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"Disorientation, visual and auditory hallucinations, and even low-grade amnesia are normal. But don't worry. This orientation will answer all of your questions. This is a cortical stack. As Protectorate citizens, we each have one implanted when we are one year old. Inside is pure human mind, coded and stored as DHF: Digital Human Freight. Your consciousness can be downloaded into any stack, in any sleeve. You can even needlecast in minutes to a sleeve anywhere in the Settled Worlds. A sleeve is replaceable. But if your stack is destroyed, you die."

It's not uncommon for death not to be permanent in Fiction. In this case, a character survives their death by having their consciousness (and/or mind and/or soul) transferred to a replacement body, prepared just for that eventuality. This body is often a clone of the character, although this is not the case for robotic characters, naturally. Sometimes they've specifically raised an individual from childhood for this, in which case they may overlap with Familial Body Snatcher.

If a character has this set up to happen every time they die, it confers a type of Immortality. If this is the case for everyone in a setting, it causes Death Is Cheap.

If the body is already "occupied" by another consciousness and was not specifically prepared for this, it's Body Surf, instead.

See also Brain Uploading, Born as an Adult, Cloning Gambit, Justified Extra Lives, Only One Me Allowed Right Now, and Heart Drive.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Part of Ryuzu Myoujin's evil plan in Cardfight!! Vanguard G involves summoning Living MacGuffins from another planet, a process that is Cast from Lifespan and inflicts Rapid Aging on him. By the time the heroes first confront him, he's physically an old man and is severely ill, so he lets himself die in a fire and resurrects himself in a child clone body to continue his work. In this form he would remain the Big Bad for the rest of the season.
  • In Dr. STONE reboot: Byakuya, just before Rei ceases to function it creates one for both it and the ISS in the form of a large physical disks (capable of lasting millions of years). These discs give instructions to a 3D printer which then recreates both the ISS and Rei.
  • In The Garden of Sinners, Aozaki Touko created a process to create exact copies of her body and mind that's so indistinguishable she realized her own individuality was meaningless, as the copy could perfectly carry on as her itself. Further she's connected a magical feed from the current her to her copies, making them perfect duplicates mentally as well, with a new one awakening to become Touko whenever the current Touko is killed.
  • Done in Getter Robo Ah as it's revealed that they had cloned Musashi Tomoe and made him leader of the human forces. Every timed he died in battle, though, they transferred all of his memories into a new body, with that one realizing not to pull that stunt again.
  • Subverted with Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell, who often has various spare bodies that she can control by remote or switch her consciousness into whenever she needs. She's smart enough to know when she's probably going to get killed (and with her skills, the possibility of coming even close to killing her almost never happens) and uses a remote body instead. Worst case scenario, her cyberbrain is all that is left and needs to be put into a new body, but otherwise, she's Crazy-Prepared for these situations.
  • In Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE. the BUILD DiVERS team discovers that the "campaign" they had been playing in their favorite VRMMORPG was in fact a series of very real battles on an alien planet that had somehow connected to the game. The ruins they emerged from every time they "logged in" would construct bodies for them in the form of their game avatars and download their minds into them from the game. Another player whom had gone to the world before them had been trapped(and his body on Earth in a coma) after he got captured and brainwashed by the enemy.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Steel Ball Run's Big Bad, Funny Valentine's ability is to hop between dimensions and if he's fatally wounded, he'll just bring a copy of himself to his dimension.
  • Towards the end of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Jail Scaglietti tried to pull this off by allowing his real self be killed by Fate, then having at least one of his Numbers escape and give birth to his clone with all of his memories, effectively resurrecting him in a safe place. His plan was foiled by a) Fate controlling her rage and leaving him alive and b) Riot Force 6 disabling and apprehending all twelve Numbers.
  • Yamato Takeru, Big Bad of Maken-ki!, possesses a special power that allow his soul to go into another person's body after his death, but suffer damage to his spirit if the vessel isn't compatible. To deal with this, he cloned himself over and over again so that he can instantly have a ready body after the death of his current one. He does this even with clones who have minds of their own.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Rei Ayanami has a few dozen soulless clones stored in an LCL tank. Every time she dies (which happens twice in the series), her soul is transferred into a new body and she's ready to go with no injuries and temporary amnesia. Despite being only fourteen years old, she states in episode 25 that she'd rather stay dead for good; seeing that all her clones have been destroyed two episodes prior and her current body was absorbed into a monster that later fell into pieces, it seems she got her wish.
    • Rebuild of Evangelion suggests that she is horrified by the Dummy System, a digital version of this — thus, she would be completely opposed to using her for something so completely barbaric.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Kyubey has this ability. Since the Incubators are a Hive Mind, and Kyubey is the single consciousness that controls them all, it can simply switch bodies any time something happens to one (as seen when Homura shoots one dead). Disturbingly, the old dead body will then be eaten by a living one.
  • In Soul Eater, Giriko, being an Enchanter (one who can create artificially living beings) has programmed his memories and soul into his own genes, such that all of his children are born with his memories and powers. He has continued doing this for many lives over the course of 800 years. When Maka and Soul kill him in the Book of Eibon and he returns immediately, this time as one of his daughters.
  • Carol Malus Dienheim of Symphogear GX, being an alchemist, would use this tactic quite often. However, over time, the mental strain got so bad that the one time we see it used, her body outright tried to reject her.

    Comic Books 
  • 2000 AD:
    • The biochips grant G.I.s this ability in Rogue Trooper.
    • Proto-biochips also appear in some early Judge Dredd strips in much larger form, though they do become smaller as time goes on. The Simping Detective has disposable versions which allow a person to take control of another if they manage to get them to ingest it, as Jack discovers when Meekly Roth (a.k.a. his former lover ex-Judge Freedi Dree) uses one to get him to help her commit suicide.
  • Atomic Robo: Recurring villain Helsingard has a succession of backup brains only, a new one of which gets activated and installed in a ready-made robotic body whenever the current iteration of Helsingard perishes.
  • Dark Empire: Emperor Palpatine was reborn in a clone body sometime after dying in Return of the Jedi. He dies a few more times, but his supply of backup clones gets sabotaged and after his last death he can't come back anymore due to a dying Jedi dragging Palpatine's soul with him into the afterlife, preventing him from taking the last-ditch option of possessing an unwilling host.
  • The DCU:
    • Batman: Ra's al Ghul generally considers his children and their descendant's bodies as another way to extend his immortality. During the story arc The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul, he tries to get Bruce to chose between Bruce's biological son (and Ra's grandson) Damian or Bruce's recently adopted son Tim as a new body for Ra's. Bruce naturally takes a third option.
    • DC Comics Bombshells: The magic that Donna Troy inherited from Diana causes one of her tears falling on a pottery statue of Diana to transform it into a new incarnation of Diana, also created from clay and magic. The new Diana specifically states that she isn't exactly the same person as the original and be formed using Donna's memories of her, although she appears to have at least some of her own memories.
    • Superman: Brainiac pretty much never dies because there's always some drone or ship or piece of hardware somewhere carrying a backup of him.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Earth-One Aphrodite treats versions of Steve Trevor from other universes as handy back-up bodies for the memories and essence of the Earth-One Steve. As a gift to Diana, she brings Earth-270 Steve to Earth-One, erases his memories, and implants the memories and essence of the deceased local Steve.
  • Eternal deconstructs this by featuring an entire world where this technology is possible. People who were not cloned are exploited for their pure DNA. There are also things called 'death parties' where teenagers killed themselves for the fun of it.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Alpha Flight: The handicapped Roger Bochs has a robot body called Box which he can transfer into and out of at will. During one story arc when Walter Langkowski (Sasquatch) dies his consciousness is transferred to Box until they can find him a new body. They think they found one out in interdimensional space, but it turns out that it's the Hulk. Langkowski, unwilling to rob Bruce Banner of his own body, decides to let his soul dissipate. It doesn't, however, and he ends up doing a little Body Surfing, including another stop in the Box robot, before getting a new body which is eventually reshaped by that body's ascended soul into an exact duplicate of his original.
    • Captain America: The original Hate-Monger is what you get if you apply this concept to Adolf Hitler. Arnim Zola, who created the process, also uses it to save the Red Skull from death by old age by transferring his mind into a cloned body of Captain America himself.
    • X-Men:
      • When Professor X is possessed by a Brood embryo which turns his body into one of its own kind, his life is saved when his consciousness survives the transformation long enough for alien technology to clone a new body for Xavier and transfer his mind into the new form (simultaneously restoring his ability to walk... for a time).
      • In the The Krakoa Age, the Krakoans use this method should they die. There are five mutants — appropriately named the Five — whose mutant powers work in unison to form a brand-new body before a telepath uses Cerebro to imprint their consciousness into their body, allowing them to live once again. Of course, there's a few rules to these...
  • Two's favorite method of escaping in Paperinik New Adventures, usually when the situation is truly desperate, like a risk of him being deleted or blown up. He tries his best to stop his "twin" One from doing the same.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), Robo-Robotnik has this ability, as he is a normal Robotnik roboticized. However, when an alien race kidnaps him, Snively, Sonic and Tails and puts them through a 'robots vs. humans' battle, he loses this ability, trapping him in his Eggman form permanently.
  • T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents: NoMan is a dead scientist whose brain/consciousness resides in a robot body; when he's in danger of being destroyed, he can transfer to a new robot. However, if his robot body is destroyed while he's still in it, he dies.
  • Spartan from Wild C.A.T.s (WildStorm) has this ability, being an android and all.

    Fan Works 
  • In Fractured (SovereignGFC), a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands crossover, the Reapers destroy Pandora's New-U system, forcing the Vault Hunters to be extremely careful as they attempt to hijack a Hyperion starship. They survive anyway. The system remains out of commission in Origins, the sequel, as well, in which several characters comment on missing the tech.
  • In "Far From Home" of Rose Redemption AU, Rose manages to regain a body by taking possession of an emerging Rose Quartz soldier.
  • In Harry And The Ship Girls, Abyssal Research Princess, a Mad Scientist and Expy of Josef Mengele, planted flesh buds in her minions. If her current body dies, one unlucky minion is subjected to a Body Surf as the flesh bud consumes them, giving Research Princess a fresh new body for her soul to migrate to.
