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Monster from Beyond the Veil

Optimus Prime: "Arcee, what did you see?"
Arcee: "Not Cliff. At least... Not any more."

The great love of the hero's life has died, and the hero simply cannot take the grief. Desperate to have their significant other returned to them, 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 loved one returns, but they are not as pretty as they used to be. Actually, they are a hideous, horrifying, insane monstrosity, and the first thing they are probably going to do with their new life is brutally murder the hero. Which, of course, leaves it up to the hero's friends (and the hero, once they come out of their Heroic BSOD) to stop this unnatural abomination. For extra tragedy, some small part of the original's character may remain, trapped in a monstrous body and unable to control their actions, often begging the heroes to kill them before they hurt more people.

These former humans are probably going to become a shambling, bloodthirsty, soulless monster or Eldritch Abomination.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


Examples

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    Anime And Manga 
  • This, combined with Empty Shell and/or Our Zombies Are Different, might be what's happening in Black Butler, when Dr. Stoker brings a stitched-up corpse back to life and the first thing she/it does is take a big bite out of her mother.
  • In D.Gray-Man, when a person dies and a loved one grieves over their death, there's a chance the Millennium Earl will appear, and offer the loved one a chance to resurrect the dead person. He gives them a metal body and asks them to wish the dead's soul into the metal body. What happens after this is that the dead one is resurrected as an Akuma- a tortured soul bound to a metal body- and the first thing they do after being resurrected is curse the loved one for damning them, then the Earl takes control and they murder the one who resurrected them and steal their body. In fact, Akuma are a combination of Monster from Beyond the Veil and Damaged Soul. With each stage an Akuma reaches, the body becomes more humanoid in appearance but the soul heavily deteriorates.
  • Attempts to use Alchemy for resurrection in the world of Fullmetal Alchemist invariably results in this. Under the right circumstances, the Monsters From Beyond The Veil can assume a human form, which may or may not resemble the original subject, but they remain dangerous monsters.
    • It's later revealed that even with the Philosopher's Stone, Human Transmutation is flat-out impossible. The soul can't come back, and when Ed dug up the remains of the failed resurrection, it didn't even resemble Trisha's genetics (black hair, wrong bone length, wrong gender, etc.). Who the hell did they "bring back"? Just another of the many disturbing questions that make this remarkably amusing series remarkably creepy.
      • Unknown why the hair was black, but it turns out that it was Al in that body, after his original body was taken, his soul was drawn in the corpse of body, and the only reason he wasn't trapped in it is that it didn't have the capacity to sustain itself.
      • The hair just happened to be black. It could have been any color because they didn't bring anyone back, they made someone new. Al was only in it for a moment, mostly because Truth is a jerk.
  • In MÄR, it turns out Ginta's father who died in the previous War Game is the King of the Chess Pieces. He tries to pull a We Can Rule Together on Ginta but he doesnt fall for it. Turns out his corpse is being possessed by the Caldean Orb, the true King and Bigger Bad of the series, an entity made of the pure evil of humans in Ginta's world. Ginta forces it out of his father's body, but then it reveals it's true monstrous form.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, this is the eventual fate of all Magical Girls, after essentially becoming Liches and falling into The Corruption (often provoked by The Reveal of what the process did to them). The trade name for these monsters, which Magical Girls are charged with fighting in this series, is "Witches".

    Comic Books 
  • In an issue of Justice League of America following Metamorpho's death, his son Joey wishes for his father back (not "alive"), without knowing a Jackass Genie is listening. He and his mother are confronted by an Eldritch Abomination with Metamorpho's powers, and apparently no consciousness whatsoever. But just before he gets wished back to oblivion, he says "Joey..." (This being comics, he later came Back from the Dead for real.)
  • In the Hellblazer arc Son of Man, John Constantine knowingly makes one of these; he knows resurrection's out of the question, so he cuts a binding symbol into a demon as a scar and makes it pretend to be a dead kid, using the body as a puppet. Of course, there are extenuating circumstances; the kid's father is a crime boss, and has threatened to horribly torture and murder John's sister and niece if he doesn't resurrect his kid. Still, no excuse for John running the fuck away when there's a demon in the body of the heir to a criminal empire... all the while knowing that scars heal.
  • This is apparently how the Black Lanterns work. The ring reanimates a dead person's body and gives it a personality close to the one they had in life — except the Black Lantern version is also a bloodthirsty monster that wants to eat people and rip out hearts for power. The soul apparently has nothing to do with it; when a ring took control of Boston Brand aka Deadman's (a superhero ghost) corpse, Deadman tried to take back control of his body, but the ring drove him out. This means that a Black Lantern is simply a corpse controlled by the ring (making them technically a Soulless Shell as well) that mimics just enough of their old personality to make them completely unnerving to those who knew them in life. Add to that any powers and abilities the person had in life, the standard power ring protective aura and energy constructs, an incredibly powerful Healing Factor, and immunity to magic makes for one terrifying example of this trope.

