"Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we haveland of the dead is a place that can be visited. If the protagonist can brave the journey To Hell and Back, they can free the soul and resurrect them. Success is not guaranteed though. Sometimes it's not the body that's gone but the mind or soul, which can happen if they are lost in Cyberspace or in a Dream Within a Dream. They may have been trapped in a Lotus-Eater Machine or Psychological Torment Zone, or had their Soul taken into the Spirit World. There tend to be rules and Leave Your Quest Tests involved in getting into and out of the Spirit World, such as having money for The Ferryman, ways to calm the Hellhounds, and the self discipline to ignore the phantoms trying to make you leave the path. Its also generally a bad idea to eat or drink anything while you're there. Sub-Trope of To Hell and Back. Compare Escaped from Hell, which need not involve assistance from the outside. This is a Death Trope so expect heavy spoilers.
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Anime And Manga
- Black★Rock Shooter: Mato becomes/fuses with the eponymous Black Rock Shooter and goes to the Otherworld to save Yomi from Dead Master.
- The Soul Society arc sees the gang travel to the Soul Society to rescue Rukia.
- The Arrancar Arc sees the gang travel to Hueco Mundo to rescue Orihime.
- In the first film, Ichigo's and the gang have to travel to the Dangai to rescue Senna.
- In the second film, Hitsugaya flees in exile to the human world, accidentally catches up Ichigo in his woes before sneaking back into Soul Society to try and solve the mess by himself, causing Ichigo to travel back to Soul Society to help save Hitsugaya and clear his name.
- In the third film, Ichigo and co. travel back to Soul Society to rescue Rukia in what is an unashamedly obvious rewrite of the Soul Society arc with slightly different villains.
- In the fourth film, Ichigo travels to Hell to rescue Yuzu.
- InuYasha: Early in the series, Kagome doesn't enter hell, but gets very close to the entrance to save a child's soul who had died.
- One of the many, many MANY subplots of Angel Sanctuary is about Setsuna trying to get back the soul of his beloved sister Sara. Cue travel to the Hades, learning she already left... and we have not even covered 25% of the series.
- In Jack and the Witch the titular boy hero descends into a frigid cave full of growing and shifting ice to rescue the banished witch Allegra, who'd been sent there by the Harpy Queen to freeze to death. The Ice Cave and its subsequent shift into a magical battleground seem to be tied to the Queen's magic, as they fade out once her crystal ball is smashed.
- Happens twice in the same instance in Kamisama Kiss when Nanami follows Kirihito into the Underworld only to wind up in trouble herself which causes Tomoe to come after her.
- Happens twice in Dennou Coil, where one has the ability to connect to the internet through your mind via Augmented Reality glasses. Both Haruken and Isako get trapped in Coil Space, causing them to fall into a coma. Yasako has a hand in bringing them back both times.
- Rebuild of Evangelion brings us this, with the most unlikely Orpheus of them all... Shinji Ikari goes berserk and red-eyed, utterly stomps the Tenth Angel into the dust and pulls Rei, who got eaten along with her Eva, out of the dead Angel's core. Subverted in true Evangelion fashion since bringing Rei back involved creating an apocalypse that nearly wiped out the whole world, and Shinji doesn't actually get to be with Rei after Kaworu stops the apocalypse by spearing Eva-01 from space.
- This trope is subverted in Shamanic Princess. The heroine's childhood companion, Sara, is trapped in a painting. The characters try various things to extract her, including entering the painting itself (although that was more the painting's idea,) but they never succeed. Sara cannot be saved and does not need saving, because it was her destiny to fuse with the painting.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion. It's a major plotline of the movie, as the Incubators had tried to force Homura to become a Witch by selectively isolating Homura's Soul Gem from interference, thus forcing all the grief and despair building up to remain within. Madoka mounts a rescue mission by entering Homura's Soul Gem and breaking her out from within; Magical Girls both still alive (Mami, Kyoko) and those whom Goddess Madoka had already taken when their Soul Gems ran out of magic (Sayaka, Nagisa) join her, though the rescue hits a couple of snags en route.
