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Back From The Dead / Literature

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Resurrection in literature.

  • In Atlanta Nights, one character dies midway through the story only to show up in one of the last chapters. Given the amount of Anachronic Order going on it's not that jarring, but then it becomes obvious that this chapter has to take place after the one where he died. And then he dies again.
  • Bone Street Rumba: Carlos is the most prominent example, and may be the Last of His Kind after Half Resurrection Blues, but Trevor, Sasha, and Sarco all fit the bill as well.
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  • Voltaire's Candide uses this trope out the wazoo. Almost the entire cast is killed off and brought back to life at least once.
  • Happens twice in The Caster Chronicles, each with a character dying apparently for good in one book and returning at the end of the next: at the end of Beautiful Creatures, Macon is killed by the Book of Moons, then returned to the world of the living via Arclight in Beautiful Darkness; then, in Beautiful Chaos, it's the protagonist Ethan, and Beautiful Redemption revolves around his attempts to undo the events that led to this so he can come back to life.
  • In John C. Wright's Chronicles of Chaos, the children can be brought back to life by differing means: for Victor, you just have to restore whatever was broken to kill him; for Quentin, you have to stuff his spirit back inside his body. This is a function of Mutually Exclusive Magic.
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  • Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Hour of the Dragon" opens with a reviving of Xaltotun.
    "And the priests who poisoned you mummified your body with their dark arts, keeping all your organs intact!" exclaimed Orastes. "But now you live again! The Heart of Ahriman has restored your life, drawn your spirit back from space and eternity."
  • Dante Valentine: Lucifer kills Danny's demon lover Japhrimel at the end of Working for the Devil, but in a phone call to Danny early in Dead Man Rising he's audibly surprised to learn she hasn't resurrected him yet. Turns out a Power-fueled fire is what it takes to resurrect a demon from ashes, as she learns when she burns down her house after Jace dies.
  • Parodied in Dave Barry Slept Here, where Richard Nixon, in his return to national politics in 1968, was "looking stronger than ever despite the holes in his suit where various stakes had been driven into his heart."
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  • In Devon Monk's Dead Iron, Jeb Lindson has already come back twice at the beginning. LeFel invokes the Rule of Three to argue that he should stay dead this time.
  • Early in The Dinosaur Lords, Karyl mysteriously comes back to life twice in short succession, once after an axe to the head, and another time after falling off a cliff. The first resurrection comes with free Identity Amnesia.
  • Vampires on Terry Pratchett's Discworld are very good at this. A drop of blood will bring them back from dust, a fact a vampire photographer whose (flash) photos often kill him takes advantage of by wearing a glass vial of blood that immediately breaks and brings him back (see The Truth). The elder Count de Magpyre is mentioned as coming "back from the dead so many times he had a revolving lid".
  • In the Doctor Who novel Engines of War, the Doctor alludes that Rassilon rose from the grave in order to lead the Time Lords in the Time War.
  • Both Tasslehoff Burrfoot and Raistlin Majere in Dragonlance. Being literally crushed under the heel of a monster isn't enough to put the kender down for good, and as for Raistlin, being killed by the goddess Takhisis and eternally tormented, only to first come back temporarily to chat to his nephew, to, after returning to that afterlife, coming back again sans magic to save the world and then to die again, this time promising that he will move on to the afterlife and never come back, and then to come back a third time to lead the gods back to Krynn, and promise, once more, that this time he's not coming back.
  • The Dresden Files: At the end of Ghost Story, Dresden is brought back to life by Queen Mab and Demonreach. (Exactly how dead he was is open to debate, as it turns out that Mab and Demonreach had been keeping his body on magical life support while his soul was running around separate from it, but it's close enough for the trope regardless.) A large portion of the story prior to that also revolves around him trying to stop a villain he killed in a previous book from finding a way back to the world of the living.
  • Happens again and again and again to Duncan Idaho in Frank Herbert's Dune sextet. The first time, it's the original body revivified and with its memories (eventually) returned by a healthy dose of Phlebotinum. Most if not all of the subsequent Idahos are clones grown from a cell line. The last thing they remember when their memories are restored to them is the death of the original, from whose body the cell line was taken. Depending on who does the memory restoration, how, and what happens afterwards, their personality development ranges from degeneration into psychosis and treason (most of them die attempting to assassinate their near-immortal and almost invulnerable boss) to (in one case and arguably two) something integrated and more or less healthy.
  • Arren/Arenadd from The Fallen Moon does this five times by the end of the trilogy. He has one persistent God...
  • Family Skeleton Mysteries: This happened to Sid (the titular "family skeleton") about thirty years before the events of the series. He's been hanging around ever since.
  • In Andre Norton's Forerunner Foray, Turan does a grand scene of this, facing down his widow's failure to keep The Promise and her lack of grief for him.
  • Neil Gaiman examples:
    • American Gods: Laura is revived by a magical coin placed in her grave, but you wouldn't call her exactly alive.
    • Neverwhere: The Marquis de Carabas died but had the foresight to arrange his resurrection in advance, letting him come back with useful information because people talk in front of the dead.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
    • There's the Resurrection Stone which allows the holder to communicate with the dead. According to the fairy tale concerning the origin of the Deathly Hallows, using the Resurrection Stone drove its original owner, Cadmus Peverell, to commit suicide after seeing his deceased fiancée but being unable to be truly with her.
    • Both Harry and Dumbledore use it to bring back people, even if they’re really just ghosts. Harry brings back his parents, Sirius, and Lupin right before he goes to “die” towards the end of this book to encourage him. Offscreen, Dumbledore used it about a year before his own death to bring back his parents and sister to apologize for causing her death. He touched the stone knowing it was cursed but couldn’t help himself.
    • Harry himself dies briefly and returns to life after Voldemort destroys the horcrux in Harry. Trelawney wasn't a fraud after all.
  • The Heroes of Olympus:
    • Medea, Midas and his son.
    • Euryale and Stheno, Medusa's sisters, in Son of Neptune. Also, Hazel and after the war games, Gwen (aka: Centurion Shish-ka-bob).
    • Monsters coming back from the dead is nothing new. Unfortunately, due to Death himself being chained, monsters come back mere seconds after being slain.
    • Leo Valdez gets this in The Blood of Olympus with the physician's cure.
  • In Kay Hooper's Hiding in the Shadows, Faith comes out of her coma with what everyone thinks is Trauma-Induced Amnesia, a few weeks after her friend Dinah disappears. Both of them have Psychic Powers. Turns out that Faith was Dead All Along within her coma, and the reason why she doesn't remember her former life is because dead Dinah took over her empty body, and it just takes her awhile to realize who she is now. This smacks of trying to make the romance between Faith and Dinah's boyfriend Kane less creepy, but...yeah.
  • In the Jacob's Ladder Trilogy, a number of techniques are used by various characters to return following their initial demises. The AI Angels are capable of compressing their program into a seed virus and storing it in a safely isolated pockets of nanotech to be reconstructed later, and the Transhuman Exalts can use Brain Uploading to place their memories into a Body Backup Drive. However, there is some debate as to what extent the resurrectees are the "same person" as the one who died, with some viewing them as nothing more than pale shadows of the originals.
  • In Julie Kenner's Kate Connor, Demon Hunter books, Kate's first husband Eric (another demon hunter) has died before the start of the series... but he manages to bring himself back in another guy's body. This is awkward for Kate because she adores/adored Eric, but has remarried and had another kid in the time it took him to come back.
  • The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor: The main character Weed, as a reward for completing an epic quest arc, is rewarded a high-level, as of yet unknown power from the class the quest unlocked, Necromancer, called "The Power to Reject Death", resurrecting him as a random undead class of monster with new stats and powers until he either dies again, or until 24 hours have passed and he returns to being human. He actually does die, and suffers all the setbacks of death except for the forced logout and normal 24 hour ban.
  • In Francine Rivers’ The Mark of the Lion, this happens to Rizpah in the third book. She is resurrected by an act of God; it is implied that both her death and subsequent resurrection were allowed in order to get Atretes’ attention.
  • This trope is a central plot point in Stephen King's Misery. Popular novelist Paul Sheldon is forced by psychotic fan Annie Wilkes to write a new novel continuing the adventures of Misery Chastain, a character that he had recently killed off. Misery had died during childbirth in the previous novel, and Sheldon’s first attempt to write a new narrative involves pretending that this hadn’t happened. Wilkes rejects this as a “cheat” and insists that the new novel must be consistent with the events of the one that had preceded it. Sheldon then comes up with the idea that Misery had fallen into a death-like coma as the result of a bee-sting allergy, and had been buried alive. This solution gives Sheldon the creative impetus to complete the new novel, and in so doing take his franchise in an unexpected new direction.
  • Mo Dao Zu Shi: The main character Wei Wuxian died in the opening paragraph and then came back to life thanks to someone sacrificing their body to him. Wen Ning, Nie Mingjue, and Song Lan are three characters that were dead and then reanimated, with differing degrees of sentience with Wen Ning being fully able to feel pain and have free thoughts and memories of his past to Nie Mingjue being essentially a hulking mass of rage and revenge.
  • In No Such Thing As Werewolves, if the attack by the werewolf doesn't kill you, the virus itself will. Either way you die before being turned into a werewolf.
  • At the end of the penultimate book in The Pendragon Adventure series, this happens to every single traveler that has died over the course of the series, including a few that had died just a few chapters before.
  • After the fire at Foxworth Hall, which provided the climax to Petals on the Wind, it appears that Corinne is dead. Not so—she comes back for If There Be Thorns.
  • In Raise Some Hell one of the subset of powers you can receive does this, bringing back people or animals from the dead as mindless zombies.
  • Reckless: The Mirrorworld Series: Jacob is shot in the chest, actually dies, and is brought back to life by Miranda two pages later.
  • The Rifter: Ravishan, sort of — actually Kahlil, the character who returns, is a version of him from an alternate history who crossed to this timeline. Played straight in the end, where not only does Kahlil have Ravishan’s memories, but he merges with his bones and the two truly become one, alive.
  • In the Chaoswar Saga, final sub-series of The Riftwar Cycle, this is subverted. One of the major POV characters is a young demon named Child, who displays a number of decidedly un-demonlike behaviors and gradually realizes that she is actually the sorceress Miranda, a human character who died in the previous sub-series. Her companion Belog also gradually realizes that he's the reincarnation of Nakor, a character who'd been dead rather longer. Except they're not. The gods did a bit of tricky work to implant Miranda and Nakor's memories into the two demons, but not their souls. Nakor/Belog thinks it's just fascinating, but it's particularly hard on Child, who has to wrestle with the fact that though she remembers being Miranda- and looks like her, thanks to Voluntary Shapeshifting being a power of higher-end demons- she's not actually her. Miranda's husband, the sorcerer Pug, also has a hard time dealing with the fact that the demon is not his wife.
  • Towards the end of the first act of The Rise of Kyoshi, the titular character's friend Yun seemingly gets killed by the Big Bad Jianzhu. He offered them both up to a spirit to decide which one of them is the Avatar and saved Kyoshi instead of Yun. At the climax, Kyoshi and Jianzhu are fighting in a tea shop over control of the stone building when she sends a rock bullet at him. Yun comes out of the middle of nowhere and intercepts the rock bullet, he takes the rock and shoves it through Jianzhu's chest, killing him. It all happens so fast that Kyoshi isn't sure she wasn't imagining it.
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, Lightbringers can use their Last Miracle to bring someone else back in exchange for their own life. A Lifebinder's healing abilities can also work unconsciously, restarting the heart if a person dies but has access to enough Light to heal their body. The latter situation happens to Daylen after an experiment with memory enhancement goes wrong and kills him.
  • Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, presumably died in "The Adventure of the Final Problem" (1891) and reappeared in "The Adventure of the Empty House"— referred to as "the Great Hiatus" (1894).
  • The Silerian Trilogy: Zarien is killed by a dragonfish, but revived with the goddess Sharifar's power.
  • David Zindell's Silver Sword. Alphanderry comes back as an amorphous energy being after his Heroic Sacrifice and gradually returns to just like he used to be. On the other hand, Valashu dies and is brought back on the next page good as ever.
  • George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire has had a few characters engaging in post-demise activity. Interestingly, the ones whose resurrection is most straightforward return in whatever state they were in when they died, to the point that one resurrected character, Catelyn Stark, is referred to by fans as unCat since her resurrection.
  • In the Starlight and Shadows trilogy, when the drow Shakti manages to escape from the Abyss, Lolth sends the soul of a deceased priestess back with her to be resurrected as proof that Shakti bears Lolth's favor: Quenthel Baenre, who was previously slain by Drizzt Do'Urden in The Legend of Drizzt series.
  • At the end of the Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Star Trek: Immortal Coil, Dr Vaslovik revives Data's "mother" the android Juliana Tainer. In Star Trek: Cold Equations the same method is used to bring back Data himself and his daughter Lal.
  • The Star Trek Shatnerverse is based around the idea of Kirk coming back from the dead (again) following the events of Star Trek: Generations. The first of three trilogies focuses on his resurrection, while the later trilogies more generally chronicle his adventures in the 24th century.
  • In the Star Trek Online novel, The Needs of the Many, Data's revival in Star Trek: Countdown is explained in that Data was indeed resurrected in B4's body, but Data didn't like the idea of booting away his "brother" in favor of him, so he tried to erase himself. B4 ends up invoking a Heroic Suicide, realizing that Data was seriously needed to deal with the threats at hand. Data's not happy at all about it.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Book 2, Words of Radiance:
    • After Kaladin kills her by breaking his oaths, Sylphrena is restored when he swears the Third Oath.
    • Also, Jasnah appears to be killed early on, but the epilogue reveals that she escaped into Shadesmar using her Elsecaller powers.
    • Also Szeth, who is killed (with a Shardblade) by Kaladin, and then revived by one of the fallen Heralds... and then given the sword Nightblood from Warbreaker.
  • Tasakeru: A wolf named Algol comes back from the dead as a monstrosity now calling himself Stalker, thanks to a symbiotic fusion with a dying spider.
  • In Those That Wake's sequel, What We Become, Mal and Laura come back from the dead—though at different times, and by being revived someone else is killed.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
  • Tortall Universe: The Song of the Lioness quartet has Alanna kill Big Bad Duke Roger at the end of the second book, immediately after she's knighted. Her arrogant brother Thom brings him back in the fourth book to prove that he's the most powerful sorcerer in the land. (It helps that Roger was Not Quite Dead.)
  • In The Traitor Son Cycle, after Ota Qwan is killed in battle, Nita Qwan (no family relation, actually), makes a deal with faeries to bring him back in exchange for shaving a few years off Nita Qwan's life. They keep to the deal and, for reasons unknown, bring one of their fallen enemies back to life as well.
  • Trapped on Draconica: Erowin is killed by Mordack and yet she comes back to help out on two occasions. The first time as a Spirit Advisor and the second time as an angel. Ultimately, she reincarnates as a normal girl in Ben's homeworld.
  • Vampire Academy:
    • One becomes shadow kissed when a spirit user revives them. Essentially what happened to Rose, who died along with Lissa's parents and brother.
    • Another variation of this is spirit can bring Strigoi back from the dead. This happens with two characters. Dimitri and Mrs. Karp.
  • Villains by Necessity: Powerful healers can restore the dead, assuming their body is fairly intact (no beheading, missing hearts, or charred corpses) and several Good minor characters are resurrected after being killed. It's mentioned that assassins do "permanent" hits with the aforementioned methods to prevent this.
  • In Void City, the laws of the universe allow anyone to come back from the dead at least twice: a mortal can return as a form of undead by selling their soul to a demon, and an undead which is destroyed can be resurrected by a demon if someone willingly sacrifices their soul to a demon on their behalf. Third chances, however, are not so easily obtained. Three major characters are resurrected through deals with demons: Rachel, Roger, and Marilyn.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Ciaphas Cain: Emeli is killed by Cain in one of the short stories, and makes a dramatic (and upgraded) appearance at the climax of The Traitor's Hand.
    • William King's Space Wolf series:
      • The sorcerer Madox has been known to come back from the dead each time Ragnar kills him. Unlike the other leaders of the Thousand Sons, and like their troops, Madox appears to have become a suit of Animated Armor holding only his soul and the dust left over from his physical body. Unlike the troops, Madox retained his personality and free will.
      • In Grey Hunter, the point of the Chaos ritual at the climax was to bring back all the Thousand Sons Chaos Space Marines, including their primarch.
    • In Horus Heresy, this happens to Vulkan astoundingly often, thanks to his Resurrective Immortality. It seems to stick for good by the end of Deathfire, though.
  • In Warrior Cats, leaders have nine lives, so they can come back from the dead several times.
    • Also, Hollyleaf was presumed dead after the tunnels collapsed when she was inside. She returned to help the Clans fight Tigerstar’s army, and died (for real) while doing so.
  • What The Hell Did I Just Read: A Novel of Cosmic Horror: The NON agents repeatedly suffer fatal injuries (including decapitation) only to be back in action a few hours to a few days later.
  • Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, because it deals with a reincarnation mythos, has an interesting variation on this trope: people who die don't stay dead (if they serve the Dark One), but return to life in entirely new bodies. So not only does the reader get to engage in the guessing game of "who did this new character used to be", and in at least one case a fun Gender Bender takes place, this also means that none of the other characters will recognize the resurrected Forsaken. A side example is the case of balefire, which instead of resurrecting a dead character, changes the timeline so that they never died in the first place. This becomes an important plot point later.
  • In The Will Be Done, Praen brings himself back from being not just dead, but vaporized; and travels back and forth from heaven a few times.
  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer: The Amazons are the rehoused souls of women who were killed by the violence of men, given a chance to live once more in a paradise. Also Diana, Nim and Theo at the end of the series, after Diana makes a deal with the goddesses to bring them back.
  • Worlds of Shadow: The fetches and revenants. Neither are quite the same.
  • In You Are Dead (Sign Here Please), Nathan is repeatedly returned to life due to his refusal to sign his 21B (acknowledgement of death and waiver of liability) for the Celestial Bureaucracy.
  • In The Zombie Knight, Colt dies to keep Geoffry from finding his children. He comes back as Bowahnox's servant, to the surprise of absolutely nobody.


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