"Jeez, who is this guy? He survives a grenade, a gunshot wound, and now pills and whiskey at once? He should be dead several times over by now!"Some people are just born lucky. It's no surprise that this should extend to death as well. Basically, this is when a character falls into a situation that should, by all accounts, be lethal, and survives through sheer luck or coincidence. This can be only a one time thing, or, more often, you have a character who constantly bumbles around, surviving things they shouldn't. Characters like this are often oblivious to the danger they find themselves in, or recognize that they are lucky and count their blessings, but, in the worst cases, they can get pretty arrogant about it, to the point where you wish they would die. A staple of the bumbling investigator. Often found in conjunction with Not the Fall That Kills You. Compare Normally, I Would Be Dead Now, in which a character survives a normally lethal situation by sheer force of will. An inverse of this would be a Death Seeker who, through sheer luck, finds himself unable to die. Often followed by an I'm Okay! If a character finally dies after surviving a string of normally lethal occurrences, that's a Rasputinian Death. Frequently occurs in Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb. Not to be confused with No One Could Survive That!, where the person in question is thought to have died. If someone survives a Mortal Wound Reveal, it is necessarily this trope.
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Anime and Manga
- Happens a lot in Dragon Ball when people suffer horrible beatdowns and everybody wonders how certain fighters managed to make it out alive. One of the most obvious cases is Goku vs Piccolo Jr. where the former has a leg broken, a hole in the chest and loses a lot of blood. Piccolo throws an energy beam and everybody starts claiming that Goku died until they see him flying.
- Kaneda in AKIRA (the manga version, especially), who constantly survives point-blank automatic weapons fire and being sucked into a black hole with a large chunk of Neo-Tokyo only to be expelled, alive, months later.
- Mobile Suit Gundam 00's Patrick Coulasour has managed to survive energy blasts, suicide cruise-missile robots, and having the top of his mecha blasted off then falling into the Earth's atmosphere… all without a scratch. Lampshaded in Season 2, where Patrick has picked up the nickname "the Immortal Coulasour" for ability to survive situations where anybody else's luck would've run out.
- Kira Yamato in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED has a tendency to survive things he shouldn't for a Midseason Upgrade. In the first series he survives a mobile self destructing while attached to his MS's chest. By no means a death sentence in a Gundam show, but the cockpit was shown to be scorched and damaged by those that find the wreckage, to the point that it is partially exposed.
- The second time seems to be the fault of his attacker, Shinn Asuka, who apparently can land kill-shots on named characters, but somehow miraculously misses them. When facing Athrun, he managed to clearly stab Athrun's suit through the cockpit, which was by no means spacious or empty (considering Athrun at the time had someone else aboard with him), yet there were no fatalities (or much in the way of injuries).
- Both cases are given explanations in supplemental material: in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray, Kira survived the Strike's destruction because Lowe had been watching the battle and pulled him free just barely in time. Kira wasn't in the cockpit when it got scorched. As for Destiny: the Freedom's design is different from the standard (due to the inclusion of a nuclear reactor), and its cockpit is located higher in the chest than normal. Shinn stabbed the Freedom's abdomen, which is where the cockpit is usually located, but not where Freedom's cockpit was. This does not how explain explain Athrun's survival, since the GOUF he was piloting had a perfectly standard cockpit location.note
- Kira also had the good sense to hit the emergency shut-down when the reactor was breached. And contrary to popular perception, a nuclear fission reactor might melt down in the event of a containment breach but it's physically incapable of exploding.
- Code Geass
- Nunnally Lamperouge. Assassination attempt on your life as a kid? Check. Madman strapping you to a live bomb? Check. Kidnapped by one of your best friends who may or may not kill you? Check. Survived a nuclear explosion that wiped out almost all of Tokyo? Check. Surviving a world war? Check. No wonder she is The Woobie...
- Mao. He survived multiple gunshot wounds, including from the high-caliber machine gun of a Knightpolice Frame, and then says "I got better thanks to Britannian medicine."
