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Came Back Strong

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"Darkness took me. But it was not the end.
I've been sent back until my task is done."

Master Kavar: I thought you had died in the Mandalorian Wars...
Kreia: "Die"? No — became stronger, yes.

The Hero is fighting The Dragon, or the Big Bad, and finds out they're hopelessly outmatched. The villain decides to go ahead and kill them off, and it's over. The hero is dead.

...or are they? Perhaps they were Only Mostly Dead or Death Is Cheap. Maybe The Medic was able to bring them back. Either way, they start to fight again and reveal that thanks to their defeat, they Took a Level in Badass and may have access to powers they never had before.

Congratulations, the hero just Came Back Strong. It's not a Desperation Attack or Heroic Resolve, but a permanent increase in one's Power Level. It could be that dying has opened their mind to new possibilities; they literally trained in hell; they were granted access to new spirit powers; a MacGuffin is used to help them return and they gain special abilities from it (often temporarily); the process that was used to revive them either healed a Game-Breaking Injury that restrained their power or gave them a new body better than the old one; they struck a Bargain with Heaven or a Deal with the Devil in the Afterlife Antechamber (or a bereaved relative or lover made one on his behalf); or maybe their race just makes them stronger from death.

Villains do this a lot too, of course. Many are the heroes who have watched their nemeses perish, only to later find their foes risen from the depths of Hell with greater power than ever before.

Contrast Came Back Wrong and Resurrection Sickness (although, on some occasions this Trope is not mutually exclusive with those). Compare Heroic Second Wind, which is similar to this without the nasty implications of death. Death-Activated Superpower is a subtrope. We Can Rebuild Him is a counterpart specifically concerning science and cybernetics.

As a Death Trope (or rather a reversion of it), many spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