    Literature 
  • The 1902 short horror story The Monkey's Paw by W. W. Jacobs may the the Trope Codifier. A man wishes on a mummified monkey's paw for £200 to buy a house. He gets the money- after insurance coughs up for his son dying on the job. His wife then wishes for his son to be returned to them, and soon hears a knock at the door. But the father, fearing that his son has returned as he had died, in ragged shreds, burns the paw, before his wife can open the door; by the time she does, there is no one there.
  • The Big Bad of James Byron Huggins' Cain is a Monster from Beyond the Veil. The military took it into their heads to take the dead body of one of their finest killers, named Cain, and rebuild him into a nigh-unkillable vampire assassin. The problem? Cain woke up on the slab, possessed by The Devil.
  • In the third book of The Death Gate Cycle, Sartan necromancer Jonathon attempts to resurrect his wife, who was just murdered in front of his eyes. Because he does not wait the requisite three days for her soul to depart, however (which would have resulted in a Soulless Shell), she comes back as a lazar, an undead entity whose soul has only partially separated from its body, leaving it in total spiritual agony and quite, quite insane. The lazar's first act is to immediately begin creating an army of its kind to overwhelm the living and force them to share in its torment. Jonathon, previously a rather lighthearted Genius Ditz, is horrified by what he's unleashed and becomes The Atoner for the remainder of the series.
  • Possibly used in Gone, where the Gaiaphage uses Lana's powers to bring Drake and Brittney back from the dead... together in the same body, and Drake is in control. When Brittney briefly gains control, she begs the heroes to kill her. Another interpretation is that being unable to die in a zombie state was Brittney's power, and the Gaiaphage fused her and Drake together when he died.
  • Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn has a variant in that King Elias, in the hopes of resurrecting or at least speaking to his dead wife, instead comes to the attention of the Eldritch Abomination Storm King. In the end, this chain of events results in the Storm King possessing him.
  • In Pet Sematary, humans who are buried in the Micmac Indian burial ground annex to the pet sematary are implied to become this. It's unclear whether animals resurrected are this, too stupid to do much other than become slightly more aggressive than they were in life, or Damaged Souls.
  • A Monster from Beyond the Veil shows up in Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury as well. There's an electro-mechanical chair in the story that can bring a dead body back to a horrify mockery of life just long enough for magic to be used to heal the person.
  • Near the end of the Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the protagonists are captured by a cult of Cavewights who plan to sacrifice them as part of a ritual to resurrect a long-dead Cavewight leader. The ritual is foiled, but Linden outright says that she could sense that what they were doing would have brought something back, but it wouldn't have been a Cavewight, but "something abominable".