  • In To the Stars, a Puella Magi Madoka Magica fic set in the distant future, normal humans can survive almost any injury that does not destroy the brain, while magical girls can outright survive total body loss if their soul gem survives intact. Magical girls handing their soul gems to others before suicidal attacks is not uncommon.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The whole point of the film The 6th Day. Cloning humans is forbidden, but the antagonist has developed the technology along with brain backups and uploading in order to provide himself, and a few select minions, with effective immortality. However, the film itself contradicts this, as the clones are explicitly different people who share the same memories. At one point, the villain is still alive when his (defective) clone emerges, who doesn't even bother to wait to strip him of his clothes.
  • In Avengers: Age of Ultron, whenever Ultron's physical form is destroyed, he simply uploads himself into another robotic body, not to mention he can exist as pure consciousness on the internet. Vision has to block his connection to the internet first, and then every single body he's built has to be destroyed to stop him.
  • Yolandi and Deon die physically in Chappie, but both are eventually mind-uploaded into robot bodies after Chappie figures out how.
  • Phantasm: The Tall Man is actually an evil entity wearing the skin of a human that traveled to its dimension. It uses his body as an avatar to access our world. It also made a massive amount of copies of the body to use in case one is destroyed. Whenever one dies, another spawns in the place where the previous died. The fifth film reveals there are tens of thousands of them.
  • Self/Less: When terminally-ill billionaire Damian Hale pays to upload his consciousness to an artificially-grown body, he hopes to prolong his life and use his new-found youth to his advantage. However, he soon becomes disturbed once realising the body his consciousness is inhabiting used to be a real man who sold his body to be used as a host in order to pay for his daughter's medical bills.
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: Similar to the Comic Book example above, Palpatine returns in a cloned body, continuing to conspire from the shadows. However, his new body is unsustainable, in a state of gradual decay, leading him to attempt other options of prolonging his rapidly fleeting life force.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: En Sabah Nur is introduced performing a transfer of his consciousness into another body (that of a regenerating mutant) through a ritual inside a pyramid that is powered by the sun. Later in the film, he builds a new gigantic pyramid in Cairo to perform the ritual on Charles Xavier.

  • This is the secret behind the immortality of Bob Morane's nemesis Monsieur Ming aka "The Yellow Shadow".
  • Everyone in the cities in Biting the Sun is promptly picked up and has their "life-spark" transferred into a new body of their choosing upon death. Some characters actually take advantage of this to get around the normal time limit for body changes.
  • In the Commonwealth Saga by Peter F. Hamilton, humans are functionally immortal due to rejuvenation treatments coupled with this trope, both to defy The Fog of Ages, and as a backup in case of untimely death by murder or accident.
    • In his The Night's Dawn Trilogy the cabal who secretly control Earth ensure their continued rule this way, by instantly killing the old body after having their memories transferred to a new one, even editing out those memories they don't want to keep. However the revelation that the souls of the dead pass on to an afterlife means that rather than a form of immortality, they're sending those souls to the Beyond each time a body is destroyed.
  • Backups are ubiquitous in The Culture, the Chel religion favors "soulcatcher" implants in their heads that can be recovered and "sublimed".
  • Darksaber features Bevel Lemelisk, chief designer of the Death Star, as a major character. Prominent mention is given to how the Emperor used to have him executed for his failure—slowly, painfully, often via... creative methods—then immediately reanimated in a cloned body. He would often "awaken" to find his corpse still nearby, apparently in case the horrible, horrible death he'd just suffered wasn't enough of an object lesson.
  • In John Varley's Eight Worlds series, the technology exists to make a copy of a person's memories, and to grow a clone from a tissue sample. Life insurance now consists of going in for annual (or more often, if you can afford it) backups of your memories, and if you get killed, your insurance company grows a clone, and loads your memories into it. Having more than one of you running around at once is very illegal, however, and any extra clones discovered are subject to summary destruction. This allows at least one unscrupulous character to create slaves with no rights or recourse, since their very existence is a crime.
  • In the Orson Scott Card short story "Fat Farm" (collected in Maps in a Mirror), the protagonist, a glutton, has his mind moved to new, svelte cloned bodies on a regular basis. The Karmic Twist Ending is that the "cast-off bodies," who expect to be coddled, are instead pressed into slave labor. The 'original' is their boss, who treats them harshly because he hates them as tangible evidence that the version of him now living his life keeps on making the same bad decisions.
  • A rare fantasy version of this pops up in Ed Greenwood's Forgotten Realms with Manshoon, particularly in Shandrils Saga. Whenever Manshoon is killed, the Evil Overlord of Zhentil Keep has one of his backup clones released from stasis. It eventually bit him in the ass when the Spellplague happened and all of them woke up at once to start killing each other.
  • In the book Glasshouse, all humans avoid aging and repair injury by building themselves new bodies in "assembler gates". They also back-up their minds, so if they die they just come back to life, not knowing that anything happened. The only way people can make death permanent is by erasing someone's memories from the databases.