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  • Michael Jordan used the trope name when he advertised Ray-O-Vac's "Renewal" rechargeable alkaline batteries from the early 90s.note 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan:
    • Eren Yeager suffers the loss of An Arm and a Leg and then ends up being swallowed by a Titan while rescuing his best friend. Good thing his Lovecraftian Superpower decided to manifest...
    • Later on, said best friend Armin is burned almost to death by the Colossal Titan's steam, and is then saved by being made a Mindless Titan and fed on the very Titan who nearly killed him.
  • After Salamander wakes him from his coma, Fuegoleon in Black Clover commands the fire spirit's power and is stronger than ever, gaining a great increase in the power of his Flame Magic. He even replaces his severed arm with one made of fire.
  • In Bleach, the straightest example would be Ichigo's near death, or Hollow, transformation to regain his spirit powers. The normal example of dying and becoming a shinigami or a Hollow does not work because you never come back to life, you stay dead. Ichigo's Hollow form is a unique example. Whenever Ichigo is Only Mostly Dead or outclassed and exhausted, it tends to take advantage of his weakness by taking control of his body.
    • After Ulquiorra blasts a hole straight through Ichigo's chest, the Hollow's powers go completely insane (seemingly neither Ichigo nor his Inner Hollow, which while vicious is also quite coherent, is in control, and instead their combined powers form a being of pure instinct), and tears apart Ulquiorra and nearly kills Ishida. It also tanks everything thrown at it and is only stopped by a combination of Ulquiorra attacking it while was distracted trying to fire off a Cero and the Cero in question exploding in its face as a consequence.
    • This is explicitly Gerard Valkyrie's power, dubbed "The Miracle". His opponents find out to their sorrow that every time they kill him, he simply just revives himself bigger and stronger than before. The person to finally land the killing blow is his own Bad Boss, who has the ability to steal powers from his underlings.
  • Kazuki of Buso Renkin gains his renkin as his heart because he almost dies. He also pulls this trope again in Episode 14.
  • Code:Breaker's Ogami pulls this trope twice. The first time when he was a child and received the Emperor's flame, and the second when Yuuki kills him and the Emperor allows him access to the next flame for making the correct choice.
  • In Delicious in Dungeon, Falin, after being resurrected with Red Dragon meat through Blood Magic, should not have had much, if any mana at all. Despite this, she was not only able to drop a protection spell strong enough to leave Senshi undamaged from a point-blank gas explosion, but she also did so instantly, without any incantation or preparation whatsoever.
  • Digimon:
    • In Digimon Adventure and Digimon Adventure 02, every time Myotismon is killed, he simply comes back in a more powerful form sooner or later.
      • In Adventure, he's killed by a powered up Celestial Arrow from Angewomon, but his bat familiars gather the data of his remaining minions to resurrect him as VenomMyotismon, who's notable as the first Mega Level Digimon in the anime's run. Unfortunately, while he was indeed stronger and far bigger, his intelligence took a hit and he reduced himself to a mindless, albeit resilient brute. Even still, it took everything the DigiDestined had to bring him down, even after WarGreymon and MetalGarurumon debuted.
      • In Adventure 02, his ghost stuck around in the real world and possessed Yukio Oikawa until they entered a world where dreams become reality. Now powered by several despair-filled children, Myotismon is able to revive himself as MaloMyotismon who's not only stronger than VenomMyotismon, but has a far more varied move pool (up to and including a Lotus-Eater Machine attack) and retains Myotismon's former intelligence on top of that. He's ultimately defeated via Rasputinian Death mixed with Talking the Monster to Death, which cuts him off from his power source and ends with his soul being destroyed by Imperialdramon Fighter Mode while powered up by every single Digivice, finally rendering him Deader than Dead (hopefully; the Digital World's Cosmic Retcon in Digimon Adventure tri. reopens the possibility of his return).
    • Etemon in the first series was swallowed up by a black hole caused when he and MetalGreymon first fought, and was apparently given a Disney Villain Death. However, he shows up in the Dark Masters Arc having digivolved into MetalEtemon, who's far stronger and invulnerable to most attacks thanks to his Chrome Digizoid armor. He puts up an even fight with the Dark Master Puppetmon and manages to mortally wound SaberLeomon, both of whom are fellow Megas, and he's only defeated through sheer coincidence (Zudomon's hammer is made out of the same substance, which allows him to crack MetalEtemon's armor just enough that he can be struck down).
    • In Digimon Adventure: (2020), this happens to Millenniumon. The forces of darkness used ZeedMillenniumon as an ultimate weapon in an ancient war. While uncontrollable and able to cause widespread devastation, it was defeated by the past selves of the Chosen Children's Digimon. In the present, its minions have fed it so much data that even as base-form Millenniumon, it can wreck entire landscapes. This is to say nothing of the apocalyptic destruction ZeedMillenniumon can now cause with casual ease. Whereas past ZeedMillenniummon was defeated a lot more easily, present ZeedMillenniummon was defeated by WarGreymon's Terra Force, further powered up by the entire Digital World as a deliberate nod to the Spirit Bomb.
    • An earlier example from Adventure: (2020) is the reboot's iteration of Devimon, who underwent a massive amount of Adaptational Badassery compared to his first outing. In his base form, he was able to take on MetalGreymon and WereGarurumon by himself, and was even harder to take down after digivolving into NeoDevimon. After that form defeated, a MoonMillenniummon shard is used to revive NeoDevimon as DoneDevimon, who almost kills Taichi and causes MetalGreymon to dark-digivolve into an incomplete Machinedramon, whom DoneDevimon still manages to curb-stomp. It takes Tokomon talking him down so he can briefly take on the form of WarGreymon, which is what finally does him in.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Saiyans have this as a racial ability: if a Saiyan can recover from a near-fatal injury, they receive a power-up. It doesn't have an official name, however fans have taken to calling it "zenkai" (full release) after the first japanese ending song for Dragon Ball Z. Before he discovered the wonders of training, Vegeta used this as his sole method of getting stronger. He uses this to his advantage on Namek to one-up Cui and Zarbon, and does it intentionally by having Dende heal him after letting Krillin almost kill him so he can fight Frieza. It's also used to explain how Goku gets so strong on his way to Namek and to give him a boost after being beaten by Captain Ginyu.note 
      • There's also the example of dying and then training in the afterlife, especially with King Kai. Goku learned the Kaio Ken, Spirit Bomb (AKA the Genki Dama), and gained his Super Saiyan 2 and 3 forms this way. Additionally, Yamcha, Tenshinhan and Chiaotzu are able to take on the Ginyu Force sans Captain Ginyu himself due to their training with King Kai (at least in the anime), and Piccolo got considerably stronger even before fusing with Nail.
    • There's also Freeza, who is maimed and near death when his shattered body is discovered by his father and rebuilt with cybernetics to be even stronger than before. It doesn't help. Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' toys with this, as the mere act of Freeza coming back to life isn't what powers him up; it's the realization that he can't just coast on his natural power, which leads him to train for the first time in his life and achieve a Golden Super Mode that puts him nearly at the level of a Physical God.
    • Cell self-destructs and re-forms thanks to having the Namekian Healing Factor, and gets a power boost because he has Saiyan cells so that he goes from being made chump change by Super Saiyan 2 Gohan to almost killing him in their final Beam-O-War that he only loses from outside intervention and is finished off completely because a repeat would have meant no one could beat him and a bad ending for the heroes. This is the last time this Saiyan trait is specifically mentioned. Even worse, his death happening in close contact with Goku allowed Cell to learn his Instant Transmission technique (he also claims to know the Spirit Bomb, but doesn't use it in the anime.)
    • There's also Shenron once Dende became Kami, who is now able to grant two wishes instead of one (they tried to allow him to grant three, but Piccolo tells them that letting him do that would prevent him from reviving multiple people.) This was apparently retconned later so that the dragon can grant three wishes, but multiple resurrections use the power of two wishes.
    • In Dragon Ball Super, Cabba gets brutally knocked out of the first tournament by Vegeta for this purpose, so that he can one day get strong enough to become Super Saiyan Blue.
    • After having been killed again in Resurrection F, Frieza was sent back to Hell. When recruited by Goku to fill the final spot in Universe 7's team for the Tournament of Power, Frieza reveals that he's spent all of this time in Hell meditating on his Golden form and has thus figured out how to master it. Thus the severely limited stamina that made him unable to beat Goku in a straight fight is gone, making him stronger than ever before.
  • The newly 3D-printed ISS in the final chapter of Dr. STONE reboot: Byakuya resembles a space city rather than a space station. This description would arguably also fit the newly revived Rei itself, but it's unclear if it's smarter or more capable than the previous incarnation.
  • In Fist of the North Star, the protagonist Kenshiro could barely defeat his former best friend-turned enemy Shin. After coming back from the brink of death and a few battles later, he surpasses Shin in speed and power.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed and Al both nearly die when they try to resurrect their mother. They barely survive and gain the ability to use alchemy without circles, and Al is also a Made of Indestructium Animated Armor. Overlaps with Blessed with Suck, since Ed lost a leg and an arm in the process, and Al loses his entire body, and cannot eat, sleep, or experience any senses aside from seeing and hearing. Oh, and binding a soul to an inanimate object is inherently unstable, so Al has an unspecified but finite amount of time for the brothers to figure out a way to get his body back.
    • Earlier, their father had his body replaced by a Philosopher's Stone containing over 500,000 souls, granting him near-immortality. This is actually what leads to him disappearing — he's very happy that he's survived long enough to meet his wife and children, but can't bear the thought of out-living them as well. During his research to making him fully mortal, he discovered Father's nation-wide circle and set out to stop it.
  • Future Diary: Minene Uryuu blows herself up in a Heroic Sacrifice, but her life is saved when Deus ex Machina gives her half of his power. She returns a few episodes later and helps Yukiteru with her newfound powers.
  • Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE has a very odd variation. During the time of the previous series, Hiroto was forced to kill his best EL-Diver friend, Eve, after she absorbed too much of the "Sarah factors" accidentally created. However, as Eve as data, part of that data was used in the creation of another EL-Diver, May, who proves to be a major Action Girl. So, in a way, Eve uses this trope as May.
  • Inuyashiki: The title character is a 58-year-old salaryman who's diagnosed with inoperable cancer and given only a few months to live. While walking his dog, aliens accidentally plow into both Inuyashiki and a nearby teenager with their UFO and rebuild them as cyborgs loaded with advanced weaponry. While Inuyashiki decides to use his newfound powers for good, the teenager, Hiro Shishigami, turns out to be a sociopath who becomes an unstoppable serial killer.
  • Kagerou Project: Played straight with every main character, who all came back with superpowers after dying on August 15th. The best examples are Takane Enomoto and Haruka Kokonose, both rather ill in life, who came back as an immortal digital being and a super-strong version of himself, respectively.
  • In King of Thorn, Marco Owen is killed by Zeus. However, another character sacrifices her life to bring him back, and the new Medusa-enhanced body she gives him has useful new abilities such as resistance to Zeus's electrical attacks.
  • Naruto:
    • Zig-Zagged with anyone brought back through Edo Tensei / Reanimation, since the zombies it creates can regenerate from ash and have unlimited stamina. Too bad you still have to follow the summoner's orders unless you're Itachi or Madara. The stand-out example would be (the REAL) Madara. He's physically in his prime but has all the modifications he could only make after he was too decrepit to show them off, and doesn't have to worry about little things like being bisected. However, it's mentioned that the zombies can be weaker than their living selves as a result of the summoner's own lack of mastery of the jutsu and/or the quality of the bodies used as a sacrifice. The First and Second Hokages revived by Orochimaru were brought back nowhere near their true power when they fought the elderly Third Hokage. Kabuto mastering and perfecting the jutsu mostly fixed this, while Orochimaru possessing a White Zetsu and using other White Zetsus as shells for the four Hokages' spirits allows them to use much more of their true power, particularly Hashirama since the White Zetsus were technically created using his cells.
    • Surprisingly, Madara came back even stronger after being truly resurrected through Rinne Tensei. Apparently, having a real body gives him access to techniques enough to curb-stomp the 9 bijuus, Naruto, Sasuke, and Tobirama altogether. The aforementioned curb-stomp resulted in Naruto and Sasuke having a near-death experience. They came back, with Rikudo Sennin's powers, namely Rikudo Senjutsu and Rinnegan, power-ups enough to match the now Jichuuriki Madara.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, it is later revealed that Negi died from Heroic RRoD after his fight with Dynamis, and came back via Magia Erebea, fusing with it in the process.
  • One Piece:
    • Brook plays this somewhat straight. He died and came back as a skeleton, so, while he isn't explicitly stronger, he is much faster now, a lot harder to kill, and able to do things like run on water or jump distances that are ridiculous even by One Piece standards. This is all explained by skeleton!Brook apparently having the same level of strength that human!Brook did, but vastly lower mass.
    • Baron Tamago's Egg-Egg Fruit lets him come back from just about anything stronger than before; the base form usually seen is the Egg form; bisect/smash/generally kill him in that, and he'll crack and spill egg yolk, from which Viscount Hiyoko, a chick (as in baby chicken) version of Tamago, is reborn. Viscount Hiyoko is significantly stronger and much faster, which gives his killer a nasty surprise. And if you kill that, more yolk is spilled, and from that one Count Niwatori, the rooster version that is strongest of all and "a true knight", is reborn. While parties involved in discovering this flee before they can confront Niwatori, Word of God says that if he dies in that form, he just goes back to Tamago, restarting the cycle. It's not entirely known how to make any damage stick, but we know he's not completely invincible since the scar Pedro gave him long ago is still there, and it's suggested killing him while the yolk's still fresh is perfectly possible.
  • This is how Garou from One-Punch Man progresses in power. At the start of his arc, he's barely strong enough to fight off the relatively low ranked Tank Top Master in S-class. Through multiple life and death battles, by the end of the arc, his monster form allows him to curbstomp the entire Hero's Association S-Class (Besides Blast). It still isn't enough to amount to much against Saitama, though it makes the second time one of his opponents can keep up and survive blows from his normal punches. It acts like the Zenkai boost from Dragon Ball above, albeit with a much stronger Healing Factor.
  • In Princess Resurrection, one has to die in order to become an immortal blood warrior.
  • A few characters in Psyren.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion, Sayaka Miki comes back to life as a master swordswoman, able to pull off tricks like stabbing Homura's time shield before she can use it to freeze time. It's explained that she gained the memories of her past incarnations from the "Groundhog Day" Loop, giving her tremendous experience. She also gained the ability to summon her witch form, Oktavia von Seckendorff, to assist her in battle. The ending is sort of a dark twist on the concept: Homura, moments before being carried off to heaven, suddenly unleashes her new eldritch powers (apparently gained by becoming a witch without breaking her soul gem), and uses them to steal Madoka's Physical God powers and become a full-fledged demon.
  • Tsukune Aono from Rosario + Vampire combines this trope with Came Back Wrong via liberal use of vampire blood. Later it's just this trope when he learns to control his Superpowered Evil Side. Ultimately, Tsukune outright becomes a vampire, which in this story has very few downsides.
  • Phoenix Ikki in Saint Seiya. Every time he's killed, he comes back twice as strong. Given that he died quite a few times (and actually did it multiple times on purpose during his fight with the invincible Virgo Shaka), he's an undisputed powerhouse now.
  • The best way to increase one's spirit energy in Shaman King is to die, severely injured, or be in a near-death state because this brings one closer to the spirit world. All of the main warrior characters die at least once in the manga, and some die several times. In the anime, the Tome of The Shaman enabled the main characters spirit energy to raise, and after Len and Yoh had nearly been killed they came back stronger, with Len curb-stomping 1/3 of Zeke's followers combined with The Power of Friendship, and Yoh was able to give his brother a Villainous Breakdown.
  • This is essentially how Tenchi came across his God-like potential in Tenchi Muyo!. The first time, he's nearly killed by a reflected shot by the Souja and only saved by Ayeka's guardians and Tsunami. When Tsunami heals him, she lets him know of his power, which allows him to beat Kagato. The second time, he took an attack meant for Ryoko by Z, which skyrocketed his powers to God-tier, literally. After the second one, Tsunami, Tokimi, and Washu agree that he needs to come into this power a lot more naturally and hit the Reset Button. He's much stronger in the new timeline.
  • Tokyo Ghoul plays with this trope.
    • Ken Kaneki emerges from each brush with death more powerful than before, essentially being reborn in a stronger form. The series begins with him barely surviving a Ghoul attack, and ending up transformed from a normal human into a Half-Human Hybrid. Some time later, he is tortured for over a week and kept in a near-death state until he begins to hallucinate and ends up symbolically killing his humanity, devouring the symbolized form of his Ghoul half and emerging with his powers fully awakened — with a new Red Right Hand including white hair to fully symbolize his transformation. His quest to become more powerful eventually leads to a third "death", as the insane Kakuja "Centipede", a state he describes as devouring himself and dying. At the finale, he is again left in a near-death state after his battle with Arima. In the sequel, he is revealed to have become Amnesiac Hero Haise Sasaki and is shown to have gotten even stronger as a result.
    • In the sequel, former Plucky Comic Relief Seidou Takizawa combines this with Came Back Wrong. Revealed to have survived being Fed to the Beast through the same Emergency Transformation that Kaneki once endured, he returns as an incredibly powerful (and deranged) Half-Human Hybrid. He quickly establishes himself as a major threat, slaughtering his way through every Investigator in his path.
  • Battler, from Umineko: When They Cry, takes Dlanor's Red Key through the chest at the climax of Episode 5. His death gives him as much time as he needed to think back over the mysteries of the novel, realise what he'd been missing, come to understand the Truth of the Game and will himself back to life as one of the most badass and powerful characters in a series filled with already-overpowered characters.
  • Yusuke from YuYu Hakusho did not awaken his spirit powers until after his death, and later he awakened his demon powers after his second death. In the former case, Koenma explains that his time as a ghost made him more aware of his spirit energy; everyone has it, most people just don't know how to use it. It's outright stated that the latter instance happened because of the former. At the time of his first death, Yusuke was merely a slightly strong human. At his second, he was an A-Class fighter who could send someone flying with the shockwave of a relatively weak punch.
  • In Zatch Bell!, Kiyomaru dies or comes very close to it in Faudo, and when he reawakens his heart power is massively increased and he gains the Answer-Talker ability. An innate and little understood psychic power, you get this power by having the potential and strict training (like Dufort) or coming back from the dead (like Kiyo). Answer-Talker grants the user the ability to answer any question as well as being able to understand things from on the spot and become an instant expert on subjects. Dufort used this to great effect during his battle with Kiyo and Kiyo himself uses it to guide his allies to victory with perfect strategies as well as for more mundane things like predicting weather or reading a dead language no else can.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Tuktuk the Explorer, combining this trope with Magikarp Power. As a three mana 1/1, Tuktuk is well below the power curve. However, if he is sent to the graveyard, you place a 5/5 token into play called "Tuktuk the Returned".
    • Polukranos, Unchained is a 0/0 legendary creature, but gains six +1/+1 counters upon entering the battlefield. When it Escapes, it instead gains twelve +1/+1 counters.
    • Undying is a keyword with this effect. If a creature with undying is sent to the graveyard from the battlefield, it returns to the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter. (If it is sent to the graveyard again, it stays dead.) Undying Evil is a spell which grants any creature undying. If combined with persist (which leads to "came back weaker", but die permanently if killed while weaker), the conditions counter each other and you can get creatures that simply never die.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: According to the Gagaga Academy Tospedia card storylines, "Reaper" was on the verge of death due to the out-of-control magic he was using. "Hierophant" and "Empress", unwilling to stand aside any more, were determined to try and save his life by exorcising the Dark Magic inside him by amplifying the Light Magic that existed inside him all along. At the end of the intense conflict between Holy and Wicked magic, he ended up being revived in a miracle.
    • Some monsters, most notably the "Darklord" archtype, gain additional effects when summoned from the Graveyard or returning from being Banished.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers: Nico in Avengers Arena is mortally wounded but manages to cast the spell "help" before dying. Since the blood sacrifice for it was literally everything she had, the result was resurrecting her, new and improved.
  • In the Batman storyline Robin Rises, this accidentally happens with Damian, who resurrects as a Flying Brick due to the residual power from the resurrection. We get a few issues of him absolutely reveling in his new powers, only for them to suddenly disappear as the residue wears off.
  • The obscure Golden Age Marvel Comics character Blue Blaze was killed when a tornado caused him to get a face full of mysterious blue fire. Nearly a century later, he suddenly resurrected as a Flying Brick.
  • In Captain America, Sharon Carter was slowly dying from a combination of premature aging from spending too long in Dimension Z and also damage to her soul from having it partially drained by Selene Gallo. After a bunch of Captain America affiliated heroes ganged up on Selene and defeated her, Princess Shuri of Wakanda performed a magic rite which broke Selene's Bloodmarine artifact to restore Sharon's soul and those of others Selene stole from. So much excess spiritual energy was released that Shuri was not only able to restore Sharon's youth too but augment her strength, speed and endurance to about 60% of Captain America's power.
  • Phoenix from The Dark Phoenix Saga, overlapping with Came Back Wrong — at least until the Retcon that the "Jean Grey" from the shuttle crash to her death on the moon was an impostor.
  • Doctor Strange, as part of his trials to become Sorcerer Supreme, had to meet Death in combat. When he realized he couldn't defeat or escape Death, he surrendered entirely to it, died, and was restored to life — now functionally immortal.
  • This temporarily happened to Doctor Doom in Mark Millar's Fantastic Four run. He gets thrown to the past by a villain called the Marquis, and survives as he put it "by sheer hatred", Pre Retcon that is. Dark Avengers shows readers that he's saved by the time-traveling Thunderbolts. It still doesn't explain his supposed power-up being lost, though his power-up was regarded as Canon Discontinuity by all the other writers since.
  • A case of came back smart occurs in Immortal Hulk. Its revealed that ever time The Leader is reverted back to his much less intelligent human identity Samuel Sterns, Samuel spends as much time as he can getting smarter the older fashioned way. That way when he inevitably becomes The Leader again he’ll be even smarter than before.
  • In Invincible, Allen the Alien becomes stronger every time he regenerates from life-threatening wounds. At the beginning of the series, he was barely able to fight the Virtumites one on one. Now he's more than a match for one or two of them. With the exception of Grand Regent Thragg.
  • Judge Dredd foes the Dark Judges became living dead of their own choice. The process required their murder by the witches who performed the ritual, but they went from normal Ax-Crazy judges to immortal unstoppable killer ghost-zombies.
  • King Thor: Gorr returns even more powerful than he had been prior to his death in Thor: God of Thunder, though it's revealed that this is due to his consciousness piloting the All-Black symbiote rather than him being restored to a flesh-and-blood body.
  • Later, in the Planet X arc of New X-Men, Jean and Wolverine are headed into the sun, and Wolvie kills Jean to spare her the agony of incineration. She soon awakens in full Phoenix mode, reshapes the asteroid into a ship with the power of her mind, and easily returns to Earth. And this time, she came back right.
  • Robin (1993): After being shot during the gang war and revived by Johnny Warlock using her father's life Darla Aquista comes back with incredible magical powers, to the point that she can casually blast Superboy across Bludhaven and leave him hurting for a while afterwards.
  • After Murphy is dismantled, turned into a digital program, and forced to usher in Judgment Day in the first half of RoboCop Versus The Terminator, he finds a vulnerable Terminator and builds himself a new body, including a recreation of his old face, a laser version of his Auto-9, and a jetpack akin to the one he used in RoboCop 3 to fight against Skynet.
  • Scott Pilgrim: In the sixth volume, Scott gets killed by Gideon, gets trapped in limbo, comes back (because of his extra life), and defeats Gideon, thanks to the power of understanding.
  • A trait of The Sentry's arch enemy, the Void, is that he always comes back from defeat more dangerous and evil than before. The Sentry's debut miniseries had the Void's threat grow to apocalyptic proportions.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) had almost all of the Knothole Freedom Fighters down and out in the leadup to Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Collide, with Sally roboticized, Bunnie de-roboticized and willing to undergo legionization to get her fighting capabilities back, and Antoine near-death from an explosion. The resulting Cosmic Retcon reversed all of the situations, and Rotor and King Max were also positively affected by the changes. The team also gets a flying base and personal hoverboards that increases their mobility and teamwork.
  • In the Star Wars Legacy comics, Big Bad Darth Krayt comes back from the dead and is no longer bothered by the crippling Yuuzhan Vong implants while also becoming more formidable and Drunk on the Dark Side than ever. He then attempts to invoke this trope on Cade Skywalker, hoping Cade will have the same reaction with The Dark Side and finally be his disciple, but it just encourages Cade to embrace the Light Side and kill Krayt.
  • Superman:
  • In the original Thanos stories in the 1970s, this was how Adam Warlock "finally" defeated Thanos. Thanos himself is later resurrected with a considerable power boost from Mistress Death.
  • In The Transformers (IDW), this is the origin story established for Optimus Prime. He was once Orion Pax, a Super Cop, but he was betrayed and left for dead by Megatron after overthrowing the corrupt government. However, despite being almost dead, he was drawn to a vault containing the long-lost Matrix of Leadership, which changed Orion Pax into, you guessed it, Optimus Prime.
  • Über has the character "Katyusha" Maria, a Russia sniper exposed to the substance that makes superhumans but also often kills. To say her reaction is severe is an understatement — she literally wakes up in a mass grave, but once the process is complete becomes one of the most dangerous Ubers in the war.
  • In Violine, Muller comes back after surviving his apparent death at the jaws of crocodiles, losing his arms, and replacing them with mechanical ones with claws, giving him increased strength, and taking a level in badass, revealing himself to be the series' Greater-Scope Villain.
  • Watchmen's Dr. Manhattan also fulfills this trope, although it's not solely his death that is the catalyst of his powers, but the way he died. That is being disintegrated at the sub-atomic level but remaining conscious and disembodied for months before figuring out how to make a new body.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): After Diana gets killed by Neron, the Dodekatheon revives her as a full-blown Physical God. This is zig-zagged as Olympus' Alien Non-Interference Clause forbids her from intervening to help any mortal who hasn't prayed to her.
  • In X-Men: The Krakoan Age, it's discovered that the newly invented process for resurrecting mutants will also restore them if they were depowered during Decimation. Such is the impact on the multitude of mutants who desperately want their powers back that the rite of the Crucible is created to keep them from cluttering up the backlog of resurrections from mutants who were killed off too much.
    • After Moira MacTaggert had been zapped with the mutant neutralizer, she also had her arm cut off and her body infested with bio-engineered cancer. Dying, she was able to hold out long enough to force at gunpoint a genius inventor Tech Bro to help her build a powerful robotic body to do a Brain Upload into it just before she died.

