Excel♥Saga's Hyatt could well be the Trope Codifier, in that she is seen to be so frail that the slightest thing will actually kill her, but that they do so repeatedly throughout the series, with her reviving inexplicably again shortly afterward. She usually dies at least once per chapter/episode, and sometimes multiple times depending on the situation, but is never Killed Off for Real.
Mazinger Z: During the second-to-last episode, the Cool Airship where Dr. Hell was escaping in got blown up. Whatever was left of him after that explosion surely sank in the ocean. Nonetheless he showed up again in the last season of Great Mazinger, his body grafted into a Humongous Mecha. One eyepatch covering his left eye was the only mark of the ordeal he had endured. Little explanation was given other than a statement of Big Bad and Physical God Emperor of Darkness had relived him and turned into one of his Warrior Monsters (and high commander of his army). It may be worth mentioning many Mazinger-Z characters returned in the last episodes from the sequel, so maybe Executive Meddling was involved.
Pagaya, a minor character during the Skypiea Arc, is clearly seen being hit by an island-destroying attack early on in the arc, but reappears after the Big Bad's defeat with no explanation, except that it makes the resolution even happier.
The previous arc had another minor character, Pell, fly away while carrying a city-buster bomb in a Heroic Sacrifice to prevent the heroes and civilians from being caught in the blast. The bomb explodes while he's still carrying it. He's later seen alive and none the worse for wear...walking up to his own (empty) grave, as everybody in-universe had assumed he died too.
In Episode 1, he intentionally crash-landed in Wing Gundam, but regained consciousness soon after he washed ashore and was found by Relena. (He tried to fire a suicide bomb in his suit when she found him, but it malfunctioned.note The prequel manga Episode Zero shows that his handlers found out about the bomb and had it disabled.)
In Episode 2, he rode missiles he launched at Wing Gundam to prevent Duo from recovering it. He was found face-down in the harbor soon after, but that didn't kill him either. He was captured by the United Earth Sphere Alliance, though, and was taken to a secured room at a hospital.
In Episode 10, he succeeded in blowing up Wing Gundam, and apparently himself with it. Trowa drove off with Gundam Heavyarms holding Heero's apparently dead body. Though in-universe he remains unconscious for a month, in terms of the show he wakes up one episode later.
In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Kira is supposedly "killed" when his rival's MS self-destructs. His crew finds his MS, the cockpit scorched and no body. A few episodes later, he is found, relatively unhurt considering the INSIDE of his MS was burnt to a nice crisp. The manga side story, Astray tried to Hand Wave it by having its main character find Kira and bring him to get medical attention... but it doesn't explain how in god's name Kira survived the attack that should have killed him initially.
Episode 15 has a nurse explain that Coordinators can survive injuries that would kill normal humans. Or maybe that whole "Jesus Yamato" thing wasn't so far off after all...
Lending credence to the nurse's explanation is Andrew Waltfeld, a Coordinator commander, who also survived a similar fate. He wasn't so lucky - he lost an arm and an eye - but he still survived to come back late in the series.
Played straight with Mwu La Flaga, a natural, who shows up in Destiny, after his mobile suit is quite clearly vaporized by the Dominion's Lohengrin. Although this seems to fall more under Retcon as the movie editions of SEED remove Mwu's shattered helmet from Strike's wreckage. The writers most likely intended him to die at the time, only deciding to bring him back later during Destiny's production.
And then Admiral Fubuke comes back after pulling a Heroic Sacrifice by overclocking a battleship to hold off the Jovians. They even poke fun at this by having him appear strumming a guitar and singing about how self-destructing a spaceship is a really dumb idea.
There was no explanation for Vicious of Cowboy Bebop coming back after the fifth episode, where a grenade went off just a couple feet away from him. Though since we don't actually see it explode while it's next to him he probably just outran the fireball by jumping over the railing right next to him.
The movie's Big Bad Vincent pulls a bigger one as he is holding in his hand the grenade that destroys the tube carriage him and Spike are in. He doesn't make any move to throw it and just waits for it to go off yet when we see him again, he was somehow completely unaffected by the explosion and no comment is made about the event.
Mai-HiME, the main character explodes taking out an orbital laser in outer space. They see the fiery ashes of apparently her and her CHILD from the explosion coming down. But...the next day, she comes into class, only vaguely curious as to why everyone is so sad. There's much speculation on this.
The series finale has some of this going on, too, although (dramatic cheat or not) it's at least plausible under the rules of the series.
The minor antagonist Mao from Code Geass was on the receiving end of a hail of gunfire from police officers that Lelouch Mind Controlled into shooting him. He showed up alive in the next episode saying Lelouch should have been more specific and told them to kill him. Despite the firing being from about fifteen feet away, by about ten officers and a Knightmare Frame. Too bad he decided to come back and try to take on Lelouch again. Didn't work out so well that time.
In the manga, he ends up being Killed Off for Real by the police and doesn't show up again, resulting in Lelouch learning about Suzaku's killing his father in a different way.
Jeremiah Gottwald is pretty damn good at this in the first season. Not even being crushed to the bottom of the ocean by C.C.'s Knightmare Frame can kill his loyalty (granted, by that point he was a cyborg, but it's still doubtful he could have taken that kind of punishment).
Ohgi was stabbed by Sayoko's daggers and fell off a cliff. He comes back a few episodes later without any serious injury, Villetta is in the custody of Diethard and the entire incident is never addressed.
The series practically runs on this. Every time it looks like a supporting character just died they have a 50/50 chance of turning up alive in the next episode. An egregious example of this is Guilford surviving an explosion his mecha was clearly caught in.
Last Exile: Near the end of the series, Mullin is part of a team that storms a battleship's Claudia Unit to seize it from its Guild operators. The last scene of him in this episode shows him bleeding profusely from at least one bullet wound, lying limp atop a control console, and with Dunya on her knees crying at his side. He inexplicably manages to survive to appear in the last few minutes of the final episode, alive and well.
While surprising and improbable, it is actually plausible; it just means that he wasn't shot by Instant Death Bullets, and that someone managed to give him medical treatment before it was too late. It just happened to take place offscreen, which is understandable given that it was during the Grand Finale.
Blood+ has Diva's Chevaliers come back from certain death on multiple occasions, including Amshel being impaled on the Empire State Building's spire and struck by lightning, becoming a charred, blackened corpse. He comes back the very next episode with gaping hole in his body but more or less ok.
Fairy Tail: Jellal was hit through god knows how many stories of a tower by a superpowered Natsu and exposed to dangerous levels of Etherion magic (the most powerful type of magic in the world). When he comes back he's in some sort of coma/trance as a result, but is otherwise completely unscratched. And a few chapters later he's up and kicking butt again.
Killy isn't human, and has been shown to have an incredibly resilient Healing Factor; one chapter showed him recovering from an explosion that burned off half of his body-mass.
To a lesser extent, Gauron in the first season finale of Full Metal Panic!! True, he had a Lambda Driver, but surviving three hundred kilograms of high explosive point-blank when his AS self-destructs? That's a bit much. Though he had other instances of miraculous survival such as when a young Sōsuke shot him IN THE HEAD (he explained that he had a titanium plate inside due to a previous "accident") or when Sōsuke blew him away with a cannon round; Gauron's AS is decapitated... yet a short time later, it is unscathed, only shut down due to overheating. This was repeated again in their next engagement: the Codarl blown to pieces yet minutes later being miraculously repaired for no apparent reason and its pilot being uninjured.
First off, it's not the same AS. The organization he's a part of gives Gauron a new (better) toy each time. The over-heating was a real problem in the beginning, but at Perio Islnds Gauron was just pretending he had the same problem so he could justify his surrender. Also, the encounters between Gauron and Mithril happen over a period of nearly a year, with several months going on between them. And the Helmajistan arc happens only in the anime, anyway. In the novels, Gauron simply changes from the silvery Codarl to the red Venom, complaining that if only he would have had this one from the beginning... He also had lost one of his legs in North Korea, and was using a prosthetic one.
In the third season finale, Sōsuke found him dying on a bed hooked up to life support. Gauron managed to taunt him so much that The Stoic flipped off and shot him half a dozen times, flatlining him... and setting off a bomb hidden under the bed.
Eden of the East seems to make it perfectly clear that Panties made a Heroic Sacrifice trying to give the heroes crucial information. However, he is seen in the final episode, bandaged and in the hospital, but otherwise cheerful.
Being a cyborg with a fully artificial body, this happens a lot to the Major in Ghost in the Shell. And since she knows that any damage that doesn't harm her titanium encased brain can easily be repaired, she doesn't give getting away from danger a very high priority.
In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, most of the cast is killed. Then it's revealed they were trapped in another dimension instead. That's not the problem. One of the characters literally suffers heart failure before dying and fading away. He doesn't return when the others do. Instead, he inexplicably washes up on the beach about ten episodes later, with no explanation on how he's alive despite having had a fatal heart attack.
In the Second Stage of Vandread during a battle with an Earth mothership, Gascogne's ship crashes into the mothership to save Barnette. Obviously, if someone's ship blows up in the vacuum of space, they are dead. However in the final battle Gascogne returns alive to help on the mothership that she has somehow managed to get onto, take over, and pilot without any explanation provided. The final episode is filled with Narm.
Bleach: The second time Ulquiorra puts a hole in Ichigo's chest, he's taken right to the brink of death and Orihime's healing ability mysteriously can't help him. Even more mysteriously, his need to protect her (the reason why he came to Hueco Mundo) drives him back to his feet as a fully-fledged hollow creature that promptly thrashes Ulquiorra to within an inch of life. And if that wasn't mysterious enough, the hollow powers suddenly leave Ichigo, leaving him fully healed. Fans have debated for years whether or not he actually died during that fight and what explanation could cover him coming back to full health when even the healer whose powers literally break the rules of the universe couldn't heal him. Not only that, but the characters that witnessed it were themselves thoroughly confused by what happened, making it a simultaneous example of an in-universe and fandom-observed one.
Train of Black Cat attempts to use this technique to explain why his recently completely amputated hands appear fine the next day, striking a pose and saying, "They grew back!" It doesn't work, and he has to explain.
Asuna and Negi on a Floating Continent, when Jack Rakan introduces himself by poking Asuna in the boob. Asuna punches him off the island, he falls screaming to his death...and then he appears behind them, none the worse for wear.
Rakan: Just kidding! That's quite a punch you've got there, little lady.
Later, he got erased from existence. Not once, but twice... and he manages to come back again and again.
