Did you really think you can kill the villain? Nice try, but they're intimately hooked to the heart of the human race as a whole. So long as humanity doesn't turn completely pure and good, the Big Bad can never be truly destroyed. Oh, sure, you might have put them down for this episode/game/movie/series, but the next time the world's malice builds up again, they'll be right Back from the Dead with a new Evil Plan.
In essence, this is Evil's answer to As Long as There is One Man and Hope Springs Eternal; the Big Bad is The Heartless for all of mankind. They typically weave the revelation into their Final Speech, just before the hero puts them down.
While this usually doesn't mean much from a story standpoint (they're still dead), it can make for a Bittersweet Ending — the heroes went through all that for what? If the heroes are really unlucky, the Balance Between Good and Evil will demand that they replace the Big Bad that they just slew.
For the really determined hero who has accepted the fate of fighting this evil, the classic response is, "And so will I." as a challenge to the villain any time, anywhere. Otherwise the only decent reply is The War Has Just Begun. Sometimes, "sealing" the villain provides a more long-term solution than killing them. Yeah, they can (and probably will) escape eventually, but it'll take longer than it would to resurrect them.
This trope normally comes after Abstract Apotheosis, in which the character (upon death or other means) uses their self as a form of representation. For example, in the case of the Big Bad becoming this form of hatred, this can be appropriately accompanied with a Madness Mantra and/or Badass Boast.
Compare Staying Alive, where the villain doesn't even die. Compare Emotion Eater, which As Long as There Is Evil can be considered a variation of. Contrast As Long as There is One Man; the heroic response but without the resurrection. Compare Good Needs Evil, Inherent in the System and In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves. Likely a God of Evil, Made of Evil, or an Ultimate Evil. See We Will Meet Again for the more prosaic variant. See Evil Only Has to Win Once for the extreme danger a single villain victory poses.
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
- In the anime adaptation of Chrono Crusade, the Big Bad, Aion, uses this trait to come Back from the Dead after the heroes defeat him — he dies, but there's so much hatred in the area that he instantly rises. The anime ending also suggests that he might be The Heartless.
- The Anime Adaptation of Kirby has the Big Bad Nightmare playing this trope straight, complete with last lines:
"True to my name, I am but a dream that lives in your heart. Therefore, I am immortal. For as long as there is fear in your heart, I will someday return."
- Subverted in the English dub; after Kirby defeats him, he goes out screaming in agony as he dissolves into nothing.
- The Great Leviathan's shadow form is said to be fueled by darkness in the hearts of people. So long as there are those who succumb to their darkness, the Great Leviathan shall never truly die. This is probably a subversion, since the Pharaoh responds to this by saying that's crock and that it was actually created by the Orichalcos itself, and then appears to prove that by seemingly vanquishing the Leviathan with his power forever.
- This is done a second time in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, with Darkness/Nightshroud. When Nightshroud is defeated, he boasts that he will always return as long as there are those who succumb to their darkness. Judai retorts that there will always be people who can overcome their darkness to defeat him.
- Fushigiboshi No Futagohime: The Black Crystal. As long as there is despair and unhappiness for it to feed off of, it will never truly vanish. The best that can be done against it is to remove it from the world(s) in question and even then it'll just be free to attack another planet.
- Sailor Moon
- Chaos is the malice in the hearts of people across the Universe, given a will of its own.
- In the manga, it's explicitly stated that light and darkness will always coexist; the darkness needs the light to cast shadows and the light needs the darkness to shine brightly.
- In Berserk, The Idea Of Evil was born out of mankind's need for a reason for their suffering. So long as humanity needs it to exist, it will go on and on, and considering the current state of the world, it's unlikely it'll disappear anytime soon.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
- The Witch called Kriemhild Gretchen, (aka Madoka herself), is an interesting spin on this—in her desire to Put Them All Out of My Misery, she will absorb all life into her Lotus-Eater Machine Assimilation Plot barrier-thingy, and apparently the only way to defeat her is to end all misfortune in the world. If there's no misfortune, she'll think the world is already heaven.
- One of the biggest themes in Madoka Magica is that curses will always arise; if one curse is destroyed, that just clears the way for another, possibly more powerful one. Happiness must always be balanced out by despair. It's the reason that, even after Madoka's wish, Magical Girls still have to fight wraiths instead of witches; misfortune and despair still exist in the world and are going to find some sort of magical personification for them to fight.
- In Suite Pretty Cure ♪, Noise will always be reborn as long sadness exist. The Pretty Cures averted this trope by becoming his friend after he was reborn as Pii-chan. They learned that they have to face and accept sadness instead of fighting it.
- In the manga finale of Soul Eater, Crona tells Maka that Asura, the embodiment of fear, cannot be killed as long as there is fear in the world. This is why they proceed to seal him on the Moon instead, and it is likely that Lord Death sealed Asura under Death City in the first place for the same reason.
- Inverted in Space Patrol Luluco when Inferno Cop gives Luluco a pep talk.
Inferno Cop: So long as evil exists, justice will never be finished.
- It is eventually revealed that the Big Bad of Ushio and Tora, Hakumen no Mono (White Mask), possesses a variation of this: while it is born out of the "darkness" and evil of the world, that doesn't guarantee its survival. Instead, people's fear and hatred towards it makes it grow bigger and stronger. Moreover, any attack fueled by hatred will at best fail to kill it, at worst fail to cause any of damage at all; only attacks fueled by the will to save others can permanently kill it.
- In Jujutsu Kaisen there will always be cursed spirits roaming around the world as long as humans vent their negative emotions such as pain or envy.
- In Hellboy: "The Baba Yaga". It's said that she cannot die as long as Mother Russia endures. That said, Hellboy shooting her in the eye effectively banishes her to non-physical realms.
- This is what The Punisher's rationale for his one man war on crime eventually comes down to.
I went to war with murderers, thieves, with slavers and dealers, the parasites who preyed on human weakness. That weakness was a feeding ground that stretched beyond the infinite. The evil it fed would never end. So I decided, neither would my war.
- After the Fantastic Four villain Blastaar gets electrocuted in a Silver Age story, Cyclops explains "Blastaar's basic energy was — evil! Pure, unadulterated hate! And wherever men live with hate in their hearts — Blastaar lives there too!" This is not officially one of Blastaar's powers, but since he came back to life without explanation shortly afterwards, Cyke presumably knew what he was talking about.
- The Shadow King fits this trope to the letter, especially following the retcon that he's an ancient demonic being, and not the psychic remains of an evil mutant.
- Shazam: At one point, Captain Nazi claimed he was an incarnation of Nazism, and as long as someone believed in it, he could never truly die. This is an upgrade from a cut-price evil version of Captain America, as was his previous origin.
- This is outright said to be one of Mephisto's abilities.
- Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein will stick around for as long as there's evil in the world... periodically waking up to beat the crap out of it.
- In Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War, Sinestro makes this boast:
As long as there is life, the universe will never be without fear!
- Batman has a more heroic answer: "As long as there is evil, I'll be waiting for it."
- The Living Nightmare of Astro City is an Anthropomorphic Personification of human fear, and so long as there is fear it can never be truly killed.
- As the lifeblood of Discord's existence in Diaries of a Madman, this makes it rather hard for him to kill himself. Overcoming this is indeed his main goal.
- Last Child of Krypton: Deconstructed. After being defeated, Darkseid says this line... and Rei's reply demolishes him, retorting as long as there is a Darkseid, there will be a Superman to fight him.
Rei:Look at you. The final crisis has come and gone. You are dead, but refuse embrace your end."
Darkseid:"It doesn't matter, [...] so long there is evil, there will be a place for Darkseid."
Rei:"So long as there is a Darkseid, [...] there will be a Superman to oppose him."
- In an early chapter of Shadowchasers: Ascension, the infernal noble Jalie Squarefoot taunts Dante with this type of speech. While Jalie is actually pretty soundly defeated at the end, Dante is still a little depressed, seeing as Jalie does indeed represent an evil that neither they nor humanity as a whole can ever truly defeat permanently. However, Jalal responds to this by saying As Long as There is One Man, such evil can still be fought.
- The War-Feeder from The Mind of the Doctor claims it will exist as long as there is violence.
- In The Bridge, Shadow of Red is a demon who will revive as long as shadows and evil exist.
- Nyarlathotrot from the Pony POV Series is born from the negative aspects of the Shadows Who Are. As such, as long as those negative aspects exist, so will he. Inverted with his twin and Good Counterpart, Fillimon, who is born from the positive aspects of the Shadows Who Are, and thus as long as that exists so will she.
- In A RWBY Zanpakuto, Aizen says that the Hogyoku was born from the wishes of every person on the planet, so it can't be destroyed until the wishes of everyone have been granted. It is eventually destroyed when Blake, inside Ichigo's inner world which is infinite in size, creates Shadow Clones of herself endlessly until they outnumber Earth's population, then they all wish for the Hogyoku to be destroyed. Even then, it takes Ichigo striking it with all his power to do it.
- Halloween Unspectacular: The ending narration of the story "The Dictator" makes it clear that the eponymous tyrant has always existed and will always exist as long as people let themselves be led by fear, hate, distrust and division.
- Batman Begins: Ra's Al Ghul cites civilization's cyclic decay into criminality as the reason for the League of Shadows' existence.
- Dragonheart is one of the rare cases that combines this with As Long as There is One Man. When Bowen protests that Draco's death is unnecessary since their allies have already taken the castle from Einon, Draco responds that they will never win as long as Einon's evil endures.
- Monsters in Girl vs. Monster are fueled by fear and will continue to exist as long as someone, somewhere feels fear. They can be sealed away, though, and during that time, the person will not feel fear.
- In the movie Legend (1985), Darkness (played by Tim Curry) mutters a textbook speech about "being part" of all of the heroes before dying. His laughing ominous face in the last shot of the movie while the heroes are frolicking in the sunshine indicates that he is correct.
- In the Soviet adaptation of Mio, my Mio by Astrid Lindgren, that's what the knight Kato tells Mio during their battle: as long as the world exists, somewhere else a new Kato would invariably arise. Mio replies that he realizes it but it won't stop him from killing this particular one.
- A Nightmare on Elm Street:
- It seems that as long as fear (especially of him) exists, so will Freddy Krueger. One of the short stories in a collection rolled with this, having Freddy claim that while his primary fuel is fear, other negative emotions (like hatred and resentment) can work just as well. As long as people keep feeling those, he'll never be permanently stopped.
- Other stories avert his. Freddy's power comes from the Dream Demons. They can, and do in one story, take that power away.
- Star Wars:
- The Sith are an interesting example because they are a group rather than an individual being no matter how many times the Sith Order is exterminated, it will always rise again because of the seductive appeal of its teachings. And of course The Dark Side is an aspect of the same Sentient Cosmic Force that permeates everything. This is really obvious in the Expanded Universe, but you can see it a bit in the movies as well.
- The novelization of Revenge of the Sith includes an interesting bit of poetry, split between the major sections, about evil and darkness how it is powerful, and seductive, and can never be defeated because it is everywhere: "The brightest light casts the darkest shadow." At the end, the piece also points out that "it has a weakness. A single candle flame can hold it back."
Love is more than a candle. Love can ignite the stars.
- In Time Bandits by Terry Gilliam, one piece of the aptly-named Evil, the Made of Evil antagonist, escapes the cleanup crew to afflict the world again. The Supreme Being informs the kid that he must "carry on the fight". The first thing it does is manifest as a roast in his parents' microwave, killing them.
- In Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies, Morgana shoots the Djinn in a futile attempt to kill him, but he just bleeds worms. He mocks her, stating that he's immortal because evil can never die.
- Lord Foul the Despiser, from The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. "Despite can never die."
- One of the characters in Cryptonomicon uses this as a time scale for how long he wants his secrets kept.
- Randall Flagg in The Dark Tower and The Stand. Lampshaded at the end of The Stand when he washes up on the tropical island to, as the chapter title says, close the circle. Until he is unceremoniously killed by Mordred.
- The Serpents from The Death Gate Cycle are like this — they literally are evil, given shape and form by magic gone mad, and will exist for as long as mortals do. Creepily, whenever someone asks who created them (the series' universe was built by a race of Physical Gods who most certainly didn't intend to make the Serpents, so this is a legitimate question), the response is always a whispered "You did". Thankfully, they have good counterparts who are just as eternal.
- Mr. Scratch from The Devil and Daniel Webster gives a tirade about it when Daniel Webster questions his claim of being an American.
Webster: Well, I never heard the dev— of you claiming American citizenship.
Mr. Scratch: And who with better right? When the first wrong was done to the first Indian, I was there. When the first slaver put out for the Congo, I stood on the deck. Am I not spoken of, still, in every church in New England? 'Tis true, the North claims me for a Southerner, and the South for a Northerner, but I am neither. To tell the truth, Mr. Webster, though I don't like to boast of it, my name is older in the country than yours.
- The Gloamglozer gets one of these against Quint in The Edge Chronicles:
The Gloamglozer: "So long as the strong pick on the weak, so long as fear is valued above tenderness, so long as hatred, envy, and mistrust divide the various creatures of the Edge, then I am indestructible!"
- Death in Good Omens makes this sort of a speech after the other three Horsemen of the Apocalypse have been defeated. He claims to be necessary for reality. War, Famine, and Pollution (Pestilence quit around the time penicillin was discovered) are all creations of human beings, and as such will come back soon, but he's been around long before any of them, and can't be destroyed at all.
- The Half-Made World: As long as there is hatred and murder, there will be a Gun. As long as theres a single drop of oil to be had, the Line will live on. These mystical factions are thus stuck in eternal warfare, neither side ever truly winning. Or at least, thats the way they tell everyone it is; its increasingly implied that things used to be very different, and by the time of second book, the system is clearly starting to break down. A weapon that can permanently kill Guns and Engines is recovered, the Red Valley Republic is recovering, and the Line is collapsing station by station, with the strong implication that the reign of Gun and Line is nearing an end.
- The Silmarillion: Morgoth. "Yet the lies that Melkor, the mighty and the accursed, Morgoth Bauglir, the Power of Terror and of Hate, sowed in the hearts of Elves and Men are a seed that does not die and cannot be destroyed; and ever and anon it sprouts anew, and will bear dark fruit even unto the latest days."
- This is a running theme in J. R. R. Tolkien's books. As long as darkness persists in the hearts of men, evil "will ever take another shape and grow again." Yet only Men, with their Gift of Freedom and power to write their own destinies, have any hope of finally redeeming Middle Earth.
- Star Wars Legends: The Darth Bane trilogy examines things from the Sith's perspective. The third book strongly implies that the galaxy needs evil monsters like the Sith in it because otherwise the Jedi Order becomes stagnant and corrupt without having any Sith to fight. The Jedi lose their sense of right and wrong, which results in them doing what is politically expedient and not disturbing any peace as opposed to doing what is right. Everyone else takes on an "It's All About Me" mentality, which results in them doing what benefits them as opposed to doing what is right. The Sith bring about change, because nothing holds them back. They take the "It's all about me" mentality to its logical conclusion. They are the ones who exist to show everyone that they need standards, and that there has to be a sense of right and wrong that applies to as many people as possible and not just a different sense of right and wrong for each person.
- In Those That Wake's sequel, the Librarian points out that hopelessness, while greatly reduced, is still around. They removed the symptom, not the disease itself.
- Word of God has already confirmed that the Dark One won't be destroyed at the end of The Wheel of Time — indeed, he can't be destroyed. The last book proves that the Dark One, personification of evil that it is, does provide something essential for human beings to be human. Rand sees a vision of a world where he did kill it, and it's a world where everyone is sappily happy all the time because they don't have the option of being anything else. Though Rand could kill the Dark One, he ends up sparing (and resealing it) instead as a result.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- The First is the first evil to ever be, and will live as long as evil itself does.
- Likewise, Wolfram & Hart in Angel, like the quote listed above. According to Illyria, they existed in her time as well but were weak then, and as such might be technically destructible entities that simply draw power from humanity's evil rather than being created by it. Even if the "Senior Partners" were killed, it's likely that Wolfram & Hart as an organization would continue to operate.
- Doctor Who: The Beast in "The Satan Pit":
"I WILL NEVER DIE!!! THE THOUGHT OF ME IS FOREVER, IN THE BLEEDING HEARTS OF MEN, IN THEIR VANITY AND OBSESSIONS AND LUST!!! NOTHING SHALL EVER DESTROY ME!!! NOTHING!!!"
- Shortly after this, he gets tossed into a black hole by Rose. It is unclear whether this destroys him, or merely seals him away.
- In GARO, the monsters are "horrors", creatures born from the darkness in men's souls. Since there will always be darkness in Man, there will always be horrors, and therefore there must always be Makai Knights to fight them.
- In Kamen Rider, the Great Leader is implied to be the Anthropomorphic Personification of human evil, and thus no matter how many times he's killed, he'll always somehow return in a different form so long as it exists. Case in point, nearly every Showa Era Rider has killed him at least once, and a large number of Heisei Riders as well but he always comes back somehow. Ironically, it's implied that the Riders are a positive version of this trope: as long as there is evil, a Rider will appear to stop it.
- Chaotica, villain of the Captain Proton holodeck "show" in Star Trek: Voyager, claimed this when he was defeated and killed. The character was basically a love letter to over-the-top villain tropes, so this isn't surprising.
- The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "He's Alive". In it, a young American fascist is guided by the ghost of Adolf Hitler. As part of the the usual end-of-episode narration, Rod Serling states that he will continue to exist as long as hate exists. It's also implied throughout that Hitler himself is not a person, but the form taken by Evil itself.
- In Twin Peaks, Albert invokes this trope in a monologue he gives shortly after the initial defeat of the series' Big Bad BOB. Since it's established earlier that emotions like fear are BOB's "children" and that he is far older than he appears, and the movie suggests he feeds off of pain and suffering, it's probably safe to read BOB less as a person and more as the Anthropomorphic Personification of rape, madness, and savagery.
- Ultraman Ace villain Yapool in modern incarnations (such as Ultraman Mebius) has this. He's been stopped or killed 3 times over the series. How long it takes him to recover each time he's been killed varies from a few months to almost 20 years.
- Variation: the Backstreet Boys' song "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" claims "As long as there be music we'll be coming back again." Appropriately, the video portrays them as the monsters from classic horror movies.
- Voltaire's song "When You're Evil":
While there's children to make sad,
While there's candy to be had,
While there's pockets left to pick,
While there's grannies left to trip down the stairs,
I'll be there; I'll be waiting round the corner
- While being burned in a coffin, The Protagonist of King Diamond's Conspiracy makes a dying promise:
Whenever the dark is near, I will return from the grave to haunt you...
- The various Warp-entities in Warhammer 40,000 are formed from the thoughts and desires and emotions of living creatures in the Materium, or the "real" world.
- Since these daemons are formed of pure thought and emotion, they cannot be truly killed, and instead only banished back to the warp. There are a few exceptions to this: a powerful enough mystical attack capable of shredding them into their component bits of soulstuff note or the anti-psyker abilities of a powerful enough souless Blank which can deal permanent harm to the entirely warp-based form of a daemon.
- The Chaos Gods are extremely powerful warp-entities who feed off of the various emotions of humans and other living beings — but it's not just the negative ones. Hope powers Tzeentch, god of change; bravery for Khorne, god of war and violence; love for Slaanesh, god of pleasure; and endurance for Nurgle, god of disease and pestilence. Direct Worship provides a pretty large boost in power but is not necessary — The Warp was far less turbulent during the Horus Heresy when the majority of humanity genuinely scared the Chaos gods. These beings are so powerful they can't be destroyed by anything less than another Chaos God. This comes at the price of not being able to manifest themselves in the material world and needing to send their greater demon avatars and lesser demons as well as using worshipers to spread their will.
- The Necrons (Undead Robots in Space) have a plan here. If the existence of the chaos gods is perpetuated by all of the hopes, dreams, desires, and everything that makes sentient life sentient, the logical method for the removal of the threat of Chaos is to simply exterminate all life everywhere. For obvious reasons, the other races aren't too keen on this plan, but at least they have one. Then again, they also serve the C'tan (Star Gods), who want to eat sentient life or their souls or their Life Energy which can't happen if all life everywhere is exterminated. It's complicated.
- Warhammer. Some of The Undead (actual undead this time) also have a plan which is essentially the reverse of the C'tan's idea. They intend to convert all mortals into undead, thus starving Chaos of emotions to feed upon.
- The Rakshasa demons in the Eberron campaign setting of Dungeons & Dragons are like this. It has been canonically stated that as soon as one is killed, a new Rakshasa springs into existence somewhere else.
- Exalted: As long as someone knows one of their Charms, a Primordial can never be annihilated, for a Primordial is the totality of their Charms. In fact, it's possible that Primordials can't cease to exist unless Creation itself ceases to exist, as the Neverborn can attest.
- The Buddhist boddhisatsava Ksitigarbha (also known as Dizang Buddha or "Buddha in Hell") provides an interesting variation. He has taken a pledge to bring light to all beings everywhere and walks through Hell to save the souls of the evil beings trapped there. As long as there is any evil to be redeemed, he will continue his work.
- Jolee Bindo from Knights of the Old Republic and Kreia from Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords both lampshade this by pointing out that no matter what happens, the Sith and Jedi will always return from the brink of extinction and fight each other into near-oblivion.
- In the survival horror game Alan Wake, the main villain, Barbara Jagger, says "I will find a new face to wear, new bones to set me free!"... right before you destroy it by sticking a lightswitch into its chest. At the end it shows that the dark presence DID find a new face to wear; Agent Nightingale's face.
- Final Fantasy
- The trope name comes from the dying speech of Zeromus in Final Fantasy IV: "As long as there is evil in the hearts of men I will continue..." He makes good on this promise in Final Fantasy IV: The After Years.
- In Final Fantasy X, the Yevon religion tells the people of Spira that Sin was created as punishment for wrongs done by people a thousand years ago. Until they completely repent for everything they've done wrong, Sin will eventually return after every defeat and cause more suffering. Subverted in that this is all a lie and Spira is doomed to an endless cycle of Calm and rebirth of Sin as far as the higher ups are concerned. The only known method of killing it requires the summoner to sacrifice a close friend and cause said friend to become a summoned beast powerful enough to kill it, but the summoned beast will kill the summoner and eventually become the next Sin. In other words, it is summoned beasts that guarantee Sin's existence, but summoned beasts are composed of pyre flies and the Fayth; souls.
- In Splatterhouse 3, if you get a bad ending, the Terror Mask mockingly informs you, "I feed on human suffering. So long as humans feel pain, I will exist!" Get the good ending, and it doesn't get to mock you before dying.
- Dracula constantly gives this speech in every game he appears in; however, he implies he's tired of his role in Symphony of the Night. This weariness is what leads to his (as of yet undepicted) final defeat in 1999.
- The Balance Between Good and Evil is having a hard time finding someone as evil as he was, and tries to recruit his Reincarnation in the Sorrow games. If Soma rejects his previous life, then Alucard muses that while an Evil King may be inevitable, free will means that it doesn't have to be one particular person.
- Because of that, Soma keeps getting roped into playing "Whack-a-Mole" with all the wanna-be candidates for Dracula's old position. Since he's the prime candidate, they all want to kill him to prove how bad they are.
- In Order of Ecclesia, Barlowe's true goal is to use Dominus in order to bring back Dracula, since he "reasons" that because he keeps coming back, that is mankind's true dream.
- Defied in the flash game Malapa's Challenge, where two different villains start to give this speech... then are banished from our reality anyway. Apparently, having a direct line to cosmic forces won't stop someone from punching you out if they try hard enough.
- The speeches were slightly more inspired by Humans Are the Real Monsters than As Long as There Is Evil; since they view humans primarily as evil in nature, the dark gods feel that they will always have a leg up when dealing with mankind. (As they are immortal, there will always be evil, but that also means that there will always be good as well.) It was also to try to instill into the main character that he was alone in the fight, since there were hordes of monsters and a bunch of bosses, yet not another light god would bother to fight along side him. Once more, this was a subversion as well, since there are two instances of light gods intervening after boss fights, one actually interrupting the "You are completely alone" speech; even Zeus has to give him a speech about how he is not alone at the end of the game. Needless to say, many things that the dark gods told Malapa were Mind Screws that were going to be explored in the later games, as well as why some of the gods were acting very out of character. (Too bad they never happened...)
- This trope seems to be a recurring theme of the Persona series:
- Nyarlathotep in Persona 2 is the embodiment of humanity's destructive impulses. Even when he's well and truly defeated at the end of Eternal Punishment, it's stated that he cannot be completely destroyed and may return someday.
- Nyx from Persona 3 is the Anthropomorphic Personification of death and therefore cannot die — the heroes are forced to seal it away again to keep it from destroying the world, knowing full well it may return later if any more meddling Straw Nihilists come along and try to re-summon it. In The Answer, the new chapter for Persona 3: FES, it's revealed that the seal isn't to protect mankind from Nyx, but to protect Nyx from the desire of death that called Nyx down (Erebus the death monster) — she truly doesn't wish to destroy the world, and is happy when the heroes defeated her in The Journey (the original storyline), but as long as humanity desires death, Erebus will exist forever.
- The Nyx example happens as in the original game, an optional Snow Queen sidequest that has the "Night Queen" try to use people in order to set her free so she can freeze everyone alive in statues and live under an eternal night.
- Ameno-Sagiri and Izanami in Persona 4... but played with for Izanami, as she promises to leave humanity alone, having completed her 'experiment'; she just can't promise that humanity won't try to deceive itself again, which could re-summon her.
- Hearkening back to the Zeromus speech, we have Odio's speech at the end of Live A Live. As the heroes kill off his various incarnations throughout the time stream, he asks why he can never win, as his reason for becoming Odio to begin with was that he had lost everything, and wanted stupid humans to know his pain and see the error in waiting for heroes to fix everything. The chapter's main character informs him that he lost because he gave up his humanity and hated humans, even though he was originally a human himself. Coming to his senses, he delivers a stern warning to the main characters before dying:
"Anyone can become a King of Demons... As long as hatred still exists, in any world, at any time..."
- He also gives a longer speech before the final Boss Rush:
Odio: "Even if I'm beaten... I'll keep on living... You must know... The meaning of Odio! It is.... From ancient times.... Until the distant future! In eras of peace.... And eras of war! In all places! And all times!! The impetus of all conflict! The eternal sentiment that will not die so long as there are humans to perpetuate it... It is hatred... It is Odio!!"
- "Odio" is Italian and Latin for "hatred" and Spanish for "hate"..
- He also gives a longer speech before the final Boss Rush:
- Deathevan, the Big Bad of Breath of Fire II, feeds off of the darkness in human souls. In the end, it is explicitly stated that this means Deathevan can never truly be killed, and so protagonist Ryu decides to transform into a dragon and seal the gate to the underworld in the hopes of thwarting his inevitable emergence. Depending on whether or not certain conditions are fulfilled, Ryu will either do so, much to everyone's dismay, or his father Ganer will crash the flying Township down on the gate, sealing it permanently, after which he delivers a speech telling Ryu that if he can eliminate hate and despair from the world, Deathevan will never be able to return.
- Fire Emblem
- In Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, the dragon Medeus claims he gains strength from the evil in mankind when Marth defeats him.
- In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, Julius, aka the human vessel of Earth Dragon Loptyr, spouts basically the same speech to Seliph if he's the one who defeats him ("As long as greed exists in men's hearts, I will return!"). It's no coincidence, as per All There in the Manual, Jugdral and Archanea share the same universe, and Galle, Julius's ancestor, during his long travels around the world, happened to visit Archanea and formed a pact with Loptyr, an evil member of the Dragon Tribe, by drinking his blood.
- In Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, King Zephiel's plot to restore dragons to power is borne of a belief that mankind, ruled by irrational emotion, is prone to evil action. With his dying breath, he insists that evil will never die, as long as humans rule the land.
- In Nights: Journey of Dreams, Wizeman makes this claim in the "regular" endings.
Wizeman: I am the creator of Nightmare... As long as darkness exists in the hearts of humans, then I, and the nightmares, will never be destroyed...
- In City of Villains, spirits must be anchored to a person to remain in the physical world. Except for Ghost Widow, who is bound not to a single person, but the very concept of the Arachnos organization, and will continue to exist as a villain so long as there's even a single person identifying themselves as an Arachnos.
- Kingdom Hearts
- They may have given a separate trope its name, but The Heartless count for this trope too. Yen Sid says it himself: so long as darkness exists in people's hearts, the Heartless will continue to spawn. They've been reduced to more of a nuisance due to the events of the first game, but they still have the potential to rise.
- Inverted in the first game; Sora states that even the greatest Darkness had to contain a spark of light that could never be extinguished. So, As Long as There Is Evil, there is Good.
- Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories: At the end of Riku's story, Ansem states that he can return using his darkness that he gave to Riku. In the final battle in "Kingdom Hearts 358/2Days", he's proven right.
- Schwarz, the Big Bad of Tales of Legendia, makes this claim because she is a manifestation of entropy.
- Shin Megami Tensei
- YHVH, trademark Big Bad of the series, will exist in his current form for eternity as long as at least one human being believes in him as a true god. Since the gods and goddesses are supposed to reincarnate after a while, this is problematic for the universe at large. Word of God is that it's not entirely humanity's fault; YHVH being a warped despot is a symptom of something seriously wrong with the fabric of the universe.
- In Shin Megami Tensei IV, this explains the Eternal Recurrence of the war between YHVH and Lucifer:
YHVH: Death shall not take me. My existence is eternal... I have lost but one of my forms... Such trifles will not sway the fate of this world from its course.
- In the "Ancient One of the Sun" DLC, you destroy one of his avatars, the Ancient of Days. Upon its death, YHVH speaks as a disembodied voice, and confirms this is the case for him with this quote:
- Likewise, the White constantly remind The Hero that as long as Humanity despairs over its role in the Order Versus Chaos Forever War, they shall never fade.
- In the Neutral route, Lucifer reveals that as long as humanity cannot live without repressing their desires, he will return.
- Even the representative deity and Big Good of the Neutral route admits that what he's doing — lifting the layer of bedrock that's kept Tokyo in a state of altered time flow after the angels and demons are driven out of the place — is at best a temporary solution and that God and Lucifer will eventually resume warring with each other.
- Gods in Sacrifice cannot truly die — their divine essence will reform them sooner or later into a similar role, due to the fact that, being gods, they're intrinsically bound to the land and its people. Their current personality and name, however, disappear with the current incarnation — what comes back isn't precisely the entity that disappeared.
- The Super Robot Wars Big Bad Dark Brain is pretty much stated to be immortal and having unlimited power until all negative emotions in all of existence are removed. Yeah, good luck with that.
- Parodied and lampshaded in Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis as the motive for Flay's so-called Start of Darkness. Don't worry, he was just a Large Ham.
"If evil disappears, so will the hero. But if evil lives..."
- Gnarl, of Overlord, seems to believe that no matter what happens, there will always be someone to take up the mantle of Evil Overlord, thus restoring evil to the world. The games support his point, as each one begins with the forces of 'Good' in control. However, since after enough time 'Good' becomes worse than 'Evil' in this world, due to it being a Crapsack World, this isn't as bad as other examples.
- In the Mata Nui Online Game, according to him at least, Makuta is the essence of destruction, and that he is inside anyone, no matter how innocent, as long as they have the capability of destruction. Oddly enough, he never says evil; he instead says that he is destruction.
- The Grey Wardens managed to find a way around this during the First Blight in the backstory of Dragon Age: Origins, but if you don't have a Grey Warden handy, then you can never actually kill an Archdemon.
- Knight-Commander Meredith uses this line as justification for her stonewalling the election of a new viscount at the opening scene in Act III of Dragon Age II.
- In Cave Story, the Demon Crown will always reform itself no matter how many times it's destroyed. If you take out the source of its power then this is not the case.
- Julius from Sword of Mana has a variant which he claims upon death. As long as there is Mana power in the world, he (or rather, Vandole) will always be reborn. The thing is, he destroyed the Mana Tree in order to go One-Winged Angel, so he actually won't be reborn unless the world is so dependent on Mana that the heroes are willing to sacrifice the heroine to make a new one. It is, and they are. What's more, Julius himself doesn't believe the world needs Mana, which might just change the meaning of his last words to "I won't come back unless you humans are stupid enough to give me a reason to return", making it a more accurate example of this trope.
- In The Elder Scrolls series, this is the case for the Daedric Princes. Most are treated as "evil" by the general populace in-universe and, though they've been battered, beaten, defeated and even fundamentally changed, nothing in the setting has ever been able to actually kill a Prince. Since they are manifestations of the primal forces of reality, they will always exist for as long as existence itself. Even when they take an avatar form and that avatar is vanquished, they are simply banished back to Oblivion to reform.
- Hinted at in the King's Quest manuals and The Kings Quest Companion as to why misfortunes seem to target Daventry's royal house. The Fan Sequel The Silver Lining states this explicitly.
- In the LittleBigPlanet 2 story mode, right before you fight the final battle against the Negativitron, he states one of these.
Negativitron: "You can never truly defeat me! I am in all of you... I AM all of you!"
- In AdventureQuest Worlds, the main boss of the Fear Chaser event is a gigantic entity called FEAR, who, as his name suggests, is a personification of fear. The reason he exists is because fear is a part of life. From the dialogues gathered in the cutscenes before and after defeating him, he will always exist because most people need fear for said reason.
FEAR: From the first moment the first creature appeared, it was afraid. Afraid of the unknown, afraid of starving... afraid of dying. Life IS fear. Fear can swallow even the bravest of heroes. Even the mighty Fear Chaser knows she can never truly destroy me.
- The Dark Genie in Dark Cloud. It flat out tells you it has no physical form, and that its defeat means nothing, as it will always be brought into existence so long as there is hate. Because it exists outside of time, it will have always been going to be created.
- The first Myth game invokes this to make the ending less bittersweet. Over the course of the game, it is revealed that the world's history is cyclical. After a thousand years, a malevolent, transient Divinity called The Leveler will arise and wage war on all civilization, eventually destroying it and plunging the world into a Dark Age for a thousand years. At the end of this period, a hero will arise, defeat The Leveler, and usher in a Golden Age that lasts for another thousand years — at which point the Leveler returns to start the cycle anew. The reason this makes the first game's ending bittersweet is that the mortal Legion is destroyed and their cities have fallen, but their hero, Alric, breaks the cycle by casting the Leveler's vessel into the Great Devoid.
- Myth II affirms that the cycle has been broken, being set roughly 60 years later and showing that Soulblighter has been left with a world that has recovered enough to be worth conquering. He doesn't win, and the final narration contemptuously declared that this is because he was not the Leveler. This makes Myth III, a prequel, that much more bittersweet.
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword reveals why Hyrule and the rest of the world is still plagued by evil. After being defeated by Link, Demise informs Link, that the hatred and grudge of him and the entire demon race ("Mazoku") he spawned, is always evolving and will spawn incarnations (such as Vaati and Ganondorf), which shall haunt not only the Gods and the surface dwellers for all eternity, but also those who try to stand in the way of the demons ("Spirit of the Hero") and the descendants of Hylia's mortal bloodline ("Divine Blood").
- Diablo: The series has fun with this trope. All three games end up revealing that Angels and Demons have fought each other since the beginning of time. However, things changed when a number of individuals on both sides got tired of the conflict and created Sanctuary and Nephalem, and humans are descended from them. Then you have both sides trying to figure out what to do with this third group, since they have the potential to be more powerful than both sides, actually possess free will, and they are Immune to Fate. In fact, Diablo III shows that demons can come back from being killed, even if it takes 20 years for them to do so. Of course, when a Nephalem kills Diablo at the end, Tyrael is quick to say that evil has been defeated forever and the eternal conflict is finally over. The Nephalem points out "Don't be so sure. True evil never dies," and Tyrael responds "Time will tell." Yes, time will tell....
- Blizzard's other franchise, World of Warcraft, introduced the Sha. Shadowy beings native to Pandaria, they feed on negative emotions. Their nature makes it impossible to kill the Sha; their physical form can be destroyed but the Sha itself will eventually reform if it finds a source of negative emotion.
- Dark Force from the Phantasy Star franchise is an anthropomorphic personification of pure hatred. Interestingly, Dark Force itself is just an avatar of the true source of evil in the PS universe, the Profound Darkness. The Profound Darkness is such an immense wellspring of evil that its seal is an actual solar system. Every one thousand years, the seal would weaken, allowing Dark Force to manifest and spread his influence around Algol, until it's finally defeated for good in PSIV's conclusion.
- The Big Bad of the Gradius series claimed that "It was human greediness that spawned me. So long as you exist, so shall I." Exactly what Bacterion meant by that is a matter of debate among fans: was he some kind of embodiment of human evil that was being literal, a creature created by an unknown group of humans in a mad desire for power, or a powerful alien lifeform just trying to mess with the hero's head?
- In the Japanese computer version of Valis II, after Cruel King Megas is defeated by Yuko, he vows to return to life and exact his revenge on her "when the human world is filled with hate."
- Skullgirls: In more than one character's story mode, it is revealed that the Skull Heart can never truly be destroyed, and will only reform at a later point. At least one fighter isn't fazed by this, though.
Skull Heart: Every time you destroy this vessel, another will appear. There is no purpose to your actions. I shall always return.
Big Band: ... So what?
- Buggler gives this speech upon his defeat at the end of Super Bomberman R.
- Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon features Big Bad Dark Matter, an entity made of all the negative emotions to have ever existed - meaning that it cannot be destroyed unless all negative emotions disappear... or if negative emotions are just accepted as part of everyone, which essentially works like a Brown Note to it and destroys it for good, which is what ends up happening after practically all life has been petrified.
- A small-scale example in an already Crapsack World of Dark Sun: Wake of the Ravager. As long as somebody keeps fighting with a very useful vampiric sword El's Drinker, the ghost of El gets stronger and will live again someday. You are given an option to reforge this sword.
- At the conclusion of Fighter's barely-comprehensible stab at creating an issue of 8-Bit Theater, the Ninja Boss gives the following speech before he poofs out:
Ninja Boss: Fighter, you have one this battle but there is one rule for the univarse and that rule is that there is always more ninja!
Fighter: Oh yeah sneaky naninja boss? Well I happen to know another rule of the infinite univarse! And that rule is that there is always more swords to kill ninjas with!! I don't know what that means but it is teh truth!
- Defied in Oglaf, as the worshipers of fun claim that even with their god dead, they will continue to exist as long as there is injustice and suffering for them to point and laugh at. However, Greir then burns down their temple, which puts a stop to them.
- In Underling, Satan. Though it's really more of a weakness.
- To quote the Shadow Child, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Disbelief, from Roommates:
Once known, I'm never truly gone - Every grievance invites me back to broken hearts.
- The Blood Red King, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Anger, Cruelty, Violence, and Fear in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, has been killed numerous times since he first appeared in the late 1970s. But as long as there are people being angry or cruel, causing violence or causing fear, he always springs back up shortly thereafter, fresh as a daisy.
- This is how Cancer survives at the end of When the Puppy gets Lucky. As long as there are cigarette smokers, Chimio will be unable to finally kill it.
- The article permanent struggle by Greta Christina is a variant. It basically says that all the various injustices and other bad things are in part due to flaws in human nature itself, and thus, as long as humans exist we will have to struggle against them.
- The ending of Rise of the Guardians has the villain Pitch (aka the boogieman) claim that he'll return because "there will always be fear". North replies with an equally Badass Boast:
North: So what? As long as there is one child who believes, we will always be there to fight fear.
- ThunderCats (1985):
- "So long as evil exists... Mumm-Ra lives!"
- The same applies for the "Ancient Spirits of Evil" that he works for and invokes for his By the Power of Grayskull!
- Unicron in Transformers. It's outright stated in Transformers Armada that he'll exist as long as hate exists (and the Autobot-Decepticon war is mighty good eatin'). He doesn't need to eat planets; that's just because of a personal vendetta against existence itself. It appears on the surface that he's doing all that eating out of hunger, but no. He just wants to be really alone, and has the planet-sized balls to do something about it.
- Xiaolin Showdown, throughout the series and especially at the ending. Master Fung always implies that evil is never defeated, but merely changes its path.
- The G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero episode "Cobra's Creatures". At the end of the episode, the Joes do their usual thing; storm the castle, defeat the Mooks, and capture that episode's villain of the week. In the aftermath of the battle, Scarlet asks if Cobra Commander got away. Spirit replies,
Spirit: Yes, but in a sense it matters little. There will always be evil. And evil men.Scarlet: Yeah. Good thing there'll always be us Joes.''
- Discussed in X-Men. Beast ponders whether or not Apocalypse, as a personification of evil, can truly be destroyed or if a new evil will simply take Apocalypse's place. Cable replies that he doesn't care. Apocalypse himself also comes to the realization that while he can never be defeated, he is also fated to never win and destroy the human race. Thus he attempts to undo Time itself and create a new universe in his image. It seems that he's Killed Off for Real when his Lazarus Chamber is destroyed in Ancient Egypt and he gets willed out of existence by the collective power of the psychics within the Axis of Time, but in a later episode it's revealed that he was really just banished to the Astral Plane, a featureless dimension. When Fabian Cortez tries to revive him, Beast expresses disbelief, but Cortez confirms that Apocalypse's essence can never truly be destroyed.
- Jackie Chan Adventures states that the universal balance means there will always be a great evil and destroying one only brings about another. The best you can hope for is Sealed Evil in a Can.
- In the Justice League episode "Hawk and Dove", Ares declares "as long as there is prejudice, ignorance, inequality, I'll be there."
- Parodied in Dave the Barbarian with the king and queen, who are absent because they've vowed to destroy all the evil in the world. It even got to the point once where they actually did destroy all the world's evil, only for a new evil to pop up in the first place they fought. So, they had to start their trip all over again.