    Fan Works 
  • Due to the spell in question being far more powerful, Jesse McNally in The Hell-er-Nator: Chaos Machine comes back to life with the powers and experience of Iron Fist.
  • In Child of the Storm, Harry is killed in chapter 70 of the first book by Daken, during a HYDRA raid on Hogwarts. Since his protection in this universe comes from the Phoenix (which merged with Lily, who became the White Phoenix of the Crown as part of the deal), this was a catastrophically bad idea. It's revealed in the sequel that he can tap into the Phoenix fragment within him at will, either to boost his already significant Psychic Powers and magical abilities, or to become a watered down version of a Phoenix Host which rapidly gets stronger when boosted by either the Power of Love or the Power Of Hate. Considering what Harry goes through, the latter is a good indication of why most people don't think this is a good thing. Plus, it tends to weaken the fabric of reality in his immediate vicinity.
  • In Crossed Paths, several of the heroes' old enemies get resurrected and are tougher than ever. The swordsman whom Indiana Jones infamously shot can now deflect bullets with his sword and fight evenly against someone of Samurai Jack's caliber. Demongo is no longer a Squishy Wizard, etc.
  • In the Death Note Revenge Fic, Apples Equals Cyanide Equals Light, Light Yagami becomes a Shinigami after his death, which makes him nearly immortal, along with other advantages.
  • In Super Sentai vs. Power Rangers: The Liveblog, after a heroic sacrifice by having the All-Stars defeat them before they transformed into Radiguet's monsters, the Scouts return with stronger powers granted by the Phantom Ranger, Sentinel Knight, and Aka Red. Mako gains stronger Wind-based powers, Tori would have a stronger control over water, Xander gains access to stronger Forest-themed magic, Dan can manipulate shadows and have more powerful Energy attacks, and Mao would get all the Yellow Rangers' Keys without the need to borrow any of them from the past heroes. The sixth scout, Sean, becomes the Ultimate Red Legendary Ranger, gaining the powers of all the past Red Rangers.
  • Pony POV Series:
    • In the Dark World Arc, Twilight has her Element of Chaos ripped out by Angry Pie, causing her to begin rapidly aging to death. However, she gets Trixie's Element of Magic from her grave (it's heavily implied to have been a gift from Trixie's spirit), restoring her and teaching her all of Trixie's spells.
    • At the end of Dark World, Rarity, now the Alicorn of the Mortal World Queen Libra, is given the chance to bring everyone who died as a result of Discord and his minions' actions Back from the Dead. Due to Heaven encouraging continuing the pursuits you did in life if you genuinely enjoyed them and they weren't evil, now possibly studying under the spirits of past masters in that craft, several ponies were subject to this trope. For example, Apple Pie's sister Poison Apple has spent the time since her passing until now training in alchemy with Zecora and came back with much more advanced knowledge to the point of being able to whip up a brew to melt the bars of a prison cell.
    • This is pretty much the end result of a Shadow of Existence fusing with the pony who inherited their Light of Existence. While their name and appearance remain the same as the pony they fused with (though may gain a name), they've essentially recreated the soul of the original pony they were and now have the combined abilities and traits of their two halves. This has happened to Applebloom (who fused with G3 Toola Roola's Shadow of Existence), AK Yearling (who fused with G3 Puzzlemint's), and Lovestruck (who fused with Cupid's Shadow, being the {Reincarnation of Cupid's G3 self). Of the three, Yearling is the straightest example of this trope, as Pandora's influence resulted in them creating the real-world version of Daring Do.
  • Species-wide example in the Warhammer 40,000 Dark Fic, The Age of Dusk. Most factions believed the Orks were eradicated back in the 51st Millennium, but this is not the case: Ork spores lay dormant on several planetary ecosystems, which over a long time finally grew back as Orks, only this time they are far more disciplined and organised than before. Also happens with the Eldar god of murder, Khaine, who is resurrected by the Dark Eldar - Khaine mops the floor with Slaanesh, when the first time they fought, Slaanesh shattered Khaine into pieces.
  • In Fates of Ice and Fire, Robert Baratheon comments on how he and the others who have been summoned as Servants for the Holy Grail War have been brought back to life in their physical prime and with superpowers.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged :
    • The Dragon Ball Z example is played with after Dende first heals Krillin and Gohan.
      Vegeta: Unlike the runt [Gohan] and I, you don't get a power boost from it.
      Krillin: HAX!!! I CALL HAX!!!
    • Team Four Star also speculate that this applies to Saiyan sperm cells, and point out that Goten was born after Goku took an apocalyptic punch to the nuts from Super 13.
  • Escape from the Moon: In the sequel The Mare From the Moon, it's noted that every time she dies and resurrects, Spliced Genome adapts to what killed her, making it harder and harder for her to die by that particular thing again, and she revives faster and faster.
  • In Son of the Sannin, Rin Nohara of all people is revived by Obito. The process has granted her the first Hokage's Wood Release, a Healing Factor that allows her to even regenerate lost limbs, and she no longer requires food (only water) to sustain herself. According to Zetsu, she's now virtually impossible to kill, just like Obito wanted. Chapter 94 reveals Madara is also undergoing the process to restore himself to his prime.
  • This is downplayed in Life Ore Death but while Ferris wakes up from her coma still bodily weak, she has some form of Battle Aura powerful enough to scare and sicken magically sensitive characters, and she's still strong enough to beat up two superhuman attackers almost immediately.
    • Mixed with Came Back Wrong in the story's Halloween episode, where Solomon Grundy rampages around Fawcett City.
  • In Ashes of the Past, Ash gets vaporized by the original timeline Cyrus and Primal Dialga. A few scenes later, he's resurrected by the Sacred Ash in a pillar of Sacred Fire, using the GS Ball to No-Sell the attack used to kill him, as well as Primal Palkia's equivalent of it. He also sends out Arceus, a third Creation Trio, and Sir Aaron (as a Riolu) from the Ball.
  • In Pokemon: The Fellowship of the Aura, Tobias arrives to take Ash into the afterlife in chapter 2. Ash refuses, though, and Tobias is forced to strangle him into giving up, and teleports Ash's body, along with his Pikachu who didn't want to lose him, into the Tree of Beginning and locks them inside a crystal. Serena finds his body 5 years later, and wakes him up right on schedule. Ash and Pikachu come back to life, having spent the last 5 years training their aura powers in the afterlife.
  • A Peaceful Afterlife:
    • Stand Users in Hell tend to expand upon their abilities during their stay. Kira's powers are essentially the same, albeit with more creative applications as time goes on, though he does discover new variations as time goes on. Most notable is HOLY DIVER, who can now stop time for an undefined period, and can even create 'bubbles' of frozen/unfrozen time to restrain people or have someone else move about in the frozen time. Combine that with the fact that he's inherited The World's strength and speed, it's easy to see how he became a lord of Hell itself.
    • God Given (AKA Donatello Versus) has essentially the same powers as he did on earth, but since this is Hell he can freely summon an army of exorcists to do his bidding, making him one of the most outright deadly demons in Hell.
  • Code Prime: During the Final Battle against Megatron at the climax of R2: Revolution, he manages to strike the Shinkiro with a blast from the Dark Star Saber, killing Lelouch. However, as this happens in C's World while Neo-Ragnarok is linking Earth and Cybertron, the spirits of the Thirteen Primes are able to speak with Lelouch's spirit and offer him a portion of their power; when he accepts, he's resurrected along with the Shinkiro being reconstructed in a new form called Zero Prime. Using this to channel the Primes' power, he's able to overpower Megatron and cancel out the Dark Energon allowing him to use V.V.'s stolen Code, rendering him mortal and killing him.
  • The Forbidden Drink has an even bigger example than canon. Since Luz is already a Titan hybrid due to having drunk the Titan's blood to keep it away from Belos, Papa Titan reviving and imbuing her with his power after Belos kills her during their Final Battle instead turns her into a full-size Titan. And whereas in canon she loses the Titan power after killing Belos, here she still has it and can shift between human, hybrid, and Titan forms at will.
  • The Herald and Her Knight: The story begins with Ariane Yeong awakening in her cryostasis pod to discover that she is inexplicably no longer suffering from the radiation poisoning that was killing her, and that she now possesses incredible bioresonant abilities.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The LEGO Movie, Emmet becomes a Master Builder after "dying", getting a glimpse of the human world, and returning.
  • In The Transformers: The Movie, the nearly-dead Megatron is thrown into space after his and Prime's final battle. Then he encounters Unicron and is reformatted into Galvatron, gaining power great enough to kill a Transformer and blow up planets with one shot.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Avengers keep destroying Ultron's mechanical chassis, only to have him upload himself into increasingly upgraded physical forms. In the climax, the main Ultron body is made of Vibranium.
  • Charlie St. Cloud: After almost dying in a car accident, Charlie gains the ability to see and speak with the dead.
  • Sara of The Craft nearly died but she managed to invoke the power of Manon.
  • Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th films. In his first appearance (which happened in the second film; his mother was the killer in the first movie) he's just a regular human. A very large, strong, and tough human, but still a human. But after he's killed he comes back as a near-unstoppable undead abomination. This only gets worse in Jason X when he's accidentally upgraded with cybernetic implants.
  • Ghostquake: the spell that Alger Danforth and Female Acolyte used to return from death as ghosts resulted in them gaining borderline Reality Warper powers that increase in strength the more souls they claim. Ortiz uses the same spell when Danforth kills him to return as a ghost, allowing him to hold him off long enough for Danforth's Soul Jar to be destroyed and then destroys Danforth's soul.
  • Godzilla:
    • Happens twice to King Ghidorah in the film Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack!. Once when Mothra sacrifices herself and Ghidorah absorbs her essence to become stronger and once when Ghidorah absorbs an artifact from the shrine in which he was placed/worshiped. However, it's still not enough to defeat Godzilla.
    • Occurs to Godzilla himself in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II when Rodan sacrifices himself to revive Godzilla after Mechagodzilla nearly kills him. Godzilla becomes more powerful because of it and gains his most powerful attack-the Spiral Beam, which he uses to utterly obliterate Mechagodzilla.
  • Hardcore Henry: However Henry was killed before the movie started, it absolutely mangled his body. Now, however, he's an ass-kicking cyborg super soldier.
  • A premature death (usually violent) is what awakens the quickening of the immortals of Highlander which enables them to live forever and rapidly heal from any injury.
  • This happens to Sing in Kung Fu Hustle. Beaten practically to death, he somehow emerges from his cocoon of bandages as a superpowered master. The beating apparently opened all the previously blocked chi paths in his body, unlocking his heavily-foreshadowed hidden potential.
  • The Matrix:
    • Neo only gets to awaken his spoon-bending powers after being killed by Agent Smith in the first movie.
    • Smith himself becomes this in the sequels. The first movie ends with Neo destroying him, but he refuses to be deleted and becomes a Rogue Drone with the power to turn others into copies of himself.
  • In The Mummy Returns, Evelyn has become a tough and capable Badass Bookworm in the years since the first film by picking up some of her husband Rick's brawling techniques. But this doesn't save her from being fatally stabbed by Anck-su-namun. When Alex brings her back to life with the incantations within the Book, Evelyn picks up the memories of her previous life as the warrior princess Nefertiti (who could only ever fight Anck-su-namun to a draw). When they fight again in the climax, Evelyn combines Nefertiti's old memories with her new tricks, and cleans Anck-su-namun's clock.
  • RoboCop (1987): Alex Murphy is killed in action, but he is reconstructed as the titular cyborg, an implacable crime-fighting machine.
  • RoboCop 2: Overwhelmed by armor-piercing weaponry, cut into pieces and left hanging by a thread, Murphy gets rebuilt into a renewed, shiny and properly fixed-up version. After getting rid of extra directives intended to make him ineffective, he goes against the same people who disabled him the first time around and really tears them a new one.
  • Resurrection (1980): After surviving a car crash that killed her husband, a woman finds that she has miraculous healing powers.
  • In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Scott gets killed by Gideon, gets trapped in limbo, comes back (because of his extra life). He manages to reconcile with Kim, apologize to both Ramona and Knives for cheating on both of them, and then finally kicks Gideon's ass.
  • Terminator Genisys: Pops is seemingly killed at the climax stopping the T-3000, his body getting utterly wrecked and thrown into a pool of un-programmed mimetic polyalloy before Genisys gets blown to kingdom come. Then he shows up outside the bunker where Sarah and Reese took shelter, sporting the polyalloy of a T-1000 and the abilities that come with it due to where his body and CPU fell.