    Film 
  • Wes Craven employed this trope twice, once in the TV movie Chiller (in which a man in cryonic suspension is revived but has no soul) and once in Deadly Friend, in which a dead girlfriend is revived with a microchip.
  • Used in the sequel to the American remake of The Ring as the explanation of the true nature of Samara.
  • Hinted to be the origin of The Tall Man from Phantasm. Kindly old scientist Jebediah Morningside steps through his newly created dimensional portal. The thing that comes back through looks like Jebediah. But it isn't him.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, vampires are all like this. The original soul is gone, and a demon inhabits the body, remembering the original person's life, and apparently believing themselves to be the same person. Some of their personality retains intact, but other aspects tend to warp somewhat, and they lose all conscience. When Angel got his soul back, the demon Angelus became an Enemy Within, constantly frustrated at the amount of fun Angel's heroics were costing him.
    • It was strongly implied that Dawn's attempt to resurrect Joyce in Season Five was an example of Monster from Beyond the Veil (as with The Monkey's Paw, which this episode is probably homaging, we never see the resurrected Joyce, but the juddery-POV cam we get as she approaches the house bodes... poorly). Not to mention the fact that Spike, who at this point did NOT have his soul back and thus was still evil, is visibly unnerved and a bit squicked by the thought of what was going to come back when he learns about what Dawn is planning.
    • Aside from the Soulless Shell that Adam made of Professor Walsh and the lackey scientist, he made a Monster from Beyond the Veil of Forrest, a turtle demon, and some spare electronics, and planned to do so with Riley and every other demon and soldier in the Initiative. However, it's possible that he was actually just a Inhuman Human, and more susceptible to the control chip than other characters we'd seen. Adam himself is definitely a Monster from Beyond the Veil.
    • Spike calls Willow out for not letting him know of the plan to resurrect Buffy. He points out that she must have known this was a a possible outcome, and that if he knew about it he wouldn't allow whatever came back to be destroyed if it had any part of Buffy in it.
  • The Torchwood episode "Dead Man Walking" gives us Owen slowly becoming a kind of one of these after being shot and brought back with the second resurrection glove- when he came back, not only was he still a corpse (albeit conscious and mobile, he had no heartbeat, no reflexes, etc.), Death came with him, and would walk the Earth forever killing people if it could get its hands on thirteen victims. This was an unusual variant, in that once Death had fully manifested, it left Owen's body, restoring his free will, and he was ultimately able to defeat it (it couldn't kill him since he was already dead).
  • Trilogy Of Terror II. The last story featured a woman doing a dark ritual to resurrect her son, "whose life was taken by accident." The son comes back, but quickly becomes a monstrous stalker who plays cat-and-mouse with the mother. When she's finally cornered, he tells her that she was wrong; he didn't die by accident, but took his own life to get away from his mother's abuse. The son sent a demon in his own form to return to her instead. Then the demon reveals its true form—lots of KISS-like makeup is involved—and kills the mother.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This isn't actually the result of a deliberate attempt at resurrection by a loved one, but the Harrowed from Deadlands are basically what happens when a Manitou decides to reanimate somebody of particularly strong will and spirit; their original personality still exists, but the spirit can take control of the reanimated body, and of course it's actually undead and not really alive.
    • There are several kinds of mojo (inherently magical places, magic items, etc) in Deadlands that make returning from the grave as Harrowed more probable. Most of them give the nasty spirit an extra buff of Dominion, and some automatically make the demon in charge of the body (that is, a pure Monster from Beyond the Veil).
