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Resurrection Sickness
Cavil: She said, "I hope it hurts you for a long, long time before you go to download city." Then they just left me there. They left me in the hot sun with a bullet in my guts.
Boomer: How long were you there before you died?
Cavil: Hours. Eventually, I managed to drag myself over to some spent shell casings. I used one of those to scratch open my carotid artery. Skin is a lot tougher than you think. Now that's... three for me. Three downloads. The first one, I just got a headache. But I could handle it. Now it's worse and worse. This time it was like a frakkin' white hot poker through my skull. Not worth it. None of this is worth it.
Battlestar Galactica, "Exodus, Part 1"

Susan has recently come Back from the Dead. It may be thanks to cloning, an Emergency Transformation, a holy miracle, or the foulest of The Dark Arts. Whatever the means, she's taken the trans-celestial concorde back to the land of the living. But man, does she have a bad case of karmic jet-lag!

It's not that Susan Came Back Wrong (her Soul was in her carry-on luggage and she bought traveler's Body Horror insurance), but that the after effects of being resurrected are making her feel less than her pre-mortem self. Susan may experience physical ailments like tremors, sweating, nausea, and other symptoms of real life jet lag. Of course, being that her resurrection was likely at least skirting the wrong side of the Scale of Scientific Sins, she'll probably also experience Hallucinations, vivid flashbacks, and phobias related to however she died.

Where this can get really freaky is if Susan was resurrected with Easy Amnesia of her past life, as is often the case with clones. Even if she's resurrected from infancy and lived an entirely new life, she may experience Resurrection Sickness when the Genetic Memory of her past life is awakened. In both cases, a Split Personality may develop as the past life tries to assert control.

If Susan is in a videogame, this will be represented as a drop in her stats and various penalties that go away over time.

See also Damaged Soul, where bouts of depression post-resurrection affect the resurrected. Contrast Came Back Strong.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Zest Grangaitz in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS was brought back via cloning but suffers an Incurable Cough of Death as a result.
  • Seu, Mensab's Knight in Shining Armor-like bodyguard from Blame! has been brought back to life so many times that his personality is suffering a major case of software rot.
  • Hentai anime Suki Da Yo has Mina, a childhood friend of the protagonist, who left with her father after being hit by a car and suffering serious injuries, but comes back into his life as a young woman. Turns out she wasn't just injured in the accident, but killed - and the girl who returns is actually a clone who ages three times as fast. Not exactly sickness, but a condition that may lead to an early death...
    • Though the story ends with the protagonist entering college to learn how to stop her rapid aging. So it ends on a hopeful note.

    Comic Books 
  • In Batman comics and cartoons, Ra's Al-Ghul usually has bouts of madness directly after using the Lazarus Pit.
  • In the Comic Book Adaptation of Le Donjon de Naheulbeuk, the Elf is resurrected after a lenghty and costly ritual. She is, however, left very weak from the experience, and shivering in cold. She gets better after a good night of sleep.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Princess Bride, when Westley is brought back from being "mostly dead", he can't move his body or even hold his own head up (though for some reason, he can work his jaw muscles and speak just fine). His strength slowly returns, but he's pretty much a rag doll for the rest of the film.
  • Not quite the same, but close enough to warrant mention: In Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, when Han Solo gets unfrozen from being held in stasis in a block of carbonite, he suffers Hibernation Sickness, which makes him seem unsteady and shaky for a while, as well as removing his eyesight for a significantly longer period of time.
  • In The 6th Day , the villain's lackeys die and are resurrected through Brain Uploading into new clones. One started to experience flashes of how he'd died (including physical effects). He's repeatedly told this is purely psychological on his part. (They scan brain content when making clones, and one character said it could be done post-mortem, which is how their memories can include the death of their last body.)
  • During the Final Battle in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the T-1000 gets frozen with liquid nitrogen and shattered into millions of pieces. Once the pieces melt and re-form, it seems to be back to its old implacable self... but has trouble maintaining its form, merging with almost everything it touches, and refreshing its entire body repeatedly.

    Literature 
  • A sci-fi book called Good News from Outer Space has this as a side effect of resurrection treatment.
  • In Circle of Magic, Rosethorn's death, and subsequent bringing Back From, leaves her with a slight tremor and a slur in her speech. These diminish over time (something like a stroke victim), but never truly go away.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Beric Dondarrion is resurrected multiple times by Thoros of Myr, but with each resurrection his body keeps the wound that killed him and he loses more and more of his memory.
  • An interesting version in The Reckoners Trilogy, Megan comes back with a form of Resurrection Sickness, in that the memories of what happened before death are scrambled, but she is also no longer as strongly effected by the madness that comes with using her Epic powers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy wasn't all there for a bit after resurrection, and had no will to live for most of the season.
    • Before this, Angel also gets Resurrection Sickness.
  • In season 2 of Angel, Darla is resurrected by Wolfram & Hart, but as a human, not as a vampire. This has the consequence that she comes back with the same terminal case of syphilis that she was going to die from before The Master sired her.
  • Several of the Doctor's Regenerations in Doctor Who left him loopy, sick, or otherwise out of sorts when bringing himself back to life. For example:
    • Two is in pain for a while right after regenerating.
    • Three spends an episode escaping from a hospital.
    • Four spends an episode trying to convince everyone that he doesn't need to go to the hospital because he's fit as a fiddle, but instead convinces them that he's not particularly sane.
    • Five removes random articles of clothing, forgets and remembers everything about himself at random intervals, temporarily reverts back to previous personalities, passes out multiple times, goes crazy, rides around in circles an motorized wheelchair, floats in the air, spends an episode in a cabinet-coffin thing that his two female companions have to carry him around in, and loads more ridiculous things. Needless to say, he had the most known problems thus far. This was true to the extent that the TARDIS thought it appropriate to drop medical supplies on his head at one point.
    • Six becomes dangerously psychotic and suffers from violent mood swings, first convincing himself that his companion is a spy and trying to strangle her, then declaring that he needs to become a hermit for everyone's safety when he realizes what he almost did.
    • Seven and Eight both lose their memories for a while (although for Seven that was more because he'd been drugged by the Rani). Eight had it particularly bad due to the regeneration taking longer than normal to kick in (he died in surgery and the anesthetic kept him dead "too long".)
    • Ten spends an episode in a dramatic coma and at one point, thanks to being woken up too early, his brain almost collapses.
    • Eleven has random fits of hitting himself, sometimes spasms painfully, has erratic and odd cravings for food, and walks into a tree. "Early days. Steering's a bit off."
    • Twelve complains about the color of his kidneys, and then forgets how to fly the TARDIS.
    • The Master's botched resurrection left him an undead horror with an insatiable hunger and weird electrical powers.
    • When the Eleventh Doctor's ganger is born, he attacks his real self and then cycles through several of his past regenerations.
  • In the Firefly episode "Ariel", Simon and River are given a drug which simulates death. Waking up from this state causes nausea and vomiting.
    Jayne: You ok?
    Simon: (coughing heavily) Fine. Just th- the after... effects of- of the medicine. J-just give me a... minute.
    Jayne: Your sister seems alright. (*River then throws up*)
  • The Cylons on the new Battlestar Galactica. Successive resurrections get progressively more unpleasant.
  • In Misfits, after discovering his immortality, Nathan spends some time in the bathroom;
    Nathan: Awww, I'm tellin' ya, its all hot cross buns and easter eggs when Jesus gets ressurected.
  • In the suddenly Darker and Edgier third season of Smallville, Lionel Luthor uses a serum made from Clark's Kryptonian blood to reanimate people who have recently died of a certain disease. But the serum must be administered repeatedly to keep them alive, and withdrawal causes such disgusting symptoms as bleeding from the eyes.
  • Big Wolf on Campus - when Merton is resurrected after being turned to stone, he comes back blind and sans motor skills. Being The Movie Buff, he cites Han Solo's weakness after being unfrozen and assumes he'll get better. He doesn't; within three days, he's feverish, plagued with headaches and losing teeth. The "de-stoning" serum is also a poison, allowing the guy who sold it to further extort them.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Some stories from Celtic Mythology claim that those brought back from the dead lose their voices, so that they may not speak to the living of what lies beyond.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In 1st and 2nd Edition, being brought back to life with a Raise Dead spell left the recipient weak and helpless and needing 1 day of bed rest for each day they were dead.
    • In 3.5, the character being brought back would lose a level (or some stats if they were level 1, which can't be reversed even by the most powerful magic... meaning that if your level 1 character dies you're probably better off just rolling up a new one), and the lowest-tier resurrection spell would leave them with only 1 hit point. The third-tier version, True Resurrection averts this trope, bringing them back without the level loss and at full HP, but quintuples the financial cost in comparison to its first-tier variant.
    • Fourth edition has a temporary resurrection penalty that goes away after 3 milestones (a milestone being two encounters on the same day).
  • In 7th Sea some Master Glamour Mages can return from the dead, but doing so permanently reduces their Resolve by 2 (out of a possible 5, or 6 with a specific Advantage). If the drop would lower the mage's resolve to 0 or less, the resurrection fails. Since 7th Sea uses a freeform Point Buy System, the stat can be bought back up, but it's expensive and takes awhile.
  • Relife Sickness in the Runequest setting, Glorantha. Being brought back to life from the brink of death can have odd consequences. Sometimes one becomes listless, emotionally numb and yearning for death (among the Orlanthi, those often can find some measure of satisfaction by joining the cult of Humakt, the grim god of Death). In other cases, however, the opposite might happen; a person is filled with more vigour and love for life than before. Sometimes they even become Chalana Arroy healers (incidentally, resurrection is a signature of the Chalana Arroy cult).
  • In 13th Age, the cleric's Resurrection spell will work at most a handful of times ever for any given cleric (because the fifth time automatically and irrevocably kills them — and if the target has been resurrected often enough before, it may well happen sooner), and each casting takes more time and effort and leaves both the cleric and the recipient in progressively worse shape.

    Video Games 
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, although combat only has Non-Lethal K.O.-type deaths, each time your character is "killed", they come back with an injury (stacking penalty on the stats).
  • The Trope Namer is World of Warcraft's Resurrection Sickness. Killed characters have two choices: run across the landscape as a ghost to the place you died and revive without penalty, or choose to have the Spirit Healer resurrect you at the Graveyard. Those that choose the latter option get 10 minutes of Resurrection Sickness (less for low level characters, and as of later changes none until after they have several levels), a debuff that causes 75% reduction in stats, damage, and armor. It also damages all your equipment, requiring you to pay for repairs (and, unlike death itself, applies even to equipment you weren't wearing when you died). But some time and some gold will make your character right as rain again.
  • MMORPG's tend to have this in general, to ensure that players may not infinitely resurrect in a too-difficult quest and still expect to function at 100%. Just for two, Guild Wars has a death penalty that reduces maximum HP and energy by 15% per death, and Dungeons & Dragons Online afflicts the recently-resurrected with a negative level — up to five if the character dies and resurrects repeatedly within a short time.
  • In Planescape: Torment, the lead character, the Nameless One, is immortal (although this doesn't mean he can't die, he just doesn't stay that way). The reason why he is called the Nameless One is because when he dies, he loses all his memories (although in-game he dies several times without this happening, which is a plot point). He has lived an almost countless number of lives with varying degrees of Resurrection Sickness: some incarnations were raving mad, while others were monsters. It is alluded to in the game that if he dies enough times, he'll eventually become nothing but a catatonic husk.
    • It's also implied that every time he would die, someone else dies instead, meaning that the Nameless One passes a lethal Resurrection Sickness...to strangers.
      • This also has an in-game consequence: the more times the Nameless One dies during the course of the game, the more Shadow enemies you'll find prowling the halls of the Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • Within Mordor The Depths Of Dejenol, this is a major limiting factor for characters. Every death saps some amount of attributes, and every death increases the chance of a bad resurrection, where the character ages a few decades and gains the associated stat losses.
  • Tak and the Power of Juju featured the horrible condition of "Resurrection's Revenge", which gives the recently revived a horrible case of diarrhea for entire hours on end.
  • Zasalamel in the Soul Series initially wanted to use Soul Edge and Soul Calibur to remove his Resurrective Immortality because each death and rebirth is coupled with soul-rending agony. In the fourth game Zasalamel saw a vision of humanity's future during the ritual that would make him mortal. He was so awestruck that he stopped the ritual. Seeing what humanity could be, and thinking of how he could contribute to it with his immortality, gave Zasalamel the urge to live again.

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, being revived from the Psychocrypt leaves the victim with ill effects. Zachary reports that his head hurts and he feels "uncoordinated" after his revival. The other three have to practically carry him into the evacuation vessel.

    Real Life 
  • If you kill a fly by drowning it, you can resurrect it by burying it in salt. However, it will be unable to fly and will stagger around as if drunk.
  • Any medical procedure that could plausibly count as resurrecting someone (although the patient is really Not Quite Dead) will have serious side effects. CPR commonly leads to broken ribs. Someone who is dying of an opiate overdose can be immediately revived with a shot of naloxone, but naloxone can cause sweating, tremors, vomiting, and in some cases seizures. Anaphylaxis is reversed by high doses of epinephrine (adrenaline), which causes tachycardia and massively elevated blood pressure. But all of those beat being dead.


ReincarnationTropes Of The SoulSharing a Body
Resurrected for a JobResurrection TropesRevival Loophole
Pull the I.V.IndexitisRuptured Appendix
Restrained RevengeDeath TropesRetirony
Plague of Good FortuneIndex SyndromeReverse Cerebus Syndrome

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