillain called Lock-Up.
** Then there was "[[Recap/TheNewBatmanAdventuresE24JudgementDay Judgement Day]]", where a new vigilante called the Judge was giving more severe punishment to criminals, and actually trying to kill them. Batman pressures a politician who was helping the Judge, saying that the Judge would kill someone eventually. The politician fires back, saying that the people of Gotham just would not care if Two-Face, or Killer Croc or any super-villain gets killed off as opposed to being sent to a CardboardPrison they'll just escape from. He gives Batman due credit, but he reiterates that the people want something permanent.
** Clay Face has had at least 2 on screen deaths only to get back up later.
** In ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyondReturnOfTheJoker'', ComicBook/HarleyQuinn was assumed to have perished in her final battle with Batgirl; even the now elderly Barbara Gordon doubted she could have survived. Turns out, she did (maybe hanging out with the Joker taught her a few things) but the experience ''did'' cause her to retire from crime permanently.
* In ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyond'', the villain Mad Stan points out how he'll just break out of prison and keep coming back over and over after Batman foils his latest terrorist bombing, prompting Batman to beat him to death. [[spoiler:It was really Barbara Gordon getting a hallucination from the villain Spellbinder; Mad Stan was alive and returns in another episode.]]
** That said, the series has a startling tendency to avert Joker Immunity a number of times, mostly because Terry is unable or unwilling to [[HoistByHisOwnPetard save villains from themselves]], most notably the returning members of Bruce's RoguesGallery: Mr. Freeze, Bane, Ra's al Guhl, and ironically the Joker himself in TheMovie. It's subverted with the new generation of the Royal Flush Gang, who go through more VillainDecay with each appearance until they completely fall apart.
** The most notable exception to that rule is Inque; Terry actually said "She's been dead before" at one point ("Inqueling").
* Averted with Professor Milo in ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold'', who is eaten by his abused lab rats after being turned into cheese by the Spectre. Played straight with most recurring villains.
* [[GalacticConqueror Vilgax]] from the ''WesternAnimation/{{Ben 10}}'' franchise. He's been strapped to a missile, thrown into the void of space, trapped in another dimension, and had a spaceship explode in his face ''three times'' -- but the squid-faced bastard ''just keeps coming back''. Even in the future, when future Ben ''[[FamilyUnfriendlyDeath tore Vilgax to pieces]]'' and froze what was left, Vilgax was quickly revived and no less dangerous. Naturally, this is frequently subject to LampshadeHanging.
* Ernie the Giant Chicken on ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' always returns for another round of his eternal blood feud with Peter Griffin, despite having suffered a twenty-story fall (although Peter himself survived that), been eviscerated by an airplane propeller, suffered massive cranial trauma, and being set on fire ''WHILE'' being impaled up the anus by a giant spike.
* Deconstructed in-universe in the fifth season of ''WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack''. Fifty years in a zero-sum game have utterly ruined both Jack and Aku; Jack has grown cynical and broken from fifty years of being unable to kill Aku (losing his magic sword along the way doesn't help), whereas Aku has gone increasingly insane and depressed from being unable to kill Jack no matter how many minions he has to throw at him. Aku has basically withdrawn and let his horde of minions do the fighting, in the hopes that one of them gets lucky or that time can do the job... except that Jack's temporal displacement and/or additional TimeTravel have rendered him [[TheAgeless immortal]], meaning one of them has to bleed out for the stalemate to actually end.
* Psycho from ''WesternAnimation/MaxSteel''. The man has been blown up, infected with a deadly fungus while trapped in a burning building, '''thrown into space''', and he always comes back. To his credit, Max Steel is savvy enough to not question it and just deal with him whenever he shows up.
* Albert W. Wily's immunity is even more noticeable in the ''WesternAnimation/MegaMan'' Ruby-Spears cartoon than in the games; his Skull Castle is incredibly conspicuous and immovable, yet the military never once tries to attack it. To add insult to injury, he and his robots slip out of Mega Man's grasp ''every single episode'', no matter how close he was to finally apprehending him. It's a wonder Mega hasn't snapped yet.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Metalocalypse}}'''s Doctor Rockso the rock n' roll clown. [[CatchPhrase He does cocaine.]] He is also the [[CartwrightCurse only known friend of Toki who did not die before the episode was over.]]
* Dr. Doofenshmirtz constantly blows up with his [[SelfDestructMechanism inventions]] but is never seriously hurt. Some of the time, Perry the Platypus will save him when he is falling, but most of the time, he has terrible things happen to him and just lives. Of course, killing or even injuring Doofenshmirtz in a show like ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'' would [[StatusQuoIsGod hardly be a good idea.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/ReBoot'''s Megabyte has this in spades. He's in a city that doesn't have the capacity to delete him, protected by a Guardian who doesn't want to (Except for that one time.), and has a much more powerful sister who, despite having ample capability and opportunity to do so, doesn't. Even when they finally manage to get rid of him, he comes back, with whole new powers, and his sister conveniently taken out of the picture not long before.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''
** Sideshow Bob, but that's mainly a case of CardboardPrison. Well, that, and, as he explained to Edna Krabappel on a date once, he's [[HarmlessVillain never actually successfully killed anybody]] (Mrs. Krabappel looks more than a little [[EvilIsSexy disappointed]] to hear this). This is mutual, as when Sideshow Bob had the chance to finally kill Bart, he can't do it because he's grown accustomed to his face, owing his very existence to hating him.
