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Damaged Soul

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The great love of the hero's life has died, and the hero simply cannot take the grief. Desperate to have his significant other returned to him, the character delves into things better left unlearned and discovers a way to bring the loved one back.

Unfortunately, something has gone horribly wrong, causing them to come back wrong.

The loved one's body has been restored, and more importantly their soul came back too. The good news is they aren't a Soulless Shell. The bad news is, their soul got damaged on the way back to the body. Perhaps it was the very act of dying, or the process of being resurrected. Maybe it was being forcibly torn out of Heaven, or spending any amount of time at all in Hell. Or perhaps it was just brain damage caused by the body's decomposition. Whatever the reason, the loved one has woken up screaming and insane.

This can be subtle or overt: the damage may manifest either as a progressively worsening tic, a mental illness, or perhaps a lack of conscience. Or it could manifest as an unstoppable, screaming berserk fury. Unlike a Soulless Shell, a Damaged Soul is extremely motivated: if they aren't driven to suicide, they are very likely to be pissed off at whoever brought them back from the dead as well as their own unnatural condition. Either way, they'll be out to put an end to them both.

Alternately, this might actually be a Soulless Shell whose sociopathic tendencies are due to the conscious mind reacting violently to becoming Soulless. Or maybe Demonic Possession. These unhappy Lazarenes are probably Stepford Smilers or Mad Artists. Compare Resurrection Sickness, where the soul is fine, and side-effects are due to "jet lag".

As a Death Trope, all spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection, C.C. manages to revive Lelouch in between the events of Zero Requiem and the present day. However, the process left him in a child-like mental state because a great part of his soul is still trapped within C's World. This leads to C.C. traveling to Zilkistan to find a Thought Elevator that would take her to C's World and fully reclaim Lelouch's soul.
  • Franken Fran: Most resurrectees are either this or a Monster from Beyond the Veil.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist (2003):
    • Something akin to this is what happens when you use alchemy to revive the dead. The homunculi start out as barely living, messed up beyond belief piles of organs, but eventually evolve into The Soulless who for all intents look completely human. All of them are inhuman sociopaths mentally, however, and have no memories or other connection to their previous lives apart from looking exactly like the deceased.
    • What the Big Bad Dante and Hohenheim do to extend their lifespans does this as well. When they transfer their souls to a new body, they aren't complete and as a result their bodies begin to decay faster since their souls aren't enough to maintain their new body. The more they do this the more of their soul is left behind and they're slowing draining the time they can live in their new body. Since Hohenheim doesn't do it as often his body holds up for a lot longer than Dante's. Towards the end of the 2003 anime, Dante's new body begins decaying after only a few months.
  • In Inuyasha, once the resurrected Kikyou regains part of her soul, she goes from an Empty Shell to consumed by the rage and bitterness with which she'd died. Her first act is to blast Urasue, who'd resurrected her, into oblivion, and she spends quite a while afterwards trying to kill Inuyasha, Kagome, or both together. While she might have gained balance with her full soul, most of it reverted to her reincarnation, Kagome. Which was why in all her later appearances Kikyou had to take the souls of recently deceased women to survive. Whether she destroyed those souls in the process, or merely borrowed them temporarily before letting them pass on, is never made clear, but aside from the soul-eating bit she eventually focuses her attention on destroying the Big Bad, who should have been the target of her anger in the first place.
  • The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service: A story arc revolves around a girl with the power to bring people back from the dead. The problem is, those who are brought back from the dead are overcome with a feeling of "wrongness" about their continued existence and eventually go Axe-Crazy.
  • Mermaid Saga: Nae, who was brought back to life with mermaid ashes, can't remember anything about her past life except for her promise to Yuuta and has a tendency to kill people.

    Comic Books 
  • All-Star Squadron: The teenage heroine Tigress from The Young All-Stars went through a resurrection that was granted by Gudra the valkyrie that changed her personality, causing her to eventually become the Golden Age villain known as the Huntress. For the sake of clarification, it needs to be said that Paula originally debuted in the Golden Age as the villainous Huntress, but was reintroduced in Young All-Stars as the hero Tigress. The plot about Paula coming back wrong was meant to explain her eventual shift into villainy.
  • Batman: Depending on the Writer, this may have happened to Jason Todd. Since no one is exactly sure how he came back to begin with, it would make sense. In-universe, and even outside the universe, what exactly Superboy Punch! did is unclear, but it left him a bit of a catatonic zombie, and then he was put into a Lazarus Pit on top of that, which has the established effect of being dangerous to the sanity of those who are rejuvenated by it. However, it's always open to interpretation how much is down to crazy, and he always made his own choices. Red Hood: The Lost Days treats him as having contracted sociopathy and violent insanity since dying, mostly from the Lazarus Pit. Particular focus is given to his calm focus in planning various murders, as opposed to killing in fits of rage. Ra's al Ghul has dire predictions about the kind of monster Talia's unleashed, but he has ulterior motives to discourage Lazarus Pit use by anyone but him and he had considered Jason's soul to be missing or irreparably damaged prior to his dip in the pit.