  • In F.L. Wallace's short story Student Body where colonists on an alien planet deal with escalating threats from local fauna, starting with pests that feed on their crops and working up to large predators. Eventually, someone works out that it's the same life form, coming back stronger each time they wipe it out. He realizes this just in time to stop them from killing an alien that looks human:
    "I think we can deal with this one. What I don't want to face is what comes next."
  • The Beginning After the End: At the end of Volume 7, Arthur, despite being one of the strongest mages on the Dicathian side, was barely able to hold his own against two of the strongest Scythes that the Vritra had at their disposal. He is forced to overexert his powers to keep fighting, and when that fails his bond Sylvie is forced to sacrifice herself to not only keep him from tearing his body apart but to send him off to safety into an unknown location, and in the aftermath he also finds out that his Mana Core has been irreparably damaged beyond repair as a result. In spite of all of this, Arthur ends up gaining new powers that match if not outright exceed his previous powerset. He learns that Sylvie's sacrifice has made his body part Asura (which allows him to regenerate quickly), develops a replacement Core that runs on Aether instead of Mana (which allows him to manipulate the elements again albeit indirectly) and gains a more comprehensive understanding of it that exceeds that of the Asuras, learns game-changing spells such as Destruction and Aroa's Requiem, awakens the Acclorite Wren gave him before the war (which manifests as a Shapeshifter Weapon Fighting Spirit named Regis), and acquires a ancient suit of Powered Armor that only he can wear due to him being a descendant of the Djinn. In the climax of Volume 9, Arthur gets to put all his newfound abilities to good use. In his rematch with those two Scythes, he effortlessly knocks out one in a Single-Stroke Battle that destroys said Scythe's Mana Core and slays the other before promptly escaping back to his friends and family in Dicathen. Once there, he ends up fighting an Asura sent to kill them, one who had stymied all of the remaining Lances, and slays him as well. As if that were not enough, Volume 10 has Arthur capitalize on his newfound power and reputation to single-handedly undo the Alacryan Conquest of Dicathen in a matter of days. However, Arthur's comeback is undercut by the fact that even though he is now one of the strongest mortal mages in the world, he knows that he alone won't be enough to take on the Asuras who have caused much of the conflict in the setting.
  • In the world of The Belgariad, resurrection in any form was impossible until the Orb Of Aldur was recovered.
    • When Durnik, (aka 'The Man with Two Lives'), was killed by Zedar, the Gods conferred and agreed unanimously to allow his resurrection by Belgarion, Errand and the Orb at Polgara's pleading. He went from being an ordinary man to being an immortal Sorcerer later proven capable of slam-dunking a DEMON LORD singlehandedly.
    • Earlier in the series, Belgarion brings back a colt that died immediately after birth. The horse the colt grows into is supernaturally strong, able to translocate, apparently highly intelligent (well, for a horse, anyway), and quite probably immortal. Fitting, as he turns out to be fated to be the horse of a god. Belgareth and Polgara conclude that the only reason that Belgarion succeeded in resurrecting it was that he didn't know it was impossible. Well, that and doing it in a cave the Gods had used as a meeting place before they left the world.
  • Stephen King's The Dead Zone: A man is critically injured in a car accident and is in a coma for five years. When he wakes up, he has psychic powers, including precognition and psychometry. Heavily averted physically, though; his body deteriorated significantly with years of complete disuse, and he needs years of rehab and several painful surgeries, knowing he will still never be as physically capable as he was before the coma.
  • Jupiter, the Big Bad of the Deptford Mice trilogy, was skilled at frightening black magic when he was alive, but when he returns from the dead his powers are vastly increased. He is a gigantic ghost with the power to freeze the entire world. The Anti-Cat Charm, a talisman that was instrumental in his initial defeat, is now nothing more than a "trifling toy" to him which he quickly and easily shatters.
  • Dragaera: A variation happens in Issola when Lady Teldra gets killed with a Morganti weapon. Vlad uses it to create a new Great Weapon, which makes him permanently stronger, starting with slaying a Jenoine.
  • In Dragon Blood, Oreg comes back, after Ward killed him. Not only with stronger magic, but he's also a dragon.
  • Dreamcatcher by Stephen King (book and film): Jonesy's near-death experience is necessary for him to fight off Mr. Gray — to the point that the heroes' mentally-retarded messianic spirit guide appears to him in a vision to make him almost kill himself so as to prepare him to battle aliens.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • In Grave Peril, at the climax of the book Harry is killed by the Nightmare in his dreams and is immediately revived via CPR. When he comes back, Harry has created a ghost of himself (ghosts being psychic copies of the individual who died and are created at the moment of death) and the two proceed to whup ass. While doing so, Harry eats the Nightmare in his dreams and thus absorbs his magical power, allowing him to come back with so much strength that he vaporizes a pair of vampires almost instantly with no effort.
    • To some extent when he was assassinated — he was already the Winter Knight, but he was incredibly drained and had nothing material left — not his house, his car, his weapons, his pets, his equipment, only a single change of clothes... and then he spent most of a book as a powerless ghost. Now? The Winter Knight is back in town, and just dictated terms to Queen Mab.
    • In Skin Game, Murphy's improper use of the Sword of Faith led to Nicodemus shattering the blade. However, the power wasn't truly gone, and when Waldo Butters proved himself worthy of being a Knight, the Sword reconstituted itself in into a genuine Lightsaber. This is because of his deep belief in the morals of Star Wars.
  • Dune:
    • In Dune, Paul Atreides almost dies when he drinks the Water of Life, and when he wakes up he is the Kwisatz Haderach.
    • Every Reverend Mother. Until they drink the Water of Life, the Bene Gesserit do not possess any special powers beyond the Charles Atlas Superpower. After managing to drink the Water, internally convert it into a Super Serum, and survive, the Bene Gesserit emerges with access to Other Memory (the genetic memory of all her female ancestors). Not every Bene Gesserit survives the test. In fact, the prequel novels show that it took many decades for Raquella Berto-Anirul's accident (she manages to survive a poisoning attempt) to be successfully recreated.
    • Norma Cenva is a borderline example. A Muggle Born of Mages, she is short and unattractive but possesses an incredible scientific mind. Many years later, she is captured by the Cymeks, and the danger activates her previously-latent Psychic Powers. The burst of psychic energy kills every Cymek around her and also obliterates her own body. Using her newfound abilities, her disembodied consciousness rebuilds her body molecule-by-molecule in a new, much hotter form, based on a composite of her female ancestors' looks. Not only does she become the most powerful Sorceress of Rossak, but she eventually becomes the very first Navigator (when she eventually allows her body to mutate, previously keeping it unchanging through sheer force of will). Unlike other Navigators, she is also able to fold space without a Holtzman engine.
  • In The Expanse, Amos winds up being brought back by Protomolecule technology after having the top of his head blown off by multiple gunshots. The changes to his biology from the process render him mostly immune to gunshots, prevent him from aging, and give him access to some of the Protomolecule creators knowledge, as well as allowing him some limited ability to interface with their technology. Nobody's sure whether he's still Amos or just a Meat Puppet.
  • Firefight: Megan Tarash. Most of the time, her Epic power allows her to bring shadows of other worlds into this one, which is mostly a roundabout way of making illusions. But right after she dies and her Resurrective Immortality kicks in, she is strong enough to make the shadows she brings through fully real, making her a straight-up Reality Warper. Unfortunately, it's accompanied by partial memory loss and confusion, limiting its usefulness until she overcomes her weakness and the negative side effects disappear.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf the Grey dies and comes back as Gandalf the White with augmented powers and authority. He is a lesser-angel figure on a mission from greater-angels and hasn't completed his quest so he is sent back and the restrictions previously placed on his power (to prevent overreliance or corruption) are relaxed.
  • In the Magic: The Gathering novels, a Planeswalker only has full access to their powers after experiencing extreme physical trauma (sometimes, but not always, death).
  • In the Malazan Book of the Fallen, Rhulad Sengar's sword induces this effect; any time he's killed, the sword brings him back more powerful than he was before. Unfortunately, there's some overlap with Came Back Wrong as well — each resurrection chips away a bit more of Rhulad's already frail sanity. At the end of Midnight Tides, Brys Beddict figures out the loophole in this power; he has to beat Rhulad without actually killing him or he'll just make the problem worse, so he carefully severs key tendons in Rhulad's arms and legs to leave him paralyzed but alive. Too bad someone else shows up a few minutes later and, not understanding the situation, performs what he thought was a Mercy Kill...
  • Matthew Swift: Book 1, A Madness of Angels, begins with the protagonist being mysteriously resurrected, possessed (and empowered) by the "blue electric angels" of telephony.
  • A Practical Guide to Evil: When Catherine is caught in a trap of Akua's in Liesse, she chooses to tear down the last tethers keeping her Fae-powers in check to free herself - resulting in her human self dying and her becoming the immensely powerful fae ruler of Winter.
  • In Skin of the Sea, Esu kills Kola by flinging him into a wall. Taiwo, Kehinde, and Simi use the power of the obsidian rings to return his soul to his body and heal him. In Soul of the Deep, Kola learns that being resurrected has turned him into a brand new orisa, although he doesn't know the extent of his powers yet.
  • This is a belief of the followers of the Drowned God in A Song of Ice and Fire. "What is dead can never die, but rises again, harder and stronger." They invoke this in a baptism ceremony in which believers are "drowned" and revived through CPR. The most devout believers do this multiple times.
    • When Gregor Clegane is killed in a Trial by Combat he is brought back to life by Qyburn, and the armour he is given was said (by the armourer) to be too heavy to be worn by any living man.
  • In "The Stones Are Hatching", Alexia/Aisling, subtly. After the resurrection, her white hair turns red, her shadow and reflection are back, and her features are slightly different, implying that the damage done to her by studying dark magic has been repaired.
  • In Eoin Colfer's The Supernaturalist, people who've undergone a near-death experience can see the Parasites — not always permanently, but that's how it is for all the named characters — and are therefore able to fight them. (So can Bartoli babies, but that's beside the point.)
  • Trapped on Draconica: Dragokin Erowin can handle mooks. After dying and becoming an angel she can effortlessly No-Sell the Big Bad's best shot.
  • Sacred Eclipse in Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle can use the powers of the other Ragnarok, but it initially only has access to the Combat Tentacles and Healing Factor of Poseidon. Each time it dies and resurrects, it gains access to more powers, and will eventually become unstoppable.
  • In Void City, on multiple occasions, Eric regenerates from things which would kill an ordinary vampire, such as being blown to ash by blessed explosives; and each time he does so, he gains more strength and more control over his powers. It's eventually revealed that Phillipus put a spell on him to conceal him from his sire by suppressing his power; each time Eric unconsciously taps his sealed power to regenerate from near-total destruction, the spell weakens and he gains more conscious access to the power.
  • In Warbreaker, the Returned are those whose heroic deaths earn them the Divine Breath, which resurrects them as idealized humans with peak physical abilities and an ill-understood connection to divinity. On the other hand, they're amnesiacs who know that their Return was intended for a specific purpose, which almost inevitably sees them dead within a few years.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrowverse:
    • The Flash (2014): At the end of Season 3, Barry voluntarily goes into the Speed Force in order to protect Central City. In the Season 4 opener, taking place six months later, Team Flash manages to get him back. After a brief period of mental instability, Barry comes back to save Iris. His first act is to casually break out of the Pipeline, something no one else has been able to do. When measuring his speed, the entire team is in awe, claiming that no other speedster has been able to move that fast (apparently, forgetting about Savitar). Even Wally admits that it's beyond his current capabilities.
    • Initially subverted in Arrow with Damien Darhk, after he comes back in Legends of Tomorrow, as this is an earlier version of him without magical powers. Played straight in Season 3 of Legends, after he is resurrected by his daughter. He not only levitates himself right out of the coffin but also disarms a roomful of Time Bureau agents with a wave of his hand, before proceeding to slaughter them to the tune of "Return of the Mack", while sipping on a cocktail. He also instantly recalls his previous encounters with the Legends, despite the mind-wipe.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003) has this as the reason the Cylon Raider, Scar became an ace fighter pilot. It retained all its battle experience after death as well as developed a greater killer instinct in a dogfight.
  • In The Boys (2019), Arc Villain Soldier Boy was captured by the Russians and believed to be dead for the past 40 years. When the Boys free him in the present day, it's revealed the Russians gave him a Deadly Upgrade that turned him into a Walking Wasteland potentially strong enough to rival Homelander.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • When Xander resuscitates Buffy from her death at the Master's hands, she comes back stronger, knows instinctively where the Master's going and is no longer vulnerable to his hypnosis.
    • She also seems to be stronger after her second death, given the way she pwned the leader of that demon gang (who tore off a vampire's head with his bare hands!).
  • In Charmed (1998), when Cole arrives in the underworld, he finds that the souls of demons have their powers eaten by the creatures that live there. He decides to get in on that action and collects enough powers to return to the land of the living, and with almost every demonic power there is. Unfortunately, it eventually drove him crazy, and he wanted to die, but couldn't.
  • Doctor Who:
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Benjen's watch was ended by the White Walkers, but The Children of the Forest kept him from turning into a wight and gifted him with some sort of augmented or awakened power in the process, as he's able to ignite a weapon, he can foresee the future and is even aware of the actual contents of Bran's visions.
    • When Cersei asks Qyburn if Gregor Clegane is going to come back weaker, he's quick to dismiss the notion, implying this trope. Gregor really didn't need the boost, to be honest. Thanks, Qyburn? Gregor confirms this to be the case when he casually rips a man's head off with his bare hands. Cersei proudly rubs in Ellaria Sand's face that this new Clegane is stronger than ever.
    • Viserion gets a hefty boost after being reanimated as the Night King's wight mount. He gains the ability to breathe blue dragonfire powerful enough to single-handedly destroy Eastwatch and blast through the Wall, an 8000-year-old ice barricade fortified by magic. All by himself. He can breathe this fire for a far longer period of time than any of his siblings, even the larger Drogon, have been shown to. And on top of that, he's seemingly gotten much faster in the air.
  • Kamen Rider indulges in it frequently, usually to grant someone their final upgrade:
    • Kamen Rider Agito introduces Gills, who died of his powers breaking down his body but was revived by a psychic with healing abilities. The result not only cures him of his degrading body but grants him the power to become Exceed Gills.
    • People with the Orphnoch gene in Kamen Rider 555 will revive after death with new superpowers, most prominently the ability to shapeshift into a monstrous form. That said, It Only Works Once, and they only have a few years before they'll start crumbling to ash from the strain.
    • Gentaro Kisaragi, a.k.a. Kamen Rider Fourze, is killed in episode 31 by Kamen Rider Meteor (who made a Deal with the Devil with the Aries Zodiarts to save his best friend), only for Kengo to use the Cosmic Switch (which they hadn't been able to get to work before that) to revive him, giving him his Super Mode in the process.
    • Kamen Rider Wizard features Phoenix, one of the Greater Phantoms, who can revive himself every time he is killed, just like the mythological bird he takes his name from. Each revival not only makes him stronger, but it also comes faster, from taking weeks between resurrections to taking seconds. Haruto, quickly running out of ways to kill Phoenix, makes a Sealed Evil in a Can out of him by kicking him into the sun. Haruto himself later suffers the death of his Dragon Inner Phantom, destroying his ability to use magic, but his Heroic Willpower soon enough revives Dragon and grants him a new Super Mode to dispatch the villain that did it.
    • Kamen Rider Drive sees Arc Villain Freeze kill Shinnosuke at the climax of the arc to show off his new Super Mode. The subsequent attempt to revive Shinnosuke ends up accidentally granting him a Super Mode that easily defeats Freeze's.
    • Kamen Rider Ghost dies near the start of the first episode, promptly coming back as a ghost with 99 days to live but a host of new superpowers. He dies twice more during the show, once from running out of time and once from having his Soul Jar broken, but comes back after each death with a new power-up.
    • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid sees virtually all of the antagonists, most of whom are sentient computer programs, exploit this as a method of level grinding. Even the two human antagonists get in on it, though, with one using a Survival Horror game to become a zombie who gets dramatically stronger after enough deaths, while the other kills himself to perform a Fusion Dance with the game's intended Final Boss and take its power for himself. One of the supporting protagonists also dies early in the show but comes back much later as a Bugster who's far stronger than he was as a human.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: The example in The Lord of the Rings is parodied in "Samson vs. the Vampire Women", when TV's Frank is ushered into Second Banana Heaven by Torgo the White.
    Frank: Hey, they fixed your knees!
    Torgo the White: ThErE aRe No BuM kNeEs In My WoRlD, cHiLd.
    Frank: How about your voice?
    Torgo the White: [confused] W... wHaT aBouT mY vOiCe?
  • Now and Again — the main character Michael Wiseman is a fat guy who dies in a subway accident and is brought back in a new body by the government, described as a "modern-day Six Million Dollar Man" who has " strength of Superman, the speed of Michael Jordan, and the grace of Fred Astaire."
  • Power Rangers Beast Morphers: The villains resurrect Goldar as an upgraded form called Goldar Maximus. He can fire energy blasts that vaporize people, and it takes three Ranger teams to defeat him.
  • Power Rangers Dino Fury: Whenever a Sporix is killed, it will eventually resurrect and become more powerful than before. They can only be stopped by putting them in cold storage, encasing them in crystal, or some other form of containment.
  • The Six Million Dollar Man, is literally based on this trope "Steve Austin, astronaut. A man barely alive. Gentlemen, We Can Rebuild Him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better... stronger... faster."
  • Initially subverted by sibling series The Bionic Woman as Jaime's bionics initially threatened her sanity and her life, before being played straight when those problems got sorted out.
  • Smallville:
    • "Hidden", Clark comes back from the dead with all his powers restored. But at what cost?
    • In "Bizarro", Chloe's latent meteor power activates and resurrects herself.
  • Supernatural:
    • When Castiel is resurrected in the Season 5 finale, he not only regains all of his angelic abilities after having been Brought Down to Normal, but demonstrates that he's more powerful than before by resurrecting Bobby.
    • The rules of the cosmos dictate that if a reaper dies when the position of Death is absent, that reaper is resurrected as the new Death.