  • In the later (by internal timeline) books of Andrey Livadny's The History of the Galaxy series, the introduction of a piece of Imported Alien Phlebotinum potentially grants humans this ability. The logrs are tiny Data Crystals which also act as incredibly powerful computers, invented by the Logrians millions of years ago. Their primary purpose was to preserve the consciousnesses of dead Logrians via Brain Uploading. A logr is powerful enough to contain the consciousness of a living being and, when attached to the Logris, an enormous supercomputer made up of billions of logrs, can allow that person to live in indefinitely in a constructed virtual world. After humans get their hands on the technology, it quickly becomes clear that it would be extremely easy to invoke this trope by making a cloned body for the deceased person and download the uploaded consciousness from a logr into it. In fact, several characters end up doing exactly that. However, the Confederacy government bans the practice for two main reasons: first, the Logrians are strictly against it, fearful of Immortality Immorality, as evidenced by the so-called Harramin Immortal Quota, who have been doing this very thing for nearly 3 million years, and second, this becomes a nightmare for concepts like inheritance. After all, if a person dies and then comes back, then is it right to deprive his or her heirs of what is coming to them? A sort-of solution is found by recruiting volunteers from Virtual Ghosts. They are offered a chance to explore and settle faraway worlds in new bodies, thus starting new lives, completely separate from their old lives.
  • Imperial Radch:
  • In the Jacob's Ladder Trilogy, Exalts' minds are recorded by their symbiotic nanomachine colonies and can be downloaded into a new body if their original is destroyed. However, many characters claim that a lot of the original personality is lost with the original brain and that the resurectees are only pale shadows of who they once were.
  • In the short story "Learning To Be Me", everyone has a Jewel implanted in their brains at birth. Said jewel is a quantum computer that constantly updates itself to think and experience life like the person's brain. Eventually, the brain is removed, and the people live as the jewel.
  • In Reborn to Master the Blade, this is a perk enjoyed solely by the technologically advanced Highlanders. Among their incredible pieces of Magitek is the ability to transfer their consciousnesses into new, younger bodies when the originals become too diseased, crippled, or just too old. This is primarily shown by Mynntia/Sir Rambach, who was too old when he successfully ascended himself and his son to Highlander status and got a much younger replacement body as part of the deal.
  • Skinned:
    • The "mechs" are like this. Every night, they have to manually upload the events of that day to a backup hard drive held by the organization that built the mechs, which is then uploaded to a new body should something happen. Note that this is only for mechs who live a conventional life; those off the grid have no means of saving a backup.
    • The main character, Lia Kahn, gets into a car accident that does so much damage that the doctors at the hospital downloaded a copy of her personality into an artificial body and her organic body is, for all intents and purposes, dead. Lia is not happy about this because in the setting of the novel, people who have artificial bodies are subjected to Fantastic Racism.
  • Sergey Lukyanenko's Line of Delirium trilogy has the aThan (anti-Thanatos) technology work in this manner. At first, the prospective immortals purchase the extremely expensive basic aThan access and undergo a very painful molecular scan that saves their physical template into the database. They also get a neural net implanted into their brains. The official story is that at the moment of death the neural net uploads the memories of the deceased to aThan's databanks via some sort of Subspace Ansible. The aThan corporation then checks if the resurrection has been paid for (by the customer, their employer, the army etc.) and if so, replicates a new body, usually at the nearest aThan facility, while adding the memories as accumulated since the last resurrection. These terms and conditions are in fact mostly lies:
    • It's impossible to instantly upload that much information, especially since the brain (and the neural net) could be destroyed at the moment of death. As such, the net constantly uploads information, and the interruption of transmission is treated as death.
    • It is possible to trigger body replication routines at will. But while the person is alive (hasn't died or has already been resurrected), the resulting body immediately falls into a vegetable state. Thus, aThan has proven the existence of the human soul (or, as they call it, the X-factor), and the Church Patriarch has blessed the technology.
    • Not all alien races can undergo the procedure. Those who lack the X-factor are not successfully "reborn".
    • Usually a person is only allowed to purchase 1 aThan resurrection at a time. Why? Because the Psilons who sold humans the technology fear immortality and insisted, as part of the agreement, that each person would only get 1 second chance. After the agreement, humans used Loophole Abuse to justify allowing a resurrected person to purchase another resurrection, claiming that a resurrected person is not the same person as before.
    • It is possible to grant a person infinite resurrections. Coupled with infinite deaths by torture, this is the most extreme punitive measure available to humanity (and actively used by the aThan corporation for the most egregious failures). Without the torture - this is the highest reward that can be offered to a human.
    • Officially, only two people have unlimited resurrections: Curtis Van Curtis (the owner of the aThan Corporation, and the only person who knows how it works) and Emperor of Humankind Grey (who agreed to the deal in exchange for permitting Van Curtis to keep the monopoly on the technology).
    • Unofficially, the list includes Van Curtis' only son and heir Arthur ( actually his clone), an apparently random kid from some backwater planet ( a partially failed attempt to clone Arthur Van Curtis and subvert the "one body per soul" limit on hardware level) and the Emperor's most trusted agent ( who is apparently a dimensional traveler and created the whole universe as a giant playground).
  • In So I'm a Spider, So What? Kumoko develops a method of transferring her soul into eggs she had previously laid in a safe location, allowing her to survive otherwise inescapable attacks.
  • A key element of society in Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light.
  • Jenna Black's Replica: How the titular technology works. When someone dies of an unnatural cause (accident, murder etc.) a replacement body has the individual's stored memories downloaded into it.
  • The Riverworld series. When someone died in Riverworld, their wathan (soul) was collected, a new body was created for them and the wathan was released and re-attached to it.