  • In one Birds of Prey story, the Society of Villains attempts to recruit Lori Manning (a.k.a. Black Alice) by partially resurrecting her mother as a zombie and offering to complete the resurrection if she joined them. This backfires — Black Alice is furious that they desecrated her mother this way and temporarily steals the magic of the Society mages present to complete the resurrection herself. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, her resurrected mother is a listless shadow of her former self who does nothing but make pancakes and say "I love you" to Lori day after day. Her father starts hitting the bottle pretty hard, unable to cope with the double whammy of his daughter's powers and his wife coming back from the dead as a mental zombie.
  • DC Infinite Halloween Special: Played for Laughs in the story "The Light Kday Returns", in which Batzarro, resurrected from his death in the pages of Superman/Batman, claims that the experience made him Darker and Edgier.
    Batzarro: Something like that not change a man. Not take a piece of his soul. Not push him further from the light. (...) Me am not really dark since death.
  • One Deadpool arc has Deadpool trying to kill 39 US Presidents who came back insane and ready to destroy the entire country to save it.
  • In The Good Neighbors, people are stabbed in the heart with ritual daggers to turn them into trees. This is reversible, but the one example shown came back as a wood-hearted sociopath.
  • Negation: When Javi came back from the dead, he was little more than a zombie, just barely remembering who he was and how he died. Charon had to restore his mind and body to full consciousness.
  • Scarlet Spider: In the third volume, Death explains to Ben Reilly that being killed and resurrected 27 times has corrupted his soul — hence his predilection to amoral actions — and that if it happens again, he'll degenerate into a sociopath.
  • Shade, the Changing Man came back deranged, not due to the death, the resurrection, or even the hell of fighting in the Land of the Dead, but because the Angels took a part of his psyche in order to have a hook into him. Far from the worst example of the trope, as this was Shade's most entertaining incarnation.
  • In X-Factor (2006), bringing people back from the dead but with damaged souls is revealed to be Layla Miller's real power. The "knowing stuff" power turns out to be as a result of a Stable Time Loop.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In the Grimm fairy tale "The Three Snake Leaves", a young queen comes back, thanks to snake leaves (i.e., resurrection-producing leaves obtained from snakes in her crypt). However, she has no love for the husband who was willing to be buried alive with her and who raised her from the dead, and instead plots to kill him. She succeeds... temporarily. It's never explained why the queen comes back with a Damaged Soul and the king doesn't; it's implied, however, that he was always the more loving and more generous of the two.

    Fan Works 
  • In part 2 of Austraeoh, Rainbow Dash is brought back to life by Bellesmith after having spent month as a mutated chaos beast. The experience leaves her somewhat unhinged, and she proceeds to slaughter her way through a small army of guards, all the while laughing and joking. The other ponies are so terrified that when she tells them to put on the berets of the guards she just killed (she thought they looked cool), they do so and don't dare remove them even after she's left.
  • A Crown of Stars: Played with. Kyoko was barely coherent and mentally sound when she returned from Instrumentality because her soul was still split into several pieces. After she got murdered again, Daniel promised Asuka that he could bring her mother back, even if he had to fit the pieces of her soul back together. Asuka was skeptical about it being possible or her mother coming back with no nasty aftereffects, but everything went well.
  • In Immortality Syndrome, several characters are brought back from the dead as mass-murdering psychopaths.
  • In Mega Man Reawakened, Robert is this. His human memories are fuzzy and he tends to lash out in rage until Wood man helps heal him.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Apotheosis Echo: Kyoko Zeppelin-Soryu's soul is split in half, one part barely functional in its insanity. Eleanor begins to mend Kyoko's soul at her request after the battle with Arael, and she is functionally whole again by the end of the fic.
  • Discussed in Resonance Days. Becoming a witch is essentially a hard reset on the soul, so even after dying and going to the afterlife, they have lost all memories of who they were before, only retaining their appearance (plus a few obviously inhuman traits like a tail or a weird hand) and basic knowledge. The witch Charlotte argues that this is for the best, because witches become that way by crossing the Despair Event Horizon, and a lot of magical girls who do remember end up going insane from the trauma. The magical girl Kyoko, on the other hand, killed herself to be Together in Death with the girl she loved, and is rather pissed that said girl now has no idea who she is.
  • SAPR: After being attacked by Cinder, Amber's soul was left in tatters, and she starts acting unhinged.
  • Slayer Academy: Those brought back by the Cabal's resurrection machine do so being able to feel very little emotion.
  • In To Serve In Hell, ponies who are returned from Tartarus are never the same as when they went in. Scootaloo is the mildest example, suffering seizures and panic attacks but not beyond regular trauma. Diamond Tiara, on the other hand, is a near emotionless Empty Shell, unlikely to ever recover enough to survive on her own, and with a crown of metal shards embedded in her scalp.
  • This is the whole premise behind the Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic "Twisted", one of the many different sequels made to the Financial Crisis Gangbang comic. After America is Driven to Suicide, England, desperate to atone, brings America back from the dead, only to get a very angry, horrible monster borne of darkness who is absolutely hellbent on getting bloody revenge on his assailants. A slightly lesser example occurs with America's resurrected children Anthony and Emily, who have been dead for over a century and aren't exactly coping well with their new situation.