  • In Aflame Inferno, the main character gets possessed by Inferno after his nearly fatal blow.
    Multiple Media 
  • Nasuverse:
    • In The Garden of Sinners, Ryougi Shiki gains a stronger version of the ability to see and cut the lines of death when one of her two personalities dies, leaving a hole to Akasha in its place. Her new second personality is the basically universe itself and possesses unlimited power.
    • Before the events of Tsukihime, Tohno Shiki had the ability to see "things which are hidden". When he is killed and brought back to life, this mutates into the ability to see death, allowing him to cut anything by tracing its "lines of death" or destroy anything by stabbing its "point of death". This manages to be even more overpowered than it sounds, but Shiki has to wear Anti-Magic glasses to avoid going mad (besides the obvious reasons, just looking at a "very immortal" character for too long can cause brain damage).
    • In general for the Fate Series, anyone summoned as a Servant for a Holy Grail War gains enhanced strength, speed, immunity to non-magical attacks, and special powers based on their legends that they may not have held in life.
    • Fate/stay night:
      • In life, Heracles was "merely" the strongest man in the world. As a Servant, he gains an Adaptive Ability and Resurrective Immortality up to twelve times.
      • In life, Angra Mainyu was an ordinary man who became The Scapegoat for his people's sins. When he was summoned in the Third Holy Grail War, he had no abilities and was quickly killed. However, when he was absorbed by the Holy Grail, he truly became the God of Evil.
    • Fate/Zero:
      • In life, Gilles de Rais was a knight turned Serial Killer who was merely rumored to practice black magic by his enemies. As a Servant, he actually has magic.
      • In life, The Hundred-Faced Hassan-i-Sabbah had the ability to alter his appearance. As a Servant, he can split his body into each of his many identities.
      • As a Servant, Iskandar gains Shock and Awe powers because in life he had claimed to be a descendant of Zeus. He can also summon a Reality Marble, which should be impossible because he is not a Magus, which holds an army of everyone who had ever fought beside him in life.
    • Fate/Grand Order:
      • Many authors, artists, and scientists gain magic as Servants.
      • In life, Medusa's sisters Euryale and Stheno only had agelessness and were completely dependent on Medusa for protection. As Servants, they are straight-up surprised that they now have superpowers that allow them to fight.
      • King David was elderly and bedridden at the time of his death. As a Servant, he is pleased to find his body back in his physical prime, plus he has abilities like turning his classic slingshot into a Wave-Motion Gun.
      • In life, Professor James Moriarty was merely a criminal mastermind. As a Servant, he can summon an asteroid that can potentially destroy the planet.
      • Inverted with Ishtar: in her legends she's flat out the most powerful of the Mesopotamic divinities, capable of destroying a mountain in a fit of anger, and in Fate/strange Fake Gilgamesh (who knew her personally) stated the appropriate response to her coming for a fight would be using planet-destroying weapons. As a Pseudo-Servant, however, she had to take a human host, so, while still immensely powerful (the annihilation of a mountain was turned into her Noble Phantasm), she's much weaker and influenced by said host's personality (thus losing her legendary ruthlessness and gaining Rin Tohsaka's Butt-Monkey tendencies) and had her most powerful weapon stolen by her Fate/strange fake counterpart on top of that, thus her abilities won't compensate for her other failings.
      • Mary Anning comments that she was only a paleontologist and never fought anyone when she was alive. As a Servant, she gains Shock and Awe powers due to how she survived a lightning strike as a 15 month old, is strong enough to use icthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, and other creatures as bludgeons, and can perform Fossil Revival to give herself an army of creatures to attack her opponents.
      • Hitachibou Kaison was an ordinary soldier who cowardly abandoned Musashibo Benkei to be killed, then spent the rest of his life atoning for it by taking on Benkei's identity and spreading his story. Due to being a major source of Benkei's fame, when Kaison is summoned, he has all of Benkei's powers.
      • Andromeda was known as a princess who was Chained to a Rock as a sacrifice to the monster Cetus until Perseus rescued her. As a Servant, she still has the chains and they cannot be removed, but she is now able to swing the rock attached to them like a flail and she can use Cetus as a mount. She also has Dishing Out Dirt, Making a Splash, and Star Power powers.


    Myths & Religion 
  • In Norse Mythology, Odin impaled himself on Yggdrasil and after he came back to life nine days later, he knew magic.
  • Inuit Mythology:
    • Sedna is just an ordinary woman until her father chops off her fingers and throws her into the ocean. She becomes the goddess of the ocean, the most important goddess of the Inuit cosmology because it's only with her on their side that the people can avoid starvation. Her fingers turn into seals.
    • Another version has her being thrown in the ocean first, followed by the chopping off of her fingers (which turn into seals), hands (which turn into walruses), and finally her arms (which turn into whales) to get her to stop clinging on to the boat.
  • In Yoruban mythology and Santeria, Shango. He was an ordinary king until he hanged himself and became one of the most powerful (and popular) Orisha. His salute means "the king is not hanged".
  • Jesus, from The Bible. Though He was God made manifest in the flesh, He was crucified and died in the weakness of a mortal being, but was resurrected in a body that can never die and also has power over death. Paul the apostle says that those who believe in Jesus will also be resurrected in a body like His, clothed with incorruption and immortality. He even goes so far as to say, "Not all of us will sleep, but all of us will be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet," which goes along with what Jesus said to Martha at Lazarus' resurrection in the gospel of John: "Those who believe in Me, though they die, shall live, and those who live and believe in Me shall never die."

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Anathema, players start the game by dying. They come back as basically the grim reaper on steroids.
  • Atmosfear: Anne de Chantraine was executed for witchcraft despite her innocence, but she comes back as a powerful Wicked Witch with a taste for burning others as was once done to her.
  • In Brave New World characters gain superpowers by undergoing a near-death experience while in mortal danger.
  • Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine: in the Glass-Maker's Dragon campaign, playing "The Other One" — i.e. an OC rather than modifying one of the pregenerated characters — involves dying quite early on and coming back on a Miraculous Arc.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, this is how the Risen Martyr Prestige Class works. A saintly character is temporarily resurrected after their martyrdom and given extra powers to complete their unfinished task.
    • In various versions, the Reincarnate spell had the potential to bring somebody back to life literally stronger, as creatures like Orcs or Bugbears (Although they still had to deal with looking in a mirror).
  • A reborn lineage replaces all of the attributes of the base race, positive and negative. For example, Drow lose their sunlight sensitivity.
  • In order to become an Abyssal Exalted, you have to be on the exact verge of death at the time.
    • Third Edition's Liminal Exalted are made when someone tries to bring someone Back from the Dead and attracts the gaze of a powerful entity in the Underworld, which imbues the corpse with new life and power. These newborn beings are not the people they were made of, however, even if they have some of their memories.
  • Geist: The Sin-Eaters: As mortals, Sin-Eaters typically have some sort of connection to fate or the world of the dead (represented by glimpses of ghosts or strange hunches). Once they die, however, a geist offers them the chance to come back, and when they accept, they gain access to a whole suite of powers.
  • KULT had a tag line of "Death is only the beginning" and that's true to a degree. Normally death meant a loss of memory and power once you're reborn. However the characters are partially Awakened, so after death they retain increasingly more of what they learnt previously and some arcane knowledge can only be gained in the world of the dead.
  • Mechanical Dream: This is a feature for the Justicar class, they can develop a Healing Factor so potent it brings them back from death with new insight. They were supposed to have higher abilities that could only be gained after dying more than once, but then the game got discontinued.
  • As mortals, the Amenti of Mummy: The Resurrection have a flaw in their spirit. When they die, they're offered the chance to return by a shard of an ancient Egyptian ghost, which will repair the flaw. If they accept, they reanimate their corpse and make their way to the Middle East, where they have the Rite of Rebirth performed upon them, returning them to life with magical powers and Resurrective Immortality.
    • The Teomallki of South America come from the fusion of a mortal on the brink of death with the spirit of one of the original South American mummies, returning to life with similar powers to the Amenti.
  • The Arisen of Mummy: The Curse were resurrected over a thousand years after their deaths courtesy of the Rite of Return, gaining incredible magical power and Resurrective Immortality at the cost of being beholden to the Judges of Duat.
  • Mythender: When killed in battle, a Mythender can choose to simply not die by taking on more Mythic power. That gives them a permanent power boost, though it also increases the likelyhood of them eventually undergoing apotheosis and becoming a monstrous Myth themself. Deciding whether to do this or to opt for Dying as Yourself is one of the major choices of the game.
  • In the Pathfinder tabletop game, being born dead and then coming back to life is one of the possible origins of a sorcerer's powers.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has at least two versions of this.
    • The Sisters of Battle have their Holy Living Saints, revered fallen martyrs who return to the battlefield as miraculous glowing giant warrior of faith when called by their pious sisters to fight in the Holy God Emperor of All Mankind's name.
    • The Space Marines have their Dreadnaughts. A mortally wounded Space Marine, if deemed suitable, can be inserted/sealed into a "combat sarcophagus" with enormous weapons which makes the Space Marine even deadlier in battle.
    • Chaos Space Marine Dreadnoughts invert this, however — where loyalist dreadnaughts sleep during the centuries that separate each campaign, CSM dreadnaughts only have their legs and weapons removed and left fully conscious. Small wonder that they take any chance to shoot their own side in battle and are often The Berserker.
    • Each Eldar Phoenix Lord can reincarnate if someone living dons their armor; this process overrides the wearer's consciousness but adds their experiences and knowledge to the Phoenix Lord. Thus with each successive reincarnation, the Phoenix Lord becomes a little stronger than he/she was before.
    • Hive Tyrants, on top of being able to select a whole new set of biomorphs when they are resurrected by their hive fleets, also gain new tactical awareness and hatred for their foes whenever they are revived, thus "older" hive tyrants are much greater threats than they were "younger". The Swarm Lord, in particular, is feared as the greatest tactician among the hive fleet's swarms.
    • Averted with the Necrons, despite being an entire faction based on immortality and returning from the dead. Necrons that take too much damage are teleported away to the nearest tomb world for repairs, but given how ancient they are, they tend to accumulate mental damage with every repair. Flayed Ones forget they're robots and wear the skin of their victims in the hopes of being living again.
    • Dark Eldar haemonculi are able to bring people back from the dead. However, repeated uses of the process are not recommended, as some parts inevitably go wrong. The greatest (and least sane) of them all, Urien Rakarth, is so far gone he looks like a Humanoid Abomination, and actually looks forward to being killed so he can see what new and random mutations will result from the resurrection process.
    • Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka was subjected to this, in tandem with We Can Rebuild Him, during the Psychic Awakening. After fighting and getting beheaded by Ragnar Blackmane, Ghazghkull's body was recovered by Mad Dok Grotsnik, chopped apart and then reassembled into an even bigger, armored form. Then, after ten days of being defibrillated with an orbital generator strong enough to potentially destroy a planet, Ghazghkull was revived, bigger and stronger than he ever had been before. Nice job, Ragnar.

  • Transformers: In "The Return of Convoy" toyline (and accompanying manga and text stories, no cartoon this time), the story revolves around the mysterious supernatural being Dark Nova reviving Galvatron from his icy tomb as Super Megatron, restoring his sanity in the process. To counter this, the Autobots use the Zodiac to bring Optimus Prime back as Star Convoy.
    • Later on in the G2 Wars, Megatron is able to ambush and outright kill Optimus, but the Matrix of Leadership and spirits of previous holders restore him to life as Laser Convoy. These new powers also allow Optimus to bring back Ultra Magnus, who not only gains the ability to take on a similar form to Laser Convoy but also adopt his original body.

    Video Games 
  • In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura this is the result of sacrificing yourself to Velorien, the All-Father, after figuring out the riddle of the old gods.
  • Asura from Asura's Wrath, after dying once, comes back and can now utilize his Six Armed form (Which at one point was only usable with his daughter Mithra's Help) as well as newer, more powerful forms after it.
  • Scarecrow was a minor threat in Batman: Arkham Asylum, where his last scene was him nearly being mauled to death by Killer Croc. Unseen, he leaves hints at his survival throughout Batman: Arkham City, and that he plans to return for revenge on Batman who he blames for the attack. He does so with a vengeance as the Big Bad of Batman: Arkham Knight where he has stitched his own face back together, dropped his Large Ham persona for a Cold Ham Soft-Spoken Sadist one (with a strong, new dose of Magnificent Bastard to go with it), unites the villains of Gotham under his banner, unleashes destruction that not even The Joker could match, and ends up being the single most dangerous enemy that Batman has ever faced. In the process, he does what no villain in literally any piece of media has ever done: unmasks Batman in front of the world.
  • BlazBlue: Ragna nearly bled to death after Terumi cut off his arm and burned down his home. Then he was bitten by a vampire and fused with the corpse of an Eldritch Abomination. This gave him the Azure Grimoire and Soul Eater powers which turned him into a One-Man Army. The bad news is that if he uses them too much, he will turn into the aforementioned Eldritch Abomination.
  • A more minor version happens to Kyle Katarn in the Dark Forces Saga. His version only goes as far as giving up the Force, but the Big Bad believes that his time away has made him stronger.
  • The Undead of Dark Souls and Dark Souls II have this mixed with Came Back Wrong. On one hand, they gradually lose their memories and humanity until they turn into mindless Hollows. On the other hand, they're basically immortal, will not hollow until they have lost the will and purpose to continue, apparently have no need to eat, drink and sleep and have the potential to acquire, through the use of souls, physical and/or mental prowess well beyond human limits.
  • Destiny:
    • The Guardians themselves. Every one of them was resurrected from death, albeit with no memory of their past lives, and granted super powers which include never aging and Resurrective Immortality.
    • The rulers of the Hive — Oryx the Taken King, Savathûn the Witch-Queen, and Xivu Arath the God of War — have also done this. Due to their Ascendant nature, they can't be permanently killed outside of their throne-worlds, and they get stronger the more they kill and the more tribute they receive from their underlings.
    • Taniks the Scarred, a Fallen mercenary renowned for his cruelty. In the backstory, he's been hunted down and "killed" multiple times, but survives and replaces parts of his body with cybernetics, until he's more machine than organic. Players first face him as a strike boss in House of Wolves, but he later returns in Rise of Iron when the Devil Splicers use SIVA nanotechnology to resurrect him as "Taniks Perfected," only to be killed again. In Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, the Pyramids conjure him up as a Nightmare to be hunted, and also as a final boss for the Altars of Sorrow public events. Then, in Beyond Light, the House of Salvation take his body into the Deep Stone Crypt, where he's revived again. Within moments of being revived, Taniks spots your Guardian — the one who killed him twice — and flies into a screaming rage. Through the rest of the Deep Stone Crypt raid, Taniks is completely immune to damage until after the Morning Star station crashes into Europa, which he still survives by grafting his body onto a Heavy Shank frame, becoming Taniks the Abomination, the final boss of the raid. After defeating him here, his head is taken as a trophy by the Guardian, so perhaps this death will finally keep.
  • In Devil May Cry 5 it's revealed that Vergil survived the events of Devil May Cry and after stealing his sword back from his son, he separates his human and demon halves, with the demon half becoming the new king of the Demon World in Mundus' absence. After the two halves are brought back together, Vergil returns exponentially stronger than he was before.
  • In Devil Survivor, there are two fights against the vampire Kudlak. If he's killed in the first one, he gains a level boost for the second. If you kill him in the second battle, a sympathetic character is Killed Off for Real. note 
  • Used in the Disgaea games. You level up, then you reincarnate into a new body that starts with better stats. The game more plays with this trope.
    • Coming Back Strong is a driving gameplay factor in Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny, wherein the protagonist Zed is a zombie who grows in power each time he dies and comes back.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest IV: The DS and PS1 versions add a sixth chapter in which Aamon comes Back from the Dead to get his revenge on the Hero and their entire party, while Psaro revives after being apparently killed by the Hero and the entire party has to help him get his revenge on Aamon if they can resurrect Psaro's dead lover Rose.
    • Dragon Quest IX has Greygnarl. Judging from the hints listed under Inferred Survival, it's likely that he did in fact die against Barbarus, but was carrying an Yggdrasil Leaf that not only brought him back, but to the prime of his life, effectively carrying out a Thanatos Gambit.
    • Dragon Quest XI: In the Definitive Edition, it turns out Mordragon managed to survive the original history's erasure, transcending spacetime to return as the Timewyrm, an exclusive Bonus Boss. His defeat here seems to cement his final destruction, albeit the Luminary can just turn back time to fight him as much as he likes.
  • Fallout: New Vegas starts with your character getting their brains blown out and kicked into a shallow grave — and surviving. Depending on how you build your character (or perhaps even regardless of how), you will almost certainly be miles ahead of any NPC stat-wise. When you think about it, how many other couriers in the wasteland have cheated death, developed a skillset that ends up determining the fate of an entire region and its population, faces off against the worst mutations of the Wasteland (including Deathclaws, Cazadores and drugged-up raiders), demolished or deflected 1 or even 2 armies and getting vengeance on their would-be murderer in the middle of it all? Perhaps only Ulysses...
  • Happens to the Big Bad of Final Fantasy II. The Emperor comes back to life as a lich king, having taken control of Hell and its legions. In Soul of Rebirth, his good side took over Heaven.
  • In Final Fantasy IV this happens to a few bosses. When you kill the Earth Fiend Scarmiglione, he comes back as a zombie, attacking from behind or Dr. Lugae, he comes back as a cyborg.
  • Final Fantasy VII's Big Bad Sephiroth was seemingly killed by Cloud years before the game begins, but his powerful will enabled him to resist being absorbed into The Lifestream and pull a Grand Theft Me on Jenova. Following his second death, he is resurrected in Advent Children, and Word of God states that he had "ascended to a new level of existence" in the interim.
  • Fire Emblem Engage has a pretty massive one near the end of the game. Specifically, at the end of chapter 21, Alear dies at the hands of Sombron while protecting Veyle, their sister. As a stopgap measure to get the Emblems' power back, Veyle revives Alear as a Corrupted. That isn't what qualifies for this trope, though, as Alear's reanimated corpse gives out at the end of the chapter. In response to Alear's will to keep fighting, even after their second death, the emblems combine their power to create a miracle (something they can only do once ever), Reviving Alear for real as a thirteenth Emblem, the Fire Emblem.
  • Gwent: The Witcher Card Game: Skellige has several effects that revive units from the graveyard and synergize with doing so, particularly Eist's leader ability.
  • Tarnum of Heroes Chronicles. A ruthless Barbarian leader (though he didn't start out that way) engages in a Combat by Champion with King Rion Gryphonheart and loses. After getting to the Barbarian afterlife, he is denied passage by the Ancients, who send him back as an immortal, forced to forever walk Enroth (and later Axeoth) until he redeems himself enough to be allowed to join the Ancients. Throughout the different chapters, Tarnum becomes many things, from knight to mage, and tries to atone for his mistakes. At the end of the Barbarian campaign in Heroes Of Might and Magic IV, he finally succeeds (by helping another Barbarian to unite the tribes without becoming a tyrant) and chooses to stay instead of joining the Ancients.
  • Happens in Jade Empire when your Spirit Monk is killed by the main villain, then finds the last piece of the Dragon Amulet while fighting his/her way back from the spirit world.
  • Jak 3 has this happening to Errol. After his death in Jak II: Renegade, he has been rebuilt as a ten feet tall cyborg that can shoot energy beams from his 'hand', can fly and can manipulate Metal Heads and even Dark Makers to do his bidding, while he was a mere human before his death whose only skills/attributes were being a good racer and the commander of the Krimzon Guard. Possibly overlapping with Came Back Wrong, as he becomes an Omnicidal Maniac, though since he was Ax-Crazy even before his death, it's hard to say how much the whole rebuilding affected his mind.
  • During the penultimate battle of Just Shapes & Beats, the Big Bad, empowered by one of the game's magical triangular artifacts, ends the battle by literally smashing the player to bits in an unavoidable death. The friends the player rescued throughout the game gather around the fallen player and begin to mourn. At this point, the other two triangular artifacts that you recovered during the course of the game react, prompting one of your allies to use them on your remains. The result is that the player is resurrected in a new form. Now totally invincible, and with a new ability to fire huge bolts of energy, the player enters the final battle. Since nothing can hurt the player anymore, the only possible outcome is victory, as you proceed to rend the final boss to pieces.
  • The Soul Bosses in the Kirby series tend to be the Final Boss resurrected and stronger than before. Unfortunately, some of them also Came Back Wrong and are even less sane, or in some cases, just a shell.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, Darth Malak expresses his disbelief that despite his betrayal leaving Revan half-dead and amnesiac one year earlier, he's not only rediscovered their training but if returned to the light side, have somehow become even stronger than he ever was as a Sith.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: The game has an... interesting take on this trope. The Exile is a former Jedi who has "died" by losing all access to the Force and only regains it through a bond with Kreia, another former Jedi who has "died" ideologically, twice. In Star Wars the Force pretty much is life/God, so to lose all access to it is a state most Force-sensitives would see as equivalent with death. Indeed, in the Light Side ending, it becomes death to the Jedi Masters when Kreia takes the Force away from them and the shock kills them.
  • Scar actually manages to do this twice in Kingdom Hearts II. During the first Pride Lands segment, Simba flings Scar off a cliff. Scar comes Back from the Dead as a Heartless with Elemental Powers. He retains his appearance and intelligence as he does so, something that only Xehanort had been able to do before. The second time you go to the Pride Lands, he's psychologically tormenting Simba with shadowy avatars of himself, which combine into the Kaiju-sized Groundshaker Heartless, which once again is only outsized by Xehanort's World of Chaos form. All that's left now is for his Nobody to show up and we'll be three for three.
  • LunarLux: Phantoms are formed from excess antimatter from slain Boss Murks and take the same form. They also accumulate enough antimatter from their surroundings to become even stronger than the original boss. These are analogous to the ghost bosses from Mega Man Battle Network and Megaman Starforce.
  • In an ending from Marvel Vs. Capcom, Jin proceeds to destroy Onslaught's soul in a sacrificial attack. Suddenly, Ryu wonders when Jin will be coming back.
  • Double Subverted in Mass Effect 2: After Commander Shepard is killed by the Collectors, the Illusive Man has his Cerberus underlings essentially invent human resurrection to bring the Commander back. He also explicitly instructs said underlings to restore them as-is, without additions or manipulations, fearing that otherwise, Shepard would lose the perfect combo of magnetic personality and plain old badass that allowed them to rally the galaxy against Sovereign in the first game. Afterwards, however, it quickly becomes apparent that Cerberus' extensive cybernetic replacements came with a plethora of nifty side effects for Shepard, such as Regenerating Health; Bullet Time for Soldiers using Adrenaline Rush, Infiltrators using sniper rifles, and Vanguards coming out of Charge; and the ability to wield weapons like the Claymore or the Widow that would break a normal human's arms.
  • Medievil: In life, Sir Daniel Fortesque was a heroic knight who-... Actually, wait, no he wasn't. He was a limp-wristed charlatan who only got to be the king's champion by talking up his reputation, only to be killed ignominiously when the real fighting started. Everyone who knows the truth about Fortesque's not-so-gallant life and death is quick to mock his inadequacies, but in undeath, he's a pretty decent fighter and with a little guidance from the player, more than capable of thwarting Zarok's plans and living up to the legend, no lies this time.
  • Mega Man X's Zero died the first game, was rebuilt in the interim and came back with upgraded armor and weapons in Mega Man X2. A lesser version occurs with X5 and X6. He doesn't get new armor, and the offensive boost is a tweaked Arm Cannon, but he does gain a Double Jump as a standard ability.
  • In the Ogre Battle series (and Tactics Ogre games from the same universe) it's possible to resurrect your fallen units as undead. They have a weakness against enemy clerics but are often much stronger then they were when they were alive. In Knight of Lodis it's possible to resurrect fallen knights as Angel Knights, one of the best classes in-game, which isn't weak against holy.
  • This is how you beat Izanami in Persona 4, with a little help from The Power of Friendship.
  • The Nameless One in Planescape: Torment sometimes regains memories after he dies and comes back, which can translate into more experience points, and hence more power.
  • In Pokémon Gold and Silver, a legend tells that Olympus Mons Raikou, Entei, and Suicune were once normal Pokémon that died in a fire before being resurrected by Ho-Oh. The depiction of this event in the Truer to the Text Pokémon Generations more strongly implies that the three were strengthened as a result of this, transforming from generic dog-like creatures to their distinct appearances.
  • Pretty much the premise of [PROTOTYPE], Alex Mercer starts as a normal human but after dying, he falls onto the virus he had unleashed, gaining super strength, speed and becoming basically invincible. It turns out that he never did come back, The Virus took his form.
  • Resident Evil
  • In Sands of Destruction, Kyrie performs a Senseless Sacrifice in an attempt to stop himself from destroying the world (and killing Morte). After he's resurrected atop the Temple of Light, he's both physically and mentally stronger — physically because he gains a fiery red-headed battle transformation complete with glowing lion Battle Aura, and mentally because his death was Morte's Love Epiphany and her returned feelings give him confidence in his ability to change the world for the better.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei if..., this is, in fact, the only way to get stronger. When you fall in battle, you'll gain a guardian demon whose strength is based on how many battles you've won without dying — when the current power curve begins to overtake you, dying again is the only way to surmount it.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey:
    • The Tyrants you defeated in the first four sectors come back in new, terrifying forms in Sector 6, Fornax, but not before declaring a personal war on you, Captain Hello, [Insert Name Here].
    • Additionally, Commander Gore is killed very early into the mission. However, the forces of the Schwarzwelt bring him back as a puppet and an observer, in a type of zombie called Ubergestalt. When he shakes off control, he reveals that not only has he regained his humanity, but he now possesses supernatural abilities and superhuman traits. Not only does he go from a Sacrificial Lion to one of the most pain in the ass bosses in the game (in the routes you fight him on), but he also demonstrates the ability to see potential futures.
  • Red Savarin from Solatorobo: Red the Hunter says he feels better than ever after his brush with death. It eventually results in him being able to Trance and become extra-powerful when he feels the need to protect someone.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) features a kiss from Princess Elise that not only revives Sonic from dead-but-not-really-death but transforms him into Super Sonic for the final boss.
  • In Starcraft II, one mission against a Hybrid Monster named Maar has him repeatedly assaulting your small base. If you kill him, he keeps coming back, larger, with more hit points and a more powerful attack.
  • Street Fighter V sees the return of Charlie Nash, last seen blowing himself up to take down M. Bison and his Psycho Drive in Street Fighter Alpha 3. His first gameplay appearance shows that he had to have a lot of skin grafts in order to live but doing so also seems to have given him fantastic new abilities like a Flash Step that allows him to outrun his own Sonic Booms.
  • String Tyrant has this as an enemy mechanic. Every time you defeat the Stranger they come back a bit stronger, eventually maxing out at the second strongest enemy in the game.
  • In Tales from the Borderlands, Sasha becomes mortally wounded after making a Heroic Sacrifice to stay behind while her and Fiona are inside the vault monster to plant the bomb that will destroy it and open the vault. When she's on her deathbed, Fiona remembers to give her the mystery gift inside a small box that Felix gave you and said was for Sasha's eyes only. It seems to just be a pocket-watch until it turns out to be a Deus ex Machina that up until now was Too Awesome to Use when it gives off a green glow and lifts Sasha into the air and heals all her wounds. She remarks that Felix did care after all, right before the timer runs out and she drops down from about twenty feet into the air onto the ground and breaks a bone or two.
  • In Touhou Shinreibyou ~ Ten Desires, Toyosatomimi no Miko wakes up from a sleep of over a thousand years to be the Final Boss of the game. While her judgment may have been impaired immediately after waking, her skill with danmaku wasn't.
  • Undertale has a brilliant example in Undyne if you are on a Genocide run. As you confront the Monster Kid who naively thinks you are a friend being a fellow child, now discovering you are actually the vicious murderer everyone told him about, you can take a swing at him... only for Undyne to take the mortal blow for him, before sending him off with a brave face. As she starts to fade away she instead thinks about everyone at stake from your evil actions, monsters and even humans she hates, everything in the world. These motivations fuel her immense willpower and determination, causing her to be reborn as Undyne the Undying, a FAR harder boss than anything you've faced so far. Even though she is an enemy and looks quite intimidating, YOU are the force of evil and she is the true heroine standing against you. She even has a unique boss theme for this occasion and is the only boss in the entire run that is capable of surviving more than one of your connected attacks.
  • Warcraft:
    • Second generation Death Knights combine this trope with a bit of Came Back Wrong. Most Death Knights are already powerful Warriors or Paladins to begin with, but when they are raised they are imbued with powers over necromancy and disease, making them the Scourge's most powerful soldiers. This is less evident in World of Warcraft due to the obvious balance issues making Death Knights more powerful than the other classes would cause, but from a lore standpoint it remains true, even though it only translates into a higher starting level.
    • In World of Warcraft Cataclysm's Rage of the Firelands patch, you confront Alysra and defeat her single-handedly in a quest. After you do so, some Druids of the Flame arrive, and revive her as a fire hawk, resulting in her flying off to the Firelands and becoming a much more difficult raid boss that requires 10-25 players to defeat.
    • Ingvar the Plunderer in Utgarde Keep combines this with Trick Boss. After he's reanimated as an undead, his abilities become more powerful. Similarly, the Black Knight goes from being defeated alone in a quest to being a 5-man dungeon boss in Trial of the Champion. The Scourge had a habit of handing out this type of upgrade during their heyday.
  • In Wizard101 when Malistaire is brought back as a Lich by Morganthe, he is much more powerful than he was originally and he is completely invulnerable to attack and the only reason that the player is able to win the fight is the damage done to the battlefield while killing his minions causes the ground to break under him when he tries to finish the player off.
  • Zanki Zero: Coming Back Strong is a core gameplay mechanic: party members are continually dying and being resurrected, and the resurrectees gain increased resistance against whatever killed them. Having trouble with a boss? Let it kill you.
  • Zettai Hero Project: Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman has this as one of the core mechanics. Every time you get killed, you lose the items you're carrying and get sent back to level 1, but your basic stats increased depending on your "total level earned", and stats boost you get from level up depends on your basic stats. As Pirohiko says, a hero always comes back from the brink of defeat to save the day!

    Web Animation 
  • Counterspell: At the start of the series, Red Mage faces the heroes of light along after Black Mage and Bruiser ditch him, resulting in him getting mercilessly killed. After accidentally using a Mega Phoenix Down, Black Mage and Bruiser end up bringing him back to life as an undead wraith named Red Wrath.
  • Broly somehow returns to life in Dragon Ball Deliverance, only now he's a Super Saiyan 3 and stronger than ever.
  • In Volume 7 of RWBY, it is revealed that Penny was brought back to life after her body was brought back to her home Kingdom of Atlas following her brutal demise at the hands of Cinder’s machinations in Volume 3. And not only is she back, but all of her abilities are enhanced, she now has jet boots, enabling her to fly much more easily, and she has also been made the Protector of Mantle, where she serves as a symbol of peace. She’s basically a superhero at this point. And this is BEFORE she becomes the Winter Maiden.
    • Volume 9 of RWBY takes place in the Ever After, a world where death is never permanent and instead results in "ascension". While much of the early volume leaves this unexplored, and the audience is left wondering about the details of ascension, The Reveal shows us that it is this. Everyone who ascends comes back as a stronger version of themselves, more easily able to fulfill their purpose. The lone outlier is The Jabberwalker, a creation of the gods who can actually break the ascension process and grant the denizens of the Ever After a permanent death.

  • In Ava's Demon, the titular character forms a pact with Wrathia in order to do this.
  • The Sprouts in Death Clown are transformed and reanimated corpses endowed with power. Though not always dangerous, the more hostile among them are capable of murdering dozens with little effort.
  • In El Goonish Shive, the very first antagonist, the Goo, came back as the Omega Goo in the second arc complete with abilities related to the way it was defeated the first time.
  • In FreakAngels, all the titular characters have regenerative immortality and sustaining normally fatal injuries expands their already formidable Psychic Powers. Though they don't realize that until Luke gets back up after taking a bullet through the brain, previously they didn't realize that Arkady was more powerful than the rest of them following her overdose (she was rather spacey until she died again by drowning) and Mark didn't realize he had died. Then Connor shot himself to trigger the "upgrade" and gave it to the rest of them.
  • In Homestuck, dying upon a Quest Bed ascends players of Sburb to the God Tiers, a tier of power beyond the standard levels which grants the player immense power over their elemental aspect, together with what essentially amounts to "immunity to pointless deaths". Thirteen characters have done this: John, Rose, Dave, Jade, Vriska, Aradia, Aranea, Meenah, Jane, Jake, Dirk, Roxy and Caliborn/Lord English.
  • In The Order of the Stick, during his stay on the Mountain, Roy defeated an evil adventuring party with his dead grandpa, who later trained him in a sword move that can interrupt enemies attempts to cast spells. He can't actually use it until he purchases the related feat, but when he returns to the living he says he has "this awesome idea for a cool sword move."
  • In Our Little Adventure, Jane came back to help her friends as a ghost. Her ghost powers included some nifty new attacks.
  • At one point in Schlock Mercenary, Kevyn Andreysan unknowingly has Project Laz'r'us blood nanites in him. They bring him back from the dead (or clinical death, at least) twice — on the second time, Kevyn authorizes an "aggressive reconstruction" that augments his body into a nigh-unstoppable killing machine.
  • The main character of Sharp Zero got superpowers after being resurrected. His mind is fine, but his body came back wrong.
  • Zebra Girl references Lord of the Rings by name when evil wizard Harold Duvase kills Jack and he returns to life moments later, much more powerful and calls it "pulling a Gandalf."

    Web Original 

    Web Video 
  • To The Death has a milder and more justified case than most. The video taken place in a fencing school that utilizes Laser Swords, and after each bout an Auto Doc machine is used to do things like heal wounds, reattach limbs, and revive fighters who have fallen. As a result the graduating student of the school can come back from death or near death as many times as necessary until he learns from his mistakes and improves his physical and mental abilities. The last duel shows him no longer falling for the tactics his teacher used in the first match, controlling his own fear so it no longer undermines him, and abandoning the ego and desire to show off that led him to defeat in a previous bout.
  • Unwanted Houseguest: The Shadow Demon came back stronger than before.

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): What Kills You Makes You Stronger


"Where Did History Go Wrong?"

At first, it seemed that Zim's plan to eliminate Dib using a time machine to change the past with rubber pigs worked. Unfortunately, due to unexpected events in the past, his attempt ends up making Dib a more dangerous threat than ever.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (39 votes)

Example of:

Main / GoneHorriblyWrong

Media sources: