Lancelot:"Brave, brave Concorde! You shall not have died in vain!" Concorde:"Uh, I'm-I'm not quite dead, sir." Lancelot:"Well, you shall not have been mortally wounded in vain!" Concorde:"Uh, I-I think uh, I could pull through, sir." Lancelot:"Oh, I see."
Broly is nearly killed as an infant, but his massive Ki keeps him alive and takes him and his father Paragus away from Planet Vegeta as it explodes. Later on, he's barely defeated by Goku and left on another exploding planet, but he escapes thanks to a Saiyan space pod, and ends up trapped underneath a sheet of ice on Earth. After another fight, he's hurled into the sun by Goku, Gohan and Goten's combined Kamehameha, and unlike Cooler above, he doesn't make it out... but a scheming priest makes a clone of him, who's finally defeated by the ocean.
Vegeta puts all of his Ki and life energy into defeating the ancient monster Buu, but the latter's Healing Factor is utterly ridiculous, letting him come back from even subatomic particles.
Bardock (While not a villain... ish...) gets two in a row. First, he was blasted by Dodoria and left for dead beneath his squad's bodies. He gets healed in time to charge through Freeza's army for a final confrontation with Freeza himself. He loses that, getting hit by the Death Ball that blows up Planet Vegeta... only to get blasted back in time and healed again.
Naruto 's Orochimaru wins the award for most Not Quite Deads within the shortest time period. In the space of a few chapters, he was dismembered by Sasuke, only to come back and eat Sasuke, only to get dismembered again, only to come back as The Virus to some degree inside his Battle Butler, Kabuto. Then he comes back again from within Sasuke during his battle with Itachi, tasting revenge, except he's instantly defeated. Then you see a snake that's obviously some sort of piece of him that can regenerate, butthe Amaterasu fire spreading all over incinerates it. Then he is back again in chapter 592.
As of chapter 599 this also applies to Obito Uchiha, as he has been revealed as Tobi.
Bleach is full of these, on both sides but especially with the heroes.
You'd think someone would die if you do the equivalent of running them through a paper shredder. Byakuya Kuchiki does this to two different characters. Neither dies. Even the one character killed off in the early series is Not Quite Dead.
Happens frequently enough with both protagonists and antagonists in the Hueco Mundo arc, one would think that the giant clouds of dust kicked up by the horrible attack du minute had incredible regenerative powers.
Etemon in Digimon Adventure is sucked into a space-warping... warp... thing that was apparently destroyed, but managed to bide his time and evolve before coming back as Metal Etemon. Vamdemon (aka Myotismon) is shot through the chest by Angewomon, but survives in order to fulfill a prophecy and has to beaten by War Greymon and Metal Garurumon.
As a general rule, just because Digimon tend to have explosive deaths doesn't mean you shouldn't stick around because they may pull themselves back together. This happens to Neo Saiba in V-Tamer 01 more than once but he still doesn't learn.
Zhuqiaomon in Digimon Tamers is defeated by Mega Gargomon, but reappears and nearly kills the tamers, before Azulongmon convinces him to do a Heel-Face Turn.
Another, more heroic example from Tamers: Getting shot in the back multiple times and then plummeting several hundred feet into an ocean that deletes/destroys anything it comes in contact with would be enough to kill anyone. Anyone except Beelzemon, that is.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann subverts it when Kamina receives an unexpected attack from one of the Beastman Generals and is completely impaled by a giant glaive. After a blood-curdling scream, the villain's triumphant laugh, and a look of horror on his comrades' faces, he somehow manages the strength keep moving and inspire Simon one last time as he leads them in the final attack against his would-be killer. He succeeds in eliminating his foe before finally subduing to eternal rest.
Then he shows up in Episode 26 to once again inspire awesomeness and fulfill his own words: "A real man never dies, even when he's killed."
In Godannar, this becomes Kouji Tetsuya's gimmick, being the Butt Monkey of the series. His mech gets trashed on a regular basis, and suffers a lot of nasty wounds, but always manages to crawl out of it by saying something to the effect of "I'm not dead", shortly after the other characters have written him off.
Humorously played with in Mnemosyne when Rin ambushes the Monster of the Week in her office. She quickly guns down Rin without any hesitation, and hurries over and, being a doctor, checks her over to make sure she's dead before straightening up, sighing in relief, and going on with her business. She is thus quite terrified when Rin just gets back up after a minute.
Case in point, Rin getting killed happens thrice an episode on average. She just happens to be immortal and thus, resurrects each and every time.
Mad Bad Bull, a minor antagonist from Kiddy Grade, had a heavy metal crate dropped on him by Éclair and Foxy Fox with Artificial Gravity, but still managed to punch his way out of it.
In Transformers Super God Masterforce, the first battle between Super Ginrai and Overlord ends with Ginrai apparently dead, while Overlord is unscathed and decides to obliterate the rest of the Autobots. However, at the very end, Ginrai refuses to die.
One Piece has the Skypeian "god" Eneru. During his fight against Wiper, Wiper actually manages to kill Eneru with the dangerous Reject Dial. Too bad for him that Eneru has the powers of the electric Devil Fruit, which automatically works like a Magical Defibrillator, restarting his heart. Cue round 2.
For years, it's been accepted by One Piece fans as a basic truth that the entire series is an embodiment of this trope. Unless the death scene happens in a flashback, no matter how obviously dead a character seems to be, they really aren't. This was considered irrevocably confirmed when a minor character made a Heroic Sacrifice which involved not only being at ground zero of an I-can't-believe-it's-not-a-nukecity-buster bomb, but holding it while it goes off. He showed up in bandages and a crutch several chapters later, and is fully recovered one arc after that.
The flashback rule was finally subverted in chapter 731, where it's implied (and revealed in a later chapter) that Sabo is alive. That makes him the only "posthumous" character from a flashback to survive to the present in One Piece.
It was averted big time in the Paramount War arc. The lead-up showed various nameless mooks dying in, by One Piece standards, a shockingly graphic manner, and the climax included two very major characters dying in the space of three chapters. Whether future arcs will be as bloody is unknown, but one thing is sure: the "nobody dies in One Piece" meme is no more.
Though some fans could argue with that based on the premise that, since the second half of the story happens after a two-year Time Skip, those deaths are technically in flashbacks now.
Used and then averted in Seirei no Moribito. Balsa manages fake her death by sending her and Chagum careening over a cliff and into a valley filled with poisonous vapors, with their dead horse and straw dummies clearly visible. Because the vapors would kill anyone going down there before they'd reach the corpses, their pursuers are forced to declare them dead. They do come back later to double check once they've equipped themselves to handle the vapors, however.
Season 2 of Gundam 00 has a version of this in episodes 22-24. Big Bad Ribbons Almark was shot by Regenne Regetta but as it turns out, his soul is actually in the Quantum Supercomputer Veda, and the body is just a puppet, plus he has spares. Later, both Regenne and Tieria Erde have been shot and their bodies are dead, but their consciousness lives on in Veda and actually severs Ribbons link to it, trapping him in his current body. When Setsuna F. Seiei sees the body of his friend, he proclaims his intention to avenge him, but Tieria then uses Veda to tell Setsuna not to kill him off yet.
00 also has resident Butt Monkey Patrick Corlasaur, who pulls a Mu La Flaga in the final battle after having about three continuous CMoAs... but comes back in the finale and gets the girl to boot.
Mu-san aside, Gundam SEED also has Andrew Waltfeld. He was supposed to have died after Kira Yamato defeats him, but due to his immense popularity with fans, he got revived miraculously. He was, however, significantly maimed (losing an arm, a leg and an eye), requiring him to be fitted for prosthetic limbs. For some reason this includes a shotgun behind his detachable hand.
Gundam Age, Generation 2 has a scene where a Adele type machine is supposed destroyed by a Vegan Mook, but it turns out not quite dead, and grabs the enemy's leg, allowing Asemu to land a finishing move.
In Code Geass, Mao is riddled full of bullets, but he came back next episode with a handwave about Britannian medical science and how Lelouch should have commanded the soldiers to shoot to kill. It takes a bullet to the head to stop him once and for all. Near the end of the second season, a similar thing happens to Cornelia, except she doesn't get shot in the head.
Guilford, whose mech appeared to be within the blast radius of a weapon that disintegrates everything in its path, yet lived to appear at Cornelia's bedside in the last few episodes.
In a more extreme example, Empress Marianne actually was killed, but managed to transfer her mind and soul to another person before her physical body died.
Many argue that Lelouch is this at the end of the series. Despite the Word of God that implies otherwise, fan theory points to Lelouch gaining The Code from Charles and living on after he's killed (and The Code was activated) by Zero/Suzaku.
This happens to Shuda in Rave Master. While character in the manga do have a tendency to survive insane amounts of damage and be up and about as if it hadn't happened only two days later (which made it so weird when one of them actually did have to spend time in a hospital), cutting off your arm and falling at least 2000 feet into a forest is over the top. No explanation is given for how he survived too (not that one ever is).
Thief King Bakura, from the final season of Yu-Gi-Oh! gets locked in a tomb and supposedly falls into a deep dark pit... only to somehow escape and sneak back into the city.
Fairy Tail loves this. We have: Jellal, who got hit through god knows how many stories of a tower and most likely fused with Etherion to send it into the sky, which should have torn his body apart; Lyon, who was shoved off a cliff by a Racer while explosives are attached to him, which blow up while they're latched together and only kill Racer (better explained in the anime where Lyon saves both of their lives by removing the bomb at the last minute and shielding them from the blast with an ice barrier); and finally Lisanna who, at least in the anime (the manga never shows it), got sent flying by a single swipe from her monster-possessed brother. It's Fairy Tail though, so the spoiler blocks might not even be necessary.
In Fullmetal Alchemist, poor Ed gets impaled by a giant steel pole after a fight with Kimblee, which he kinda lost. He collapses with no way of freeing himself—but it's a mortal wound anyway. That is, until he realizes he can use his own lifeforce as a philosopher's stone (a throwback to the revelation that philosopher's stones are mode from the souls of humans). He frees the trapped chimeras alchemically, and enlists them to pull the steel beam out of him. He quickly transmutes the wound shut, chopping of a few years of his lifespan in the process.
Happens to Kimblee himself a few episodes earlier in the fight with Scar on the train.
Bradley pulls this off quite spectacularly. TWICE!
His train was blown up on the tracks, sending the burning wreck toppling hundreds of feet into the churning river below. No one could survive that. Unless you have Bradley's ultimate eye that is, in which case you can chart a path in the falling rubble, grab onto the cliffside, and return slightly ruffled to singlehandedly storm your nation's capital.
Shortly after returning, he's thrown into battle with Greedling, Buccaneer and Fu. Only by a major joint effort of the three, resulting in the death of the latter two, is Bradley even wounded. At this point, Greeling rips out Bradley's ultimate eye in a bersercker fit of rage, tumbles through the wall, and Bradley is sent plummeting hundreds of stories into the moat far below. He's declared "dead", until the very next chapter when he is seen climbing out of the water, bloodied and ready to kick ass. The dude's not even immortal, in fact he's the only homunculus who isn't.
Being stabbed through the heart with a large spike? With an actual doctor checking his pulse to make sure he was dead? Minor things when it comes to the self-proclaimed Ultimate Teacher, Ganbachi Chabane.
Inuyasha does this on multiple occasions; once, when Kouga broke his arm and punched him into a crater, leaving a sizable hole in his chest; again when he was hit by his own Wind Scar, leaving him unconscious; once during the fight with Juroumaru and Kageroumaru, during which he was stabbed through the chest and subsequently punched through a tree, and a couple of times during the Mount Hakurei arc. As a general rule, if he looks dead, he's only unconscious, and he will peel himself off the ground to kick the bad guy's ass if they so much as lay a finger on either one of his love interests.
Sesshomaru also pulls this once, when during his battle with Magatsuhi he is stabbed through the chest and subsequently "absorbed". He gets better.
An interesting part of Sasami's backstory in the Tenchi Muyo! OVA universe. For over 700 years, Sasami believed that she had died when she fell and was bonded with Tsunami, now only as some sort of vessel for her. When the secret came out, it was a very big relief for her to learn that they'd still love her no mater what. However, Tsunami appears after Sasami passes out from exhaustion and drops the big bombshell - she never really died, she thinks that because of the trauma of the fall.
The famous Asuka/Unit-02 versus the MP EVAs sequence in End of Evangelion; Asuka dismembers, rips apart, breaks the bones of or impales all nine MP EVAs in what looks like the biggest case of overkill ever; unfortunately, it's not, and the MP EVAs' bodies reconnect, get right back up with a Slasher Smile and proceed to take their bloody vengeance on Asuka.
Various characters with healing factors, e.g. Wolverine, Deadpool, Sabretooth. Most notably, Wolverine is blown up leaving nothing but a skeleton behind, and regenerates his entire body from part of his brain which survived inside his skull.
Hammerhead in the Ultimate Marvel and regular continuities make heavy use of this trope.
The Phantom was the ultimate inversion of this: every time the old Phantom kicks the bucket, a new one is chosen, usually his son or closest kin. This allows them to project the illusion to their enemies that the Phantom is immortal, though their friends know better.
In The Secret History, Dyo always seems to just cling onto life one way or another. It remains to be seen if this applies to Aker and William de Lecce.
In Death Of The Family, it looked like Deadshot had been killed off. However, he wakes up in a hospital bed. The bullet barely missed his heart.
Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. And all their numerous variants. Especially creepy in Neil Gaiman's adaptation of the former, "Snow, Glass, Apples", in which the huntsman really does remove Snow White's heart and give it to the queen. It just doesn't stop beating until Snow White goes into her coma - and when she wakes up, it starts again...
In "The Golden Bird", the hero's envious brothers shove him down a well to kill him, and succeed in trapping him there.
Some of the Huns in Mulan survive being buried under an avalanche orchestrated by Mulan, including their leader Shan Yu. They proceed to infiltrate the capital and kidnap and extort the Chinese Emperor.
Yzma: Kuzco is dead, right? Tell me "Kuzco's dead". I need to hear these words.
Kronk: Uh, do you need to hear all those words exactly?
Yzma: He's STILL ALIVE?!
Kronk: Well, he's not as dead as we would have hoped.
Kronk: Just thought I'd give you a heads-up, in case Kuzco ever came back.
Yzma: He can't come back!
Kronk: Yeah, that would be kinda awkward, especially after that lovely eulogy.
King Candy/Turbo in Wreck-It Ralph gets devoured by a Cy-Bug before the climax. During the climax, however, he reappears having fused with the Cy-Bug and has become even more powerful.
Films — Live-Action
The Trope Namer is Monty Python and the Holy Grail, specifically the scene wherein Prince Herbert fires off an arrow with a plea for his release tied to it. The arrow flies straight and true...into the chest of Sir Lancelot's trusty squire Concorde, leading to the conversation in the page recap.
This happens again when Prince Herbert falls out of the window to his death, only to appear later at his own cancelled wedding to start singing. Then when the song begins, all of the people slaughtered by Lancelot gradually get up and join in.
Inverted in Johnny Mnemonic. The Priest is blasted with EMP, frying most of his cybernetics, and is then electrocuted to a crisp. At the very end of the movie, he starts to rise from the floor, and a frightened gasp comes from Jane... only to reveal that his body is actually just being hauled up on a pulley. "Just garbage. Get rid of it."
A nameless character apparently killed in the first scene of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly comes back for revenge about two hours later, only to be shot more decisively.
Naturally, Sheriff Jed Cooper— played by Clint Eastwood in High Plains Drifter, fares better upon coming back from the dead (although at the very end, it seems that the character may actually have been a ghost playing a cruel game on both his killers, and the people who allowed it).
Marshal (not Sheriff) Jed Cooper is Clint's character in Hang 'Em High. The relevant character in High Plains Drifter is Marshal Jim Duncan. Second, Clint was "The Stranger", but not Jim Duncan; that role was played by Buddy Van Horn, who was Clint's stunt double on many occasions.
Miracle Max: It just so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there's usually only one thing you can do.
Used to full effect to justify the creation of Halloween: Resurrection: it turns out that Laurie had killed a paramedic instead of Michael at the end of Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later; Michael had attacked the paramedic, crushed his larynx, and switched places with him before "Michael's" body was carted out to the ambulance.
Even Freddy gets this in Freddy vs. Jason, when both he and Jason are set on fire and thrown into Crystal Lake. Freddy returns and attempts to kill Lori and Will, before Jason stabs him and Lori decapitates him. Even then, he seems to wink as Jason carries his head away (meaning the "winner" of the battle is indecisive).
In the backstory to the second Ghostbusters movie, Vigo the Carpathian had been poisoned, stabbed, shot, hung, stretched, disemboweled, drawn and quartered. Before his head died he uttered this prophetic warning: "Death is but a door, time is but a window. I'll be back."
An example of the scenario which this page is actually about appears at the climax of Iron Man 1.
In the movie Ben 10: Race against Time, the Tennyson trio stumble across the seemingly mummified corpse of Constantine...right before he sits up and declares "I'm not dead!", scaring both Ben and Gwen. Grandpa Max is not surprised, as usual.
Averted in the 1997 version of George of the Jungle. After a character falls from a bridge, the narrator reminds everyone that "Nobody dies in this story. They just get really big boo-boos."
Ironically, in the extended DVD of the Two Towers the actor almost drowned when shooting the scene of him floating in the water.
Gollum is thrown over a cliff by Frodo in Return of the King, and returns at Mount Doom.
Grishnakh, who is more or less a mook, is stabbed by a Rider of Rohan in The Two Towers, yet he is still able to chase Merry and Pippin into the forest before Treebeard kills him.
Miller's Crossing plays it straight with Bernie's "murder", then lampshades it with Caspar's policy:
Tic-Tac: You gotta remember to put one in his brain. Your first shot puts him down, then you put one in his brain. Then he's dead. Then we go home.
Red Dragon features this during the final confrontation between Detective Graham and the titular villain, when they shoot each other through a flimsy bedroom door. Later averted when Graham's wife puts a bullet in the killer's head. Several times.
Men In Black loves this. Kay shoots the giant cockroach from the inside and splits him in half. However, his top half lives and attacks them for a split second before he is finally killed by Laurel.
In Men in Black 2, Serleena is shot by Jay and blown to bits, however it is shown she survived, in worm form. Later, she chases after them in her ship, but is tricked and eaten by Jeff, the giant worm. However, she once again returns, this time in a more powerful form, until she is finally destroyed.
Poor Jeebs having his head blown off time and again.
In Galaxy Quest, Sarris's ship is blown up with mines. However, out of nowhere, he appears on the Protector, having teleported away from his ship at the last second. He is beaten down by Mathasar with a cane, but returns once again before an audience during the final scene, before Jason finally destroys him.
The Gamers: "It's Hunk, the mercenary you left for dead!
In The A-Team, it turns out that General Morrison survived the explosion that apparently killed him.
Austin Powers plays with this numerous times. Usually by dragging it too far.
"Why aren't you dead yet!?"
Also Dr Evil's henchman Mustafa, after being shot in the neck with a dart and falling down a cliff.
Re-Animator: at the end of Bride of Re-Animator a mausoleum collapses on top of Herbert West, in the sequel Beyond Re-Animator Herbert West is perfectly fine and still doing his thing.
In The Tuxedo, the antagonist falls to the ground and burns his face on acid. He later gets back up to charge at the hero, who finishes him in a somewhat gruesome way.
Westley in the beginning of the The Princess Bride. Supposedly, he goes to seek his fortune and is lost at sea within the first five minutes of the movie. Yeah, right.
There's also the bit where he's tortured to death! Well, mostly death.
In Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes, Lord Blackwood is hung, then pronounced dead by Watson. He then "rises from the grave", leaving Holmes and Watson to figure out why.
Similarly in the second movie, as with all Holmes adaptations, Holmes falls off the Reichenbach Falls to his supposed death. Then turns up back in London.
Played straight and oddly parodied in StageFright -Aquarius-. The straight examples come when the killer survives a fall and then being set on fire. The odd part comes in after the killer has been shot between the eyes, and as he lays on the ground, suddenly turns to audience and smirks. According to the director this was added to poke fun at "the Slasher Movie convention of the killer always being alive at the end".
Going back to the Yashida house, Logan technically dies when he removes the cause of his weakness with his bare hands. He revives shortly thereafter when hise Healing Factor kicks back in.
The Silver Samurai armour keeps Ichirō alive, but he allows others to think he's dead.
Charles Xavier came back alive and well in the Stinger, to Wolverine's surprise.
Subverted in Graduation Day. The Final Girl thinks that the killer has come back and is now in her bedroom, but it is actually just her drunk stepfather. Her scared mind had only imagined him being there.
Transcendence: It is implied at the end that Will and Evelyn's consciousnesses still exist in their garden, preserved in the only remaining sample of nanomachines.
Twice in Godzilla (2014). The female Muto was discovered dormant and thought to be dead after being dissected by the military, and the male Muto was electrocuted after Dr. Serizawa deemed its EMP-pulses making it be too dangerous to be kept alive. However, neither of them are dead either time.
In Animorphs, after David leaves the barn, Jake sends Tobias to follow him. When Jake catches up, David says that he's killed Tobias, and Jake sees Tobias' mangled corpse. But as it turns out, that wasn't really Tobias, just an innocent red-tailed hawk that happened by. David had simply lost Tobias early in the evening, and the latter had spend a good couple hours trying to find him.
While the Helmacrons and the kids are inside Marco's body, he morphs into a cockroach. The Helmacrons shoot Marco's heart, rendering him ostensibly dead. But, as Cassie suddenly recalls, stopping a cockroach's heart doesn't kill it - they have a backup system.
Spoken word-for-word near the end of the final battle:
Visser One: "So. Still not dead."
Jake: "No, visser, not quite dead."
Albert from the Gone series gets shot in the head by Lance, yet manages to survive nearly bleeding out.
Played with with Drake. He gets (presumably) killed by Caine in Hunger, but returns in Lies sharing a body with Brittney. Who is also a case, as she gets both legs broken and shot in the chest, yet can't be killed.
Sandman Slim teaches us that when you die in Hell you end up in Tartarus. The main character is virtually unkillable.
In the tenth and final book of the The Pendragon Adventure series, every character who has died in or before the other books (including the main character who died at the end of the ninth) are resurrected in the exact condition (age, etc) they were in at the time of death, minus the cause of death, and they all band together to fight the Big Bad.
Prince Andrei in War and Peace. He's left in a village with other hopeless wounded after the Battle of Austerlitz, and the way the chapter ends suggests that he dies there, but he doesn't.
Expanded UniverseJedi K'Kruhk has managed to be almost killed several times over. He goes into some form of hibernation if seriously wounded, leading to people assuming that he's dead. But no, he's still got a loooong time ahead of him.
That was not the only time in the series that someone was declared to be dead and then turn up alive later. There are at least three other examples.
A footnote in one of the Ciaphas Cain, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!!! books reveals that Cain has been listed as "killed in action" so many times that the Munitorum eventually gave up trying to keep track and decided to keep him on the payroll regardless - even long past his confirmed death and burial with full military honors.
In Hardwired by Walter Jon Williams, one character, Reno, is killed when his home is the target of a missile attack. He later makes a series of telephone calls to the hero. Turns out that he was a wirehead and was "jacked into the net" when the missiles struck. He spends the rest of the book as a disembodied mind, wandering around the equivalent of the Internet, looking at everyone's most secret files.
In Graham McNeill's False Gods, when Horus is felled by his injuries, the word on the ship is that he died; Mersadie and Karkasy go to see the arrival, and Karkasy notices that apocetharies are still tending him, so he must be alive.
In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 novel Deus Sanguinius, Rafen is in an exploding factory. He is thrown into a channel of water and ends up thoroughly banged about but alive. He sneaks onto the spaceship and when Arkio and Mephiston are deciding on single combat, Rafen calls from Arkio's forces that he will fight him. He walks out and takes off his helmet, and for the first time, Arkio shows shock.
In the Dragonlance War of Souls novels, Tasslehoff's death is retconned with the use of a magical time-travelling device given to him by a god. He's cheated death many other times also.
Voldemort, the main antagonist of the Harry Potter books, blew himself up by accident a decade before the story begins, and only survived as a soul because of Horcruxes .
Harry himself, who everyone believed dead for a time.
At the end of The Man Who Never Missed, Emile Khadaji has zapped 2388 Confederation soldiers (with paralyzing darts) before they found out who he was and imploded his hideout. And then they found he'd used exactly 2388 darts. The commanding officer is not pleased, because he knows this one-shot-one-paralyzed soldier legend will be a headache for the Confederation, but at least they've killed him. And then the narrative finishes:
And, of course, Over-Befalhavare Venture didn't know the half of it.
During the course of The Lord of the Rings, several of the major characters are thought to be dead at one point or another — and some come a lot closer than others. But the Big Bad of the series, Sauron, actually does get killed off, several thousand years before the series begins. But he doesn't stay dead, because he has the One Ring as his Soul Jar.
If you include the First Age and the Second Age, it happens to Sauron often enough to border on Joker Immunity.
Santiago: A Myth of the Far Futureinverts this in much the same way as the Phantom example. As one of his supporters cackles, after Santiago is quickly murdered by a bounty hunter — whom Santiago then guns down — "Everybody knows that Santiago can't die!"
Cunégonde and Pangloss in Voltaire's Candide: the former is raped and disemboweled; the latter is hanged in a Kangaroo Court. Both come back with a lampshade .
Bailey in Martin Chuzzlewit (Dickens) is thrown from a crashing coach and left insensible. His death is later reported to other characters. Guess who reappears at the denouement, with a bandage round his head, reeling about with comic concussion?
In the Dale Brown novel Flight of the Old Dog, Dave Luger is left for dead after he covers the team's escape from a Soviet base. The events of Night of the Hawk are kicked off when it is learned that he is not dead, merely Brainwashed into helping the Soviets - and that the CIA wants him Killed Off for Real as an apparent traitor.
This happens in Necropolis, the fourth book of the The Power of Five series. Following a fight in a temple in Hong Kong, the good guys think they've killed all the Big Bad's henchmen ... But there's one still alive, hiding under the altar. He's dying, but goshdarn, he's going to take one of the Five down with him. He sets his sights on Jamie, the closest, and is aiming his gun when Scott comes bounding into the picture, and telepathically aware of the danger to his twin, bulldozes Jamie out of harm's way ... Thus letting the bullet continue on into Scarlet's head instead.
She's probably not quite dead either, but I guess we won't know till the next book comes out.
In "A Witch Shall Be Born", Taramis believes her sister dead.
In the Sherlock Holmes story "The Final Problem", Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has Holmes commit a Heroic Sacrifice by throwing himself and the Big Bad Moriarty off Reichenbach Falls, but as we discover in "The Adventure of the Empty House", he didn't actually die.
This is also done to a lesser extent in "The Adventure of the Dying Detective", wherein Holmes pretends he's dying of an obscure disease used by the murder suspect in the Mystery of the Week. Luckily we only have to wait a few more paragraphs afterwards to find out he was just faking it.
This is done in the Mortal Instruments series with Sebastian/Jonathan Morganstern. He actually was dead, but Lilithfinds a way to bring him back again.
In Galaxy of Fear: City of the Dead, Doctor Evazam is shot and killed by Boba Fett, then almost immediately buried by the locals. End of this villain? No. He's been creating zombies, had found that fresher zombies retained more of their faculties, and so injected himself before Boba Fett killed him. When he comes back, he has all the benefits of being this kind of zombie, but still looks fine and retains his mind and memories.
The novelization of X-Men: The Last Stand confirms that Psylocke survived Phoenix's attack by transporting through the shadows in the hallway.
Live Action TV
Derek from Teen Wolf in "Lunatic". In the previous episode, he gets clawed in the back by the Alpha, while Scott and Stiles make a run for it. We see him hit the ground, but he turns out to be fine.
Buredoran of the Comet from Tensou Sentai Goseiger fits this to a T after he's seemingly destroyed he comes back as Buredoran of the Chupacabra then after that he comes back in the Vs movie as Buredoran of the Bloodbath and then is finally brought back as Buredo-RUN before he assumes his true form.
Happens to the new vampires of The Vampire Diaries - they have to die first before returning as the undead.
Not to mention that when Davros appeared in a Classic Doctor Who serial he was invariably killed off, and yet always managed to get inexplicably better in time for his next appearance- This even included dismemberment.
Time Lord Regeneration in general works as this. When one is on the brink of death, a Time Lord can release a massive amount of internal energy that restores his/her body to pristine health, albeit while completely changing his/her physique and personality. The Doctor himself is the main case of this.
In MacGyver the character Murdoch always ends the show by seeming to die in "No One Could Survive That!" type circumstances only to reappear alive, though often worse for the wear a few episodes or seasons later.
Mikhail of LOST does this twice. The first time, he was shoved into a sonic fence and assumed dead. He later claimed it wasn't set to a lethal level. The second time, he was impaled by a spear, but managed to live long enough to blow himself up.
In the season 4 finale, Keamy is Left for Dead, only to later surprise Locke and Ben in the Orchid.
Back in Season 1, when we are led to believe that Shannon has been killed by the 'monster,' only to find out that it was just Boone's hallucination.
Many thought Richard died after being punched by the smoke Monster in the penultimate episode. Not only he shows up in the Grand Finalebut is one of the few to end the episode alive.
CSI: Miami almost does this with Tim Speedle, who was killed by a misfire of his gun during a shootout in Season 3, but had evidence of his survival found in Season 6. Cleverly subverted at the end, when it's revealed the "evidence" turns out to be head trauma-induced hallucinations from Speedle's best friend and a lab tech using his stolen credit card after the incident.
CSI: New York also has someone is pronounced dead, stolen, dropped in the sea and then starts coughing up water, he turns out to be part of a hibernation experiment and now is in a coma
Shane Casey reappears to threaten Danny after falling off a cliff.
Tony Almeida in 24 was believed to have been killed in Season 5, but promos for Season 7 show him alive, and as a villain. He isn't.
Charles Logan receives a potentially fatal knife wound in a season 6 episode, but is last seen in an ambulance, thus leaving his fate unclear (especially by 24 standards). He returns 2 seasons later, and in the series finale he attempts to commit suicide by putting a bullet into his head. And while he does indeed do so, the bullet is apparently off the mark by just enough to leave him "possibly brain-damaged" instead of actually dead.
In Stargate SG-1 Apophis exhibits this particular trope on several occasions, surviving his ship being blown up, a catastrophic explosion (both by ringing away at the last possible second), and a star going supernova. He was finally killed when his mothership was about to explode, burning up in the atmosphere of a planet, infected by replicators, which were swarming over his personal shield. And he STILL managed to get guest spots in later episodes where he appeared in flashbacks and an alternate time line. For a villain who was really kind of bland and uninteresting, you sure couldn't keep the guy down.
Also in Stargate SG-1, Dr. Daniel Jackson is able to survive the un-survivable. He repeatedly actually dies, almost dies, or is believed to be dead a total of nine or so seventeen times including the movie such incidents include getting shot by a staff-weapon or other energy weapon ('Stargate' the movie, 'The Nox,' 'With the Serpent's Grasp'), radiation poisoning ('Meridian'), not-dead deaths ('Fire and Water,' 'Threads'), temporary deaths such as a heart attack ('Avalon') and alternate universe deaths ('Moebius,' 'There But For the Grace of God,' '2010'). His robotic clone also died first in 'Double Jeopardy', before we knew that they were the robot SG-1.
This is lampshaded by two archaeologists finding some ancient ruins:
"Dr. Jackson's going to die when he sees this!"
Father Jack Hackett from Father Ted. Jack drank floor polish which only brought about the symptoms of death including lack of pulse, rigor mortis, decomposition...
Heroes had a bit of fun with this when Sylar and Peter Petrelli faced off for the second time in season one.
Sylar: Didn't I kill you?
Peter: Didn't take.
Arthur Petrelli used his super powers to knock Hiro Nakamura over the edge of a building. When Arthur teleports away, assuming that Hiro is finished, (because No One Could Survive That), the camera pans over to the edge of the building, where he seems to be dangling from a flagpole for dear life. Even Dangerously Genre SavvyEvil Overlords make mistakes.
Nathan Petrelli and Sylar both tend to invoke this trope at the end of every season. In all seriousness, these guys die at the end of a season and are usually confirmed alive by the time the next Graphic Novel comes out. This is taken to its (il)logical conclusion in the 3rd season finale (Nathan is "resurrected" in Sylar's body), where both appear to be Not Quite Dead, in their own ways.
At the end of the Star Trek episode "Amok Time", Spock resigns in disgrace after having killed Jim Kirk. Tri-ox compound, my ass.
In one episode of I, Claudius, Caligula orders Claudius to be thrown off a bridge, assuming that he will drown. Claudius is dragged away, only to return in the same scene, dripping wet and covered in pond weed. Fortunately, Caligula is too amused by this to try again. Earlier in the series, a slave interrupts Caligula as he announces the death of Tiberius - not only is he not dead, but he's feeling a lot better and wants his dinner. Caligula promptly has him smothered, goes back outside, and cheerfully announced that the emperor is definitely dead this time.
Played straight repeatedly in Farscape with every character, but interestingly zigzagged near the end of the first season when Aeryn was stabbed. The episode closed with John saying how lucky she was that the knife missed her heart. It seemed like a very conventional case of not quite dead. Then the next episode subverted this when Aeryn revealed that the wound had done internal damage, and she was probably going to die soon.
It stands to reason that this would occur in Sherlock, as this IS just a modern-day incarnation of the original stories and the season two finale is titled "The Reichenbach Fall". One difference between this episode and the original "The Final Problem" is that while we know Sherlock's alive because we see him standing under a tree after his funeral, watching John watching his headstone, Doyle intended to keep Holmes dead.
In season 3, Chuck shot Shaw in Europe and watched him tumble off a bridge into the river below. He ignored the entire point of this trope which is: When you shoot someone and they fall in the water they are NEVER dead.
Power Rangers Wild Force had this in the final battle against a revived Master Org. Said org took 2 finishers directly and some other zord attacks until 1 more finisher destroyed his body. However the org heart survived and was still beating. It then brings back Master Org and he proceeds to resume his rampage.
Before that, he'd appeared dead when he lost his powers battling Cole's Super Mode and was soon tossed off a cliff by the new Big Bad Mandilok. He got better and made Mandilok Quite Dead (though he did revive him and the other Org generals to serve as guardians during his final transformation. Presumably Brainwashing was involved, which he can do.)
Also, Zen-aku. He's seemingly destroyed after Merrick is purified of the evil of the mask, only to reappear wanting to merge with Merrick again.
Even after he's destroyed from that battle he appears again at the end of the series seeking redemption and begins following Merrick.
It also appears in Power Rangers RPM where after Venjix's new body is destroyed, (multiple times) he always returns to his tube within his fortress. Even after the final battle is over and the rangers turn in their morphers, a red light reminiscent of Venjix's light in his tube is seen on the morphers beeping, while Venjix's theme plays in the backround. A possible return.
Seriously, Power Rangers love this trope. In Power Rangers Zeo, King Mondo is destroyed yet somehow he returns towards the end of the series, only to be blown up again. Even after that he appears in Power Rangers in Space. An earlier example in Zeo was when Adam assumed Rito and Goldar didn't survive the explosion of the Command Center. The viewers soon learned he was wrong.
Zeltrax from Power Rangers Dino Thunder has to set some kind of record. His backstory is being a former friend of Tommy's who was thought dead. He goes on to eat a Finishing Move at the end of a climactic battle against Tommy on his airship, which soon explodes from the damage it had taken during the battle. Dead, right? Nope, he comes back, though his mind isn't what it used to be. He eventually gets his own Super Mode and fights Conner's Super Mode, and gets quite kablooified. ...and immediately stands up in his normal mode. Destroyed by all the Rangers in the penultimate episode... and reveals that he'd used a hologram to fake his death and had actually jumped out of the way of the combined-weapon BFG blast. We're pretty sure his defeat in the season finale was his Final Death (his Power Rangers S.P.D. appearance was by way of Time Travel.) but there's such a thing as Reunion Shows and the dude has died about five times... so who knows.
In The Monkees episode "Monkees A La Carte," the Monkees themselves, in effort to save their favorite Italian restaurant and other Italian restaurants from being taken over by mobster Fuselli and a syndicate he has just met for the first time, disguise as "The Purple Flower Gang" and "Monkee" with their plans, unintentionally causing the syndicate into a gunfight. Despite Micky's best efforts to break up the fight, the syndicate (including Fuselli's thug Rocco) shoots each other dead, but Fuselli is the only survivor... or is he? Stuttering gangster Benny the Book uses his last bit of strength to shoot Fuselli dead before succumbing to his own wound.
Played with in the season one finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. The Big Bad has been defeated and his lifeless body is carted away. A few scenes later we see him alive and dragging his broken body to a machine that will replace his damaged organs with cybernetics. He emerges stronger than ever and then is promptly disintegrated by Coulson. Since the show is based on comic books, the writers were keenly aware of the prevalence of this trope and decided not to play along.
In Supernatural, the Winchester are surprised to see Meg again after she fell out of a window to her apparent death.
Happens in the The Iliad, making this trope at least Older Than Feudalism. While he's walking back to the Greek lines after winning a duel with Paris, Menelaus gets shot by a Trojan archer, but Athena deflects the arrow* Which Athena herself convinced the Trojan archer to fire, so as to make it look like the Trojans had broken the truce set up for the duel and it only hits above his hip after passing through several overlapping pieces of armor. Agememnon, Menelaus' brother, doesn't realize this at first and goes into a long monologue about how pointless the entire war* Which only started because Paris abducted Menelaus' wife would be if he lost his brother. Menelaus eventually cuts him off by pointing out that he's fine and that he's going to alarm the troops.
In WHO dunnit, Tex survived his car crash after his brakes were sabotaged. He gets plastic surgery, adopts a new identity of "Bruno", and is out for revenge against his ex-wife Victoria.
The Shadowrun 4th Edition handbook advocates gamemasters using this trope:
"In general, if you as the gamemaster aren't ready for a [villain] to die yet, you should exploit any opportunity to cast doubt on the certainty of doom. ... As the old movie trope goes, if the heroes can't find the body, then the villain isn't necessarily dead."
The prevalence of resurrection spells in D&D generally make death a non-permanent affair. If there's no body to resurrect, you can always physically travel to one of several possible afterlives and find the dead comrade there, or just use a more powerful spell that doesn't need a body. Death never lasts in D&D.
In 3.5 the lost level is a problem, as is the cost. Low level Resurrections require an intact, fresh body and several thousand gold worth of Diamonds, higher level spells have an even heftier pricetag. And if the DM wants you to stay dead, then there are ways to make sure that dead you stay. Such methods include certain abilities and spells that prevent a characters resurrection by anything but Miracle/Wish, and only with a 50% success rate; making it so that the character doesn't want to come back (Resurrection spells can only pull back someone willing); trapping or outright destroying the soul; animating the body as an undead which limits what will raise the character to the highest spells possible unless the undead can be destroyed; and more.
In D&D 4th edition several epic destinies have level 30 powers that cause a "dead" character to get back up there next turn/at the end of the fight/the next day.
By far the most ridiculous version of this in 4th edition is the Undying Warrior epic destiny, which keeps the user from ever being permanently killed. The worst thing that can happen is they'll appear a day later, perfectly fine, and that's only if they are killed repeatedly in a short period of time. The Thief of Legend epic destiny gets a lesser version of this where the respawn time is a day and an hour always, but they can reappear anywhere safe on the current plane, making them more immune to being trapped in a Fate Worse than Death than the Undying Warrior.
The Dark Wanderer Epic Destiny takes it even further than the Undying Warrior; unlike the Undying Warrior who just never dies, the Dark Wanderer does die, but then simply walks out of hell.
The second act of Into the Woods reveals of The Mysterious Man, "I thought you were dead." "Not completely. Are we ever?" What he means by this is left ambiguous.
At the end of WickedElphaba is revealed to be, in fact, quite water-insoluble.
The Musical, Spamalot references this Trope with the song "He Is Not Dead Yet".
Oh we're not yet dead, to Camelot we go
To enlist instead to try and earn some dough
And so although we should have stayed in bed
We're going off to war because we're not yet dead!
In Ken Ludwig's Lend Me a Tenor, Italian tenor Tito Merelli appears to have died of a phenobarbital overdose in his hotel room. However, he's just sleeping really, really deeply and wakes up, puts on his costume, and runs out the door at the end of Act One. Hilarity Ensues.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2: While it was hinted in intel that Frank Woods was still alive, the reveal trailer showed him to still be living.
And if certain conditions are met, Alex Mason.
In Call of Duty: Ghosts, Rorke survives a .44 magnum round to the gut, a LOKI strike to the face, and near-drowning in a submerged train to come back in the ending and capture Logan, intending to brainwash him into joining his campaign against the Ghosts.
When Commander Shepard shows up on the Citadel in Mass Effect 2, they're stopped by security guards who observe that their records say Shepard is dead. "I was only mostly dead. Try finding that option on government paperwork."
Unusually for this trope, this is a lie. Shepard was first brain-dead (from lack of oxygen) and then dead-dead (from impact with a planet's surface) for about two years. Details on how their resurrection was accomplished are still uncertain.
In Resident Evil Albert Wesker is impaled by the Tyrant, and is presumed dead up until Code Veronica, where he turns out to have survived and becomes the Big Bad of the series.
In the RE: Remake, the following absurdity can occur. You have to fight Lisa Trevor on a platform of some sort, surrounded by a huge pit on all sides. If you fall off, it's an instant death. Wesker backs you up by firing on Lisa. However, it's possible for Wesker to get hit by Lisa and fall into the pit. If that happens, he'll still somehow turn up none the worse for wear in the Lab final battle, with absolutely no explanation.
Wesker only helps fight Lisa if you play as Chris. If you choose Jill, Barry Burton helps fight Lisa; and if he dies, then he's Killed Off for Real.
According to the Code Veronica: Wesker's Report file - it turns out that Wesker planned this by injecting himself with some (unnamed) virus that would give him super speed, super strength, and preserve his mind - but it could only be activated by him almost dying. Not even Capcom could believe something that ridiculous, so they then retconned their retcon by simply having him disappear during your battle with the Tyrant in one (apparently canon) ending of the Resident Evil Gamecube remake.
Which was re-retconned in Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles as showing Wesker being impaled by the Tyrant, rising from the dead as a superhuman, and being highly pissed the place was about to blow.
Also in the original Resident Evil, if certain conditions were met, instead of Wesker being killed by the Tyrant, you can find his body decapitated by a Chimera in the self destruct control room. The Battle Game in the Saturn version even had a zombie Wesker. Seems he was going to be Killed Off for Real but Capcom changed their mind and saved that for Resident Evil 5.
Even in that same game, about five minutes after this happens a shadowy female tosses down a rocket launcher to Leon while he's fighting the final boss.
Jack Krauser in Resident Evil 4 has this as well. It would appear that he was Killed Off for Real in the final battle with Leon, only for him to appear and be killed at least three more times in Ada's mini game that is taken as canon. Fans still believe he's alive.
If he got off the island in time.
In the Monkey Island series, the grand villain LeChuck, who is actually a ghost in the first game and is seemingly destroyed at the end of it, comes back as a zombie, a demon, and a ghost/zombie/demon over the course of the next three games.
In Tales of Monkey Island, both Guybrush and Morgan LeFlay are killed but return in spirit form (the former in zombie) to combat LeChuck.
In Cave Story this trope is important to the secret ending, when if you don't actually see professor Booster die, he survives and gives you an improved jetpack later on.
Borderlands has a downloadable side quest, called "The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned", in which Dr. Ned is defeated and the credits roll. But in the middle of the credits, a horrific twisted undead version of Dr. Ned tears through the screen and another battle begins.
Forum Community/MMORPG Gaia Online's storyline is notorious for this. Many of the main characters have been shot, dropped off freakishly tall towers, and then crushed by said tower, all in the same plot update. Every single person killed in that particular incident was later revealed to be alive and well in later updates. Two by use of Applied Phlebotinum, and the other two simply by turning out to be vampires. In fact, the characters ever to be Killed Off for Real are characters introduced solely for making the current Generic Horror Movie Parody plausible.
This is used in the Unlimited Blade Works scenario of Fate/stay night, when Archer carries this to ridiculous levels by first being cut off from any mana at all, then is stabbed through by Shirou, then taking several full-on attacks from Gilgamesh, finally culminating with him suddenly reappearing when he should have disappeared long ago, just in time to both save Rin and then finish off Gilgamesh, yet still managing to stay around long enough to have a good-bye talk with Rin. Talk about hard to get rid of...
Also done to Lancer in the same route, who gets impaled on his own spear (which is supposed to cause certain death), but hangs around out of sheer willpower long enough to drive off an antagonist, save Rin, and set the entire place on fire once she leaves.
Also Saber in Heavens Feel. This is not a good thing, however.
M. Bison of the Street Fighter series has apparently been killed off thorough the series, only to come back in the next game. Chronologically his first death occurs in Street Fighter Alpha 3, in which his body is destroyed by the Psycho Drive, but his conscience survived and he receives a new host body for the Street Fighter II series, which doesn't have the same abilities that his "original" body from the Alpha series had. Apparently Bison's body is destroyed again at the end of Super Street Fighter II Turbo, this time by Akuma's "Raging Demon" technique, only to get another new host body for the Street Fighter IV series (which reveals that he has a factory of host bodies). Since IV is a prequel to Street Fighter III, where Bison doesn't show up, so it remains to be seen if he will be Killed Off for Real this time.
Illidan Stormrage, the Well-Intentioned Extremist, was struck down earlier and left bleeding in the ground. However, we find out he did not die.
Magtheridon, a demon Illidan defeated and supposedly killed, is revealed to have been imprisoned instead. Admittedly, Illidan later used his blood to empower an army of enhanced orc soldiers.
Maiev Shadowsong, the night elf warden defeated by Illidan, was also revealed to have been imprisoned instead of being killed, which makes even less sense since she is no use for him and the only reason she lived was to kill him anyways. Guess who ended up killing him?
Worth noting is that Maiev was employed as Illidan's warden for his ten thousand year imprisonment. Small-minded as Illidan was he had the intent to do the same to her.
Muradin Bronzebeard was believed to be dead (though you can say his death scene in Warcraft III is questionable at best) then turned out to just have Laser-Guided Amnesia and survived the event.
Several old classic bosses are confirmed alive at 'Cataclysm. Including Hogger, Ragnaros, Balnazzar, and Nefarian.
In the comic about Varian Wrynn, it is revealed that assassin Garona Halforcen and Twilight's Hammer leader Cho'gall are still alive.
There's also Kael'thas "Merely a setback" Sunstrider. The lore says he's dead now, but since Tempest Keep was merely a setback, fans would not be surprised at all if it turned out that the Magister's Terrace was too. The quest to beat him in the Magister's Terrace is even called "Hard to Kill."
Pikmin 2 had some enemies that, after they're defeated and left alone for a while, would slowly recover their health and eventually come back to life.
Vamp is shot in the forehead three times (justified by his healing factor) and, more implausibly, sinks to the bottom of some really light water and doesn't drown.
Liquid walks away from a chopper that goes up in flames the instant it crashes, survives having a bunch of Stinger missiles blowing up in his face, and comes back from a fall (which kills you if it happens to you) with nary a broken bone. His spirit lives on in his arm that was transplanted onto Ocelot, but this is subverted when it turns out Ocelot used hypnosis to give himself a second personality which isn't really Liquid.
Super Metroid: Big Bad Mother Brain pulls this one off twice in the epic Final Battle. First, Mother Brain appears as it did in the original NES Metroid game — stuck in a glass tank, attached to various life support systems, incapable of attacking on its own, and apparent missile fodder. Once enough damage is done, the entire structure holding Mother Brain in place will be blown away, and the brain will crash to the ground, seemingly defeated... until it starts to rise up into the air, newly attached as a head to a gigantic grotesque body, and emits a horrible shriek at Samus, letting her and the player know that she won't go down quite so easily this time around. Second, the reformed Mother Brain proves to be too much for Samus to handle, but the eponymous Super Metroid shows up at the last second to save Samus from the brink of death and seemingly incapacitate Mother Brain, transforming it into the same sepia coloring that the player has seen from the rest of the Super Metroid's previous (deceased) prey, and starts restoring Samus to full energy. Unfortunately, as this is happening, the final boss BGM continues to play — already never a good sign that the foe you're facing is truly defeated — but just to hammer the trope in, suddenly some drool and puffs of smoke emit from Mother Brain's mouth... cue the upcoming Tear Jerker scene where the Metroid sacrifices itself in a last-ditch effort to stop the revitalized Mother Brain's advance, followed by Mother Brain's third (and final) asskicking from Samus.
