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Cheated Death, Died Anyway

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"A lucky few survive a disaster. And then one by one... death comes for them all."
William Bludworth, Final Destination 5

Alice receives a phone call and is told that there has been a fire at the office Bob works and he is missing, presumed dead. She is called again later and is told Bob has survived, much to Alice's relief.

Then only a half-hour later, Alice receives yet another phone call. Bob is dead. He crashed his car driving home from the office.

Essentially, this character narrowly escapes death on occasion (and perhaps more than one occasion), only to die shortly thereafter a completely different way. As We All Die Someday, death is a natural part of everyone's lives, and so this trope only applies when a character dies for real in an unexpected/violent/sudden manner, and that the irony is present that they were saved only to later die in such a way. Exactly how close the two incidents have to be varies, so the important factor in this trope is the presence of irony. This can apply in a matter of minutes, months, or even (in rare cases) years; the deciding factor is the Bait-and-Switch element of the death.

It may overlap with All for Nothing and Hope Spot. This may be a result of Balancing Death's Books (which will usually be acknowledged in more supernatural works). If it's a villain that dies this way, it may be an example of Karma Houdini Warranty. If it's a hero, it may form part of the conclusion to a Shoot the Shaggy Dog story.

Subtrope of You Can't Fight Fate. See also Take a Moment to Catch Your Death, Not Quite Saved Enough, Life Will Kill You, and The Problem with Fighting Death.

Because everybody dies one way or another, real-life examples are strictly forbidden.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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  • The infamous public information film Julie Knew Her Killer: Julie is tailgated by a Creepy Stalker Van. However, the van pulls into a different road and Julie is relieved...only to crash into a parked car and be killed by her son, who was sitting in the backseat without a seatbelt on, and flew forward on impact, crushing Julie in the process.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Happens to Son Goku, of all people, in Dragon Ball Z, in the android arc. In future Trunks' hellish, alternate timeline, Goku died of an incurable heart disease. In the current timeline however, Trunks manages to give Goku a medicine, a cure that will exist in the future, narrowly allowing Goku to survive, but by the final act of the arc, Goku is forced to pull a Heroic Sacrifice and die, any way. However, the next arc's villain is such a big threat, that he is forced to come Back from the Dead after seven long years.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Stardust Crusaders: Mohammed Avdol returns to help Polnareff fight Cameo after seemingly getting killed by Hol Horse. As it turns out, he dodged just quickly enough for Hol Horse's bullet to graze his forehead. However, he ends up getting killed by Vanilla Ice near the end of the part, for real this time.
    • Golden Wind: Bruno manages to go Beyond the Impossible and revive himself even despite Gold Experience's failure to do so, but he's only prolonging the inevitable. Diavolo says he's already a corpse. He does indeed bite the dust for real in the ending.
  • Spy X Family: Happens in Loid's backstory. An airstrike blew up the place he and his friends used to hang out at while he was away. Believing that his friends are dead from the explosion, Loid joins the military and unexpectedly reunites with his friends, who actually survived the bombing. Unfortunately, their joyful reunion didn't last, since the friends' unit are sent for a mission shortly afterwards, and they're all killed during the mission.
  • The anime adaptation of Togainu no Chi mostly follows Keisuke's route from the visual novel, but includes important scenes from the various other routes. This leads to a jarring sequence of events where Keisuke gets addicted to Line, nearly bites the bullet, barely overcomes his addiction and returns to his normal self (all from Keisuke's route), and then is abruptly killed while trying to protect Akira from an unrelated threat (taken from Nano's route).

    Comic Books 
  • Death, Lies, and Treachery: Boba Fett is hired to kill Orko in the third book but spares his life in exchange for a bribe bigger than the bounty on him. Soon after Boba leaves, Orko is simultaneously given a poisoned sandwich by his aide and attacked and ripped apart by Ry-Kooda.
  • This is part of Ghost Rider's origin. Johnny Blaze sold his soul to Mephisto in exchange for a cure for his adopted father's cancer. Mephisto agreed, and thus Crash Simpson was miraculously cured of cancer, only to die anyway when his next motorcycle stunt went wrong and resulted in a fatal crash.
  • In the Green Arrow mini-series The Longbow Hunters, a Serial Killer known as the Seattle Slasher is targeting prostitutes. We see him stalking one streetwalker, but just as he's about to strike, she is saved by the intervention of Shado. The sex worker flees the scene, only to be murdered by her pimp almost immediately afterwards. The killing is attributed to the Seattle Slasher anyway.
  • The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank: Frank Castle interrogates a mafioso in his car on the freeway, before telling him to get out (while the car is still moving). The man does so and miraculously survives... only to get run over by a food truck. Belonging to a company called Frank's.
  • Sin City: In "Wrong Turn," Eddie Dubois (a jewel thief selling his goods on the mob's turf) gets a flat tire which keeps him from driving into an ambush where Delia is waiting to kill him. Unfortunately for Eddie, this only buys him a few hours before Delia tracks him down in the sequel story "Wrong Track."
  • The Spirit: In "The Last Hand", gambler Rollo Q. Dice managed to lay low after murdering his poker partner by becoming a live-in companion for an elderly woman named Mary. Mary turned out to be a crazed killer known as "Meataxe Mary" who attempted to murder Rollo. The Spirit managed to save Rollo and arrest Mary, and Rollo was able to relax with a cup of tea...that Mary had earlier poisoned.

    Fan Works 
  • RWBY fanfic 31 Days of RWBY Halloween: The "Final Destination plot" version is parodied. Roughly once a year, Death remembers that Salem has cheated all previous deaths, and she suddenly begins suffering ridiculous accidents to kill her. But apparently Death is a bit of a dumbass because it forgets that Salem has Complete Immortality and cannot be killed. So she has to deal with accidentally hanging herself in the shower, her minions accidentally shooting her in the face, and her Scroll exploding with the force of a grenade. This lasts for a day or two until Death gives up for the time being. Salem, on the other hand, barely even notices anymore.
  • Between Three Rogues: At one point, Timmons nearly falls out of the ship during a retrieval mission, but is pulled back to safety. In the following chapter, they're promptly killed during Ramirez's raid on Crescent Isle.
  • Daphne Greengrass and the Boy Who Lived: Edmund Greengrass is struck by a Killing Curse during a battle at the Magic Ministry; they only survive due to Felix Felicis intervening. However, they wind up dying two years later during the battle of Hogwarts.
  • Eyes on Me: In Cry For Help, Bitsy manages to survive being dropped ten stories off her balcony by Nathan with minor injuries, only to then get run over by an ambulance while trying to get away from Mimsy and die at the hospital.
  • Freedom Fighters NEO: Dr. Koopa considers most of the Mavericks to be Tragic Monsters due to their various tragic backstories, particularly those who were condemned to be destroyed for crimes they hadn't actually committed. Said Mavericks went rogue in an attempt to save themselves, only to wind up dying anyway.
  • Mobile Haro SD Aerial: While spared his canonical execution for failing Peil Technologies due to some manipulation by Earth House, Elan-4 eventually passes away after the implants inside him irreversibly damage his internal organs. Earth House has to resort to using the process that converted Ericht into Aerial to save his mind by uploading it into Chuchu's Mobile Suit.
  • My Hero Academia: Mechanical green: The "Children of Blood" are a Cult of Personality inspired by Stain, though they take his beliefs even further, insisting that there are no true heroes. While Stain has spared some of the heroes he fought, believing that they could change their ways after he'd confronted and called them out, his fanatic followers track down those he spared with the intent of "finishing the job".
  • The Odaliaverse begins when Odalia dies after the apocalyptic Day of Unity is halted, succumbing to the pain inflicted upon her by the cursed coven sigil mere moments afterwards. Fortunately for her, a mysterious entity offers her a chance to relive her life and potentially make better choices.
  • In Harry Potter fanfic The Power Of The Press, Dumbledore survives almost choking on a lemon drop only to be hit by a bus and killed less than a minute later.
  • The ultimate fate of Jack Thompson in Sixes and Sevens. He only barely survives being shot through the heart as scene in the final episode of Agent Carter, but manages to stabilize long enough to speak with Peggy and Sousa for a few minutes. He still dies by the end of the first chapter.
  • The Victors Project: Even considering how most victors don't get to live out a natural lifespan even after surviving the Hunger Games, Thisbe is the only one who doesn't even last a year after her first brush with death. Snow kills her at the end of her Victory Tour to make her the scapegoat for a political assassination.

    Films — Animation 
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut: When the Canadian army bombs the Baldwin family manor, Billy Baldwin miraculously survives. He comes dancing out of the wreckage taunting the planes, "Ha ha, you missed me!" Then one more plane flies over and drops a bomb that scores a direct hit.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Brazil, Sam manages to save Jill by hacking into a government database and declaring her dead. Shortly after doing so, she is killed by government agents during a raid. An official tells Sam that somehow she's managed to die twice.
  • Death Race had the car of one of the minor racer characters hit by a rocket, which sent said car cartwheeling a dozen feet straight up in the air, hit a wall, and fall back down. He then stumbles out of the wreck bloody all over boasts "You can't kill me!", only for "Machine Gun" Joe's car to sideswipe him and his head to be ripped off by the car's side-mounted 20mm Gatling.
  • Candyman (2021): Helen saved baby Anthony at the end of the first film by crawling into the fire in which he almost burnt. However, thirty years later, Anthony returned to Cabrini Green and was eventually murdered by police officers in order to transform into a new version of Candyman.
  • Cursed (2005): No sooner is Becky carefully helped out of a dangerous car wreck after surviving a bad rollover than a werewolf appears and drags her away to her doom.
  • In Das Boot, the crew successfully traverses the dangerous Straits of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean Sea, only for most of them to be killed by an air raid on the harbour.
  • Invoked in-universe in Escape Room (2019). All of the main characters are revealed to have survived earlier incidents only to be killed off one by one in each room after the first. The Big Bad purposely chose them to, in Zoey's words, "see who's the luckiest of the lucky."
  • And again in Escape Room: Tournament of Champions. As the title indicates, the players are all survivors of previous escape room challenges who are forced to partake in a new game. Since the players are all skilled contestants, the rooms are even more merciless than in the last film.
  • The premise of the Final Destination franchise is that a moment of premonition allows people to predict — and avoid — an accidental death. Then, a strange force ensures that all of those people will die soon afterward in similar accidents, even if they survive one supernatural attack, another will follow.
  • In Ghost Rider (2007), when his father is dying of cancer, Johnny Blaze inadvertently sells his soul to the devil in order to save his life. Unfortunately, a short time later, his father ends up dying in an accident during a stunt. This was a reference to Ghost Rider's origin story from the comics.
  • At the start of Ghost Town (2008), Frank narrowly avoids getting crushed by a falling air conditioner, backing away just in the nick of time, but he happened to step back into the street and right into the path of an oncoming bus.
  • Hornets' Nest: Scarpi is the only partisan to escape the Action Prologue ambush, but he's gunned down just a scene or two later when the Germans catch him trying to find a doctor for the wounded Captain Turner.
  • I Care a Lot: Marla manages to kick her way out of the car that Roman pushed into the lake, only to be shot several months later by a man whose mother she conned.
  • In Bruges: Ken faces down Harry who has already planned on killing him. He gives a Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred! speech, and Harry relents and shoots him in the arm. Having cheated death, Harry then finds out that Ray is still in Bruges and gives Ken a much more deadly wound for real this time. And then Ken jumps off the building to get Ray's attention.
  • James Bond:
    • Diamonds Are Forever: Plenty survives being thrown out a window by landing in a pool that her assailant didnít know was below the window. Later, she ends up being tossed into a different pool while wearing Cement Shoes after being mistaken for Tiffany Case, who the villains want to lethally silence. This doubles as a bit of Death by Irony, given the differing role swimming pools play in the two events.
    • GoldenEye: Boris survives the destruction of Janos' base in Cuba, only to be frozen solid by an exploding nitrogen tank moments after he celebrates his good fortune with his catchphrase 'I AM INVINCIBLE!'
  • Judas and the Black Messiah: Or murdered, more accurately. Jimmy is shot during the police standoff at the Black Panther HQ, but survives and is getting better. Until he gets transferred to the county hospital and murdered.
  • Lawrence of Arabia: After leading the Arab cavalry through the Nefud (an inhospitable region of sand dunes) during the night, Lawrence finds one of his men, Gasim, got separated from the group and is now lost. His advisors tell Lawrence that Gasim is as good as dead now that the Sun is up, but Lawrence rides back anyway and successfully rescues him. Not long after, a quarrel amongst the Arabs leaves one man dead, and Lawrence realizes the only way to prevent this from spinning into a Cycle of Revenge is if he executes the murderer himself. As it turns out, the murderer is none other than Gasim — and Lawrence does his duty and executes him.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • The climax of The Matrix Reloaded is The Architect presenting Neo with a Sadistic Choice: either Neo can save his love interest Trinity from certain death, or he can save the rest of humanity from certain extinction. Neo rejects this dichotomy and saves Trinity (literally bringing her back from the dead using his powers as The One), then insists he'll find a way to save humanity afterward, anyway. Then, in a blatant case of a Two-Part Trilogy, that plot concludes in The Matrix Revolutions, set just hours after Reloaded. Neo and Trinity travel to the Machine City in order to save humanity—but Trinity dies en route, and this time Neo can't bring her back. (Ironically, proving The Architect was correct that Neo couldn't save both, but wrong about how each option would play out.)
  • Patton: One of the more awesome scenes is Patton firing at a Nazi bomber strafing his command. Towards the end, the film has a scene that hints at Patton's death in a traffic accident. The TV movie sequel The Last Days of Patton, takes place during and after the car accident that took his life.
  • La piel que habito: Norma's mother was horrifically burned in a car accident, but Robert saved her life and obsessively nursed her back to health. When she saw how badly disfigured she was, though, she jumped out of a window and died.
  • During Rogue One's Climbing Climax, Cassian falls several falls from the data vault tower. Since he hits his back and lays motionless on the platform below, it's framed like a death... but then he shows up to save Jyn from Krennic later, only a little worse for wear. Then he and Jyn die when the Death Star goes off on Scarif anyway.
  • During the beach landing in Saving Private Ryan, one soldier has a sniper's bullet ricochet off his helmet. A nearby squadmate tells him he's a "lucky bastard"...moments before he removes his helmet and takes another round in the forehead.
  • SHAZAM! Fury of the Gods: Less than a minute after a woman narrowly escapes being impaled by the roots of the Tree of Life, she is stabbed by a manticore that hatches from the tree.
  • Trick 'r Treat has this happen to Kreeg. Survives a fight to the death against the embodiment of Halloween itself, gets to then show redemption in giving children candy for a few minutes, maybe an hour. Followed by getting killed by a group of zombies whose death he had caused in the past.
  • Z: Manuel outruns some assassins who try to run him down late in the movie, but the epilogue mentions that the new regime throws him out a high window sometime later.

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In Blackout, Leroy is the only member of Reet's inner circle to survive Spike's Roaring Rampage of Revenge because he is moving things around in Reet's closet to hold Drusilla prisoner there, and then decides to stay there and hide once Spike barges in. Twenty-five years later, Buffy dusts him.
  • Harry Potter: Voldemort survives his first defeat thanks to his Horcruxes but obviously dies at the end of the series. A big theme of the series is that one must accept Death.
  • The Hunger Games: The premise of the story is built on Katniss Everdeen ending up in the competition to begin with and being a catalyst for defiance against the Capitol all because she volunteered to guarantee her younger sister Primrose didn't have to go and likely get killed. Prim, however, is killed in a bombing anyway by the end of the third story.
  • Moonflower Murders: In Atticus Pünd Takes The Case, Melissa survives being strangled by her husband, only to call her lover and for him to strangle her after she reveals her plan to expose their affair.
  • Happens twice in Pet Sematary: when Louis is conveniently available to save his neighbor, Norma, from a heart attack with minimal side effects only for her to die of an unrelated cerebral event three months later, and when he narrowly prevents his two-year-old son Gage from choking on his own vomit during a bout of illness, leaving his wife shaken by the thought of how easily he might have died. Six months later Gage is killed by a truck. The story also refers to two incidents of people who used the book's Genius Loci to revive the dead killing them a second time when they Came Back Wrong, cumulating in Louis himself killing both his resurrectees, Gage and Church, the family cat.
  • In the final book of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Count Olaf ingests Medusoid Mycelium, an extremely deadly mushroom, in yet another backfired attempt at murdering the Baudelaire children, but manages to get his hands on the antidote before the Mycelium's poison could kill him. He unfortunately got a whole lot less lucky about getting speared through the gut with a harpoon almost immediately after ingesting said antidote.
  • Hollyleaf was presumed dead at the end of the "Power of Three" arc of Warrior Cats, after she dashed into the tunnels that closed off in a rockslide. In the next arc, "Omen of the Stars", she returns in the 5th book, The Forgotten Warrior, unharmed and her instability from her previous appearances gone. A book later, she is killed by Hawkfrost in the final battle between StarClan and the Dark Forest.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of Batwoman (2019), Alice and her good alternate-reality counterpart Beth are both dying because only one version of them can exist in the same reality. Beth's stepsister Mary manages to find a medical cure that will keep her alive just long enough that she'll outlive Alice, at which point she'll survive by default. Unfortunately, as Lucas is transporting Beth to a safe place to recuperate, Beth gets shot by a sniper who mistakes her for Alice, against whom he has a grudge.
  • Season 1 finale of Being Erica: Erica goes back and saves her brother Leo from dying. When she's back in the present, he's alive for 5 minutes before he dies in a car crash. This was because she broke the rules of time travel and the universe repaired itself.
  • In an episode of Bones, Sweets meets a young man on the subway who had just gotten clear of cancer. Then an earthquake hits DC and the young man is killed.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Help", Buffy saves a girl (who believes she will die on that day) from being killed by a cult; then just before midnight the girl collapses & dies of a congenital heart defect.
  • Criminal Minds: Frank invokes this in "No Way Out, Part II: The Evilution of Frank." He finds a list of surviving victims from Gideon's old cases and seeks them out to punish Gideon. Rebecca, the victim at the center of "The Fisher King" two-parter, survived a house fire as a child, captivity by her insane father, and another house fire as a teenager, only to ultimately be killed by Frank less than a year after finally regaining her life and freedom.
  • In CSI: NY, it's revealed that Mac's wife (who died in 9/11) made it out of the first tower, only to be crushed by falling rubble from the second.
  • Desperate Housewives:
    • Rex survives his heart attack, only to die from another one because George tampered with his medication.
    • Edie escapes being strangled by Dave after she discovers his true identity, only to die in a car crash.
    • Carlos's mother survives in a coma after being hit by the drunk-driving Andrew, only to fall down the stairs and die when she wakes up.
    • Susan convinces Paul to spare Felicia when he's strangling her after she ties him to a chair and tries to poison him with antifreeze. However, when Felicia is driving away from the lane, Beth's ashes blow in her face and lead to her driving her car off the road and dying.
  • Dexter and Dexter: New Blood:
    • Deb survived being kidnapped and nearly killed by Brian in Season 1, as well as a shooting in Season 5, then she was killed when she forced Dexter to drive his car into the water. (This also overlaps with Take a Moment to Catch Your Death, as Deb initially survives this before Dexter mercy-kills her.)
    • In the revival, Dexter saved Molly from Kurt and drove her to safety. Despite this, he tracks her down and kills her offscreen, as her body is found in his trophy room.
    • Dexter ended Season 7 by faking his own death, though he also survived many other extreme run-ins (such as surviving multiple attempts by Deb to kill him). New Blood ends with him being killed by Harrison over his crimes.
  • Downton Abbey: Matthew Crawley is saved from dying on the battlefield of World War I, but sustains spinal cord damage so severe that he will likely never walk again. To the doctors' surprise, he makes a full recovery, and then survives the Spanish Flu epidemic that kills his fiancée. Sadly, because his actor wanted to pursue other opportunities, Matthew is unceremoniously killed in a car crash shortly after the birth of his son, the male heir who would save Downton. His widow Mary notes the tragedy that he survived so much hardship only to die in such a pointless way.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Robb needs Walder Frey's men to help him survive the battle with the Lannisters, which he does, but it requires him to enter a marriage pact with Walder Frey's daughter. He ends up getting injured - but not dying - on the battlefield, where he meets Talisa, falls in love with her, and gets killed by Walder Frey and his men as punishment for breaking his word.
    • Jorah Mormont fought off his seemingly-insurmountable infection of Greyscale, only to die in the penultimate battle of the series.
  • Ghosts (UK): Fanny was booked onto the Titanic, but missed it. She was later pushed out of a window by her secretly gay husband. (With that said, the odds were actually against her dying on the Titanic, as very few First Class women did.)
  • The back story of God Friended Me is that Miles' mother was suffering from cancer when he was eight. He'd pray every night for her to get better. It seemed like his prayers were answered when his mother went into remission. Then on the way home from the doctor's, she died in a car accident. The sheer unfairness of the situation drove Miles to become an atheist.
  • The Haunting of Bly Manor: Viola's fate. She had a disease that may have been consumption, lung cancer, or tuberculosis, but she clung on for literally years longer than anyone expected...until she pushed Perdita too far and Perdita smothered her via a hand to the mouth.
  • In Jane the Virgin, Michael Cordero survives being shot by Rose, only to collapse and apparently die half a season later from lingering effects of the gunshot wound. In actuality, Rose used a drug to temporarily stop Michael's heartbeat, induced amnesia in him, and dumped him in Montana, where he started a new life unaware of his past for several years.
  • Killing Eve:
    • Konstanin survived being shot in the heart by Villanelle in Season 1 (which she admits she did to kill him) and having a major heart attack in Season 3. He was then killed by Pam near the end of Season 4.
    • Villanelle survived being stabbed by Eve at the end of Season 1, and Season 3 reveals that Dasha also almost nearly killed her by sabotaging her. At the end of the series, she's shot by Carolyn and dies in the water.
  • In Law & Order: Criminal Intent, the victim of "Reunion" was the Sole Survivor of a plane crash (that also killed her son's father when he was a young child), and later beat breast and lung cancer at different times only to be bludgeoned to death by a champagne bottle.
    • In an earlier episode, the victim was a woman who, as a teenager, had fallen deathly ill, but miraculously recovered after having a vision of a religious figure. Though the woman did still get a lot of time she wouldn't have had if she had succumbed to her illness, her granddaughter nonetheless wonders why the religious figure would have saved her all those years ago only to let her die in such a senseless way.
  • Lost Girl has one episode where a banshee wails to signal the death of a Fae, which turns out to be Sean Kavanaugh. Sean's brother Liam (a fraudulent Wall Street broker) had hired an assassin to kill him. After defeating the assassin and reconciling the brothers, Liam calls off the hit, but Sean ends up getting killed at the end anyway by a disgruntled investor who was aiming for Liam.
  • Villainous example in Mirai Sentai Timeranger. The finale reveals that Captain Ryuuya spent the whole series trying to cheat death by manipulating events to ensure someone else would get the Time Fire powers and die in his stead. When he seems to have succeeded, he gets himself killed in a Gun Struggle with Ayase, who confronted him about what he'd done.
  • Inverted in a post-9/11 episode of NYPD Blue a woman's body is found buried in concrete. It turns out she worked at the World Trade Center and was missing/presumed dead from that, but she was actually killed by her lover earlier that day.
  • In one episode of Red Dwarf, Rimmer travels back into the past and somehow alters his own history in a way that when he returns to the present he's still alive instead of being a hologram- only to be killed moments later.
  • Shameless (US): Frank has cheated death many, many times, like when he nearly dies of liver failure, gets the liver, and immediately starts drinking again. But a particularly abrupt version occurs in the series finale, where he survives his attempted suicide by OD, then catches COVID and dies in the hospital.
  • Six Feet Under: Nate learns at the end of Season 1 that he has a brain condition which means he could have a seizure or stroke at any time. The first couple of seasons build up to Nate having the risky surgery that will repair his condition, which he eventually does, and he is cured and appears to live a normal and much happier life. Then he has a second brain haemorrhage that has built up since he had it repaired, but he's expected to make a full recovery. Then he actually has another haemorrhage that results in his death.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season six episode "Change of Heart", Jadzia is badly injured and Worf has to leave her to die in order to complete the mission; at the last minute, he decides he can't go through with it and instead sacrifices the mission to save her. Jadzia ends up dying for real in that season's finale.
  • Station Eleven: Miranda survived a hurricane in which her whole family died (because she was drawing on the roof). She then dies of the Georgia Flu.
  • One episode of The Twilight Zone (2002) is all about this trope. A man survives lethal execution and a series of other bizarre nearly life-ending mishaps one after the other, but always hears a voice shouting "not yet!" When it finally shouts, "NOW!", a statue falls on him and crushes him.
  • The Unusuals: A woman who claims to be psychic believes she is going to die on a bus, and confesses that much to Leo - who himself is afraid of dying at age 42 because all his male relatives died at 42 (and he's 42 now), so he always wears a bulletproof vest. She keeps getting on buses she somehow knows are going to be hijacked by a man with a grenade. Leo follows her onto one of the buses. When the hijacker drops the grenade, Leo falls on it. But it was a fake, and obviously didn't explode. The psychic is confused, but Leo thinks he's found a way to Screw Destiny. He even gives up his bulletproof vest. Until later that night, he gets a call: there was a bus accident and the psychic had been killed in it. Cue Leo buckling up his vest again.
  • The White Lotus: In the final episode of season 2, Tanya is clued in to how her new gay friends have conspired with her husband to kill her and take her money. She manages to grab a gun and shoot most of them dead, but dies immediately after in a botched attempt to jump off the yacht.
  • Yellowjackets: The case for every single person who died in the Canadian wilderness, as they survived the plane crash in which multiple people were killed, only to die sometime later.
    • This happened twice to Laura Lee. She cracked her skull on a swimming pool floor and nearly drowned, then she survived the plane crash. Then she died when the possible rescue plane blew up.
    • Jackie survived the plane crash, only to freeze to death outdoors after being thrown out of the cabin by Shauna.
    • Travis survived the plane crash and nineteen months in the wilderness, then his body is found after he apparently commits suicide, which Natalie doesn't believe.
  • You (2018):
    • Joe saves Beck from being crushed under train tracks at the beginning of the story after she drunkenly falls onto them because he's stalking her. At the end of Season 1, he strangles her to death after she finds out that he was stalking her (and murdering her friends and exes.)
    • Candace managed to dig herself out after being buried alive by Joe before Season 1, as revealed in flashbacks throughout Season 2. She returns to find Joe and make him suffer before revealing what he did and attempts to protect his new girlfriend, Love. When Candace manages to imprison Joe (after he makes several attempts to kill her), she actually gets him to feel some genuine remorse, she then makes the fatal mistake of bringing Love to see Joe. Love turns out to be a Joe-centred yandere, and she kills Candace via slashed throat for real this time.
  • At the end of The Young Ones, Vyvyan drives a double-decker bus, with the rest of the gang, over a cliff. After hitting the bottom they somehow survive, only to have the bus explode, resulting in their (presumed) deaths.