- Chapters 6 through 10 of Pupipo feature Wakaba and Po on a mission to bring back their friend Azuma after she is hit by a car.
- Berserk: The Skull Knight did this upon rescuing Guts and Casca from the Godhand and their Apostles during the Eclipse. Having a sword that can slice through dimensions definitely helps.
- During Mark Waid's run, the Fantastic Four rescued their fallen teammate Ben Grimm in this manner.
- The Sandman features at least two cases: The title character going into Hell to release an old love he'd condemned after she rejected him, and his son Orpheus's trope-naming trip to retrieve Eurydice.
- In The Phantom Stranger tie-in to Trinity War, the Phantom Stranger and a few other heroes go to heaven's basement to rescue the soul of a dead hero. They fail and the Stranger is sent to oblivion while the heroes are sent back to Earth.
- A story arc of Secret Six had them doing this to rescue Scandal's lover Knockout.
- The second Swamp Thing Annual has the title character, with the assistance of The Phantom Stranger and Etrigan, journey out-of-body to Hell in order to rescue Abby, whose soul her uncle Anton Arcane had maliciously cast down there.
- This is the basic premise of Angela: Queen of Hel albeit the title suggests that Angela's quest to save her dead beloved Sera probably wont go without complications.
- In Propagation Blackgaurd dumps Taylor, the LA Wards, some of the LA Protectorate, a couple supervillains, and about a square mile of LA into another dimension.
- Dungeon Keeper Ami features this in the Sailor Moon native-verse subplot. At first it's just Usagi, Rei, and Luna, later they are joined by Makoto. Played with somewhat, however, as a way to get Ami home is apparent quite early on from Ami's end, it's simply too dangerous for the Light Gods to send her, as the Dark Gods will immeadiately use that opportunity to attack Ami's world. The overarching plot then revolves on overcomeing this.
- A variation appears in Shadowchasers Power Primordial. After a dark curse traps Ember's soul in the Venomous Tarns (the realm of Seghulerak, the demonic goddess of the ophidia, making it heaven for ophidia and hell for anyone else), with her physical body being guarded by her kidnappers, Jetta the Bronze Hearted (a Cosmic Entity whom Ember is supposed to sponsor) is the only ally who knows about it, but can't act herself. The solution is to communicate (through a vision) Ember's cousin and Big Brother Mentor to go there in spiritual form, and help muster up the willpower to break the curse on her own. (Not only does it work, but it sets up an important Chekhov's Gun for when Ember physically escapes her kidnappers later, and has to confront her Arch-Enemy.)
- In Being Dead Ain't Easy, when Seto refuses to leave the Soul Room, leaving his body empty, Joey heads in to rescue him.
- Black Orpheus is the Orpheus myth set in 20th century Brazil. Orfeo, who refuses to accept that Eurydice is really dead, is led down a staircase to The Underworld, where he hears Eurydice's voice at a native religious ceremony. Before he even has a a chance to find out if he can lead her out, he turns and looks, and she's gone.
- Inception had Cobb rescue Fischer and Saito from the deepest subconscious.
- Funnily enough, Limbo's closest to his deepest unconscious, as he's the only one who's been down there long enough (local time) to build anything.
- Mal became The Missingno. and The Ophelia because Dom's attempt to rescue her from Limbo worked much too well. Dom planted the idea that they should kill themselves to get out of Limbo in her mind, but the idea was so firmly implanted that she ended up killing herself in waking life. After that, Dom's subconscious projection of Mal tormented him with memories of the botched Orphean Rescue and played havoc with damn near every one of his dream schemes. Dom eventually conquered her with a complete inversion of the Orphean Rescue—he told Mal's projection that he was done with her and would leave the memories in Limbo.
- Poltergeist: Carol Anne is kidnapped by the ghosts and taken to the astral plane where they are trapped.
- The low-budget film Tequila Body Shots doesn't even hide the fact that the climax will be this: The protagonist's name is Johnny Orpheus. Plus...guess what he uses to bring his love interest back from where she is?
- In What Dreams May Come, the protagonist goes into hell to find his wife's soul who is trapped in her own guilt after committing suicide.