    • This trope is so common in Deadlands that when the developers of Doomtown (the Deadlands Collectible Card Game) announced that the prize for a tournament would be the resurrection of a character chosen by the winner, they had to make it absolutely clear that this trope would not be invoked, but would be an honest-to-God resurrection. (Indeed, the only way you can get this in Deadlands is with a literal Divine Intervention.)
    • Arguably, Reverend Grimmes, Servitor of Famine, counts as one, given that he is a demon who took the form of a dead human man Reverend Grimmes, after his starvation-maddened flock murdered and ate him, and feigns being returned from the dead in order to corrupt and mislead people.
  • Not quite a resurrection, but the act of creating a new Promethean in Promethean: The Created requires that the creator be of sound balance, both of mind and Azoth. If they do it wrong, then the process gets tainted by Flux, and the body tears itself apart. These parts then animate and become Pandorans, mindless (if you're lucky) fiends intent on cannibalizing other Prometheans for their Azoth. Even when created without problems, Prometheans themselves are an example of Soulless Shells. They are a walking no-man's-land with no soul. True, they aim to get one, but odds are against them and in favor of them doing some rather horrifying things along the way.
  • A likely result of resurrection magic in the world of GURPS Fantasy II: Adventures in the Mad Lands - in fact, even regular healing spells can have this effect, due to magic being inherently chaotic and dangerous in the Mad Lands. Furthermore, the land is so suffused with wild magic that dead people often come back as monsters even without any conscious attempt to revive them being made.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition provides, in Open Grave, the Unrisen. Basically, they're what happens when a Raise Dead ritual goes horribly, horribly wrong; family pets turning into psychotic monsters, for example.
    • Also, the 3.5e supplement Heroes of Horror provided similar examples, including rules for player characters brought back wrong.
  • Geist The Sin Eaters: Every single Sin-Eater is like this. They come Back from the Dead after making a Deal with the Devil from the underworld, and said devil then ride them into the world of the living. But don't worry, every Sin-Eater can tell the devil (actually a ghost-spirit thing, the eponymous Geists) to shut up and stay in the corner of their host's soul, and the Geists usually only want simple pleasures of living they remember from the time when they were humans (sex, food, etc.).
    • Then again, as the SAS module Dem Bones shows, sometimes a geist just won't listen; the eponymous geist is obsessed with reanimating bodies and has kept on singing the same fragment of the song that gives it its name, constantly, for months, to the point that its host has resorted to repeated suicide attempts to get something resembling peace and quiet.
    • Oh, and the reason the guy had to kill himself repeatedly? If a Sin-Eater is killed or dies from anything except old age, the geist can pull them back to life - but this weakens the connection between them and permanently reduces the maximum amount of control the Sin-Eater can have. If it happens too often, to the point that there's no Synergy left (either because the Sin-Eater's current Synergy hit zero or, for the really unlucky ones, the maximum Synergy hit zero), the poor bastard becomes one of the Wretched - a human-shaped shell being ridden completely by the geist. And if you died enough to reach this point without your geist just letting you stay dead, it's probably not one of the nice ones.
  • Nagash, the Great Necromancer managed to turn himself into one of these. Granted he was already an evil, blood-drinking immortal, but he still appeared human and had human interests. After his first death he reasserted control over his body by sheer force of will and used Green Rocks to power his form, mutating it into a meters-tall skeletal monstrosity with zero regard for human life. At this point he scares gods.
    • It should be noted that in the original lore, Nagash mutated himself into his skeletal Death God form before his first death. Of course he is eventually killed and comes back, twice, so he's just following the trope out of order.
  • If someone comes back from death, this will happen without exception in Call of Cthulhu. We are talking about a game about the monsters designed by the Trope Codifiers for Cosmic Horror stories.
  • The odds vary by edition, but it is quite likely in Ravenloft, as one would expect from a Gothic Horror setting.

