Ontological Inertia is the tendency stuff has to continue being stuff. Things, in general, keep existing even when we're not looking at them.
Writers often forget about or ignore this, and assume that the creator of a thing maintains some sort of existential tie to the thing created. That is, if the creator is destroyed, it is "only natural" that the creation will pop out of existence, or, preferably, explode. Whatever damage or curse the Big Bad has done disappears when it is defeated, instantly resulting in sunlight, birds and happy little flowers.
There are certain situations in which this can be inherently justified. Computer programs, for example, stop running if their hardware turns off, and may be reset to a default state under certain conditions. Magic usually lacks ontological inertia, under the theory that continuous effort has to be applied to work against the natural order, and ceasing that effort will cause things to snap back to the way they ought to be. Sometimes the magic lacks ontological inertia because spells are contracts (with the spirits, the gods, demons, etc.), and the death of the contractor voids the contract—like what sometimes happens to currencies when the government issuing them falls, e.g. good luck buying things with Confederate dollars in 1866.
In other situations it's more blatant, such as the ever popular Load-Bearing Boss, or a poison/disease that not only stops doing further damage when it is cured, but also erases the injuries that it's already inflicted. A slightly more subtle variation is the Fisher King, whose health is mirrored by the state of his kingdom.
This trope may be considered a Necessary Weasel in more idealistic works, as dealing with the damage left behind by the depredations of the Big Bad or the Monster of the Week can turn even the best Happy Ending into a downer as one realizes just exactly how much work the heroes will have to do to put their world back together. See No Endor Holocaust for the ultimate extreme of this.
See also Liquid Assets and No Immortal Inertia — though these are more about Life Energy, they still represent states that can be easily restored to "normal". Similarly, This Was His True Form is this trope applied to shapeshifters. This is a type of Reset Button. Contrast Offscreen Inertia. Compare What Happened to the Mouse?, where not only does something disappear, but the author fails to give any clue why. Not to be confused with Status Quo Is God, where the reversion happens offscreen and no reason is ever given.
Some spoilers ahead (villain deaths, primarily).
On the other hand, this was usually played straight with Monster of the Week fights. In one episode, the MotW was conjured from a camera and could trap whoever she fired a beam at in a photograph (this included the VotW, Luna, Sailor Mercury and Sailor Mars); all of them were returned to normal as soon as Sailor Moon destroyed the monster.
Crystal Tokyo also counts. In the second season, it was a poisonous wasteland. But when Chibiusa returns after defeating the villains, it's a beautiful place.
From an OVA of The Slayers: a magic mirror is used to make clones of Lina and Naga, prompting the duo to smash the mirror on the assumption that it would destroy the embarrassingly pacifistic and modest (respectively) clones. Subversion: Not only did it not work, but the clones complained about Lina's over-reliance on violence as a result.
In Martian Successor Nadesico, this is apparently what destroying the Time TravelBlack Box would have accomplished, averting the entire war and whatever else was accomplished through Boson Jumping. After some consideration and a couple childish shouting matches, though, the crew ends up deciding not to destroy the device and keeping the past, good and bad, intact. Fridge Brilliance indicates that not destroying it was probably a good idea regardless, as the device had actually been in use for millions of years.
No Ontological Inertia is critical to the plot of Fate/stay night. The seven Masters fight by commanding their Servants — magical beings so powerful and unpredictable that beating one is nearly impossible, even for another Servant. But if you kill a Master or otherwise eliminate his Command Spells, his Servant can only keep existing for a little while (and it's much weaker during that time). Thus the way to win the Holy Grail War is to take the enemy Masters out of commission — and needless to say, only the good guys (Shirou and Rin) are particular as to how.
The Assassin-class Servants actually rely on this. Other classes could potentially win the Holy Grail War simply by beating the snot out of other Servants in direct combat and forcing the now-helpless Master to surrender. Assassins, however, tend to fare poorly in direct combat, and possess abilities that are more effective against normal humans than Servants. Thus, Masters of Assassins are usually supposed to target other Masters with their Servants than other Servants.
Another similar case is familiars. Generally, if the familiar's master dies, the familiar will also die shortly/immediately afterward. A familiar needs mana in order to live. Len is an exception as she has a partially demonic nature and is also a dream demon, meaning she can gather mana for herself in order to continue living. Possibly justified in this case as it's basically akin to eating/starvation and Len simply knows how to feed herself.
All Nasuverse examples avert this trope if you have any real familiarity with how that world works. Gaia, the will of the planet, exerts the force necessary to take anything of magical origin out of existence. In other words, magic has ontological inertia, but the planet destroys it constantly in the same way that it deals with normal inertia through the force of gravity.
In fact, the only case in which things of non-natural origin appear to have ontological inertia is in the case of the Crystal Valley, created by Type Mercury/ORT. The idea is that ORT's very existence overpowers Gaia and overwrites the natural laws of Earth with its own.
Though he was blasted a rather far way away, so it might still count.
The Dark Masters reconfigured the data of the Digital World into Spiral Mountain, each ruling a section of it. When the Dark Master controlling that section was killed, the data would instantly return to the Digital World proper. Justified, as their power was what was holding it together and without them, the section collapsed.
In the Yes! Pretty Cure 5 movie, when Cure Aqua kills Dark Aqua, the latter's sword (which had been knocked out of her hand) vanishes behind her. More significantly, the whole reason she's Cure Aqua in the first place is related to a case of this.
Subverted in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha where, upon hearing how Reinforce plans to delete herself to save Hayate, the Wolkenritter naturally assume that, being her Guardian Programs, they'd disappear with her. Not so, says Reinforce, as she'd transferred their links to her over to Hayate. They're slowly gaining independent existence, and are far more biological by Striker(s). Downside is they're easier to hurt, will die for real, and already heal more slowly.
Reversed in Mai-Otome, where a SLAVE's death results in the death of its Master, and an Otome's death results in the death of its Master. Making them possibly the worst bodyguards ever.
Though Otome are to bodyguards what a tactical nuke is to a pea shooter. Their lives being linked with their masters was actually designed to discourage warfare as well as avoiding civilian involvement. As it'd be the nobility and rulers putting their lives on the line as opposed to their subjects.
Jutsu in Naruto seem to be like this. The reason for this is that every jutsu is powered by a person's chakra which is generated by their body. When they die, their body ceases to produce chakra and anything dependent on their chakra to maintain its form breaks down.
When Team Gai fought the Kisame clone, the first thing he did was puke out a whole lake's worth of water and when he was defeated the water disappeared.
In the Sanbi Arc of Shippuden, Guren gives Yuukimaru a Camelia Flower encased in crystal via her Crystal style jutsu. She tells him that it will never wilt as long as she's alive. During one of her battles with the Sanbi, the crystal cracked when she was wounded.When she makes a Heroic Sacrifice near the end of the arc to protect Yuukimaru, it shatters inwardly, but stays intact, showing she was Not Quite Dead. She's later rescued by Gozu.
Danzo's men were able to tell he died when the seals he placed on their tongues to paralyze him if they tried to reveal information about him disappear.
Averted with Kimimaro's bones. Even after he died, the forest of bones he created remained intact. This is likely due to the fact that, while created with his chakra, the bones still had their own strength without the chakra.
Averted with Impure World Resurrection, as it is eventually clarified that the resurrected dead will not stop even if the user is killed; the user must actually undo it themselves. Thus his opponents seek to capture him alive and use genjutsu to trick him into stopping them himself. Additionally, the resurrected Uchiha Madara defies even this when the jutsu is ended, his incredible will and power (along with knowing the jutsu himself, including the handsigns to reverse its cancellation) allowing him to retain his infinitely regenerating form with unlimited energy
Half of the tension and drama in the entire Dragon Ball series is based around the Dragon Balls becoming useless stones if their creator dies. For most of the series this is Piccolo/Kami, but Guru's remaining lifespan is a significant plot point in the Namek saga.
Bizarrely, a Dragon Ball Z special ("The Plot to Destroy the Saiya-Jins") did this with what appeared to be completely ordinary machines. A Tsufuru-jin scientist named Dr. Raichi tries to kill our heroes — and everyone else on the planet, as a side-effect — by planting several machines that spew out poison gas into the planet's atmosphere. When Dr. Raichi is killed, the last machine disappears with no explanation. Nobody seems to find this odd — perhaps the weird properties of the Dragon Balls have jaded them.
The Oozaru transformation is similar. It's triggered by glands at the base of the tail activating when a certain level of lunar radiation is absorbed through the eyes, but apparently requires a constant supply to maintain. Chop off the tail or destroy the source of the moonlight, and they'll revert back instantly, and in one case, the detached tail is seen to do the same. This is slightly odd as reverting back as soon as the moon explodes combined with the transformation triggered by seeing the moon seems to imply that the Oozaru would change back as soon as they glanced away from the moon, but whatever. The only exception is the movie The Tree Of Might which apparently changes the rules around a bit for the convenience of the villain. Cutting the tail off still works in a flash, though.
Mahou Sensei Negima! naturally plays this for comedy and Fanservice. Takane constantly suffers Clothing Damage to the point that it becomes a Running Gag, and attempts to combat it by creating a magical set of clothes. Turns out that the clothes can't be maintained while one is unconscious. She learned this the hard way, after getting knocked out by Negi during the Tournament Arc, in a stadium full of people. It's played seriously later, when Nagi defeats the Lifemaker, and the war seemingly ends the next day, causing Takamichi to comment on it. Something of a subversion, as the end of the chapter implies that the problems are not over. And they aren't. Not even close.
A possible example occurs in Code Geass, where one of the only cases of someone actually breaking geass (without use of Orange-kun's geass canceller) occurs after the death of the one who used it. Still, it is not made clear if Nunnally opening her eyes was due to a weakening of the geass or Heroic Willpower. Lelouch seems to think that Schneizel will remain loyal to Zero after his death., suggesting that some ontological inertia was in play.
Also, when Rolo assaulted the Geass Directorate, he killed children who have used Geass on one of Black Knights, which resulted in the man being released from the Geass., but is also possible that this particular ability requires constant concentration - as the affected was aware that his body was being manipulated by someone else, rather than changing his personality or mindset - so it won't have a permanent effect, like most others seen in the series.
This both is, and is not, the premise behind Zero Requiem. The idea is that when Charles dies, the malice and hatred caused by his reign will not vanish, as there is ontological inertia, so something needs to be done about it. The response is to be even more terrible, but equally to everybody, so when the scapegoat in question dies, a lack of ontological inertia takes effect. This conflict of concepts is the major issue with this plan.
In Hellsing, all the ghouls (zombies created when a vampire bites a non-virgin human) die when you slay the vampire who created them in the first place (a common theme in vampire stories; see below). That is, unless it's an artificial vampire created by surprisingly resilient Nazis. Then, the ghouls persist even after the vampire is killed.
A major issue in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. We don't find out until the very last chapter, but clones cease to exist when the creator dies. Even after Yuuko gave up centuries of her life to get the clones into the cycle of reincarnation, they still vanish once the Big Bad dies.
In Fullmetal Alchemist, whenever a limb or other body part of a homunculus is separated from the rest of the body (or, to be more specific, the Philosopher's Stone at the Homunculus's core), it decomposes into dust in seconds, only to be replaced as the homunculus regenerates. If they die their whole body turns to dust. Though, it is possible to reattach it if it's done instantly, as shown when Gluttony keeps himself from falling apart, so to speak.
This is a justified use, as it's clear the homunculi are continuously exerting alchemic energy to keep their bodies together, and physically they are comprised of simple materials. In addition to immediately dissolving upon death, there is an implication that it is agony to exist as a homunculus, alleviated slightly by ingesting red stone.