  • In Where Loyalties Lie, the problem with resurrecting someone from the dead (aside from developing a hunger for pony flesh) is that the soul has seen the afterlife and longs to return there, but can't, and will go insane from the longing sooner or later. Celestia had intended to return Rainbow Dash right back to the hereafter once she had done the job she was resurrected for. Rainbow being Rainbow, she refuses.

    Films — Animated 
  • Astro Boy: The good news is that Toby/Astro came back with the memories his dad programmed into him intact; the bad news is that he came back with just "ordinary" intelligence (as opposed to the "original's" super-genius smarts), which caused his dad to reject him completely — or at least, that's how his dad views it. The movie makes it more tragic by implying that Astro Boy was a perfect copy of Toby and his father was just so out of touch with the kid that he genuinely didn't know the sort of person his son was.
  • In Batman: Under the Red Hood, Jason Todd comes back a screaming, murdering mess after being resurrected in a Lazarus Pit, and from that moment on he's a conflicted soul edging between homicidal rage and self-destruction. Whether this is an example of this trope or him deciding after coming back to life that all that came before is not worth it is left to the viewer to decide.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien: Resurrection: Ripley is brought back from a bad case of falling-into-molten-lead, but as Xenomorph DNA gets into the mix, she's now a jerk with violent urges.
  • Practical Magic: James Angelov is a sadistic murderer to begin with, but after his girlfriend's sister accidentally poisons him, and then they resurrect him in a very improvised ritual to dodge murder charges, he surges back to life as a screaming, incoherent psychopath who tries furiously to strangle Gilly until her sister brains him with a frying pan. It gets worse.
  • In Re-Animator, Dr. West actually does manage a couple successful resurrections where the resurrectees come back pretty much the same as they were in life. Unfortunately, in both cases the resurrectees, were utterly evil bastards in life, and continued to be so after being revived.
  • Return of the Living Dead 3: Julie Walker had her neck broken in a motorcycle accident, but her boyfriend sneaks her into an army base to use new reanimation technology on her. She comes back, with her soul, but she has an intense craving to devour human flesh and mutilate herself.
  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: Spock has a very mild case of this. His intelligence and memories are intact, but there's just something missing at the start of the film. Fortunately, he's back to normal at the end of the film.
  • Tales of Terror: In "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar", Valdemar's soul is trapped between life and death. This leaves his soul in constant agony and slowly drives him insane.
  • Wake Wood: When Alice is first brought back, she seems like the normal bright child she was in life, but quickly picks up a habit of mutilating animals and later shows no compunction in killing anyone who gets in her way. Normally, the town's resurrection ritual doesn't have such complications — the reason why she came back this way has to do with her having been buried a bit too long.

  • Cloudstreet has a rare non-supernatural example. A boy ironically nicknamed Fish is narrowly rescued from drowning — but, as you'd expect, not all of Fish came back.
  • In Cold Kiss, Wren's First Love Danny dies in a car crash. Wren uses her Psychic Powers along with Black Magic to bring Danny back. He starts out as a child-like being who wishes that Wren would stay with him forever. However, he becomes more and more curious (and violent) as to the circumstances of his death. The story ends with Wren re-killing him, so to speak.
  • The Cosmere:
    • The Returned of Warbreaker could certainly count as this. The process of Returning erases their memory (though not their skills, which is a plot point), and they must consume one Breath (part of the human Anatomy of the Soul) per week or die. In Rhythm of War, Zahel theorizes that the Returned are Cognitive Shadows, which are copies of the soul of the original person, and the lack of memories is an intentional limitation so that they don't linger long enough to end up going mad like the Fused or Heralds (see below).
    • The Stormlight Archive:
      • Szeth spends too much time dead before his resurrection, so the process doesn't properly reattach his soul to his body. It trails behind him as a glowing afterimage when he walks.
      • The Fused are a variant of this. Each Fused is an immortal soul which is allowed by Odium to be take over the body of a willing Parshman to continue prosecuting their Forever War for control over the planet Roshar. But seven thousand years of fighting, dying, and being reborn has damaged many of the Fused and driven them insane.
      • The Heralds are also suffering from the same issue as the Fused. They have been alive for so long, and have died and been reborn so many times, that their souls have been warped and each of them is going mad from their extended existence.
  • In Harry Potter, one of the central rules of magic is you can never truly bring a person back from the dead — there are, however, forms of magic that try to mimic this. Inferi are just reanimated corpses, basically controlled zombies. Horcruxes keep your soul tethered from something other than your body, effectively bringing you back from the dead upon bodily death, although producing a Horcrux horribly mutilates your soul. The Resurrection Stone only produces pale shadows of those who have died, as though there's a veil separating them from life.
  • Ma'ar, more or less the Big Bad of the Heralds of Valdemar series, managed to survive for two thousand years as a Familial Body Snatcher, spending the time between bodies in a Soul Jar in the void. Appearing as himself in The Black Gryphon, he also pops up as Leareth in the Last Herald-Mage Trilogy and as Mornelithe Falconsbane in the Mage Winds, which is also the only time when he has POV and in which he's markedly less competent than in previous incarnations. Another character looking into his memories notes that as Ma'ar he was terrible but capable of much more subtlety and of inspiring genuine loyalty, and had to justify his own actions to himself sometimes. He was also far more powerful. He's still dangerous to the heroes but overall a simpler, more vicious, predictable creature by the time he's Falconsbane, his capabilities deteriorating over all those cheated deaths.