No mention of Ridley? He practically embodies this trope! The actual entity known as Ridley has died 5 times, the first four of which he came back from. Subsequent appearances in the chronology (Other M and Metroid: Fusion) have merely been clones, though his clone's appearance in Other M was enough to make Samus go through a terribly controversial Heroic BSOD.
In Jak II: Renegade the mercenary Sig falls into a Bottomless Pit together with a giant Metal Head. He shows up at Daxter's party in the final cutscene, without a scratch.
Part of The Reveal in Overlord is that the previous Overlord who you believed dead is in fact possessing the body of the Wizard, and has been using him to corrupt the heroes who defeated him.
Prince Rurik in Guild Wars is brought back from the dead by the Lich at the end of Prophecies as an enemy. You fight and nobly kill him in order to end his suffering.
In Portal the credits song indicates that GLaDOs isn't dead, even after she was taken apart and incinerated.
Perhaps a much stranger example from the second game is the Companion Cube.
In Super Mario Galaxy 2, the final fight with Bowser seems to be just like the previous two fights, only with more attacks from Bowser. You beat him, he falls into the darkness, and he loses the Grand Star just like in his previous battles. Before Mario can claim the star, Bowser quickly rises up and EATS IT, becoming more massive than he ever had been in his history! Epic battle ensues as Bowser tries to fly closer to Mario and punch him while Mario leaps from meteorite to meteorite and smashes Bowser with a few of them.
This happens again in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. After Mario defeats Bowser just like he did in Super Mario Bros., Kamek makes him giant, and he reemerges from the lava for the final phase of the battle.
In Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, Elder Princess Shroob is defeated, and turns into a mushroom. At the end of the game, she is eaten by Bowser, and the two become the final boss of the game before Elder Princess Shroob's spirit is finally destroyed.
In Super Paper Mario, Dimentio seemingly blows himself up in what appears to be an attempt to kill one of the protagonists. It turns out he was setting him up so he could possess him and become the final boss of the game.
Early during Another Century's Episode: R, the audience learned of one Dr. Shiki who, according to the antagonists, was killed by human colonists of the planet Eria prior to the events of the game. As it turns out, he inserted his consciousness into one of the evil androids before that happened and proceeded to reveal himself to be The Man Behind The Evil Boss Android at the expense of the 'droids once he deemed them as having outlived their usefulness.
In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, after Link defeats Ganondorf, he and Zelda have to escape the castle, only for Ganondorf to climb out of the ruins and transform into Ganon for one final fight. He does this again in Twilight Princess as the Sages try to execute him; he survives and kills his killer with the sword before being banished to the world of Twilight. In the same game, after Stallord is seemingly defeated and his skull is lying motionless, Link uses the Spinner to raise the central platform into a pillar, only for the skull to reveal itself to be perfectly okay and attack Link, forcing a second round of the fight.
In Phantom Hourglass, when Bellum is defeated by Link, he falls, and is believed to be dead, although Oshus's power has not yet returned. He beleives it will eventually, but guess who attacks them later on... and guess who regains all his power once we officially see Bellum turn to sand and explode.
Donkey Kong Country 2: Seems that for King/Captain K. Rool, being beaten, punched, thrown from a cliff bouncing twice on the rocks on the way down and splashing into the ocean, THEN getting attacked by hungry sharks didn't stop him from showing up again as the secret/lost world boss, soaking wet and mad. Topping that, being defeated again and getting thrown inside a volcano that erupted shortly after causing the island to sink also didn't prevent him from showing up in the next game without a scratch and under a new alias. Maybe he accidentally ate one (or more) Phoenix Down when he was just a baby crocodile.
In Time Hollow, Irving pulls this after falling from a cliff.
If any video game villain embodies this trope more than Ridley, it's Dr. Eggman from Sonic the Hedgehog. At the conclusion of most of the earlier Sonic games, Sonic has destroyed Eggman's mech and blown up his base, supposedly killing him as he is not seen again in the game, but he always escapes somehow and returns for the next game. Once his Joker Immunity became apparent, they even stopped pretending to kill him off in later games, often showing him after the defeat of the final boss.
In fact this serves as part of the plot for Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. In the game's start Eggman is apparently killed when his battleship explodes while he is in it. Naturally he's still alive. The trope is even lampshaded by the protagonists, many of whom suspect that Eggman is still alive before there's even any reason to suspect as much.
In Chrono Cross, it's revealed that Lavos, the giant space tick that was destroyed by Crono in Chrono Trigger wasn't quite dead; instead, it fused with Schala and became the Time Devourer. The Devourer itself is also an example; killing it the normal way doesn't work. Due to the nature of the Chronoverse, there will always be a timeline where you didn't kill the Devourer, and it'll just come back from there.
A key mechanic in The Godfather 2. If you don't kill an enemy Made Man using the specific "condition" needed, he'll just come back for more later.
Pulled multiple times in the final route of Duel Savior Destiny. First, Kaede is poisoned and then rocks fall on Berio Trope while Nanashi/Rubinas appears to be falling apart. Lily Sheerfield gets booted into an alternate dimension that we know would take her mother a thousand years to escape, though granted she's not implied to be dead. They all make it back in time for the finale.
In Ecco the Dolphin : The Tides of Time, it ends up the Vortex Queen not only survived having her eyes poked out and her jaw destroyed, she is strong enough to invade Earth, create a new hive, and destroy the Asterite.
In scenario 11B of Super Robot Wars Compact 3, Tekko Oni has arrived in town and demands that Getter Robo battle him. The Getter team responds by deploying in Shin Getter Robo. Ryouma recognizes Tekko Oni who says that he has come for their death-match. Hayato and Benkei can't believe that Tekko Oni is still alive. Tekko Oni says that his Tekko Ki can only be commanded by him so it is truly him and Ryouma asks why does he want to battle them to the death now, as the Hyakki Empire is destroyed. Tekko Oni says that it's now that they can guarantee no interference. Last time, Hidler forced him to deploy in the unfinished Tekkou Ki and intervened in their fight also. Ryouma says they have no reason to fight but Tekko Oni says that his dream is of defeating Getter Robo. Ryouma ask if they cannot fight elsewhere, like on the soccer field like before but Tekko Oni says that he no longer wants that. He joins the group after an Enemy Mine situation.
A big example in Cause of Death in Special Agent Shawn Mallory. After becoming the vigilante Big BadThe Hand of Justice throughout Season 5, he is shot atop the roof of Alcatraz prison, and appears to drown in the murky waters below. And he does. But as revealed in the final episode of Season 8, he was resuscitated by Genevieve and the Salazars and had a complete Villainous Breakdown and becomes the Big Bad of Season 8. Emphasised by his unnaturally aged appearance from that point on.
In The Adventures of Lomax, deployed two times by Evil Ed. First, destroying the floating rock that he's standing on will make him fall down, presumably to his doom, but then he pulls off a One-Winged Angel moment. Then he falls down again but hangs to the stage for his life. Only making him fall for the third time causes him not to come back.
Happens in Dominic Deegan quite often. Klo comes back from oblivion for no reason, as did Celesto who on top of a similar oblivion, escaped an alternate dimension that is normally unescapable. The Infernomancer also escaped this dimension after being banished there. The return of both Celesto and the Infernomancer is explained: when the souls of the Chosen were detonated by Karnak, it breached the planes, allowing them to return.
On her arrival in Something Positive, Kestrel (from Queen of Wands) is hit by a car and left a bloody mess in the street, with no one noticing. A few months later, she returns with head injuries, medical bills, and another not-so-secretly infatuated female best friend.
This is one theory among many as to how Oasis keeps returning from the dead over and over again in Sluggy Freelance.
A Fairytale for the Demon Lord: Balder is run through earlier on, and dealt with easily. He reappears at the end of the comic, healed, and burying all the soldiers the protagonist killed, before leaving to avenge them.
It's been revealed that most of the students whose deaths weren't shown ended up being involved in an escape plot and had their collars removed. However, around half of those have now been Killed Off for Real by the terrorists.
In V4, Clio Gabriella knocks Garry Villette off a cliff and watches him plunge into the water below. She doesn't bother to check to see if he surfaces again and believes him to be dead. He isn't.
The entirety of Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction is spent trying to kill the Meta. Recreation revealed that this failed, though apparently he suffered damage of some sort, forcing the Meta and Agent Washington to capture Doc to fix him.
Church himself is a heroic example. He was killed in the very first season, but it didn't take long for him to come back as a ghost.
Really, Red vs. Blue loves this trope; Sarge died for an episode only to be brought back via CPR, Tex died at the end of season one and came back next season, Captain Flowers died in his first appearance, but was brought back in the next season before dying again. Donut can be added to this list, as he was confirmed dead by Doc at the start of Revelation, but gets brought back to life in a sponsors-only ending of chapter 13 and was confirmed as being alive by Word of God. He finally returns to the show proper in Season 10.
The miniseries The Gamers mocks this trope when the players' characters meet up with an angry mercenary the left for dead in the "castle of almost certain death."
In Tales of MU, the main character's mother is believed by everyone to be dead, but side stories reveal that she may be alive and living under an assumed name, for reasons not completely clear yet.
In DSBT InsaniT, it happens in 'Beach Brawl' when Bill 2 destroys Cell's brain, only for him to regenerate later on, and in 'The Camping Webisode' when Dave crushes Killer Monster with a large stone slab, only for him to melt it with lava soon after.
In Dreamscape, the Possessor Ghost comes back after Melissa supposedly banishes him.
Kenny in South Park does this often in Season 1, only to be killed seconds later.
Another example of this trope occurs during episode 5 "A Date with the Health Inspector". Ed Wuncler III and his friend Gin rob a store ran by people of Middle Eastern descent. A police officer happens to be there who in a parody of the Iraq War and the status of whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction or not is asked by Ed if he sees any weapons on the Middle Eastern man. The police officer refuses at first but then agrees not wanting to get on Ed's bad side, as it turns out the Middle Eastern man did have a gun and he and some other Middle Eastern men open fire on Ed and his friend Gin with the police officer getting caught in the crossfire. Then the police officer is laying down on the ground and Ed's friend Gin has a brief exchange with the man, whose name turns out is Freddie, that is word for word with Monty Python. Freddie then gets up and gets shot again. At the end of the episode backup is called and the Middle Eastern men are arrested and Ed and Gin are viewed as heroes who stopped "terrorists" and Freddie makes a full recovery.
In Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Satan sends MC Pee Pants back to Earth often, providing the only continuity the show has.
In Family Guy's famous chicken fights the chicken is killed three times yet he always returns for more. Within a single fight (the first) he is seemingly beaten to death, only to attack Peter again seconds later.
For that matter, this should also apply to the monkey in Chris's closet, Connie, Mort, and Meg, who have all sustained typically fatal injuries and led fans to wonder whether or not they were actually Killed Off for Real by the end of these episodes until they show up fine in later episodes.
Shendu from Jackie Chan Adventures is killed off at the season one finale, and is assumed dead. The act of "killing" him off allows him to become a spirit and he returns in the body of Valmont. The rest of the series sees him being resealed in the demon underworld, reborn, resealed in his original state, revived, and final sealed off for good in another dimension. He is never actually killed.
In the season 1 finale of X-Men, the massive robotic Master Mold pulls a Chernabog and bursts out of a mountain, insisting it can never be destroyed, after seemingly being destroyed with the rest of the Sentinels by a massive explosion. This is the cue for Professor Xavier to fly in with the TNT-loaded Blackbird jet, fly at Master Mold full speed, and eject.
No, this is not Master Mold's final appearance, if you're wondering.
Swindle in Transformers Animated was, at the end of "S.U.V", paralyzed and trapped in vehicle mode, which the Autobots allowed the Detroit Police to tow away with the stated goal of either selling him or stripping him down for parts, not even mentioning that the "SUV" was a Decepticon. In "Five Servos of Doom", he turns up alive and unharmed, though still stuck, Sentinel Prime having bought him from the impound lot (considering his parts couldn't move, they probably weren't worth much).
Starscream himself. In nearly all versions, the guy just won't die, or at least stay dead.
Never mind all the times that Megatron in Transformers Generation One almost died and then turns out he didn't. At least 3 times in season one: Part 3 of More Than Meets the Eye; Transport to Oblivion, Heavy Metal War, and the end of part 3 of The Ultimate Doom. The last one was the most believable time that he had perished, after all his starship blew up with him in it. All the Decepticons believe he is dead right up until he walks through the door in Countdown to Extinction.
Rumble: But, Megatron! We thought you were, you know, Kkkkkkcct! (the sound a person makes when motioning a finger across the throat like a knife; ie, "You're dead")
Parodied on The Simpsons in their Bible Trilogy. A story called David and Goliath 2, an Affectionate Parody of silly actioners, has Ralph Wiggum's character die at one point pretty finally. Later in the story, he suddenly reappears anyway. Bart says "I thought you were dead!" All Ralph says is "Nope!" Absolutely no explanation is given for this.
Also, in the similarly non-canonical Treehouse of Horror VI story "Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace," Martin Prince falls asleep during class and is strangled to death in his dream by Groundskeeper-Willie-gone-Freddy-Krueger. As his body is being taken away, Martin reanimates into a crazed zombie and is about to attack Ms. Krabappel's class but is sedated and prevented from harming them. Groundskeeper Willie himself fits this trope, given it's a parody of A Nightmare on Elm Street. But Willie's death, reanimation and vowing of revenge are not even mentioned until after Martin's death and reanimation at school.
Occurred quite often in SWAT Kats, especially in the season 1 finale "Katastrophe", where four of the major recurring villains are caught in a massive warehouse explosion. They all get better by unknown means.
Earlier, this occurred to Dr. Viper in the episode "Destructive Nature", where he falls off a 300-story building only to reappear in "Katastrophe" unscathed. Viper was one of several SWAT Kats villains whose Origin Story involved coming Back from the Dead, so this might explain it.
In Ninjago Pythor is implied to be killed when he's eaten by the Great Devourer in season 1. He reappears in episode 30, but with his purple scales now bleached white by stomach acid and his voice now sounding like he can keel over any second.
But Wait, There's More!! It turns out that when they cremated his body, they forgot to cut the appropriate tendons in his body, thus, the heat caused them to contract, causing him to sit up.
Ironically enough, Rasputin did not actually suffer a Rasputinian Death. Autopsy reports conducted in 1916 and released after the Cold War reveal that Rasputin died of a single gunshot to the forehead, after having suffered some cuts and bruises as well as a couple non-fatal gunshots beforehand. Interestingly, though, the fatal shot came from a British revolver, adding a different layer of intrigue to the murder.
Simo Häyhä. Finnish sniper in WWII had over seven hundred confirmed kills of Soviets, 505 with his sniper rifle and two hundred or so by submachine gun. They tried everything up to Artillery strikes to kill him. He finally took a bullet to the jaw and it exited the left side of his face taking most of it. His buddies commented half his head was blown off. He woke up a few weeks later and lived to the ripe old age of 96, dying in April of 2002.
A famous case in Belleville, Illinois. A teenager was attacked by the teacher she was friends with (and may have been having a relationship with) who broke her neck and then strangled her with a belt before dumping her body in the woods. Thirty hours later, in a driving rainstorm, the police found her body. Only she had somehow survived (her attacker pleaded guilty and went to jail for 20 years).
Mark Linkous, leader of the band Sparklehorse, fell into a coma after mixing anti-depressants and sleeping pills in a London hotel room in 1995. He was found clinically dead with his legs pinned under him, and was lucky not only to be revived, but also to be able to walk again after six months of rehab. Linkous, who continued to struggle with depression and substance abuse, killed himself more decisively in 2010 by shooting himself in the chest with a rifle in an alley near a friend's house while intoxicated.
In one British legal case, the defendants tried to use this defence. Because a crime must have both an action coupled with an intention (or recklessness/negligence etc), two individuals tried to argue that, because the man they had decided to beat to death was not quite dead when they threw his "body" off a cliff to dispose of it, the Crown did not have the necessary convergence of action and intention (they did not intend to kill him when they threw him off a cliff, believing that he was already dead). The judge told them, essentially, to bugger off.
A fifteen-year-old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafzai spoke out against the Taliban and was shot in the head by them for her trouble. She survived, came out of a coma, and went right back to her campaign.