Subverted in Hunter × Hunter, where the local form of spiritual power, Nen, can be used to materialize objects or impose 'rules' to people which don't disappear with the death of the caster; instead, they can even get STRONGER. A specific ability (Nen removal) must be used to get rid of this kind of things.
But played straight shortly after, as immediately after he is defeated (he's still alive, but unconscious), it starts to rain again. Probably justified, as his sand powers are implied to have been holding the rain back, and now that he's been weakened, it returns.
Originally averted in the Thriller Bark arc as the shadows Gecko Moriah stole would only return to their owners if he commanded them. However, it became straight after Moriah absorbed them all to take on a One-Winged Angel form and his defeat by Luffy caused him to release the shadows.
This is one of the basic rules in One Piece. When a Devil Fruit user is knocked out, their powers are disabled. Though it's also played with since this only applies to Users whose powers affect others rather than themselves, such as Shiki, Foxy, Moria, Vander Decken IX, and Sugar.
At the end of Jack And The Witch (1967), after the evil queen Auriana is destroyed the magic she used to turn children into harpies dissipates, causing the kids to return to normal.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica: It seems that any active magical effect is destroyed when the Magical Girl causing it dies, most obvious with their outfits. The same thing happens to a witch's barrier when the witch is destroyed.
The other Spin-Off, Puella Magi Kazumi Magica, also uses this trope in an interesting fashion. The title character is an Amnesiac Hero. When she doesn't get her memories back after the death of the Knight of Cerebus she realizes that her amnesia must have come from something else. Similarly, the Evil Nuts that were supposedly created by the Knight of Cerebus don't vanish when she's killed - they either avert this trope, or someone else made them.
In Pokémon Special, averted with Team Rocket's first schemes in Kanto. Said schemes involved using the Viridian Forest as breeding grounds to raise an army of powerful Pokemon to take over the region. Two years after Red beats Team Rocket, the Forest is still full of non-native, over-leveled Pokemon who are liable to attack people at random.
Though played straight in the Ruby/Sapphire arc, when Celebi uses its Time Travel powers to fix all the problems that happened over the course of the arc, including bringing Norman and Steven back to life.
Episode 12: when Himari collapses and then dies due to her possessor (the Princess of the Crystal) being unable to sustain her existence anymore, her Penguin (#3) passes out and later away as well. In episode 13, Sanetoshi revives Himari after making a Deal with the Devil with her brother Kanba: after this, #3 returns too and seems to be all right.
Takes place again much later, when Masako Natsume dies of the injuries she sustained in her Last Stand; her penguin companion, Esmeralda, disappears when she kicks it in exactly the same way #3 died. Once Masako is revived (also by Sanetoshi, to strengthen Kanba's Face-Heel Turn), Esmeralda comes back to life too. And when Himari has another seizure, #3 also starts fading away...
Happens with locations in Saint Seiya: kill the enemy, the location implodes. It's played straight with temples of the OVA villains, that collapse as soon as the villain is killed (even if it's implied in the second one that it was actually collateral damage to cause the collapse), and with Hell, that self-destructs as soon as Hades dies, but it's subverted by Asgard (fully intact. Then again, Odin was not killed, so...) the Sanctuary (Athena's cosmo protected it from the ravages of time, but as it had been built and repaired by Man's work the collapse would take a lot of time, enough for Athena to return and fix it), Poseidon's kingdom (it was destroyed, but that's because the battle had destroyed the pillars that prevented the sea from falling down on it) and Hades's Earth castle (it's all but stated it was a self-destruct magic that destroyed it).
A consistent rule in Jojos Bizarre Adventure is that, if a Stand's power affects the world around it, rendering its user unconscious or killing them (which disables the Stand) undoes its effects (such as Sethan's Fountain of Youth or Grateful Dead's Rapid Aging). The only exceptions are effects that change objects on a physical level, like Crazy Diamond's healing or, on a simpler level, physical damage.
In Magic: The Gathering, this is averted with abilities; once they're activated, they exist independent of their source, meaning destroying the source does nothing to stop the ability. However, this is played straight in multiplayer games: When a player loses the game, all of his stuff ceases to exist in-game.
Played straight with cards changing zones (such as a creature dying or a card being discarded). The game "forgets" where a card used to be and the rules treat it as a new object when it arrives in a new zone.
Particularly aggravating when mutants (in the Marvel Universe) lose their powers and (in general) turn human. That is, you might have looked like this◊ as a mutant, but once you're cured, you get an instant human body. Almost as if you had never been a mutant in the first place. Although, it's only a general rule. Chamber, a mutant whose explosion/fire/whatever powers blew off his lower face and chest, had to be put on a life support when his powers disappeared. It seems it doesn't count if it was an indirect effect of their powers, or if it will cause something even shittier to happen to the character.
X-Factor, in fact, did an arc based partially around that premise. SOME mutants became completely human looking when they became non-mutants, but other mutants retained vestiges of their mutations even after Decimation — horns, colourful feathers instead of hair, etc. — and some of them resent ex-mutants who can pass as completely humans who retain their attachment to their previous mutant state, because they can go back and forth, whenever they want.
In Spider-Man, the character "The Lizard" was created by a man, Dr. Curt Connors, trying to grow his right arm back. When he becomes the Lizard, his right arm does, indeed, grow back. When he's cured and reverts to normal, however, he loses his arm again. Connors's RIGHT ARM has No Ontological Inertia. Ditto for Kommodo, who uses an improved version of Dr. Connors's formula, that allows her to transform at will. In human form, she has no legs. Where on earth do they come from?
Scarlet Witch and her twin sons. To wit: back during the Vision & The Scarlet Witch mini-series, Wanda used a big mass of chaos energy to do the otherwise impossible — make herself pregnant with the android Vision's children. (Why an android would have reproductive organs... let's move on). We find out later on that the twins aren't kids with impossible origins, but magic-powered figments of Wanda's imagination. When she wasn't thinking of them on some level, they literally faded from reality. They were "killed off" when minor baddie Master Pandemonium absorbed them into his demonic gestalt body. Recently, the twins were resurrected and aged-up as Wiccan and Speed of The Young Avengers (though their parentage has never been officially confirmed by canon or Word of God).
Used to horrifying effect in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume II. During a dinner scene, Mr. Hyde's conversation slowly reveals that he has just brutally raped and partially ate Hawley Griffin, the Invisible Man, whose blood gradually becomes visible on the walls and table and all over Hyde as Griffin dies in the next room.
Averted in an interesting way in Judge Dredd. In the earliest years of the comic (those set in the 2100s) there has been a prophesied doom that would strike in 2120. Judges Dredd and Anderson used an experimental time machine to travel to the future where they find the cause, a psychic entity of huge power known as The Mutant, travel back in time and prevent it coming to pass. However the Zombie Dredd of the future that The Mutant had unleashed to torment Dredd had come back with them. It has become deanimated, but the fact remained that there was now a 13-year-older Judge Dredd corpse in the Black Museum. This being Judge Dredd, it came alive again and ran amok 12 years later, just in time to get everyone nervous about the old prophecy again.
Superman's Kryptonian physiology has often been described as a solar battery, absorbing the radiation from Earth's yellow sun and storing it, which powers his flight, invulnerability, and super-cake-baking powers. However, whenever someone wants to shut off Superman's powers, they just bung him in a room with a Red bulb and he becomes as weak as a kitten. The equivalent with a human would be going into a dark room and suddenly deforming with rickets because of massive Vitamin D deficiency.
As with anything Supes-related it varies continually, but one explanation bandied around is that red sunlight blocks up the cell mechanisms which use solar energy in a manner analogous to competitive inhibition of enzymes in cell biology. The stored energy is still there, but he can't use it until he's purged the red sunlight clogging up his cells. Still, it doesn't make sense — a light bulb irradiates way, way, way less light than a sun.
Even his reaction to red sunlight varies by writer. Sometimes his powers flip off like a switch when exposed, sometimes the light simply weakens him rapidly, and likewise he can recover slowly or quickly. Recently, the Kandorians made a Red Sun gun that fires a burst of red sunlight at a Kryptonian which shuts off their powers completely for an hour even though the exposure is brief.
During the Millennium crossover, the Justice League visited the homeworld of the Manhunters and confronted their leader. The entire planet collapsed when the head Manhunter escaped.
A major plot point in Lucifer where everything starts to go straight to hell (so to speak) when God up and leaves the universe. Justified in that His name was technically the only thing that was holding each individual atom of creation together in the first place.
Briefly mentioned and sort of averted in the JLA special Foreign Bodies, in which the Justice League undergoes one big Body Swap. Green Lantern, stuck in Martian Manhunter's body, points out to Aquaman (in Wonder Woman's body) that at least he got his hand back—all of the characters' unique physical features stay with their bodies, not their minds, as it should be if you only switch minds. He calls it "proof of some kind of thermodynamic 'conservation of anatomy' principle."
This is how Green Lantern's powers work. The constructs and effects he creates only exist as long as he is thinking about them. However, any impact his constructs have on normal physical matter remains (if he digs a pit with a glowy shovel, the pit remains after the glowy shovel disappears.)
In recent decades, this has been a common theme in the Batman mythos.
Bruce Wayne is not truly Batman until he puts on the costume; and as soon as he removes his mask, he reverts to being Bruce Wayne. In part this is an in-universe Enforced Trope: Batman must be stupid, incompetent Bruce Wayne while out of costume to preserve his secret identity. However, it is also a psychological internalization in that Wayne believes that, on the level of reality that most matters to him, he doesn't merely dress as Batman but is Batman - and without the costume, he's stripped down to his skeleton and not truly alive.
The same goes for quite a few of the villains. For example, the Scarecrow's primary gimmick is, of course, scaring people - something that he obviously cannot do as the very unthreatening-looking Dr. Jonathan Crane. But his scarecrow mask and the effect wreaked on the human mind by his fear toxin together make him walking, talking terror made form. Batman fully understands this, and in certain cases that knowledge makes the Scarecrow a pretty easy adversary to defeat. He'll be stalking the streets of Gotham City, terrorizing everyone in his path and boasting about how everyone is too frightened to ever stop him - and Batman will just pull his mask off, revealing a pathetic little man underneath...who now realizes he's surrounded by a huge crowd of his formerly terrified, now angry and vindictive victims.
Anarky is a violent left-wing vigilante in a gold death mask (and also wears a broad-brimmed hat and a cape, making him look not unlike the title character of V for Vendetta). His modus operandi is self-righteously punishing the rich and powerful for their unethical business practices. He finally bites off more than he can chew when he targets Batman for assassination, blaming him for all of the crime in Gotham. He interferes in a battle between Batman and (ironically enough) the Scarecrow, which proves disastrous for him when one of the Scarecrow's mind-controlled Mooks punches him in the face, knocking off his gold mask and destroying his confidence so that he reverts to the tongue-tied, peevish, cowardly juvenile delinquent he actually is (and his intelligence plunges as well, so that he goes from a brilliant wit quoting the great minds of literature and history to a stereotypically inarticulate teenager who says "man" a lot.) For extra irony, Anarky is fairly masculine in appearance with his mask on, but without it appears pretty effeminate.
This is why the Cosmic Cubes of the Marvel Universe are Awesome, but Impractical. Yeah, they make you a Reality Warper, but you have to keep thinking to make any changes to reality permanent. If your attention goes elsewhere or you fall asleep, everything will go back to normal.
