That he may tell us how they fare.
Lo, no man taketh his goods with him.
Yea, none returneth again that is gone thither."
In some settings, even Magic and/or Applied Phlebotinum can't bring back the dead. Sure, it can stop time, create energy, fly, or otherwise prevent death in the first place, but trying to restore life to a dead body is out of the question (and likely forbidden anyway, just to make sure). Expect the Eccentric Mentor to go into full-tilt grim mode if someone even remotely mentions the subject.
The fact that it can't (or shouldn't) be done also makes it an excellent MacGuffin: It's pretty common for an idealistic hero grieving over the death of a friend or loved one to search out ways to bring them back — and usually give up after deciding that the dead are not meant to be resurrected; if they don't, something usually goes wrong, like something else coming back instead. Alternatively, perhaps bringing someone Back from the Dead is possible, but due to the nature of the power at work (whether or not it's actually forbidden) it almost never happens anyway. (Meaning that if there are multiple instances of people being resurrected in this kind of world, the mechanism for doing so will almost certainly become a/the focal point of the the story.) Much like Reed Richards Is Useless, this is usually an Author's Saving Throw against trivializing death in a world where it would otherwise be a minor inconvenience.
This doesn't mean that every character reported dead is, in fact, dead, even when No One Could Survive That! Even in works that manifest this trope, it's possible that they Never Found the Body, that Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated, that the Almost Dead Guy who was Left for Dead pulled through offscreen, or that someone was Faking the Dead outright. But when a body is found, the only way you're going to see that character again will be as a Posthumous Character.
Of course, even this doesn't trump the First Law of Resurrection.
Compare Healing Magic Is the Hardest, contrast Death Is Cheap. See Killed Off for Real for when this is applied to individual deaths (where resurrection in general could otherwise happen). Possible subtrope of Equivalent Exchange. Contrast Deader Than Dead where only certain types of death are final. See Final Death Mode, Permadeath, and Single-Attempt Game for the video game versions. Not to be confused with Kill 'Em All.
Needless to say, this trope is usually Truth in Television (although some scientists are hoping to change that), and works set in mundane worlds without magic or "sufficiently advanced" technology needn't be mentioned.
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
- Fullmetal Alchemist
- Human transmutation — trying to bring back dead people through Alchemy — is forbidden. The whole manga is kicked off when the protagonists try to bring someone back and have a close encounter with Truth as a result. The end result: Truth takes Al, and Ed's leg, in payment for returning a barely functional organ pile (which, as it turns out, wasn't even derived from the deceased - bringing people back from the dead really is impossible). Things taken by Truth do not count as 'dead', however, and Ed is able to retrieve Al's soul by sacrificing his arm for it.
- It gets a bit more complicated. Al wasn't just "payment". Al's body was taken by Truth, but since a soul cannot be created with alchemy, Al's soul was put into the thing that was created. The transmutation that took Ed's arm was used to transfer the soul into a more stable host, the armor.
- The 2003 anime version further compounds this: Each time an alchemist performs human transmutation, what comes back evolves into a Homunculus - the deceased brought back by human transmutation, just... not totally themselves. Also, Alphonse managed to bring Edward, who had just been killed by Envy, back from the dead using himself as the philosopher's stone. Ed managed to bring Alphonse back using himself and ended up in our world instead of dead while Alphonse was brought back with his human body... It can be said that the whole 2003 anime is Ed and Al learned exactly what level of Equivalent Exchange is required to return life to the dead - an exchange of body, mind and soul, a full human being for a full human being.
- Ojamajo Doremi falls into the latter category of this trope; using magic to bring the dead back automatically kills the caster upon success.
- This is one rule CLAMP has set in stone for their series. Even in a world like Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-, where you have otherwise massively powerful magic at work. In fact, the denizens of that world attempting to break said rule is what kicks off the massive Gambit Pileup. The breaking of this rule during the Tsubasa Non-Serial Movie was a factor in their abandonment of the original anime adaptation.
- In xxxholic, there's no coming back from the dead, but having your Reality Warper boyfriend convince the universe to ignore your death and proceed normally achieves a similar effect. In that case it's relatively temporary, lasting about a thousand years, give or take.
- In Toward the Terra, the Mu can read thoughts, perform astonishing feats of telekinesis, fly through space unaided, teleport, and do all manner of fantastical mutant stuff. But once a character is dead, they are dead.
- Death Note
- This is one of the rules of the Death Note. In the end of the manga, while Light is begging Ryuk to save him from death, Ryuk says that there is no way to do it. The last page (as a follow-up to a previous statement) says, "Once they are dead, they can never come back to life." This is because it's hard to come back once you stop existing.
- Subverted in the pilot manga chapter. Taro is absolutely distraught by the fact that he's killed people, and Ryuk offers him the Death Eraser. It has the power to bring back any Death Note victims, but not people who died or were otherwise killed, but weren't Death Note victims, provided their names had been written down in the past year. Taro takes to it. The Death Eraser is not even so much as mentioned in the main series so, naturally, it shows up in many a Fix Fic as well.
- In the first two series, Digimon could return to Primary Village upon their death to be reconfigured, but there was a time where this village was inactive, and so any Digimon killed during this time were unable to be reborn until the village was restored. However, any Digimon that died in the real world died for good. Part of the motivation of Maki in Digimon Adventure tri. was to try to reverse this. It took rebooting the entire Digital World to do so, and it didn't matter anyway because her partner Digimon doesn't remember her.
- Digimon Tamers differs from the previous two series in this respect. There is no village where data forms into eggs, loose data won't sometimes coalesce into ghosts, and absorbing another Digimon's data only makes you stronger (and, in some cases, gives you access to their attacks) and doesn't allow the previous mon to live on inside you. So when Digimon die, they die for good.
- Digimon Data Squad: Though Digimon effectively turn back into eggs immediately upon dying, they are reborn as new people without any knowledge of their former lives. The only exception seems to exist with partner Digimon who have a strong connection with their humans. However, a straight example exists in the victims of Kurata's Gizmon, artificial Digimon whose beams cause their victims to be permanently deleted when struck by them.
- While Miranda Lotto's Innocence power in D.Gray-Man allows her to turn back time (which doubles as a healing ability as she can turn back time on recent injuries), she can't use it to bring back the dead. Not that the revived person would stay alive for long if she could, as everything returns to normal after she deactivates it (she can, however, keep a person alive after they suffer a fatal injury in the meantime).
- Lyrical Nanoha:
- Despite the highly advanced magic and technology of the setting, if a person is dead, they stay dead. You could try to make a clone of them and stuff their mind with memories, but all you'll get is a lookalike that has their own individual personality. The closest thing to a resurrection in the franchise were the Dark Pieces in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Gears of Destiny, which were Virtual Ghosts that could only stick around long enough to come to terms with their death and clean up some Unfinished Business.
- The Reincarnation in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid is explicitly mentioned to just be a case of someone inheriting their ancestor's memories, rather than the continued existence of said ancestor. The only ones who could come back to from the dead are the various Ridiculously Human Magitek Programs of the Book of Darkness, who have Resurrective Immortality as part of their schtick—they are not so much "resurrected" as restored from the latest backup.
- The Big Bad of the original anime, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha seeks to defy this trope. Whether she actually had any chance of success is unclear, but the method she was trying to use was something the heroes had to stop because it ran the risk of causing severe multiversal damage just to maybe bring back one person. Precia was too crazy to care about the risk.
- Sword Art Online is about MMO gamers being trapped in the game where player deaths are permanent. If the player's HP drops to 0, the hardware fries their brain. Later an item is found that can revive someone, but it only has a ten-second window between character death and player death. In the later arcs, this aspect is no longer present in the VR games since the newer-generation hardware used to play the games doesn't allow for a kill-the-player-in-reality function. Some characters do die in reality while seeming to die in-game for other reasons.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
- Stands have incredible power, but one hard rule is that they cannot raise the dead. They can cure wounds so grievous it's amazing there's anything left to cure, and they can bring you back from the very brink of death. But once the soul departs, there is not and never will be a Stand that can undo this. The closest they can get is turning back time to undo the death in the first place, and even the extremely rare Stand with that power has massive limitations to what it can do.