- Mahou Sensei Negima! gives us Jack Rakan. One of his many titles is "That Damn Guy You Can Stab With Swords All You Like and It Won't Do a Thing, Damnit", which really tells you all you need to know about him. He repeatedly emerges unscathed from attacks that would have vaporized anyone else. He at one point survives being erased from existence.
- Bleach oh, boy. Here we go. To the point where people even survive multiple declarations of death and complete loss of spiritual pressure We've got a main character cut clear in half at the waist and while she is out of the fight, with some healing it's implied that she can still make it. A certain evil character got stabbed through the brain and managed to hang on for a little while. Most recently, the Big Bad survived being disintegrated from the inside out and having his Phlebotinum stolen. Mind you, this is the same series where the main healer can bring people back from the dead, because she doesn't heal injuries, she UNDOES them.
- Shuda solidifes himself as the hardest person in Rave Master to kill not when he doesn't die from cutting off his arm so he can fall almost a mile to his near death but when he later has a sword stabbed all the way through him and is not only alive, but active a week later.
- Abused to death in Naruto Shippuden 167. Pain gets Megaton-Punched in the face, slammed head-on with a boulder, pounded INTO THE GROUND with another boulder, blasted with chakra, heavily facepalmed, and thrown like a ragdoll, colliding head-first into a cliff MILES away, with falling chunks of dirt burying him... while still alive and without a scratch. This was all done by the 4-, and then 6-tailed Naruto.
- Pain is actually a dead body controlled by the real Pain: Nagato. That still doesn't give reason for him being unscathed.
- Tobi aka Obito Uchiha. It really makes you wonder how a thirteen year old survived having his body crushed by a falling boulder. His survival skills are inhuman. Later on chronologically but earlier in publication history, he survives being blown up by 600 billion explosive tags, by means of a forbidden technique. There's also when he took a Rasengan to the back, he was hit with deadly poison and had to rip his arm off, when he was stabbed in the heart by Kakashi, when he had the Juubi and the Gedo Mazo ripped out of him, when he was forced to use his life force to revive Madara, when he had the Rinnegan ripped out...yeah. And yes, he's still alive.
- Though to be fair, he only survived the last three thanks to Naruto's newfound Healing Hands.
- He is finally done in by a disintegrating ash-bone spear. Even then, it doesn't stop him because his Sharingan allows him to warp out of the afterlife as a ghost and possess Kakashi.
- One Piece is downright ridiculous with this, with people being blasted into the air and falling from the stratosphere; being shot point-blank, multiple times if they have to; slashed repeatedly, losing liters of blood. But there is nothing that could possibly top Pell being a caught in an explosion that had a 5 kilometer kill radius. Even the other characters thought he was dead, and they made a gravesite for him. In the credits of the One Piece Movie 8, which is an Adaptation Distillation of the entire Alabasta arc, Vivi sees Pell alive and hugs him while in Tears of Joy.
- Pell's example in particular led to fans automatically assuming that no matter how obvious a death scene was, the character wasn't really dead unless it happened in a flashback. Hence the widespread shock when Whitebeard and Ace were Killed Off for Real.
- Keitaro from Love Hina is the king of this trope, surviving falls, insane punches, being attacked by swords, and the largest injury he ever got was a broken leg. When a building fell on him. This is lampshaded in the series when Keitaro is faced with imminent danger the girls of Hinata Sou will yell 'don't worry Keitaro, you're immortal!' to ease his fears.
- The Pandoras of Freezing. While they are implanted with Applied Phlebotinum and there is advanced medical practices in the future, the battles that they go through really make your eyes pop out.
- Team Rocket from Pokémon. They fall into the gorge in the Butterfree episode, and survive every instance of "blasting off", and two falls which they themselves think will kill them (once in "Haunter Versus Kadabra", and once in the second movie). The one that takes the cake is in "Shell Shock", when James is hit by a boulder and falls into the gorge WITH THE BOULDER ON TOP OF HIM. (The antagonist of Disney's first animated film is killed this way) Yet he turns up unharmed Team Rocket's next scene.