Slightly zig-zagged in Cinderella. The coach, horses, dress, etc., all revert to normal at midnight, except for one (possibly both) glass slipper(s).
Genie moves the palace to higher elevation per Jafar's orders. When Jafar is defeated, the palace instantly and magically moves back to its original position. The fact that defeating Jafar reversed Genie's actions makes this case particularly absurd, especially since the Genie could have voluntarily fixed all that once he was freed.
The changes Jafar made using his power as a sorcerer were undone when he became a genie. The rug (which had been unraveled) was re-woven, Abu changed from a mechanical monkey back into a real one, and so on.
After Jafar's death at the end of Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, all the destruction he caused as a Genie is reversed, with the lava pit closing back up, the palace getting restored, and Carpet reintegrated after getting shattered.
Near the climax of the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo pours ridiculous amounts of molten copper from a cauldron onto the soldiers in the square below. A little later, Frollo dies by falling into it. Then, when the protagonists come out of the cathedral at the end of the movie, the boiling metal is gone and the square is full of people.
In The Lion King, Scar's death immediately brings rain back to the Pridelands and repairs a completely devastated ecosystem in what appears to be a few months. (This may be an instance of the Fisher King, where the beauty of a kingdom is tied to the health of its sovereign.)
In Disney's Tangled, we have Mother Gothel, who has been using Rapunzel's magic hair to stay young forever. While she does occasionally have to replenish this magic, when Rapunzel's hair is cut, Mother Gothel starts rapidly aging until she's nothing but a pile of dust.
Subverted when Flynn's wound doesn't reopen, having also been healed by Rapunzel's hair.
The Little Mermaid. After Ursula was killed, all of the merpeople she had changed into pathetic little creatures returned to their true form.
Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin (the only pre-Nolan Batman film made without Burton's involvement) subverts this trope, and sensibly so: Mr. Freeze turns people into semi-permanent human icebergs with his cold gun, so even after he is gone the victims must be thawed out within a matter of minutes, or they will die. Even when Freeze is defeated and captured at the movie's climax, tension remains as Batman, Robin, and Batgirl still have to use Wayne Enterprises' new satellite system to reflect sunlight from the other side of the world (it's currently nighttime in North America) to thaw out Gotham City before thousands of people die.
And in Batman Forever, the immediate precursor to Batman and Robin (which Schumacher directed but Burton produced), a teenage girl is rescued from a flamboyant gang of muggers by Dick Grayson, who uses his martial arts skills to temporarily incapacitate all of them, including the leader. No sooner has the fight ended than the girl asks Dick for a kiss, romantic music swells, the girl runs off after thanking Dick for saving her, and Dick feels immensely pleased with himself ("I could really get into the superhero gig"). He has forgotten that the skull-faced gang leader, although humiliated and with hardly any fight left in him, is still conscious, and never reckons that he might have reserves hidden in the intersecting alleys to avenge his defeat. As it is, he does - and after a shrill whistle from the gang leader, dozens of thugs whom Dick has not yet defeated suddenly leap out at him, easily outnumbering him and making it fortunate indeed that Batman was able to come to his rescue.
In Magma: Volcanic Disaster, once the hero removes the underlying problem causing the eruptions (by setting off more eruptions underwater with nuclear weapons, despite nuclear weapon testing being the cause of the problem), all the volcanoes stop erupting, the lava recedes, and all fires are put out.
The virus pandemic in Outbreak. Once the protagonist has found and isolated the antibody from the monkey's blood serum, by the next scene there's enough antiserum for all infected (how?). Once injected into the dying people, it instantly cures them and everything shortly thereafter has returned to normal, with no lasting ill effects. This was a flesh-eating virus. So, once the antidote is delivered, all damage is instantly healed; including skin lesions and internal organ damage.
Ghoulies has an extreme example: after Malcom is killed all the people killed by him and his ghoulies come back to life for no apparent reason.
A major plot point in Underworld Evolution, As the first vampire, Markus managed to convince the other vampires that killing him would destroy all of them, and killing his brother William (the first lycan) would destroy all lycans—thus depriving them of their slaves. When Selene hears about this a thousand years or so later, she immediately sees it for the lie it is, but the one telling it to her notes that Victor believed it enough to not risk it.
A rare biological "science" form of this trope occurs in Van Helsing. When he removes Mr Hyde's arm, it shrivels back to the arm of Doctor Jekyll as soon as it hits the ground. In the same film, killing Dracula kills all of the baby vampire things he made as well.
As shown in the opening scene, any supernatural creature that is killed returns to its previously mortal form upon death, including Dracula's wives.
The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse is a meta-example of this trope. The League of Gentlemen characters invade the real world when their world starts to collapse as their creators have moved on to a new project.
In Dario Argento's Inferno, the central apartment building collapses after its designer is strangled. (In Suspiria, the building bursts into flame after Helena Markos is stabbed, but that's more of a Load-Bearing Boss.) The Nurse, aka the Mother of Darkness, is, like her sister, Helena Markos (aka the Mother of Sighs) a Load-Bearing Boss. In both cases, the house is an extension of the Mother who lives there. The same happened to the third and final sister, The Mother of Tears,hence there is an in-universe logic to it.
In Super Mario Bros., as soon as Koopa is defeated the King turns back into a humanoid without needing to be re-evolved.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, as a standalone, would have you believe that the Empire was utterly destroyed after the Death Star was. Return of the Jedi is even worse, as lampshaded in the second Robot Chicken special: "The Rebels are right there! Get them!" "We... can't." "Why not? We still have this fleet, and they're almost destroyed." "No, you see, we lost." "We what?" "Yes, afraid so. They blew up the Death Star and killed the Emperor. We lost."
Somewhat retconned in the books, in that the Empire became much weaker after Endor, but held out for a couple years, and even afterwards held on to an "Imperial Remnant" for years. In fact, the current government of the galaxy, the Galactic Federation Triumvirate, is made up of the Rebel Alliance, the Jedi Order and...the Empire.
Hand-waved in the EU by Timothy Zahn with the invention of what became, in the games, Battle Meditation. The Emperor made the Imperial forces awesomer because of the Force. When he died, that awesomeness went away and, in the confusion that followed, the Rebels kicked major buttocks.
May be justified even without the hand wave. Many times in history a superior force has been totally routed by an inferior force after a suitably spectacular event saps their morale. With the dramatic destruction of the Death Star, the Executor, the Emperor, and several of his top officers (including The Dragon) the fleet admirals may well have ordered a general retreat in order to prevent any more dramatic losses and re-assess their position. At that point Chronic Backstabbing Disorder kicked in and the rest is the EU.
The Empire retreating is likely. Admiral Piett dies with the Executor, taking down their command ship, their commanding officer and one of the fleets ranking admirals. This would create enough confusion among the ships, plus be a big minus to morale. When the ships move in on the Death Star, this confirms that the ground force is defeated, another major morale loss. Then the Death Star blows up. There went their major installation, superweapon and base. And who were on that base? First their major leader, his second in command, a Grand Admiral, and Moff Jerjerrod, the leader of the area. Their objectives have failed, morale is probably down in the ground and not only major military, but their main leadership is dead. Retreat seems likely, plus the rebels shouldn't have too hard to get away, as being chased is highly unlikely. Again, after this, even remnants creates an issue, because of lack of major leadership.
In Return of the Jedi, the Rebel commander, at almost the last minute, orders "Move the fleet away from the Death Star". It's possible that in the confusion the Imperial fleet never got a similar order.
The climax of 1995's The Net would seem to indicate that since an evil computer program that has erased all of Sandra Bullock's identity records, deleting that program will automagically restore all her records. (This is comparable to deleting your copy of OpenOffice to restore all your documents to their original condition, or un-Photoshopping your pictures by removing Photoshop.)
In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, once Saruman's magic hold on King Theoden is released, the King is instantly rejuvenated from his withered form. This not only includes his hair and beard spontaneously changing color, but actually growing shorter again. A Wizard Did It. Literally. The magic doesn't just end, Gandalf actively throws Saruman out, so one can assume he did some fixing in the process (or even completely negated the magic, as this is also when he reveals publicly that he is now the White Wizard, not Saruman.
In "The Return of the King" the destruction of the Ring causes everything Sauron built to fall apart or explode.
Lampshaded/brought up as a plot-point in The Lost Boys. The head vampire is killed, but Michael specifically points out that he doesn't feel any different and that nothing has changed. Turns out to be played straight in the end, with the death of the real head vampire Max. As soon as he get killed, Michael immediately reverts back to human.
Vampirism works this way in Suck— killing a vampire turns everyone he sired and everyone they sired back into humans.
Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks. When Miss Price loses her concentration after an explosion, all of the animated suits of armor and uniforms collapse to the ground.
Fright Night. When Dandridge is destroyed, his sires are turned back to humans.
In The Avengers, once Iron Man redirected a nuclear missile to the Chitauri base just on the other side of the inter-dimensional bridge from which the Chitauri invaders came to Earth, the alien invading army immediately shut down and were defeated since they were evidently controlled by the base.
In Flash Gordon, the moon was only a few seconds away from crashing into the Earth when Ming was killed, instantly restoring everything to normal. Ontological inertia wasn't even necessary at this point - normal physical inertia, or even the Earth's gravity, should have allowed the moon to keep moving for at least a few more seconds. Not to mention that Ming was using a machine to move the moon, so even without ontological inertia someone must have turned it off before Ming even hit the ground. However, it's possible that the countdown was to the point where the moon was too far gone to stop, rather than the actual collision.
Word of God says the countdown was for the point of no return, where nothing would prevent the Moon from colliding.
Justified in The Faculty. After Zeke examines one of the parasites, he notices that it doesn't have all the necessary organs to sustain itself independently, and concludes (correctly) that there must be an alien queen with a telepathic link to all of its "offspring." Killing it would kill all the parasites, returning everyone to their normal selves.
Lord Of Illusions. After Nix is destroyed for good, his late follower Philip Swann who died minutes before him is stripped to the bone as Nix was the source of Swann's magic, and the hole in the Earth he created also closes back up.
Toyed with in Transcendence. The changes Will's nanomachines did to people seem to revert at the end (i.e., the Hybrids appear to revert to their pre-treatment selves), but their efforts to clean up the environment (air and water cleaned to pre-industrial levels) are implied to have remained.
An aversion: after the Darklords are defeated, the lands that they corrupted in their campaign of conquest are still corrupted. The intro pages of the Grandmaster series reveal that the Elder Magi and the Herbwardens are working to restore the Darklands to their original states, but realize that it will take centuries of effort to undo the damage.
Played straight in Book 6: killing the ancient Dakomyd causes it to instantly decay and turn to dust.
In Book 17, destroying the Deathlord Ixiataaga removes the power that kept the city of Xaagon in a suspended state, causes the entire city to collapse, breaks the cloud cover that prevented sunlight from reaching it, and "shuts down" all of Ixiataaga's undead minions.
In The Hunger Games, a character is near death with blood poisoning and a several-inches-deep gash, most likely dehydrated, and they haven't properly eaten in perhaps a week, but after a shot of a very potent medicine of sorts, they're pretty much fine.
Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Hogfather features such a Collapsing Lair: The Castle of Bones, located in the otherworldly realm of the anthropomorphic personification and winter god called the Hogfather, starts to disintegrate back into ice and snow from which is was created after the Hogfather became the victim of an assassination attempt to erase his existence from mythology. In a weird subversion, the Hogfather seems to have negative ontological inertia; he ceases to exist before the assassination plot is anywhere close to completion, and returns when the plot has been foiled (again, before completion).
This can be somewhat explained by the plan consisting of preventing belief in the Hogfather by means of magically not letting people believe in him, but it used bits of people as they were earlier. For example, making a 30 year old not have believed in him since 8 years old.
In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, the destruction of Sauron's Soul Jar (the One Ring) reduces him to an impotent ghost-like state, and with his power gone everything he made is undone, notably his fortress and the morale of his army.
All the Rings of Power were created and controlled by Sauron's power and innately tied to the One Ring, so they lost their magic as well — thus the instant destruction of the Nazgűl, which had been kept alive and intact only by the Nine Rings. Even the Three Rings of the Elves lost their power. Though Sauron never touched them and had no hand in their creation, the Ring-Smiths learned their craft from him, and whatever he taught them must have ensured their creations depended on his power or could become tied to it. Presumably, any surviving Dwarven rings were also rendered inert.
Spells (at least, some of them) in the Harry Potter universe apparently lack Ontological Inertia. For example, Harry realizes that Dumbledore is dead when the paralysis that character had cast on Harry releases. That same spell has several times been used to zap someone and walk off, so there's no reason but Ontological Inertia that this would work. It is also stated that a piece of soul trapped inside a Horcrux disappears when the Horcrux is destroyed (handwaved as a Horcrux is, apparently, the exact opposite of a human being; thus the Ontological Inertia depends on what contains the soul). Transfiguration also works this way; transfigured objects only stay that way temporarily, and they go back as soon as the wizard stops keeping them transfigured via magic.
Deryni magic works this way. Not only is it physically tiring to perform (exhausting when performed excessively), but effects vanish when their creator is destroyed. In The Quest for Saint Camber, Tiercel De Claron dies after Conall pushes him down a flight of stairs, and the handfire he'd created to light their way flickers and vanishes.
Commonly in stories involving vampires, werewolves or other "infectious" monsters; killing the "head vampire" (or what have you) also cures or kills any subservient creatures that one had created. Great way to have all of the main cast turned into these creatures and then have them back to normal in time for next week. Then again, magic may work that way for the purposes of plot.
This goes all the way back to Dracula. However, in the case of old Drac, the victim only got cured because the transformation wasn't complete yet. This has also been seen in the film Fright Night and the "Vampire Odyssey" series by Scott Ciencin; the vampiric transformation can be undone but only under very strict conditions (the creator vampire must be killed before dawn the same night, or the fledgling vampire must go without feeding for three whole nights).
In Anne Rice's "main" saga (The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned, mostly), one of the first vampires (who was also a witch/spirit seer/whatever) states that killing the first vampire would in turn kill all vampires. The king, who is the first vampire except he is not, it's actually his wife, but neither of them know it at the moment misunderstood it as "killing any vampire will kill'em all", so he let her go. This lack of ontological inertia is explained as vampirism actually being a spirit "possessing" Akasha, the queen. The spirit has lost his mind and identity (Amel has now what he has always wanted; Amel has the flesh. But Amel is no more.) and it's "core" resides in Akasha, granting her all vampire traits. Amel's "body" extends to the blood of every vampire there exists, so each of the later ones can die and that's it, but should the "core" die, the entire spirit passes on and all vampires are pretty much screwed. They manage to kill her anyways, by having another vampire absorb said "core" and become its new host.
Subverted in Rainbow Mars by Larry Niven. In one of the short stories in that book, the entire future in which the book takes place has its past altered so that it never came about. This is caused by the ghost of the time traveler who changed it that way in the first place. Long story. However, Svetz returns to the future and finds it the same as always, due to the effects of "Temporal Inertia". There's still a new future, but his exists purely out of the fact that it did. Of course, this is in a book where time traveling back before the 20th century takes you to a fantasy world with unicorns, Moby Dick, leviathans and Edgar Rice Burroughs's Mars. In some Svetz stories it's more or less explicitly stated that Svetz' "time machine" slews across parallel universes so that he winds up in the past of a parallel universe which may or may not closely resemble his own universe's past. The reason that he can return to his own universe is that only PART of the time machine (the "extension cage") actually goes anywhere/when; the other part remains in what Svetz thinks of as "the present" and serves as an anchor. It's confusing, but time travel stories often are. And the Word of God is that he goes to a fantasy world because time travel isn't actually possible in the first place — since it can only exist in fiction, "working" time travel can only send you to a fictional version of the past.
This is invoked in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Since magic is the effect of a magician imposing their will on the universe, the surest way to cure a person of an enchantment is to kill the enchanter. Though at the end, the curse of darkness placed on the titular magicians lingers long past the death of the Gentleman with Thistledown Hair who placed this curse. Presumably, this is because the earth and the sky actually placed the enchantment, and the Gentleman with Thistledown Hair simply asked them to do this on his behalf.
Averted, and explicitly referenced in the Ciaphas Cain book Cain's Last Stand, at the end Varan is dead, but people remain under his mind control. Cain says it would have been much easier the other way.
Subverted in Larry Niven's What Good Is a Glass Dagger. The castles of the magician Wavyhill all collapse when he no longer keeps them functioning because he built them on hills shaped like waves, so that when the magic failed the hill would fall over and bury the castle, hiding any evidence he left behind.
The eponymous swords: The key to their power is that each sword was created in a manner that violates the natural laws of the world: Thorn is Thunderbolt Iron; Memory (Minneyar) was made from the keel of a ship from a far-off land (allegorical Thunderbolt Iron, if you will); and Sorrow (Jingizu) is a mixture of iron and witchwood, two substances that are naturally antagonistic. The magic required to bind them to a permanent form was so strong that it took on a kind of willpower of its own, desiring nothing more than to be released so the stress on the natural order could be removed. The Storm King capitalizes on this to cause the swords to seek him out, and uses their power to reverse time to bring himself back to life. In the end, the swords, drained of their power, disintegrate into nothingness.
the Art is explicitly stated to work this way in general within the books; a rule of thumb measure of a character's magical power is how far they can bend the Laws, how long it takes to accomplish, and how long it lasts.
In C. S. Lewis's The Silver Chair, after our heroes kill the witch, the gnomes are instantly freed from her Mind Control spell and her cavernous kingdom begins to collapse. Puddleglum reasons the latter is the result of a spell the witch cast so that whoever killed her would die shortly after.
Averted: Destroying the Cauldron does not destroy all the Cauldron-born zombies. But at least it ensures no one will make any more of them. Played straight in the movie.
On the other hand, The High King shows that stabbing one of the Cauldron Born with Dyrnwyn will result in all of the rest dying as well, at the exact same time.
Also, killing Arawn will destroy Annuvin as well as mark the beginning of a magic-less time in Prydain (all magic users must sail for other lands, all magic beings must isolate themselves from humanity, and almost all magic items have been destroyed.
An interesting variation of this trope is used in Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth series as the power source of a superweapon, called "Fixed Cosmic Inertia". Basically, the device is placed in a stasis field that means that, no matter what happens to it, the major part of it continues to exist at the moment in space and time that it was originally built. When the weapon is triggered, the "rubber band" effect snaps the weapon to the present, translating all the accumulated energy into a single point in spacetime. The results are quite spectacular.
In the Old Kingdom series, there's an example of lack of ontological inertia that actually works against the good guys. Because the Abhorsen has sort-of died, the wardings he put on the Wall to stop the Dead are weakened and about to break.
An example with an explanation other that just magic; in Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, Frankenstein/Helios ensured that on his death a signal would be sent out to all of his creations via satellite causing them to drop dead.
Terry Brooks used it twice. Once in Sword of Shannara, where destroying the Warlock Lord not only collapses Skull Mountain, but also destroys his Skull Bearers, he being the source of the magic keeping them alive. Then in Wishsong of Shannara, the destruction of the Illdatch, also destroys the Mord Wraiths in the same manner, though it's more of a Keystone Army moment.
The fairy tale "The Bronze Ring", found in Andrew Lang's The Blue Fairy Book, features a classical genie ring. Ontological inertia is intentionally canceled when the black sorcerer gets hold of the ring; his first command is "make waste of all that you've done." This is a common stratagem in fairy tales where wishing rings are involved, and may be one of the reasons usage limits were hardwired into later models.
Justified in the second book of the Chanters of Tremaris Trilogy, The Waterless Sea when the Palace of Cobwebs collapses to dust when the children are rescued and after the iron-call chant is stopped, as it is explained that the continuous iron-call chant was the only thing holding it together by that point, and stopping the chanters meant that the entire structure had about as much support as a gigantic sand castle.
Older Than Radio: In The Brothers Grimm fairy tale "Snowdrop"note you know, the one better known to Disney aficionados as Snow White, all of Snowdrop's stepmother's attempts to kill her work this way. She laces Snowdrop's dress up tightly and leaves her for dead, but the dwarfs unlace it and Snowdrop is fine again. She gives Snowdrop a poisoned comb, but the dwarfs take it out of Snowdrop's hair and again she's fine. Even the famous poisoned apple is like this: it lodges in Snowdrop's throat, and when the prince dislodges it she wakes up.
Played with in a short story by Neil Gaiman. The story itself is framed as being told in a club for famous con-men, by one of the best-who proves this claim by relating the tale of how he got into the club by selling a bridge (which the other members deride as so base and guileless that having ever tried such a scheme ought to disqualify you from getting in at all). In the particular corner of the cosmos the tale occurs in, magic was used regularly and the conman referred to Ontological Inertia as a "magical half-life", defined as the length of time after a magician's death that a magical working would stand, to convince several very rich people that an extremely valuable bridge constructed by magic was nearing the end of its half-life and that, by paying him a nominal fee of a few thousand, they themselves could profit greatly when it came down.
Edgar Allan Poe's "Fall of the House of Usher" describes in great detail how a mansion decays and collapses before the protagonist's eyes after its residents die.
Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time describes a One-Hit Kill called balefire that not only instakills the target but undoes their actions for a period of time before their death, depending on the raw magical strength of the caster. It's used tactically at several points and even brings people back from the grave.
David Eddings's Elenium trilogy, after Azash is annihilated, the city of Zemoch begins to collapse under its own accumulated age.
Averted in James Herbert's The Fog; while the destruction of the fog results in clear blue skies and sunshine, those who succumbed to its effects are still insane. John Holman, the protagonist, even lampshades this.
In "Shadows in Zamboula", the death of the Evil Sorcerer causes the cobras he conjured to vanish.
In the Kull story "The Shadow Kingdom", killing the Master of Illusion causes them to reappear as half-human, half-snake.
Edgar Rice BurroughsJohn Carter of Mars novel Llana of Gathol, section "The Ancient Dead". When Lum Tar O is killed by John Carter, all of the people he put into hypnotic suspended animation a million years ago wake up at the same time.
In The Dresden Files, things from the NeverNever, be they objects or creatures, will evaporate into ectoplasm if the will keeping them intact flags. This can be a big help in maintaining the Masquerade.
A magic spell also has the ability to destroy an entire bloodline through the death of its youngest member.
It really isn't a cut and dry as that though; the spell in question is a Bloodline curse, that kills every member of the individual's bloodline, moving backwards. The character that this happens to is the youngest member of the Red Court of vampires, and since every vampire can trace their heritage back to the Red King...
In the short story "The Most Precious of Treasures" by Desmond Warzel, the protagonists note that a magical construct has in fact outlasted its creator by several millennia; this trope is not only discussed but mentioned by name.
In Replica #16, Happy Birthday, Dear Amy, implanted technology causes Amy to age into an adult overnight on her thirteenth birthday, but she somehow turns back into a teenager when the cause of the age-up is destroyed.
Dave Duncan'sA Man of His Word books feature a system of magic in which one can assume four levels: Occult Genius, Adept, Mage and Sorceror. Mages and Sorcerors can change the world around them, but only Sorcerors' changes remain without the caster having to maintain them. Of course, sometimes this is a distinction without a difference: "I could turn your head into an anvil. It would be a temporary anvil, but you'd be permanently dead."
Firebird: As soon as the sorcerer dies, all his magical creations disappear or revert to their former state. The gardens, gone; the palace, back to being a regular, if large, palace; the statues, free; the monsters, people again.
Discussed in Too Many Curses, in which the transformed captives of an evil wizard's castle fully expect their curses to end at once if he dies. When they fail to revert after the wizard's accidental death, one of the captives (a defeated rival wizard) explains that, while novice wizards' spells are sustained by their will, the castle's master was capable of crafting self-sustaining curses that'll take years to expire.
One story in Anachronauts centers around Oblivion, a cursed/magic revolver whose bullets make whatever they hit Ret Gone. (These "edits" are as unsubtle as you'd expect from using a Hand Cannon to shoot holes in reality.) When the protagonist manages to get the gun to shoot itself, everyone and everything it removed comes back.
Subverted in a non-fantastic way at the climax of Homer's Odyssey. Odysseus slays Antinous, the leader of the suitors of Penelope, and immediately afterward he and Telemachus have to wipe out all the other suitors as well. It strikes the modern reader as odd because Hollywood action movies have conditioned us to expect to see all the henchmen defeated before it's the Big Bad's turn to die, and if the Big Bad is killed right off the bat, it's often expected that his minions will either run off or simply surrender.
24: Jack Bauer's heart problems apparently disappeared in between seasons 2 and 3, just in time for him to develop a heroin addiction and suffer withdrawal that could be knocked out with some painkillers. He didn't suffer any permanent damage from the biological weapon from season 7 that we know of.
Extremely common in kids' shows, but perhaps best exemplified by Power Rangers. In such series, the destruction of a monster almost always reverses whatever effect his power has wrought on the community. In Power Rangers, even objects stolen by the villains will also be returned when the Monster of the Week is slain — when it wasn't even that monster that took them. The most ridiculous example of this is in one episode of Dino Thunder where the ocean-controlling monster has used his powers to summon a tsunami out of the depths, which is about to hit the city. The Rangers destroy the monster just as the wave is about to hit, and the tsunami fades away into nothingness.
Kamen Rider Den-O has an interesting dual case of this. Similar to the other kids show example above, when monsters go back in time to wreak havoc and the title character defeats them, any changes they've made to the timeline are reversed... almost. Human beings have No Ontological Inertia, since their existence is dependent on memories others have of them. So if someone is killed in the past, but everyone that knew them in the present loses their memories of them at the same time, that person won't come back to life, and will be forced to wander the timestream. This leads to a very glaring plot hole later in the series. Ryotaro isn't worried when Yuuto is killed in the past, erasing his future self because by killing the Monster of the Week, all the damage is restored. Unfortunately, Yuuto doesn't return because "Ryotaro never knew Yuuto at that age". All well and good, until it gets revealed that Airi and Sakurai's plan to hide their child hinged on Ryotaro's memory: basically, the entire timeline would be reconstructed from his memory, sans the baby which was erased from his memories by the Zeronos Cards. What about all the other people that Ryotaro had never met?
Lampshaded in Angel Season Four, when the evil Angelus kills the Beast, then complains when the Beast's blotting out of the sun is immediately reversed (as Angel had imagined in a dream-sequence episode).
Angelus: Aw, crap! You mean killing the Beast really does bring back the sun? I thought that was Angel's retarded fantasy.
Averted in "The Pack" (Season 1), though the applicability of the trope is arguable. Xander pretends that he doesn't remember any of his actions after the hyena spirt leaves him (but he really does remember). If memories are erased, that can be this trope. If the possessee was never conscious of the events in the first place, then it's not this trope.
In "Prophecy Girl" (season 1 finale), the Hellmouth re-closes for no particular reason when the Master dies. His death also causes the recently released Eldritch Abomination that dwells in the Hellmouth to retreat.
Played straight in "The Dark Age" (season 2). The demon Eyghon possesses Jenny, whose appearance gradually becomes demonic. When Eyghon is expelled, she immediately reverts.
Averted in "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" (season 2). Xander misuses a love spell; even after it's undone, the memory of it widens the growing rift between him and Willow (who had unresolved feelings for him already).
Played straight in "The Wish" (season 3). When Giles (in a dystopian alternate timeline) smashes Anyanka's amulet, history is restored. It makes some sense, given that the spell was itself retroactive, but events early in season 7 may still lead one to question the logic.
Very explicitly played straight in "The Replacement" (season 5): Xander has been split into two halves by a demon's spell, and Willow explains that there's not much to rejoining them — their natural state is to be together and the spell is doing the work of keeping them apart, so all she has to do is end it.
Played very straight in "Same Time, Same Place" (season 7): to save Dawn from paralytic poison, the team must kill the demon that poisoned her. She recovers abruptly and funnily.
Charmed was very bad, and inconsistent about this.
House is a regular offender. However, depending on the dramatic level of the episode, they might avert this.
Adam Monroe (spoilers ahead). He's over 400 years old, but looks to be in his mid-twenties. However, once Arthur Petrelli steals his healing ability, Monroe ages all 400 years, dies, and turns to dust. His youth and health have no ontological inertia. This is particularly aggravating in that it makes no sense with the way Monroe's powers work. They don't cover up his age or mask it, he has highly advanced regenerative capabilities. Logically, once he loses his power, he should just be normal, still young, but able to age and be hurt NOW.
They try to explain it by claiming that over the years, Adam has been hurt and killed so many times that his cells now continuously die and regenerate. It's possible that Arthur only took the "regenerate" part away, meaning all the cells in Adam's body instantly died.
In the Season 3 finale, Sylar activates Primatech's security system, causing heavy bars to drop over the windows and all the lights to go out. When he "dies", the heavy barriers all rise and the lights turn back on. The building then explodes, but for unrelated reasons.
The succubi in Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire reproduce by forcing an egg down a man's throat, which then swells in size inside their stomach to give them the "ninth month of pregnancy" look and apparently bursts out from their belly like in Alien. That is, unless you slay the succubus that laid it, causing an immediate "miscarriage" and the victim vomiting up the remains. This could just be an effect of the Flaming Sword of Fire, as we don't see a succubus being slain with anything else, but it still doesn't make sense either way.
The changelings all asploded when the mother was killed.
In the episode "Heart," whether or not werewolves are subject to ontological inertia is actually a central plot point. Sam and Dean haven't seen a werewolf "since [they] were kids" (and presumably didn't actually participate in that hunt). Their father had a theory that if the werewolf who bit and turned another was killed, said other werewolf would turn back to a normal human. They test said theory. It doesn't work.
In "Two Minutes to Midnight", Pestilence's mere presence infects the Winchesters with so many diseases they can't even stand. When he loses his Ring of Power, they're back on their feet in seconds.
Similar case with the Nigh Invulnerable Leviathans. They don't die, however with their leader Dick Roman dead they have become "normal" monsters albeit extremely hard to kill. At least according to Crowley.
Averted in Big Wolf on Campus when a medusa turns Merton to stone. The medusa is defeated, but Merton can't be changed back without Tommy and Lori going through an arduous process to obtain a special potion. Also, defeating the evil librarian (don't ask) doesn't save the people trapped in her books. Reading the books does though.
Played in Teen Wolf. Derek said there's a rumor that a turned Beta MAY be able to be cured by killing the Alpha who turned them. However, it doesn't say what happens to any other Beta's the Alpha may have turned, so it would at most be situational, or, it could just be a Motivational Lie Derek told in order to get Scott to cooperate with his plans.
Averted in The Sarah Jane Adventures' "Eye of the Gorgon". Defeating the Gorgon doesn't turn the people it's petrified back. You need to use the talisman, and it only works if they haven't been stone too long.
Played straight in "The Daleks". The Thals' anti-radiation drugs seem to restore the Doctor and company, who were nearly close to death from radiation poisoning, almost instantly.
Played straight in the serial "Terror of the Autons", the Master's somewhat inauspicious debut. He awakens a dormant meteorite containing the Nestene Consciousness, which animates a group of Autons (plastic automata) he created, which go on to create second-generation Autons that also come alive with the Nestene Consciousness. When the Autons take care of the first phase of the invasion, the Master uses a radio telescope to broadcast some kind of energy that allows a Nestene mothership to instantly materialize in Earth's sky. When the Doctor reverses the polarity of the telescope, not only does the mothership disappear, but every Auton falls lifelessly to the ground. Justified in that the Autons are not independently intelligent, but are directly controlled by the Nestene Consciousness.
Also played straight in an early episode of Tennant's run. The Doctor uses a vaccine to cure a zombie apocalypse, complete with their rotting flesh re-forming before our eyes.
The Doctor: I'm the Doctor, and I cured them!
Another Doctor Who example in the new series's episode "Vampires in Venice"; when Eleven turns off the generator that begun to give Venice its own natural-disaster apocalypse, including a tidal wave started by an earthquake, within less than a second the sky clears up, the clouds move, and everything is sunshine and rainbows.
The episode "The Curse of the Black Spot" features a Monster of the Week that enters our world using reflective surfaces as a gateway. At one point she does this via a crown; the Doctor responds by tossing said crown into the sea. This somehow causes the monster to vanish. The "monster" was actually a projection from a ship on the other side. Throwing the crown in the water severed the connection.
The Tenth Planet ends with the titular planet's destruction sparking the death of all Cybermen on Earth. While it's said they were wholly dependent on power from Mondas, thus explaining why they died alongside it, not only do they drop dead almost instantly, but their organic parts, for almost no reason, disintigrate completely.
In The Vampire Diaries, when an Original Vampire is killed, all vampires created from their bloodline also die.
In the 1998 Merlin series, Queen Mab's spells begin to lose their power and fade away after she disappears. It seems to take at least a few years, though.
Used inconsistently in Warehouse 13 — as soon as artifacts get neutralized, all their effects generally go away and people return to normal. There are numerous exceptions, though. Usually caused by a second artifact.
In one particular case, a highly explosive artifact (a remnant of the London Blitz with all the firepower of the Nazi war machine)) is fueled by hate. They use Gandhi's Shroud to try to remove all negative emotions from the artifact, but the timer is still ticking. They finally realize that they need to use the Shroud on the Big Bad, as, apparently, it's hit hate that fuels the artifact. Apparently, killing him won't remove the hate. However, as soon as the Shroud is put on him, the timer stops. He apologizes and dies (guess there was nothing left in him but the hate).
Averted in Kamen Rider Double's portion of the CrossoverMovie Wars CORE: the Spider Dopant has the ability to plant "spider bombs" in people that go off if they get too close to their loved ones. The bombs are still active after his defeat, which forced Double's mentor to avoid his own daughter for the last decade.
In Assignment 3 of Sapphire And Steel, the Changeling can reduce things to dust by touching them. When Steel returns him to his original condition, everything he had touched is instantly restored.
In Lost Girl, The Djieine's venom instantly disappears from its victims' bodies as soon as its heart is destroyed. Lauren starts to give a perfectly rational and sensible explanation (something to do with magnetic fields) for why it stopped instantly, but trails off when she sees that Bo doesn't understand any of it.
Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Deadly Years". A strange form of radiation causes Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty to age at a rate of 10 years per day until they're all senior citizens. Once a medicine that neutralizes the radiation's effect is administered, they quickly de-age back to their original ages.
Averted in the Star Trek: The Next Generation series finale. Picard (who is moving back and forth through time by Q) is warned by Q that he will be responsible for destroying humanity. In each time frame Picard travels to the Neutral Zone to investigate a "spatial anomaly". Eventually, Picard realizes that the inverse tachyon pulses he is using to scan the anomaly are actually creating it and will, in the far past, prevent the human race from ever coming into being (and all other life on earth, apparently). Turning off the beams does nothing, however, and Picard bemuses "Why isn't the anomaly being affected?" Turns out the anomaly does have ontological inertia, and the Enterprise has to find a way to repair it.
Played straight on several occasions (including the movies) with Geordi La Forge's eyes, and the many times that his eyes have been regenerated to normal functioning eyes, only to become blind again after whatever effect had caused it had worn off, as if healthy eyes require some kind of constant external effect to remain healthy and functional.
In Star Trek: Voyager's two-part episode "Year of Hell", destroying the Krenim time-ship also undoes all of the changes it made to the timeline.
While the above is Justified in the shownote destroying the time ship caused it to erase itself from history, retroactively undoing all of its actions, Voyager earned itself the nickname U.S.S. Reset Button for a combination of this and Status Quo Is God.
Averted and lampshaded in The Aquabats! Super Show! episode "The Floating Eye of Death!". The titular eye turns several people into zombies, and Jimmy the Robot is actually rather surprised when they don't go back to normal after he destroys it.
Averted in Kamen Rider Gaim: When Roshuo (the king of the Inves) is killed, it does absolutely nothing to stop the spread of the Forest of Helheim or the other Inves attacking; the only way to permanently end the threat is for someone to take Roshuo's place as the master of Helheim, abandoning their humanity in the process.
One Sunday edition of Calvin and Hobbes saw the titular twosome engaging in one of their trademark petty arguments in the midst of a meeting of their 'anti-girl' secret club. While Calvin's head is turned (he's writing a derogatory "law" about Hobbes in the club charter), Hobbes snatches Calvin's "Supreme Dictator Hat" off of his head and proclaims "Now I'm the Supreme Dictator!" - as if taking off the Supreme Dictator's hat automatically drains him of his power.
Played with in the "Tower" table of Ruiner Pinball; casting three magic spells supposedly destroys the Tower and cause it crumble, but we never actually see it happen.
Religion & Mythology
In Christian theology, God is both the creator and sustainer of the universe. Thus, the universe would (theoretically) cease to exist without God's continued provision.
This is the case for the "Supreme Being" God in many if not most theologies, generally because their "God" is the "Subsistent Act of Being" or "the Form of the Good", or some similar formulation meaning that he (or it, in the non-personal ones) is the fact that anything exists, the personified (or not) essence of "existence", as a concept, itself. Hence why the universe is dependent on God—if there were no such thing as "existence", nothing could exist.
"And [Christ] is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (Colossians 1:17, NKJV)" Literally, if Christ, that is, God the Son, ceased to exist (which is impossible), then the universe would also cease to exist.
In some cases, werewolves revert to their human forms when killed. There's a story where a hunter cuts off a werewolf's paw and puts it in a bag to bring home and show off. When he takes it out, he sees that it's now a human hand wearing his wife's ring and she's crouched over the sink cradling her arm.
When the Darklord of an "island" domain is killed, the island may cease to exist, sometimes simply being absorbed into the Mists, sometimes violently falling apart. What happens to the island's inhabitants is unknown. This is because the Darklords are Fisher Kings of their various domains, which only exist to serve as a prison and stage for the Darklords they're built around. With no Darklord, the domain literally serves no purpose and is, in the view of the Dark Powers, expendable.
This trope forms an important part of the worldview of the Abber Nomads who inhabit the Nightmare Lands domain. Because their surroundings are constantly shifting, they see no reason to believe that anything exists when they are not interacting with it.
2nd Edition adventure FROA1 Ninja Wars, adventure "Tiger-Bird Spirit - The Sequel". Centuries ago a wu jen was turned into a tigbuana buso through a divine curse. He can infect a victim and cause them to become a tagamalang buso. If he is killed, any people he has infected become normal again.
Mostly averted in D&D, however. Spells have set durations that will play out whether or not the caster dies before they end, and magical items are their own thing and not reliant on the creator. Killing the master vampire, head necromancer, or golem-creator just means the subordinate vampires, zombies, or golems are now independent. You'd have to specially invoke this trope to make it happen, barring some very unusual circumstances.
The default behaviour of magic in Mage: The Awakening. Generally, if a mage is killed, their ongoing spells will end, since they require the mage's soul to function. However, mages have the option of relinquishing a spell, making it self-sustaining, at the cost of no longer being in control of it, and having to invest a dot of Willpower. Relinquishing a spell imbued into an item has a few other options for what has to be sacrificed.
Level 10 of the discipline Quietus is Punish the Sins of the Father, which kills the target vampire and all descended from him through the Embrace.
In one adventure a vampire was trying to kill the vampire who Embraced her so that she could become human again.
In Warhammer, the normal rank-and-file undead (zombies, skeleton etc.) in the armies of the Vampire Counts slowly crumbles to dust when the general of the army is killed, since the magic power that have created them is gone. In case of creatures such as ghouls who are not technically undead but enslaved by the vampires will, they slink back to where they come from. This was averted on a grand scale when the spell Nagash was casting to resurrect the entire world's dead was disrupted. Most of the died again, but many stayed around and there are still places where the dead spontaneously come back due to the echoes of his spell.
Averted with certain spells that have a delayed response. As one faq pointed out, jumping up and down on a wizard does not stop a meteorite he 'summoned' from crashing onto the battlefield a turn later.
Champions supplement The Circle and M.E.T.E. When a vampire is destroyed, some of the people it changed into vampires become human again.
Massively averted by the Nobilis, who exist in Celestial time and are mostly immune to the effects of mundane time. You can travel to before a Noble was born and kill her parents...and all you'll do is piss her off. Mundane history now says she was never born, sure, but she still exists, because she she was Ennobled before you tried to erase her.
Incorporated into Ars Magica, where less powerful magics often have no persistence, but more powerful magic does persist, mainly through investment of game resource / power-points. Things destroyed by magic stay destroyed, and killed creatures are still dead, even with less powerful magic.
RolemasterShadow World supplement Demons of the Burning Night. While wearing the Helm of Kadaena the wearer accumulates 10 years of aging during each combat, but the Helm prevents the aging from taking effect. If the Helm is ever removed all of the aging immediately takes effect.
BIONICLE's Kanohi Mohtrek toyed with the trope. It's essentially a mask that creates duplicates of the user, but with a twist: the duplicates are actually the user's past selves, plucked out of the timeline into the present. Then they fight or some stuff. When the mask is turned off, the duplicates return to their original time, and will have no recollection of the future events they "just" witnessed. What the mask doesn't undo is physical damage, however. So whenever a past-self is summoned into battle and gets battered and weakened, he/she will return in that state to his/her timeline, but won't know how he/she suddenly got weakened and bruised.
Many games rely on First Aid kits to heal the player. Picking one up tends to cause evidence of prior injuries to instantly disappear. This goes back at least as far as Wolfestein 3D, in which the player could actually regain a lost eye.
It's also common in video games for the level to end at the instant the hero gathers enough plot coupons. Even if an uncountable wave of enemies are swarming in for the kill; the minute you complete your objective it's is 'well done' and on to the next mission completely unharmed.
Might and Magic VIII: Day of the Destroyer has this, complete with sunshine, rainbow and birds flying.
On the other hand, it appears that the consequences of the opening of the portals to the Elemental Planes remains even after the portals are destroyed — the ending only gives short glimpses, but the island on which the Earth Portal is situated doesn't appear to sink after the portal is destroyed, nor does the lake in which the Water Portal is situated drain away as soon as the portal is destroyed. The post-ending gameplay would seem to corroborate that, except the elemental portals remain open despite the ending explicitly showing all of them being destroyed.
A rather ridiculous example of this is mentioned in Shang Tsung's Mortal Kombat Armageddon bio: Supposedly, his master, Shao Kahn, has a contractual stipulation with anyone who pledges allegiance to him that, if Shao Kahn ends up biting the dust, so too will they, which also means he's able to revive his minions should they die due to this link. In a minor subversion, however, it's apparently treated as an unsubstantiated rumor among Khan's allies, hence why Shang Tsung had no compunction about slaying him with fellow sorcerer Quan Chi's help at the beginning of Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance. A minor point of argument with this among fans is exactly who will be affected by this trope should Shao Kahn be Killed Off for Real.
Mortal Kombat 3:, as defeating Shao Kahn revives all the people who died in the game's opening apocalypse (presumably having their souls taken only rendered them mostly dead). This wasn't the case in the very first edition of Mortal Kombat 3, which suggested that most of humanity remained dead even after the game ended, but that changed in all the subsequent editions, presumably to make further Earth vs. Outworld sequels easier to write.
Occurs in the end of Kingdom Hearts I. When Sora and Mickey seal the Door to Darkness, every world and everyone that the Heartless destroyed was brought right back to the way they were before the Heartless attacked.
The world of Drakengard has No Ontological Inertia. You ready for this one? The seals placed against the Seeds of Resurrection also hold back the "true world", in which the Grotesqueries roam free and hold dominance over all things. The world the protagonists are trying to save is a protective illusion. Thus the world that the majority of Drakengard takes place in doesn't have any real permanence: the moment all the seals are broken, the world as we've known it disappears. The sky, for one, immediately turns red. In the sequel, the change is even more violent, as the sky literally shatters. This leads to a bit of Fridge Logic when one wonders how those seals came to be in the first place.
Dragons did it.They served the Grotesqueries in the true world, until the dragons wrote the seals to create a safe pocket of reality where they were the dominant species. Then humanity emerged and kind of mucked it all up.
In Makai Kingdom, anything that has been created by being written down in the wish-granting Sacred Tome will suffer the same fate as the page it was written on should the tome be damaged. Spilling coffee on the book is probably not a good idea — burning it is even less so.
In some video games, projectiles cease to exist if the enemy that fired them is destroyed. In some other ones (such as Shoot Em Ups), the projectiles turn into "happy things" that are attracted to the player to give points. But don't count on either behaviour.
At one point in the console RPG Chrono Trigger, the player is given the choice to fight and kill Magus, the villain for the first half of the game, or to spare his life since certain other characters have far surpassed him on the Villain Meter. If you choose to kill Magus, his curse on Glenn/Frog is lifted at the end of the game, whereas if you let Magus live, Glenn is still a frog at the end. This raises questions, because if Magus is alive at the end of the game, he travels back to 12,000 BC to search for his sister, after which the time gate closes forever. So what exactly happens in a No Ontological Inertia scenario when Magus dies of natural causes after laying the curse in his personal timeline, but thousands of years before the curse in objective time?
The PlayStation version adds to the confusion with an additional ending cutscene which features a human Glenn, which plays whether or not you killed Magus.
The Nintendo DS version adds one more ending that may avert the issue of Magus dying of old age in 12000BC: Instead, he's killed by the Time Devourer outside time.
Chrono Trigger also averts this trope when the heroes attack Magus's palace, an assault which ends with the whole palace getting sucked into a massive time vortex. The disappearance of their ruler doesn't end the Mystics' war against the Kingdom of Guardia as his second-in-command picks up where Magus left off.
The big statue of Magus in the Monster Town is replaced by a statue of his general. Once you kill HIM, then the statue goes away and all of the Mystics in the present become friendly to humans.
Averted in Bloodrayne 2, where killing the Big Bad at the end of the game doesn't actually change anything; the world remains the same vampire-ruled hellhole the Big Bad turned it into halfway through the game. The protagonist even remarks how thinking everything would change back to normal after the Big Bad's death was "pretty stupid, huh?"
Mega Man Battle Network is all over this trope. In any battle, as soon as you kill the last enemy, you're invincible; all onscreen attacks will either disappear or pass right through you. This is true even in Network Transmission, a sidescrolling homage to the classic series. Examples abound in the plot of the games too: when you beat an enemy NetNavi, whatever havoc it's created in the real world is harmlessly defused.
Averted by the bosses of the first Mega Man, where boss attacks did in fact survive their user's destruction and could do damage to Mega Man. Made worse by the fact that you couldn't move for a split second after defeating the boss, meaning if the timing was just right (or wrong, as the case may be), you were a sitting duck for a stray shot or one of Fire Man's ground plumes. Especially problematic against Elec Man or Ice Man, whose projectiles could take off roughly a third of your health.
In the MMORPG City of Heroes, killing a character with summoned pets kills the pets as well. This arguably makes sense when the pets are animated stone or illusionary phantoms, but in the case of the "Mastermind" player class, this extends to autonomous robots and ordinary street thugs. Note, however, that ordinary mooks brought onto the field by such an act do have ontological inertia. However, this is subverted by a lot of NPCs that summon particularly annoying pets that are more difficult to defeat than their summoners.
The same effect applies to hunters and warlocks in World of Warcraft. Whether it happens with NPCs tend to vary on whether they are normal units (where they almost never disappear) or bosses, when they frequently do.
Played straight with the shaman class and their totems (elemental talismans dropped on the ground that buff players or debuff/damage enemies). When the shaman dies, the totems vanish.
Subverted in the Wrath of the Lich King. The initial invasion is planned to defeat the Lich King and then wipe up the remaining Scourge after his fall. It is subsequently revealed that the Scourge will not simply die with the fall of the Lich King, but instead will become even more dangerous without the control Arthas imposed. Even if he is slain, somebody must assume the role of the Lich King or the Scourge will overrun the world.
EverQuest has an odd variant of this: When player characters are killed their summoned pets disappear. However, pets of NPCs do not and must be killed separately.
It's a slightly odd moment in Sonic Adventure 2 (amongst other games) when you realise that destroying an enemy causes all of its projectiles that are coming towards you to mysteriously disappear.
Not to mention that after Eggman blew up the half of the moon with the Eclipse Cannon, it got better in the later games after the cannon was put out of commission. It's especially jarring in Sonic Advance, where the final boss fight takes place on the moon.
According to Word of God, Eggman restored the moon (somehow) after the game as an apology for his part in his grandfather's scheme.
In Mushroom Hill Act 2 of Sonic 3 & Knuckles, the green grass on the ground turns into brown leaves and the sky turns a strange color at the start of the level. The effect gets worse as you progress though the level. At the end of the level you find a satellite dish broadcasting some type of signal. Destroying the dish will instantly revert the ground back from brown leaves to green grass and make the sky (and the rest of the stuff in the level) turn turn back to it's correct color.
Averted in Disgaea 2: According to the art book, even with the death of The fake Zenon, Veldime will in fact remain a netherworld. The people will remain Demons, the monsters that were attracted to the world under Zenon's influence will not leave, And while the landscape's transformation has been halted, what had already been changed will remain so. The book does go on to say however, that since Zenon is no longer draining the morality and consciences out of the people, they will at least stop turning evil, and points out that many changes brought to Veldime as a Netherworld were in fact positive, so things still work out in the end.
Invoked in Disgaea 4 : Valvatorez believes that eliminating the source of the A-Virus pandemic (Namely, Axel), will reverse the virus's effects. He's wrong (Though things still turn out A-OK when a cure is found).
Takes on another form in online games that utilize "lag compensation," notably first-person shooters. Suppose two combatants fire upon each other, one with a plasma gun, another with a rocket launcher. From each player's perspective, the other hasn't yet fired; meanwhile, on the server, the rounds pass each other by mid-flight. The plasma bolts, having faster velocity, hit their target first for lethal damage. Should the rocket launch and plasma death occur within the lag compensation window (usually around 1/10th of a second), the rocket "was never fired," and the plasma gunner gets an easy kill. Outside the window, the plasma gunner still has to dodge the rocket. This phenomenon also causes hastily-flung grenades to disappear, and assault rifle victims to apparently die from one or two bullets rather than the five to nine they have to hit anyone else with for a kill. On a related theme, some weapons "charge up" by holding fire, and launch when their button is released. Killing players during the charge up sequence often causes the super-attack to instantly dissipate rather than either launching at that instant (or wildly). Lag compensation in many of these games lead to the phenomenon of the high-ping sniper, a player whose bullets seem to curve around corners or otherwise kill enemies that are out of their effective range.
In Digimon World, it is possible for a fireball, stormcloud, or various other projectiles to vanish in midair because the user's technique was interrupted.
In Final Fantasy IV, killing a summoned creature kills the summoner as well. Played for a My God, What Have I Done? moment in the village of Mist, when Cecil and Kain discover to their horror that not only did the King of Baron's package just nuke the town, but they personally murdered Rydia's mother by killing her summoned dragon in the Mist Cave. There is also another important plot moment with the Dark Elf who stole Troia's Earth Crystal — he cast a spell on the cavern he hid in, magnetizing the entire cavern so strongly that equipping even a hint of something metallic will completely paralyze the character in-battle, making it impossible to defeat him. But when Edward's music breaks the Dark Elf's concentration, the aforementioned magnetism immediately vanishes and the party can defeat him for real.
Played very straight in Final Fantasy VI, with good reason. During the game's grand finale, after you've defeated Kefka, the player is shown that life is springing back all over the world. Sometimes through obvious elements like flowers and grass regaining color, other times through more symbolic touches like one of the NPCs giving birth to her baby. Justified because with Kefka being the closest thing to God — specifically god of a force that explicitly alters reality — existence was unraveling. With him defeated creation slips triumphantlybackintoplace.
Less because of Kefka than of the Warring Triad. When you destroy their power contained in their statues and Kefka, all magic and all Espers in existence vanish and Kefka's tower collapses into rubble. Presumably the world's sorry state was held in place by the same force that held together the rocks of that monument.
Teased with in Final Fantasy XII. Amidst an intense aerial battle with the Vayne's forces and the resistance, Vaan and Co slip into Vanye's fortress. After defeating Vayne, the heroes gather together and stare triumphantly at the sky, their faces proud at their accomplishment at defeating the Big Bad. A few seconds later, a burning ship flies by, reminding them that yes, a battle is still going on.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines mocks the "head vampire" variant, as that's really not how the game it's based on works. You can find a neonate who's lamenting his undead condition and seeking a cure; you can either let him down easy or try to con some money out of him by saying it only works if you kill the head vampire with a stake of "holy rosewood" (which you just happen to have).
Referenced but Averted in the Legacy of Kain series. Ancient vampire Janos Audron mentions to Raziel that the Sarafan think killing him will be the end of the vampires but adds, "We are not that fragile."
Killing a Demoman in Team Fortress 2 will cause all the explosive traps he's laid to disappear. There's even an achievement for removing a certain amount of traps by killing the Demomen that made them.
Similarly, killing an Engineer during Sudden Death (and possibly Arena) will make all his buildings explode. Note that this does not happen in any other game mode, where the Engineer can then respawn and go back to his hopefully still standing buildings.
Also if an Engineer switches to another class, all their buildings will disappear. This is probably an Acceptable Break from Reality because otherwise someone could build a sentry, switch to a more deadly class, and still get sentry kills.
A now fixed bug made so that any missiles fired from a sentry that got destroyed after they were fired became neutral entities, allowing potential griefing Engineers to kill allies.
Engineers who switch wrenches will have their buildings destroyed, since each wrench provides a specific bonus tied to buildings (usually at different points in the building's life, such as one wrench making things build faster, while another one lets you teleport back to base, and a third one allowing you to build a quick-deploying combat mini-sentry instead of the regular sentry gun) and would be exploited for changing out wrenches before actually heading out with the buildings. However, if your client loses connection to the item server and you have a special wrench equipped, the game will automatically force you into the stock wrench and destroy your buildings, even though you never intended to change.
Averted with weapons who make the enemy bleed, burn, or otherwise lose health over time like the Pyro's flamethrower or the Spy's Sapper, that continue to damage away at enemies even after the user has been killed.
Justified in Heretic; D'Sparil was keeping his minions in your dimension with his power, so after his death they all die or get sent back. The beings of his home plane of existence, covered in the Expansion Pack, Shadow of the Serpent Riders, remain unaffected though.
Arcanum has a few quest-based curses that expire on death. One example is found early on, and the other involves the Crystal Ball quest. The Gypsy Blood curse, on the other hand, is caused by death.
This actually applies to a large majority of spells. Summoned monsters disappear when you no longer sustain the spell, time reverts to normal when you're no longer consciously altering it, et cetera. Actually, Arcanum makes considerable use of the ephemeral nature of magic both in its discussion of the setting's philosophies, sciences and cultures, and in its game mechanics. No Ontological Inertia is again used here with deliberate intent. Its few exceptions run the full gamut from excellent writing to dropping the ball.
The Legend of Zelda series has this in spades. A usual pattern is visiting a new area, finding something wrong with the local environment, slaying the boss monster inhabiting the nearest temple, and collecting your reward from the grateful townspeople when their lake is refilled, their mountain quits erupting, their well quits sending out shadows to stalk them at night ...
Though this trope is not used in the original King's Quest III, the two remakes by Infamous Adventures and AGD Interactive avert it and play it straight, respectively. In the first, an epilogue shows Alexander and King Graham rebuilding the kingdom of Daventry from the devastation wrought by the dragon, but in the second a magic glowing pinball rebuilds the kingdom and puts everything right once the dragon is dead and the royal family is reunited.
Cabal has this in spades. To beat a level, you had to defeat enemies and destroy structures until a bar at the bottom filled up, at which point every remaining enemy died/blew up and every remaining structure on screen collapsed. As for the two Flunky Bosses, destroying the main target would cause all the flunkies to spontaneously explode.
In Pokémon Black and White, when the event Zoroark is defeated/captured, the clearing it is in fills with flowers and much more pleasant-looking trees. Justified because the Zoroark had disguised the actual clearing as something different.
Averted in the Valley of Dying Things scenario of Blades Of Avernum. The Vale is suffering a curse in which the rivers poison the vegetation and anything that drinks from the river or eat food grown with river water. After destroying the source of the toxins, an abandoned magical waste treatment facility deep below the surface the poison already within the environment does not leach away or vanish, and the inhabitants of the Vale flee only to come back once the Vale has been magically cleansed. Even then, the land is still not as prosperous as it was before the curse.
Subverted by the Fallout series. At the end of the first game, you kill the Master of the Super Mutants. In all the subsequent games, supermutants continue to be present, ranging from The Remnant, hostile to all, to contributing members of society (including one who's an NCR Ranger).
Averted in Knights of the Old Republic, where, if an enemy who wields the Force casts any lasting Force Power on you (or your party), such as "Plague," which slowly drains your health, his or her death will not stop the effect of the Force Power. It will run out eventually in the allotted time establish for that skill, unless you cast a Power of your own previously designed to counter it, but killing the NPC who inflicted it on you does nothing to help.
Story-wise, the second game reveals that taking advantage of this was part of how Revan did so well against the Republic following the Mandalorian Wars - he would deliberately target influential people on the other side, either converting them to his cause (causing their followers to follow suit) or killing them outright (leading their underlings into chaos).
