Self-Recovery Surprise

A form of Hope Spot, Sub-Trope of Worf Barrage. One of the characters unleashes a powerful attack at a villain and visibly hurts him, possibly even causing some obviously fatal damage, Neck Snap, Off with His Head! or Torso with a View. The villain staggers... and then reveals that he has a Healing Factor capable of handling the damage. Pulling Themselves Together is almost always introduced in this fashion. If a hero does it, it is almost certainly as part of a Mook Horror Show. May trigger a Sequential Boss. Not to be confused with Turns Red, which is also about boss enemies turning out to not be defeated after all.

Compare The Battle Didn't Count (where a boss simply turns out to have been faking being beaten), No Sell, No One Could Survive That!, Not Quite Dead and Normally, I Would Be Dead Now. Someone who's fond of Pulling Themselves Together and One to Million to One tend to like this tactic. Aversion to No Cure for Evil. Fighting a Shadow would be related to this one.

Even when it sounds similar, this has nothing to do with Good Thing You Can Heal... but maybe it has to do with Hydra Problem.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach
    • Aizen does it twice - first evolving into his final form after getting a hole burned through his torso, then at the end, after getting vertically cut in half with Ichigo's final technique.
    • In the final arc, Kirge Opie is beaten to a bloody pulp by Ayon, so badly that most of the fight takes place off-screen. At the end of the chapter, he gets up, completely ignoring the broken neck, and starts taking the fight seriously.
    • During his fight with the Espada Nnoitra Gilga, Kenpachi Zaraki cuts off one of Gilga's arms. Shortly thereafter Gilga regenerates his lost arm.
  • One Piece
    • Buggy pulls it on Zoro, letting him cut him to pieces, before reforming and stabbing him in the back.
    • When Law unleashes an attack that destroys Doflamingo's internal organs without leaving any external wounds and then finishes him with an electric attack, Doflamingo stands back up revealing he used his string ability to stitch up his organs but he admits he's not healed.
    • Logia-Type Devil Fruit generally have regeneration as part of their power set. When Vivi comes face to face with Crocodile she beheads him while Luffy uses the attack that defeated Crocodile to smash Aokiji into pieces. Both times their respective sand and ice bodies reform with no harm to the men themselves.
    • In Skypeia, Eneru is actually killed by a character's Dangerous Forbidden Technique, the Reject Dial. However, his Shock and Awe Rumble-Rumble Fruit kicks in and causes Eneru to defibrillate himself back to life and consciousness.
  • Dragon Ball
    • The first one to use it was Piccolo, pulling off a broken arm and growing a new one when it looked like he would be defeated.
    • Cell is notable for pulling it off four times: first showing his Healing Factor when C16 rips off his tail to disable him, then showing that he can recover from decapitation after Goku blasts him, after blowing himself up, when even the viewers expect him to finally go down, regenerating From a Single Cell, and finally, the reversal from Vegeta after he lost a 1/3 of his upper body from his Final Flash.
    • Another minor example is when Videl fights Spopovich in the Tenkaichi Budokai tournament; Videl kicked Spopovich's head so hard thar his Head Turned Backwards (making people think she killed him) but then he simply pulls his head back to shape without any lasting problem.
  • In Hellsing, Alucard loves abusing his incredibly powerful Healing Factor, which renders most mortals unable to do a thing to him. Many are the situations where he will allow himself to be blasted to pieces by gunfire before reforming and completely stomping the poor unfortunates involved. He lives for the Oh, Crap! expressions said enemies invariably take on when he does this.
  • Naruto
    • The first meeting with Edo Tensei zombies looks like this - the Third blows them up but they instantly heal, forcing him to use Dangerous Forbidden Technique.
    • Sasori pulls himself together after being blown to bits by Sakura, just as she is about to relax.
    • Oddly averted for Orochimaru. He has great regenerative capabilities but with so many Ninja Log variants available to ninjas, hardly anyone is surprised when he doesn't die.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion
    • Used when the Angel Israfel attacks. Asuka cleaves it cleanly in half, confident in her victory, not realizing that both those halves could attack independently and that she had not defeated it at all.
    • Happens with her again in the movie End Of Evangelion when she defeats all the MP Evas barely in the time before Unit 02's battery runs out. Shortly afterward, however, all the MP Evas regenerate, despite her literally ripping them in half, smashing their heads in, firing missiles into their brains and running her arm through their chest.
  • Is the obvious result when you try to kill an Immortal in Baccano!, no matter how much you maim, torture or destroy their body. Just ask Czes...
  • Embryo from Cross Ange can constantly regenerate himself from death. His host body is contained in his Ragna-mail the Hysterica, and can only be damaged in his host dimension.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman: Doomsday returns from the dead immune to whatever killed him last. He's killed off for good by being sent to the heat death of the universe.

    Film 
  • Hellboy. The demon in the museum goes down very quickly. Then it turns out it not only regenerates but multiplies with each death.
  • The T-1000 in the finale of Terminator 2 shows a textbook example of Pulling Themselves Together after being frozen and shattered. Nowadays everyone knows the scene but the scene is late enough in the movie that the first viewers must have been as surprised as the characters.
  • In the climax of Blade, the title character chops the Big Bad in half with his sword. He is a bit shocked when the villain pulls himself back together and heals.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has Mayor Wilkins and his invincibility spell. He let a vampire cut his head in half vertically, and it simply healed up because he was invincible until the ascension. It served as the invincibility reveal.

    Mythology 
  • Greek Mythology:
    • Herakles' wrestling match against the giant Antaeus went like this, since every time Antaeus was in contact with his mother the Earth his strength was renewed. The solution was to hoist Antaeus in the air and choke him at arm's length.
    • The Lernean Hydra regrew two heads every time one was cut off. So he cauterized the stump before the heads could reform, and since the last head was immortal, he dropped a big rock on it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, some monsters, such as trolls, have the Regeneration ability and thus continuously restore their Hit Points, even after they've been reduced below zero. The only way to kill them is to temporarily disable their Regeneration ability with a specific kind of damage, so if the party doesn't have it, they can only run away.
  • This is a gameplay mechanic in Monster of the Week: unlike its Minions, the Monster itself cannot be killed unless the Hunters figure out one of its specific weaknesses and use it against it. Even if they bring the Monster's Hit Points down to zero, the rules demand that it escapes death in the last moment unless they've exploited its weaknesses to do so.

    Video Games 
  • The zombies from Quake will fall supine when shot with bullets or shotgun pellets, but only stay down for ten seconds or so. Then they rise back up to resume trying to claw you to death. It takes an explosive such as the bouncy bomb or an rocket-grenade which blows them to bits to eliminate them. However, zombies at close range mean the player will take damage as well, being within the blast radius.
  • In Assassin's Creed: Syndicate when Jacob and Evie fight Starrick individually at the climax of the game they are constantly stabbing away at him but he is wearing the Shroud of Eden which allows him to heal immediately. It takes them together to get the Shroud off him and finally kill him.
  • Mega Man Zero 4: Dr. Weil, the Big Bad, was the prime target for a Kill Sat attack done by his treacherous right-hand man, Craft, that completely annihilates the empire of Neo Arcadia. But later, it's revealed that he survived, because his special armor gives him Healing Factor.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: When ambushed by Shadow Beasts, leaving one alive will cause it to revive the others. The solution is to kill the last two at the same time, usually with Midna's One Hit Multikill (the use of which is introduced the first time they encounter this situation).
  • In Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, the fourth boss, Best Friend, has a dramatic death animation once its HP reaches zero. Then, the skill "Endure" activates, and the boss recovers 6000 HP, making the battle significantly longer.
  • In Undertale, in the Genocide Route, you kill Undyne in a single blow. However, she is so determined to strike you down she is able to come back even stronger than before.
  • The Final Boss of South Park: The Stick of Truth, Nazi Zombie Princess Kenny, will keep getting up no matter how many times you reduce its hp to 0. The only way to end the fight is to cross the Godzilla Threshold by farting on Princess Kenny's balls when Cartman grapples him.
  • Final Boss Gill from Street Fighter III series, besides of his fire and ice powers, the all-screen super move a la SNK Boss and the cheap AI, when you defeat him in any round, he applies the Resurrection super move, which restablished his lifebar from empty to full in a few seconds.
  • World of Warcraft: there are boss encounters and even trash encounters where enemies are able to heal themselves and others.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep: in the bonus Vanitas Remnant fight, if you heal yourself, the boss heals himself, too.
  • Pokémon:
    • There are also various potions available that restore mons health like Full Restore or Max Potion, but it's always either one of them the gym leader will use when their mon is down to a couple of HP and your next hit would have knocked them out.
    • Morning Sun, Moonlight, Synthesis, Recover, Softboiled and Milk Drink are moves that recover half the mon's maximum HP, with the former 3 recovering more health in sunny weather. (VERY ironic for Moonlight.)
  • Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl has the Bonus Boss Golem. Aside from being way overpowered in general for the time you can first access it, it heals to half health on the first mortal blow. And when it gets into the last 25% health area after that it casts Regen, which further heals it.

    Web Original 
  • Grrl Power: In a series of Oh, Crap! moments during a battle with newly revealed villain Vehemence, one big one is Maxima exploding his arm off, only for him to note that he has one power he hasn't mentioned yet and regenerating his arm. This allows Sydney to realise that the key to defeating him isn't to just injure him deeply, but consistently and continuously injure him by damaging his windpipe, maintaining noose-like pressure on it, and submerging his head in water, so that all his energy has to be focused on not drowning.
  • In One-Punch Man, when Genos is fighting the Sea King, who took out several heroes, he managed to do some serious damage on the Sea King but then it turns out that the Sea King can regenerate his wounds. But when Saitama fights the Sea King he punched his stomach so hard that his eyes popped out of his head and he has a hole in his stomach, making it obvious that his wombs cannot regenerate from that punch.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged: Perfect Cell tells Vegeta to hit him with his biggest attack. Vegeta complies, not caring that it might destroy the planet. Fortunately the beam goes off into deep space, leaving Cell screaming and minus an arm... then he reveals that he was just going along, grows a new arm thanks to having absorbed Piccolo's powers, and hands Vegeta his ass.
  • Demonhead Mobster Kingpin's three heath bars in Problem Sleuth works like this. The sleuths think they've defeated him, then it turns out he has two other health bars to work through. DMK also has some serious regeneration effects that allow him to create whole new health bars.
  • Whateley Universe: Galatea Debutante: It was a perfect challenge Gunny had cooked up, a 'simple' Exemplar Two with the 'strength of ten men' who was also a top level regenerator and practically immortal.
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