In Guyver, the Guyvers themselves and their ally Aptom are virtually indestructible — so long as respectively their Control Medallion or One Single Cell Survive, they'll just regenerate, no questions asked. Not so, however, for Zoalords, their primary antagonists, who have been shown to be tough, but far from unkillable - frequently needing days, if not weeks, of TLC in a hospital bed after an encounter with the Guyver even if they survive. It therefore deserves note that, after the Zoalord Guyot expended virtually all his energy in creating and then destroying a Black Hole, he dropped about a mile before crashing into a concrete floor, spent what little power he had left to activate an ancient alien MacGuffin, had his torso cleaved in half by an energy weapon, had his Zoa-Crystal (the source of his power and indeed survival) ripped brutally out of his skull, was perforated with several gravity bullets and then was dropped into an erupting volcano, he still turned up again about a year later with little more to show for his ordeal than a collection of scars and a slightly manic look, and no explanation given.
The first season of the Sengoku Basara anime led to Nobunaga killing off a large quantity of less important warlords and side characters, including the country's future unifier Tokugawa Ieyasu who at that point was a side character in the games at best. As it turns out, Capcom had plans for both him and a few other unfortunate casualties, what with the planned release of the series' third game, so Ieyasu, Tadakatsu, Hisahide, Oichi and Yoshihiro all came back from the dead in the second season. This after being, respectively: disemboweled by a scythe, blown up (twice, the second time when his power core detonated), suicide by blowing himself up, shot point-blank in the chest, and shot point-blank in the head (all deaths were on-screen). Hisahide mentions something about an "escape tunnel" and Oichi is implied to be a possessed corpse, but otherwise forthright explanations are lacking.
The Movie went on to return Mitsuhide, who burned to death (again, on-screen!) in the anime's first season, and Mori, who was last seen disintegrating in a beam of light at the end of the second season. Oh, and Nobunaga came back too, but he had an explanation.
In Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Nijima is stranded on a deserted island, and comes back a couple episodes later with no explanation—even though the episode in question ended with a cliffhanger implying Kenichi would be starting a "Find Nijima" arc. Instead, he's promptly forgotten about, but turns out fine anyway. Later it is implied that Siegfried found him and rescued him while on his journey of self-discovery.
At the end of Megazone 23 Part 2, the bike gang members who were previously shown getting knocked off their bikes, shot up, and otherwise (apparently) dispatched by the baddies in various ways show up almost entirely intact with a few bandages on them. No explanation is provided.
The personified nations in Axis Powers Hetalia seem to need little to no recovery time from injuries. At one point, Russia jumps out of a plane without a parachute. We're told that he broke his bones, but we never see him in any kind of cast. During one of the Christmas events, Switzerland shot France in the head. He was back on his feet in moments with no visible wound.
Near the end of the Fate route in Fate/stay night, Rin Tohsaka is wounded by Kotomine and is presumably dying. However, after the final battle, she meets Shiro, unharmed.
Naruto gives us Obito Uchiha. Supposedly crushed on the entire right side of his body by a boulder, it turns out he's alive and kicking in the form of the more badass Tobi. When we're treated to a flashback arc, an elderly Madara Uchiha explains that it's a miracle he's alive, having found him next to a boulder, almost as if he slipped through it. While one could pass this off as Kamui, the fact is, Obito didn't have his Mangekyou Sharingan at the time. How the hell is he still moving?
Ryoko in Tenchi Universe has this. After she's grievously wounded by Kagato, she decides to help Tenchi rescue Ayeka by dropping him, Azaka and Kamedake at the Royal Palace, but then disappears, the last thing we see is her passing out (and presumably dying) with only Ryo-Ohki at her side. She shows up in the finale, no worse for the wear and ready to resume her quest to capture Tenchi's heart, knowing Ayeka's (and everyone else) is coming back, too.
Captain America has had quite a few deaths go by where he reappeared again with no explanation and the death itself completely ignored by the plot.
Spider-Man villain Hammerhead has been killed multiple times in seemingly irreversible ways, including a nuclear explosion, only to bounce right back with some hand waved explanation, if any at all. In the Ultimate universe, he had his head exploded by Gambit in Ultimate X-Men, only to appear sometime later in Ultimate Spider-Man, right as rain. When another character points out that he's supposed to be dead, his response is, "It sucked. I came back."
The hardcover was given a few extra pages to keep the splash pages intact, and some of this space was given to Dr. Mid-Nite informing Batman and Robin that Nightwing would survive.
In Pearls Before Swine, Whale, a killer-whale character who was killed off via packaged explosive in 2006, inexplicably returns in a 2008 strip for a baseball game. When Rat confronts author Stephen Pastis about this, Pastis just casually answers that Whale had "undied". Partially subverted in the next day's strip, when Rat takes Whale off their team for being "technically dead".
The irony is that the excuse of "[character] undied" is something Rat first used. He periodically writes a story called "The Adventures of Angry Bob", which invariably ends with the protagonist dead (most memorably after being assaulted while expressing happiness via a kazoo: "Many toots-for-joy later..."). To explain how he could write sequels, he started the first one with, "Angry Bob undied." (Goat reacts as one would expect.)
In Kyle Baker's Plastic Man series, Woozy Winks dies dramatically in the "On the Lam" plotline, but comes back smiling with no consequences in the last panel.
For a while, being invulnerable like that was Woozy's power. Storywise, A Wizard Did It.
The "Hunt For Raven" storyline in Teen Titans ended with Static depowered and Miss Martian stuck in a seemingly irreversible coma. When Miss Martian next appeared in Supergirl, she was completely recovered with no mention to her condition. Static later showed up in the New 52 with his powers suspiciously restored as well, though you could chalk this up to a Cosmic Retcon.
The Sentry's wife was once killed by Ultron, and he resurrected her in a way that was never explained. Sentry himself in Dark Avengers was turned into combination of The Worf Effect and this. First he was aborted from time by Morgan Le Fay. After Morgan's defeat, he returned, scaring the hell out of all his teammates. Then his head was blown up by alien weapon, and in the next issue he acts like nothing happened. And it's confirmed, that he will appear in next year storylines, which means he will get better after last issue, when he was blown up to mere atoms. What's wrong with this guy?
Bob Reynolds is a psionic who is basically the Dr. Manhattan of the Marvel Universe, with a ridiculous level of power over his own form, and his surroundings (usually as The Cape persona, the Sentry). Pulling himself back together after every increasingly outlandish death is likely an extension of his near-omnipotence and a tongue-in-cheek allusion to superheroes always coming back after seemingly being killed off.
Subverted in BIONICLE; the original Hydraxon died years before, but Dekar unwillingly gets turned into a clone of him. Another character remarks that he had already died, to which he replies, "I got better."
It counts as an even more apparent subversion if you take into account that mostly everyone around him seems to know the truth behind his return, while he himself doesn't care in the slightest, even dismissing his own corpse as just a trick. Dekar's consciousness is meanwhile buried too deep under Hydraxon's to reach him.
A well known "skill" of Batman'sArch-EnemyThe Joker is to come back from obviously fatal ends. He's been shot, electrocuted, blown up, thrown off buildings, etc., but turns up a few months later without so much as a mention. One story arc ended with him clutching a crate of explosives to his chest and gleefully shooting it, with Bats barely escaping the detonating building. A few months later, he's back in a Santa suit on a road trip with Robin...
In Fearless Fosdick, the "comic within the comic" in Al Capp's classic strip Lil Abner, the titular Fosdick (a satirical Captain Ersatz of comic strip detective Dick Tracy) would often be ventilated by flying bullets in the course of his adventures, and left resembling a Swiss cheese by the end of an episode. Nevertheless, he always recovered from his "injuries":
The Chief: Fosdick! I thought you were dead! Fearless Fosdick: Yes, but it didn't prove fatal. Just a mild case.
Across the various Star Wars media, there's a reoccurring joke about a certain Jedi Master called K'Kruhk who often gets killed on screen/panel and is seen alive and unhurt in later media. He's even aware of the trope, once commenting that "I've died any number of times in my life. Or so I've heard.". The kicker is in Legacy, set 138 years after A New Hope. K'Kruhk is not only still alive, but he suffers another "getting better" moment within a few issues of the comics.
Poked fun of in the Marvel Western mini-series Blaze of Glory. When someone tells Two-Gun Kid they thought he was dead, his response is "I was. I got tired of it".
The joke ending for The Walking Dead is made of this trope. A bunch of folks who died in the series 'get better' and go fight some zombies again. By punching them. A lot.
Marvel ComicsThe Transformers featured one really blatant example. In one issue Megatron is becoming increasingly unstable and violent over shame that he didn't get to kill Optimus Prime. Brawl, one the Decepticons, finally gets fed up with Megatron's brooding and yells at him to get over it. Megatron promptly crushes Brawl's skull with his bare hands and smashes apart corpse against a nearby wall. Brawl later turns up perfectly fine.
Parodied in the Superman: The Black Ring story arc. A particular character gets killed several times over the course of the arc, each time reappearing later apparently unharmed. The thing is, he's perfectly willing to explain how he did it, it's just that nobody else is interested, and he always gets cut off when he tries.
During The Thanos Imperative miniseries, Drax the Destroyer, Nova, Star-Lord, and Thanos all died in a universe that was collapsing in on itself. All of them have reappeared in major series with no explanation for their survival or escape. Pretty blatant example, since all of them died only two years before their return.
Runaways ended with Chase Stein getting hit by a car. He later appeared alongside the rest of the team in the Dark Wolverine series.
Sometimes the recovery can be the result of a Series Continuity Error, when one writer or artist is unaware of what his/her colleagues did to the characters. Take the X-Men and their spin-offs for example.
Hellfire Club members Harry Leland and Friedrich von Roehm were both killed in Uncanny X-Men #209 (September, 1986), yet both turn up alive for a Club meeting in New Mutants #61 (March, 1988). The deaths had happened in an issue written by Chris Claremont. New Mutants creative team Louise Simonson and Bret Blevins apparently did not know of this development and re-used the characters.
Paolo, the right-hand-man to supporting character Aleytis "Lee" Forrester, was brutally killed in Cable #11 (May, 1994), an issue written by Glenn Gerdling. Apparently nobody told this to Larry Hama and Chris Claremont, so Paolo turns up alive in X-Men Unlimited #9 (December, 1995) and Uncanny X-Men #386-387 (November-December, 2000).
The Doctor later gives at least some of these answers.
In the infamous My Immortal, Draco commits suicide by slitting his wrists. But a couple of chapters later "Voldemort had him bondage" like nothing ever happened...
Not to mention Willow, who B'loody Mary killed after she was expelled. This was apparently "kawai", but in the next chapter Willow is alive again with no explanation.
Played for laughs in the Transformers fic, They Just Don't Care Anymore, where characters are often resurrected with little more than a Hand Wave.
Reflector: Thundercracker? Weren't you shot? Thundercracker: I got better. Reflector: ...And then thrown out into space? Thundecracker: I got better. Reflector: ...And then reformatted into Scourge? Thundercracker: Look, what part of "I got better" don't you understand?