  • Depeche Mode's "Blasphemous Rumours" tells the story of the Happily Failed Suicide of a sixteen-year-old girl who is hit by a car and killed two years later; the narrator questions his faith in God as a result of the cruel irony.
  • Furthermore has the song "Being a Ghost Isn't That Great". In the final verse, the ghost protagonist convinces God to let him return to life on Earth, and he celebrates his regained physical form by going to the beach. But as he's swimming in the ocean, a wave catches him and smashes his head against a rock, reducing him to a ghost again.

    Video Games 
  • Fallout: New Vegas has Oliver Swanick, the survivor of Caesar's Legion's Lottery of Doom. After bragging about his success to the Courier, if he's not immediately executed by them he runs out into the wastes and is quickly killed by either Raiders or radscorpions.
  • At the end of Mass Effect, Commander Shepard narrowly evades being crushed by falling debris. Mass Effect 2 begins with Shepard being killed without mercy by the Collectors a month later, when they destroy their spaceship, the SSV Normandy. Extensive augmentation on Shepard's remains by the human supremacists Cerberus allows the Commander to return two years later. And even then, if the player screws up spectacularly bad during the game, Shepard can die again for real in the ending (along with everyone else but Joker). And even if Shepard survives the events of 2, all but one ending in Mass Effect 3 sees Shepard pulling a final Heroic Sacrifice to save the entire galaxy from the Reaper threat.
  • Resident Evil: In the remake of the original game, during both Chris and Jill's campaigns, you can save Richard from dying by being bitten by Yawn by retrieving anti-venom for him, only for him to die later by being eaten by the aforementioned Yawn in Jill's route or by being attacked by Neptune in Chris's route.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Cyanide and Happiness short "Step on a Crack", a man thinks his daughter stepping on a line will break his spine, as a similar thing just happened to her mother, only to find that he is not the girl's real father when the neighbor's back is broken instead. However, the girl's brother accidentally steps on another line on the ground, killing the father as he's driving away.
  • In RWBY, Penny Polendina is killed in the Vytal Festival Tournament when Emerald uses her semblance to make Pyrrha's semblance go haywire. Since Penny is a robot (albeit one with a soul) her father is able to bring her back with a piece of his own aura sometime between Volume 3 and Volume 7. However, in the finale of Volume 8 Penny is fatally wounded by Cinder after being turned into a human girl in the previous episode, leaving any future resurrection unlikely.

  • The Dragon Doctors: Patients seeking life-extension treatment are systematically reminded that it does not make them immortal, with stories of people meeting a violent death soon after being rejuvenated. The point being "Don't think you have all the time in the world just because you're rejuvenated; make the most of the time you bought."
  • Girl Genius: Moloch and his brother Omar survive their clank being blown up by DuPree only for Omar to be killed when they seek refuge in town because he stole the Heterodyne device designed to shut down Agatha's Spark and it shut down Omar's brain and body.
  • Unsounded: When the group arrives at Litrya Shrine Ilya was meant to be that festival day's sacrifice, sent to the city to be drugged, ritually killed, and eaten. The storm causes her escort to be delayed and she decides she doesn't want to die so asks Sette if she can join her and flee the shrine, but she ends up crushed when the self-destruct spell is triggered, dying on the same day she would have been sacrificed had things gone as planned.

    Western Animation 
  • In the first season of Bojack Horseman, BoJack's former friend Herb is dying of rectal cancer and as seen by his pale, gaunt figure, doesn't have much time left. Sure enough, by the second season, BoJack is attending Herb's funeral... however, we find out that Herb's cancer had gone into remission, and he actually died in a car crash on his way home from the hospital (because he had been texting, bragging about having beaten cancer) into a truck carrying peanuts and he had a fatal allergic reaction.
  • This happens to Kenny quite often in the first five seasons of South Park, including the first episode, where Kenny survives being blasted by an alien beam, trampled over by cows, only to die after Officer Barbrady's car runs him over.
  • In the Steven Universe episode "Off Colors", Lars draws a Homeworld Attack Drone to himself to save a gem it was about to kill, but it doesn't attack him because Lars is human. However, when Lars destroys the drone a few minutes later, the explosion kills him anyway, though he's resurrected just as quickly.


Video Example(s):


Boris Grishenko

Boris survives the destruction of Janus' base in Cuba, only to be frozen solid by an exploding nitrogen tank moments after he celebrates his good fortune with his catchphrase 'I AM INVINCIBLE!'

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / CheatedDeathDiedAnyway

Media sources: