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And Your Reward Is Infancy

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From death to birth.

"Do you know the only reward you get for being Batman?
You get to be Batman.
And—when you're a child—you get a handful of years of real happiness, with your father, with me.
It's more than some people get."

So it's the end of the story. Our hero has fought the good fight, and now it's time for them to go on to something greater. Will they find themself in Fluffy Cloud Heaven? Will they Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence? No, it turns out that their ultimate reward is to... stay right here. As a baby. Huh.

Note that this is not the natural end result of someone aging backwards. This is the universe giving a well-deserving character new life, often returning them to the people who loved them in their old life. This can be especially touching when it happens to a character whose life has been full of hardship, fighting, or suffering; now they can return to a time of innocence, being taken care of instead of having to care for everyone else.

This may involve Reincarnation, but not necessarily; other methods for employing this trope can include De-Aging or Body-Swap.

The villainous version is Raise Him Right This Time. See also Birth-Death Juxtaposition, Dead Guy Junior and Someone to Remember Him By, which often serve as metaphorical versions of this, occasionally even approaching an Implied Trope.

As this is an Ending Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Digimon Adventure, after defeating Devimon, Angemon himself dies with him, and comes back as a Digi-Egg. (Worth noting is that this is what happens to all benevolent Digimon when they die, as explained after the party defeats MetalSeadramon much later on.)
  • Pride, from Fullmetal Alchemist. Once he's defeated, he's returned as a tiny infant to Mrs. Bradley, who manages to raise him as she would a normal boy.
  • Genocyber has the Ambiguous Innocence Anti-Villain psychic cyborg sister protagonist turning into babies after exhausting their powers.
  • The first series of Magical Princess Minky Momo ends with our heroine being run over by a truck—she goes through an afterlife heroquest, and as a result comes back as the biological baby daughter of her Muggle Foster Parents.
  • The ending of Saber Marionette J to X is this trope exactly: Otaru's three marionettes sacrifice themselves, but their souls are reborn as human babies and Otaru raises them as his adopted daughters.
  • In Sailor Moon this happens to Hotaru after her Heroic Sacrifice. It's strongly implied that would not have happened were it not for Sailor Moon's desperate intervention.
  • At the end of Vampire Game, Duzell, who gave a Heroic Sacrifice, is reincarnated as the son of Ishtar, the woman he loved.
  • Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito ends with Hatsumi being reborn as her lover Hazuki's daughter.
  • Happens to Reira at the end of the Fusion Dimension arc in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V. After joining forces with Ray, they manage to defeat Zarc and seal him within Reira's body. When the dimensions are rebooted and the damage Zarc inflicted has been undone, Reira is seen being turned into a baby. In the post-Cosmic Retcon Pendulum Dimension, Reira is shown to be well-taken care of by his adoptive mother. However, his de-aging is seen as a bad thing, as he's practically catatonic and shows no joy. His family seek Yuya to "bring back Reira's smile" and turn him back.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Sandman (1989), Dream grants rebirth to his former lover Nada. Nada was noble and virtuous, but had been made to suffer so much that, of the options Dream gave her after rescuing her from Hell, she felt this clean break was best.
  • In Star Brand, Ken Connell is reborn as a Star Child a la 2001.
  • In Whatever Happened to The Caped Crusader?, Batman/Bruce Wayne is shown to be in an eternal cycle of recurrence. Each of his lives is different, but he’s always going to be Batman. See the page quote.

    Fan Works 

    Film - Live-Action 
  • One of the various movies in the Italian comedy series Fantozzi has this trope Played for Laughs at the end when the titular protagonist, Ugo Fantozzinote  dies, crushed under a steamroller (and receiving a flat coffin as a result)... only to be born again, as himself, even coming out of the womb with the very same clothes, indicating his future life is going to be just as sucky as the previous one. His internal monologue, serving as the punchline, put it best:
  • Invoked in the film version of What Dreams May Come, where the hero and his wife choose reincarnation over heaven and hell.

  • One Discworld novel features a guru-abbot from an order of time-traveling monks who's been in a cycle of death and rebirth for hundreds of years. After his most recent death, his spirit hovers over the house of a nice married couple as he waits to be conceived. The real kicker comes after that when he's right back to being a guru, drooling and bonking senior monks with his rattle whilst dispensing wisdom.
  • In Elsewhere, when people enter the afterlife they start again backwards from the age they were when they died to 7 days old at which point they are reborn again on Earth. At the very end the main protagonist Liz goes through this process.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, the dwarves believe that their greatest king Durin will be born seven times and live seven lives. And, indeed, there already were several dwarves in the line of Durin very similar to the original Durin, believed to be Durin's reincarnations, and there is one more to go, if the belief is right.
  • Happens in The Obsidian Trilogy to Idalia Tavadon after performing a Heroic Sacrifice that ended up saving the entire world. "The entire world" includes Wild Magic, which is extremely grateful to the point where Idalia's reincarnation is an elf, giving her enough longevity to spend life with her true love, once she grows up again. According to elven lore, this is the standard result when you perform a service for Wild Magic that greatly outweighs what Wild Magic has done for you.
  • The inciting incident of Reborn to Master the Blade is the good King Inglis being granted a wish on his deathbed in reward for his wise ruling over a people who crowned him king for being a heroic mercenary. He regrets not being able to truly master the blade due to his kingly responsibilities and wishes to be reborn as someone who can, and wakes as the newborn daughter of a Knight many, many years in the future.
  • In a The Twilight Zone short story, an ambitious man who murders some moving-in-next-door aliens gets this treatment from the one surviving alien when he begs for mercy for his family. The Twilight Zone twist is he's now one of the aliens.

    Live-Action TV 

    Mythology and Religion 
  • In Hinduism, if you did good in this life but have not realized truth in the universe (to attain nirvana), you will likely be reborn as another human. Did bad, you'll become an animal or a minor demon.

    Video Games 
  • In Darkstalkers' Night Warriors, Hsien-Ko and her sister Mei-Ling are reincarnated as human children after defeating Pyron.
  • In Ghost Trick, after traipsing around the ghost world frantically figuring out the cause of his death, Sissel gets to live forever as a family kitten. He's pretty happy with his fate.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time did this, but didn't exactly play it straight. Link skipped forward seven years a third of the way into the game so his reward at the end is to regain those lost years. Though later games seem to show that this causes a lot of problems with the two timelines later on.
  • The Truth ending to the horror game Misao (accessible after you've completed the Good Ending) involves the Main Character returning to the Otherworld to free the people who were killed in the main game, which for the most part makes them return as infants. Ayaka is straight-up resurrected by Onigawara because she's the only one of them who Misao didn't have a grudge against, and Mr. Sohta is reincarnated as a cat (presumably, he's unable to return as a human because as Misao's killer, his crime was too great to allow it).
  • Shadow of the Colossus, though it's ambiguous whether it's a reward, punishment, or just something that happened to the character in question.
  • One ending of The Talos Principle, which happens when you collect all the sigils and, following the guidance of Elohim, gain "Eternal Life" beyond the gate in temple C, you restart the game at the beginning.

  • Teddy Weddy in 1/0, although he technically isn't "staying right here" as the whole cast is now moving to Oregon.
  • Mom, I'm Sorry: After Henry dies, he is judged for his noble deeds but also for making his mother Olivia suffer from his death. He is allowed to be reborn, albeit to an abusive mother. Fortunately, his friends and family find him, and Olivia adopts him back into the family.


Video Example(s):


The Hero-King Inglis is reborn

The Hero-King Inglis had only one regret in life, never truly mastering the sword, so when granted a dying wish he asks to be reborn as someone who can do just that... however, this reincarnation comes with a surprise.

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Example of:

Main / ReincarnatedAsTheOppositeSex

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