- Averted awesomely in Hellboy. Hellboy's love interest has just been captured by the things the villains have been trying to summon. Knowing that they're using her body as a host, Hellboy tells them to let her go—or he'll come in and get her. She's immediately released.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, starts off with Will, Elizabeth and Barbossa planning on going to the afterlife to retrieve Jack Sparrow.
- Done by the protagonist in the campy 1992 movie Highway To Hell, after his girlfriend is kidnapped by the devil. (That's right, kidnapped; while still alive. The Deal with the Devil part is saved for when they try to escape.)
- A dream world variety in The Last Witch Hunter - Chloe dives into Kaulder's mind to rescue him from a Lotus-Eater Machine, and while he initially rejects her, she manages to bring him back.
- Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator has Willy Wonka and Charlie go deep down to rescue Grandma Georgina from Minus Land, where she went after having reduced her age to below zero.
- Overdrawn at the Memory Bank has this trope, though in this case, Apallonia knows exactly where Fingal's mind is; it's his body she's having trouble finding.
- In Briar's Book, Briar follows his teacher into death to convince her to come back.
- Full Tilt by Neil Schusterman involves a boy going to rescue his brother from some kind of hell, appearing as an Amusement Park of Doom, after he was lured in.
- In A Wizard of Earthsea, Ged tries to save a dying child, following her soul on the way to the land of the dead; but he doesn't manage to keep her from entering it and being lost.
- There's a medieval narrative poem, Sir Orfeo, loosely inspired by Orpheus, where King Orfeo successfully wins back his wife held captive by The Fair Folk. He plays his harp so beautifully that the king of the fairies promises him any reward he wants.
- The Friendship Song by Nancy Springer has this with Harper and Rawnie venturing to the underworld to rescue the soul of a rock singer. It's then played with as he has to choose to come back on his own.
- In Deep Secret, Nick goes to Babylon in order to restore his half-sister Maree after her soul is stripped from her. Babylon isn't the land of the dead exactly, but it's definitely "outside here or there." On the way back, Nick remembers the legend of Orpheus and refuses to look back even though he can hear Maree behind him, which was a very wise decision.
- In the Heirs Of Alexandria series, Maria assumes a Persephone like role to become Queen of the Underworld and use her powers to save everyone. Upset that she was tricked into this, Benito travels to the Underworld to rescue her. Hades agrees to let her go, under one condition: she will follow him back to the land of the living, but he must take it on trust that she's actually there. If he ever looks back to verify her presence, she must return to Hades. Of course, being who he is, he cheats: he has one of his companions, a knight in mirror-polished armor, walk in front of him so he can see her reflection in the armor.
- Being Genre Savvy, he even waits until they're on the boat before turning around. "To be sure."
- In the Discworld novel The Light Fantastic, Twoflower is hit by a poisoned blade and his soul is sent to Death's domain. Rincewind is given a potion by the necromancer in a nearby settlement, and his soul also leaves for Death's domain. He finds that Twoflower has been teaching the four horsemen of the apocalypse to play bridge, which has not gone down terribly well. Rincewind then rescues Twoflower and both of their souls manage to get back to their bodies soon.
- Invoked in Wintersmith, where Roland has to descend into "an" underworld to rescue the Summer Lady, because that sort of thing is expected in these situations.
- The Iron King is about a sister rescuing her kidnapped brother in Fairyland.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Jaina Solo at one point tries to enter Tahiri Viela's mind to help Tahiri overcome her Yuuzhan Vong persona.
- In The Wheel of Time, Mat and company enter the Tower of Ghenjei to rescue Moiraine.
- Paul Kidd's third Greyhawk book, Queen of the Demonweb Pits, ends with a trip to Thoth's realm to rescue Enid.
Enid: Just how much trouble have I put you to?Escalla: None! Nothing we minded! Well, we had to steal the clone spell from this wizard guy in Greyhawk, then make you a new body at Dad's place, then find the river Mnemos, fight a few evil denizens, avoid a few rampaging armies, then find this place and bust in. Simple!
- The aptly named Forgotten Realms novel Elminster in Hell featured Mystaria's attempt to rescue the title character from Nergal's realm, but it was not easy. After finding out she could not make the attempt herself (the Pact Primordial forbids gods from doing so) she recruited her other Chosen to do so. Both Halaster Blackcloak and the Mad Mage of Undermountain failed to do so, but the Simbul succeeded, both she and Elminster defeating Nergal in a climatic battle before escaping to the mortal world.
- Double Subverted in "The Land Of Oblivion". The heroine's brother is really dead, and nothing can actually resurrect him. However, he is captured in the Bad part of afterlife (the titular land), and about to be made Deader Than Dead, and she manages to bust him out and bring him to a place where he can enjoy a happy afterlife.
- Shadow Police: In The Severed Streets, DI Quill is murdered by the Ripper and sent to Hell. Costain uses a magical artifact called the Bridge of Spikes - a so-called 'Get out of Hell Free card' - to rescue him, despite wanting the Bridge for himself.
Live Action TV
- Seamus Zelazny Harper did this a time or two on Andromeda for the AI of the ship. It included a combo Journey to the Center of the Mind that happened to be Cyberspace.
- In the Arrow episode Haunted, Oliver and Laurel get the assistance of John Constantine to successfully infiltrate The Underworld to retrieve the soul of Sara Lance, who was resurrected by a Lazarus Pit as a Soulless Shell.
- The third season of Being Human (UK) included one of these early on. It's not without larger consequences.
- Doctor Who
- The two-parter "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead", where Donna is 'saved' into a virtual computer system world. The Doctor works to get her back and restore the rest of the planet's population, all the while fighting off the Vashta Nerada.
- "Dark Water" sees an attempt to rescue Danny Pink after he passes on to an afterlife that Clara and the Doctor can't quite understand yet.
- Most of the plot of The Lost Room is the lead character recovering his daughter from this situation.
- Episode 4 of MythQuest sees Alex, as Orpheus, go into Hades to rescue Eurydice.
- The final episode of Season 4 has Phoebe cast a spell on herself to enter the Wasteland - where demons go when vanquished - when Cole contacts her through a medium. Subverted in that she has no interest in rescuing him, she wants him to let go and stop bothering her.
- The Season 6 opener has them travelling to Valhalla to save Leo, who has been trapped there for a month. This involves stealing Darryl's soul (and then saving him too once Leo emerged).
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel both involve this trope from time to time.
- Rescues from Hell pop up more than a few times on both shows.
- Buffy goes catatonic right before the season 5 finale (requiring a Journey to the Center of the Mind by Willow to help her snap out of it).
- When Angel loses his soul (again), he and Faith end up sharing a drugged dream state where they trade barbs while observing Angel's memories from his quest for redemption as she tries to find a way to restore his soul.
- The last season of Angel has a disproportionate number of these as well.
- The attempt to rescue Spike's ghost before he is destroyed
- The journey to the private little suburban hell with the torture chamber in the basement (an unalterable "Groundhog Day" Loop that the person knows ends with hours of torture). Done a couple times, once to rescue someone with important info who was trapped there by the Senior Partners, then back again later to rescue the guy who had to take his place on the first trip.
- Happens a few times on Supernatural, albeit offscreen. Castiel rescues Dean from Hell and Sam from Lucifer's cage. A group of angels rescue Castiel from Purgatory. An onscreen example occurs in Season 8, when Sam rescues Bobby from Hell, only for both of them to be rescued from Purgatory by Benny.
- In Beyond The Walls Lisa, searches for Julien, who has almost turned into one of the zombie-like inhabitants. In the black room, she manages to pull him back just in time. Afterwards they search for the exit of the House with renewed vigour.
Myths & Religion
- Classical Mythology:
- Orpheus is the Trope Codifier. When his wife Eurydice died, Orpheus entered the underworld and convinced Hades to let her return to the world of the living. However, Hades allowed it on the condition that Orpheus lead his wife back without looking at her until they're on the other side. Unlike the majority of the examples on this page, though, he ultimately failed in his quest. Some versions of the myth state that Orpheus was out of the underworld when he turned to look at her, but his wife wasn't. Orpheus' response to this was to blaspheme the gods through his songs until they got sick enough of him to strike him dead.
- Heracles did something similar when he went to the Underworld to abduct Cerberus for his Twelfth Labor. While there, his found his cousin Theseus and Theseus' friend Pirithous, who Hades had bound to a chair as punishment for trying to kidnap Persephone. Hades said he could take Theseus with back with him - if he could. Heracles managed to wrest Theseus free, but he wasn't allowed to do the same for Pirithous. (Pirithous had been the orchestrator of the plan and Theseus was only guilty by association, so Hades was willing to let him go.) As this story and the one with Orpheus seems to show, more-or-less, even attempting a rescue like this in Classical Mythology is impossible unless you have Hades' permission.
- Another possible example of this Trope regarding Heracles — depending on the version — was the story where when he wrestled Thanatos to rescue the soul of Alcestis, a brave woman who sacrificed herself so her husband Admetus (a good friend of Heracles) could live. Whether this fits the Trope or not is disputed, because some versions say the battle did, indeed happen in the Underworld, while others suggest that Thanatos had not left Earth yet; but since the myth always claims that Thanatos had already taken Alcestis' soul, it is possible. Whatever the case, Heracles was successful this time too.
- According to some versions of Hades and Persephone's legend, she was literally abducted and dragged into Hades, and her mother went batshit insane, which is bad when said mother is the goddess of The Earth. Hermes went to retrieve Persephone, but discovered that she had eaten of the food of the underworld while there, which bound her to Hades. A compromise was reached that allowed Persephone to leave Hades for half the year, then spend the other half as the queen of the dead. The half which she is on earth is the autumn, winter, and spring (growing seasons in Greece), while the dry, hot Greek summers are caused when she leaves for the underworld and her mother grieves.
- Another version (and arguably, the most accurate one) has Persephone voluntarily running off with Hades, to both get away from her overcontrolling and overprotective mother and grasp power for herself, as Zeus had his eye on her (and had apparently raped her already) and Hades is quite the catch, technically speaking. When it looks like war between the gods if she doesn't come back, she eats a few pomegranate seeds deliberately to ensure she at least gets a vacation from her mom and pervert uncle once a year, meaning for her "purgatory" is actually the half of the year she's not in the Underworld.
- Theseus also accompanied his friend Pirithoos into Hades when the latter took a fancy to Persephone; they both got stuck there until Heracles freed them on a completely unrelated mission (see example above).
- Japanese Mythology:
- Similar to Orpheus is Izanagi, creator-god in Japanese Mythology. His wife Izanami died giving birth to the fire-god Kagutsuchi and fell to The Underworld, The Yomotsu. Izanagi traveled down the cavernous realm of the dead, only to be repulsed by his wife who is now an eternally decaying, maggot-ridden corpse. He fled the underworld as fast as he could while being chased by the local demons and Izanami throwing lightning at him. Eventually, he made it to the surface, and closed the way to the underworld with a huge boulder.
- Mesopotamian Mythology:
- Similar to the above (this is an archetypal trope, after all) Ishtar's Descent Into The Underworld is one of the most well-known stories of Babylonian Mythology. In it, she descends into the underworld but angers its queen, Erseshkigal, and is trapped there. As the goddess of fertility, this is bad for the living note , so Ea creates a servant and sends it to retrieve her, commanding Ereshkigal to let her go.
- Inanna's Descent to the Netherworld: Inanna sends her own husband to Irkalla when she comes back from the dead to find him relaxing under a tree instead of grieving openly. Later on, she misses him terribly and all the plants die and no animals or people can reproduce. She agrees to let his sister take his place in the Underworld for half the year, during which everything grows again, and stops growing when that time is up. Which is why we have summer and winter.
- Hindu Mythology:
- A female version from India: the princess Savitri followed Yama, the lord of death, when he took her husband Satyavan. Yama was so impressed with her wisdom and courage that he eventually let her take Satyavan back.
- Champions Organization Book 1 The Circle and M.E.T.E.: One of the adventure seeds for the Circle is having Oeramm attack the Circle, capture Aureole or a PC and take them back to his home plane, from which they will have to be rescued.
- You can bring back dead people from The Underworld in Geist: The Sin-Eaters, but not without paying some (very terrible) price to the Kerberoi.
- While not going to the realm of the dead per se, some Changelings make it their mission to raid Arcadia to free the humans kidnapped by True Fae, themselves being victims of True Fae in the past. It's only more admirable when you consider just what kind of place Arcadia is, and what effect it has upon the fragile psyche of the Changelings.
- Some werewolves also make it their mission to eject humans who are trapped in the Spirit World, although it's more having to do with keeping orders in their territories than altruism for the poor humans.
- The Classical Mythology themed Theros cycle in Magic: The Gathering has the black card Rescue from the Underworld, which involves one of the players creatures leaving play and returning next turn along with one that was in the graveyard. The same block also has Reviving Melody, which depicts a Gender Swapped version of the original tale.
- The supplement to Don't Rest Your Head, Don't Lose Your Mind, has a lovely example in the example Madness Power titled "O is for Orpheus":
“You need to understand it wasn’t her fault, alright? You need to understand none of this was her fault, but suicide means something to a Catholic. So I walked down and carried her back. She tried to fight me and run back to it. Can you believe that? She tried to run back to the eating and purging and eating and...”
“I’m going to walk back when I get my head together a little and try and find the rest of her, but until then...”
Like he said, she’s got to eat.
- Easily possible in Forgotten Realms, due to the ease with which the Outer Planes can be accessed.
- Occurs with the soul of Aribeth in the Forgotten Realms-set game Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark.
- This is actually Arthur's goal in the second game of the Ghosts 'n Goblins series. (He's still trying to rescue his beloved Princess Prin-Prin, but in this one, Lucifer kills her and captures her soul.)
- This seems to be the entirety of Drawn to Life. The creator (seemingly the player character and the force behind the protagonist) is Heather, who in the real world was Mike's older sister. In the real world, Mike and Heather were in a devastating car crash which put Mike in a coma and killed their parents. Heather's imagination plus The Power of Love sent Mike into the world of Drawn to Life. The Next Chapter consists of getting everything together so that Mike can wake up again.
- Kingdom Hearts sets up about six of these in Birth by Sleep. Interesting because all six are important characters whose growth, contribution to the plot, and tragic downfall took up about the space of a full game each, and each of them went in a completely different way. So it's a bit of a task for The Hero to bring them all back. coded and 3D continue the set up for these rescues, giving the heroes the information and abilities they need to stage them in an upcoming game.
- Touhou 07: Perfect Cherry Blossom has the three main characters going to Hakugyokurou, a realm of virtuous dead (think Elysium), to take back the Spring essence of Gensokyo which is stolen by the hungry ghost Yuyuko.
- Fatal Frame 2: Mio shoots her way (with a camera!) through a village worth of hordes of vengeful ghosts to save her little sister Mayu. Bonus point for (in Best Ending route) going down into Abyss to retrieve her back. She didn't come out unscathed from the whole ordeal, but at least she's now closer to Mayu than ever.
- Happens in some route in Aoi Shiro. These are the bad ends.
- In Persona 3: FES, the desire to bring back the main character after his Heroic Sacrifice to stop Nyx drives SEES to splinter and fight each other in a "Groundhog Day" Loop. But even when the members of SEES come back to their senses and work together to reach the place where the MC's soul is, they find out that they CAN'T bring him back without undoing his sacrifice. Moral of the story: It's better to let go of deceased loved ones.
- The protagonists of Persona 4 perform a series of Orphean rescue missions into the TV World to save people who have been thrown in by a mysterious killer. Bonus points for the hero's Persona being Izanagi and the final boss, the one behind it all, being Izanami. The Persona series loves this trope in general.
- Bayonetta 2 kicks off with Bayonetta heading off to the Gates of Hell to rescue her friend Jeanne after her soul is Dragged Off to Hell by a demon gone rogue.
- Gwendolyn rescues Oswald from the underworld in Odin Sphere. Odin rescues her when she has problems leaving again.
- Played very straight in a quest on Dungeons & Dragons Online, where you must rescue Mistress Orphne, trapped inside her mind by a spell. Four objects are needed by the party to break the spell—which becomes an shadowy version of the rescued that tries to slay you.
- Don't Look Back, as the title suggests, takes Orpheus's original journey and reimagines it as a Platform Game.
- A second, unrelated game also (confusingly) entitled Don't Look Back, swaps things up by having Euridice rescue Orfeo (it's based on the opera rather than the original myth).
- Saints Row IV sees the Boss delve into a virtual simulation of Steelport to fight his way through the Ironic Hells of their crew, all trapped in Lotus-Eater Machines, to rescue them.
- In order to get the best endings of King's Quest VI, Prince Alexander has to travel to the Land of the Dead and bargain with its Lord for the souls of the King and Queen of the Green Isles, who had been murdered by Abdul Alhazred in a bid for power. Given the series' roots in fairy tales and myths, this is almost certainly a reference to the myth of Orpheus.
- Dante's Inferno has the title fallen crusader descending into Hell itself to save his beloved, Beatrice, after she is killed while he is on crusade and her soul is claimed by the Devil himself.
- Sinfest seemed to be going in this direction after Criminy started digging his way to hell in search of Fuchsia, but it led to him staying there.
- Parodied in Oglaf, where the ruler of the netherworld realizes to his annoyance that the rescuer isn't there to save a specific person, he's just listing qualities he wants in a girlfriend.
Fuck, man - the realm of death is not your dating agency.
- Elf Blood, to restore the status quo. It turns out that the journey is a LOT easier than expected, but the Sadistic Choice isn't. And then it turns out that the Sadistic Choice was just an educated assumption in the protagonist's mind, but in any case said choice REALLY helped everyone in the story.
- MegaTokyo: Though it was only Purgatory if you were both Largo and very drunk.
- Red vs. Blue has something like this for Church following Tex into the capture unit at the end of Season 8 and into Season 9, followed by the rest of the squad trying to save him as well throughout the present timeline of Nine. Church is eventually saved... after he comes to peace with Tex's death and erases his memory of her.
- In Disney's Hercules, the main character travels to the Underworld in order to rescue Meg's spirit and reunite it with her body, thus getting his godhood back.
- The animated series features Orpheus himself in need of rescue from the Underworld. Depicted as a pop-star, his fans including girls at the school and monsters alike results in him becoming a Living Macguffin for Hercules (trying to secure a date for the prom by getting Orpheus to play) and Hades (trying to recruit a powerful new minion through an Underworld concert) to clash over on the same day.
- Teen Titans has Robin do this for Raven in the Season Four finale. (He had Slade's help.)
- In Adventure Time, Finn and Jake go to the underworld to rescue the soul of Princess Bubblegum's dead plant, which they accidently killed while taking care of it. Unfortunately they mess up, and Finn ends up having to save Jake's memory as well.
- In The Book of Life, Manolo thinks he's doing this for Maria when Xibalba sends him to the Land of the Remembered. In reality, he's the one who's been killed.
- In the Pinky and the Brain Halloween episode, Pinky sells his soul to the devil and the Brain has to go to Hades and challenge the devil to a gymnastics competition to get him back.
- In The Legend of Korra, when Korra and Jinora meditate into the spirit world, Jinora's soul is acquired by Unalaq with the aid of Wan Shi Tong to force Korra to open the Northern Spirit Portal. Tenzin, Kya, and Bumi have to go into the Fog of Lost Souls to retrieve her.
- In a 2009 episode of South Park all the celebrities that had died that year were stuck in Purgatory, which looked like an airplane stuck on the runway, until Michael Jackson admitted he was dead. In the meantime they haunted Ike.
- One episode of Thunder Cats has Lion-O venturing into the great beyond to recue Jaga, who is being held prisoner by his old foe Grom the Destroyer. (Possibly a case of Only One Afterlife, as it's clear which side of the moral spectrum Grom is on.)