    Video Games 
  • Sam & Max Season 2 has a bizarre Monster from Beyond the Veil: the DeSoto inexplicably "died" between the events of the fourth and fifth episodes, and when you resurrect it by freeing its soul from hell, it comes back as a demon car. Curt the voice synthesizer even says the potential trope title: "It came back... processing...wrong."
  • In World of Warcraft:
    • after being defeated as a Well-Intentioned Extremist in his captured fortress of Tempest Keep and left for dead, Prince Kael'thas is healed from the brink of death by the demon Priestess Delrissa. This seems to drive him completely over the edge, as he abandons all traces of the "well intentioned" part, leaps full-on into psychotic, apocalyptic insanity, and comes back as a ghastly pale, withered wreck of an elf with a gigantic green fel crystal stabbing out of his heart. Though this probably wasn't caused by him being resurrected (which happens in canon with no ill effects, only hard to pull off), but by being revived with demonic magic.
    • Death Knights at one point had Raise Ally, which intentionally brought the target back wrong for about four minutes. Players would become a ghoul to continue fighting. This was changed to a simple combat resurrection spell (that is, brought back right) because the mid-battle change in gameplay was frustrating.
  • In Heroes of Might and Magic V, Queen Isabel's attempt to resurrect her husband Nicolai turns him into a genocidal vampire. It probably wasn't the smartest idea to ask a necromancer for help, after all. The plot of HOMM3 featured a similar Monster from Beyond the Veil resurrection that - while at least intentional - still didn't quite go as planned.
  • In the game Evil Genius, the player can resurrect dead agents and/or tourists by dumping them in the base laboratory's biochemical tanks. However, the reborn minions that emerge are little more than cataclysmically retarded blobs of muscle that exist only to kill your enemies on sight: since you're an Evil Genius, this isn't much of a problem. Well, given that they tend to kill people in front of witnesses, which raises your heat and brings more enemies to the island, it can be a bit of a problem, but in red alert scenarios, they're very useful.
  • In the first Drakengard, Furiae is brought back with a "Seed of Resurrection", only as a horrible monster which brings about the end of the world by being cloned a million times over.
  • Liu Kang from Mortal Kombat Deception, who was turned into a zombie by the corrupted god, Raiden after being murdered in Deadly Alliance by Shang Tsung.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, Zalbaag becomes a Monster from Beyond the Veil Came Back Wrong after being killed by Dycedarg/Adrammelech. He is revived by the Lucavi in the next series of battles, and retains full consciousness, but he is turned into a vampiric zombie without any control over his actions, constantly suffering. He begs Ramza to kill him, knowing there's no hope for him and not wanting to hurt his brother.
  • This is a recurring theme in the Shadow Hearts series, starting with predecessor Koudelka. In each game, someone attempts to bring someone Back from the Dead using the instructions in the Emigre Manuscript, but they always come back as hideous abominations. This is because the "Malice" used to create the body overpowers the "Will" needed to reconstitute the soul. The third game features the first successful resurrection, though it came at the cost of the subject's sister and memories.
  • In the second Fullmetal Alchemist game, Curse of the Crimson Elixir, you find out that the Big Bad raised his lover, Elma, as a golem and that's the blue-skinned monster woman that keeps attacking the brothers due to occasionally losing her sanity to blood lust. Crowley himself is eventually revealed to be a monstrous golem as well, although he never loses control, although one could argue that this is because he was pretty insanely obsessed to begin with.
  • The Undead in Dragon Age are all literally Monsters From Beyond The Veil. The Undead are what happens when Demons from beyond the Veil, seeking mortal hosts, find themselves trapped in corpses instead. Demons don't take to being stuck in rotting corpses and skeletons very well, and more often than not turn Ax-Crazy. The worst ones, Arcane Horrors and Revenants, can still make use of the power their hosts had in life but are no less Ax-Crazy. The player can create one with the Animate Dead spell which works by taking a humanoid corpse, ripping out its skeleton, and binding a very minor spirit to it- essentially a far more benign version of the above; the result is a "pet" with the basic class of the original person. In Awakening one of your allies is technically a Monster from Beyond the Veil: Justice is a Fade Spirit of Justice who was accidentally brought into the physical world and forced into the corpse of a Grey Warden. Initially he's not exactly thrilled about the situation, but earning approval with him will help him see the perks of the physical world. A true resurrection outside of immediate combat is apparently impossible in the Dragon Age setting since even the spirits of the Fade have no idea where souls go after death.
  • In Alan Wake, Thomas Zane originally tries to write his lover, Barbara Jagger, back to life. However, since he does it via Deus ex Machina, she instead comes back as a soulless physical avatar of the Dark Presence. Whoops.
  • Silent Hill in general does this quite often, most notably in Homecoming.
  • An interesting variant in Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean. Lady Melodia died of the same plague that killed her parents, and Duke Calbren used the power of the End Magnus to revive her. She came back, but not without some of Malpercio, which manipulated her into setting the story into motion.
  • Alice in Shin Megami Tensei series used to be a human girl who got two powerful demons so smitten with her that they gave her some of their power as a gift. That 'gift' killed her, and revived her as the cute friend-seeking fiend she is today.
  • In Tales of the Abyss, the very first replica Jade made was of his teacher Gelda Nebilim, who he accidentally killed due to his own hubristic attempts at using the Seventh Fonon. The result was an unbalanced monster with her face, lacking in First and Sixth fonons (which Jade has less skill with than the others), both insane and perfectly willing to take in fonons by killing others in order to drain them.
  • Most undead in Dwarf Fortress fit this type of Came Back Wrong best, as animated dead tend to be hostile to all life and hard to put down for long, brought about either by evil permeating an area, or the effects of a necromancer (though the latter are merely hostile to all life save the being that raised it).

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons, Treehouse of Horror IV
    Lisa: "Mom! Dad! Mr. Burns is a vampire! And he has Bart!"
    Burns: "Why, Bart is right here."
  • Parodied in South Park: When the boys fake Butters' death using the body of a pig, his father takes the remains to a cursed indian burial ground in order to invoke this trope. Then when Butters' returns to his house to tell his parents about the fake death, they react as if he was some unspeakable mutated horror, lock him in the basement, and kidnap people for him to eat. Butters is understandably confused about the situation.
  • This is what happens to Cliffjumper in Transformers Prime. Of course, Megatron, who did the revival, is pleased as punch with this, but Cliffjumper's old friend Arcee... Let's just say she wasn't as happy to see him again as she thought she'd be.
    Optimus Prime: "Arcee, what did you see?"
    Arcee: "Not Cliff. At least... Not any more."


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