Note that this indeed happened, with the characters who became Cyclonus, Scourge, and the Sweeps (Scourge's clone army) appearing later without comment. It has to do with a lot of the production of Transformers Generation 1 being rushed, so the animators and script writers also aren't always on the same page.
In Christian Humber Reloaded, the main character, Vash, tears out Soku's throat in revenge for turning him in to the police. She comes back toward the end of Part 1, apparently wanting revenge against Vash, but he kills her again. His recurring enemies tend to come back to life, but Soku never returns.
In Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami, some of the characters returning to life are explained as being due to the Life Note being able to bring people back to life, but some, such as Blud, come back from being killed with no explanation.
Not that "fine and dandy", he's obviously limping when he appears over the hill to find them, so he most likely pushed with all his strength that he had to get there in time to see the baby off. And for his comment about it, he's Diego. Naturally he would brush it off and make it seem less important.
Titan A.E. Gune, while attacking the Drej with the Valkyrie after seemingly dying saving Stith from a bomb:
Digimon X-Evolution has MetalGarurumon X and Dukemon. Dukemon at least has some sort of excuse, as it seems like he planned everything beforehand somehow, but MetalGarurumon X, after doing a Heroic Sacrifice and being covered by a literal ocean for an unspecified length of time, came back out with his X-Antibody without any explanation.
In The Legend of the Titanic, several characters who seemingly died get better by the end, including Cannonbear and Tentacles, both of whom are explicitly shown to be dead.
Films — Live Action
Elizabeth in Little Sweetheart. The character was shot twice and left for dead, face down, in the ocean, where the boat the character was shown to be seemingly fine on had to be at least five minutes away. Five minutes with a bullet in the arm and chest at age 9 followed by inhalation of seawater, is not going to just leave you with needing a band-aid.
At the end of The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Dreyfus was seemingly disintegrated by his ownDisintegrator Ray, yet in the next film, Revenge of the Pink Panther (as well as the subsequent films), he is back with no explanation at all. The onliest explanation is that the character was so popular, Blake Edwards just simply put him back in.
The film's novelisation has Dreyfus, his castle, the scientist who invented the Disintegrator Ray, the UN Building (which he made vanish earlier in the film) and half a dog - don't ask - be transported to another planet far across the galaxy. Which doesn't explain how Dreyfus got back...
The UN Secretary-General in Godzilla Final Wars enters with the line, "I managed to escape." He was last seen on a plane that exploded. Even funnier on one release, where a Japanese grammatical ambiguity has it mistranslated as "I must have escaped somehow."
Dr. Sam Loomis from Halloween. In the second movie, he lights up a lighter in a room full of hydrogen to kill Michael Myers; he blows up practically the entire first floor of the hospital. However, in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, he shows up, unscathed but for a burn mark on the side of his face, and a crippled walk. It seems that the good doctor is as indestructible as the killer he goes after! In the Rob Zombie remake, Michael crushes Loomis's skull, but he returned for the sequel. You decide which one is more badass/ludicrous.
Don't forget Michael himself (who was originally just a regular ol' human). Before the explosion, Michael is blinded after Laurie shoots him in the eyes. In the fourth film, he can see just fine.
Hudson: You're supposed to be all cracked up at the bottom of the hill! Tommy: Air bags! Can you fucking believe it? Anna: You're supposed to be blown up into fiery chunks of flesh! Tommy: Sprinkler system set up in the back! Can you fucking believe it? (Beat) Hudson: ... Yeah, that's probably what happened!
Several people in the Scary Movie series, most obviously Brenda, who was literally torn to pieces and even had a funeral in the third movie, but was suddenly found on a crashed plane in the fourth.
Cindy: Brenda, I thought you were dead. Brenda: Oh, I thought you were dead, too!
In the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Captain Barbossa is miraculously alive at the end of the second film and during the third film with just the explanation that "he was only dead." Of course, being tended to by a voodoo lady who also happens to be the mortal prison of the goddess Calypso might have had something to do with it.
One of the most infamous lines from Jaws: The Revenge is Hoagie's "It wasn't easy!", the only explanation he offers as to how he survived being trapped in a crashed plane under attack by a shark.
Baron Munchausen in the Terry Gilliam film: "And that was only one of the many occasions on which I met my death, an experience which I don't hesitate strongly to recommend!" He follows it with a Happily Ever After.
In George of the Jungle, the villain causes a guide to fall off a rope-bridge hundreds of feet into a gorge. The narrator says, "Don't worry, nobody dies in this story. They just get really big boo-boos!" Sure enough, in the next scene he's sitting at a campfire, scowling, with little criss-cross tape bandages on his face.
Barely averted in From Russia with Love. At a preview screening, the director's son noticed that a scene featuring the Bulgar assassin occurred after that character was shown to be killed. As a result, Karim Bey's Crowning Moment of Awesome had to be cut.
Possibly Escape from New York. Though there is never an explanation, nearly every time Kurt Russell's character Snake Plissken meets another character for the first time, he is greeted with "I heard you were dead." At one point, I believe he replies "I get that a lot." Apparently, Snake Plissken is both famous among the prisoners on the island of New York, and famously dead.
The Faculty has none other than Jon Stewart in it who gets his fingers cut off by a student, then stabbed in the eye with a pen. The pen contains a drug that dehydrates the alien that had possessed Stewart's character leaving him dead on the ground. Then, later in the movie when they finally kill the queen parasite (thus killing all the drones, freeing everyone) we see Stewart somehow got better. Despite being dead for several days in the film's timeline he survived with only a bandaged hand and an eyepatch.
In Thumb Wars, as Princess Bunhead runs onto the ship despite no rescuing scene being written, she says "I escaped somehow. Let's go!"
Dr. Evil kills Number 2 at the end of the first Austin Powers. He is back in the second, and his death doesn't even get a Hand Wave. It is never directly mentioned—however, Number 2's face has some noticeable burns on it.
An alternate where are they now ending of the first film explains that he escaped the fire pit alive. This ending could be considered Broad Strokes canon as Frau's LPGA tour career, brought up in the second film, is mentioned in this ending.
One thing that people miss is that when Number 2 is executed, he's sitting in the same chair that Mustafa was in when he was executed. When this happened the chair's execution mechanism misfired (literally) and Dr. Evil had to send down minions to finish the job. The upshot is that Number Two probably survived because the mechanism was never repaired.
Seven-year old Eric from Mystery Team claims to have been shot three times.
In the 1964 Czechoslovakian satirical pseudo-western (pant pant) Lemonade Joe the eponymous main character is shot dead by the antagonist, only to turn up later without a scratch - offering as the only explanation that "Kola-Loka", the soda he has been relentlessly hawking throughout the movie (which is his job) and which is the only thing he drinks, has incredible recuperative abilities. It is taken to a whole different level when, after the three main villains get shot, all it takes to revive them is to sprinkle them with the stuff - which is then advertised as being effective "even after rigor mortis sets in".
In Takashi Miike's Thirteen Assassins, Kiga, one of the eponymous assassins gets a sword through his neck and his stomach slashed open, causing him to fall over and stop moving. At the end of the movie, he returns bearing only flesh wounds on himself and says that compared to fighting bears, swords are child's play. The movie contains hefty hints that Kiga might not be entirely human, and in an interview the director says it's up to the viewer to decide what happened.
At the end of the first movieNeo is killed by Agent Smith in the Matrix and dies in the real world. Trinity somehow brings him back to life with a declaration of love and a True Love's Kiss.
Trinity's death and resurrection at the end of The Matrix Reloaded is not an example: Neo, who is also The One, performs direct heart massage on her to revive her.
In The Dark Knight Rises, Batman shrugs off a knife stab from Talia. Most people would not even be able to move well from that kind of wound but most people aren't Batman.
In National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 Becker is killed, then a few scenes later causally walks into the room. The only explanation: "I thought this was the sequel."
In Prometheus, the main character undergoes a manual c-section to remove a proto-alien parasite from her and is forced to staple her own stomach back together. Despite logically having some pretty severe internal bleeding, she's later seen none the worse for wear, even managing to sprint to avoid being crushed by a falling space-craft... as you do.
She wasn't none the worse for wear. For the rest of the movie, she was clearly in extreme pain (often injecting herself with pain relievers) and sometimes weaving from exhaustion. But she was the Final Girl/Determinator so she toughed it out. The alternative was dying and letting the aliens destroy Earth.
In Pineapple Express Red gets shot multiple times, run over, and left behind in an exploding building, somehow he manages to survive all this.
Randall Flagg in Stephen King's The Stand is standing right next to a nuclear bomb when it goes off, and is presumably incinerated instantaneously. He gets better in time to appear in The Dark Tower series. In a scene added to the end of the extended version of The Stand, after the bomb goes off, he finds himself walking out of the ocean on the coast of western Africa with no idea how he got there.
However, Flagg does in fact vanish the instant before the bomb detonates; his clothes are seen standing up with no one in them, and then they collapse. This appears to be Flagg's signature "get out of jail free" card. Why he does not use this ability to escape from Mordred in the Dark Tower books is not clear.
We have a term for that. In King's fantasy novel The Eyes Of The Dragon, he also appears, again as the main antagonist. At the end of the book he is shot in the eye with an arrow, and he does his usual disappearing-out-of-his-clothes schtick. The epilogue of that book mentions that one of the main characters has a hunch he's still alive somewhere, and he and another guy go after him. The narrator hints that they probably fought him again later on. This is pretty well-justified, because he's basically the King's-connected-universe equivalent of Satan (except in the Dark Tower books, where the Red King takes that role and Flagg is more The Dragon).
Michael Crichton's The Lost World 1995, the sequel to Jurassic Park, is a prime example of this trope. In the book (although not inThe Movie), Ian Malcolm suffers from septicemia from a T. rex bite, and is said to be dead during a conversation near the end of the novel. At the beginning of The Lost World, however, he is shown giving a lecture at a university, with no explanation other than that he was "only slightly dead".
In an Artemis Fowl book, a character remarks to Battle Butler Butler (yes, that's his name) that he'd heard Butler was dead. The readers actually know what happened, but the only explanation we see Butler offering is "I was, but I'm better now."
In the Highroad Trilogy, Heredes dies twice. His response is the same afterwards: "It's terribly boring being dead."
Lampshaded in the first book of The Kane Chronicles, The Red Pyramid. Sadie is appalled to learn that the god her brother is hosting cut off the head of the goddess Sadie is hosting. When Sadie expresses her shock, the goddess reassures her, "I got better." This is despite the fact that killing a god or goddess can cause them to be stuck in the Duat (a kind of limbo) for thousands of years, if not forever.
Sherlock Holmes was meant to die along with Professor Moriarty in a plunge from a bridge at Reichenbach Falls. When the fandom revolted and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's mother begged him to bring the titular consulting detective back, he got better.
