Annie: You dirty bird, how could you? It can't be! Misery Chastain cannot be dead!
Paul: [...] Misery's spirit is still alive.
Annie: I don't want her spirit! I want HER! AND YOU MURDERED HER!
So there's a character in a work, but he or she ends up leaving the cast roster. Maybe he/she got killed, maybe he/she got Put on a Bus
, maybe the writers just lost interest in him/her.
But wait, what's this? The fans have begun clamouring for the character's return. The writers, either because they're moved by the dedication to the character or another reason, decide to grant the fans' wish and bring back the character
. This is how a character gets saved by the fans.
When this happens to an entire franchise or show, it's been Un-Cancelled
. This may be because the fans told each other to Keep Circulating the Tapes
Compare with Breakout Character
. May result in an Author's Saving Throw
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Anime and Manga
- Jeremiah Gottwald from Code Geass, who was originally meant to be killed off early in the series. However, he proved popular enough that the creators not only had him survive, but made him a more important character than originally intended.
- Abdul from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is a subversion: he got brought back only to be killed later.
- Grell in Black Butler only ever made one appearance in the manga (albeit an important one), but gained such fan support that she was brought back constantly in the anime and now she's in the musicals. Also, the girl came back in the recent zombie arc... and she's infatuated with "Seba" ("Seba-chan"), as usual.
- Priss from Bubblegum Crisis was going to die in Episode 6 and be replaced by Vision, until the fans changed Artmic's mind.
- Vegeta was supposed to be killed by rampaging Gohan in the climax of his battle on Earth. However, he was so popular that Akira Toriyama decided to spare him up to Namek, where Frieza killed him. That death was supposed to stick, but he was brought back and survived until he died in one of the most awesome sacrifices in history against Majin Buu, and that was supposed to be his end. And then he was brought back again. This last one is a big source of debate as to whether or not it was a good idea, since his previous sacrifice was so well done that bringing him back seemed to cheapen it.
- Even Goku got this treatment. Toriyama's original plans had him stepping into the background and leaving Gohan to become The Hero. Obviously, that never happened.
- This is suspected to be the reason that Bunbee of Yes! Precure 5 was not only allowed to survive the first season, but had a major role in the next. Being a middle-aged man and therefore unmarketable, he's the only member of any Quirky Miniboss Squad to survive a finale and not join the Cures (although the Kiryuu twins did both and were cute girls, and Toei hates them), but he was surprisingly popular and allowed to live, and his final Heel-Face Turn is what allows Milky Rose and the mascots to save the titular heroines before the final battle.
- Go Lion had an odd case of this. Shirogane's death in Go Lion was bowdlerized to Sven being badly injured in the American version. Later on, outcry from Japanese fans of the character prompted the makers of Go Lion to bring in Shirogane's identical twin for a few episodes. In Voltron, Sven had simply finished healing up.
- The original ending of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED would have killed off the entire main cast except for Athrun, but even he would not have gotten out of the finale unscathed. This ending was only averted because of the immense popularity of the Seed characters among the viewers.
- Although Kurama was always supposed to join the main cast, Hiei was supposed to be Yu Yu Hakusho's Starter Villain, but people kept asking when he was going to show up again.
- The famous Terrible Trio of Team Rocket (Jessie, James and Meowth) from Pokémon were being planned to get written out of the anime in Best Wishes, but they still had a sizable fanbase, including on the show's staff, and so they're still here.
- Sasha Braus of Attack on Titan was planned to be a Sacrificial Lamb very early on in the story, but with her hilarious introduction in the anime, she very quickly became a fan favourite. Seeing the overwhelmingly positive fan reaction she caused, the idea was scrapped in favour of keeping her on as Plucky Comic Relief. She's still alive... For now.
- Batman provided an interesting example of this: Fans were called on to decide the fate of a key character and voted via 1-900 number. They voted 5,343-5,271 to kill off Jason Todd's Robin. Jason would later be resurrected by DC, meaning he was saved by the Editor.
- Played straight with Stephanie Brown, the Spoiler, who had multiple fan groups dedicated to having her either honored or returned. Within a few years, she was back and eventually gained the Batgirl mantle and a solo series. With her recently contracting Chuck Cunningham Syndrome, fans are hoping to do this again.
- Similar to Stephanie Brown, Mary Jane Watson has several times been written out, killed off, and magically divorced. Each time she has returned because, to put it simply, they are the Fan-Preferred Couple.
- Scrat was originally going to be killed off after his brief scene in the opening of the first Ice Age movie, but the overwhelming response to advance footage led the filmmakers to add more scenes with him.