Averted in Sword of the Stars. If you attack a planet and kill all the population, any planetary defenses will still be active and need to be destroyed before you can take over. Sometimes you can even kill just the "imperial" population, leaving (most of) the "civilian" population intact. (Basically killing anyone directly related to the faction who owns the planet, but leaving everyone else.) If nobody moves in to grab the planet after that, they will just declare independence and become a neutral party until someone muscles in on them again.
Played heartbreakingly straight in Final Fantasy X. After the Fayth are released from their state of constant dream summoning, everything they summoned starts to fade away such as the Aeons and the people of Dream Zanarkand including Tidus.
Averted in Anvil Of Dawn. While trying to get past the gargoyle in the basement of the Dark Lantern, you can point out that the mage who summoned him as a guardian is now dead. The gargoyle says he's pleased to hear that, but he's still bound by the summons, which you have to break yourself before you can get past him.
The stealth shooter Vampire Rain takes this trope Up to Eleven with the Nightwalkers being completely dependant on the vampire who sired them. This becomes a gameplay mechanic about halfway through the game, when killing certain vampires will destroy all the vampires sired by that particular vampire in the level. This is used as a plot point, when the protagonists destroy the four head vampires, purging the city of their bloodlines completely.
Averted twice in the Parasite Eve series. The first is after the death of Eve. The Ultimate Being she was trying to birth is born despite it's mother melting into a pile of goo and serves as the final boss. The second is revealed in Parasite Eve 2. Eve's monstrous creations did not all drop dead after Eve or the Ultimate Being are destroyed and wreak havoc across the U.S for several years.
In Super Mario Bros. (and all spinoffs), any enemies in boss battles will immediately vanish once the boss is defeated. In Super Mario World this extends to sprites in general, if you're riding a Yoshi in a battle, the Yoshi vanishes once the boss is defeated as well.
According to the original plot for Killer7, managing to kill a being called the "Final Smile" would have caused the regular Heaven's Smiles the player faces throughout the game to cease existing. The Final Smile isn't in the released game, though.
Egregious in Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds, where destroying a builder unit detonates any unfinished buildings that unit was working on, destroying an HQ building detonates all other buildings in the sector, and destroying the central HQ in the faction's home sector destroys everything, granting instant victory to the other side.
At the end of Super Robot Wars Compact 3, Alkaid says that there's no worry. Once he dies, the dimensions should return to their rightful state without his power tugging at it. These people should be sent home. Alkaid then notes that he has no regrets about his life and to meet Folka and his new way. In the end, he gives Folka his thanks to which Folka says that the same goes likewise. Alkaid then dies with the Raha Extim exploding and there is a flash, sending everyone back to their homeworlds.
Averted in Bob and George; George is wearing a time travel suit that makes him intangible. When the suit is destroyed, he stays intangible. A lot of fans were surprised by this, given the prevalence of this trope.
Averted in Dominic Deegan with the poison infecting orcish lands. It takes so long to be undone after the source was destroyed that Dominic face palms himself for completely forgetting it was there.
Earlier, Fox dissolves after Abraham uses a mass sleep spell, knocking out Nanase so he can kill Ellen. The author admits it looks more disturbing than he originally intended.
On the other hand it is averted with creations of the Dewitchery Diamond, when Tedd read a log of the diamonds original creation wherein a man cursed with lycanthorphy was separated into himself and a giant wolf-beast when the man died the wolf still survived.Tedd point out this means if Elliott dies Ellen will be just fine, this doesn't particularly reassure Elliott.
In Shadows Of Enchantment, a common annoyance for the True Companions in the past has been for them to heroically slay a huge, hideous enchantment-created monster, only for its corpse to revert to a dead squirrel or something.
In Sluggy Freelance, the demon K'Z'K possesses Gwynn's body and changes it to a large, monstrous form. He seems able to change alter this form at will and does so, and at one point even reconstructs it after being put through a meat grinder. And when he's banished from the body, which is looking monstrous at the time, it returns to its normal shape (albeit comatose because he keeps her soul). At least, before this, one of the characters mentions the possibility that she might come back as minced meat.
The permanence of any spell run amok in The Wotch seems inversely proportional to the number of people still stuck when the danger has passed. For example, a demon turns dozens of people into human-animal hybrids, and even a stone fountain, but they all turn back when he vanishes. On the other hand, a girl turned temporarily into an imp switches a couple, and they stay switched for months after she turns back, and only switch back at all because a witch does it for them.
In Axe Cop, "The Dogs", once the Siberian Witch Doctor Mummy Cats are sent to Mouse World, their evil magics are undone because they become so happy, and everything they enchanted (which was a lot) returns back to normal. The birds shrink back to normal size, the fish return to normal and fall from the sky, the humans turn back into humans instead of witch doctor mummy kittens... It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context.
In Sorcery101, a werewolf's Healing Factor has no ontological inertia, so when a person is cured of lycanthropy, any wound they received as a werewolf will come back.
This one's a plot point in OFF: Whenever a guardian is killed, his zone, and all its inhabitants, in one of them's words, "fall into nothingness, never to return".
In an episode of Ben 10, a giant tick-like alien lands on Yellowstone Park and begins sucking all life in the area dry. The Tennysons are in the area, but are unable to stop it immediately due to the usual aliens proving ineffective. By the time Ben finally learns to use the new alien of the week, the entire area is gray and dead, the usual geysers are spitting poison, and the ground is brittle and breaking apart in large floating chunks. After the tick is destroyed, the background literally turns green and lush again in midconversation, and the gunk that Ben has to wash off the Rustbucket is the only evidence that the tick was ever there. Why then did the gunk remain? Just to make life suck for Ben.
In an episode of DuckTales, a magical golden duck artifact with the power to turn things into gold has unleashed a magic wave that is turning the world into gold. Scrooge and the guy who accidently started the whole thing are rushing to return the artifact to the shrine fountain it came from. They eventually reach the shrine just ahead of the magic effect and throw the duck into the water even as they're turned to gold too... and then everything is returned to normal.
An episode of My Life as a Teenage Robot involved Jenny being turned into a rampaging monster by a tiny machine that had infected her. As soon as the machine was removed all the changes were undone in seconds right before the camera. The thing that makes this particularly egregious is the fact that Jenny is a robot.
The Gilligan's Planet episode "Too Many Gilligans" featured an alien cloning machine that began cranking out copies of the cast until the landscape was filled with them. When the machine was destroyed, all the clones vanished.
The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron once had an episode where Jimmy used a hypnosis machine to make his parent think the next day was his birthday to get a chemistry set, only for it to turn out to make them think every day was his birthday. After eventually getting sick of it, Jimmy decides to unhypnotize them, but the party clown destroys the machine in a misperformed party trick. The next day his parents tell him that (assumably because he's had so many birthdays) that he's now 18 and going to college, but they were just faking it and destroying the machine really made the hypnosis end (the bill for the clown was still there, though).
Generally averted, however. Spells cast tended to have permanent effects until either a counter-spell was used or an escape clause was evoked. Even Oberon's Children tend to follow these rules.
In the SWAT Kats episode Chaos in Crystal the Monster of the Week, Rex Shard, transforms large swathes of the desert near Megakat City into crystal, as well as many kats, the prison he broke out of, and the water in the Megakat Reservoir. Transforming Shard back into a normal kat fixes it all, except possibly for the Warden, whose crystallized body was clearly shattered, but that was left unresolved.
They also didn't kill the real head vampire. The episode ends before the only human (Lisa) can, so it's never revealed if it would have worked.
Tended to be the case on My Little Pony. For instance, when Tirac was killed his spells were undone.
In the first season finale of Transformers Prime, Unicron unleashes a whack of natural disasters all over Earth, including loads of tornadoes and a humongous tidal wave that rises above the cityscape. After he's been defeated, the wall of water plainly freezes mid-air and promptly falls apart, and the blowing winds also disappear.
In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Secret of My Excess", Spike's greed causes him to grow into a larger dragon progressively over the course of the episode, until by the end he is a rampaging dragon the size of a small mountain. When he realizes that he was wrong to be so greedy, Spike immediately, and magically, poofs back to his original size.
Happens all the time in Martin Mystery; whatever effect has had a monster on humans (like turning them into zombies) will be completely reversed once the monster is beaten/captured/banished. Another example: in one episode, a geode was used to bring dinosaurs back to life. But after the geode is destroyed, the dinosaurs it created immediately disintegrate.
On Steven Universe,Onion uses a Replicator Wand to flood the entire town in millions of cheap plastic toys, and then replicates cars to throw at the Gems. When they finally get the Wand back Garnet destroys it, causing everything to disappear.
In some versions of dodgeball, getting someone out makes everyone they got out come back into the game.
Small children (below 8 months) don't have cognitive functions for object permanence and have to acquire them. So if they can't see something anymore, the object — at least for them, which makes this at least partly Truth in Television — fades away as if it never existed in the first place.
I see you.
During the next stage, children understand the significance of objects and people disappearing, but don't quite understand that they can return. Cue the baby crying while Mom is away.
There follows an interesting stage where they try to work out where unseen objects are. Before this stage, Baby can watch you put a cushion over his toy and he won't think to lift it up- the toy no longer exists because he can't see it. Later, he will lift up the cushion to get it again. If you then move the toy and he sees you cover it with a different cushion... he'll look under the first cushion first, because that's where it was when it was invisible before.
Quantum-mechanics is the other way around. Particles are thought not to have certain characteristics until they are measured. It's not that we don't know what, say, its spin is until we measure it — a particle has no fixed spin until after we measured it. Though it should be noted that it's the physical interaction with the measuring equipment that does it, and would presumably still happen if nobody paid attention.
Many examples of modern technology (and all young animals) cease to function (sometimes followed by a violent end to their existence) if they are abandoned for even short periods of time.
A lot of technology that relies on a rechargable battery will need recharging even if you don't use it for a few days. The Sony PSP is particularly notorious for this.
More worrying are items that rely on an internal battery. Sometimes these batteries die after many years and there are no batteries around to replace them. Nintendo's Famicom Disk System is like this (in addition to having a no longer manufactured drive belt), but the good news is that many of the games have been emulated in recent years and Nintendo hasn't forgotten about them.
Certain DRM schemes (that rely on communication with an authorization server) have a side effect of effectively making it impossible to legally use protected software after its maker goes out of business. Of course, with the maker no longer in business, there is no one to prosecute illegal use either.
To a certain extent, human vision and memories. Experiments shown that the brain will actively alter what we think we see (and have seen previously) in order to make sense of the world. For instance, if somebody is slowly altering a picture or the letters on a page or simply ducking behind a counter, most people will insist that the changed version is what they saw to begin with and only realize the difference once they see the before and after shots. This has been taken to the extreme, with experiments having completely different people switch places and the test subject never even noticing.
In classical physics, gravitational and magnetic forces behave like this. As soon as the object producing the force stops existing, the force is gone. So if the Sun disappeared, all the planets would fly off on tangential paths before we saw the light stop. Testing this in real life would be hard because there's no way to make an object suddenly stop existing. In modern physics however, information cannot travel faster than the speed of light, so it would take some time for the sun's disappearance to be felt at a distance.
One of the odder side effects of how Linux handles process hierarchy is that if you launch a program from a terminal window — even one that runs in its own window — you need to keep the terminal open or the other program will also quit right in the middle of whatever it happens to be doing. A rather nasty shock to anyone who's using it for the first time and is used to Windows' method of treating the DOS prompt as little more than a piece of the interface.