  • In Herbert West–Reanimator, Dr. Herbert West's attempts to bring people back from the dead at first result in either the subject coming back to life for a few seconds, letting out a terrifying scream and dying again, or in the Damaged Soul, becoming insane cannibalistic zombies. Dr. West believes this to be because the brain gets damaged even during brief periods of death (or, as he explains after one of his test subjects breaks loose, "Damn it! It was not quite fresh enough!"). In the end, he succeeds in perfecting his methods, resulting in a Soulless Shell as well as some actually intelligent zombies who eventually lead a horde of mindless ones to kill him.
  • The Memory Wars: This can happen, and is one of the primary motivators for people to avoid violent or painful deaths. When someone dies, the circumstances of their death can leave a mark on their soul, like a scar, and this can lead them to have unresolved issues and emotional problems in their next life. In Silent Oath, it's revealed that Nathan made a deal with Morrigan, and wound up ritually killing Athamar in a previous life to try and stop him remembering his previous incarnations ever again. He let Elena kill him to get out of his side of the bargain, robbing her of a human host. This left Nathan and Elena so damaged that they weren't reborn for over a hundred years, and when they were, they were born on opposites of the world. The memory of the event drives a wedge between the two, just when they were about to get back together. As revenge for Nathan betraying her, Morrigan found Athamar and released all of his past-life memories, driving him insane and ensuring he would want nothing but to make Nathan and Elena suffer.
  • In Mortal Engines, cyborg soldiers known as "Stalkers" can be made by combining robotic life support systems and a robot brain with a dead human. Most of these are a Soulless Shell, but a few — Shrike, the original Stalker Fang (and the non-Anna part of her second incarnation) — come back as damaged souls, capable of emotion but deeply troubled and, in some cases, thoroughly insane. Shrike might develop enough by the end to be considered an Inhuman Human.
  • In the Gene Wolfe story "The Other Dead Man", some of the crew of a badly damaged spaceship are turned into highly motivated zombies when the captain orders the medical pods to resuscitate crew no matter how far gone they are. Ends with an example of Tomato in the Mirror.
  • The main point of the wendigo-tainted Indian Burial Ground beyond the titular Pet Sematary. Animals buried there will come back to life, but they'll be dumb and often mean. Humans buried there? The main character's son, an ordinary toddler who was still learning to talk when he died, comes back speaking like a rather erudite adult — and a highly murderous one at that.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Catelyn Stark is a combination of a Damaged Soul and an Inhuman Human. She comes back as a visibly rotting zombie almost unable to speak. Adopting the name "Lady Stoneheart", she pretty much only cares about revenge and wiping out her enemies. And anyone vaguely associated (past or present) with her enemies. And anyone she just doesn't like. Things have changed since she was a reasonable Team Mom.
    • Lord Beric Dondarrion was a fairly mild Damaged Soul who seems fine at first glance, but whose personality has changed, (going from a cheerful, outgoing young man to a grim Death Seeker) and who mentions that he finds a lot of his memories are fading as a result of his repeated resurrections. This is notable because he was brought back using the same method as Lady Stark, however he was brought back immediately upon dying instead of being dead for several days and he had the advantage of not having been driven insane with grief before death. It's hinted that these are the reasons for him suffering far less damage.
  • An odd form of Damaged Soul resurrection occurs with Bubba (Elvis) in The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries. Elvis was turned into a vampire and is explicitly described as having 'come back wrong' due to the combination of drugs and embalming chemicals. However, the outcome isn't nearly as bad as most Damaged Soul resurrections — Bubba isn't much more dangerous than any other vampire, but acts kind of mentally disabled (though reminding him of who he was constitutes a big fat Berserk Button for him).
  • When he was a baby, Warlock of Spellbent was murdered and then resurrected. As a result, he is missing a part of his soul, the main consequences of which are prophetic nightmares and an inability to use White Magic.
  • The Sten series has the Eternal Emperor, who has earned his title by always coming back to the dead shortly after his assassination. However, when he comes back from the dead in Return of the Emperor, something goes a bit wrong with the process, changing him from a Reasonable Authority Figure to The Caligula.
  • Xanth:
    • Ogre, Ogre has a non-death-related version. Smash and Tandy are both half human and therefore possess souls, but survive without souls, albeit relapsing to their less intelligent monster heritage without one. In the course of the book, souls are divided and shared a number of times. Having a partial Damaged Soul manifests itself in physical weakness and a general sense of injury.
    • However, souls explicitly regenerate over time, as long as you are the original owner. So when Tandy sold half of hers to Mare Imbrium, it started to grow back for Tandy, but Imbri stayed stuck with 50%. When Imbri is temporarily destroyed in a later book, the half-soul reverts to Tandy, leaving her with more than a full soul (an experience she doesn't seem to enjoy). Fortunately, she is able to expel the extra half-soul once more, which resurrects Imbrium.
    • As a curious inversion, in A Swell Foop, the demons E(A/R)th and Fornax are temporarily given souls (demons are normally soulless) and find the experience highly disturbing, especially the feeling of caring and altruism, and are desperate to rid themselves of it.