- Oddly, that limitation doesn't seem to apply to the doctors at the Speedwagon Foundation, who manage to revive a very much dead Joseph in Part 3 (his soul departed and everything) using a blood transfusion. This is kind of a Plot Hole and an egregious case of Artistic License Biology, but it may have something to do with his blood being taken out of a vampire.
- Akame ga Kill! hits all the notes: Idealistic hero, grim mentor, etc. The Teigu characters wield might be powerful, but there is not one that can bring back the dead. The only thing that comes remotely close is Kurome's sword, Yatsufusa, which can control the dead as zombie puppets.
- How Not to Summon a Demon Lord: Sakamoto Takuma plays a video game called Cross Reverie, where resurrection spells are common. Then, he gets summoned to a fantasy world that resembles the game as his character, Diablo. While this world resembles the game in many aspects, he discovers resurrection spells don't exist (or the inhabitants have never heard of them) and the dead stay dead.
- Bungo Stray Dogs has several abilities related to life and death, but none of them can actually revive someone who has already died. Yosano can heal anyone close to death, and Odasaku can forsee his own death and avert it, but so far there has not been any way to revive someone who has previously died. The Book makes it appear like the dead can be revived, but what it is actually doing is creating an alternate timeline where that person never died in the first place. This is actually the plot to one of the novels, BEAST. At first it looks like it's an AU novel, but it's actually a part of the main canon because of how The Book was used to make it.
- PS238 followed this trope, until it brought an Only Mostly Dead character back to life. Canonically, the extremely rare ability to restore the dead marks someone as a "Messiah"-class healer, which causes all kinds of ethical problems.
- Supposedly, this was true for The DCU following the events of Blackest Night. It didn't last.
- At least in principle, in ElfQuest, physical death is permanent. Elves can still make contact with their dead through the Palace and endless flashbacks.
- This is what Chris Claremont intends for his book X-Men Forever.
- When Joe Quesada took over as Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics, he instituted a "Dead means dead" policy. It didn't last very long because, by his own admission, it was like closing the gate after all the horses have already escaped. And one of his first acts was to try to retcon Gwen Stacy back into Spider-Man, before the writer rebelled.
- Ultimate Marvel
- The Ultimate Marvel universe has the same "Dead means Dead" rule as the normal one does, only this one sticks to the rule. Every hero and villain that has been killed off, stays dead. The only exceptions are:
- Valkryie. She was actually revived by Thor, but got killed again by Loki right after her resurrection, so she got officially Ret Goned.
- Gwen Stacy. Her clone was created, with the DNA and all exact memories as the real Gwen Stacy, so she's kinda the real Gwen brought back to life. But the original Gwen is still dead, as her original persona was killed by Carnage and didn't actually come back, only a clone did.
- Doctor Doom, seemingly killed at the end of Ultimatum by The Thing, was later brought back for the series Ultimate FF, with the one killed in Ultimatum being retconned as an impostor.
- Then again, given that it's Doctor Doom, it's entirely possible that the writers planned for the other Doom to be an impostor from the start.
- The Ultimate Marvel universe has the same "Dead means Dead" rule as the normal one does, only this one sticks to the rule. Every hero and villain that has been killed off, stays dead. The only exceptions are:
- Valiant Comics, as part of their emphasis on realism, had this policy before the Acclaim era reboot.
- 2000 AD had this as company policy from the outset, the only exceptions being when resurrection was an integral part of the character (vampires, for example, were explicitly exempt). While the rule has not been universally followed, 2000 AD has genuinely killed off several fan favorite characters.
- A Brighter Dark: Being set in the Fire Emblem universe, magic does certainly exist. However, the author makes it clear that healing magic can only accelerate what the body would have naturally healed over time, and thus death is irreversible. Making the series' Anyone Can Die much more unnerving.