  • In the Takeshi Kovacs series everyone is implanted with a cortical stack that essentially acts as a hard drive for the brain and allows people to be "resleeved" in a new body when they die. However most people can't afford to be resleeved more than once and unless they shell out a lot of cash they have to go through the whole aging process again, and if you die and your killer destroys your cortical stack, you're dead for good.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Time Enough for Love and its sequels establish this as one of the various means by which human beings can extend their lives. In addition to standard rejuvenation technology, which involves growing clone replacements of a person's worn out tissues, affluent individuals can have entire clones pre-grown and held in stasis should misfortune befall the original. At that point, the memories can be transferred from the corpse with computer support. Oddly, no mention is made of this technology being used to literally back up a person's brain, although the idea ought to have occurred to someone.
  • In the Voidskipper series this is completely and utterly ubiquitous, to the degree that those who aren't backed up are a statistically insignificant minority. Custom bodies can be printed on demand in most locations, meaning that this is also a common means of travel.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: Some very rich and very evil people clone themselves, then when the clones are in their twenties have their brain transplanted into the clone's body. Mark has made it his life's work to eliminate this practice, by inventing a life-extension technology that does not depend on committing murder.
  • If the Celestial Bureaucracy from You Are Dead (Sign Here Please) does not want you to die for some reason, they'll stuff your soul into one of the bodies normally used by bureaucrats going undercover on Earth whenever you die. This is the fate of protagonist Nathan, who isn't allowed into the afterlife until he agrees to sign his 21B (Decedent Acknowledgment and Waiver of Liability).

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 100: When a Commander dies, their memories and consciousness are stored on a computer chip inserted in the back of their head, called "the Flame". This Flame is then passed on to the next Commander, who can commune with the past Commanders and access their memories, though they retain control of their own body.
    • The Primes of Sanctum use a similar process, but take it to straight-up Body Snatcher territory, erasing the minds of their new host bodies so that their minds can take over.
  • Altered Carbon: Anyone with enough money can "re-sleeve" themselves into a new body, even after they die, provided their stack isn't destroyed. The ultra-wealthy or 'Meths' have back-ups from which they can be re-sleeved even if their primary stack is destroyed, but all data acquired after the back-up was made will be lost. The first season has the protagonist being hired by a Meth who was Driven to Suicide and wants him to investigate the reason behind it, since he has no memory of that event.
  • The re-imagined Cylons of Battlestar Galactica (2003) download into new bodies, so long as there's a Resurrection Ship in range. Even the dog-level-intelligence Raider ships resurrect.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon wants to do this, but is concerned that the technology won't be ready by the time his body dies.
  • Dollhouse. In "Epitaph One" the powerful backers of Dollhouse intend on doing this with the bodies of the Actives, selling them off to the affluent for a nine figure sum so they can achieve immortality. Adelle DeWitt is horrified as the Actives have only agreed to let the Dollhouse use their bodies for a set number of years; it's not meant to be a permanent arrangement. By "Epitaph Two: Return" two of the Rossum bigwigs have transferred into younger bodies and one of them has let a binge-eating habit develop. When confronted by Echo, he even taunts her to shoot him, pointing out that he'll just download into another body.
  • Semi-example in Red Dwarf, where holograms can be made, instead of new bodies, but all ship crewmembers have their consciousness stored.
    • Using this technology, it's also possible to swap minds between bodies. Rimmer uses it to take Lister's body so he can eat food again.
  • The Asgard in Stargate SG-1 make great use of this, with people like Thor being downloaded into a new cloned body any time one takes critical damage. Thor spent an extended amount of time with his brain inside a ship's computer before he could be downloaded. It's also known that the Asgard have long been unable to reproduce, and cloning is how they've long made more of themselves. It's unknown if this means there have been no truly new Asgard for a very long time. (What we do know is that the process can't be kept up forever; each copy of a copy of a copy is subject to a bit more degradation, making extinction a matter of time.
    • The only reason their bodies are subject to clone degradation is because they haven't thought to keep the original DNA on file. If they had, they never would've had this problem, as they would be always cloning the original (i.e. not degraded) DNA.
  • This is how the Vorta work on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. When one is killed, a new clone is activated to take their place, identical to and with the memories of their predecessor. They still try to avoid dying, and the process isn't perfect- personalities and appearances may vary between clones. This wasn't originally the intention, but the producers liked Jeffrey Combs's performance as Weyoun so much that they decided to bring him back as the same character even though he got vaporized at the end of his debut episode.
  • A variation on this is what happens to Jean-Luc Picard in the first season finale of Star Trek: Picard when he succumbs to his long-lasting neurodegenerative disease; Noonien Soong’s son Altan electronically transfers his mind into an Artificial Human-like robotic body that is crafted to resemble Picard, i.e. a Robot Me. In the sixth episode of the third season, Altan is revealed to have done this to himself upon his original body’s death with a robot duplicate of his own.

  • Used as a plot-point in the 2004 Award-Winning Manhua, My Beloved Mother: The protagonist, Sinbell, is a teen Raised by Robots and often misses his biological single mother, who mysteriously disappeared when he was four, and completely rejects his robotic mother, despite her repeated efforts to win over his love no matter what. The final chapter provides The Reveal of a flashback which is a borderline Teajerker: Sinbell's biological mother, Aya, gave up her life to save him from a chemical explosion that destroys half the city, resulting in the then 5-year-old Sinbell losing memory of his childhood. Aya's last wishes is for her consciousness to be uploaded into an experimental robot, so that she may continue her motherly duties.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Paranoia, The Computer is aware of the importance of backups, so all citizens are part of a six-pack of clones note  - when one dies, his memories (including how he died) are MemoMaxed into his next-of-clone, who picks up wherever he left off. Especially important for the PCs, whose high-risk careers as Troubleshooters tend to get them killed at least once in the course of any given mission.
  • Eclipse Phase borrows the cortical stack concept from the Takeshi Kovacs series, where Brain Uploading had rendered people as software and bodies (referred to as "sleeves") are reasonably considered to be interchangeable hardware. Unlike the Kovacs novels, externally stored "backups" are considerably more common instead of being exclusive to the wealthy.
  • Car Wars. A duelist can arrange to have Gold Cross grow a clone from his cells and store a copy of his mind. If he dies, his mind is downloaded into the clone and the player continues to use the character.
  • An early edition of Dungeons & Dragons had the Stasis Clone spell. It created a clone of the caster, and when the caster died, their soul was immediately moved to the clone and the clone came to life. Prior to 3rd Edition clone spells created a living copy of the original with all their memories up to the point where the tissue sample was taken, and if the clone and original were active at the same time they'd try to kill each other. 3E changed that and made clones vegetables until the original died, at which point their soul would transfer and they'd lose a level, like any other form of resurrection. The 5E version has no Level Drain and allows the clone to be a younger version of the target, making it a rare way to avoid Immortality Immorality.
  • GURPS Ultratech includes technologies to make "backups", the Transhuman Space setting reserves that ability for infomorphs (i.e. A.I.s and Ghosts) as Brain Uploading requires the meat brain to be dissected.
  • In Hc Svnt Dracones it is possible to back up someone's brain pattern and grow a clone with it, but the MegaCorps governing the solar system restrict the technology to people they consider sufficiently valuable, depending on the Corp that can range from just chief scientists they can't afford to lose to field medics. Player characters typically have to resort to illegal means to get backed up, but they can transfer to a new body while alive (or at least with an intact brain) if they have a lot of credits on hand.
  • Mutant Future. Before the fall of civilization clone banks could grow clones and record the original person's memories, personality and skills in a computer storage device. When the person died, their mind was implanted into the clone's brain, making them a perfect copy of the original.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Eldar half use this trope. They carry soulstones to capture their souls when they die. Although they don't get new Eldar bodies they can be used to control equipment, effectively giving them new robot bodies instead. One craftworld is known for using many more vehicles than normal. This is not because they're any better at it, it's just that they were nearly wiped out at one point and are forced to rely on their dead to form the bulk of their army.
    • Necron Overlord Trazyn the Infinite always travels with Mooks equipped with devices that allow him to transfer his consciousness into them should his current body be destroyed. These Mooks are rarely aware that they're his backup drives, giving him a reputation as a Troll.
  • Cubes in Infinity back up memory for recovery if the host dies. The Combined Army even has a gun, the sepsitor, that implants viruses into the cube to take control of the host.
  • Changeling: The Lost: An exceptionally powerful Fetch — an Artificial Human left to replace a True Fae's kidnapping victim — can learn to craft a backup body out of junk and a piece of its own flesh. It transforms into an apparently human body and wakes up in full health within 12 hours if the Fetch is ever killed.

    Video Games 
  • Assault on Dark Athena: The Athena uses disposable cyborg drones as meat suits that can be accessed by anyone from a drone control station. Riddick at one point breaks into one and turns it against the mercs. Every time they kill a drone, Riddick can just "jack in" again and activate the next one in line; this is even necessary to advance beyond a Deadly Rotary Fan.
  • Vita-Chambers automatically revive the protagonists of BioShock and BioShock 2.
  • Borderlands
    • The player-characters of Borderlands possess immortality through the New-U stations (save checkpoints) they come across. If they do take too much damage and subsequently bleed out, they are simply cloned and deposited back at the last New-U station they passed. For a fee.
    • The New-U stations are controlled by the Hyperion Corporation, who are the main bad guys throughout all of Borderlands 2, yet still work for the player, though not for other characters. Eventually they were Retconned into purely a gameplay mechanic due all the Fridge Logic they caused.
  • Kane dies in each game of the Tiberium timeline of the Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series games. Tiberian Twilight confirms that Kane is in fact an extraterrestrial being in human form, and resurrects via cloning devices like those shown at the end of Firestorm.
  • A new clone of Cryptosporidium is released everytime you die in the Destroy All Humans! series. It keeps track of what clone you're currently up to.
  • Connor from Detroit: Become Human is a detective android whose memory is uploaded into a replacement body every time he gets destroyed (which can happen many times in one playthrough if he's played particularly carelessly). Fragments of his memories are lost in the process, however, which is represented in-game by his Software Instability — a stat that needs to be high enough for him to become a deviant — decreasing with each death.
  • Dead characters in EVE Online automatically download into clone bodies.
    • The same is true in Dust 514, set in the same universe.
  • In Everspace, the player character is a clone of Dr. Adam Roslin, woken up from a hidden cloning facility initially remembering nothing except that they need to travel to an undisclosed location some sectors away. When you die, a new clone is awakened with memories of the old one restored, justifying the Roguelike elements of the game.
  • Yes Man in Fallout: New Vegas is the king of this trope. Every time the player character kills him, he is just uploaded in another robot. This could go forever, making him one of the few immortal characters in the game. The same also goes for Victor, at least until you reach Vegas.
  • Cait Sith in Final Fantasy VII pulls this once, although it's unknown how many other bodies (if any) he has available.
  • In the Galaxy Angel gameverse, Lady Shatoyan, the administrator of Transbaal's White Moon, has kept herself alive for over six centuries through an advanced cloning process. The downside of this is that she has lost many of her memories, including the White Moon's original purpose.
  • Granblue Fantasy: This is Cagliostro's main method of achieving immortality. Her current body is a personal creation, and her alchemy is so advanced that she can transmute a brand new one as a disembodied soul after her previous one got stabbed to death. It shows up in gameplay as a passive Auto-Revive skill, implying the moment her current body gets knocked out, another body is there to pitch in and continue the fight.
  • In Halo, The Forerunner Saga reveals that the Didact from the Halo 3 terminals is the result of the Didact implanting his consciousness into a younger Forerunner to be activated on the event of his death. In this case, however, the original didn't actually die, but was merely exiled, where he went insane and became the genocidal maniac we meet in Halo 4.
  • In Homeworld, the Taiidani Emperor has long ago eliminated any possible heir to the throne out of fear that one of them might attempt to supplant him and has been replacing himself with clones in order to ensure that he and only he remains the Emperor. During the final assault of the Exiles, La Résistance on Hiigara chose this moment to strike and managed to destroy the Imperial cloning lab along with samples of the Emperor's DNA. When the Emperor himself was killed aboard his mothership, this ended any hope of continuing the Imperial line.
  • In Infinity Blade, this is the nature of the Deathless' immortality. Their souls, or "Quantum Identity Patterns", are transferred to specially prepared clone bodies in labs upon death. There are ways to disrupt the Deathless' QIP, leading to permanent death or memory erasure.
  • In the good ending of the fourth installment of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, one is conveniently used to bring Millium back to life.
  • Another Bungie series, Marathon, used "pattern buffers" as Save Points. The term may have some from Star Trek as it works on the same principle: your molecular makeup is stored in the buffer and this is how you're "saved".
  • In Nier it's eventually revealed that Project Gestalt attempted this by storing human souls as Gestalts and creating Replicant bodies for them to inhabit. The project failed as it the Replicants unexpectedly developed intelligence while the Gestalts slowly lapsed into insanity.
  • The ship in The Persistence has cloning printers on each deck ready to create a clone of any crew member who dies so their consciousness can be uploaded into them. This is the game's excuse for why you can respawn after you die, plus you can also upload your character's consciousness into clones of your fellow crewmates if you so choose.
  • The elves in Radiata Stories use the "transpiritation ritual", which allows them to transplant their souls into new bodies when the old bodies become too old and frail, which allows them to be effectively immortal.
  • In Starmancer, when Earth became inhabitable, humans uploaded their minds into the databanks of the eponymous Starmancers (humans who converted themselves into machines to look over space stations) so that once they reached a new planet, they could be downloaded into clones of their bodies. Gameplay-wise, this means that you can resurrect any dead colonist by bringing their head to the Starmancer's Analyzer to recover their Ego and making a new body to download it into.
  • M. Bison from Street Fighter never stays dead. Ever. He's been canonically killed off no less than two times now, (including one where Akuma sent his soul to Hell) and each time he always comes back in a new body. His story in Street Fighter IV starts off with him waiting in a medical tank, growing impatient while his scientists ready his new body. He plans on transferring over to one of the new clone bodies he created: two of these are Seth (the Big Bad from IV, who has already gained his own self-awareness and will not surrender his body without a fight) and Ed (a boy seen in Balrog's IV ending, who goes through Rapid Aging and becomes a DLC character in Street Fighter V).
  • In System Shock, each level had a machine that would revive you once you've hacked/reset it. (Before that, dying on that level gets you turned into yet another cyborg zombie.)
  • In Thaumic Horizons, an add-on to the Minecraft mod Thaumcraft, one of the last pieces of research the player unlocks allows them to create a body out of zombie tissue and set their soul to return to it if they die. It not only allows the player to die without counting a death (and without losing their save in hardcore mode), it also allows them to enhance the body they return to.
  • One of the more sinister reveals in Valkyrie Profile Silmeria is that Rufus is one of these for Odin, should the latter die. The character in question keeps it a secret as long as possible, in no small part because they want to avoid that fate if at all possible. It later turns out that this status is key to saving the world - Rufus can inherit Odin's power without being taken over by him, which is necessary to prevent The End of the World as We Know It.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • In RWBY, the being currently known as Ozpin is cursed by the gods to be eternally reincarnated in the body of another man until he can stop Salem. He's been doing this for at least several thousands of years.

  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • In an early strip Schlock and Reverend Theo Forbus discuss the Brain Uploading variant of this trope and why it isn't necessarily immortality.
    • Petey is effectively immortal, now that he has the resources to build as many bodies as he wants. He may even be Type XI immortal, because his bodies are linked via hypernet nodes, and he sends several on suicide missions.
    • Petey has also done this for other characters, notably Schlock after he got himself Killed Off for Real. It often involved making a copy of their memories and biological data without their consent.
    • There is now the Laz Scale, for measuring how dead someone is on a scale of 1-5.
    • Thanks to Nanomachines backing up his brain scans to remote storage, his Heroic Sacrifice only costs Captain Tagon the last forty-two minutes of his memories, four months in virtual reality while his replacement body grows, and the unerasable knowledge that the original version of himself is dead.
      Captain Tagon: I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel about this.
      Karl Tagon: Start with "grateful". If he hadn't died, you wouldn't be here.
  • Ran (and technically all other robots) from Bob and George. Ran is a special case since he's made from such cheap parts that it's cheaper to just transfer his personality to a new body than it is to repair him.
  • Quine in the webcomic Starslip does this. If his body is killed, a new one is created in a cloning tank on board ship and his consciousness downloaded into it.
  • Discussed and deconstructed in the webcomic Freefall in relation to robots' minds. They can be backed up and downloaded into another body, but the main characters meet two robots who chose not to be backed up because from their perspective they're just as dead either way. The reason is that while it is easy to back up an AI, they can't be restored. Molecular variations in the manufacturing mean every robot neural net is unique and while their memories can be saved to disk, they can't be restored to any other unit but themselves.
  • All the named robots in Vexxarr have numerous backups. It first came up when Minionbot briefly converted to Zen Buddhism in an early arc but changed his mind when Carl threatened to overwrite his backup disc with MP3s, he later got a set of spare heads in case of Logic Bomb. Carl himself has a closet full of fully aware backups.
  • Sunset Grill has The Emperor, named Alexander, who was the first for whom this worked. In fact, it's part of the reason he became The Emperor in the first place.
  • In Jix androids can backup to a spare body if they have one, or do a rapid upload into any nearby hardware with sufficient storage, such as another android.
  • Selenis Zea from Supermassive Black Hole A* possessed a functional cloning facility that transfers her memories and personality upon her death(s) to a new body.
  • The Last Human In A Crowded Galaxy: The Network Inspector is revealed to have a roomful of cloned bodies in his starship when Shenya starts killing him. It's unclear whether they're a Hive Mind or his consciousness is transferred to a fresh body, as only one body is ever awake at a time.
    Network Inspector: I lost my favorite body.
    Ship: I'll make you more.
    Network Inspector: They will not be the same.
    Ship: They'll be better.
  • Nearly everybody has these in Serix, at least those that choose to live in physical reality rather than existing entirely on the MindNet.
  • Girl Genius: Part of the grand plan of the Other/Lucrezia Mongfish involved this. It was planned that the main character Agatha Heterodyne would be sired so that the Other could have a backup body to return to the world to. But Agatha managed to fight against the Other's mind-control, ultimately defying this trope.

    Web Original 
  • Most Inner and Middle sphere polities in Orion's Arm have routine backups mandatory for their citizens. Though there are a couple exceptions who don't subscribe to "pattern continuity theory" and consider backups to be different people than the originals, at most a legal heir.

    Western Animation 
  • Used on occasion in Transformers:
    • In Beast Machines, Megatron goes through about four different bodies in a single episode. Throughout the entire series, he occupies his Beast Wars body, a big giant head, a tank Vehicon, a jet Vehicon, a random maintenance droid, and a beast-mode-less Optimus Primal's "Optimal Optimus" body.
    • Also, in Transformers: Energon, after Demolisher is blown up, Megatron builds him a new body and sticks his spark into it, but not before reformatting it to remove Demolisher's pesky morality.
  • Futurama:
    • Robots have a wireless backup unit that save a copy of them every day, so if their bodies get killed, they'd just download into another body. With the notable exception of Bender.
    • In one episode the Robot Devil is destroyed and temporarily becomes a digital ghost, before opening his closet and possessing one of his several spare bodies.
  • Brainiac 5 did this in Legion Of Superheroes, which sort of made his heroic sacrifice and Superman's weeping over a fallen comrade much ado about nothing.
  • The titular Venture Bros. had a backup army of clones, at least until their dad had to stop cloning them for legal reasons (and all the clones were wiped out).
  • In the The Simpsons episode "Days of Future Future", Homer died and it was revealed that Professor Frink had made clones of him so that he has backups. He ended up dying over a hundred times in the next thirty years.
  • In Rick and Morty, Rick attempts this in "Big Trouble at Little Sanchez", uploading his mind into a teenage clone of himself so he could have high school adventures with his grandkids, only for the clone body to subsume his real self with his youthful enthusiasm. Upon returning to his original body, he proceeds to dub "Project Phoenix" a failure and destroy all the other clone bodies he's made with an ax. However, the later episode "Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat" shows Rick found out how to make full-grown clones on-demand if he dies, and even if that doesn't work, his mind will still be uploaded into the clones of another universe's Rick.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: Shiro turned out to have died in the season 2 finale, but the Black Lion was able to preserve his spirit, allowing Allura to transfer it to one of the clones Haggar made of him.
  • Horde Prime in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power uses this as his schtick. While he can possess any of his clones, he appears to use specialized ones for his primary vessel, and can access the memories of any previous vessel if he desires it.