Bruenor Battlehammer loses an eye in the first book of the Legacy of the Drow Series. The dwarven clerics try to heal him, to no avail. As it turns out, their spells have a delayed effect and he regains the vision in his bad eye after some years have passed, by the time of the fourth book.
In Mercedes Lackey's The Obsidian Trilogy, it seems like the best way to assure you'll live is to accept a mageprice costing your life. This applies to almost every mage character on the allied side at some point, especially in the third book.
Nearly everyone in Candide. Pangloss is hanged, Cunégonde is raped and stabbed by Bulgarian soldiers, Cunégonde's brother the Jesuit priest is slashed in the side by Candide himself...yet everyone, miraculously, survives to the end.
The last time we see Capt. Alan Barnes in The Atrocity Archive, he's on a hospital bed being treated for 500 rems of radiation poisoning. Then in The Jennifer Morgue, he shows up with The Cavalry like nothing happened. Bob lampshades it in the RPG by wondering what the Laundry had to promise to whom to get this effect.
In Galaxy of Fear, the Cool ShipThe Shroudcrashes spectacularly. It's been damaged several times before, but this time it's worse and characters actually believe it can't be repaired, and they salvage bits of it and feel sad. In the next book they're flying about in it with no comment. Addressed several years later in the InterquelDeath in the Slave Pits of Lorrd, where Han Solo decides to haul it to a tech he knows who'll fix it, and Tash says she's not sure why her uncle thought it was done - after all, her brother Zak's come Back from the Dead twice now.
Live Action TV
The Obituary Montage at the end of one episode of Look Around You casually says, "Viewers may be pleased to know that Clive Pounds, who died during filming of this program, has since come back to life."
In the Doctor Who serial The Mark of the Rani, the Rani discusses the fact that the last time we saw the Master, he was being burned to death in a volcano.
The Master: Come, come, the whole universe knows I'm indestructible! The Rani: Is that so?
Earlier, in Time-Flight, the last time we saw the Master he was trapped in a mathematically-constructed city as it collapsed in on itself. The full "explanation" for this was as follows:
The Doctor: So you escaped from Castrovalva. I should have guessed. The Master: As gullible as ever, my dear Doctor.
Now it's been revealed that The Master was a vital component in the Time Lords' plan to escape death, maybe all those mysterious survivals start to make sense...
In season 5 of 24, Tony Almeida dies in Jack Bauer's arms. In season 7, he's alive and well and has pulled a Face-Heel Turn, and Jack is genuinely surprised to learn this. It's implied that his death, which at the time appeared to be a genuine attempt to kill him by a captured terrorist with ties to President Evil, was in fact staged in the same manner that Jack's was in season 4.
Mikhail on LOST walks though a sonic barrier and suffers a complete mental breakdown, complete with blood spurting from every orifice. He goes on to make a total recovery: "Fortunately the fences were not set to lethal levels." After that, he was beaten unconscious without suffering any damage, and got harpooned in the chest — and survived. He was finally killed by diving underwater and holding a live grenade to his face.
Lampshaded and played straight in the French Canadian show Le cœur a ses raisons. When Brett is buried alive and manages to escape, the details of his evasion aren't shown. Brett later breaks the fourth wall and says, "If my life was a TV show, the details of my miraculous escape would be included in the season's DVD." (which it wasn't). Later, when characters tell him they thought he was dead, he simply answers "I'm better, thanks."
"A Full Rich Day", a third-season episode of MASH which aired in 1974 included a subplot of Hawkeye apparently misplacing the body of a deceased lieutenant from Luxembourg. At the end of the episode the camp holds the funeral for the absent soldier, who staggers out of post-op saluting as the Luxembourg national anthem is played, resulting in the following exchange:
Hawkeye:(to Trapper) I thought you said he was dead! Trapper:(shrugs) He got better.
Babylon 5 subverts this, with an entire episode devoted to what Sheridan experienced after his trip to Z'ha'dum, before his miraculous (in-universe, at least) appearance back on the station.
Drazi ambassador: ...We thought you were dead. Sheridan: I was. I'm better now.
Sylar from Heroes. Yes, he can heal, but he was reduced to a charred skeleton after his intended death, then just came back next season.
Even before Sylar got the healing power, he was pronounced dead when he was in Company custody, then just sorta randomly came back to life. Fanon has come up with numerous explanations, but the show itself didn't really bother.
This applies to all characters with healing powers. Adam, for instance, should have died when White Beard's camp blew up, since the regenerators can't survive trauma that kills the brain, and Adam, brain included, was blown to smithereens.
It was also lampshaded in the season one finale.
Sylar: Didn't I kill you? Peter: Didn't take.
All the characters from the little-known Australian show Double The Fist. Characters literally explode and appear fine in the next scene.
Lampshaded when Joey is nominated for a Soapie award:
Rachel: I mean, you're up against the guy who survived his own cremation.
One episode has Chandler making a huge scheme and ending up flying to Yemen to escape her on-again-off-again girlfriend Janice. The next episode does not address how he managed to come back.
The hit British motoring show Top Gear is constantly invoking this trope by having one of the presenters apparently die in a filmed segment and then cutting back to them perfectly unharmed in the studio. This usually occurs after an on screen crash (planned or unplanned) or after a presenter vanishes in a large fireball. Sometimes a lampshade is hung, sometimes it's just ignored.
Night Court uses this trope as a Running Gag with Judge Harry Stone's dad, played by John Astin, who had been in a mental institution. When he does or says something 'crazy' (like talking about meeting Santa Claus to go around the world on Christmas Eve), he always finishes with a big smile and says, "But I'm feeling much better now".
Trill Symbionts in Star Trek are ridiculously hard to kill once joined to a humanoid Host. Dax has among other things died in a shuttle crash, from a heart attack during sex, and being shot by Force Lightning from an Energy Being. Once transferred into a new host body, it was literally as good as new within a couple of days, retaining all the memories and a great deal of the personalities of the former hosts. Dax had 8 hosts dying on it in over 350 years and is never mentioned as being particularly old or experienced by Trill standards.
In practically every episode of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. in which he appeared, Pete Hutter would get killed at some point. Yet he would always show up again no worse for wear. The explanations he gave for his survival got increasingly ridiculous as the series went on.
Sir Leon in Merlin. Known amongst fans for being "immortal". Got fried by a dragon at the end of one series, was completely fine at the beginning of the next. Later seemed to have died during an attack on his patrol but survived certain death by drinking from a magical cup given to him by the druids and returned to Camelot more or less unharmed. And now, contrary to all reasonable expectations, he has actually survived the whole series. Something Arthur didn't manage to do. He's even in one of the last shots.
In the pilot of Andromeda Trance was shot, only to revive shortly after with no explanation. In a later episode she actually said "I Got Better".
The short-lived show The War Next Door has this as its premise. A retired secret agent and his arch-nemesis live next door in a suburb and constantly engage in battles. Each episode invariably ends with one of them (usually, the villain) dead, only to get better by the next episode. In fact, the pilot starts with the agent killing the villain before retiring, only for the villain to come back in the same episode. No explanation, of course.
On Days of Our Lives, Mad Scientist Dr. Wilhelm Rolf was accidentally killed in 2003 when a crate fell on his head. Rex and Mimi, who were partially responsible for the accident, sneaked the body into a morgue to avoid responsibility. The body was then stolen from the morgue and used by Larry Welch to fake his death; the body was set on fire and then misidentified as Welch. When Rolf reappeared in 2007, another character reacted with surprise as Rolf was thought to be dead. Rolf's only response was "Didn't take."
Late in Supernatural's seventh season, Castiel is found amnesiac but otherwise unharmed after being taken over and blown up by the leviathans. Exactly how he came back this time is never explained (While God has resurrected Castiel twice in the past, it's not clear if he did it the third time or not).
Colin Mochrie: Last time I saw him he tried to murder me. But when you're trying to kill someone by chopping their head off, rolling them up in a carpet and lighting it on fire, you better make sure they're dead!
Like the aforementioned Master, Dr. Miguelito Lovless from The Wild Wild West, had at least two episodes ending where he appeared to have died, only to pop up again, no worse for the wear, never really explaining how he did.
In the finale of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, no explanation was given for how Kendrix was restored to life. (Admittedly, no-one had ever directly stated she had been killed, although it was pretty obvious; the actress portraying her had to leave after being diagnosed with leukemia, and the writers felt that they were safe with such an option, given the almost universal positive response to Zordon's Heroic Sacrifice in the previous series.) There was a lot of speculation among fans, like that the Saber had something to do with it, but nothing definite.
The final few episodes of Felicity had the title character going back in time after the death of Elena. In the series finale she returns to the present, where Elena is inexplicably alive and no one finds this odd. A deleted scene explained that she'd changed the past, but this still doesn't make sense as she made all kinds of other changes (like the death of Noel) that didn't stick.
There have been many instances where Muppet characters have gotten eaten, only to be shown alive and well later (sometimes in the same production, sometimes not). Of course there have also been instances where characters got eaten but were still alive while inside the monsters who ate them.
In The Lonely Island song "Like a Boss", the titular boss recounts his typical daily life, which ends in turning into a jet (like a boss), bombing the Russians (like a boss), flying into the sun (like a boss), and now he's a dead (like a boss). His performance reviewer expresses incredulity that he can chop his balls off and die every day. The boss just shrugs it off.
Professional Wrestling does this a lot. The most blatant example was at the end of the 2000 Survivor Series Pay-Per-View, which ended with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin hijacking a forklift and dumping a car containing Triple H from high up in the air. The next night on Raw Is War, it was revealed that Trips had only suffered "minor injuries" and seven days later, he reappeared on television looking as good as new aside from some medical tape around his ribs.
A particularly egregious example comes from WCW, which just seems to go Serial Escalation for pure strangeness, even for wrestling. After a Monster Truck Match on a rooftop for a PPV, Hulk Hogan and the Giant (now The Big Show in WWE) have a scuffle at the edge of the roof. And, yup, the Giant takes a tumble over the edge. Hogan's in shock... and then for the main event regular match between the two, on the same night, the Giant comes out without so much as a scratch. Not much in the way of explanation is ever provided, although Bobby Heenan once said that they wanted the Giant to come to the ring with a fish in his tights, to explain that he fell into the river.
This happens in a lot of storylines involving The Undertaker. It's somewhat justified by the fact that he's portrayed as a supernatural being.
It also seems to apply to the people around him. In 2004, he buried manager Paul Bearer alive, filling the tomb with concrete. Bearer returned with no explanation. Justified in the Bearer case: the live audience saw an extended ending to the burial clip, with Bearer surfacing for air and being stretched out of the arena. The following Smackdown he was announced as alive but "gravely injured" to write him out of the storyline. It also helps that said return took place about six years later.
On 4/19/10, the Guest Host of RAW MacGruber accidentally blew up R-Truth. Yes, as in he accidentally blew him up with the pyrotechnics. The next night on NXT, Truth was indeed present as if nothing had happened. The weirdest part about all of this? R-Truth is a face; you wouldn't think a face would be the Butt Monkey of elaborate pranks on the part of the guest host.
A strange example occurred when John Cena was supposedly "injured" after getting stabbed by Carlito's bodyguardnote A story made up to explain Cena's absence, as he was filming The Marine., as Cena then returned a couple of weeks later at Survivor Series without stab wounds whatsoever.
The first 2011 run of BBC Radio 4 statistics show More of Less ended with host Tim Harford falling off the roof of Broadcasting House, in a parody of the death of Nigel Pargetter in The Archers. The second run opened with the show now presented by Graham Seed, the actor who played Nigel, only for Harford to return and quickly take back control.
Harford: I ... got better. Seed: I see. I wish I had.
The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy ended its first radio series with Zaphod, Trillian and Marvin being eaten by a shape-shifted alien. The Christmas special that launched the second series brought back Zaphod and Marvin (and changed Trillian's fate to Put on a Bus). Zaphod's first words in the episode were "I've recovered." Marvin had lost an arm shortly before getting eaten; as this was never referenced again, it presumably got better too.
Since he was a robot, it was probably replaced. Every other part of his body was replaced at some stage, except of course the terribly painful diodes all down his left side.
In episode 13, it was revealed that Zaphod's adventures on the Frogstar and Brontitall had simply been induced by being extremely drunk. Marvin had, in fact, had his arm welded to his side, thanks to being trapped on a ship as it flew into the nearest star.
In Candide, Candide meets Cunegonde, who was earlier apparently killed, and in the duet "You Were Dead, You Know" asks her how she escaped death. She dodges the question.
In general, any video game character can recover as long as he has enough extra lives. And even if they lose all of those, they can still get better through the use of a continue. Plus the enemies come back sooner or later. This won't usually extend to cutscenes and plot though due to Plotline Death.
And interestingly enough, an obscure Flash game called You Only Live Once deliberately averts this trope to the extreme. No, the title isn't saying you have to restart the whole game every time you die. It's saying you can't play anymore at all after you die.
A flash game named One Chance averts the trope in a similar way. If you don't follow the correct course of action, you lose and the game over screen will be shown every time you reload the page. There are ways to get around it, though.
In Metal Wolf Chaos, you can shoot down and blow up a reporter's helicopter. When you do, he says "My fellow viewers, please rest at ease, for I, Peter McDonald, have somehow managed to escape. I'll return to the action in another helicopter."
Likewise, at one point a resistance helicopter is shot down, and you hear a message on the radio saying, "Don't worry Mr. President, us resistance soldiers have thorough knowledge of how to escape." All very good and well, except that the helicopter was hit by a missile from a tank, exploded in a ball in flame, and then the burning wreckage plunged into the Hudson River. Thorough knowledge indeed.
Zero's infamous "I hid away to repair myself." near the start of Mega Man X6.
Almost subverted as he, when he has the occasion to do so, asks Doctor Light if he's the one who repaired him. After a short silence, Doctor Light say his resurrection was a miracle. But no proper explanation is ever given.
If one completes Halo on Legendary, they are treated to a video of Sergeant Johnson and an Elite fighting over a plasma rifle on the Halo ringworld, who end up hugging as they see The Pillar of Autumn, the ship that destroys said Halo, begin exploding. In Halo 2, he's still alive. How? That's confidential information, soldier. * OK, the cutscene was just a non-canon easter egg; the book First Strike explains that he and a few other UNSC personnel managed to escape on a Pelican.
Bungie remarked on this in the Halo 3 Legendary Edition bonus DVD by saying that he was "Like Kenny" he could die in every single level he's in, but he'll be alive in the next one.
On the other hand, Johnson has died on-screen in Halo 3... presumably for good, now.
He'll get better.
Rufus from Final Fantasy VII supposedly died from the Weapon assault on Midgar, yet he's fine in Advent Children. When Cloud meets Rufus Shinra in Advent Children, he's shocked to find his supposedly exploded enemy alive. Rufus begins to explain what happened — and Cloud cuts him off impatiently, and turns to leave.
Rufus: ...The day of the explosion— Cloud: What do you want? Rufus: I managed to get out of the building— Cloud: Why did you call me here? Rufus: before it collapsed— Cloud: I'm leaving!
Additionally, contrary to popular belief, Tseng never died in the original game either. The line with Elena who implies he's dead is actually a mistranslation for 'Messin' my boss up'.
It's been said in Dirge of Cerberus that Rufus Shinra merely 'ducked' to avoid being killed. He was later evacuated from Midgar when Meteor fell, via helicopter.
Contrast to Edward. Leviathan attacks ship—leading to Edward apparently twisting his ankle. Apparently he shattered his shin bone, because he will be bed-ridden or, at the very best, chair-ridden (in the tank at the end) for the rest of the game. Meanwhile, Yang (same Leviathan incident) can still fly through the air with his foot out in battle. Rydia also suffers in the same boat accident and is seen being eaten by a giant see snake! Yang goes through an even less survivable experience: he destroys the Tower of Bab-il's Super Cannon by apparently stuffing himself into the barrel before it fires, resulting in a massive explosion that destroys the entire chamber containing the cannon. He's presumed dead until you discover that a bunch of sylphs found him and nursed him back to health. Palom and Porom turn themselves to stone which is accompanied by sad music and the distraught characters trying to revive them only to find they can't. Then near the end of the game they just turn up again saying their elder healed them (note, Tellah who is hailed as the greatest magic user in the world and had already recovered all his forgotten abilities claims they can't be revived). Oh, and Cid, the "Old Man" (quoth Edge about 10 times), back to blacksmithing approximately 3 hours in-game time after blowing himself up. Yang's case is, while still egregious, not quite as bad given that he is the World's Strongest Man if his stats are to be believed.
This trope occurs in some form in several Final Fantasy games. And also, you can't ignore how, in regular battles in several of the games, a character can be turned to stone and then shattered, which incapacitates them for the duration of that battle, but then you pop 'em a Phoenix Down and they're good as new.
Guybrush: I died! I really did! Stan: And you just... got better? Guybrush: Well... yeah.
Considering Stan himself had just survived being trapped in a nailed-shut coffin for presumably months, he's really not one to talk.
In fact, he even acknowledges that he's been dead in his life insurance sales pitch.
Something of a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment, considering Guybrush really does die at the end of Chapter 4 of Tales of Monkey Island, when LeChuck dramatically stabs him in the gut. Naturally, Guybrush really does "get better" in Chapter 5.
In Beyond Good & Evil, this happens near the end of the game with Jade's uncle Pey'j. However, despite his casual dialogue concerning his death-and-resurrection, there are a few reasons he tries to give...
Jade: Pey'j, I... but you were... Pey'j: Dead. I know.
The Infocom text adventure game Leather Goddesses Of Phobos features various scenarios where your helper character (Trent or Tiffany, depending on a decision at the beginning of the game) dying in horrific fashions, at one point hopping on a grenade and exploding right in front of you, but he/she always comes back at a later point with an improbable explanation of how he/she could have possibly survived.
Argonian: I used to be a dog. I got better. Not a better dog, though. I'm a terrible dog now.
This is likely one of Bethesda's many popcult jokes, like fishysticks. But still likely an example nonetheless.
Metal Slug features tough, brawny Allen O'Neil, who slumps over in a spray of blood at the end of his encounter in nearly every game (even being EATEN BY A WHALE in 2) with a death cry of "See you in Hell!", and yet is alive and kicking in the next game, or in the case of Metal Slug 3, LATER THAT LEVEL.
In 3, It's easy to assume that the Allen you face is a Martian in disguise, since that's what his superior Morden reveals himself to be after you beat him in the course of the level, and that the one that appears later to help you escape is the real one.
Harold, when telling his stories in Fallout 1&2, if asked, "How did you survive?" answers, "I didn't — I died!" Harold loves that joke.
Fallout 3 originally had either the Lone Wanderer or Sentinel Lyons sacrifice themselves to activate the purifier and subsequently melt into a puddle of goo, but Broken Steel retconned the ending so that they were rendered comatose for two weeks instead. However, Lyons still dies for real if you send her into the control room.
Used in Universe at War: Earth Assault. Orlok apparently kills some major characters during the Hierarchy campaign — they show up alive and well in the Masari campaign with no explanation of how they survived. It only adds to the Shoot the Shaggy Dog feel of that entire leg of the game.
Played for laughs in MadWorld with the Black Baron, who introduces every deathtrap mini-game only to be made into a quick demo of each one by his ladyfriend. Despite being brutally murdered at least once in every level, he never so much as has to change his outfit, and is actually the last boss of the game.
We get two of these in Tales of Vesperia: The first is after Raven's Heroic Sacrifice in the Baction Shrine. The whole place collapses on top of him. It's implied that his subordinates dug him out, but how was he not crushed to death? The second was when Yuri falls off of The Enduring Shrine of Zaude. All we're told is that Duke saves him, but how exactly is someone saved from falling off of something that high in the air? Duke isn't shown to have any type of flying device/creature at that point. So how on earth did he save Yuri?
At the time, Duke was partnered with Khroma, a draconian entelexia who could fly (remember the scene with her descending upon a heat-stroking Yuri in the desert?). Most likely, she caught Yuri and Duke simply took the credit.
There's also Zagi. He survives an explosion on a burning ship in the middle of the ocean, as well as falling from a very high fall.
In Tales of the Abyss, Luke resolves to sacrifice himself along with 10 000 replicas in order to neutralize the miasma. He ultimately survives the ordeal.
The game subverts this because Luke ends up becoming terminally ill. Doubly subverted when he seems to have come back to life after a Heroic Sacrifice, but whether or not its truly Luke or Asch is purposefully left vague.
The God-Generals sans Asch are resilient enough to last for three boss battles each, despite various members being buried in an avalanche, getting blown sky-high, and falling into the core of the planet. Dist in particular is said to have the tenacity of a cockroach, and it shows. He's the only God-General to survive the game.
In Tales of Symphonia, there's a series of scenes where your entire party appears to sacrifice themselves so Lloyd can move forward.
Regal takes on a massive group of angels by himself, with the implication that he can't defeat them all on his own.
Sheena is seen falling into a massive pit, pulled by a tree root.
Raine is also seen falling into a massive pit after the floor collapses underneath her.
Presea is trapped and restrained in a room with no way to exit— perhaps one of the less threatening of fates compared to the rest of the characters, but she'd probably starve eventually.
Genis helps Lloyd escape an approaching force field (that is implied to be fatal), but is unable to escape himself due to his lack of "physical reflexes."
Despite all this, they all show up just fine in the next scene. Apparently Zelos, very improbably, rescued all of them, although we have no idea how he managed to pull this off.
Star Trek: 25th Anniversary ran a print adverting spot that consisted of a picture of Kirk looking surprised to see Spock and asking "I thought you were dead!" Spock replies "I rebooted."
On the mission when Shepard goes to recruit Thane Krios, Nassana Dantius exclaims "But you died." Shepard's response: "I got better."
That said, Shepard's recovery is fully explained in-game: (S)he was brought back from being technically dead via an awful lot of expensive medical and cybernetic work. By one of his/her enemies, no less. That said, it becomes a Running Gag that (s)he isn't inclined to go into the whole story with every character (s)he runs into who is surprised to see him/her alive.
The Time Crisis character Wild Dog who is in every game bar Crisis Zone, in a series where the protagonists change each game. In the first game he falls off a castle and drops a radio detonator, detonating a huge set of explosives that goes off during the fall. In the second game, at the launch site of a nuclear satellite he leans against what appear to be warheads before using another radio detonator. The third game features the protagonists asking him "Don't you ever die?!" before he uses the same radio detonator again. The fourth game has him buried beneath large, full, metal boxes weighing at least tonnes only for his arm to burst out of the rubble to activate what appears to be the same radio detonator. The only lasting effect of these is that between the first and second games one of his arms is replaced with a machine-gun.
The Dread Lords in Galactic Civilizations. They got crushed by the humans and their allies in the game Dread Lords, but there was a set-up that it was a ruse. They came back and got beaten again in Dark Avatar. In Twilight of the Arnor they're back AGAIN with no explanation at all.
Valkyria Chronicles has "Ty the Immortal". The Elite Mook who you fight, and kill, three times in the game. Other than his name, it's not explained just how he does this.
Reaper from Unreal Tournament III, he is killed by the Krall in the opening cinema, but is later healed up, and in the very next scene, shooting a rocket launcher against his allies for a training session.
Ridley of Metroid fame is killed is nearly every game, sometimes in incredibly extravagant ways (how the hell can anyone survive an entire planet blowing up around them?), yet he's back and better than ever by the time the next game rolls around. He's even returned multiple times within a single game (although to Prime 3's credit, they actually show him surviving his first battle with Samus). No explanation is ever given for how Ridley keeps coming back to life, although much fan speculation abound.
He appears as a cyborg in Metroid Prime 1 and 3, and Phazon corruption restored some most of his organic components in the same game. Prime 1 also specifically mentions him being "rebuilt" by the Space Pirates in an early log book scan just before you meet him for the first time. The semi-canon manga also has Ridley himself screaming about how he had to devour "disgusting humans" in order to survive the crash of his ship and having his skin burnt off. But Hyperactive Metabolism can't explain how he returned after being blown to literal pieces in Super Metroid and then experiencing the entire planet exploding. In Prime 3 he dissolves into goo, with that same Phazon goo then being completely eradicated with the destruction of Phaaze at the end of the game. Yet he's still around in a freezer in Fusion, where he looks like his Super appearance. This frozen body is then copied by X and shattered. You kill the shapeshifting X later and again detonate the entire station you were on. But most likely, Ridley is still around and kicking.
Metroid: Other M attempts to explain the presence of Ridley's body in Metroid Fusion. Federation scientists were creating clones from bits of DNA they picked off of Samus's suit. One of these clones turned out to be Ridley, who later had a nasty encounter with a Metroid Queen. It is assumed the Federation had his body shipped off to the BSL for study.
In Portal, when GLADOS (and, presumably, the Aperture Science facility itself) is completely dismantled in a violent explosion, yet GLADOS sings about being "Still Alive" in the end credits.
Not really. Portal 2 had the facility more or less intact.
It seems they kept backup copies.
The Nameless One from Planescape: Torment does this all the time, and at one point (at the beginning of the game) actually says: "I think I actually had died... and got better." The general plot of the game revolves around his attempts to figure out exactly why this keeps happening to him.
Eliphias the Inheritor from the Dawn of War series appears to be heading this way. At the end of the Chaos Stronghold mission in Dark Crusade, Eliphas was killed by a demon prince. Now he's coming back in Chaos Rising. Considering the manner Eliphas died, it certainly sounds as if he's headed for this trope.
In fairness, if your soul goes straight to the Chaos Gods, they can put it back in a new body. They usually do this in order to make the next life even harder for you.
General Sturnn in Winter Assault is resurrected at the Field Command after 10 seconds every time he gets killed. His only 'excuse' is "I've returned".
In Metal Gear SolidLiquid Snake is the epitome of this trope. You "kill" him no fewer than four times (once in the Hind D battle, twice in the battle with REX, third in the fistfight on top of REX, and fourth during a car chase). He finally dies of Fox Die.
In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty it seems that Liquid is still not dead, but instead possessing the body of Revolver Ocelot. By the time Metal Gear Solid 4 rolls along he's in full control.
Of course, it turns out that the possession was a fake in MGS4, but real in MGS2. And the legitimate possession gave Ocelot the idea for his greatest Gambit Roulette.
In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots this also happens with Raiden, who seemingly dies, complete with a Really Dead Montage, saving Snake from the Outer Haven submarine when, in fact, he survives. The characters don't even seem to think his survival is a big deal, casually mentioning it.
Not to mention the entire ending sequence with Big Boss
Shredder, from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games based on the original cartoon series (and earlier). Okay, the first arcade game DID say that he may have survived by zapping to Dimension X (which he probably did). But that doesn't account for him being there in the first place, given that in the first NES game, he completely disintegrates in a pool of fire. It only gets worse in The Manhattan Project, where you kill him TWICE, once as his normal sword-swinging self and the second time in his mutated form. Given this, it shouldn't be too surprising that something as mundane as the fall he took in Turtles in Time (second and last arcade game, fourth console) didn't finish him, he was back and ready to rumble in Tournament Fighters.
Dracula in Castlevania. Interestingly, his defeats in the first two games actually seem to take a toll on him, as he becomes weaker the next time around. (He's astronomically difficult to beat in 3, the first chronologically, still a tremendous challenge but less so in 1, and an absolute pushover in 2.) That still doesn't explain how he comes back (none of the games are clear on this), and it's especially egregious in 2 because completely destroying him is supposed to be what ends the curse.
In Red Steel 2, the protagonist is standing on top of a train that is blown up. The next cutscene shows him standing by the destroyed train without a scratch on him. His friends assume him to be dead and question how he made it out alive; one of them even tells him not to die again.
In Baldur's Gate 2, almost any time you run into an NPC who could have joined your team in the first game, you are given the option "But I killed you," or "What are you doing here, I saw you die!" as any character can die permanently. This is essentially what all the characters reply.
The setting does have resurrection magic, but said magic does have its limits...
High Priest Rolo in Dragon Quest VIII. When we last see him, he is facing two very pissed off thugs, completely unarmed and with no visible means of escape. He even tells the thugs to "do their worst". However, in the ending, not only is he still alive, but he's the new head of the Church of the Goddess.
The player gets better after getting shot in the head and buried at the beginning of Fallout: New Vegas. Later, you run into one of the men involved, resulting in this exchange:
Jessup: What the hell? You're that courier Benny wasted back in Goodsprings. You're supposed to be dead. Courier: I got better.
This causes the man to wet himself and say something along the lines of, "Damn and I thought we were hard to kill".
You can also tell Cass about your incident when she asks why you're wandering the Mojave:
Courier: I'm looking for the man who shot me. Cass: The man who shot you? Courier: Twice. In the head. Cass: And you got better.
Squid Baron in Shantae: Risky's Revenge who is a boss dying in the classic several-explosions like manner but later appears unscratched. This is also lampshaded by the characters.
In Resident Evil 4 if you shoot the Merchant, he reappears later, but never again in the same place as where you shot him.
In No More Heroes 2: Desperate StruggleDestroyman comes back after having been cut in half in the first game. Someone just added a cyborg half to each side, so now there are 2 of him. Also, Letz Shake comes back, but he's an earthquake generator like Dr. Shake in the first game.
One of the Squirrels in Super Meat Boy gets revived twice for mysterious reason. Meat Boy himself doesn't count since he's clearly seen respawning during one of the cutscenes.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Villain Toreno seemingly explodes in a helicopter. Several missions later, he's having C.J. ride around in a monster truck. No explanation is given for living—or for the truck.
Its implied through his dialogue he just fooled CJ into thinking he got on the helicopter - he knew CJ was trying to kill him, and needed him to think he had in order to get his help.
In Silent Hill 2, Maria is killed by Pyramid Head in the basement of the hospital, but James later finds her alive and well in a prison cell under the Historical Society. When James becomes understandably confused as to how she's still alive, Maria insists she was never killed to begin with. After James manages to break into the cell, however, Maria is once again a corpse. Later on he finds her alive yet again strapped to a rack in the hotel, being menaced by a pair of Pyramid Heads, who kill her. Depending on the ending you're going to get, she shows up one more time as the final boss.
In the thrilling conclusion to Mega Man 3, Dr. Wily gets completely flattened by a stone block. Not only is there never any explanation as to how he returns in 4 (and is even pulling the supposed villain's strings), no one ever mentions this incident, not even Wily himself. Although, in all fairness, Wily's survival was briefly foreshadowed in the original ending sequence when Mega Man looks up at the sky - the tiny object moving around the tree is not a bird but Wily's UFO in the distance. One of the theories out there is that the final boss was just another dummy robot that got crushed before it could humiliate.
In Gothic 2 Night of the Raven expansion pack, you can meet the character Bloodwyn from Gothic. One dialog option is to note that you killed him back then, to which he comments that he has "survived a lot of things".
The player has a choice to invoke this in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, if they import a save from Origins where the main character died in the end. Doing so basically retcons away the death, and nobody in the expansion mentions it ever happening. (If a character is imported from a game in which they sacrificed themselves, the game instead defaults to assuming that they accepted Morigan's alternative instead.
In Jak II, Sig appears to have been destroyed by a huge Metal Head but shows up at a party later, invoking this trope as a Badass Boast.
In Legacy of KainVorador, who was beheaded in Blood Omen, is alive in Blood Omen 2 with no explanation. Especially frustrating since being a vampire, his resurrection is not out of the ordinary and could have been explained in one or two lines had the writers actually bothered.
Bowser from the Super Mario Bros. series. No matter how Mario defeats him, he will be back in the next game.
In Super Paper Mario, during the final chapter, each of the heroes is seemingly killed one by one. When they show up before the final battle, Peach and Bowser have valid explanations for having survived, but Luigi doesn't, which is made more confusing by the fact that Dimentio did the same trick which killed Luigi in Chapter 6. Of course, it turns out that Dimentio kept him alive for his evil plan.
In Assassins Creed II, Ezio is stabbed in the stomach by Rodrigo Borgia in the penultimate boss battle and collapses in a spreading pool of blood, complete with fade to black. Then he wakes and stands up, completely shaking it off. The sequel explains it by his armour blunting the attack. But if that was the case... why was there so much blood?
Anyone in the first 2 Suikoden games who is not a main character can get Final Death; but will mysteriously show up in the sequels. Some of them, (Luc, Sheena) actually have snarky comments about this.
A specific example happens in Suikoden IV. Ramada is spying on the enemy forces in Fort El-Eal, when he's found by Graham Cray, impaled by a knife, and from the events that follow, it seems fairly evident that he died... Only for him to show up inexplicably after the final battle to take a second (and poisoned) knife meant for Elenor. He survives this, too, somehow.
Despite the fact that the second-to-last level of Katamari Forever involves Dismantling the Roboking, he appears in the postgame without any explanation.
Twice in Asura's Wrath. First when thrown from an orbiting spaceship and second after being tossed into lava with both arms ripped off. Applies to Vlitra as well, since it's never explained how it keeps coming back.
Massmouth 2 has Linguica re-appear without explanation soon after being killed in a boss battle ("I'll kill you for killing me!"). "Doesn't anybody stay dead any more?", Massmouth ponders.
Strange as it may seem, this is almost always subverted in Mortal Kombat, at least as far as cannonical deaths go. There's usually a pretty good explanation given when this happens (which, granted, does tend to occur a lot). The only real exception was Shiva, who was supposedly killed by Kano at the end of the 3, but back in Armageddon, with no explanation as to how.
How Dr Robotnik survived plummeting from orbit in a burning mecha body suit in Sonic & Knuckles is anyone's guess.
In Fire Emblem Awakening, Gangrel, Emmeryn, Walhart, and Aversa all die in the main plot, yet have special paralogues accessed after the main game is mostly complete, allowing you to recruit them for the final battle. Not a single one of them get any explanation as to why they're still alive.
In the final chapter of Broken Saints, Raimi and Oran are miraculously alive and well, despite that fact that in the Grand Finale the former was hit with some crazy mind blast thing that threw him across the room and made him unable to move, and the latter had his hand cut off and was later stabbed about ten times with a big ol' knife, with no suggestion that they received immediate medical attention.
One possibility is that when Shandala reversed the broadcast to positive energy, it manifested in some kind of healing magic that kept Raimi and Oran alive, although even if so, that they survived long enough to be healed is itself a miracle.
And then of course there are the Epileptic Trees: Raimi and Oran aren't alive in the final chapter.
In issue 3 of Teen Girl Squad, The Ugly One gets "MSG'd!", destroying her stomach lining and leaving her, if not necessarily dead, limp on the ground with X'd-out eyes. In the next scene she reappears good as new, finally saying "My stomach feels better."
The whole idea of Teen Girl Squad is the various Teen Girls dying in wild and creative ways, with each of them returning as good as new in the next episode.
Also, Homsar after Strong Bad drops a heavy weight on him in his first appearance. Later lampshaded in a message on Marzipan's answering machine when he mentions being in the hospital after the incident.
In one of the (non-canon) endings to Red vs. Blue, Sarge is shot in the head at close range by a sniper rifle. He shows up less than a minute later, and Tucker says "I thought you were dead!" and he responds "I was dead, Doc revived me!" He is then killed again.
A canonical one is in Season 9, revealing that Agent Carolina is still alive, and she is pissed.
Flowers mysteriously comes back to life, just in time to die before he can tell Tucker how to fix everything.
Season 9's Quirky Miniboss Squad was shown being dispatched in a number of unpleasant ways (being punched into a wall mid-flight, getting catapulted off of a freeway, taking a Kill Sat shot to the face), but they all return for Season 10.
Happens several times in Potter Puppet Pals. Several people get Avada Kedavra'd (Harry and Ron in "Bothering Snape" and Snape in "Trouble At Hogwarts) and the whole rest of the cast gets blown up by Voldemort in "The Mysterious Ticking Noise", but everyone's always as good as new in the next episode. It remains to be seen whether Gourd!Neville is permanently dead, however.
In the early days of The Frollo Show, Frollo tended to come back from the dead quite a lot, sometimes through outside help (like a 1-Up Mushroom) and sometimes without any explanation whatsoever. This got better later on. Word Of God says that the third time, Frollo came back because God was grateful towards him for him saving the world.
In the Walkyverse, how Mike came back from being Deader than Dead and unrevivable in It's Walky, to working at a toy store in Shortpacked is only questioned once when Robin started. It's finally explained by Joyce that she sent the resurrection chamber blueprints to a rival company as well as Mike's bloodstained shirt to thank him for saving her life. Making this the second time Joyce helped resurrect a SEMME agent through his bodily fluids.
His severed arms were also restored with no explanation.
Tower of God: How did Baam not drown after hours at the bottom of the lake until they drained it?
Ahbon from Kiss Wood got crushed by a building, but he's later seen with only a broken arm.
Othar Tryggvassen (Gentleman Adventurer!) from Girl Genius. So far, he has been tossed out of an airship no less than three times and comes back each time with no real explanation. Made of Iron doesn't even start to cover the bugger's inability to just die.
Othar's repeated survival of freefall is explained in his canon Twitter Adventures: He has rocket boots. Of course, this is only revealed when he tries to use the boots to survive a fall and his suitcase blasts away to safety because he's not wearing them... He survives anyway, somehow (involving honey).
Othar has become so infamous for this that in a recent comic, Gil actually takes advantage of it by making Othar accompany Tarvek when the latter has to escape an airship.
Gill: Don't worry, Othar here is the master of escape! He's always falling out of airships and stuff, so if you're with him, I know you'll get away! Oh, and let me know how he does it!
Casey and Andy featured "Two Mad Scientist Roommates Who Occasionally Die." Through a run of exactly 666 strips, this was lampshaded continuously, directly questioned by other characters numerous times (including Satan), and explained not once.
Black Mage: Your brain was pierced with a sharp stabbing implement. I was going to add to it today so it wouldn't look like an accident. Fighter: Oh yeah, that was yesterday. This is today. I slept, it's cool. Black Mage: And?! Fighter: And now I'm better.
This is, of course, because in most Final Fantasy games, characters are revived after a stay at an inn or the use of a tent. Not, however, in the first game, off of which the strip is based!
Visage invokes this trope by name in this strip of Parallel Dementia.
Used in thisSchlock Mercenary strip. Partly justified by their level of medical technology, but still hilarious.
A lot of the main characters have been killed or "so close to dying it is hopeless" or even "nothing left but his head", and still come back stronger. Often, they come back a lot stronger than before.
Later on in the series, this is explained by the fact Der Trihs is part of a secret government soldier upgrade program, that pretty much made his skull invulnerable to damage. Which is also why he survives tons of other deadly accidents as "head in a jar" (a situation from which "getting better" is actually considered normal in the series).
Flinders "almost" murdered a guy, but she's claiming self-defense. Also, "he got better"
Darth Maul had "gotten better" from his death in The Phantom Menace by the time he shows up in Ansem Retort. All he says about it is Obi-Wan got in a Hollywood cheap shot.
Note that Riku getting better at the end of Season Six is NOT an example despite it looking to be. He says he's got an explanation.
In Dead Of Summer, Ed returns at the end to save everyone, having last been seen in Book 1, drowning.
MegaTokyo has two; Ed who has been rebuilt from scraps by Sony twice (at least on screen, more times are implied), and Miho, who was blown up quite thoroughly by Ed, and mourned by all of her 'followers', only to be found in a hospital by Yuki, using instructions Miho gave to Piro years earlier.
Sarah: He's not your cousin! He was a cat because... his ex-girlfriend was mad at him! Hedge: What? Sarah: Yeah! His ex is a crazy red-headed macho witch woman! She got mad, and turned him into a cat! ...he got better... Hedge: Not buying it.
In Ctrl+Alt+Del Ethan jumped off a second or third-story fire escape in his underwear because according to video game logic if he's lighter he'll be less injured. He lands on concrete and winds up with about two inches of bone sticking out of his arm. He goes to the hospital and is sent home the same day (in real life he'd probably have to stay for at least one night's observation) with "Paaaaaaaiiiiiiiiin killers!" and a cast. The next comic he's featured in there's no evidence he was ever injured despite having a break that would've taken months to heal (then again...) and would've at least left a nasty scar.
In No Rest for the Wicked, November tells Perrault how Red had told her about being eaten by a wolf — well, obviously she recovered.
Tycho and Gabe of Penny Arcade have each died numerous times and come back without any explanation at all. Of course, the strip avoids continuity like a plague...
Agent 300 wasn't supposed to survived his introduction comic, and he's last seen in it with a pretty graphic head wound. But Humon liked him so much that he pops up completely unharmed in the next strip.
Wonder Momo: Ahiko/Amazonia is killed by a power-tripping Momoko/Wonder Momo ripping out her powe orb. Ahiko reappears about a dozen strips later; no explanation of how she survived OR got back to Earth. Ahiko changes the subject when someone tries to ask.
On an episode of Ask That Guy, Bennet the Sage appears out of nowhere after his apparent death at the hands of Ask That Guy, much to his surprise.
Ask That Guy: Why Sage!... I thought I killed you. Sage: Oh, I got better.
The same thing happens in Kickassia with Spoony being turned into Dr. Insano, sent after the Nostalgia Critic, and showing up later as Spoony again. This might be due to a dropped plot idea wherein it's really Insano pretending to be Spoony to get the jump on the reviewers.
Played with during the Third night of The Tale Of The Exile. Aelia, Gaven's guide, has brutally killed. Gaven is mourning her death when a drug-induced hallucination causes him to momentarily forget this fact. At that instant, Aelia appears right next to him. When questioned about her apparent death and reappears, she claims Gaven hallucinated the whole thing. This causes Gaven to realize she's been Dead All Along.
Makes-Things in Protectors of the Plot Continuum. Over three years after he was found with his heart punched out by a macrovirus from Paul Bunyan's neck, he returned to the PPC, inexplicably alive and well. To be fair, it was never explicitly stated that he'd died in his death scene, and nobody's really complaining.
Dragon Ball Abridged had this happen to an entire species, the Kanassans, who were quite visibly murdered to extinction, but just inexplicably all just... got better one day. Much to the consternation of those around them. Presumably, this is related to their ability to SEE THE FUUTUUUUUUURE.
The SCP Foundation has SCP-524 ("Walter"), a rabbit who regularly eats itself. All of itself, leaving nothing left. Half an hour after it finishes consuming itself, it simply reappears where it last was, whole and unharmed.
Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: Virtually every classic cartoon involving Wile E. Coyote, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck and so forth. Many of the gags involve these villains getting squashed, crushed, burned, etc., only to be at full strength and to try progressively more elaborate ways to capture their prey or defeat their antagonist. Usually, the last gag will have the villain "killed" for good and the character they were trying to get has the last line (usually, the punch line).
A famous example: "Satan's Waiting," starring Sylvester trying to protect his nine lives, and a Satanic bulldog exploiting this to capture the puddy tat's soul upon the death of the ninth life by goading him into chasing Tweety. Sylvester indeed dies at the end, but not in the expected way; he takes refuge in a bank vault, but two robbers use too much nitroglycerine and blow themselves and Sylvester up! ("Now he tells them!" growls the cat as he heads toward Satan, upon hearing the robbers in front of them remark about their mistake.) Two months later, Sylvester was back, good as new and in full health, in the Hippety Hopper cartoon "By Word of Mouse."
Of course, during the height of Saturday morning cartoons, when The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show was a cornerstone, often more than cartoon starring the same villain was placed back-to-back. For instance, Sylvester might be seen meeting his fate in one cartoon (e.g., in "Tweety's Circus," being mauled to death (off-camera) by the lions in the final scene) and then after the commercial break, appearing in full health in a cartoon co-starring Sylvester Jr. and Hippety Hopper.
In American Dad! Stan shoots a man three times, drops him off a cliff, runs him over, feeds him to an alligator, shoots the alligator, and has it skinned and turned into clothing and a handbag. When he gets back the man is fine except for three bandages over the bullet wounds, offering the explanation "You can't kill a love like this."
The episode (and earlier comic) for the Trope Namer of Mad Love features Batman punching Joker off a moving track and falling directly into a factory's smokestack. He lives, of course, and by this point his ability to survive anything is so taken for granted not even a cursory attempt is made to explain it.
In Ben 10, the third time Kevin shows up (despite apparently being killed previously) his explanation of how he survived boils down to this, as well as a recap of what happened last time. He doesn't actually use the phrase, but it's implied.
Hex and Charmcaster got their magic powers sucked out of them by the destruction of the Charm of Bezel in their second appearance. Both later come back, with their powers perfectly restaured and no explanation of this.
Played for laughs in Duckman in the episode "Westward, No!". The character Big Jack McBastard is trampled by a horse, eaten down to his skeleton by buzzards, said skeleton is crumbled by Duckman, and finally his remains are buried. He returns at the end of the episode to scare off the posse of ranch hands, completely unharmed. When asked how he survived he simply replied "long story", said his goodbyes, then left.
Mad Jack: Didn't you die a while back? Angus Dagnabbit: Aye. I got better. Mad Jack: You were DEAD! How do you get better from being DEAD, you Scottish twit?!?!
In the season 3 premiere of Metalocalypse, Offdensen is revealed to be alive — having "gotten better," despite having been shot, pronounced dead, and presumably undergone an autopsy and coroner's report certifying him as such, after the end of Season 2. Then again, other previous indications have shown that he's not quite human to begin with.
In "Doublebookedklok," there's a flashback to the season 02 finale. Offdensen is bleeding from his injuries but still alive and coherent, asking a Klokateer to "kill him." With this ambiguous wording, it's entirely possible that he was alive the whole time and just staged his death. It's still a bit unclear.
In My Life as a Teenage Robot, there is an episode where Jenny tries to date a boy who is afraid of machines, and when explaining why, tells a story about his father being "horribly maimed" because he got stuck on an assembly line. However, a man rides up on a bicycle after the story and Jenny says, "Is that your dad?" and the boy literally says, "Yeah, he got better."
Also in "King of the Hill" when Grandpa tells a story about his mountain-climbing days; "I fell 8,000 feet onto a pile of jagged rocks. Of course, people were a lot tougher in those days. I was jitterbuggin' that very night!" Note that his story begins with him warning Homer not to try climbing a particular mountain: "You'll die up there, just like I did!"
In another episode, Groundskeeper Willie recalls when he allegedly worked as a miner. According to him, at some point the cave he was in collapsed, a tragedy that claimed the lives of all miners in the cave at that time, in that "not even Willie" escaped!
And Dr. Marvin Monroe returned with the line "I've been very sick.", despite the Marvin Monroe Memorial Hospital from several seasons before. He even had a tombstone in the cemetery.
In "Bart's Dog Gets an F", the Soap Within a Show features a Priest walking in on an illicit affair, to which the woman says "I thought you were dead." The priest jovially responds "I was!"
Hans Moleman has been killed on-screen a dozen plus times in various ways, from being run off the road and crashing into the birthplace of Norman Vincent Peale, to being executed in Springfield Jail on what's implied to be a shoddy legal basis, to Mr. Burns confusing him for Lucky the Leprechaun and taking a power drill to his skull in order to "get his Lucky Charms".
In later seasons, Gil starts falling victim to the same fate, finding himself gored by bulls, shot to death in a bank robbery, and presumably burnt to a crisp when his car explodes, among other things.
In the movie, Dr. Nick Riviera was impaled on a giant shard of glass the size of an SUV. He manages to cheerfully shout "Bye bye, everybody!" before losing consciousness. Even Word Of God confirmed that he was dead. A year later he showed up on the series, as good as new, with no explanation.
Though not quite death, there was Homer's version of that Harry Potter parody. "I escaped from the hourglass somehow!"
Kenny also reappeared unscathed, despite (obviously) dying in the Season 1 finale, returns in Season 2 by simply rejoining the main characters at the beginning of the episode.
A Cerebus Retcon many seasons later in the "Coon and Friends" saga explains that Kenny has the superpower of not dying, so when he is killed he returns to life with only him remembering what happened. Kenny's parents made a deal with Cthulhu that their son would always be reborn the evening he dies and grow up overnight, awakening the next morning not knowing how it happened. Kenny's mom now thinks this sucks almost as much as Kenny does. Kenny's parents probably didn't know they made the deal, largely because they spent their time drinking the free booze that was served at the meetings, which was the only reason they joined in the first place.
Notably in episode "Die Hippie, Die" Mayor McDaniels shoots herself in the head but turns up at the end of the episode with her head wrapped in a bandage.
In similar fashion, Bill Gates makes an appearance in another episode, with band-aids covering his forehead. That probably had to do with the fact that he was SHOT IN THE FACE, in the movie.
In "Krazy Kripples" Saddam Hussein is suddenly alive again with no explanation.
In one episode, a trip to Afghanistan features the death of Osama Bin Laden. Many seasons later, he's still operating in the Middle East when the town contacts him to help stop New Jersey from taking over the rest of the world.
In a case where we don't actually see the recovery between deaths, Steve Irwin dies in an early episode. Much later, Satan is throwing a Hell party, and Steve shows up with the same stingray that was the actual cause of his death in real life.
One particular spoof on the concept: Cartman responds with this when Kyle taunts him by saying that he was a stillborn.
Teen Titans uses this a few times to varying degrees. The most blatant example is the second season finale, "Aftershock", where Terra hunts down and seemingly kills all five Titans. Her methods range from No One Could Survive That deaths to smashing Robin with a boulder at point-blank range, at which point it immediately cuts to her kicking his crest across the floor to Slade, implying that yes, there was even a body, and she pulled it off. And then they all show up underground looking little the worse for wear and ready for round two.
In the series Wakfu, Tristepin's master Goultard thought to be dead, returns in episode 22 of season 1
Tristepin: But you died. Goultard: Death was overrated.
In Black Dynamite there's Durul who "shot himself in the head playing Russian roulette, and then was hung by his own intestines." The CIA Agent then says "He got better."
In Megas XLR, Magnanimous was dropped into a quantum singularity at the end of episode 2. Early in the second season, he shows up again with no explanation for how he returned beyond "it wasn't easy".
Harry Sachs from Beavis and Butt-Head the man Beavis and Butthead constantly harassed to make fun of his name died twice, in "Butt Flambe" he's in the emergency room for a bullet wound to the stomach, he later flatlines at the operating table and the doctors are unable to revive him, he later shows up alive in "Nothing Happening" where he's in a high speed chase with the police who shoot him after he is thought to have a gun, his body is seen covered with a sheet, and yet years later in "Doomsday" alive and well with no explanation.
Roberto from Futurama is killed twice in the episode "The Six Million Dollar Mon", the second time without being resurrected, though he appears yet again for the last two episodes of the series.
Scott in Total Drama All Stars after being mauled by Fang in Revenge of the Island.
In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, The Vision becomes badly damaged at the end of "Ultron Unlimited". He then appears briefly in "Yellowjacket", in perfect condition. This recovery becomes undone just as inexplicably in "Emperor Stark", which begins with him getting repaired in Iron Man's laboratory. This example arose from "Yellowjacket" having different writers than the episodes preceding and following it.
Zorak's debut episode of Space Ghost ends with the titular hero redirecting a missile that destroys the planet the mantis villain was on at the time. He returned in subsequent episodes with no explanation. Decades later, in the spinoff series Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Space Ghost and Zorak watch the full episode with MST3K-esque commentary and Space Ghost asks how he survived the planet's destruction. Zorak snidely answers that he "ducked."
In Rainbow Brite, the Dark Princess returns in the last episode attempting revenge on the heroes. She gives no explanation on how she survived her spaceship exploding with her in it in her previous appearance.
Wild Bill Hickock, while grossly exaggerating the odds against him in a fight would answer the breathless question "What happened next, Bill?" with "Why, boys, they killed me!"
Towards the end of the Winter War, Simo Häyhä was shot in the face, supposedly shot the guy who shot him in the face and fell into a coma he woke up from eleven days later.
The information of the incident that reached his hometown led people to believe he had actually died. Häyhä had the rare privilege of reading about his own memorial service from the newspaper.
Finnish fighter ace Ahti Laitinen (10 kills) was shot down 17 July 1944 and his Bf 109G went down in flames. He was reported to have been killed in action. Miraculously, he had survived alive and was taken prisoner of war. His family thought he was dead and published his obituary in local newspaper. When Capt. Laitinen returned from captivity 1945, he later added his own obituary on his pilot's scrapbook.
There are many recorded instances of people reappearing or recovering from situations that common logic dictates should have been fatal. The circumstances sometimes turn out to be relatively mundane when analyzed but there are cases where the evidence has been destroyed, rendered irrecoverable or is simply intangible — leaving the victims and observers wondering if there was something otherworldly involved.
Averted with Rasputin, who was simply shot in the head and thrown in a lake. All the rumors and exaggerations about the allegedly numerous attempts to kill him were invented by his assassins years later while in exile in France.
Before the Catholic Church declares an event (usually a healing) to be a miracle, a careful investigation is conducted to rule out any natural explanation.