- Fates Collide: Upon finding out Kairi Sisigou is a necromancer, Yang Xiao Long immediately asks if he can bring people back to life, likely intending to bring back her adoptive mother Summer Rose. He sadly informs her nothing can truly revive the dead. What his magic does is communicate with and draw power from the dead.
- This is why Esmeralda stays dead at the end of Anastasia/Quasimodo We Hit a Wall. Anastasia and Quasimodo's Fairy Godmother can't bring dead people back. Magic doesn't work that way.
- In Animorphs, you can morph or demorph to heal any injury and most illnesses you may get. But a dead morph is a dead Animorph (unless it's turned off temporarily by a powerful being). This happens to Racheal in the final book.
- Magic in Inheritance Cycle can't bring people back. When attempted it simply drains energy from the caster until they die or stop the spell, assuming they were smart enough to word the spell in such a way that they can stop it. It's brought up in Inheritance that magic can physically repair a dead body, but there is no way to restore their mind, so everyone considers it better to leave them in the ground to avoid certain issues.
- The Belgariad mentions this as a specific restriction of the gods; they are not permitted to undo death (even though it is within their power) at the risk of setting off another universal catastrophe. Belgarion, however, is specifically permitted to accomplish this twice: once with a stillborn horse (who becomes important to the plot of The Malloreon), and at the very end with Durnik, fulfilling the prophecy that he would live twice. In the first case, he resurrected Horse in the place of the gods, and in the second he needed the assistance of the Orb of Aldur and the gods as well. Also in both cases, the deceased came back with special powers.
- In Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, the Art cannot bring back the dead. In fact, one character's false hope that this is possible is what drives the disastrous events of the main story, as it allows him to be tricked into becoming the Unwitting Pawn of the Big Bad.
- The book Fire Sea of The Death Gate Cycle has a few. The Sartan have begun using necromancy to raise the dead, but the raised dead are not very smart and can do only simple tasks. This ritual can only be done after waiting at least three days after death, for the soul to have time to leave. If the ritual is performed before then, the soul is trapped and a lazar is created. They retain their intelligence but are trapped between life and death and must suffer endless pain and torment. And if those aren't enough reasons to just say no, it's discovered that whenever you bring someone back to life, someone else in the universe dies.
- The Wheel of Time:
- While many things can be Healed with the One Power, death is considered final. Other ailments once considered unhealable have since been Healed, but the series goes out of its way to establish a finality with regards to death. There are a few loopholes that can be abused, but none of them are practical:
- All dead souls are eventually reborn as the Wheel of Time spins them out into the Pattern again; this is on a metaphysical level, however, and, a handful exceptions aside, is a largely academical distinction.
- Balefire erases someone retroactively, causing their actions to have never happened during the time spanned. The strength of the balefire weave affects how far back someone is erased; if timed right, and strong enough, it can prevent the death of someone who died at the hands of the erased person. Mat, Aviendha and a large part of the Aiel force invading Caemlyn are restored to life by balefire stretching back half an hour.
- The Dark One can reincarnate people who died, but another body is needed, the procedure is only possible for a very short time after someone dies, and balefire in anything but very small amounts will render the operation impossible. As The Dark One is the Big Bad of the series, this is reserved for the Forsaken - his strongest underlings - and is considered an undesirable way of returning to life.
- In the Shannara franchise, characters can be healed from the brink of death. They can survive crippling wounds that would kill a normal person. There are loads of cases of Never Found the Body. But if you actually die? That's all you get. You might come back as a Shade, but even then, you're an immaterial ghost who can spend a maximum of a few minutes in the world of the living before returning to the land of the dead. Coming back really doesn't appear to be an option.
- In Tolkien's Legendarium, this only applies to mortal creatures, in most cases Men, aka humans and Hobbits. Unlike most examples of the trope, this is actually seen as a good thing. Well, to everyone who's not mortal, at least. Specifically, Men are given the gift of death, the ability for their souls to depart from the circles of Arda to somewhere unknown, though the wise reassure us it's definitely to somewhere or something, and not oblivion. As for everyone else, they are sent to the Halls of Mandos where he judges them, and if found worthy, they can be reincarnated. The problem is that while Elves seem like they're getting the benefits while Men get the short end of the stick, they must stay in Arda until the world's end. Elves sometimes call Men the Guests for this reason, to be free of the burdens of a world in decline while Elves, Dwarves, the Valar and Maia must remain where their fates are more uncertain. The exception is Luthien, who managed for the first and only time in existence to beg for her human love Beren not to depart without her. She was made mortal instead, and they died together. Their descendants, the Half-Elven have the choice to become mortal if they so choose. Tuor and Turin are also interesting cases, as Turin's soul is burdened with Morgoth's curse and the many sins in his life, he's doomed to stay in Arda until the end of time where he'll kill Morgoth for good, and Tuor, who sailed to the Undying Lands with his Elven wife Idril, and the legends saying he was counted among them.
- In The Dresden Files, despite all the magic running around, Death has thus far been basically final. In fact magic doesn't even seem to be particularly good at healing, with Wizards often still relying on muggle methods. Ghosts and various similar beings exist, but it's explicitly stated that these are left behind by the persons memories and do not contain the persons actual soul. Necromancers (and powerful beings in general) can skirt the rules, like when a Necromancer is able to keep someone alive long enough for them to get medical attention, but when Necromancers actually revive people it's just as mindless zombies. The closest to a full subversion is when Harry seems to be dead during Ghost Story, but it turned out to be a Double Subversion, his body never actually dies, and his consciousness is eventually able to return to it.
- In the Harry Potter universe, only one method has ever been able to do anything even close to bring back the dead: the resurrection stone, one of the three Deathly Hallows. Even then, it only brought back their souls, and the first guy to discover it is said to have been Driven to Suicide when he realized it couldn't actually resurrect his dead fiancée. More conventional magic can regenerate bones from scratch, reshape bodies, or undo petrification, but cannot resurrect anyone. Also Horcruxes can prevent someone from dying, despite them appearing to have been killed, but must be created proactively to prevent death in the first place.
- In the Lensman universe, death is final as far as anyone knows, but the Eddorians were worried enough about the Arisians averting the trope that they deliberately did not kill Kimball Kinnison. Instead, they exiled him to a place they figured to be even harder to return from than death.
- This is something that happens in one of the later books of The Supervillainy Saga as the protagonist, as Champion of Death, must decide whether or not to put an end to the Back from the Dead revolving door that has been affecting both superheroes as well as supervillains.
- In The Licanius Trilogy, anyone can be resurrected with Essence up until the brink of death. Once they have actually died, however, attempting to resurrect them will summon a creature from the Darklands into their body.
- He Who Fights With Monsters: In theory, resurrection is easy. Souls flee to the deep astral on death; if you manage to draw a soul back to a world, it will instinctively create a new body for itself. The problem is that the Reaper, one of the Great Astral Entities, does not like this, and trying to resurrect people is likely to get its attention. While mortals likely couldn't do this reliably anyway, the Reaper is the only reason the other Great Astral Entities don't just constantly resurrect their followers.
- Lost: Ben Linus sums up the situation very well:
Ben: I've seen this Island do miraculous things, I've seen it heal the sick. But I've never, ever seen anyone come back to life. Dead is Dead. You don't get to come back from that. Not even here.
- So when John Locke is seemingly resurrected, Ben is promptly horrified. Turns out he was being used as a Living Bodysuit all along. Sayid Jarrah is also seemingly brought back from the dead, but him being seemingly dead could be just a delayed effect from healing by the Temple pool, which was tempted with by the Big Bad.
- Supernatural: According to the Reaper Billie in Season 11, she plans to enforce this trope in regards to Sam and Dean, who have been resurrected far too many times for her liking. In her words, while the old Death found their repeated resurrections funny, the new Death will not tolerate it at all:
Billie: You and Dean dying and coming back again and again. The old Death thought it was funny. But now there's one hard, fast rule in this universe. What lives... dies.
- An enforced policy in Magic: The Gathering, to make death means somethingnote . This is why characters like Yawgmoth and Urza aren't running around, and why each death in the modern era is all the more tragic. There is one possible exception in Elspeth, given the unique circumstances she is in, but even then Creative tells to hold no breath,
- In Exalted, the titular Exalted, chosen of the gods, are extremely powerful and can literally do the impossible but there's still absolutely no way to bring back someone from the dead, except as a ghost. This is clearly stated throughout the game line; a book even broke kayfabe and explained that it's because being able to come back from the dead as if nothing happened is a drama-killer. However, there's one very specific exception to this rule: if someone you're concerned with dies in Hell within the last five days, you can beg the Yozi to alter the causality in their world-body so that the person never dies. Keep in mind that you just surrendered your life in the past five days to the sadistic, insane god-monsters who hate everyone and everything.
- When someone tries to bring back the dead, there's a chance that the entity known as the Dark Mother will take notice, giving the corpse new life as one of the Liminal Exalted. However, the Liminal Exalt isn't the person who died, but an entirely new person.
- By the rules of magic in Shadowrun, resurrection is impossible. Averted in the 2007 Xbox 360/PC game for gameplay reasons.
- There are very, very few ways to resurrect someone as they were pre-mortem in The World of Darkness and all have huge risks involved, slim chances of success and a high chance of coming back wrong or driving the person insane. Oh and they're held by groups or societies who are unlikely to share them out, and may try to kill you just for knowing about them.
- In Ars Magica raising the dead (in a manner other than the classic zombie) is a boundary that Hermetic magic can not overcome. The closest thing is a costly ritual that gives the dead body a simulated life. And in the best it dissolves into a puddle or becomes a shadow without a will (the spell name is The Shadow of Life). At worst a demon possesses the body or the creature becomes a psychopathic murderer who hates the living.
- Timemaster: If you are a time-traveler, your death cannot be prevented by time travel. This even applies to temporally-displaced people; one published adventure included a chapter where a general and several soldiers from The American Civil War wound up on a dangerous alternate world/timeline. Normally, if they died, the PCs could alter events to save the soldiers. But since they aren't in their native time, should they die in that chapter the death is specifically noted to be permanent.
- Alternity's Gamemaster's Guide notes: "No game mechanic exists for restoring life to the dead." It then goes on to note the First Law of Resurrection, and the consequences thereof.
- In Continuum, this is not an inherent law of the setting, but it is enforced by the Continuum. If your death has been revealed to you, you are expected to willingly go to your death (though you can put this off nearly indefinitely), and any situation in which a spanner dies twice frags the spanner to hell and back. However, it's entirely possible to use temporal shenanigans to create another explanation for a death, such as using a clone body or a parallel-universe self. It's illegal for Continuum spanners, but Narcissists do it all the time.
- The Star Wars Roleplaying Game lets a trained healer try to revivify someone within seconds of their death, but failing that, the occasional spectral blue cameo is all they get.
- Despite all the other comic book tropes it gleefully embraces, in the Sentinels of the Multiverse setting, death is not cheap. There are only a tiny handful of ways to come back to life, most of which have absolutely mind-blowing costs. In canon, only two characters have come back from the dead: Spite (who had to strike a deal with Gloomweaver, the closest thing to the Devil the setting has) and Mr. Fixer (who was brought back by the unfathomably-powerful Zhu Long and still Came Back Wrong because that's how Zhu Long's powers work).
- Most Rogue Like games. If any character dies, including the one you're controlling, they're gone forever. While there are typically magic items of resurrection, they usually take place right after "death", making them more of a saving throw.
- Fire Emblem
- Any character who has no plot importance (Except in Casual Mode or during Blazing Blade's tutorial chapters or chapter 5x of Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones) will die permanently if they fall in battles. Plot related characters simply retreat, but they still won't be usable for the rest of the game.
- With the following exceptions, ignoring Casual Mode, deaths are final:
- The first game, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light, and the remake give you a staff that can bring back one slain party member. As of the remake, most players use it to perform the Tiki/Falchion Bonus Chapter trick.
- The second game, Fire Emblem Gaiden, was much more lax, having springs on the map that revived characters, but they had limited uses.
- The fourth game also has a one use staff (that can be repaired for a very hefty price) that revived the dead.
- The seventh game has a Plotline Death that is later reversed by the most powerful dark sorcerer in Elibe.
- The eighth game also features Plotline Deaths that are reversed through necromancy (albeit with dire consequences for all involved).
- The fourteenth game also has a one-use staff to revive a dead character, with the catch that you cannot select who to revive; whoever was the latest to die in the chapter you use it comes back.
- In the Dragon Age series, this is one of the cardinal rules of magic. Even bringing someone back from the brink of death can be problematic. There are walking corpses and other zombies, but these are usually just dead bodies possessed by demons (which is why the Chantry advocates cremation). There have been two cases when the (very) recently killed people were brought back: Wynne and Evangeline de Brassard in Dragon Age: Asunder, but in both cases, it was the work of a very powerful spirit, who may or may not be The Maker himself, and the end result is more akin to Living on Borrowed Time: the moment said spirit leaves the resurrected body, the person dies for good.
- This is true for Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth until late in the game unless you can craft a Coinferm that can resurrect the dead.
- Despite Pillars of Eternity being a high-magic setting, there is no spell that can resurrect the dead so any companions who die are dead for good. However, reincarnation happens naturally to everyone. There are ways to cheat this, but they tend to come with drawbacks and usually end up with the soul being trapped forever in a completely-decayed pile of bonedust. Other attempts to cheat or manipulate the system are heavily intertwined with the game's plot.
- The Final Fantasy games usually have this. KOs can be cured with phoenix downs and magic, but death cannot be cured by anything, as shown in the fifth game.
- In Pokémon, there are admittedly few cases of this actually happening, but the fans and players came up with a challenge called the Nuzlocke Challenge. Basically, every Pokémon who faints, you must release it into the wild or shove it into a PC never to be used again, even if it's your starter. The reason being because this Pokémon is "dead." That shiny Pokémon you're so attached to faints of poison? It's dead, Jim.
- One Chance goes beyond the normal definition and tries to prevent the player from even restarting the game.
- As soon as someone dies in Sweet Home, that's it, and they take their personal item to the grave with them, complicating things even more. Predictably, as soon as all of the Five-Man Band are dead, Game Over.
- Playing any of the X-COM series of games on the Ironman setting effectively turns the game into this. You do not get to save or load data. The game restricts you to one save file per game and automatically autosaves after every turn and every time you exit to the menu. Any mistakes, deaths, and losses are effectively set in stone. Lost an elite psionic Super Soldier to a random lucky alien grenade? Too bad, commander, he's dead and gone, no do-overs. You'll have to try and train another.
- In Evolve there are Lazarus Devices capable of reanimating the dead by jump-starting the brain, as well as a number of conversations discussing their limitations. While it has some capacity to heal the body while reanimating it if they died from age, if the body is too damaged to function even if the mind is restored, or if they were dead too long, their brain will simply spark back to life before immediately dying again.
- Darkest Dungeon abides by this trope zealously. It doesn't matter how your character dies (critical overkill, deathblow by scratch damage, heart attack while insane, bled out or melted, fell down a trap, starved, cut their finger while digging through debris, suffered lethal damage in the middle of camp), they stay dead. note
- An indie game on Steam, called "Russian Roulette: One Life", allowed the user to virtually play the titular game with the twist that, if you lose, you will never be able to play again. As in the game in real life, you get exactly one death and it's for keeps!note
- The world of Dominic Deegan doesn't have any way to resurrect the dead. In the Maltak arc, Necromancer Jacob Deegan claims that, with a little research into some Orc magic, he'll be able to pull it off (though other comics heavily imply he's lying). Thus far, the only ways to "cheat" this are as an Obi-Wan-style spirit advisor (Klo Tark), and by becoming a demon (Siegfried), neither of which are really preferable as you're still dead. Necromancers are the one real exception, as their mastery of death allows them to come back from fatal wounds, but this could be seen as a way to cheat death, rather than revert it.
- In Shadownova death is commonplace, usually quite painful and always permanent.
- Clan of the Cats goes with the Equivalent Exchange version: either someone has to die, or the world has to be changed for the better on a very broad scale; the one time it was accomplished was by ending a magical cold war.
- At the start of the third incarnation of Road Waffles, the author warns the main character that Anyone Can Die at any time, and no one will come back, killing some talking birds to make the point. True to his word, she dies anticlimactically about two-thirds of the way into the strip, trying (and failing) to save her original Foil while the rest of the cast regroups.
- This is a rule in Erfworld with the holy Scripture saying that when someone dies there is no way to return. However, the Scripture also forbids people from coming back to life, as though it were possible. This causes some confusion regarding Wanda's new Decryption powers from using a Divine artifact and whether what she's doing is heretical (by violating the commandment) or not (because her use of an Arkentool implies the Titans permit her actions).
- Invoked by Some Jerk with a Camera: One of his issues with Shrek 4-D is that it violates this rule of the Shrek franchise. By having Lord Farquaad be the only character to come back to life, in a series where ghosts exist nowhere else, it cheapens the impact of his death. He illustrates how much this would mess with the canon of other films by joking about a ghostly Gaston (Ghoston!) show up and harass Belle and The Prince at their wedding.
- The Genie in Aladdin lists trying to bring back the dead as one of the four things he can't do. He implies that he can bring someone back, but with unpleasant results ("it's not a pretty picture, I don't like doing it!"). Aladdin: The Series and other Aladdin movies show that there are few ways to use Loophole Abuse with a few of the other genie rules — for instance, a genie can't kill anybody, but they could put them into a situation where it's very likely that they would die. Also, Aladdin gets around using one of his three wishes by tricking Genie into doing something without technically wishing for it. However, the plot point that a genie can't revive the dead remains solid throughout the entire saga, as it's the one rule that never gets worked around or broken.
- An Egyptian man in the Gargoyles episode "Grief" enlists the help of The Pack (minus Dingo) in a bid to summon Anubis to bring back his deceased son, who had been killed in a car accident two years prior. It takes absorbing Anubis and becoming an avatar of death for him to learn that this cannot be done, and so he performs a Heroic Sacrifice in order to save all present from the collapsing tomb; it's implied that he didn't survive.
Goliath: If there's any justice in this world or the next, he's with his son, now.
- Transformers: Prime
- Stated by Word of God. So far every death has stuck, since the mindless robot zombies don't count as being "alive", and definitely don't count as being who they were back when they were alive. ("Whatever that thing was, it wasn't Cliffjumper...") Fans are taking bets on whether or not this will hold true regarding Optimus Prime's tradition of dying and resurrecting (sometimes more than once) in every continuity.
- So far they've sidestepped the issue by having Optimus' traditional Heroic Sacrifice result in Laser-Guided Amnesia.
- He came very close to fading to gunmetal gray for good in the early part of the Beast Hunters season, but Smokescreen Refused The Call to take up the Matrix of Leadership, choosing to restore Optimus instead (after all, Prime does have new toys out).
- Subverted in the finale movie - after dying in the last episode, Megatron is resurrected by Unicron. He survives even after Unicron's essence is removed, but Redemption Earns Life and he leaves for parts unknown. Optimus ends the series by giving up his life to fully restore Cybertron, so it's unlikely he'll be back...
- And then averted in Transformers: Robots in Disguise (2015) when Prime gives death the middle finger once more.
- A rare case of this applying to Time Travel; in Code Lyoko, if someone dies, changing the events leading to that death will not save them. That said, no one ever dies in a manner time travel could have prevented, so it's unclear what would happen if they'd tried.
- Downplayed in a bizarre way on Family Guy. Characters can be and occasionally are brought back from the dead, but death is the only thing which cannot be reversed by Negative Continuity. The only characters to have come back from the dead are James Woods (who got transfused with someone else's life force), Brian (whose death was erased via Time Travel), Peter (due to being friends with the Grim Reaper), and Meg, the only character to have come back via Unexplained Recovery. Despite the show's Negative Continuity, all other characters who've died have stayed dead.