    • When a formerly soulless creature is given a partial soul, whether that soul permanently attaches to them is variable and what exactly determines the outcome is unclear. There's been at least one example of a demoness gaining a half-soul, but having that soul pass on to her half-human child at birth. Yet with another demoness, her child had a soul of its own at birth and didn't need hers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Vampirism can act like this on the few occasions when it's used in an attempt to save someone who is terminally ill. In reality, a vampire doesn't have a soul at all (unless magic is used to restore the soul), but the effect is something similar; the average newly-turned vampire is something akin to a sociopathic version of the human it was turned from. When the human was already a sociopath, the vampire will tend to be even worse.
    • The idea that Buffy was affected by her own resurrection is toyed with. She faces pretty severe issues as a result of being pulled out of heaven (one of those is a self-admitted inability to feel anything) and Spike's chip no longer recognises her as human (Spike even taunts her with the exact trope name). However, it turns out that she's just experienced a cellular sunburn that confuses the chip. Her actions after being pulled out of Heaven can't be blamed on non-Buffyness. This doesn't make her feel better.
    • This is also played with in season 5, following Joyce's death; it's implied that she would've returned as something quite different after Dawn's resurrection spell succeeded, but the spell is undone before Joyce makes it home.
  • In Cleverman, one of the titular Cleverman's powers is the ability to strip a soul of its essence, leaving nothing to be passed on after death. When Koen accidentally hits Aunty Linda with it, he has to go to some lengths to get it back, and Slade has his own soul erased due to tampering with the Dreaming.
  • Game of Thrones: Beric Dondarrion mentions that every time he comes back, he feels "a bit less".
  • Ghost Whisperer has the phenomenon of "Step-Ins", ghosts who take over freshly abandoned bodies in a desperate effort to return to life. Unfortunately, the rules of reincarnation state that you can't expect to remember your previous life perfectly, which leaves them with an unfortunate case of double Laser-Guided Amnesia since in addition to their previous life they've also got contend with the life of their body. The Step-In can be very confused, depressed, and possibly violent, depending on why they wanted to stay — not knowing why, for instance, you're stalking someone you can't remember and have no connection with while experiencing intense feelings that you can't explain can be one heck of a Mind Screw. Fortunately, the two Step-Ins we meet eventually get help, and one of them even regains their old memories. One should note that they also make the distinction between a "step-in" and a "walk-in", which is basically the same thing except the inhabiting ghost retains all of their own memories...and the only reason the particular walk-in of the episode of the same name was disoriented was because he needed time to get used to walking because he died of muscular dystrophy 10 years ago.
  • Sayid from Lost has a rough go of it in season six thanks to this trope. He dies in the season premiere and returns to life as a sociopath — bummer, but he gets better. He soon dies again, but this time for real, and goes out with a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • Neelix is resurrected with Seven's nanites in "Mortal Coil" (to the dismay of many fans). He's extremely depressed through the whole episode, contemplating suicide, because he didn't see the Talaxian afterlife while dead. If he had, chances are he would've been even more depressed for being ripped from it. The original script was much, much darker; Ensign Wildman would die and then be brought back, but in the spirit of this trope, not brought back right — becoming what the scriptwriters termed "zombie mom". Connected more with death than life, she would find it hard to re-integrate with the crew, and struggling with her new identity would decide to kill her own daughter to bring her back the same way, so she would have someone who could relate to her. The writers were initially thrilled with the prospect of a dark, macabre and humbling episode — but upon reading their own script realised they could not film it; it was far too dark and entered territory nobody was comfortable with. The final product was arguably close to the latter point.
    • In "Ashes to Ashes", Lyndsay Ballard dies and is brought back to life as a member of another species that procreates by reanimating the dead and transforming it into their species. Unfortunately, Lyndsay finds it hard to let go of the life that she lived as a human on Voyager and later finds it difficult to regain that past life as her new life continues to assert itself.
  • Supernatural:
    • The resurrected girl in "Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things" looks just like she used to, but she's gone Ax-Crazy and started murdering the people she blames for her death. Also possibly subverted.
    • In Season 3, it's revealed that Demons are human souls who have been tortured and mutilated from their time in Hell, leaving them nothing but evil, twisted spirits.
    • As of Season 4, both Sam and Dean are heavily implied to be this, both for different reasons. Dean at least has a better explanation, seeing as he was in Hell for a time period roughly equivalent to 40 years. Sam's status is still a bit iffy.
    • Sam as of Season 6, once he gets his soul back. While a safeguard is in place to suppress the symptoms of a damaged soul, there's a possibility it might break down; he's already had one episode involving seizures and being overwhelmed with memories of hell, and when his soul was first returned, Castiel thought he might be comatose. It broke down, with 180 years of being tortured in Hell flooding back (later fixed by Castiel).
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In the episode "The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank", the titular young man wakes up at his own funeral. He can't explain it, but counts himself lucky to be alive, and some of the townspeople are scared that he's actually a demon possessing the man's body. Eventually, after he gives a speech, his family and fiance put aside their doubts and trust that it's a miracle and he's the same man they've always known. And then he lights a match without striking it on anything so he can light his pipe. When his fiance points this out, he says she must be imagining things. As they walk off, the gate to their house closes behind them of its own accord.
  • The X-Files: In "Je Souhaite", a man encounters a genie and wishes his brother back to life after said brother was hit by a truck. He then makes the mistake of wishing that his reanimated brother could talk again... this leads to quite a bit of screaming.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • At one WWE Pay-Per View, The Undertaker (then portrayed as a Badass Biker) fought a buried alive match against Vince McMahon. Kane interfered and The Undertaker lost (and was "buried alive"). The Undertaker then disappeared for a while, though occasionally his older entrance music (when he was portrayed as a Zombie Gravedigger) would play and screw with Kane's head. Eventually, The Undertaker, again in his Zombie Gravedigger persona, showed up and beat Kane at Wrestlemania.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Call of Cthulhu, being reanimated with the Resurrection spell dings the subject's Sanity Meter by 1d20 points — as much as facing a major Mythos entity, and enough to give most characters some form of psychosis.
  • Chronicles of Darkness:
    • In Geist: The Sin-Eaters, the player characters (the Sin-Eaters) are brought back from the brink of death by geists, mysterious beings of the Underworld. They can come back from the dead again... but each time they do, their hold over their geist decreases, and they can't get the same measure of control they could before. A Sin-Eater who dies and comes back more than five times essentially has no control over his body, when then becomes a meat puppet for his geist... and, as the geist is an inhuman being driven by strange desires, it likely wants to have some fun.
    • In Hunter: The Vigil, the conspiracy known as the Malleus Maleficarum (run by the Vatican) has obtained the power of the Benediction. It's a collection of powers that, supposedly, are granted by God. One such power is the Gift of Lazarus, the only power in any of the New World of Darkness lines that explicitly raises the dead. The only issue is that the resurrected person comes back with a major Derangement (think schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.), so don't go thinking you can just die whenever you want.
    • Vampire: The Requiem: One possible explanation for why vampires are the way they are: emotionally stunted, constantly fighting uncontrollable destructive urges, not to mention vulnerable to having their souls sucked out and eaten by other vampires. Then there are the implications of how magic that can affect souls doesn't work on vampires. If possible, it gets worse for the Hollow Mekhet: unlike other vampires, they actually spend some time in the grave before rising, which makes the part of their soul that represents self-knowledge split off into a spirit that usually wants to make the vampire miserable. One vampire in the Mekhet sourcebook says it best:
      Frances: I go cold when I'm hungry ... and when I come to myself, I've done terrible things. Except every time I come to myself, I'm a little less me.
    • Mage: The Awakening features plenty of threats to a soul:
      • Tremere liches and some particularly nasty Shadow spirits can extract and consume souls, which erodes the victim's willpower and Karma Meter; fortunately the soul can heal over time if it's recovered and put back in the body.
      • The Tremere liches themselves suffer from damaged souls and will suffer the same penalties if they don't consume other people's to replenish themselves.
      • Some mages are stupid or desperate enough to let Abyssal entities ride their souls in exchange for power; doing this too often wears the soul out to the point that it erodes their magical power.
      • In a less extreme case, there is a spell that partially dislodges the soul from the body, leading to many of the typical symptoms of a Damaged Soul. Fortunately, simple human contact and recreational activity can help settle it back in again, although victims left to their own devices are just as likely to wander into traffic.
    • This is the basic premise behind Deviant: The Renegades; the Remade were normal people who were experimented on until their very souls broke from the trauma. As a result, they don't even have Virtues or Vices anymore; they can only define themselves by external things, like a cause, a loved one, or getting back at the bastards who did this to them.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Eberron: When Dolurrh, the Realm of the Dead, is coterminous with the physical world, resurrection spells have a chance to go awry and either summon a batch of ghosts, have the wrong soul inhabit the body (the original comes back as a ghost), or a demon either possessing or animating the body.
    • Heroes of Horror features an optional table on which to roll in order to give PC death a slightly scarier aspect. The side effects range from a smell of grave dirt to extreme recklessness to gaining a random amount of taint (which is basically The Virus, since if you accumulate too much taint you turn into a psychopath or a monster). The book even invokes the trope, specifically calling this phenomenon "Coming Back Wrong".
  • Exalted:
    • Nearly every Abyssal Exalted is changed in some way by taking the Last Breath. Not only do they have a Virtue that's been disrupted by the Neverborn taint on their Exaltation, but they also sustain personality alterations. Some consider life more precious now that they know how easily it can be lost; some view it as a lot less important; some go crazy; and some of them — hell, most of them — end up plugged directly into the insane whispers of dead Eldritch Abominations, which can't be good for anyone's mental state.
    • Similarly, Primordials recover automatically from fetich death, but come back fundamentally wrong — Adrian, the River of All Torments, was reborn as an insane Joker/Buddha hybrid known as Adorjan, the Silent Wind, and is one of the few individuals to scare even her fellow Yozis.
  • Mage: The Ascension: In one gamebook, a fiction section dealing with the Hollow Ones (think renegade goth mages) included a Technocracy mole failing to infiltrate a Hollower group. They kill him, but catch his soul before it gets away. One body-reassembly and a soul-reinsertion spell later, and the mole's back among the living. But now, he's bound to the service of the Hollow mage who brought him back. It's implied that he's now a mole in the Technocracy, working to protect the Hollowers.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Necrons, a faction of undead robots, have nigh-indestructible metal bodies that can eventually regenerate/be repaired from just about any harm... but the process damages the Necron "soul" within. The Necron Lords who avoid death are in fairly good (if ghastly) condition, but those who have been smashed up a few times become increasingly unhinged and suffer from delusions of grandeur. Meanwhile, the average Necron Warrior has been regenerated so often it's landed in the Soulless Shell category, a mindless automaton.
    • Mad Dok Grotsnik. In this case, the problem wasn't so much "spiritual disruption" as it was "brain damage from the circular saw cutting his head open; gretchin vomit; several deaths on the operating table cured by enthusiastic misuse of a cattle prod; and a spider taking up residence in his skull". On the other hand, he was a member of a race who are best described as a Culture Chop Suey of Horny Vikings and Milwall fans who dabbled in Mad Science on top, so it's not like he was terribly sane beforehand.

    Video Games 
  • In the Avernum series, the souls of exceptionally revered vahnatai are brought back as Crystal Souls to advise the rest of their tribe. Unfortunately, the odds of the soul going mad in the process seems to be rather high. It is not so much in the process of becoming a Crystal Soul as the thousands of years of being one — particularly the hundreds where the entire Vahnatai race is sleeping to let the environment recover... except for the immobile crystal souls, which just stay there, awake and alone.
  • The Corrupted Souls of Cube Escape are a byproduct of extracting negative memories from dead humans. The result is a featureless shadowy black figure with glowing white orbs for eyes without any memories of their former self and whose every waking moment is And I Must Scream. They behave accordingly.
  • The Undead in Dark Souls are cursed with a flawed form of Resurrective Immortality; they can resurrect from the total destruction of their body and can maintain a mostly normal appearance by consuming humanity, but each death rots their body and soul a little further, eventually turning them into "Hollows" (zombies).
  • One of the Destiny codex entries describe Pujari, a Guardian who died and experienced a vision of the Black Garden before his resurrection. In it, he met a flower in the shape of a ghost, who accused him of being a dead thing made by a dead power who's only purpose is killing. While Pujari denied its accusations, it filled him with doubt, and when he arose, he had a wound from a thorn on his hand, which hasn't healed since.
  • The Dig (1995) reveals that the Precursors had created Applied Phlebotinum crystals that had this effect (among others). The human character who is revived with one rapidly grows obsessed, paranoid, and addicted to them. Another character deliberately makes the player character promise not to revive her that way; if you do after her death, she immediately commits suicide, and you get the BAD END. A member of the Precursors can be found in a state somewhere between death and suspended animation — reviving him with these crystals is necessary to proceed, whereupon (with the linguist's help) he reveals that they had the same effect on his people, ultimately leading to their downfall, and that one builds up a resistance to their effects with repeated use, stating that this is the last time using the crystals will work on him. Further attempts to revive him prove fruitless.
  • The teleporters in Doom³ are basically gateways to, from and through Hell itself, and everybody who uses them suffers from depression, anxiety and hallucinations — even more so than the rest of the Marines and scientists, who are being driven crazy more slowly as Hell slowly permeates Mars.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • NPC Enaremand in Final Fantasy XI have you searching for a necromancer to make a mannequin with the likeness of his deceased wife Alsha more 'lifelike' by summoning the soul of the said wife into the doll. It ends with you having to deal with a crazed puppet that both attempts to hurt and heal you, before trying to end its own existence by casting Fire II on itself over and over. It's up to the player to survive AND deal the finishing blow to truly end the tragedy.
    • Latov in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates is wounded in spirit by both the manner of his death, having been murdered in his own home to protect his children, and all the other tragedies he'd suffered by the Crystal Temple. Then he is possessed by the Lich, turning him into a being of rage and anguish. His children Yuri and Chelinka, along with his old friends Alhanalem and Meeth, first have to drive the Lich out and then dive into his past to heal him so that he can move on.
  • This is a key plot point in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. The emperor of Grado died and was resurrected by his son, Lyon. The Demon King restored his body and used it as a puppet to wage a massive war. Plus, Lyon had to tamper with a Sealed Evil in a Can to do it, which allowed the Demon King to drive him insane and possess him. Of note is that that the same method produces "Orson's wife", an example of an Empty Shell.
  • In the second Infinity Blade game, the Deathless Thane is apparently permanently slain when the Worker of Secrets disrupts his Quantum Identity Pattern. In the third game the Worker brings Thane back as a QIP Abomination which is horribly mutated and not even sentient anymore.
  • The Nameless One from Planescape: Torment had an evil hag strip his mortality from him and thus render him immortal — he could resurrect from the dead and even completely heal all but the most severe wounds. However, because of some unaccounted flaws in the process, each time he resurrected, he would lose his memory.
  • Shadow Hearts: From The New World has this happen, rather than the soulless monsters of Koudelka and the original Shadow Hearts. Both Johnny Garland, and his sister were brought back by their father. Johnny gets away with the occasional BSOD mode... his sister comes back emotion-less and conscience-less, and turns out to be Lady, the mysterious woman you're chasing down. It turns out that originally Grace was the successful resurrection, but she sacrificed her Will and absorbed the Malice into herself to save her brother.
  • Shin Megami Tensei's recurring Dark Magical Girl, Alice, once was a happy, normal girl. Following a terribly traumatic transformation involving her death and revival, she still was. Problem is, she remained as such for ever and ever, which along with the massive magical upgrade she got really wasn't good for her ability to understand there's a reason it's frowned upon to kill and eat your friends.
  • Ultimate Deadpool was originally a mutant-hunter killed off in the comics. In Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, he's back from the dead, now a TV Show Host. It Makes Sense in Context... kinda.
  • In Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis, the summoner Elrik tries to resurrect his dead wife, but her soul comes back corrupted and possesses his daughter Euphaire. The protagonist must both free Euphaire and stop Elrik from killing her in an attempt to undo his mistake.
  • In Total War: Warhammer, this is part of Skarbrand the Exiled's backstory. Once the Blood God Khorne's mightiest Bloodthirster, pride eventually went to his head, and he was convinced by Tzeentch to try and overthrow Khorne. The Blood God reacted by throttling him, body and soul, and throwing him out of his realm so violently it left permanent scars on his once favourite servant. Physically, Skarbrand is permanently flightless and is missing two of his horns. Metaphysically, the damage done to his soul has left him incapable of feeling any emotion other than Unstoppable Rage, which is so potent that, along with his terrifyingly high combat stats, all Order factions and even most daemons give him a wide berth.
  • A short story on Sylvanas from World of Warcraft seems to indicate this is the case for the majority, if not all, of the Forsaken. On death, Sylvanas experienced the afterlife for a brief time but was torn from it by Arthas; "the pain [was] so intense it [left] her soul forever torn". Word of God also explains that an undead soul is imperfectly held to their bodies with a form of dark magic that often leaves corruptive influences on the soul, drawing out their more negative traits.

  • In Daniel, the titular character became a shadow of his former self after becoming a vampire, and it only gets worse and worse. At one point, he describes it as feeling like his soul was "rotting".
  • DevilBear: When Kristofer Raven and Porklet make an attempt to bring their Plush Bear friend back from the dead, he comes back Ax-Crazy and tries to eat his friend's stuffings.
  • Homestuck:
    • Aradia lingered as an eternally deadpan ghost long after she actually died. When she was granted a robotic body, the only emotional capacity she seemed to have regained was extreme rage, which she vented exactly twice in a pair of rather disturbing episodes. She did display affection towards Sollux before her soulbot exploded, suggesting that her whaling on and relationship with Equius might have been inspired by blackrom feelings.
    • Jadesprite (Becsprite + Jade's stuffed dream self) had a Heroic Breakdown and lamented that she was no longer with her friends in the afterlife and that she now remembered her own traumatic death.
  • Jack (David Hopkins): After Emma Volpe is killed by a virus, her husband uses the advanced technology of the pre-genocide humans and Mad Scientist Kane to resurrect her. Coming back to Earth after having experienced Heaven drives her insane. She eventually kills herself in front of him to return to her Heaven, which is all the more tragic as suicide is a ticket to Hell in the comic.
  • Ruby Quest features an interesting take on this: all the characters have been resurrected quite possibly countless times over the course of a year, but only the first time went wrong, and even that only temporarily. Afterwards, they've been quite fine, at least mentally.
  • Early on in Scary Go Round, Shelley Winters (then still a secondary character) is strangled and later resurrected as a zombie with a brain fetish. She gets better after being struck by lightning.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, Oasis's personality and memories tend to get tweaked every time she comes Back from the Dead, making her repeated resurrections more of a crapshoot. Sometimes she comes back and has a somewhat benign or even heroic personality. Other times, she comes back crazier than ever before.

    Western Animation 
  • The South Park episode "Marjorine" has Butters' parents thinking they have done this in an homage to Pet Sematary (1989), after burying the pig used to fake Butters' death in an old Indian Burial Ground.
  • Ninjago: Season 8 The Sons of Garmadon, sees the titular faction resurrect Lord Garmadon after his death with the Preeminent's destruction in Season 5, but they use a special ritual in order to return him in his evil identity and with his empathy and capacity for good removed by force. This results in a Garmadon devoid of most if not all his good qualities who doesn't hesitate to try and kill Lloyd to become stronger and take over Ninjago and despite their loyalty has no compulsions with threatening the Sons of Garmadon with death for their failures, despite Seasons 9-15 eventually showing he still had some good left and he began to work on it after seeing the errors of his ways so he could make amends to the people he hurt, the "Garmadon" comics do acknowledge his soul was damaged in the process of returning back to life and it's why he has a hard time trying to be good or not being an unlikeable jerk.
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • In the first episode, Rusty thinks his Day of the Dead ritual has brought Brock back from the grave as a murderous monster. Really, it's just Brock, taken for dead and buried, being his usual self.
    • Discussed by Doctor Orpheus during the second season premiere; he believes to have accidentally resurrected the Venture twins without being able to find their souls, turning them into horrific zombies. The reality is, the zombie-like Hank and Dean are actually clones that were released before being physically and mentally formed due to a recent power shortage in the compound.