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Deader than Dead

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Welp, guess that card of mine can never be used ever again. Not even in future games.

"We've got to verify it legally to see if she is morally, ethically, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably, and reliably dead."
The Munchkins, The Wizard of Oz, about the Wicked Witch of the East

Death is permanent, as we all know. Because people die if they are killed. At least, they do in Real Life. In fictional works, however, this need not necessarily apply. In fiction, people regularly do come Back from the Dead, especially Reviving Enemies. This is fine if they're on the side of the heroes, but once a villain has pulled this a couple of times, it gets really old. When Death Is Cheap, it cheapens the suspense of wondering if someone's going to die, after all.

There's only one solution when death is not enough. It's time to kill that guy so thoroughly, he becomes Deader Than Dead.

The actual implementation of Deader Than Dead varies. Sometimes it requires killing more than one component of the target, often its soul and its body at the same time. Sometimes it requires following the dead to the afterlife and killing them there. Sometimes it involves tons and tons of Maximum Overkill that reduces the villain to a fine paste or even less. Sometimes it involves having to kill them in a special way, or with a particular weapon. Sometimes it involves a sworn affidavit declaring they will never return. And sometimes, a particularly nasty alternative to death has to be found. For demons and the like, the latter often means "sealing" them somewhere, though more often than not, this is just a surefire way to end up with Sealed Evil in a Can. Your Soul Is Mine! is an uncommon way of ensuring total death as well — pulling someone's literal life force out of their body and eating or smashing it is a good way to ensure that they're never coming back. On the other hand, if it's a story where resurrection requires a (mostly) intact body, it's simply a matter of making sure the body isn't intact.

Characters who come back from the dead while staying dead (i.e., the Undead) are a special case, but of course, being "dead" also has a very special meaning in this case.

If you have to rely on this trope often, it tells you that you have cheapened the meaning of "death" to the point of uselessness. Relying on it after you have already pulled it for the same character tells you that maybe you're lacking in imagination to come up with good characters.

Or it might be that the character is too popular or iconic (to the fans or the writer) to stay permanently dead. So, it's not really that surprising when they pull something out of left field and let someone use Time Travel to...

Ow! Ouch! Stop kicking me!

Common for important bosses in video games (see Non-Lethal K.O.), but not rare outside them either. Compare with Permadeath and Rasputinian Death. Common ingredient in a Death by Origin Story. Often related to Cessation of Existence. This may be the function of an Immortal Breaker — it causes any being to be completely obviated from existence (especially important if the immortal in question has Resurrective Immortality).

Older Than They Think — a Fairy Tale may outline the villain's death in graphic detail to ensure that, unlike the hero, they cannot come Back from the Dead. (Often, the Family-Unfriendly Death is proposed by the villain as a suitable punishment for his crimes, as a general principle.)

Despite the similar sounding name, not related to Harder Than Hard, although the attempt to kill someone Deader Than Dead is by no means easy. Related to Killed Off for Real, which results when the audience would have expected the Deader Than Dead character to come back.

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


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach:
    • Soul Reapers and Hollows are post-death beings. In short, ghosts. Although it's possible to kill them without actually cutting off their heads, they can potentially survive truly severe injuries. As a result, the only way to be absolutely certain Soul Reaper or Hollow is dead is decapitation. This can lead to extraordinary measures being taken to ensure the most powerful Soul Reapers or Hollows are definitely dead from their wounds and stay that way. Even then, being a Buddhism-influenced story, this will free the souls to continue along the wheel of transmigration, allowing the soul to be reborn as a completely new being.
    • Quincies take this one step further than anyone. They don't simply kill Hollows, they destroy the soul as well. Aside from the Sokyoku (see below), they are the only beings that are capable of eradicating a soul from existence itself, meaning the soul cannot go on to be reborn into future lives.
    • The Sokyoku is a phoenix-like creature that the Gotei 13 use to execute people in Soul Society. If a person is killed by it, their soul will be destroyed, rendering it unable to continue the cycle of reincarnation. Since the Gotei 13's entire existence hinge on maintaining the cycle (to the point of performing a genocide on Quincies because they caused a disruption on the balance), this is considered the ultimate form of punishment to unruly souls.
    • The anime-only Bounts can eat both unsent and living souls. In fact, it has been noted that a Shinigami's zanpakuto is the ONLY thing that can help souls move on (not counting the natural transformation of unsent souls into Hollows).
    • In a rare case of this happening to one of the good people, Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto suffers this fate. After being sliced in half, and then getting his arm cut off as he clung to life, his entire body is disintegrated to make sure there are no comebacks.
    • Ichibē Hyōsube of the Royal Guard has a technique called Futen Taisatsuryō which can steal 100 nights from Soul Society 100 years in the future to completely obliterate the Big Bad by taking away his darkness. Unfortunately, it didn't work.
  • In Code Geass, Lelouch begs "God" (the collective unconsciousness of mankind) to not take away mankind's future. "God" interpreted this to mean "Get rid of his parents" as they were plotting to destroy "God" as part of an Assimilation Plot. Since they were in a spiritual realm, this resulted in his parents dissolving from existence — it even trumped his father's possession of the Code, which made him practically an immortal being.
  • In Delicious in Dungeon, Only Mostly Dead applies in the titular dungeon. While souls are chained to bodies after death, the bonds weaken over time, creating spirits. However, the moment a spirit is made manifest, resurrection becomes totally impossible as there's no longer any connection between soul and body. Falin was barely hours or days away from becoming a spirit — Marcille's envisioning of the bonds keeping her soul tethered to her skeleton is that only one decrepit bond remains, necessitating the elf's use of forbidden Blood Magic.
  • Digimon: Digimon in general are fairly immortal, as most of them merely turn into Digi-Eggs after death.
    • There was a time when Primary Village was inactive, which meant a digimon's data couldn't return to be reborn.
    • The Big Bads rarely ever return. The exception is Myotismon, whose soul persisted each time he died and regenerated into a more powerful form. The Digidestined finally manage to permanently kill him by vaporizing his body and then combining the energy of every Digidestined on Earth to blow up his soul.
    • In Digimon Tamers, digimon can absorb the data of the digimon they defeat which takes them out of the cycle of reincarnation.
    • In Digimon Data Squad, Digimon turn into eggs as well, but Kurata is revealed to have created a weapon capable of corrupting a Digimon's data, so that the Digimon dies permanently.
    • Digimon killed in the physical world cannot be reborn as Digieggs as their data is locked out of the digiworld where they would need to go to do so. However if Wizardmon is any indication they aren't forever lost either, as he lingers around in the area he died as a kind of digital "Ghost".
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dragon Ball Z: The series which cheapened death to the point where the main cast isn't all that concerned when the Big Bad starts killing off the majority of the planet's population, since they can just be wished back to life! There are exceptions to this:
      • Earth's original Dragon Balls, created by Kami, had the rule that you could only have a given wish granted once, so anyone who died a second time would be dead for good. Namekian Dragon Balls threw this limitation out the window, and had no such limitation on the number of times one could be brought back.
      • The idea of killing someone who is already dead is outright stated by King Kai, as Kid Buu was about to blow up the afterlife and everyone in it entirely, leaving absolutely nothing left to be revived in the first place. When Vegeta goes to stall Kid Buu, Goku warns him that this is a risk.
      • Super Buu only existed as a combination of Fat Buu and Kid Buu. Since Kid Buu has been reincarnated as Uub, this can never happen again, and Super Buu can't even be revived with the Dragon Balls, as he never had a soul of his own.
    • Dragon Ball Super:
      • Zeno is stated to have the ability to "erase" anything he wants. This is treated as much more severe than death, since it wipes out the soul along with the body, and is further implied to be irreversible. This happens to everyone in Future Trunks' timeline barring Future Trunks himself, Future Mai, and Future Zeno; not only are they dead, but they've also had their souls and afterlife completely wiped out due to Future Zeno erasing everything in existence within the timeline in order to stop Fused Zamasu's non-corporeal form from infecting everything and eventually spreading into other timelines.
      • Meanwhile, Beerus (and presumably all Gods of Destruction) has a similar ability to "destroy" whatever he wishes using a form of Ki unique to them known as Energy of Destruction to accomplish a technique known as Hakai. While not as powerful as Zeno's version, it has similar effects. He has demonstrated that he can destroy both the dead and other gods. They just... go away, usually screaming. Despite having the Dragon Balls, the show treats it as deadly serious and there seems to be no coming back from destruction... until the end of the Universe Survival arc, where all the universes erased by Zeno were resurrected using the Super Dragon Balls. This pretty much proves beyond any doubt that they weren't kidding when they said there were no limits at all to what a wish on the Super Dragon Balls could accomplish.
      • The Moro arc goes into further detail on Angel Laws, explaining that Angels are meant to be as neutral as it gets; they are not permitted to directly intervene with threats to the universe, and they are only allowed to fight insofar as training other individuals. Violation of these rules results in "total eradication". Thus, Merus, being an Angel, promptly fades from existence after deciding to fight all out and seal Moro's ability to copy others' powers.
  • In Dr. STONE, those who have been petrified can be revived using a special formula created by Senku. If the statue is broken into pieces, things get trickier, but a skilled artisan like Yuzuriha can still put the pieces back together accurately enough that the formula can still work. However, if too many pieces are missing or worn down, the formula can't work anymore, as is the case with the Puppet King of the Petrification Kingdom.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • In the manga, you must destroy the Philosopher's stone that contains the actual Homunculus instead of destroying its body (according to later chapters, the body can apparently survive on its own and absorb a new philosopher stone if it isn't killed afterwards. It seems to lose its homunculus powers, though). In the 2003 anime, a Homunculus must be killed once per incomplete philosopher's stone within them (or forced to expel them otherwise, and then die again), but are frozen in place (allowing all the time in the world to actually do this) when confronted with a piece of their original human body.
    • Then there's the Philosopher's Stones themselves, which still contain the souls of the people sacrificed to create them. Once their energy is used up, these people are gone for good.
  • The 11 Planetary Masters of Sol from GaoGaiGar FINAL regenerate even after their bodies are completely destroyed. Once Pisa Sol is killed, this ends them permanently.
  • The cast of Ga-Rei have to kill evil spirits that were once people, such as Yomi. Then she is revived again.
  • The Data Entities in Haruhi Suzumiya could delete certain events — and, to some extent, beings.
  • In the second-to-last episode of Idolmaster: Xenoglossia, Chihaya transforms herself into energy and merges with Imber, only for the iDol to spit her essence back out, where she likely then dissipated.
  • Inuyasha: The Big Bad Naraku had his body obliterated multiple times, but always regenerated before the end of the episode. Actually, for a big part of the series, killing him would have required killing his heart, stored in another being (he eventually just absorbs the other being because it tries to betray him). In the end, Naraku ended up Deader Than Dead when Kagome used the Shikon Jewel to wish Naraku's spirit out of existence along with the Shikon Jewel itself.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
  • In Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, this is heavily implied to happen to Nightmare in the Series Finale in the 4Kids dub as in the Japanese version, Nightmare gives a As Long as There Is Evil speech about how he'll be back someday but in the dub, he's screaming in fear and agony as he disintegrates into nothing!
  • The Arc-en-ciel in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's destroys something by distorting the very fabric of time and space to make sure it's really gone. That still wasn't enough to stop the Nigh-Invulnerable corrupted self-defense program of Reinforce from reincarnating again. To make sure it's really dead, Reinforce had to willingly delete herself to prevent her Rejuvenation Program from bringing it back.
  • Mermaid Saga: Anyone who survives eating a mermaid's flesh can basically only die if something happens to the head, a la Highlander. Decapitation is mentioned, while one immortal succumbs to total consumption in an intense fire.
  • In Naruto, several of the villains they face have some form of immortality or method of escaping death that requires extra effort. Sometimes on repeated occasions.
    • Orochimaru: The Naruto poster thing for defying death. He survived a close brush with the Shinigami, Tsunade's rock-shattering punches, and being sliced apart by an electric katana. He was believed dead after being struck with an attack which would trap him in an eternal genjutsu, but it turned out he imbedded fragments of his soul in the Curse Seals he applied to his minions. So long as one of those still exists, he can potentially gain a new host body. Despite everything that happens to him, he is still alive at the end of the manga.
    • Kakuzu: He has five hearts, all torn out of other shinobi. To kill him you have to destroy all of them before he tears yours out and adds it to the collection. It took a jutsu capable of destroying his body on a cellular level to put him down. That didn't kill him. He was still down on one (possibly faulty) heart. Kakashi eventually finished him off.
    • Hidan: Cut off his head and he complains about his hair getting pulled. He had to be dismembered, buried in an isolated forest, and left for a few years until his immortality jutsu ran out. And he still has time to roll his head back into action. Word of God says that he is currently dying slowly of dehydration... and his head will rot before he eventually dies.
    • Hokages 1-4: All currently in the stomach of the God of Death, though it turns out the Uzumaki Clan had a counter for this as well.
    • Obito survived half of his body being crushed by a boulder as a child. As an adult he went on to survive a wide range of overkill attacks aimed at ending him and was even revived after being forced to use a jutsu that killed him. He finally died when Kaguya reduced his still-living body to ash, but that didn't keep him from giving Kakashi temporary use of the Sharingan from beyond the grave.
    • The Resurrection Jutsu reveals that people can only be brought back as undead minions if their souls still have an attachment to the mortal world. Those whose spirits have already moved on are effectively deader than the dead, and cannot be brought back by any means whatsoever.
  • The Nasuverse is loaded with characters who cheat death in a variety of ways (being undead, reincarnating, etc...). The two Shikis, Shiki Ryougi and Shiki Tohno, can kill these things deader, because the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception that they bear allow them to destroy their very concept of being. In fact, they can even kill things like ghosts, buildings, telekinesis, or appendicitis using a butter knife. To be specific, they can kill anything they can comprehend the death of. Ryougi has Akasha helping her comprehend the death of some things, so she can kill anything that she can perceive as 'living'; Tohno, meanwhile, doesn't have this assistance (and thus is slowly being driven mad). In one of his endings, he kills Arcueid's connection with Gaia so that he stands a better chance of beating her while the moon is out. In another route, he is able to actually kill poison while it's still flowing through the bloodstream.
  • Pokémon: The Series: In the special episode "The Legends of X, Y, and Z", the Maiden of the titular legend was turned to stone when Yveltal absorbed the life out of everything in the area. Many years later, Xerneas comes to the area and uses its power to revitalize the place, except for the Maiden, who could not be revived.
  • Any Asura or Deva in Popcorn Avatar who goes against the rules of the avatar battles and decides to take matters into their own hands by manifesting in their true forms is forever barred from Samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth, and is literally erased from existence.
  • Played for Laughs in Pop Team Epic in a gag about jagged speech bubbles in manga. Popuko will die when she sees one of them. Pipimi's Big "WHAT?!" kills her, her soul starts flying away to Heaven... and then Popuko lets out ANOTHER Big "WHAT?!", killing her soul. This goes on for another cycle in the anime, meaning her soul's soul is dead!
  • Record of Ragnarok: Because the humans the story follows are Dead to Begin With, the destruction of their souls basically means they will cease to exist. The same goes for any of the Valkyries or gods who die during the tournament.
  • People die in Shakugan no Shana by having their "power of existence" consumed — i.e., removing them from having ever existed in the first place.
  • So I'm a Spider, So What?:
    • Abyss Magic functions by banishing the target into the MA Realm, where their body and soul are broken down into MA energy. This is the only way of bypassing the Immortality skill which would otherwise let a being survive even as a disembodied head.
    • Soul collapse occurs when a soul is badly damaged, permanently killing the soul. This damage can be caused by Heresy Magic and similar attacks, but the more immediate danger is the Skill System itself. The Rotten Reincarnation it represents has degraded all souls on the isekai world to the point many are on the verge of collapse.
    • Ariel has lived for centuries but the accumulated damage to her soul from the Skill System means that when she does die, her soul will collapse, with no method of preventing it.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime:
    • Complete soul eradication is a sure-fire way to make sure someone stays dead. Even Resurrection magic and skills, a Healing Factor capable of regeneration From a Single Cell, the ability to survive without a physical body, and even Resurrective Immortality all still require that the person's soul is still intact for them to work, unless you're satisfied with being Came Back Wrong. Examples of pulling this off include Soul Eating or total assimilation, and there are certain weapons and skills that attack the soul directly to pull this off. Of course, some beings have abilities that make actually pulling this off almost an Impossible Task in and of itself.
    • Rimuru reserves this fate for his most hated enemies, even occasionally making it abundantly clear how he's going to eat them and break their bodies and souls down into basic energy with no hope of coming back.
    • This happened to Veldanava, the strongest True Dragon who all have Resurrective Immortality. It's believed to be due to the massive amount of self-imposed De-power he placed on himself most notably giving up much of his power to his daughter Milim Nava over millennia that resulted in him being Brought Down to Normal. Regardless, Veldanava never revived after his death thousands of years ago, though there's some speculation that even then Veldanava simply chooses not to revive for some reason. Of course, not that this is going to stop Justice King Michael and the angels from trying to bring him back through their schemes involving the other True Dragons (along with killing all the mortals for their role in Veldanava's death). Although given Rimuru's possession of Ciel and ability to create a universe, it's implied he is the reincarnation of Veldanava.
  • Toriko:
    • Appetite demons can't be killed by normal means, because of their ability to reincarnate again and again after death. The only way to kill them is to seal them in a special golden can.
    • Pieces of Neo, due to their extreme survivability, had to be completely decimated — they were either annihilated or simply eaten. The death of one that got least punishment out of them was described as "lost any semblance of shape, form or existence".
    • Anyone eaten by Neo falls under this trope. Everything, that Neo eats completely disappears from this world, breaking the law of conservation of energy - in other words, he consumes things without leave behind any energy or matter. This includes soul energy, which means, that even abovementioned spirits, that can constantly reincarnate, permanently die, if Neo eats them. And on top of that, his bites also can't be regenerated, because individual cells admit their defeat and give up.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Kurama fights Elder Toguro, who possesses an extraordinary Healing Factor to the point of being functionally immortal. He eventually finishes the battle by calling up a plant designed to suck the life out of you (painfully) until you're dead. That guy's not going anywhere for a while.

    Comic Books 
  • The backstory for the Marvel 1602 continuity is that, in a dystopian future where America is ruled by a despotic President-For-Life, Captain America joins an underground resistance movement, fails, and is captured. The President knows that, this being the Marvel Universe, killing an A-list Super Hero has a spectacularly low probability of sticking. So he attempts to remove him from the timeline entirely. Cap winds up being sent over 400 years back in time, thus altering the timeline and ushering in the 'Age of Marvels' during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First.
  • Scud the Disposable Assassin featured a werewolf villain that seemed to regenerate from any kind of death, including having the main protagonist punch his way through the back of its head. The werewolf is finally defeated when it is jettisoned into orbit around the moon, where it explodes, reforms, and explodes again in an endless loop.
  • The casting of the Montesi Formula in the Marvel Universe not only destroys every vampire except Hannibal King in the dimension, it makes it impossible for vampires to even exist in the dimension—some brought in from another crumble to nothing as soon as they arrive. The Formula is dispelled a few years later, since there's always a comic book writer who wants to do a story about Dracula.
  • In Those Annoying Post Bros by Matt Howarth, anything that dies in Bugtown regenerates, though sanity may be slightly reduced. (The crazier Post Brother says "Naw, I've died lots of times." Tactful silence.) In one case, a character is killed in the street and spends several months regenerating and getting run over before an opportunity to get out of traffic. To kill someone for real, you have to get him out of Bugtown somehow.
  • In the Green Lantern story Blackest Night, Don Hall (the first Dove of the Hawk and Dove duo) is so dead that the zombie-creating Black Lantern rings cannot so much as disturb the dirt around his grave. This is apparently because pacifist Don was "at peace" when he died, compared to most dead heroes who most assuredly weren't.
  • Hellblazer: It's implied that this happens to the First of the Fallen at the end of Garth Ennis' first run, after he's stabbed with a dagger composed of the energies of the now-killed Second of the Three and Third of the Three—he's the most ancient entity in the universe besides God himself, and predates any concept of mortality or an afterlife, so even he doesn't know what will happen to him when he's Killed Off for Real. This doesn't stop another writer from bringing him Back from the Dead.
  • X-Men Forever: Chris Claremont has said this is the fate of anyone who gets killed. When Wolverine was killed off in Issue 2, his picture in the recap page was overlaid with a big red "DEAD" for at least 10 issues just to drive the point home. He did reappear, but only in flashbacks from his World War II service alongside Nick Fury. And, he finally got to retcon the original ending for X-Men (vol.2) #3, in which instead of surviving, Magneto and any Acolyte who wasn't Fabian Cortez burn up and die in Earth's atmosphere as Asteroid M disintegrates.
  • The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael: The titular character is able to kill the grim reapers in Hell or limbo or wherever he is using a massive effort of will; they then get sucked down into what is believed to be a place even worse than Hell. It's implied that he can kill the already dead in a similar manner.
  • In the epilogue to Ultimatum, the writers go out of their way to assure everyone that not only is Wolverine really dead, extensive tests have been done to prove that he cannot be cloned, regenerated, or resurrected in any way. This after a Rasputinian Death.
  • The original Dr. Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) wasn't just killed, he was vaporized by a weapon designed to lock onto and disintegrate the DNA of individual people. The only way he could return? Reality warping via nuclear echidna. No joke. The revival is only temporary, lasting a month before he dissipates again. Then came the Cosmic Retcon, in which Dr. Eggman altered Mobius' reality so much that Dr. Robotnik and Robo-Robotnik, Dr. Eggman's original form were disassembled through time/space and realtered so that Dr. Eggman always existed on Mobius.
  • Earth X: In the finale of Universe X, the embodiment of Death itself was annihilated. While this, at first, seemed a victory, it quickly turned sour when many people who had suffered irreparable injuries or incurable diseases found themselves trapped in endless suffering. This was especially to the chagrin of the already-impossible to kill Daredevil, who had made a living out of never dying, no matter what was done to him. Finally, a team of heroes and scientists manage to find Jude, the Entropic Man—and his touch, it is revealed, can end even Daredevil's life, turning him to inert atomic dust.
  • W.I.T.C.H.: Happens to Phobos. After he broke out of the inescapable prison he had been thrown into, did what he did in the Trials of the Oracle arc and subverted a Disney Villain Death in a way that nearly allowed him to steal their powers, the Guardians disintegrated his soul to make sure he didn't return.
  • The Punisher 2099 had a villain who claimed that upon his death he would absorb psychic energy he had accumulated in the population of the surrounding city and become a godlike entity. Punisher called up his tech guy, and after some research he came upon a hypothesis that a particle accelerator might actually be capable of destroying souls. So the Punisher threw the guy inside one and switched it on. Seems to have worked.
  • Creature Tech: Dr. Jameson cheats death via a Deal with the Devil—he won't enter Hell as long as he has the claw of the demon Hellcat. He dies at the beginning of the comic but persists as a ghost, then finds a way to return as a revenant. At the end, the protagonists kill him off for good by cutting the claw off his dead body, at which point several demons arrive and drag Jameson down to Hell.
  • Dark Empire: Palpatine's spirit is dragged into the Force and trapped there by every single Jedi spirit, making sure that he can never return, clones or not.
  • In Infinity Countdown #5, Hank Pym's soul was removed from Pymtron's body by the Soul Stone. And then his soul ended up getting devoured by a beast within the Soul Stone.
  • Superman:
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: An early Donald Duck story by Carl Barks, entitled In Ancient Persian saw the main antagonist getting turned to dust, and his dust quickly getting mingled with the sand.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: During the Golden Age Paula developed tech to allow herself to be revived after being executed by electrocution, which after her Heel–Face Turn was combined with the Amazonian Purple Healing Ray and could revive most people after death so long as the damage wasn't too extensive and they were brought in soon enough, with only memory loss as a side effect. This meant that people who died around Wonder Woman could usually be quickly brought to Paradise Island and revived, however when Steve Trevor's secretary was disintegrated it was rather clear there was no coming back even though Diana was standing right there.
  • The 1982 graphic novel The Death of Captain Marvel did this to Captain Mar-Vell. The fact that he died of cancer in a story specifically meant to raise awareness of cancer means that any attempt to bring him back permanently would come across as incredibly disrespectful, and it has been claimed at a few points that he isn't coming back until a reliable cancer cure is created. A few stories dealing with what would happen if he survived have claimed it would lead to much worse things happening, and while there have been occasional fakeouts, they're invariably revealed as imposters, zombies, or cases of mistaken identity. In fact in the Realms of Kings one-shot prelude to The Thanos Imperative, we see the consequences of Mar-Vell being "cured": The Cancerverse.
  • Zatanna (2010): After finally being caught by his Deal with the Devil that he had managed to avoid for decades, Benjamin Raymond is only a few minutes away from being dragged down to Hell for eternity. He pleads for Zatanna's help but, as she rightly points out, this is a situation of his own making, and he had earlier tried to substitute her soul in his place, why should she fight a demon on his behalf? He becomes so desperate that, if she will not rescue him, then at least Mercy Kill him; not just kill him, but rend his soul asunder and remove it forever from existence, since even not existing would be better than what will happen to him if Mammon should be able to claim him. Taking pity on him, Zatanna consents, and transforms him into a soulless, inanimate lump of gold. Luckily, Mammon appreciates the irony of a greedy man being turned into a symbol of Greed.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In "The Death of Koschei the Deathless", the prince's horse cracks Koshchei's skull, and the prince finishes him off with a club; then he burns the body and scatters the ashes.
  • In "Frau Trude", the little girl goes to a witch's house, where the witch turns her into a block of wood and burns her.
  • In "The Love of Three Oranges", a slave replaces a beautiful woman who is to be wed to a prince. When the beautiful woman returns as a dove, the slave attempts to cook her. When she returns again, the king asks what sentence would be suitable for someone who harmed the beautiful woman, and the slave prescribes burning, and the ashes being thrown from the palace roof; so this is done to the slave.

    Fan Works 
  • Codex Equus:
    • When someone dies, generally their soul is ushered into an afterlife realm that fits whatever their morality was in life. However, there are ways to kill a soul, which makes death permanent. Doing this to an innocent person is considered to be so vile In-Universe that the Grand Primevals watching over Equus created a Primeval Law forbidding the destruction of an innocent soul. The only exception is if this was done as a punishment, and this is only someone had done things horrible enough to warrant it.
    • This is the fate of Queen Gossamer, the former ruler of Hawktalon, a Griffon Autorist kingdom. Found guilty of breaking Primeval Law via using necromancy to bind an innocent Pony mare's soul to her, she was sentenced to be reincarnated as the heroic Monarch Wing so she could learn compassion. This backfires as Gossamer remained cruel and unrepentant, and when Monarch Wing inherits her former crown, she seizes the opportunity to try defeat the latter so she could seize control of her body and resume her old ways. Monarch Wing soon turns the tables once she realizes Gossamer's greatest fear, and grants Gossamer's wish of taking her body by overloading her with her own memories, utterly destroying Gossamer's persona and sense of self while leaving only her memories behind]. This also had the strange result of Monarch Wing, who was a Pegasus until this point, Ascending to demigodhood as a Hippogriff demigoddess since she absorbed Gossamer's memories into herself.
  • In Defenders of the Universe, this is the fate that befalls any Gem hit with Haggar's Komar blasts. While shattering leaves a Gem in an And I Must Scream state of Limbo, the Komar blast completely drains them of Quintessence (i.e. their life-force), rendering their gems as lifeless chunks of rock. When they're fully drained, they're gone forever.
  • In Digimon Trinity, Patamon is digitally absorbed by Beelzemon during the Digital War.
  • Happens in the RWBY fanfic Happily Ever After in a rather strange way that involves the person's body continuing to live. The souls of Pyrrha and Amber are trapped in Cinder's body after their deaths, due to having all been connected by the Maiden Powers (since all of them held some of the power when the others were still alive). Pyrrha manages to slowly gain power, and uses it to prevent Cinder from using the Maiden Powers and reveal her plans to Jaune in his dreams. Eventually, after many foiled plans and having her organization slowly crippled, Cinder is driven to attempt a massive attack on Mistral, and ends up fighting Jaune one-on-one. At the same time, Pyrrha finally faces Cinder in her mind, and manages to defeat her with help from Amber (who had barely managed to continue existing, as she didn't have any strong connections to drive her onward), after which they destroy Cinder's soul. Amber reveals to Pyrrha that, not only is Cinder dead, but by having her soul destroyed, she won't even pass on into the afterlife like Amber does. Pyrrha is left to take over Cinder's body.
  • Hearts of Ice: Ranma kills the Shadowcat in the Mortal Plane, ensuring the demon will remain dead forever because he will be unable to put itself back together.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, Satan Girl's body is obliterated to her very atoms when she gets hurled into an antimatter star.
  • In How the Light Gets In, Dean tortured and killed Damien Darhk to avenge Laurel. Aware that people can come Back from the Dead, Dean then had the body salted and burned (preventing him from coming back as a ghost) and spread the ashes across the US, ensuring no one will ever be able to resurrect him.
  • In general, resurrection on C'hou in The Keys Stand Alone is cheap n' easy, or at least doable if not. However, there are a few forms of death that are permanent—you can't be resurrected from them no matter what. The one we hear about is being thrown off the Flying Island of Tipaan (aka the Big Drop)—which is why Paul objects strenuously when the Tipaanese plan to send the murderous Animals over the side. All of the people the Animals killed have been or will be resurrected, so Actual Pacifist Paul sees no reason why they should be permakilled. The Tipaanese are cowed by him and agree to transfer the Animals to the Circle jail.
  • The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13:
    • Mortals and gods alike have souls that go to their respective afterlives and can be resurrected by anyone with the ability to do so. However, physical exposure to a god in its true form shreds an unguarded mortal's soul into millions of pieces and scatters them across The Multiverse. Subverted in that this can apparently be reversed... by tracking down the individual pieces, a process which would apparently take millions of years.
    • This is possibly the fate of the Originals as well.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, in a world where robots can usually be repaired even if severely damaged, Metal Man is vaporized by Galaxy Man's Black Hole Bomb.
  • one day at a time (Nyame): Anyone killed by the Balance, be they mortal or immortal, has their soul marked by Death of the Endless and barred from the mortal plane, ensuring that they can never come back to life.
  • Pony POV Series:
    • Those deleted from existence become Shadows of Existence populating Entropy's realm, simply just shadows of themselves. Entropy herself is capable of doing this at will. Her most notable victim was her own son D__t, though it turns out her reasons were justified: he was attempting to destroy all the Gods in a misguided attempt to 'free' mortals, which would've condemned all creation to a Fate Worse than Death. His Shadow is eventually destroyed by Bright Eyes while trying to consume her to reconstitute himself.
    • The Blank Wolf can do this to its victims, but its primary role is to do this to things that are threatening existence. It does this to General Admiral Makarov, saving the time stream from him.
    • According to Word of God, Queen Chrysalis is this after being 'rebooted' into an innocent child. The Queen Chrysalis persona was completely destroyed, no Shadow of Existence, no afterlife, no memories. Gone. Though her actual soul gets a second chance, Chrysalis herself simply no longer exists.
    • According to Word of God, not even the Elder Gods can bring Destruction back to life after Discord killed and ate him. Ultimately subverted, however, as part of the reason they helped Razzaroo ascend was because as Concept of Wishes and Miracles, she CAN bring them back.
  • Flashbacks in Queen of All Oni show that Tarakudo took over the Shadowkhan by killing the three Elders. A later chapter reveals that their spirits stuck around in the Shadow Realm, however, clinging to a semblance of life. When Jade comes across them, they try to drain her in order to restore themselves, only for her to destroy them, rendering them permanently dead.
  • In The Loud House fanfic, Revival, Nyarlathotep's thousands of avatars are reduced to the smallest molecule when the Necronomicon's dark magic is turned on him. His physical form is destroyed, but he lived on in the memories of his spawn Mia; in King in Yellow, Mia literally drags his thought form from her mind and crushes him to death between her hands.
  • In Shattered Skies: The Morning Lights, Sailor Saturn's Amethyst Morendo is built around this concept. Concieved as an ultimate weapon of last resort and intended to kill Joker if nothing else works, anyone or anything hit by the Morendo suffers slow, agonizing death, as the target's body devours itself from a molecular level. Once the target does die, absolutely nothing will bring it back.
  • In Sillyhat Productions, Lambdadelta exploits the fact that it's a Affectionate Parody series — a mere replica of the original — to erase pieces from the board in order to force Battler to take the proceedings more seriously. In order to prove she isn't bluffing, she does this to Doctor Nanjo, whose absence is sorely felt in the next few boards.
  • With This Ring:
    • Ordinarily, after someone dies, their soul goes to whatever afterlife awaits them. However, there are ways for souls to be harmed.
      • Orange light "identity theft" converts both the target's body and soul into orange light, leaving them utterly enslaved. Ordinarily the resulting construct-Lantern will then respawn at the owner's ring if destroyed, but weapons like the Sword of the Fallen, or certain types of energy draining, can make them simply disappear.
      • Powerful magic users can damage the soul. Nabu attacks the spirit of Michael Siskin, who was inhabiting a golem body, and afterward, all indications are that Siskin was completely destroyed (John Constantine checked, and he's an expert on souls).
      • Souls in Hell are gradually broken down to form raw materials for demons to make furniture, tools, and so forth. Technically the souls not only still exist (albeit in fragmentary form), they even still suffer, but at that point they're beyond being revived.
    • In the Paragon timeline, Ra's al Ghul is prevented from reviving From a Single Cell in a Lazarus Pit as he usually does, by incinerating his body with high explosives. Technically that doesn't mean his soul is gone, but the only people who might have been inclined to retrieve it from Hell are already dead.
    • If Paul ever gets hold of Vandal Savage, who has ludicrously potent From a Single Cell revival, he intends to throw Savage into a star.
  • In Zero 2: A Revision, there are currently 2 possible ways to truly kill a Digimon, either destroy their soul like Belialmyotismon did with Piedmon (and Wargreymon) or for those that have a human partner, kill them which will result in the Digimon losing their spirit and committing suicide. Either way, while their bodies will always be reborn at the Primary Village, they won't be the same Digimon as before in their life.

    Films — Animated 
  • What apparently happens to those who fail the Candle-Maker's trial in The Book of Life.
  • Coco: Skeletons in the Land of the Dead who are being forgotten by people in the land of the living start to weaken and have spasms while glowing orange. If they are completely forgotten they disappear, something referred to as "the Final Death". Nobody knows what happens to them after that.
  • In The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!, the Eraser Bombs permanently erase cartoon characters from existence. At the end, said bombs destroy both Make-A-Point Land and the main cast.
  • Kung Fu Panda 3: Kai is already a spirit, a fact that makes him immune to being directly affected by the Wuxi Finger Hold. However, after Po gets supercharged by his friends and family giving him their chi, he destroys Kai completely.
  • White Snake (2019): This happens to anyone killed by the General's "Instant Death" Radius trap device, which freezes anyone who gets caught until they die and they shatter into nothing. This is the fate of The Master and is narrowly avoided by Xuan, who is killed by it, but Blanca manages to save his soul with her magic just in time and he is able to at least reincarnate in the future.
  • In Wreck-It Ralph, video game characters who die in their own games simply regenerate later. If they die outside their games, however, it's Game Over. For good.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Babysitter (2017): Each of the cultists die in spectacularly gruesome fashion, with the worst ones happening to John, Allison, and Max.
    • John gets shoved over the upstairs banister, hits his leg on the way down which causes it to bend backwards and break, then gets impaled through his neck when he lands on the sharp end of his own trophy. He dies instantly amidst a fountain of bloodspray from the gaping hole in his neck.
    • Allison gets taken out by a shotgun blast to the back of the head, which splatters 12-year Cole with her blood, brain matter, and skin tissue as her head explodes right in front of him.
    • Max's requires close attention, or you have to be quick with the pause button to catch it. His neck gets wrapped in the rope of Cole's treehouse when Max falls through the rotted floorboards. The moment the rope snaps taut, it rips Max's spine out from the base of his neck wound. Dayum.
  • In Beetlejuice, ghosts who are exorcised go to the "Lost Souls Room", where they endure a disembodied existence described as "death for the dead".
  • In Drive Angry, John Milton steals the Godkiller and breaks out of Hell with the express purpose of killing Jonah King, the Satanic cult leader who killed Milton's daughter and now plans to sacrifice Milton's granddaughter to Satan. Being shot with the Godkiller obliterates the victim's soul whether they're human, angel, or devil, leading to Cessation of Existence. The only downside is the limited ammo. Milton does get to kill Jonah with it at the end.
  • The ghost queen of The Enchantress; as a human she's betrayed by her lover while pregnant with her daughter, but an ancient curse allows her to come back from the dead. But at the end of the film, her lover who had become The Atoner decides to sacrifice himself to break the curse, making the ghost queen's death — and all the other ghosts, save for her daughter which is half-human — permanent.
  • The ghostly killer from The Frighteners not only kills humans, he can also kill other ghosts. As it turns out, they just go to whatever afterlife they had been avoiding by being ghosts in the first place.
  • In Ghostquake, Alger Danforth used a ritual to come back as a superpowerful ghost. However, while his right hand woman 'merely'' gets banished when her Soul Jar is destroyed, Ortiz (who became a ghost himself to stop Danforth and avenge his sister's murder at his hands) takes advantage of Danforth's weakened state once his Soul Jar is gone to tear his soul out of his ghostly form and destroy it, making sure he's never going to come back again.
  • At the end of Halloween Ends, Michael Myers is mutilated, has his legs crushed, gets stabbed multiple times in the chest, gets his throat and wrist slit as well as his arm broken, and finally has his body mulched into bits by a car shredder on screen. Michael Myers is definitely, decisively not coming back, hence the title of the film.
  • Highlander:
    • In the original Highlander movie (1986) and the series, the immortals can regenerate from any mortal wound, and do not age. They can only be killed permanently by cutting off their heads (or presumably if their bodies are burned to ash too quickly for them to regenerate, although this is never explicitly stated in the movie). In fact, they have to die at least once to become aware of and "activate" their immortality, otherwise they'd spend their days as a mortal until they died from old age.
    • Presumably, being burned to ash would count as "removing the head". In the OVA Highlander: The Search for Vengeance, one Immortal is dispatched by jamming a live grenade in her mouth.
  • The Mummy Trilogy. In the first movie, the heroes spend a lot of time trying to find a way to kill off the undead High Priest Imhotep for good. Not an easy task, since the mummy's body is virtually indestructible (when O'Connell cuts off Imhotep's arm, he merely puts it back on and it fuses instantly) and he can become invulnerable by transforming into a whirlwind of sand. In the end, the heroes perform an old Egyptian spell to split off the immortal part of the mummy's soul from the rest (in Egyptian belief, everyone had three souls) which is dragged into the Underworld. Afterwards, Imhotep, while still being undead, is now mortal and can be killed. Although Imhotep is resurrected and comes back from the dead again for The Mummy Returns and only finds permanent rest at the end of the second movie. (The third movie involves a different mummy.)
  • The Genre Savvy heroes of the Scream films always shoot the killer in the head, because in the movies, they always come back for one last scare.
  • Though he's come back from gunshots and knifings, the eponymous Serial Killer from The Stepfather trilogy of films is messily chewed up by a woodchipper in the third installment.
  • In The Neverending Story, the residents of Fantasia are worried about The Nothing. It's an absence... not just a hole. A Nothing. Those pulled into it aren't just dead, they are gone from existence. This made for a Ticking Clock and also Nightmare Fuel for a small child.
  • The Witch Queen Bavmorda's ultimate plan in Willow is to do this to the baby Elora Danan by means of the Ritual of Obliteration, a vile rite meant to not only kill her, but send her soul into the Netherworld so she cannot be reborn to threaten her again. It ultimately happens to her instead when she makes the mistake of stepping into her own ritual circle during her confrontation with Willow.
  • A way to terminate a Transformer with extreme prejudice in the Transformers Film Series? Rip out its spine and use the barely-recognizable carcass to whack another enemy over the head. That's the aforementioned Ravage's fate in Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen. And in the movieverse, Death Is Cheap is averted; so far, everyone who looked dead was dead if you didn't apply AllSpark energy. But no, Ravage lives on in the comics (though his death and mysterious return were acknowledged, and Soundwave can't sense him anymore, meaning it's less Unexplained Recovery and more "someone/something brought him back but not as he was before.") But in all these cases, the original writer wanted the characters capital-D Dead, took steps to show us that yes, this is death-death and not "Waspinator kablooification of the week..." and underestimated the ability of writers to follow to easily think of a way around it. The First Law of Resurrection will not be denied.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Smartass is the one weasel who dies and doesn't become a ghost, because Eddie kicked him into the Dip.
  • In the backstory of the Syfy Channel Original Movie The Fallen Ones, after The Great Flood wiped out all giants (which were the product of breeding between angels and humans), God decreed that there would be no more giants. At one point after, Amon, a fallen angel, hooked up with a human woman, but the resulting child was human, indicating that when God said there would be "no more giants", he meant it. Unfortunately, Amon had a giant son of his mummified along with four others before the flood and plans on resurrecting them, undoing God's decree.
  • From the Marvel Cinematic Universe the Soul Stone (one of the six Infinity Stones) requires an irreversible sacrifice of the stone seeker's loved one. In spite of the Stones being capable of controlling time, space, and reality itself this sacrifice cannot be undone under any circumstance. In Avengers: Infinity War Gamora was Thanos' sacrifice to collect the stone, while in Avengers: Endgame Black Widow sacrifices herself so Hawkeye/Ronin can collect the stone. Technically this means Gamora's death was undone, but due to time shenanigans only an alternate 2014 Gamora exists while 2018 Gamora (important that the latter is the only one who remembers Peter Quill and the Guardians) is still gone forever. On a related note, anyone who dies by using the Infinity Gauntlet (as in, is overpowered by its sheer power and killed by using it) cannot be brought back, even through use of the Time Stone to reverse the damage. This happens when Tony Stark uses the Infinity Gauntlet Mk.III to obliterate Thanos and his army, leaving him dead and unable to be revived.

  • One of the defining traits of The Black Company is how hard the setting averts Squishy Wizard. At one point, The Limper is the most powerful man in the North, despite being a severed head. When we do see a wizard well and truly dead, for keeps, it's because their enemy killed them, chopped them into pieces, burned the body, then scattered the ashes over a wide area. Indeed, when the Company goes after the Big Bad of the first few books, they devote all their effort to finding the weakness that will leave her permanently De-powered, because that's a more reliable way to get rid of her than killing her would be.
  • In the Black Jewels world, if one of the Blood is powerful enough, they can continue to inhabit their body after death, and are called demon-dead. This is why it's important to "finish the kill," or burn out the person's Jewels (source of power) and brain, so that someone you killed last Tuesday doesn't track you down later to return the favor.
  • This is the fate of gods and monsters who fade in The Camp Half-Blood Series, as they are sent back to Chaos and effectively cease to exist. This fate has already befallen the Gorgons, Helios, Selene and two of the Hundred-Handed Ones before the series starts, and Pan fades in Percy Jackson and the Olympians due to the destruction of the wilderness.
    • On rare occasions, immortals who have faded can be brought back. Gaea restored the Gorgons by unknown means, and the essence of Helios temporarily managed to cling onto Earth due to sheer hatred.
    • The same effects can also occur when someone is thrown into Chaos itself, as they are returned to the primordial darkness from which they came. This is the ultimate fate of Python in the final book of The Trials of Apollo.
  • In The Cosmere, a person's soul normally lingers in the Cognitive Realm for a few minutes after death before being pulled into the Beyond. However, with the proper magic it is possible to preserve the soul as a Cognitive Shadow, and even incarnate that shadow into a new body. There are a few different ways to send a Cognitive Shadow to the Beyond. The simplest is to simply cut off the Shadow from whatever is feeding it Investiture, but if this is not possible more extreme measures may be required.
    • Warbreaker introduces Nightblood, an incredibly powerful sword which drains Investiture from both its wielder and its targets to feed its hunger. Nightblood devours and digests the souls of those it kills, preventing them from forming Shadows and permanently destroying any Cognitive Shadow it touches.
    • Rhythm of War adds another method with anti-Light. A properly tuned anti-Light weapon can destroy Cognitive Shadows by annihilating the energies that compose them, killing a Shadow beyond any possibility of restoration.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld:
    • In Witches Abroad, a village-raiding vampire is hit by a thrown garlic sausage while in bat form and, while stunned, eaten by Nanny Ogg's cat Greebo. The narration later mentions that while vampires have risen from the grave before, none have ever risen from the cat.
    • In Carpe Jugulum, some other methods of irreversible vampire-disposal are mentioned: scattering their ashes in a gale, dissolving them in the sea, or throwing them off the Disc's Edge to drift through space for millions of years. This is one of the reasons cited for why the Old Count stuck to Contractual Genre Blindness and Convenient Weakness Placement: you may be much easier to kill, but if killing you dead is decent sport but not too hard, and you don't break the 'rules' of it, then people will call it a day when you're dead, leaving you set to return a few decades later when blood is accidentally spilled on your remains. But if you make it really hard to kill you and make them truly hate you, then once they do get you they're going to be creative about making sure you don't return...
    • One of the mushrooms described in The Discworld Almanac falls just short of this trope: it's said to be toxic enough that someone who dies eating it may still arise as a zombie, but a zombie that will still feel very sick.
  • In the Doom novels, this is depicted as an advantage unique to humans. When a human dies, nothing can bring them back to life. Their souls are gone. The souls of other sentient beings are trapped in their corpses with all of their senses intact.
  • Dracula. Every modern appearance of the legendary bloodsucker feels obligated to invent a new way for him to be Deader than Dead by the end of the story, because staking him through the heart, cutting his head off and / or burning his remains just won't cut it to keep the old bastard down. Solutions include a vampire-annihilating megaplague (Blade: Trinity), using a stake made from the True Cross (webcomic Clan of the Cats), being killed by a werewolf (Van Helsing), hanging him from a cross at dawn (Dracula 2000), being absolved by a priest before being killed (Dracula III: Legacy) ...and having his castle sealed inside an eclipse and his soul reincarnated into a Bishōnen Japanese schoolboy (Castlevania from Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow onward...), or being turned into imaginary numbers. Needless to say, none of it is particularly convincing, because someone, somewhere, will always want to write a story about Dracula.
    • This was already a trope in the 1970s, when Hammer Horror films had to resort to increasingly drastic measures to try to keep Dracula dead (struck by lightning, sealed in ice, tangled in a briar patch in the last of his films).
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer, wisely, didn't even bother to insinuate that Buffy had killed him for good.
      • He was defeated in a way that's normally ignored: despite being the only vampire on-screen to survive being staked (twice), he was humiliated and left in disgrace.
  • The Taltos novels of Dragaera see people die and come back all the time; "revivification" is a tricky spell but most nobles will be willing to have an emergency fund for just such an occasion. If you want someone to stay dead, cutting off their head or damaging their brain will make reviving them impossible, or you can always stab them with a Morganti weapon, which will eat their soul, not only preventing resurrection but also cutting the victim out of the cycle of afterlife and reincarnation that is the natural order of things in Dragaera. One of the few times where Deader Than Dead really means deader than dead.
  • In the Dream Park novels, participants in high-tech adventure LARPs who get "killed" are designated as slain by a black holographic aura. In The California Voodoo Game, a zombie struck down by the Gamers is immediately cloaked by two overlapping black auras, indicating it's this trope. Also in California Voodoo, areas of MIMIC that are off-limits for players are marked out with "radiation" symbols. Any character who violates a "radiation area" is not only killed without a saving throw, but their character is permanently declared dead by the International Fantasy Gaming Society, never to be played again.
  • Played straight in a slightly weird way in the third The Dresden Files book, in which an evil (and apparently quite dead) sorcerer's nasty leftover rage manifests as a ghost that wreaks havoc on the folks he blames for his defeat, and anyone close to them.
    • This is further explored in Ghost Story. Ghosts are spiritual copies of the deceased, formed and powered by their memories. A sufficiently powerful ghost can use memories to augment their abilities or manifest into a physical form. This is essentially Cast from Hit Points, however, and a ghost who uses up too much of their memories can become a Wraith—a mindless being that feeds on other ghosts' memories- or cease to exist entirely.
    • Also, Kemmler. To elaborate, Heinrich Kemmler was a necromancer of near-divine power and possibly more evil than Satan (World War I is was only one of the atrocities he instigated, and implied not to be one of the worst ones). The White Council killed him six times, and confirmed it, boot on body, every time. None of this was more than a minor inconvenience. However, the seventh time stuck, and Heinrich Kemmler is, per Word of God, finally and irrevocably dead.
      They killed him good. A couple of times. He'd come back after they'd killed him early in the nineteenth century, so they were real careful this time.
  • The traditional method of execution for the Witted in the Farseer trilogy consists of hanging the victim over running water, chopping them up, and burning the pieces to make sure they're dead. It's also not really needed, Fitz's return from the dead notwithstanding.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Sirius Black. His physical body literally enters the afterlife, such that no one can recover him without suffering the same fate as he does.
    • Voldemort dies before the story begins, but keeps popping up in some form or another before fully reincarnating at the end of the fourth book. Once his Soul Jars are destroyed, his soul is in such a ruined state that he can neither pass on to the afterlife nor return as a ghost, trapped in a tormented state in Limbo for eternity.
  • Hyakumankai Ikita Neko: The titular cat has been reincarnated a million times. After he undergoes Character Development and builds a happy family, he dies of old age and never comes back again.
  • Roger Zelazny's novel Lord of Light is set in a world where everyone, from self-styled gods to lowly peasants, can have their consciousness transferred into a new body for a price, in a technologically-assisted version of Hindu reincarnation; the now empty old body is cremated. To forgo reincarnation, or be denied it, is to "die the real death".
  • Masks of Aygrima: The Lady of Pain and Fire, who is shot in the head with a crossbow, falls dozens of feet into a mine, more than likely crushed by the large gear at the bottom, and has the mine collapsed on top of her corpse. Later her consciousness is torn out of Mara and either crushed by The Autarch's consciousness, or is released and dissipated along with his magic when he dies.
  • As it takes place for the most part in a world populated by ghosts, May Bird has other threats than just dying. Such as the threat of being sucked into nothingness or having your soul vaporized.
  • Mostly Harmless was written on the condition that Douglas Adams be allowed to destroy everything so utterly and completely that it would never ever ever come back and he would never ever ever have to write in that world again, making the entire Earth Deader than Dead. He later regretted this and started writing another novel which would have brought everyone back but died before he could complete it. A sequel was still written eventually by Eoin Colfer which saved the main characters, but left every version of Earth in every reality to exist Deader than Dead.
  • Mother of Learning: Souls are generally agreed to have an indestructible core; thousands of years of unethical necromantic experimentation have not managed to crack them. However, Word of God is that the souls left in the loop at the end of each month are completely annihilated. The key is that the loop world is cut off from the spiritual realms, so the souls cannot pass on as usual, and when the loop world is collapsed and recreated, the souls cease to exist with no universe for them to exist in. Theoretically, mortals could reproduce the effect if they knew how to isolate a pocket dimension in that way.
  • The protagonist of the classic horror novel The Night Land seems more concerned about being "destroyed" than killed. The implication is that being killed allows one to go on to the afterlife, while nothing follows being "destroyed".
  • In Garth Nix's Old Kingdom trilogy, necromancers regularly bring back the dead, but dead generally lose all personality and sometimes their human appearance in the process. There are varying degrees of deadness, and once a person gets beyond a certain point, any resurrection of them will be a horrible monstrosity. The Abhorsen's job is to lay the walking dead to rest permanently by sending them beyond the Ninth Gate of Death, from which no one ever returns — even escorting them there personally, if necessary.
  • In the post-Melding Plague "Rust Belt" orbital settlement in Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space universe, committing an atrocious crime - for example, seriously damaging a space habitat - can land one a penalty called "irreversible brain death". As described in Redemption Ark, it is a form of death sentence where not only the physical body of the convict is destroyed, but so is every existing computer simulation of the person, so that they can't be brought back into any form of existence ever again. One of the secondary characters tries to avoid this fate by making Antoinette's Bax father hide his Alpha (capable of learning and mentally growing like a real person) simulation inside the family spaceship before his real body is killed, posing as the ship's onboard AI Beast. Antoinette is not amused when she finds out.
  • Septimus Heap, nearly every dead person in the Septimus-verse comes back as a ghost; it's just how things work there. Exceptions include:
    • Series Big Bad DomDaniel has died and been brought back a couple times, including in a couple ways that are freakishly gruesome for a kid's series. However, in Queste, he is eaten by Spyt Fyre the dragon and obliterated so thoroughly he doesn't even leave a ghost.
    • In Physic the same thing happens to Etheldredda, who is killed with a dragon fire-based spell.
  • In the book, the Sword of Shannara, the Warlock Lord died, and has been driven back multiple times. However, the Sword of Shannara, with the power of the Awful Truth finally forces him to acknowledge that he was dead, animated only by his own willpower.
  • This happens in the short story "Singularity Ablyss" in the Transformers Legends anthology novel, (which is set between-the-scenes of the Beast Machines episode "Spark of Darkness"). Megatron, after being defeated by Nightscream, has his spark approached by Rhinox's who attempts to act as a spirit guide and redeem the tyrant, this failed however and Megatron charged his particles with "purity of purpose" and used the knowledge of his physical state to erase Rhinox's spark from existence.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, resurrection is possible (though rare enough that most people assume it to be legend, and are astonished when it happens), but only if the body is in good enough condition. In particular, decapitations are mentioned to be permanent deaths.
  • In Star Wars Legends, Darth Sidious was able to come back from the dead twice through transferring his spirit to clone bodies of himself, but after the destruction of Byss, the force ghost of Jedi Knight Empatojayos Brand bound Sidious' soul to his own and dragged him into the Force, never to return.
    • In general, every ghost of Force-sensitive, Jedi or Sith, shall return to the Force flows, either willingly or because of an exorcism, where they will remain definitely out of reach of living people.
  • In the Takeshi Kovacs series people have cortical stack implants that act as hard drives for their brains so that when they die they can be resleeved. Even then many characters are subjected to "true death" by having their stacks destroyed or wiped. The wealthy often have off-site backups, but even those can be taken out.
  • In the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, when elves die their souls enter the Halls of Mandos in Valinar, where they can remain or reincarnate into new bodies. The souls of Men, by contrast, pass beyond the Walls of the World when they die, and none among the Valar know where they go. More interesting, however, is the tale of Luthien Tinuviel, who fell in love with the human Beren, and by virtue of that love became the only elf who was allowed to die in truth, her soul passing out of the world along with Beren's. Similarly, their half-elven descendants were granted the unique right to choose whether they would be counted as human or elf, and which path their souls would walk after death.
  • Trapped on Draconica: Dronor can invoke this: his fire can erase someone from existence. It is the highest punishment he is capable of administering.
  • Vampire Academy:
    • All Strigoi. They are effectively reanimated corpses, not living organisms. And the fact that even though they are dead, they can still be killed. Again. They have to be killed in a special way (putting a silver stake through their heart, set on fire, or decapitated). Unclear even if they have an afterlife, as they don't turn up as ghosts.
    • Also, Dimitri, in Blood Promise. He is already undead, gets staked, and is thrown into running water. He still manages to return.
  • Villains by Necessity: In order to ensure that someone stays dead (given that powerful healers are able to resurrect them), assassins will burn the body, take off the head or cut out their heart. Sam's done about a dozen "permanent" hits.
  • The world of the Vorkosigan Saga has cryopreservation and other medical technology good enough that if a field medic can get there in time then it's possible to survive almost anything except catastrophic brain injuries. Possible, not guaranteed, because there's several ways the process can go wrong if performed in haste.
  • The Wardstone Chronicles has the creatures of the Dark be soulless and once destroyed, they can never return. One such creature is The Bane who was worshiped as a God, then trapped behind an iron gate, released from the iron gate, brought back to the iron gate (if he returns to the gate, he can never escape again, so already a Fate Worse than Death) and to top it all off, the main character impales the poor demon three times with his iron rod before causing the demon to explode and disappear from existence.
  • Daemons and daemonhosts from the Warhammer 40,000 universe are generally just banished back to the Warp when their physical bodies are killed. So it's especially notable that Eisenhorn managed to kill one (Prophaniti) so thoroughly that it was erased from existence, Warp presence and all, at the end of Malleus.
    • The Emperor killed Horus by obliterating his soul so he can't even reincarnate by the will of the Chaos Gods.
      • Abaddon managed to get a piece of the action too, by destroying the body of Horus and the cloning facility designed to revive him so thoroughly that no one dared to even mention Horus's name in his presence ever again.
  • From Warrior Cats, Clan cats go to an afterlife in StarClan or, for the worst villains, the Dark Forest, where they often interact with living cats. The cats from there can fade away over time if they are forgotten by everyone, and can also be killed again so they will never come back. Examples include Spottedleaf, Antpelt, Brokenstar, Hawkfrost, and Tigerstar. Later on it's shown that if a living cat dies while visiting the Dark Forest, they will also be completely erased from existence and cannot come back, as happens to Bristlefrost.
  • In The Wheel of Time, the only way to be sure that the Dark One doesn't reincarnate the Forsaken, his lieutenants, is to kill them with Balefire, which retroactively erases them from the timeline a few minutes backwards. This causes the Dark One to miss the window of opportunity to pull them back into the Pattern (time). In addition, killing a spirit residing in tel'aran'rhiod, the World of Dreams, causes that spirit to be removed from the Pattern altogether.
  • Deliberately subverted (somewhat) in the Young Wizards book series by Diane Duane, where the Big Bad is almost always just a particular avatar of the Lone Power, who is so ubiquitous as to be represented in practically every culture (including alien ones)'s mythology or folklore, usually as a Trickster God as its "gift" of death/entropy has to be accepted by each species as it gains sentience... though it is also rather blatantly a Lucifer figure too (Wizards greet him as "Fairest and Fallen", and his invention of entropy got him kicked out of the Powers That Be's godly clique). Then again, the same holds true of fellow Power "The One's Champion", who is intended to beat the ever-living crap out of it in its own avatar in a number of key battles... over and over and over again.
  • In The Zombie Knight, a servant can always be resurrected by their reaper as long as the reaper survives. Killing the reaper will prevent the servant from coming back, and drive the servant into a mindless rampage until their soul decays too much to sustain them. Failing that, a servant can be kept from resurrection by cutting off their head and freezing it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. when Brisco stabs villainous time traveler John Bly in the gut with an Orb rod, causing him to melt into a pile of ash.
  • Altered Carbon: Destroying a person's stack that stores their mind makes it impossible for them to come back in a new body. There's a way around it through satellite upload, but it's so hideously expensive that only the ultra-wealthy could possibly afford it.
  • The Witches from American Horror Story: Coven can bring people back to life, but there is a limit - there must be enough of the original body to resurrect the person brought back. If you are cremated like Luke, dissolved in acid like the Witches Council, become gator shit like the poachers who tried to kill Misty Day, have your soul sacrificed to a demon like what Fiona did to Nan or your soul gets trapped in Hell then you can never be brought back to life.
    • Misty Day and Myrtle Snow was murdered by being burned to death but still came back from the dead since there was enough of their body to be used in a ritual to bring them back. Notably because Myrtle's murder didn't take she made sure it did when she got revenge.
  • In the Angel TV series, Fred is infected by an elder demon and consumed from the inside out, everything aside from her skin and hair replaced with something else and changed in color. Oh, and her soul is destroyed in the process, though it seems as if some part of her has imprinted on the demon, giving it at least one of her personality quirks in that she is fond of Wesley.
    • The demon had appropriated her body, and the subject of mind/body dualism is beyond the scope of this entry, but memories and emotions are all stored in the brain, which is part of the body. Sometimes Illyria deliberately accessed Fred's memories.
    • The episode following Fred's death beats the viewer over the head repeatedly about exactly how dead Fred is. It seems every other minute, the viewer had to be reminded that Fred was very incredibly dead: Her organs were boiled and burned up inside her body to feed Illyria, making it inhospitable for a human soul to reside in, and Fred's soul itself was devoured by Illyria as well.
    • The original plan, had the show gotten a new season, was to split up Fred and Illyria. In other words, it would turn out that Fred's soul was NOT destroyed after all. That appears to be happening now in Angel & Faith, Season 10. Fred is Back from the Dead, and having to share her body with Illyria.
  • The Cylons in the new Battlestar Galactica series download their consciousness into a new identical body when they die. How exactly this works is never fully explained. It is hinted at that all Cylons get resurrected, including the semi-biological self-piloting Raiders, not merely the twelve fully biological human models. (Although it is unclear if this is also the case for the completely robotic Centurions). For the process to work, a resurrection ship or resurrection facility has to be in range, so if a Cylon dies in space beyond range, he or she is permanently dead, their individual memories and consciousness lost to the collective. In addition, the Cylons deal with rebellious members by "boxing" them, where they download their consciousness into a small metal box and then put the box in storage. Also, season 4 sees the beginning of a Cylon civil war, one of the first acts of which is the luring of several ships into an ambush and destroying them while out of range of the Resurrection Ship. This is presented as a particularly heinous crime to the Cylons, who understandably have something of a blasé attitude toward death.
  • In Blake's 7, actor Gareth Thomas (Roj Blake) appeared in the final episode, "Blake", on the condition that his death was sufficiently graphic to rule out a return Back from the Dead. Gareth kept asking the pyrotechnic crew to add more bullet squibs to his chest plate, leading to a quite painful result when they went off. This ultimately proved unnecessary as there was no season five.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Unlike most vampires, the Master actually left a skeleton behind when he died. In the next episode, his followers attempt to resurrect him, which leads to Buffy smashing it to dust with a sledgehammer. (He does appear in one later episode, but that's an alternate timeline).
    Giles: You dreamt that the Master had risen, but you stopped it from happening.
    Xander: You ground his bones to make your bread.
    Buffy: That's true—except for the bread part.
    • Also worth noting: while supernatural deaths can be fixed with powerful magic, normal deaths can't. (Well, not well, anyway.) So Buffy's Heroic Sacrifice throwing herself into a whirlpool of cosmic power to save the multiverse? Fixable. Tara getting shot by a nerd with delusions of grandeur? Sorry, Osiris would love to help but that's too much for him to handle, apparently.
  • Only one character from Charmed managed to have greater Joker Immunity than Barbas the Fear Demon, and that was Cole. Cole survived many apparent deaths that would have killed off any other demon for real, and this tendency to survive was lampshaded on many occasions. He did finally die, however, from an incident in which he created an Alternate Universe where he was not quite so indestructible as he is in the normal reality. History changed in such a way as to keep him from being indestructible, and only then was it possible to vanquish him for real. Cole's only subsequent appearance was when he took on the form of a spiritual ghost who was dead rather than Back from the Dead as with his previous returns.
    • He still managed to be quite solid near the end. Fixing history should make him indestructible again, but he's learned that chasing Phoebe will get him nowhere by now, and gets to walk away on a good note.
  • This is the ultimate fate of Oliver Queen during Crisis on Infinite Earths (2019) as he uses his power as The Spectre to obliterate the Anti-Monitor and help revive the Multiverse, but at the cost of his soul.
    • Earth-1 Laurel Lance is Stuffed into the Fridge in Arrow Season 4. In Legends of Tomorrow Sara is informed this a "Fixed Point in Time" and absolutely must happen, nothing can change it or precent it. Later the Legends find a way to undo/prevent other fixed points, but Laurel's death apparently must happen. Then in the Crisis, this version of Laurel is straight up erased from existence; the new Earth-1 version of Laurel meanwhile, is still dead and apparently still can't be brought back. Worse, there are at least three times where she could be resurrected, but the characters refuse to. note  The end result is it looks less like she can't be resurrected, and more like no one cares enough to try.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Master is killed deader than dead repeatedly, and quickly gained Joker Immunity. After a while, they stopped even trying to make excuses. In "The Mark of the Rani", he has the immortal line "I'm indestructible, the whole universe knows that!" ...and that's all we get for an explanation.
    • "The Invasion of Time" has the Time Lord weapon, the DeMat Gun, which can accomplish this. It effectively erases the target from history, so that it never existed in the first the place.
    • Subverted in The Curse of Fatal Death (which was both a comedy and a tribute); both the Doctor and the Master clarify that no one can regenerate after being slain by "Zektronic Energy", but of course, the Doctor "gets better" anyway. (The Master is shocked: "It's against all the laws of the Universe!", to which the Doctor's companion replies, "Perhaps even the Universe can't stand to live without the Doctor".)
    • Most enemies are like this, but not on the individual level. The fan favourites always return. Try counting how many times the Doctor says "You're the last of your kind" to the Daleks in the new series. And then watch as 2 episodes later the last of the Daleks make a return... only to be killed and for another group to take their place. It's well into Series 3 before they establish a proper storyline that sets up the next Dalek plot.
    • Series 5 has Rory, who dies and gets erased from existence. He still manages to come Back from the Dead.
      Amy: You think you'll just come back to life?
      Rory: When don't I?
    • Series 9 has Clara Oswald's lifeforce/soul ripped from her body at the end of "Face the Raven", making for the first companion death in the series since Adric 30+ years ago. (This was after she'd cheated death many times over two-and-a-half seasons, even surviving entering the Doctor's timestream, though her many "echoes" through time and space that came out of the process were not so lucky.) Clara cannot be brought back without creating a dangerous paradox — but the Doctor is subsequently Driven to Madness by grief, rage, and torture, and his resultant out-of-character behaviour in the following, final two episodes of the season sees him try to do so anyway by pulling her from time at the moment she died (before her last heartbeat). In the end — though he doesn't know it, having realized he must give her up for good and lost his key memories of her appearances, etc. — Clara is now Only Mostly Dead but the fact of her death has not actually changed. She must return to the fatal moment eventually lest time and space be undone, but so long as she does that, she has "wiggle room" to have further adventures on her own.
  • In Good Omens, angels and demons can be discorporated by fairly conventional means, in which case they return to Heaven or Hell to have a new body issued. To really kill them, you have to use hellfire or holy water respectively.
  • Claire Bennet of Heroes can regenerate even from apparent death, but she can be put into a state of death indefinitely by sticking a foreign object in the base of her brain and keeping it there. The "save the cheerleader" subplot also implies she could be permanently killed by having her brain removed, and Peter's encouraging her to shoot him if he goes nuclear (after he absorbs her healing power) suggests that either of them would also be killed by having a certain part of their brains obliterated. Fans have jokingly suggested that the base of the brain is where the "regeneration gland" is located.
    • Later Sylar even moves his "regeneration point" using Shapeshifting, making him virtually immortal.
  • Kamen Rider Build: At the end of the series, Evolt is smashed between two parallel worlds into each other and has his energy used to merge them together and bring about a Reset Button Ending that completely erases him from existence. He still finds a way to come back from it.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: With Parado revealing that the Gashacon Bugvisor had the ability to revive any Bugster who had been struck down, it seemed that he, Graphite, and Ren Amagamiya, the Lovelica Bugster, would be immortal. Then Masamune Dan made his debut as Kamen Rider Cronus and, after activating Pause, used his Critical Crews-Aid to strike down Lovelica, revealing after he undid Pause that the Bugster's data had been trapped forever in that moment in time, so even the Gashacon Bugvisor couldn't bring him back.
  • Madan Senki Ryukendo:
    • The three Ultimate Madan Keys give Lady Gold, Bloody and Rock Crimson the ability to revive every time. Until they're taken out by force.
    • DaiMaOh himself near the finale. When his larval form is killed, his soul survives and fuses with Dr. Worm. However, once DaiMaOh enters his final form, the MaDan Warriors destroy him completely.
  • Pushing Daisies: Ned can bring the dead to life with a touch, but if he touches them again after that, they die again and nothing can revive them. Also, one episode implied that if a body is in a particularly severe state of dismemberment, his touch won't work. Or possibly he just didn't want to bring back someone in that many pieces.
  • Stargate SG-1 employs this concept several times. First, with the villain Apophis, who continually escapes death, even going as far as being raised from the dead by a rival, assassinating said rival, and taking control of the dead rival's army. He is finally killed permanently when his spaceship crashes on a planet while he is trapped on board. The villain Anubis is immune to death because of his former status as an ascended energy being, effectively rendering him "Touched by Vorlons", before finally being taken out of the picture by his "Vorlon" sacrificing herself to restrain him). On the non-villainous side, Daniel Jackson dies repeatedly throughout the series. He is brought back several times via the Goa'uld "Sarcophagus" device and then later by ascending to a higher plane and then descending back to human form again. Several other major protagonists suffer non-permanent deaths as well, including one incident where O'Neil is tortured by Ba'al by being killed and resurrected over and over again.
    • The fact that the Sarcophagus device can be used to bring people back from the dead can also necessitate this. The Tok'ra at one point mention they have a way to ensure they can't be revived with a Sarcophagus, which would lead to certain torture and eventually giving up vital information. Exactly what this method is is never explained, but probably involves Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Weyoun, the lead Vorta aide in the Alpha Quadrant, is cloned multiple times as successive versions of him are killed. Finally, the Dominion's clone factories in the Alpha Quadrant are destroyed, meaning that the next time Weyoun is killed, that's it. Garak takes care of that in the final episode.
    Female Changeling: I wish you hadn't done that. That was Weyoun's last clone.
    Garak: I was hoping you would say that.
  • Supernatural:
    • There are a few ways to bring someone back from the dead (none of them much fun) but it looks like anything shot with the Colt is staying down. Except for Lucifer. And although the Colt isn't used on them, the Horsemen of the Apocalypse are apparently immortal.
    • Killing a ghost is basically killing an already-dead person. As is killing a monster in Purgatory, the monster afterlife realm. Castiel openly wonders what happens to them when you do that.
    • Angels can't resurrect (unless willed by God) since they have no soul, and just go to the Empty instead to endure an eternal sleep. It's possible for a Reaper to reroute a human soul there, which would ensure permanent death. Sam and Dean are threatened with this if they keep on messing with the natural order. It's possible for Angels to leave it and be returned to the natural world by the Eldritch Abomination controlling the Empty, although it's not entirely clear what triggers the waking up, since even God is said to have no power over the Empty as it's outside Creation itself.
  • Super Sentai:
    • Engine Sentai Go-onger: Hiramechimedes has his body destroyed, but returns in the next episode as a ghost. His ghost is then exorcised, which finally destroys him for good.
    • Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger: Debo Monsters who die get sent to Deboss Hell, which lets them get resurrected a few times. Deboss' ultimate plan involves opening portals to Deboss Hell to revive every single one at once... except Torin (the Kyoryuger's mentor) arranged for himself to be killed with his righteous heart still intact, sending him to Deboss Hell with the intention of permanently destroying the spirits of all the dead monsters there. Joined by Ramirez, Tessai and a still-living Candelilla and Luckyuro, he ultimately destroys Deboss Hell itself to ensure that no more Debo Monsters (including Deboss himself) can ever be resurrected.
    • Tokumei Sentai Go Busters: Enter made Hiromu into a Soul Jar in an earlier battle by implanting Messiah Card #13 into his body, causing him to serve as a source for Enter to restore himself from no matter how many times he might perish as long as Hiromu still lives. This also gives him complete knowledge of everything about Hiromu, including his weakpoint. It was finally destroyed thanks to Jin's Heroic Sacrifice, allowing him to be destroyed.
  • Torchwood in series 2 has just a bit too much fun with this one. First Owen is killed via gunshot wound then he's brought back to life. And if that's not bad enough he fights with Death itself, proving that he really is undead only to be vaporized in the season finale.
    • Then there's Captain Jack, who twice appears to have permanently killed before resurrecting: once at the end of the first series (he stays dead for a couple of days that time), and again in "Children of Earth", when he's blown to smithereens and his body still reforms in a truly gruesome fashion. It's eventually established that nothing will make Jack Deader Than Dead unless he is in fact the Face of Boe, in which case he'll finally die for good in a few billion years. Maybe.
  • In True Blood the vampire leaders sometimes give other vampires what they call the True Death by beheading and staking the vampire to be executed. (Sunlight also works.)

    Mythology & Religion 
  • In Norse Mythology, slain warriors may go to Valhalla, there to enjoy themselves feasting and fighting, rising again even if slain. But all that is just while waiting for Ragnarok, the final battle in which they will fight beside the gods and die with them.
  • In the Book of Revelation, everyone will be resurrected at the end of the Millennium, to stand judgment. The damned, though, will then be thrown into the Lake of Fire, of which an angel has already told the visionary, "This means destruction." No more resurrections.
    • More specifically, it is called Gehenna or the "second death," a phrase that, by that time, had been used in Jewish culture to describe an utterly irrevocable death. A common interpretation among Protestants is Annihilationism, the idea that rather than the Fire and Brimstone Hell many are led to believe, the unrighteous are simply not granted eternal life after death and left to die once more. The only real torment is found in the knowledge that things could have been different.
    • A very common interpretation is that the damned will be restored to their bodies, but they will still be corpse-like, and it is only for them to now suffer physically and spiritually in hell.
  • Some Christians opt out of having their bodies being cremated when they die, believing that without a body that God can resurrect from the dead, there is no hope for a soul whose body has been cremated to be resurrected.
  • Ancient Egyptians practiced mummification because their religion attested that the ka could not enjoy the comforts of the afterlife or the benefits of offerings if its mortal housing was destroyed.

  • In one part, TSSZ's Super RPG Adventure lampoons this being the result of Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    "Hold on, I'll use my healing magic—"
    "No! That won't work in a cutscene!"

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the earlier days of Yu-Gi-Oh!, removing monsters from play (called banishing now) had this effect. Nowadays, the game has some cards which can even return removed monsters, and there is even a deck theme (Different Dimension) that thrives on doing so. It still counts, though—it's generally more problematic to summon a banished monster than a monster in the Graveyard.
    • A number of cards can be used to banish a card facedown, which is more or less this - it's been ruled that, since it's facedown, that means it can't be identified by other cards, so any attempt to bring back a specific card that's been banished facedown won't work. Only cards that return all banished cards, notably Necroface and Elemental HERO Electrum, can bring those back. This is tricky to use against the opponent, though, as most cards with this effect are based on banishing your own cards as a cost.
  • Also common in Dungeons & Dragons, where resurrection is pricey but doable. There are several ways to make it impossible, though.
    • Spells which destroy the body completely, i.e. Disintegrate, remove the chance for a simple Resurrection spell.
    • Liches should be mentioned specifically. Not destroying their phylactery just causes their body to reform.
      • A lich can also become a demilich, which can rip out people's souls at will. And digest them. After 24 hours, they're gone for good.
      • At least in 2nd and 3rd edition, it was frequently mentioned that one of the components for the ritual of lichdom a wizard had to make was a potion of extreme deadliness. So deadly that, if the wizard fails in his bid for lichdom, he would die, and the gods would not be able to resurrect the fool if they wanted to.
    • There is also a one-of-a-kind monster known as the Tarrasque. The writers probably put it in there to serve as walking Armageddon. It regenerates with lightning speed, most spells simply bounce off its hide, death effects won't work on it, and if you batter it to death, it'll come back in a few days unless you also used a wish/miracle (level 9, most powerful non-epic spells in the game) to make it stay dead. The books further note that even this doesn't finally kill the Tarrasque, but pushes the Reset Button on its cycle of sleep-wake-rampage-sleep. This being D&D, however, enterprising players can turn it permanently into something small, then put it in a secret chest spell for long enough so that it is erased from existence, etc. etc.
      • Unname, a spell which destroys the target's true name, altering reality so that the creature cannot exist.
      • There is another version of that spell that requires you a feat to take "Mother cyst." It kills the person and then destroys their soul, removing them from existence forever. Although it may seem less useful since the target has to be first hit by a level 2 spell, it can be used in campaigns that are not using the "True Name" system. That means it's just as legit in Eberron as it is in Forgotten Realms.
    • 4th Edition's Tarrasque cannot be killed. It's so powerfully linked to the world that if you actually manage to bring him down to 0 HP, then he simply sinks back into the planet's core and sleeps again. The only way to really kill it is to somehow lure it into another plane or otherwise away from the world before killing it, and that's just a theory.
    • In the Epic Level Handbook, there is a special assassin guild called the Garrote. You contact assassins if you want a person to die, you hire the Garrote if you want a person to stay dead. (Specifically, they destroy their victims' bodies beyond resurrection, and in cases that require a 100% certainty, they bring the bodies to the head of the organization so that she can remove them from the multiverse altogether. Naturally, the amount they charge for this is astronomical.)
    • Starting in First Edition AD&D, the Sphere of Annihilation will utterly destroy any being it comes in contact with, and presumably that being's soul. ("No spell can bring the dead character back to life, not even a wish!")
    • The chapters of the D&D rulebook Manual Of The Planes that are about the afterlife describe what immunities the souls of the dead have, implying that they can be slain in combat by those who visit the afterlife.
      • In the 2nd Ed. Planescape (set partially in the afterlife after all) rules the souls of the dead could be encountered, and killed. In many cases these souls were permanently dead. Natives of the afterlife killed outside of their native plane would reform on their plane, but if killed on their native plane were permanently dead.
    • In Planescape Sigil, if you piss off The Lady of Pain, the city's enigmatic ruler, she'll send her shadow over you. This causes you to be cut to pieces by hundreds of invisible blades, automatically killing you with no chance of resurrection by any means. Even gods have been killed in this manner. When she decides to pen a berk's name into the dead book, she makes sure it sticks.
    • The Leviathan, an Eldritch Abomination mentioned in the Elder Evils supplement, has an ability called True Death which destroys the soul of anyone who dies within a hundred miles of one of its aspects. Fortunately, it only has this ability if its Sign is at Overwhelming intensity. (Which as far as Elder Evils go in a campaign using one, the Final Battle against it is about to begin.) The True Death ability is available for DMs who want to create their own Elder Evils, but Leviathan is the only example presented in the book who has it.
    • There's no shortage of monsters that eat souls (and monsters that corrupt their victims so thoroughly their original selves are essentially dead, monsters that, while leaving souls intact, convert corpses to a difficult-to-resurrect form like ashes or goop, and at least one form of undead that uses captured souls to power its special abilities.)
    • 5e's ''Tomb of Annihilation' campaign features the Death Curse, a global phenomenon that both prevents people from being resurrected after they've died, and causes people who have previously been resurrected to slowly wither away to nothingness. The cause is the pet project of Arch Lich Acererak, who had constructed an artifact known as the 'Soul Monger', which absorbs the souls of all who die in the world, in order to feed it to his newest acquisition, an Atropal. Whether any given soul is devoured by the Atropal before the artifact is destroyed is determined at random, but once it's been devoured, there's no way to return from that.
    • Promotional material for Expedition to Castle Ravenloft, a 3E updating of D&D's most infamous and hard-to-eliminate vampire, urged players who dared to tackle Strahd von Zarovich: "This time, make sure he's dead dead!"
    • When you are doing favors for gods, especially evil ones, often if a character dies, his or her soul will belong to said god. Resurrection would be impossible. Unless you killed the god.
      • Which requires you to go to their plane and kill them. Without critical hits. Or ongoing damage. Or instant death attacks. Must I go on?
    • A natural death by old age cannot be undone by any means.
      • Pathfinder gives one sole way back after a death from old age - Reincarnation. This allows a way back after being slain by such creatures as the kami or certain dragons, which have the ability to artificially age creatures. After the one week grace period passes, however, no mortal magic can bring a soul back.
    • The Up to Eleven version of this is the final power of one of the monk archetypes from Pathfinder. A "Monk of the Healing Hand" can activate all his ki and perform a True Resurrection spell on all allies within 50 feet. His body and stuff is then utterly destroyed. He cannot be resurrected by any means, including the power of a god. In addition, his name can't be spoken or written down again and all instances of his written name are erased.
    • On a more peaceful note, Pathfinder describes a natural life cycle for souls that, after untold ages and possibly time spent as an Outsider, ends with them merging with the Outer Plane where they spent their afterlife. Not even the gods can bring them back at that point, though most wouldn't want to, since this is how the Outer Planes are renewed against erosion by the Maelstrom.
    • In the 4th ed. "Demonicon," it's said that, when a demon lord dies in the Abyss, and the Abyss is tired of playing with said ex-demon lord, a tomb materializes in the layer known as the "Blood Rift." The tomb is inevitably filled with the deceased's favorite possessions, both treasure and servants.
  • The Old World of Darkness game Mummy: The Resurrection had the character playing (oddly enough) mummies, immortals who could die any number of times and come back to life, even if their bodies have been burnt to ash or pounded to dust (though it's really hard to do, then). Even their souls were similarly tough, being able to survive Oblivion. As such, the game lists (it's a short list) ways you can really get killed: suicide (not Heroic Sacrifice, actual "I don't wanna live" suicide), losing all permanent Willpower (see suicide), or extremely powerful magic separating the body and soul (like being eaten by Ammit). The only non-magical means of killing a mummy permanently is a point-blank atomic explosion (mummies can come back from dust or ash, but not subatomic particles), and that just traps them in the underworld. The only reliable way one mummy can kill another is Forgetting the Person's Name, the strongest Ren-Hekau spell, which erases the victim's True Name and causes reality to forget they ever existed.
    • In Demon: The Fallen, killing a demon's body won't kill the demon itself. It will carve out a significant chunk of the demon's power and lash it with Torment, but the demon itself survives—though they go back to Hell if they can't find a new body or host quickly. However, if they die too often, they dissipate into nothingness... and while they're out of their host, any other demon can devour them, destroying them for good and taking a portion of the devoured demon's power.
    • Wraith: The Oblivion features another fun variant — soulforging. When the rulers of a Necropolis need to get rid of a Spectre (or a political dissident... or just need some building materials), they'll take the guy and run their corpus under a spectral flame until it's melted, then forge the run-off into soulsteel. It's even implied that something of the damned's consciousness survives, but not enough to fight back. The infamous Samuel Haight wound up as an ashtray when the fandom got sick of him.
  • New World of Darkness:
    • Vampire: The Requiem: Inflicting what would be mortal damage to a vampire merely sends it into a deathlike sleep called torpor, from which they eventually awaken... unless fire, sunlight, or extreme mutilation (think decapitation or woodchipper) is used to finish the job.
    • Promethean: The Created: Prometheans all come with one built-in resurrection (which burns all but one dot of Azoth), and can learn a power called Revivification (Osirans innately start with it) that sacrifices itself to bring them back; while they have it, they may give up dots of Azoth to pull slain Prometheans back as well. Even these aren't foolproof, though—death by fire is irrevocable, they don't get the one-shot resurrection if they only have one dot of Azoth, and certain Pandoran abilities (including one that involves eating them alive) will do the trick permanently. Furthermore, Prometheans don't have souls (most of them spend their existences trying to earn one), so if they die permanently, it's lights out.
    • Mage: The Awakening: On the very rare occasions mages need to render someone Deader than Dead, they do so by removing that person's soul, traveling to the end of the Dreamtime, and throwing it away in the primordial ocean at the end of reality. This is considered the most abhorrent thing possible for a mage to do (for obvious reasons), and if it is ever invoked, the local ruling council will always voluntarily resign as an indication of their ultimate failure.
    • Geist: The Sin-Eaters: The Underworld contains two ways to render something Deader than Dead. On the one hand, there's the Crushers in The Junkyard, which are explicitly capable of killing anything. On the other hand, there's the Grave Dream, a repository of dead dreams which can be dreamed into in addition to the usual route of navigating the Underworld, where the very first Old Law listed is "Dead In, Dead Out." That said, it also introduces a way to defy Deader than Dead: Polygdemon aka Mictlantecuhtli, the Kerberos of Mictlan. It's not easy, but if you can entreat his favor, he can summon the soul of anyone who has ever died. True death by moving on, Permadeath, Deader than Dead, none of this matters to him. Combined with his Geognosis, relatively erratic behavior and that one of the Laws of his realm is "The Words of Polygdemon is Law", he's very likely one of the mythical Deathlords.
    • The Purified are humans who have transformed their minds and souls into spiritual entities that can exist separately from their bodies. Their physical bodies can always be regenerated by their spirit forms, and their spirits can also regenerate from apparent destruction. If their spirit form's Mana and Hit Points are simultaneously exhausted, they're gone forever, leaving no trace in either the Spirit World or The Underworld, suggesting that they're completely annihilated.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, during the Horus Heresy, when the Emperor of Mankind confronted his traitor son Horus, he struck Horus with so much psychic power that Horus' own soul was annihilated. Normally, on death a human's soul is sent to the Warp (and thus powerful servants of Chaos are forever reborn, being bound to their particular Chaos God) but with the destruction of his soul, there was nothing of Horus left, making it impossible for the Chaos Gods to bring him back.
    • When a daemon is killed in combat their essence is simply cast back into the Warp. However certain weapons and methods can permanently destroy a daemons essence which makes their deaths permanent. Weapons such as the Emperor's Sword, or the Chaos Gods themselves can destroy daemons with their power.
  • Unhinged, a very definitely not tournament-legal expansion of Magic: The Gathering, addressed the inflation of such things:
    AWOL: Remove target attacking creature from the game. Then remove it from the removed-from-game zone and put it into the absolutely-removed-from-the-freaking-game-forever zone.
    • Which lampshades the fact that it's not at all hard to 'recycle' cards in the graveyard in this game and that even the generally accepted method of rendering something Deader than Dead by removing it from the game isn't 100% foolproof.
      • A rules change finally addressed this, and created the "Exile" zone to replace the "removed from the game" zone. Cards that allow the player to bring in a card from "outside the game" cannot affect the Exile zone, like they could with the "removed from the game" zone. This has had the effect of making the Exile zone more deader than dead than actually not being in the game at all. Some exiling cards, such as Necropotence, return the card to play later; Flicker does so immediately. (It's still useful; it stops stealing, gets rid of auras and counters, and all sorts of other fun.) This is also played with in that some cards allow you to play cards that have been exiled such as with Rootcoil Creeper's effect.
    • It doesn't stop there: some spells can make something Deader Than Deader Than Dead. Those spells exile a card and all cards with the same name from all zones of the game, including library and graveyard. It's less about being dead and more about having its very concept deleted from existence.
    • An earlier expansion set Unglued has an even more powerful meta-version. Since all "dead" cards can (obviously) be re-used in the next game, Unglued contains two cards that require that you tear the card to pieces.
    • On a slightly less dead—but still deader than ordinary dead—level, it's possible to kill creatures that are otherwise immune to ordinary damage, or have an extraordinary regenerative factor, by debuffing them until their toughness (i.e. maximum health) is zero. If you use a global effect (e.g. "all creatures get -2/-2") to do this, then it's played a bit straighter: reviving the dead creature will just cause it to die again immediately.
    • Inconsistent plotting in the books made Word of God have to emphasize that Yawgmoth, the Big Bad for most of the game's run, is indeed deader than dead. As he'd become a god and lived for thousands of years, only to be barely defeated during the Apocalypse storyline, and show up later to Karona (retconned so that it was All Just a Dream), many players to this day assume Yawgmoth will come back.
  • The Final Rest spell from GURPS: Magic is a positive take on this. When cast on the deceased it prevents resurrection but more importantly stops necromancers from abusing it for their purposes. There is also a Perk, generally available only to The Paladin and Warrior Monk types, that makes any foe slain by your hand qualify, and another that protects you from any Unwanted Revival.
  • In Deadlands, anyone/anything that dies moves to the Hunting Grounds—essentially a spirit counterpart of the material world. From there, it is possible to eventually reach Heaven or Hell, but even that does not have to be permanent. However, upon "killing" someone in the Hunting Grounds you have two options. They can serve you for seven years (absolute-obedience-no-questions-asked style), or you can devour them. At which point you absorb their essence and they utterly cease to exist.
  • If Ming I, the Queen of the Darkness Pagoda from Feng Shui, hits you with her dreaded Arm of Darkness and you fail the Death Check that getting hit forces you to make, you are instantly and permanently destroyed — you don't come back as a ghost, no schtick can save you or bring you back, and your spirit can't be contacted from beyond the veil. You are, for all intents and purposes, gone.
  • In Lycee TCG, cards can be removed from game in the same manner as Magic: The Gathering. Also, the Special Ability of Shiki Tohno (yes, that Shiki) kills something Deader Than Dead and makes it impossible for opponent to call the character he killed this way.
  • Eclipse Phase is a similar situation to Takeshi Kovacs (see literature), except that backups are more common making it even more difficult to kill someone permanently.
  • Exalted: while death is permanent (you might be able to become a Deathlord, but you can never be truly alive ever again), virtually anything that goes down the mouth of Oblivion is not coming back out. Characters can survive with perfect defences, but as soon as the motes run out, there's nothing left but memories.
  • In Paranoia, each character has a genetic template. Every time someone dies, a new body is grown in a lab and implanted with the memories of all their predecessors. One becomes Deader Than Dead if one's genetic template is erased from the system, which may occur if one commits sufficiently egregious treason or by accident or sabotage. And if the Computer discovers you have Machine Empathy, erasure of your genetic template is only the last thing it will do to you.
  • More of a game mechanic, but still fits the bill. In the Pokémon Trading Card Game, Pokémon are usually Knocked Out when their HP reaches zero and they and all cards attached to them are sent to the discard pile. Various attacks, Trainer cards, etc. can take them out of the discard pile. However, in a couple generations, there was a mechanic called the Lost Zone, which if a card is put in there, then it can't be retrieved from the discard pile since it's not in there, and there are few effects (if any) that allow taking cards out of the Lost Zone.
  • One of the sample game modules for the tabletop game version of Fighting Fantasy deconstructs this in their description of the final battle against the Big Bad. They state that the Big Bad realised that when black magicians set things up so that they can only be killed in one very specific way, that specific way always seems to be really easy to do if you know the secret. As a result he simply augmented himself to have Super-Toughness instead.
  • While true resurrection is rare at best in WitchCraft, there are any number of ways for the dead to continue to affect the world of the living. The surest way to avoid this is by "Unravelling", the process of tearing a spirit apart and scattering the pieces throughout the spirit worlds. Coming back from it is theoretically possible, but it's neither easy nor likely and takes thousands of years at least. This isn't limited to human souls, and is often the only way to be sure that an enemy spirit won't keep hounding you forever.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse:
    • The "Unforgiving Wasteland" card in the Final Wasteland environment makes it so that if a target is destroyed by damage from the environment, it isn't just put into the trash but removed from the game entirely. And yes, this applies to hero character cards.
    • Oblivaeon himself can do much worse. If the countdown token reaches 0, he destroys an environment and removes the it from the game. In phase 3 however, he not only erases the hero with the lowest HP, but also their rewards and incapacitated heroes.
  • Battletech consistently plays the All Death Is Final trope already, but in a few situations has invoked this trope due to the Godzilla Threshold:
    • After a bioengineered plague meant as a Doomsday Weapon created by the Draconis Combine accidentally escaped from a lab on Galedon, both that planet and its neighbor, An Ting, were utterly destroyed. As in both planets were sterilized by at least three seperate sustained nuclear bombardments that wiped out all life on the planetsnote  just to make completely sure that the virus was completely eradicated;
    • At the end of the Jihad, the Principality of Regulus wanted The Master, the leader of the Word of Blake dead. To this end, they chased him and the remnants of his forces as they fled, nuking every world that he made planetfall on to death. In the end the Regulans cornered The Master on the planet of Circinus. The Regulans made sure the planet burned, nuking the planet systematically and thoroughly over a period of days, and using cobalt-enhanced weapons to make Circinus totally uninhabitable.

  • In Jasper in Deadland, Little Lu threatens to "double-dead" the slaves in his factory if they slow down too much.
    Little Lu: 'N' if this conveyor-belt gets stopped up, I'm gonna double-dead you with my double-deaddin' knife. And double-dead means POOF, right out of existence.

    Theme Parks 
  • In Shrek 4D at Universal Studios, Lord Farquaad's ghost is destroyed (either that or forcibly returned to the afterlife) when Dragon hits him with a fireball, presumably ending him for good.

    Video Games 
  • Finishing Moves in fighting games tend to lean towards this trope.
    • In the Mortal Kombat games, the "Fatalities" each character can perform frequently conform to this trope. For example, one of Scorpion's fatalities in Mortal Kombat 9 involves him slicing his enemy in half, then decapitating them, kicking the apparently lifeless corpse over... then slicing their severed head in half for good measure. However, such actions are also an example of Death Is Cheap, since they can be performed after every fight. Additionally, characters always seem to return in the sequels even if they've been disemboweled or completely destroyed in the past.
    • BlazBlue has "Astral Heat" attacks, which are for the most part the very definitions of There Is No Kill Like Overkill. The most exemplifying Astral is however Ragna the Bloodedge's Black Onslaught, which not only showers the opponent in slashes from a Sinister Energy Scythe, but the final blow, that Ragna transforms into... something before executing, annihilates the opponent's body and soul. You don't get much deader than that.
  • Classic text adventure game Adventure Land sends the protagonist to a place called "Limbo" when killed, from which egress is quite easy once you figure out how. There are only a handful methods of dying that really don't allow this. Likewise, the Enchanter Trilogy provides you with spells (or allies) that automatically resurrect you upon death, but there are a few ways around this if you really screw up. Examples include erasing yourself from existence with a Time Paradox, having your soul eaten by a demon, and getting stuck in a permanent nightmare so that you aren't technically dead, but you might as well be.
  • Asura's Wrath: Chakravartin is the only character who doesn't reincarnate.
  • Baldur's Gate:
    • In Baldur's Gate II when confronting Irenicus in Hell, he claims that to die there is to cease to exist. As it turns out he's wrong, and he ends up in another Hellish dimension, where he is attacked and possibly killed by demons. Whether he's really gone then isn't clear, though he never appears again to you.
    • The series generally inverts with the Bhaalspawn, who can be killed permanently in the normal fashion, whereas everyone else can be raised under the AD&D rules... except that Imoen ignores this rule and both Sarevok and the player character manage to claw their way back from Hell, although the latter wasn't properly dead.
    • Yoshimo is inflicted with a geas that forces him to serve Irenicus, and after his inevitable death there's no way to bring him back. Dynaheir and Khalid are also killed by Irenicus prior to the start of the game, and Jahiera states for the latter that his body is so tainted by whatever Irenicus did to him that she couldn't bear to bring him back in that state.
    • The Solar states that Amelyssan's soul will be completely erased after her defeat. The final cutscene sees her watching the magical space-floating Throne of Bhaal crashing and exploding on her.
  • Bayonetta punches Jubileus' soul into the sun and annihilates the body to rubble. As of Bayonetta 2 Loptr is rendered as this after suffering a massive beatdown, getting his body punched from his soul and then having said body devoured by Gommorah, trying to escape but then Young!Balder containing him within himself before he returns to the 1400s. The scene at the beginning of Bayonetta 2 is Loptr trying to escape from Balder, but Balder keeps him inside until the moment they die so Loptr will definitely die with him.
  • The Pile Driver in Boktai is an enormous Wave-Motion Gun that channels solar energy created to kill the absurdly tough vampires that plague the world in a way that prevents them from reviving. Except, of course, for The Count. Django had to become a Physical God to completely annihilate the guy, and even then he implies he'll be back before he dies.
  • In Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow duology of the Castlevania franchise, Dracula was defeated for good after a coalition of soldiers, religious orders, and the last Belmont killed him and sealed away Castlevania, the power that enabled him to keep reviving. It's possible for his reincarnation to become the new Dark Lord given the right circumstances since the reincarnation retains the powers and connection to Castlevania that Dracula possessed.
  • In the Chzo Mythos, John Defoe's (a semi-Captain Ersatz of Jason) body, mind and soul all must be destroyed in order to kill him for good. He's technically dead by the start of the series but that doesn't stop him possessing, murdering and dimension-warping our heroes.
  • Crash Fever: Lucifer is a special AI that has an equally special way of deleting avatars: when she works her magic, they're DEAD. Every trace of them, be it copy or otherwise, is annihilated off the face of ALICE. This is why she is hunted down by enemies in Lucifer Invades! and snaps because of it, losing control of her powers for a bit until you rein her back in.
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: Korekiyo Shinguji's execution in Chapter 3 involves him being cooked alive in a boiling pot, which would be enough for an execution, except then his soul rises into the sky to join that of his sister, only for Monokuma to then appear and repeatedly throw purification salt on him (his sister does so, too), which causes his soul to melt into nothingness. Of course, this being a Danganronpa execution, it's more meant as a showy Death by Irony and a way for Monokuma to mock the culprit than an actual deader than dead scenario.
  • Darwinia features a cycle of reincarnation in its digital world, where Darwinians die, their soul ascends to the Central Repository to add their accumulated experiences to it, and then return to Darwinia again to be processed into a new Darwinian (or alternatively, their soul is just shoved into an incubator to spawn a new Darwinian on the spot.) Even viruses are a part of this, since they're just infected and mutated Darwinians anyway. The sole exception is if someone is killed by a Soul Destroyer, a virus type that Dr. Sepulveda explains has introduced to the Darwinians the concept of true death for the first time.
  • Destiny:
    • The God-Knight of the Hive, Crota. The Dark Below expansion's campaign culminated in the Guardian(s) destroying the giant crystal that housed Crota's soul, in the mission "The Awakening". As it turns out, that didn't actually kill him, it simply sent him back to his personal realm. To kill him for good, you must complete the "Crota's End" Raid, which involved storming his realm, breaking through his defenses and taking him down before he regains enough power to try to take over Earth again. Later, in the Taken King expansion, you had to do the same with Crota's father and the titular Taken King, Oryx, in the story mission "Regicide" and the "King's Fall" Raid.
    • This also gets brought up in relation to Guardians, who have unlimited Resurrective Immortality via a bond with a personal Robot Buddy, their Ghost. Killing a Guardian permanently usually involves first killing their Ghost or disabling it by paracausal means, making their next death their last. For the latter, even if the Ghost survives the experience, their Guardian remains dead and cannot be revived. However, Guardians can also be perma-killed in "Darkness Zones", areas where Ghost resurrection simply doesn't work for one reason or another.
  • In Diablo II, the player has to kill the Prime Evils, three demonic rulers of Hell, and destroy their Soul Stones to keep them dead. However, with the third installment of the series forthcoming, it remains to be seen whether it worked.
    • The soulstones were primarily prisons for the souls of the Prime Evils, because usually, all killing them does is send them back to the Burning Hells. They were corrupted, however, thanks to Izual the Betrayer, who filled them in on the soulstones and how to corrupt them, and helped the Prime Evils mastermind their own exile into Sanctuary.
      • And for the record, destroying the soulstones didn't take. You can thank Adria for that, marking each of the souls of each of the defeated so they would be drawn into the Black Soulstone of the third game.
  • In Diablo III Diablo himself, along with the other Prime Evils that were reincarnated into the reborn God of Evil Tathamet are slain for good by the heroes who wield power surpassing that of angels and demons. The ending depicts the monster disintegrating into nothingness as it falls.
    • Even that didn't take. Tyrael says at the end of Reaper of Souls, after the Black Soulstone is used up, that Diablo will reincarnate eventually. Probably because the series is named Diablo, after all...
  • In The Dig, a game whose premise involves an alien technology that will bring people back from the dead, it is stated that after enough resurrections you aren't able to be brought back anymore, effectively making you deader than dead. One of the aliens, sealed to prevent his remains from decaying, can be brought back to life and can answer some questions, and then immediately dies again. He longs for the day that the resurrection stones no longer work on him, and implies that it will be soon.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II:
  • Doki Doki Literature Club! has a weird meta version involving the game's files. Characters whose file has been literally removed from the game's folder can't be rescued by Save Scumming — once a character is gone like this, you can't load or restart the game so as to restore that character as long as their file is missing. At the same time, though, they are Only Mostly Dead because a backup of the character's file might exist elsewhere and because they might still appear as a Glitch Entity even without the file. It Makes Sense in Context and is hugely spoilery.
  • In Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, Kreepy Krow, already dead after being defeated as Warm-Up Boss Krow, simply goes poof — presumably into the afterlife for good — after being defeated again.
  • In the .hack game series, one recurring boss, Cubia, is fought and defeated a significantly annoying number of times, only to suddenly get up after being killed and escape. And then he comes back again (albeit in a different form) for the second game series.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, this trope is the entire purpose of the Grey Warden order. Archdemons (corrupted "Old Gods" who unite the darkspawn horde) body jack the nearest darkspawn upon death, reviving almost instantly. Grey Wardens intentionally introduce a modified version of the darkspawn taint into themselves so that when one of them takes the final blow, the Archdemon will attempt to possess its killer rather than a real darkspawn, an act that annihilates both the dragon and the Warden's souls. Without this, the only way to end a Blight would be to either kill every darkspawn in existence or kill the remaining Old Gods in their sleep before they can be corrupted, which wouldn't be any easier considering how many darkspawn are in the Deep Roads looking for them.
  • The ancient magister-turned darkspawn Corypheus first appeared in the Legacy DLC for Dragon Age II, where he was released from his Tailor-Made Prison by Hawke and subsequently killed. However, thanks to his body surfing ability, he was able to survive by taking over a nearby Grey Warden. He then returned as the main villain for Dragon Age: Inquisition, where he attempted to ascend to godhood and rule over Thedas. The Inquisitor destroyed his false Archdemon, which disrupted Corypheus' ability to take over a new body, and then opened a Fade Rift inside of the would-be god, which consumed him entirely. Just to clear up any confusion, the World of Thedas Volume II lorebook then stressed that Corypheus is permanently dead.
  • Friendly innkeeper Serenity comes down with a particularly severe case of this in DragonFable. Baron Valtrith kidnaps her and uses an Artifact of Doom to destroy her soul, forcing a Doom Weapon into her body to posses her corpse. She isn't just killed, her soul has been destroyed (An important point to make, since Death Is Cheap and sometimes lets people come back to life in exchange for a favor). Valtrith makes a point of saying that she doesn't exist anymore and there's nothing left of her to save. According to Word of God, the destruction of Serenity's soul is so absolute that if an alternate universe version of Serenity visited the Dragon Fable world, she'd cease to exist too.
  • A variation in Dragon's Dogma: under normal conditions, Pawns that run out of HP are rendered incapacitated, and will return to the Rift unless revived within three minutes (the revival process being as simple as touching them). Under certain conditions, however, Pawn revival may not be possible, and the Pawn will be sent back to the Rift automatically. Such conditions include (but are not limited to) being swallowed by a Hydra, death by petrification, falling into deep enough water to be devoured by the Brine, and being struck by Death's scythe on Bitterblack Isle.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • In Dragon Quest V, Pankraz the Hero/King is beaten to death on threat of child hostages, and then firebombed by the boss into a fine black powder. Comes off as Fridge Brilliance when you consider that resurrections in that game world are canon; When you get married the priest lampshades the fact that people can get resurrected most of the time, as to get around the "Until Death Does You Apart" clause.
    • In Dragon Quest XI, after Mordegon sends the World Tree (which doubles as the source of all life and the afterlife) crashing to the surface, it's explained that if the Player Character doesn't defeat him quickly enough, everyone who died during his rise to power will dissipate into the Void Between the Worlds.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Oblivion's Knights of the Nine expansion, Umaril the Unfeathered is allied with the Daedric Prince Meridia. This pact with Meridia allows him to return to the mortal world if slain. In order to finally defeat him, the Champion of Cyrodiil must collect eight holy relics forged by the original Eight Divines and the blessing of the Ninth, Talos, then defeat him in both the physical and spiritual planes to kill Umaril for good.
    • Skyrim:
      • To fully kill a dragon, you must first destroy its body and then absorb its soul. While anyone of sufficient ability can do the former, only another dragon (or a Dragonborn) is capable of the latter. Failure to absorb a dragon's soul leaves open the possibility of it being resurrected in the future.
      • Alduin, the "World Eater" and "first born" of the dragons, cannot die from merely being defeated in open battle. After doing this, the Dragonborn must follow him into Sovngarde, where he has retreated to consume the souls of the dead, and slay him there. Even then, the Dragonborn does not absorb his soul, meaning that he will likely return one day to fulfill his duty as world eater.
      • Necromancy spells cause this as reanimated corpses turn to dust after a certain amount of time, preventing them from being raised repeatedly. Decapitation also prevents them from becoming undead in the first place.
  • In Fallen London the dead can usually come back to life; this both applies to you and is referenced in-story. There are ways to bring permanent death, though: destroying (decapitating etc.) the victim's body (and even then Feducci has been known to come back from being reduced to mincemeat), or the "Cantigaster venom." Death from disease or old age is also final, though it's unknown if disease is just because Neathy ailments are that bad and death from old age is an affair with a lot of delays down there.
    • One exception: The dead can (apparently) never return to the surface again. The only opportunity you have to do this deletes your character entirely if taken, for a very meta example of this trope. After suffering extreme enough injuries the ex-dead often end up retiring to the Tomb Colonies to avoid the awkward stares.
    • One highly Shadowy pair of boots you can find in the late game once belonged to a man whose job was to ensure this for executed criminals. Not by destruction of the body (though presumably that was done too), but rather by being executed alongside the criminal, and intercepting him in The Ferryman's boat to make sure they didn't get back to life. Apparently the gig was so emotionally destructive the man one day played one last game of Chess with Death, took off his boots and jumped off into the waters below; the Boatman simply left them there, and no one else had the guts to even touch them until you came along with enough clout with the Constables to make the move.
  • Zouken Matou escaped death in Fate/stay night despite having his body destroyed over and over so many times that its doubtful anyone believed he was really dead when Sakura pulled him out of her heart and smashed him. Therefore, they had Ilya/Justizia show up and tell him to hurry up and die already. Finally, he complied and just to make damn sure we know he's gone, they dropped a pile of rocks on him.
    • Another example could possibly be Gilgamesh's Ea. Ea's description indicates that it works by spinning so fast that it draws in air and compressing air so hard that it creates a time and space rift.
      "The rift created by Enuma Elish is said to be a look at the "truth" of what existed before the world. Referring to it as hell, the primordial form of the planet before heaven and earth were split, a land filled with lava, gas, scorching heat, and intense cold, Gligamesh states that it is beginning of all legends of lands of the dead. It is the origin of the memory of all organisms before the existence of the planet that is no longer found in the imaginations or spoken memories of people, but rather a genetically inherent and repressed knowledge of a place and time when organic existence had been impossible."
    • It is said to have split heaven from earth, and is the only weapon to be designated a anti-world weapon. One presumes that if Ea was ever used at full power then the whole world would be Deader than Dead.
  • Happens to several characters in Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy II, the Emperor is killed by the heroes and goes to hell, which is apparently part of his plan all along as it turns him into a demonic form who defeats Satan and takes over hell. Though he returns from hell, this form is presumably undead. He is destroyed again in the final battle, this time for good.
    • In Final Fantasy V, the heroes fight Big Bad Exdeath midway through the game. Even though everyone else was defeated, Galuf keeps fighting at 0 HP while Exdeath blasts him with enough damage to kill him many times over. Galuf manages to drive Exdeath away, but he's so exhausted after the battle that he collapses. The rest of the party tries using revival magic and healing items on Galuf, but they don't work, and Galuf dies as a result of the battle.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth's human body died five years before the events of the game and his body was dissolved in the lifestream, but his soul fuses with Jenova and is reborn. You then end up killing his reborn body at the planet's core. Then you kill his soul in form of a grotesque mutated angel. THEN Cloud kills Sephiroth's astral form in a one-on-one duel in the Lifestream. No other villain in the series has the honor of being this dead, or at least until Advent Children.
    • Final Fantasy X:
      • Several of the characters in this game, most notably Seymour (after the party kills him) and party member Auron (from the beginning), are actually "unsent" — souls that have not passed to the local afterlife, the Farplane. As such, the only way to dispatch them permanently is to have Yuna "send" them; this isn't a harmful or painful process unless the target resists, but a soul generally can't come back from the Farplane afterward, and the targets in question are usually rather hostile about the prospect.
      • In this game and its sequel it can also kind of happen to your party members. If they are afflicted by stone status and then attacked, they will shatter, effectively killing them and removing them and their slot for the remainder of the fight, effectively forcing you to continuing the battle short-handed. Curiously, they're not worse off after end of the battle than dead members.
    • In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, a major plot by a certain antagonist involves this. See, in the dying remnants of the world where people have stopped aging AND giving birth to new people, the souls of the dead still exist inside the Chaos currently swallowing up the world. Those souls are still intact because living folks remember them. The reverse is true as well; the living have memories of the dead because those deceased souls are still intact. Thanks to this, all these dead people could be carried into the new world and reborn just like everyone else. On Bhunivelze's command, the Order of Salvation seeks to prevent this with the holy clavis, which can destroy each and every one of those dead souls AND people's memories of them, completely negating the cycle. This will prevent the "unclean" from entering the new world and erase the "inconvenient" past.
    • Final Fantasy XIV:
      • The Ascians are immortal beings that can be killed, but doing so is just a minor nuisance to them since they can reform their bodies later. The story does eventually explain how this happens and what it takes to actually kill them. When a person dies, their aether gets assimilated by The Lifestream and is eventually used to make a new person when they are born. When an Ascian "dies", their soul hangs between the planes of life and death so they can avoid the lifestream until they gain a new body in the corneal realm. To actually kill an Ascian for good, one has to trap their souls in a Soul Jar and then use an excessive amount of aether on it to obliterate the soul inside. Much later on in the story, another method was discovered when the primal King Thordan absorbed Lahabrea's soul, which effectively killed him. While the same methods were employed against Emet-Selch and Elidibus in Shadowbringers, they were never actually killed for good, as Emet-Selch returned to the aetherial sea following his defeat, while Elidibus was trapped in the Crystal Tower in the First. This culminates in Elidibus assisting the Warrior of Light to permanently stop the Final Days in Endwalker, and later on Emet-Selch, who returns from the aetherial sea to aid the Warrior against Meteion in Ultima Thule. He then re-returns to the aetherial sea, not wanting to live again by Hydaelyn's magic, but not before giving the Warrior a list of places they should visit.
      • Hydaelyn following her final test against the Scions in Endwalker. Word of God says that she expended all of her aether during the battle, meaning that not only is she dead, but denied reincarnation as well, unlike Elidibus, Emet-Selch, and Hythlodaeus.
  • Granblue Fantasy has a status effect that invokes this, named Death Ineluctable. Any character with this status cannot be revived, including by Autorevive, and the effect persists even if you use a Full Elixir to completely heal your party (they'll be revived and healed by the elixir, but can't be revived after that).
  • All the characters in Grim Fandango are Dead to Begin With, but there are apparently several ways to suffer "death within death", like being crushed, or shot with a sproutella gun (which causes the body to be replaced by a forest of quickly-growing flowers—marigolds, to be specific, as a reference to the Day of the Dead). Word of God, however, says that "sprouted" souls get reincarnated, which is a punishment for them since it means they have to live another life before eternal rest.
  • God of War: Resurrection is rare, but possible for both mortals and gods. The catch is that they can not have full divine power when they die, or else their soul is permanently lost to the void. In the instances where Kratos died after he became a god, he lost most of his power beforehand.
    • Odin dies twice, but the first time was under controlled conditions with a noose meant to de-power him, and the second time separated his soul from his body and divine powers, which let Atreus stuff him in a marble. Then Sindri takes a hammer to his Soul Jar, killing him permanently.
  • In Iji, former Tasen leader Hel Sarie was completely disintegrated, along with her whole spaceship, when the latter was hit by a Komato Phantom Hammer. If you let General Tor (who wields a Phantom Hammer) charge his weapon three times during the final fight against him and fail to dodge, it will happen to Iji as well, not only destroying her body but her stats as well.
  • In King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, if Alexander is touched by the Lord of the Dead, he is instantly turned into a skeleton, which then falls to pieces. The normal Game Over cutscene with Alexander entering the underworld does not happen.
  • In the Kingdom Hearts series, when a Nobody is killed, they utterly cease to exist, not even leaving a body behind, in a surprisingly gruesome disintegration, usually accompanied by an elemental explosion and screaming.
    • Lampshaded in a dramatic way when a very young (a few dozen days old) Roxas asks Xigbar the classical infant-question, where the hearts belonging to the deceased of the slain Heartless go. Kingdom Hearts. He then proceeds to ask, where deceased Nobodies go... And is "shocked" (as far as this is possible) to hear that deceased Nobodies go nowhere, won't return, and can't be met again. This severely depresses Roxas, as he's thinking that one of his only two friends, Axel, was recently killed.
    • According to Word of God, Nobodies that are killed after their Heartless will reunite with their heart and have their original identities restored; oblivion only comes to Nobodies who are killed with their Heartless still running around.
    • Kingdom Hearts 3D revealed that Nobodies will literally grow a new heart after a while. Xemnas was aware of this and lied to the rest of Organisation XIII in order to stop them from doing exactly that.
    • It's also what happened to Vanitas, sort of. He was actually the dark half of Ven personified by Master Xehanort. At the end, he attacks Ven to forge the X-Blade (you need two hearts of pure light and pure darkness, respectively, to do that). Ven defeats him in the preliminary battle, but Vanitas overpowers him with the Unversed and starts a conflict in the former's heart. Ven overpowers Vanitas and destroys him, destroying his own heart in the process.
    • This was also the fate of Xion. Being a replica made of Sora's memories, everybody forgot about her existence after she is killed by Roxas, though this gets later subverted as Lea and Sora seem to remember some fragments about her. She does come back in III due to Time Travel shenanigans.
  • Kingdom of Loathing spoofs this kind of public domain death with the boss monster Ed the Undying. Killing him for the seventh and final time merely results in his crumpled form growling angrily at you while you nonchalantly sweep him up in a dust-pan and leave him leaning on the side of the tomb, too exhausted to try and figure out a way to permanently do away with him.
  • Kirby: Planet Robobot has this happen to Big Bad President Haltmann. After attempting to defeat Kirby, he ends up assimilated by Star Dream, which begins to overwrite his mind and soul. By the time you face Star Dream Soul OS's final phase, pausing reveals that they're now completely deleted, effectively erasing him from existence. Once the OS is defeated, any slim hope for his salvation is quashed as the Heart Drive crumbles to bits.
  • Raziel from Legacy of Kain was already Undead before Kain had him executed. Now he's... really, REALLY Undead. Raziel became a Wraith; essentially a parasite that feeds directly on souls. Amusingly enough this completely defies this trope. Even after having his body completely disintegrated he'll find a way to come back, and even when barred from the physical realm by a GOD he manages to possess corpses for a workaround. A major driving force of the Kudzu Plot is everyone else trying to get the immortal warrior to do their dirty work.
  • In Loom, characters can die, but if their soul is still nearby, they can be restored to life by way of the Healing draft. There also exists the draft on Unmaking, which is this trope as it completely annihilates the target in a spray of blood and organs, leaving nothing behind to resurrect.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, you kill Big Bad Cackletta only about halfway through the game, but her spirit goes on to possess Bowser, becoming "Bowletta". It isn't until the end of the game that you vanquish her for good.
  • At the climax of Mass Effect, Shepard must defeat Saren either in combat or by convincing him that Sovereign has been using him. Either way ends with a bullet in Saren's head. Shepard then sends a party member to shoot him in the head again "to make sure." Sovereign then assumes direct control of Saren's bionics for the Final Boss battle. Only after that is Saren well and truly dead.
    • Also, in Mass Effect 2 Shepard comes back from the dead, but s/he can die forever during the suicide mission. Or by having sex with Morinth.
      • Regular deaths in gameplay are also implied to be permanent, and the revival took 2 years and a colossal amount of funding.
    • A gameplay example is Legion in the suicide mission. No remote backups when you're past the Omega-4 Relay.
  • In the Mega Man X series, after being killed and resurrected as many times as Zero, Sigma is considered gone for good in the final game X8. Because his decimation took place on the Moon's surface, where the Maverick virus isn't as potent, Sigma is denied his ability to regenerate again. Though the game does provide a possible means for Sigma to return via his DNA being within the Copy Chips of the New Generation Reploids, this trope finally takes full effect on Sigma in the time between the X and Mega Man Zero series in which a special cure program known as the Mother Elf finally wipes out every last trace of the Sigma Virus.
  • A rather amusing example takes place in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. Throughout the course of the rather long battle against Chykka, the opponent is seemingly defeated in its larval form, but survives by rapidly aging itself into its adult form. Then, when it's defeated in that form, it's revived via Ing possession. When that finally gets taken out, its corpse remains in the area, which is fairly unusual for the series. However, if you scan it, the info basically goes out of its way to assure the player that this trope is in effect;
    "Bioscan complete. Target Chykka has been terminated. Lifesigns are at flatline. No regenerative ability in effect. No evidence of symbiotic corpse possession. Resurrection does not appear likely."
    • As it's the Grand Finale of the series' Myth Arc, Metroid Dread does this to a handful of antagonists. After surviving Super Metroid, Kraid gets killed off - and to punctuate it, it's revealed that an X Parasite assimilated him off-screen. The same parasite also infects the series' Greater-Scope Villain Raven Beak, turning him into an amalgamated Animalistic Abomination before Samus kills it and the parasite itself. To top it off, after a long-running streak of Joker Immunity, Samus' Arch-Enemy Ridley is absent from the game, implying that after taking on so many forms and being cloned twice, it's safe to say that Ridley is done.
  • In Might and Magic, your party members can die. But that's not enough for some enemies, which can leave your party members ERADICATED, as in their bodies completely disintegrated. Resurrecting party members in that state is much more difficult, requiring the highest level resurrection spells and/or the most expensive treatments. Either way, you'll learn to fear any enemy that has the ability to do it.
  • In Mortal Kombat 1, Kronika (the Big Bad of the previous game) shows up early in the story to manipulate and assist Shang Tsung (and later Quan Chi) into becoming a powerful sorcerer once more, messing with Liu Kang's New Era and leading to plenty of problems. Her identity is strangely obscured from the hourglass at first, but once Geras figures it out, he deems her presence impossible, stating that once a Titan has been killed, they cannot be brought back. It turns out to not be her, but rather Titan Shang Tsung from a split reality in disguise, implying Kronika is actually gone for good.
  • In Bungie's Myth games, the villains often meet such an end. Balor, the first game's villain is beheaded, then the head is thrown to a magically created bottomless pit called The Great Devoid. The fact this was necessary to kill him fully is evidenced by his severed head talking to you during the trip. In Myth II, the villain Soulblighter killed by being cast into lava.
  • NetHack has an amulet of life saving that allows the player to survive a deadly incident... as long as said incident doesn't involve being hit once too often with a mind flayer's brain-sucking attack or genociding oneself.
  • The "best" ending of NieR has our title hero asked to sacrifice himself to save his daughter/sister (depending on your protagonist). But it's not a matter of sacrificing his life—he has to give away his whole existence, and will be forgotten by all. If you agree, the game erases your save file and never again lets you use the name you gave to the protagonist.
    • Played with in NieR: Automata where Death Is Cheap, at least for YoRHa androids and machine lifeforms. If the former die, the Bunker keeps backups of their data, so at worst they'll suffer varying degrees of memory loss depending on when they last backed themselves up (though some androids are still seen grieving over the deaths of their comrades, as there's no getting back those memories.) The latter are okay as long as their machine core remains intact, and even then if they're still connected to the network it can just build a new body for them. This even extends to the gameplay, as death is a minor inconvenience that dumps you back to the nearest save point and forces to return to your dead body to retrieve your chips. However, machines who aren't connected to the network, such as the residents of Pascal's village, are at risk of true death, which is eventually inflicted on them, and early in Route C/D the Bunker is destroyed and all but a small handful of androids (not including protagonist 2B) are either wiped out or irreparably infected by the Logic Virus and driven to serve the machine network. Dying in-game after this point also causes you to completely lose all progress since your last save. Ending E, however, takes place after Endings C and D, where A2 is dead and 9S is either also dead or left to an ambiguous fate, and revolves around Pod 042 attempting to defy this trope and salvage what's left of 2B, 9S and A2's data to give them one more chance at life. Also played with with Adam and Eve, both of which (either willingly or unwillingly) are disconnected from the network and are killed, but in Ending D they mysteriously show up in the Ark (though those could've just been backed up versions of them.)
  • In Phantom Brave, Marona can kill the souls of her Phantoms if they "die" and she herself attacks their... um... phantom corpse. She can still put the pieces back together though, and transmigrate them into a stronger form. She can also do this after the Bonus Boss Baal, after he attempts to possess the Possessed One, and discovers that this just puts him completely under her power. If Marona Soul-Kills him and then examines his "remains" the game states that the area is finally peaceful and calm. Given that in other Nippon Ichi games, Baal is a Physical God capable of coming Back from the Dead instantly, Marona really accomplishes something by permanently destroying one part. Although Baal does have more than one body.
  • The main character of Planescape: Torment regularly dies and revives just as easily. Much of the game is spent figuring out how this is possible... and under what circumstances the reviving might stop.
    • In one of the endings, you do this by willing yourself out of existence. That's one of the good endings, even. You can also use a weapon provided by Coaxmetal for the same purpose in the right circumstances; it's implied Coaxmetal is good enough with his entropic crafts that he could find a way to do this to anyone with the right fragment (in your case, a drop of blood).
    • If the Nameless One tries to test the boundaries of his immortality on... let's say, Lothar or the Lady of Pain, s/he will promptly erase the Nameless One (I mean, you) from existence and you get a game over. The former is an immortal similar to the Nameless One but without any of the irritating side effects. The latter is the caretaker of Sigil who happens to be more powerful than almost any deity within the confines of the city, and will perceive the Nameless One a rash that has to be removed should the Nameless One overstep his place.
    • During the questline to join the local Bomb-Throwing Anarchists, you're tasked with sabotaging a weapon being developed by the Godsmen faction. The lead engineer informs you that if anything were to happen to it, not only would the explosion kill everyone in the room but the magic binding them to it would erase their very souls. It's not too late to back out at that point and turn in the quest-giver (or not).
  • Albert Wesker takes two RPG-7 rounds to the face while hip-deep in magma at the end of Resident Evil 5. It took Word of God to convince fans that he was REALLY dead this time.
  • In Shadowverse, effects that banish not only get rid of the affected cards but also prevent Last Word abilities from being triggered (which normally do so when the card is destroyed) and also prevents the cards from being converted into shadows. Havencraft has the most cards involved with this.
  • Shantae: Risky's Revenge: Skeletons are a Reviving Enemy, but they can be permanently killed if the gravestones they revive from are smashed with the Elephant Stomp.
  • Slash'EM Extended, a NetHack fork, extends the self-genocide death to the added Ungenomold race. If an Ungenomold player ever runs out of hit points, they die without a chance to survive. On the other hand, being hit by a death ray can be survived with an amulet of life saving.
  • In Soul Hackers 2, after figuring out that the protagonist Ringo can bring people Back from the Dead, Iron Mask has Zenon eat the corpse of Mangetsu Kuzunoha to make resurrection impossible.
  • In StarCraft, Dark Templar energies are needed to kill the Zerg Cerebrates for good, since the Overmind would resurrect them otherwise.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Sith Emperor is killed by the Jedi Knight Player Character at the end of their origin story. In the expansion Shadow of Revan, he's revealed to have returned on Yavin IV, and the following expansion Knights of the Fallen Empire reveals that he's now in his other body, the Emperor Valkorion of the planet Zakuul. Early in that expansion, he's killed either by the player or his son Arcann, but his spirit remains within the player's mind until the very end of Knights of the Eternal Throne when they expel him after his failed Grand Theft Me attempt, where everyone assumes he's destroyed. Then in the Echoes of Oblivion storyline of the Onslaught expansion, it turns out he's still not quite dead and he's conducted a ritual to return again, but the player defeats all three of his incarnations -Vitiate, Valkorion, and Tenebrae - and finally destroys him for good. Following this, the player's allies work to make sure that he stays dead this time.
  • In Street Fighter, the Shun Goku Satsu or Raging Demon technique is said to obliterate the victim's very soul, killing them in the process.
  • In Suikoden II, a vampire called the Neclord comes Back from the Dead. In response, about five different powerful beings map out every single contingency and possibility of escape so that this time, when they kill him, it doesn't happen again.
  • Sunless Sea takes place in the same universe as Fallen London, which means that you really shouldn't go to the surface. But you can, and it's actually a decent way to get extremely difficult-to-procure items like sunlight-in-a-box. But if you stay on the surface for too long, your crew starts to die. And if you don't take the warnings for what they are, you won't be far behind them. Any trip to the surface is explicitly a visit at best, and even then, everyone on your boat is carefully shielded from direct sunlight, lest they suddenly cease to exist.
  • Sunless Skies takes place in the same universe as Fallen London and Sunless Sea, though people aren't quite as durable up there as they once were in the Neath. However, one particular option you can take when presented with one of the Judgements is to essentially perform a Rage Against the Heavens while the Heavens are standing right there. The game outright warns you this will kill you, probably harder than anyone has ever been killed. Since you are essentially killed by getting outlawed by reality itself right where it's most capable of enforcing this, nothing you are or ever were continues to exist the instant the Judgement in question has turned its gaze to you.
  • In Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl, when characters are defeated, they simply revert back into their trophy forms and can be brought back to life with outside help. At the end of Melee's Adventure Mode, Bowser comes back as Giga Bowser this way, but defeating him a second time makes his trophy explode into dust.
  • Done to excess in Tales of the Abyss. First, Luke's fonons are separating, meaning that he will die and no amount of life bottles or resurrection artes can bring him back, and then he stays behind after defeating a Load-Bearing Boss to use the Sword of Plot Advancement and either gets crushed among the rubble or goes up to the fon belt with Lorelei—there are two lights. Yet he shows up alive three years later with no explanation in The Stinger: happy ending, right? Wrong. According to Jade's character development sidequests, something called the Big Bang Effect means that since Asch's fonons entered Luke's body when Asch died, there's no way for even Jade to prevent Asch's mind overwriting Luke's, erasing his personality and leaving Asch with Luke's body and Luke's memories. Even though the game's mythology states that the souls of dead seventh fonists go to the fon belt with their fonons Luke won't even be able to reunite with Tear there: Asch will essentially eat his soul. It's no wonder that many fans of the game ignore that sidequest and say it's Luke based on the body language of people with every reason to think it is Luke—they weren't there for the sidequest and it is Luke's body, after all.
  • In the Roguelike game TOME: Tales of Middle-Earth, after you kill Tolkien's Satan Morgoth, you have the option of entering the Void and killing his soul to prevent a Ragnarok-style war in the future. While traversing the Void, you might have to randomly fight any boss character that you've killed before.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge, Tempestra's defeat is particularly explicit compared to the other bosses. She disintegrates into nothing, then Krang's robot torso (which was her main power source) gets ripped out of the Tempestra's Revenge arcade cabinet by a crane, so it's impossible for her to return.
  • In the computer RPG series Ultima, the protagonist (and party members) can easily and frequently be resurrected as necessary. There are a few points in the plot where it is possible for a character to be permanently slain—if taken prisoner by Blackthorne in Ultima V, and Dupre during the plot of Ultima VII Part II. The much maligned Ultima IX undoes the latter.
    • Dupre's death in Ultima VII Part II should be clarified, his death involved being turned to ash in a crematorium, and then his soul was used as a bonding agent to reform the chaos serpent in order to bring balance to the cosmos. Deader than dead because his soul was turned into cosmic superglue. (His subsequent existence as a ghost and resurrection in Ultima IX left planet-sized plot holes, and many of them, which caused some people to be... a little upset.)
    • While resurrection is by no means impossible, it's not as easy as in certain other settings. It's either extremely expensive in a very stingy setting or very costly in terms of power and resources—and it always leaves the newly-raised character near death, at 0 or 1 hitpoints. In Ultima III, resurrection can fail and leave you with a pile of ashes, playing this trope straight; the ashes can be Recalled, which is even costlier and permanently drops the caster's stats if you do it yourself. Ultima V and VI follow every death with a loss of experience.
  • Warcraft: The rules of resurrection have been retconned repeatedly over the series' lifetime, but as of World of Warcraft, the following basic rules apply: Mortals only permanently die if their souls are destroyed (one way to do this is to consume them with Fel energy) or if their bodies are completely annihilated, while elementals and demons can only be destroyed on their home planes; if killed in the mortal world, they simply respawn some time later. It is not clear how these rules apply to the Old Gods, at least one of which has been canonically resurrected. Of major characters:
    • Ragnaros the Firelord, elemental lord of the Firelands, is defeated in the Molten Core raid of World of Warcraft, but that doesn't kill him for good. In the Cataclysm expansion, the Cenarion Circle traps him in the Firelands so that he can be permanently slain.
    • Archimonde, one of the two Eredar commanders of the Burning Legion, is destroyed in Warcraft III at the World Tree, Nordrassil, but later returns. He is killed permanently in Warlords of Draenor, after pulling players into the Twisting Nether in desperation.
    • Kil'jaeden, the other Eredar commander of the Legion, is defeated during Burning Crusade as he attempts to enter Azeroth through the Sunwell. He is not killed for good until Legion, when he is confronted by Velen and Illidan on his Nether-traversing ship and brought down over the Legion's homeworld of Argus.
    • In the prologue of Legion, Gul'dan annihilates King Varian Wrynn by exploding him with Fel energy. In a bit of karmic symmetry, Illidan explodes Gul'dan in the same way at the end of the Nighthold raid.
    • In Shadowlands, the soul of Arthas is tortured to provide power for the Shadowlands, then used to create the sword Kingsmourne. When the sword is broken, all that is left of him is a wisp of soul-energy that soon fades from existence.
  • In a very strange fashion, Warframe has canonized the concept of both organic and artificial intelligences having souls of a sort... because certain Warframes (Nekros and Garuda) can rip them out of enemies and weaponize them. The soul/life energy of the victim also visibly explodes once Nekros or Garuda is done with them, just in case you thought those Grineer were going to experience an afterlife.
  • The Wizardry series, particularly in its earlier and most brutal games, could do this to you twice over. Run out of hit points or get hit by death effect, and a character is dead. If an attempt to raise a dead character fails, or they're hit with a very powerful death effect, they're disintegrated to ash. If an attempt to raise a disintegrated character fails, or something truly extraordinary occurs (like teleporting into solid rock) they're "lost" and erased from your disk. Later games were a little less brutal, introducing the "Extinct" status effect. It effectively meant "Deader Than Dead;" a character who was beyond resurrection. You could still look at the character sheet, though. Additionally Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land added a new way to lose a character permanently. A character who died while possessed by the reaper would lose his soul immediately. While the reaper could be evaded fairly easily, some doors could only be seen let alone entered if a party member was possessed. Valuable and unique loot were hidden behind these doors, making this a very real threat.
  • Wobbledogs: While a dead dog can still appear as a ghost, cracking open their dog core will erase their existence for real.
  • In The World Ends with You, the protagonist and almost all of the characters are Dead to Begin With; they're in a deadly game that they need to fight through to get a chance to be brought back to life. Failure means they get "Erased."
    • NEO: The World Ends with You goes one step further: being 'exorcised' means that you are so far gone that nobody in the past will even remember, let alone acknowledge, that you existed at all. An utterly horrific and extreme punishment... but given what brought it about, it's safe to say Tanzo Kubo had it coming.
  • Invoked in X-Men Legends II by Deadpool, who says he wants you "so dead you'd have to be reanimated as a corpse."

  • Drowtales:
    • If your soul is devoured by a demon, that's it. Like a regular beast, the demon digests your memories and personality and absorbs the identity-less aura-charged thoughts and emotions for sustenance. Snadhya'rune's 'immortals' are permanently killed when she mutates into a blob demon and forcefully sucks their souls out of their artificial shells across Chel.
    • It should also be noted that Word of God has explicitly confirmed that while the Drowtales setting has something similar to a soul, souls are completely mortal and the setting lacks an afterlife. Unless you go to the trouble of having your soul sealed in a Soul Jar, your soul will naturally disperse into plain mana after your body is killed, and even a Soul Jar isn't going to keep you around forever.
  • Everybody who dies in 1/0 gets resurrected as a ghost sooner or later, leading to lines such as "Oh, quit being melodramatic. He's just dead." Max, however, loses his personality and gets transformed into an ordinary molecule, meaning by the established physics, he can't return at all. At least until Tailsteak lets the physics model break down at the end.
  • While characters never really come Back from the Dead in Dominic Deegan, Oracle For Hire (the key exception being Helixa and a handful of demons/ghosts), several have found themselves Deader than Dead in a fairly simple way—their souls were destroyed. This is not done lightly, however, as when a soul is destroyed it causes a massive explosion. The simultaneous destruction of thousands of souls at the end of the War in Hell rendered the landscape unrecognizable.
  • In Girl Genius, Applied Phlebotinum exists that can resurrect the dead and rebuild bodies that were burnt to a crisp. However, there's no way to rebuild a completely destroyed brain, and with an intact brain, resurrection just doesn't work sometimes. For this reason, some characters stay dead, and some don't.
  • In DMFA, after killing Dark Pegasus for the third time, Dan is seen enacting a sealing ritual: "No come back to life! No cookie!" (A much later comic cuts to his grave... and spends three motionless panels indicating that he's still dead.)
    • He does eventually come back. The very person responsible for it points out the minor flaw in Dan's approach here.
    • The undead race is made up of sentient zombies, brought back in order to have an unkillable horde, as they can lose limbs, organs, even be decapitated, and still put themselves back together. Unfortunately for their creator, they later ended up with free will and personalities of their own, so he devised a way of killing them off permanently that means magically frying them to ashes. As demonstrated on Hannah in Dan's flashback to his first adventure.
      • It is also revealed in the Demonology 101 pages that the undead can be killed permanently by having their brains destroyed.
  • In 8-Bit Theater:
    • Sarda has killed the Light Warriors a dozen times, subsequently bringing them back so he'll be able to torture them some more.
    • However, the trope is played very straight with Black Belt. The author had his head chopped off and spraying blood to get people to shut up about bringing him back. Also, there never was a fifth Light Warrior.
    • And then there was the villain whose bones were broken and his skull buried upside-down at a crossroads. "Ideally, this is how we would dispose of all our enemies."
  • Deader than Dead is a harder state to attain in The Order of the Stick than in the game it's based on (to the frustration of the main characters when fighting certain villains), but it's been mentioned in two cases. First, as in the game, angels and such die permanently when killed on their home planes of existence. Second, anything eaten by the Snarl, a living rift in the fabric of reality, is assuredly gone.
    • A black dragon attempted to do this to Vaarsuvius' children in revenge, by using necromancy to bind their souls and then leaving the earthly plane of existence. Even this would not have permanently killed them, but it would have removed them from Vaarsuvius's reach for all practical purposes.
    • When Kubota surrenders to Elan and explains that he'll just rig his trial and drag it out for as long as possible, Vaarsuvius deems this a waste of the heroes' time and casts a spell that turns him into a pile of ash. Followed by a wind spell that blows the ashes out to sea. While there are still spells in D&D that can resurrect him, it requires extremely powerful allies and costs a fortune to perform. Word of the Giant says that True Resurrection will not appear in the comic, so anyone who gets disintegrated is probably Killed Off for Real.
    • Roy's father can't be brought back to life because he died of old age.
    • Similar to Kubota, Malack and Nale are now Deader Than Dead due to their bodies being destroyed. Malack was a vampire, killed when Nale removed his sun protection spell, burning him to ash. In response, Tarquin killed Nale and Laurin disintegrated his body. She declared that if Malack can't be resurrected, nether can his killer. Additionally, while Nale might be brought back by True Resurrection, even this narrative-breaking spell could not bring back Malack since he was a vampire. Using True Resurrection on him would bring back the Lizard Folk shaman he once was, not the vampire he had become.
  • Homestuck: While, for the most part, Death Is Cheap in the setting, it's still possible to be killed permanently to varying degrees of permanence and seriousness.
    • A player can die once normally and revive as their dreamself. If the dreamself dies again, they die for real.
    • God-tier players can revive from most deaths but, if they die a just or heroic death, they lose their immortality and stay dead.
    • Most of these deaths result in the deceased's soul continuing to exist in the afterlife, but Lord English has access to a powerful Breath Weapon that completely disintegrates anything it hits, up to the level of universes. His first on-screen use of it is on many afterlife characters (including the version of John from Davesprite's timeline, two doomed timeline versions of Dave, and numerous instances of the trolls), who are then... gone. Aranea implies that anyone hit by it is permanently obliterated. In troll mythology, Lord English is even known as the Angel of Double-Death for this very reason.
    • The Homestuck Epilogues: It's shown that Lord English's teeth are incredibly venomous; John gets bitten by him, and the venom is so potent that even Jane (whose healing powers are so strong that she can revive the dead) can't do anything to save him. Dirk's narration implies that the venom straight-up erased John from the narrative of the story itself — no force in the entire mythology of the comics has the power to fix that.
  • Guilded Age: Since the world of Arkerra is both a fully realized fantasy universe and a MMO game played by ordinary humans from Earth, player characters tend to respawn quickly after dying. However, certain threats from "outside" Arkerra are capable of permanently corrupting or outright deleting a character from the universe.

    Web Original 
  • In the Code Geass Abridgement, Code Ment, Young Lelouch and King Charles discuss Marianna vi Brittania's fate.
    Young Lelouch: Dad! Dad! Mom is dead.
    Emperor Charles: How dead?
    Young Lelouch: Dead enough to cause Nunally to go blind.
    Emperor Charles: That's pretty dead.
  • Most of the Forbidden Magic spells from Tal'Vorn fit this trope nicely. Specifically though; Dysjunction flings them so far out of this dimension that they certainly will not be coming back. They might not be dead, but they might as well be. The Snap spell breaks every bone in the victims body to splinters. Which probably hurts.
  • CrimsonBranch had his face and most of his torso melted. Yet, he remains one of the most talked about characters in the Dark Dream Chronicle fandom. Probably for a reason.
  • In DEATH BATTLE!, this has happened to quite a few of the fighters over the years.
    • In Akuma vs Shang Tsung, Tsung is hit with the Raging Demon which obliterates a person down to their soul.
    • In Doctor Strange vs. Doctor Fate, Strange made the mistake of taking the battle into Nabu's realm and for that, gets his very soul obliterated by Kent, Inza and Nabu.
    • In Ghost Rider vs. Lobo, Lobo is utterly Barred from the Afterlife since he's rampaged through both Heaven and Hell, making his soul unfit to be collected by Death itself. Not so for the Rider as Zarathos pulls his ghost over and gives him the Penance Stare, reducing the Main Man into a Rapid-Fire "No!" before a Big "NO!" as his soul is finally eaten.
    • In Iron Fist vs. Po, Po teleports himself and Iron Fist to the spirit realm. In the Kung-Fu Panda movies, the spirit realm is pretty much the afterlife (or at least it's equivalent) meaning that technically, both Po and Danny were already dead at the time. note  Po eventually ends up incinerating Danny with his chi dragon at the end of the fight, so the panda dragon warrior pretty much erased Danny from existence.
  • In Heartless, a Warrior Cats Multi-Animator Project, Mapleshade does this to her former mate Appledusk after also being the reason he died the first time. After he is sent to the Dark Forest, she kills Appledusk again. He ceases to exist because cats can only die twice.
  • The Madness Combat series seems to do this quite often as well, with many of the characters coming back to life in improbable ways, with the exception of the Sheriff, who after his death in Avenger, remains dead.
  • Whateley Universe: Tennyo's 'death blow' is a One-Hit Kill that destroys both the body and soul of its target so thoroughly that even the sub-atomic particles that make up the victim's body slowly evaporate into nothingness. She has nightmares of the one time she was forced to use it.
  • Red from Ruby Quest made absolutely sure that he was Killed Off for Real by obliterating his body with a makeshift bomb.
  • In Thrilling Intent, Markus learns the spell Iconoclasm, which is able to remove spiritfolk from the cycle of reincarnation.
  • SCP Foundation: During one test with SCP-914, when white-out was inputed into the machine on the "Very Fine" setting, it produced "super white-out". When a D-class personnel picked it up, both they and the white-out instantly disappeared, and disappeared so thoroughly, memories of their existence were erased from everyone's brains and the D-class's file was erased from the Foundation's database, leaving the researcher of the test confused why there was an experiment written down that he'd never done involving a worker there was no record of existing.
  • In the third episode of The Odgrub Series, Odgrub is killed by the Ebony Warrior and sent to Sovngarde. Wanting to complete his Heel–Face Turn, and defeat the Ebony Warrior, Odgrub slaughters all the warriors there, getting himself banished back to the world of the living,

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • Poochie the Dog, from The Itchy & Scratchy Show, is forcefully removed from that series quickly after his first appearance, and a lawyer shows up with a legal document that prevents him from ever returning, thus making him truly extremely dead. This being The Simpsons, he returns in a bunch of cameos anyway.
    • Played for Laughs in the Treehouse of Horror segment "G-G-Ghost D-D-Dad." Ghost!Homer somehow chokes to death again... and simply becomes Ghost!Ghost!Homer.
    • One episode has a comic book called The Death of Casper.
  • Transformers:
    • A Transformer can survive an insane amount of punishment, and many characters come back after being declared dead, or taking an amount of damage that really, really oughta do the job. The Chunky Salsa Rule is but a suggestion. This isn't to say that Transformers never stay dead... but nobody ever knows what to make of a character's death. There's always someone else who went through worse and was just fine, or fixable, or rebuildable into a new toy, er, body. However, there's one way to know one is truly done for, in-story: make sure that their spark, quite visible in a compartment in any Transformer's chest, is extinguished. (However, even then, there's AllSpark energy...)
    • Compared to that, Ravage's feats of Deader than Dead survival seem unimpressive. However, Ravage is in an exploding ship in Beast Wars, and we see his head knocked off a cliff later—the writers assuring us that he's not "five minutes in a CR Chamber" dead, but really, seriously Killed Off for Real dead. Three different comic series have found different ways of bring him back. For the record 
  • In Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures, the season 2 writing staff wanted to bring back themes and villains from the original show, and thus decided to kill off all recurring villains from the previous series. One of said villains was Ezekiel Rage, who repeatedly came back from No One Could Survive That! situations. So what did said writing staff do? Send him back to the prehistoric era with a nuke that explodes and show his skull mask being found in the present day just to drive it in.
  • The Evil Entity from Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated was destroyed so utterly that it was completely erased from existence, present, future and past. This led to history being changed so that all the atrocities the creature had orchestrated over the centuries never happened, leaving the gang (and Harlan Ellison) as the only ones who still remember the original timeline.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, if the Avatar dies while in the Avatar State, they will no longer reincarnate. And even then, the Avatar Spirit (Raava) dying seems unlikely.
  • Magic Man's wife Margles in Adventure Time was "taken away" by an Eldritch Abomination, and even a wish from Reality Warper Prismo can't bring her back (it just summons a wastebasket), which shocks even him.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Gems have Hard Light bodies with gemstones serving as a Heart Drive; if the body is destroyed ("poofed"), they can generate a new one fairly quickly. However, if their gem is shattered, the Gem as a person is effectively dead; the shards can generate random moving body parts, but they have no real thoughts of personality, just a desperate but futile desire to be whole again. While simple cracks in the gems can be healed (although only two people are known to have that ability- Rose Quartz and Steven, who inherited her powers), a gem that is completely shattered is toast forever. However, as seen in Steven Universe: Future, it is possible to put a shattered gem back together again, but only the Diamonds can do that.
    • Rose Quartz giving birth to Steven involved transferring her gemstone to him, leaving it physically unchanged but her effectively dead, and only some well-hidden traces of her memories remain. Several characters wonder or believe that Steven actually is Rose, or else she lives on inside him somehow. The climax of the series shows Steven is not Rose, nor can she ever be brought back, as even the gemstone on its own is just part of Steven.
  • In Legend Quest, the gang encounters the ghost of Medusa, who can no longer turn mortals to stone but can now do so to ghosts, and when the victims are exposed to sunlight they're disintegrated. When Teodora turns her to stone by showing her a selfie she took with her, she then destroys Medusa by pushing her into a lava pit.
  • This happens to King Sombra twice in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. First, he is blown into pieces by the Crystal Heart in the Season 3 premiere. Surprisingly, he is resurrected by Grogar six seasons later, only to be Reduced to Dust. Grogar does hint that he could revive him again, but decides not to because he wants to make an example to the rest of his Legion of Doom. Given that Grogar is eventually revealed to be Discord in disguise who set things up to give Twilight Sparkle a "final test" of her fitness to be the new ruler of Equestria, it's possible that the second time was merely an illusion meant to cow the other villains into submission.
  • In Hazbin Hotel, it's established that demons born from human souls lack Complete Immortality, though that doesn't mean they'll go down easily. The only known method by which a sinner can die is by angelic weaponry, which has led to a massive overpopulation problem in hell resulting in angels being sent down once a year to kill large numbers of them off.

     Real Life 
  • One theory for why the mummy of pharaoh Akhenaten was broken into pieces and hastily repaired is that his political enemies had attempted to posthumously destroy his ka in the afterlife. Others discovered this sabotage and mended the damage as best they could, while relocating his remains to a better-hidden tomb.


Video Example(s):


Nintendo Ninja Jacob

After being exploded by a Pingas, Jacobs' soul gets destroyed by a United Airlines' jet turbine.

How well does it match the trope?

4.82 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / DeaderThanDead

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