- It's not just the trio. In the first movie, Mewtwo blows up Viridian City Gym, which Giovanni survives, while all the scientists who created him are killed when Mewtwo blows up their lab in a similar explosion. In Pokemon Live, he also survives Mecha Mew2's selfdestruct. That could be because Giovanni escaped the explosion before it happened; In Black and White, Giovanni is possessed by the Reveal Glass and only regains his sanity when Jessie, James, and Meowth save him from a life threatening explosion.
- Pretty much a plot point in Berserk. The main character, Guts, though one of the prime examples of the Determinator who wants to defy fate, has been through some pretty grisly events that, by all accounts, he should not have survived had it not been for one factor that prevented his demise. He even lampshades this at times.
- This would be incomplete without mention of the board game Kill Doctor Lucky. It's sort of the anti-Clue. You are actively trying to murder the titular Dr. Lucky for whatever reason (the game actually encourages you to invent a reason - revenge, money, he looks funny, etc.). The only thing is, he's very aptly named - every murder attempt can be foiled by the other players (though the cards used to foil attempts will eventually run out, so the good doctor will eventually croak). And the amount he survives over the course of the game is absurd - a Monkey's Paw, a cannon, a shot with a revolver, being hung, a submachine gun... all that and more.
- The comic series of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic begin with Queen Chrysalis returning. In her episode she is basically blasted over a cliff and by all accounts should have suffered a Disney Villain Death, but Issue 3 shows her hitting the ground face first from the fall and surviving as if it were one of Rainbow Dash's crashes. In issue 4, she takes multiple magic beams from Twilight, right in the face. At least one of these magic beams is shown to vaporize solid stone. Chrysalis registers the pain, but there's no lasting damage until the fifth or sixth consecutive beam.
- In Runaways, Tristan's hideous scars are the result of being caught in an explosion that was intended to wipe out a large section of New York City. How the hell he survived with only superficial wounds is never fully explained.
- It was noted in KLK AU's, Room 002108 that, due to septicemia, a then eight going on nine year old Ryuuko should have died of organ failure, with her poisoned blood circulating through her body. Apparently, she willed them not to.
Films — Animated
- Aladdin: Jafar, upon seeing Alladin returned from the certain death he'd been sent to: "How many times do I have to kill you, boy?!?"
- In Hoodwinked, Red Puckett falls at least 200 feet from a cable car cabin into a heavily wooded forest. A fall from that height would either kill you or very likely break a lot of bones in your body. However, she also hits several tree branches before hitting the ground, so when she's getting up afterwards, it appears that she was only bruised mildly.
Films — Live-Action
- This is the response of a random passerby in Monty Python's Life of Brian after Brian emerges unscathed from a crashing UFO.
"Oh you lucky bastard."
- The Home Alone movies, particularly the second. In Home Alone 2, Marv alone should've died 14 times. The most egregious instance, however, was when Harry's head is lit on fire and he dunks it into a toilet, not knowing that Kevin has replaced the water with kerosene. The resulting explosion destroys the entire first floor, and yet Harry escapes with nothing more than a few minor burns and getting his hat ripped open.
- Dr. Watson in Sherlock Holmes (2009) should have died in the explosion that Holmes had to run away from to survive.
- Inspector Clouseau is a very frequent beneficiary of this.
- In Flubber, Wesson is repeatedly hit on the head with a bowling ball traveling at incredibly fast speed, or else falling from a great height, and all he gets is some bumps and bruises on his head.
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), Shredder is crushed by a trash compactor, yet turns up alive in the next movie. Ironically he is later killed by a dock collapsing on him, which is considerably weaker as noted by The Angry Video Game Nerd.
- In White Tiger, we first meet Naydenov being brought into a field hospital with 90% burns. He is not expected to survive, but he not only makes a full recovery, but is not even scarred. The doctors are impressed.
- Several of the characters in Snatch. appear to be virtually immortal - including Bullet Tooth Tony and Boris the Blade (aka "Boris the bullet dodger"). Shot over and over again they just won't die! Until they do. Boris winds up the victim of a Rasputinian Death, while Tony, who became famous for getting shot 6 times by an enemy and being strong enough to kill the guy with a sword afterwards, gets killed by a stray bullet from a Hand Cannon.