** Mr. Burns is an apt representation of the trope with his constant polluting, corporate greed, and mere belligerence. Part of the reason that he is still around is due to making a deal with the devil.
* ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsTheCloneWars'', ForegoneConclusion means that any character that's alive in existing material set after the series will survive, but it's most noticeable with Count Dooku and General Grievous, as no matter what attempts any of the protagonists make to catch or kill them, they always survive.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'', Slade plays this one straight, but with surprisingly good in-story justification. In the first two seasons, he's TheChessmaster, so the Titans never actually face him directly until the season finales. Season one gives him a VillainExitStageLeft, but season two (seemingly) averts this trope by ''actually killing him''. His only appearance in the third season is as a hallucination tormenting Robin, and he's specifically resurrected to serve as TheDragon by season four's new BigBad, Trigon. As a result, this is clearly a case of the writers wanting to keep the villain around because they like him, but it's always justified in-story (which is actually somewhat surprising, seeing as the ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' team used plenty of tropes without bothering to justify them with anything but RuleOfCool).
* The Shredder/Oroku Saki/Ch'rell from ''WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2003'' has survived so many instances where he was thought dead, only to come back, that even when he actually ''does'' seem to be KilledOffForReal in ''WesternAnimation/TurtlesForever'', Splinter ''still doesn't doubt the possibility of survival''. Even before his permanent death, when he once suffered a DisneyVillainDeath, in which he was left inside an exploding building after his exo-suit was disabled, the Turtles don't doubt he survived and display no surprise when he returned. His appearance in the season 3 finale "Exodus" had him PutOnABus, in the form of leaving him on a remote ice asteroid light years away from any hope of rescue, likely intended to permanent, and he still returned.
* Most of the villains from ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'' fall firmly into this category, but [[MauveShirt Henchmen 21 and 24]] really stick out because of the relatively short lifespan of [[{{Mooks}} henchmen]] in the series. It's even {{lampshade|Hanging}}d by them ''and'' The Monarch on numerous occasions, with the duo taunting a rookie that he ''will'' die on the mission and they won't [[spoiler:which, sure enough, he does]]), and The Monarch pointing out that their best talent is their rare ability to ''not'' get killed on missions.
** [[spoiler:It then gets cruely deconstructed when 24 is abruptly killed accidently by an explosion. 21 undergoes TrainingFromHell to become [[TheDreaded Two-Ton 21]], suffers mental stress over the death of his friend, and careens everywhere from henchman, special agent, superhero, and supervillain.]]
* Although they've never come close to actually dying, ''WesternAnimation/WinxClub'''s Trix seem to be masters of returning from impossible situations. They get turned into children at one point, but are their regular ages in their next appearance; they get trapped in an alternate reality in the end of the second season (with the items used to open the portal connecting the Magical Dimension to the one they're trapped in destroyed), but are somehow pulled out between the second and third seasons, with the season three premiere featuring them escaping imprisonment within the FIRST FIVE MINUTES; and in the fifth season, they start out imprisoned underwater without their powers (how they ended up in this situation hasn't been explained yet), and are released and have their powers restored by a prisoner shortly after he meets them. Not to mention that they've outlived a god (Darkar), an immortal (Valtar), and the spirits of their ancient evil ancestors (the Ancient Witches) with seemingly no ill effects except the loss of whatever power boost was given to them by their previous master. It's obvious that the reason for being the only villains that haven't been KilledOffForReal ''and'' to appear in multiple seasons is their massive popularity.
* ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'': Despite Finn's claims that he'll "slay ''anything'' that's evil", not once in the entire show have Finn and Jake even tried to kill The Ice King (unless you count briefly pondering whether or not to let Ice King save himself in "Ricardio the Heart Guy"). You could make the argument that Ice King is more deranged than outright evil, but Finn doesn't know that until late Season 3.
* [[WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes Sylvester the Cat]] accidentally gets gunned down by the firing squad intended for Tweety at the end of "Rebel Without Claws." Sylvester rises as he breaks the fourth wall:
-->'''Sylvester:''' It's a good thing I've got nine lives. With ''this'' army, I'll need 'em!
* On ''WesternAnimation/DangerMouse'', it's never clear about Baron Greenback's fate after one of his vehicles or contraptions explodes on him, but he eventually lives to see another day. In "Statues," he is pursued by the statue of Monsieur Smaquing Lippes who wants to make a dish of frog's legs out of him. The ungodly off-screen groan indicates he succeeded.
[[/folder]]

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