- Agent Coulson in The Avengers got this. The fans started a project called Coulson Lives in denial of his death, insisting that he was simply too awesome to die. They got his actor on board, and eventually, he really did come back in his own TV show.
Live Action TV
- Helo from the remade Battlestar Galactica was only supposed to appear in the pilot episode and get left behind on Caprica. Fan response to the character ensured that he began a main character in the series, to the point of being part of one of show's most important Story Arcs.
- Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was going to last only five episodes, but proved so popular that he was spared and went on to become the show's Breakout Character.
- This actually happened quite a few times on Buffy, because Joss Whedon is an evil bastard. Several characters were going to appear for a few episodes and then die, but were instead saved (Oz and Faith are the shining examples), some were killed off much later than intended (Joyce Summers and Tara), some were even revived from the dead. Fan reaction to the characters was the deciding factor every single time.
- Barnabas Collins from Dark Shadows was brought in only as a temporary villain to attempt a revival of the show's ratings. He became incredibly popular with fans, went from Jerkass to Badass (or sometimes Woobie or even Jerkass Woobie) and is essentially now the face of all permutations of the franchise.
- Methos from Highlander: The Series was only supposed to be around for part of season 3, but the fans liked him so much he was kept.
- Inverted by LOST. Nikki and Paolo were loathed by fans. The writers were very much aware of this, and soon had them killed off with extreme prejudice.
- Desmond Hume and Benjamin Linus were only going to appear in three episodes each. The audience reacted so well to their characters that they were promoted to main cast from Season 3 onwards.
- During Season 5 of Mission: Impossible, the producers tried to write out the strongman character Willy (who had been around since Season 1 but was increasingly out of place on the cerebral show) and replace him with a doctor named Doug, played by Sam Elliott. Fan outcry resulted in Doug going away and Willy not only remaining but getting a bigger role.
- According to rumors, Power Rangers have tried to off Tommy in the same fashion as his predecessor Burai. However, the combination of this trope and the fact that Power Rangers is Lighter and Softer most of the time, they just depowered Tommy, enabling him to come back many, many times. This was actually used to try and save Burai, but Toei refused, trying to instill the aesop of "Even heroes CAN die."
- Carson Beckett from Stargate Atlantis. So much that fans mounted a protest outside the studio near Vancouver, BC and ended up making the local news. And it worked.
- Klaus from The Vampire Diaries was initially supposed to be a temporary villain appearing in a handful of episodes, but due to positive fan response he was kept on the series long term, receiving a huge amount of character development, and becoming integral to most of the show's storylines. He was eventually granted his own spinoff series.
- According to Misha Collins, his character Castiel from Supernatural was only originally slated to appear in six episodes early on in season 4, before being killed off. But such was his popularity that he has remained a constant part of the show for the past five years, with Collins being promoted to series regular and developing as much of a devoted following within the fanbase as the show's actual lead actors.
- Though Abbadon was always planned to come back in season 9, after Jim Michaels announced via twitter that they were planning to recast her due to her meatsuit's destruction in the season 8 finale, fans immediately began a campaign to get original actress Alaina Huffman back, citing her performance as the reason the character had become unexpectedly popular in the first place. Eventually the writers relented and came up with a Hand Wave ritual that restored Abbadon's original body, allowing Alaina to continue playing the character.
- If he hadn't been so wildly popular, Shadow would still be dead by now. He showed up in Sonic Adventure 2 as a Criminal Doppelgänger and became a Dragon with an Agenda to Dr. Eggman. He was also a badass who pulled a Heel-Face Turn and sacrificed himself to save the world. Then, Sega brought him back and split the fanbase again.
- Axel from the Kingdom Hearts series was supposed to die at the end of Kingdom Hearts II's prologue. But he had a lot of fans (including many members of the development team) and he wound up surviving and taking a small role in the main storyline of the game.
- In Baldur's Gate, Bioware originally planned for Imoen to become Brainwashed and Crazy due to Irenicus' torture in Shadows of Amn, forcing CHARNAME to Mercy Kill her. When this information was leaked, fan outcry convinced them to spare her.
- Once fans of Tekken heard that Kazuya had been killed in the third game's backstory (the game hadn't really come out yet at this point, mind you), clamors for his restoration apparently began very quickly, very strongly. Ultimately, Namco acceded to this demand by revealing Kazuya's continued existence in Eddy's ending for the Playstation version. Then he returns full blown in Tekken 4 and has been a mainstay again.
- The only reason why Jun Kazama appeared in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 was because fans constantly asked the series creator Katsuhiro Harada about it. She remains much beloved despite the fact the only main series game she was in was Tekken 2(though she was very popular in the first Tekken Tag Tournament game.), even being replaced by her niece Asuka
- Mega Man X was going to be the villain of the first Mega Man Zero game instead of a copy. This concept was scrapped during the last month before release because the developers thought X becoming a villain and being killed by Zero wouldn't sit well with the kids who played his games and thought he was a hero.
- The end of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has Midna return to the Twilight Realm and break the mirror of Twilight so the portal can never be opened again. But Eiji Aonuma was surprised by the fans' love of her, and responded in an interview that if there is a sequel she may somehow come back.
- Skullgirls may be considered an exemplary example of this. During the process of developing the first DLC character, Squigly, the Skullgirls team was laid off by their original studio, meaning they no longer had the budget to pay the cost for developing her. Hoping not to let their work go to waste, they went to the fans for assistance, starting up an Indiegogo campaign in February 2013 to raise $150,000 in donations to fund the development of Squigly. Not only had they reached the goal amount in a single day, the donations kept coming in until the end of the campaign a month later, with the total amount being more than five times that of the intended goal. With $829,829 raised as the final number, the Skullgirls team will not only use it to fund Squigly, but also four more DLC characters (two of whom will be fan voted), story modes and stages for each of those characters, background tracks for each of those stages, and eight Gag Dub voice packs.
- The Materials of the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As Portable games were Evil Twins of Nanoha, Fate, and Hayate who were supposed to have been destroyed in the first game, with the remnants of the Darkness of the Book of Darkness disappearing with them to show that they were Killed Off for Real. However, the concepts of The Spock Nanoha, Blood Knight Fate, and Card-Carrying Villain Hayate was such a hit with the fans that, not only were they revived for the sequel and given a starring role, but they were also incorporated into other parts of the Nanoha franchise.
- When the guru of Koan Of The Day was put on trial, fans were asked to tweet to save or kill him. In this case, most fans voted him dead!
- Subverted in 8-Bit Theater. Not only does Brian make it clear that Black Belt is dead forever, he does so in a thinly veiled, particularly spiteful Take That against his fans demanding his return.
- In College Roomies From Hell, during the Blue Mushroom arc, Dave's soul was stolen by the devil. Fan outcry on the forum was so great that the cartoonist invented the Miraculous Shotgun in order to save him.
- Mottis, the creator of Bunny Kill, has stated this to be one of the possible ways Ruby can return.
- Brad Jones created Eighties Dan as a one-off gag for his Caligula Cinema Snob review, but fans really took to him, and he ended up appearing in an episode of Brad Tries.... 80's Dan has his own show now.
- The Nostalgia Critic was originally retired by being sent to The Plot Hole to stablise the universe and IRL, allow creator Doug Walker to focus on other projects that he'd wanted to do for years. However Demo Reel's reception was... complicated, good enough views (mostly from women and queer fans) to carry on but Doug admitted in the DVD Commentary that the site needed more money so he had to do reviews again. This has lead to plenty of Broken Base, as Doug wasn't exactly thrilled with having to return to the Nostalgia Critic, and many fans feel that at times this shows.
- Angel, a character from Lilo & Stitch: The Series, was only intended to be a one episode character. However, once the executives realized she was one of the most popular characters, they brought her back for two more episodes, and they were right to do so, as leaving her on the bus to Hell she was put on at the end of her first episode would've broken the main theme of the series into tiny little pieces.
- Kenny from South Park after he was supposed to be Killed Off for Real. Additionally, Kyle was originally the one to be killed off.
- Waspinator from Beast Wars, who was slated for death to make room for a new toy. Online popularity saved him, or alternatively, prolonged his suffering.
- Optimus Prime was killed off in the movie to make way for new toys. Fans were saddened and outraged to a level that no one at Hasbro could've predicted. By the end of season 3, the writers specifically made a two-part episode in order to bring Optimus back to life.
- Family Guy episode Three Kings contains a parody of Misery in which Stewie obliges Brian to bring the character of Snuggly Jeff back from the dead.
- The Rowdyruff Boys from The Powerpuff Girls. Intended to only be one shot villains. But the fans loved them so the writers eventually brought them back in the fifth season.
- Not saved from death, but Noah, Cody, Ezekiel and Tyler were all brought back for Total Drama World Tour because of their major Ensemble Dark Horse status.
- In X-Men, Morph was the Sacrificial Lamb. The only X-Man on the team but not in the opening credits, he died in the first episode to show that the series played hardball. However, during his short time in the show he became so beloved that we find out in the second season that Mr. Sinister saved him but put him under More Than Mind Control. He became an important part of the whole year's Myth Arc, and made a few appearances after that.