- A Running Gag for Ernest P. Worrell across all his movies. Lampshaded by him in Ernest Rides Again.
Abner: Ernest, are you dead?Ernest: I guess I would be if I weren't just *that* close to being an actual cartoon.
- In the Discworld series, Rincewind has survived any imaginable death (and a handful of unimaginable ones), including falling off the edge of the world. He is Lady Luck's favorite beneficiary, mainly because he refuses to believe in her. She and Fate have a bit of a rivalry going on, in fact, with Fate getting Rincewind into trouble and Luck getting him out of it.
- He does believe in the Lady, as shown when he meets her (also, gods on Discworld vandalize the houses of non-believers). He just doesn't believe she is the one who always saves him.
- Rincewind does not actually sustain any life-threatening damage. He is just always saved just in time.
- His hourglass is so twisted and screwy even Death can't tell when Rincewind will die. Hell, sometimes the sand flows backwards.
- In Mailed Fist, Major Foley has a very close encounter with an 88mm round fired by a Tiger tank. After penetrating the front hull of his tank and killing the driver, it should have gone straight through Foley, the tank commander. Instead it passes just close enough to gash his leg, before impacting and exploding in the engine compartment.
- In a prequel story for Relativity, a complex sequence of events leads to Ravenswood suffering from "Systemic liquefaction degeneration," which is explained to him as, "Doctor-speak for 'We don't know exactly what happened, but somehow your entire body turned to liquid.'"
- In The Witchlands, Merik somehow survives standing right next to an explosive when it blows up. In contrast to most examples of this trope, the improbability of this becomes a plot point.
- The cast seem to get this a lot. Lampshaded in that it's accepted by the characters that Torchwood agents are lucky if they live to see their first grey hair. Particularly there's leader Jack, who is immortal for real. You can make a case for whether he counts, since he doesn't usually survive, he just refuses to stay dead. His list of deaths to date include (but are in no way limited to): shot by a Dalek, thrown off a 100 foot building, being stuck on the outside of the TARDIS inside of the vortex (in "Utopia"), electrocuted, shot in the head, blown up via a bomb implanted in his stomach, encased in concrete, stabbed for days on end by Italians, poisoned... the list goes on.
- Also Owen, who eventually does die. And comes back as a sentient but not technically alive, unhealing, never sleeping, never eating, incredibly grumpy corpse.
- Then there's Ianto. Survived the Dalek and Cybermen massacre of Canary Wharf, nearly killed by a pterodactyl, shot at, electrocuted by half-converted cyber-girlfriend, attacked by cannibals, Weevils... etc. Eventually dies from an alien virus.
- On Saving Grace, Grace and Neely fall off a building and survive. Given the nature of the show, it's heavily implied that God did it.
- Two minutes into the first episode of Harry's Law, a suicidal man jumps off of a six-story building and lands on Harriet. Both survive with minor injuries. Two minutes later, she distractedly crosses a street and gets hit by a car. She lands on a mattress being loaded into a moving van, and doesn't even break any bones. In both cases, it's completely unexpected, even interrupting her internal monologue. It's portrayed as serendipity, because both the suicidal man and the car driver end up joining her law firm by the end of the episode.
- The final episode of Starsky & Hutch has Starsky being shot in the chest at least three times by hitmen with automatic weapons; he's taken to the hospital, where he's revealed to be weak but have miraculously survived (he does code out at one point in the recovery process, but revives when Hutch comes running in).
- Milton Jones. He falls from a plane above the former Yugoslavia but survives by landing on a snowman... he's pushed into a printing press by Chris Evans but rescued by Esther Rantzen... he's stranded in the Arctic but saved when Agnitha from Abba turns up and gives him a snowmobile...
- Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, in a series of missions where you must kill the Big Bad's little brother and right hand man, Sergio. Sergio goes on to survive four heavily planned assassination attempts through mostly dumb luck, and eventually Tommy just chases him down to his hideout and confronts him directly.
- Phoenix Wright, the original protagonist of the Ace Attorney series. Aside from the near brushes with murder from Mafia hitmen, assassins, Amoral Attorneys, etc., he also survived a hundred foot fall from a burning bridge into a fast-moving freezing river in the middle of winter with a bare fever and head cold. He was still hospitalized, but even that is pretty lucky.
- Dr. Eggman from Sonic the Hedgehog always manages to survive catastrophic ship failures, including one that sinks into a pit of lava with him in it while it's breaking down. Convection Schmonvection indeed.
- Syphon Filter: Logan has survived falling 50 feet through a glass ceiling, swan diving off a cliff, and jumping from an exploding bridge onto a moving train, etc., things you couldn't conceivably survive in real life.
- Goddamn Liquid Snake. Helicopter crashes, stinger missiles, three story freefalls, multiple bullets. Then in the second game we find out that not even killing him stops him until the fourth game confirms that he really did die and Ocelot was faking. It's complicated..
- Nathan Drake, full stop. The trick is he knows it, his enemies know it, and quite frankly, the entire cast is in disbelief at the sheer quantity and reliability of his luck.
- Lan/Netto in Mega Man Battle Network 2 receives hundreds of thousands of rads of radiation. Even with a protective suit, that should cause Central Nervous Syndrome to set in in a matter of minutes. CNS is rapidly (as in hours-days) degenerative and always fatal, making this also an example of Artistic License – Nuclear Physics.
- Halo: Reach: Noble Six plummets to Reach from space after Jorge's Heroic Sacrifice and somehow survives with little more than a limp, whereas in Halo 3, the fall from the Forerunner ship over Earth was thought to kill Master Chief when he was found. Of course, Noble Six was wearing specialized atmosphere re-entry equipment, while Master Chief was not.
- Halo 4: Cortana somehow manages to instantly cover Chief in enough Hard Light to protect him from a point-blank nuclear detonation coming from a bomb the Chief himself had just hand-detonated.
- The cinematics alone should've killed Max Payne.
- In Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Nicolai lights the gas station on fire and is caught in the explosion, but shows up none the worse for wear later.
- No More Heroes
- Travis Touchdown survives several such episodes in the first game and its sequel, one of the most notable occasions being in a cut-scene before his battle with Holly Summers in the first game. He ends up in a pit of sand, and has three hand-grenades dropped directly onto his chest. This merely means he is bounced out of the hole by consecutive explosions, and he continues the game with no lasting ill effects. Every cutscene before a boss fight has him surviving way more than anyone should. During the final battle with Jeanne, she bloody PUNCHES THROUGH HIS HEART, but he just shrugs it off.
- The same works for some of the bosses. Skelter Helter provides the page quote for Normally, I Would Be Dead Now, a couple of bosses from the first game return for the sequel, and then there's the terms on which a few bosses in the sequel are fought.
- In F.E.A.R., the first clue (beyond his super-reflexes) that our protagonist is not normal is when he is launched out of a second story window by an explosion and just stands up slightly dazed. Then, at the end, he survives getting thrown several miles through the air by a nuclear shockwave. How? Erm... no one's really sure.
- At one point in Singularity, Nate Renko travels back to 1955 and shoots Big Bad Demichev in the head, causing him to fall out a window. Yet, when Renko returns to his own time, Demichev is still alive and ruling the world with an iron fist.
- Emil from Nier was revealed to be alive in ending C, with only his head intact. Its not explained how he was able to get out of that magical blast field alive.
- Ghat and Father-Mother from Zeno Clash survived having a grenade blow up a foot or so away from their faces. Metamoq demonstrated earlier that this sort of thing does, in fact, kill, and the grenade wasn't a dud, so there's really no explanation for how this happened.
- President "Baby" Panay from Just Cause 2 also survived having a grenade blow up in his face, after which he also survives being shot up by Rico. It takes a nuclear explosion to (presumably) kill him.
- Especially in later games, Super Robot Wars is the god-king of this trope, thanks to its plethora of There Is No Kill Like Overkill attacks. Both player characters and enemies are capable of surviving ultimate attacks that seem to cause anywhere from a Class 1 to a Class X-2 apocalypse!
- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain: While revealing his backstory to a prisoner, Skull Face states that the injuries he suffered were so bad that a nurse at the infirmary they took him to openly stated that they should just let him die.
- In the prologue of Fate/stay night, Shirou is stabbed through the heart with a cursed spear, only to mysteriously wake up with his wound completely healed. He narrates afterwards on how disturbed he is by this - not only did he feel himself die back then, making his survival completely unnatural, but he doesn't feel like he deserves such a miracle when there are people out there who need it more than he does. The anime version of this monologue reached memetic status when one translator decided to render Shirou's objections as "People die when they are killed".
- Several examples from 8-Bit Theater. Most of the main characters fall into this at least once, but the king of this is Fighter, who has survived tons of stabbings, explosions, murder attempts and accidents, but always survives: half of the time due to his own ability to shrug off injury, the other half due to sheer serendipity. A good example of this would be when he is crushed by the Armoire Of Invincibility, but emerges unscathed since the bottom was made of cheap plywood. Later justified in that the Wizard That Did It wants to keep them alive for various less-than-altruistic reasons. Said wizard even explicitly kills the main characters a few times on purpose, just to make a statement about how easily he can do so (and revive them later to make them suffer more). Examples that fit this trope, however, are such things as his Make-Black-Mage-Puke-Up-His-Organs spell, which leaves Black Mage with his entire digestive system visibly outside his body, yet he doesn't die from it because Sarda doesn't want him to. Black Mage also has "Darko" the dark god forbidding him from dying, and he pops in to revive BM when no one else is there to do it instead.
- The Order of the Stick often has this from a realistic point of view, because the characters all run on D&D rules. So long as their Hit Points are not depleted, they can live through terrible injuries. Haley gets impaled on a bastard sword during her fight with the Thieves' Guild leader and goes down, but is fine with no lasting internal damage after some basic healing magic. Redcloak has a metal pole driven through his eye and into his skull by O-Chul, but lives because he, too, is still at positive HP. It's worth noting that things like decapitation only happens when the target dies from it, though. Staying alive with your head separated from your shoulders is a bit of a stretch, even for D&D.
- O-Chul, being Made of Iron (his constitution score is stated by Wordof God to be in the mid-20s) is the king of this. At one point, he is captured by the villans and thrown into a tank of acid with an acid-breathing shark. Not only does he manage to defeat the shark and escape the tank, he immediately charges and attempts to smite Xykon before being knocked unconscious. After being rescued, he presents Roy with Xykon's spell list, which says he got "one saving throw at a time". For reference, Xykon is an epic level sorcerer (i.e. his save D Cs are absurdly high) and said spell list includes such nasties as Cloudkill, Finger of Death, Symbol of Insanity, Meteor Swarm (which he previously used to kill Roy), and several epic level spells.
- In Red vs. Blue: Relocated, Grif falls 800 feet. His teammates spend the entire time while he's in free fall arguing over whether or not to catch him. They don't.
"This fall would kill some people, and break bones in almost anyone except Grima Wormtongue!"
- They say it in their review of The Two Towers, to lampshade how unrealistic it is that Wormtongue was thrown down the stairs of Edoras and has no apparent injuries. Of course, his Plot Armor hasn't fallen off.
- Cinema Sins has a general Running Gag in which if someone clearly should have died, the narrator applies a sin while noting "they survive this."
- It's also a major source of another Running Gag where they give multiple sins to one shot, including situations where characters are "saved" by another character but should have died regardless.
- Toki has survived getting her leg blown off by landmine and being unconscious from blood loss for more than a few hours, luekemia when it hit terminal, and multiple suicide attempts. Also, she and her sister survived being frozen for about 70 years.
- Starscream of Transformers can be like this in several of his incarnations. Occasionally he doesn't survive…and comes back anyway. Beast Wars tried to hand-wave it by saying Starscream's spark was mutated in a way so it can never join the Matrix, but also made it completely indestructible. They also tried to clone his spark, resulting in Rampage, whose spark could apparently be cut by an energon blade without lasting damage (although it does cause him great pain) whereas other sparks in the situation are destroyed.
- Inspector Gadget alternates between being saved by Brain (who often takes the bullet in the process) and sheer luck. And it's hilarious.
- Warner Bros. cartoons (particularly ones featuring Wile E. Coyote) frequently involve characters getting blown up with guns and explosives, ranging from sticks of dynamite to cartoon bombs. Being caught in an explosion is never fatal - at the worst the effect is usually just having blackened and ruffled fur/skin, or in some cases body parts blown/broken off that are easily re-attached.
- Beavis and Butt-Head, especially in the earlier episodes, often experienced things that should've killed them like the tornado episode for instance.
- The Joker in the Batman: The Animated Series series has survived falls and explosions, and seems immortal, hence the term Joker Immunity. He is Killed Off for Real in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
- In Episode 15 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Derpy Hooves drops several heavy objects on Twilight Sparkle, among them an anvil and a piano. She survives, although not unscathed.
- Real life example: Rasputin if the stories are to be believed. He was supposedly stabbed, shot, poisoned, and drowned, naming another trope in the process. Cause of death? Hypothermia, from being drowned in an icy river. And he was in the process of clawing his way up from under the ice when he died.
- Take this with a grain of salt, though. The evidence is spotty, composed partly from the accounts of the assassins (who played up the difficulty to make people think he had demonic powers) and the fact that his body was found with water in his lungs, which can happen after death. The fact that his autopsy report contains (paraphrased) "bullet would to the back of the head, exit would in the forehead" should tip you off how easy he really was to kill.
- Oh, and just to cement how much of a myth he had become, it's said that one group exhumed his body and threw it on a fire. Unfortunately, they failed to sever a couple of tendons, which funerary experts know will contract from the heat, causing the body to sit up. The onlookers were suitably terrified.
- The poison might actually be explainable if true, that said - it was apparently baked into a cake, which caused it to evaporate due to the heat and thus keep it from having much effect anyway (which can happen with some poisons, at least).
- Has happened a few times in real life.
- The Hindenburg. The entire 800-foot airship was incinerated in 30 seconds by a gargantuan explosion. The fireball was the size of a skyscraper, but despite the shocking power of the explosion, amazingly, about two-thirds of the roughly 100 passengers escaped alive. The other one-third died mainly because they panicked and jumped out of the cabin before the it hit the ground. Some survived through sheer ridiculous amounts of luck. One elderly woman was standing near the double grand staircase, which had a pair of folding stairs on the lower deck for landing that popped open when the Zeppelin impacted the ground. She simply walked out. One crewman was drenched when a ballast canister burst overhead, protecting him and clearing him a path to safety.
- What's the highest fall without any parachute or equipment whatsoever that a person has survived? 200 feet? 300 feet, maybe? Try thirty-three thousand, three hundred and thirty feet. Yugoslavian stewardess Vesna Vulović had been confused with another stewardess of the same name, and she ended up on a flight supposedly carrying the Yugoslavian Prime Minister by mistake. It was after they reached cruising altitude that her DC-9 contracted a fatal case of the explodes, courtesy of Croatian terrorists. She fell into a pond in Czechoslovakia, and was rescued by a nearby doctor. She was the sole survivor and later made a full recovery.
- Rear gunner Nicholas Alkemade was forced to bail out of a Lancaster bomber at 18,000 feet (5,500 m) without a parachute. The parachute had burned up and he decided to jump rather than die in the inferno. Pine trees and deep snow broke his fall and he suffered only minor damage. The Luftwaffe personnel at the POW camp celebrated the colleague who had survived the two horrors of military airmen, crashing and flames, and provided him with a certificate testifying to the truth of his story.
- A Soviet woman named Larisa Savitskaya, though survived a somewhat smaller fall of 5220 meters, managed to stay alive in the taiga for three days, with a concussion, broken arm and a spine trauma, fighting off mosquitoes, animals and incessant rain before she was rescued.
- Another Soviet survivor, a WWII bomber pilot named Ivan Chisov, bailed out from his disabled plane at ~7000 meters (about 22,000 feet) but lost consciousness before opening his chute. He landed on the slope of a ravine, that managed to slow his fall (estimated at ~150 mph), and, though suffered a broken spine and pelvis, managed to recover enough to fly again.
- Tsutomu Yamaguchi. Dude survived both nukes and outlived the pilots.
- Hitler survived a briefcase bomb detonating just a few feet away from his legs. All that was ruined was a pair of trousers. Averted however since that while the blast appeared as something that should have been fatal or at least crippling, Mythbusters proved that the way Hitler stood made it much less dangerous than it had seemed — he was separated from the bomb by a very massive and sturdy table leg, and it wasn't a very large bomb. The plan was for a bomb that was twice as powerful (testing has indicated that this would've killed everyone in the room), but the assassin panicked after almost getting caught preparing it and went ahead with only the explosive charge that had already been rigged.
- NASCAR: Every single blowover wreck will make you think this trope: Tony Stewart at the 2001 Daytona 500; Ryan Newman at the 2003 Daytona 500 and the 2009 AMP Energy 500 at Talladega; Elliott Sadler in the fall of 2003 at Talladega; Scott Riggs in 2005 at Talladega; Scott Wimmer in the 2005 Daytona 500; Dale Earnhardt at Talladega in 1996.
- Many of these are justified by the fact that they were driving special cars with lots of safety equipment designed specifically to save the driver's life in the event of a wreck. Most people however tend to assume that the wreck should have killed them, because had they been driving a normal, road-legal car, it would have. For example, one of the frequent causes of death in high-speed collisions of the road cars is the whiplash that tends to break a person's neck. Race drivers wear the so-called HANSnote device — a special collar that is tightly laced to the chest and linked to the helmet by the dynamic belts, which is designed to limit the head movement during the crash. It was made mandatory in most of the racing series in the mid-Oughts and has since saved at least half a dozen lives.
- In fact every racing sport would invoke this. Many famous examples are in Formula One which, given how fast they go, have really spectacular crashes. One of the most famous recent ones being that of Robert Kubica in the 2007 Canadian Gran Prix, where his car hit a wall at 300 km/h and rebounded across the track with a few tumbles and hitting the wall on that side, resulting in a totally wrecked car. He only suffered a concussion and a sprain, and two races later he was back on the track. This is one testament to the levels of safety in the sport implemented over the years, as it is said that this crash was similar to the one that killed Aryton Senna in the 1994 San Marino Gran Prix.
- Looking back on the wound he received at Austerlitz and his troubled recovery, General Thiébault pretty much says this in his Mémoires. He got his right arm and the upper part of his ribcage shattered by Russian grapeshot as he was leading the charge. It took more than six hours to carry him to an ambulance, for lack of proper means of transportation. There, visits from his comrades and letters from his wife left him depressed enough that he was tempted to stop clinging on to life. When the fever settled in, though, he saved himself through quick thinking and a bit of hazardous self-medication involving massive amounts of red wine. In case his survival still wasn't precarious enough, he pissed off his surgeon and insisted on getting up not even ten days after he was wounded, leading to a highly predictable and nearly fatal fall (made worse by the fact that his servant caught him by the arms). According to Dr Percy, who briefly followed his case, he only had one in a million chance of surviving the shot in the first place (he owed his life to the fact that his bones were broken just the right way to prevent the bullet from hitting his lungs or heart), let alone making it with his arm nearly intact.
- The extremely near miss with a Tiger tank that should have killed Major Foley of the Royal Tank Regiment. When recovering the wreck of his tank, Foley measured a straight line between the entry hole of the 88mm round in the hull, and the hole left by its penetration of the engine bulkhead. The shell should have gone straight through him, the tank commander standing in the middle of that direct line. But the only wound on Foley was a slight gash on his left leg, as if the 88mm round had swerved in flight to miss him. He writes about this in his autobiography, Mailed Fist.