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Death-Activated Superpower

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"You can't win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine."

Winning the Super Power Lottery is a good thing, right? Well, unless you're Blessed with Suck or Cursed with Awesome. But what happens when you're a Differently Powered Individual whose powers only activate upon your death? Kind of a downer, huh? Well, depending on whether death is permanent in your setting, or not so permanent, it can range from bad to downright awful. Fortunately (for the persons possessing these powers), permanent death is in the minority regarding this trope. But if it is permanent, it obviously won't be a useful power during their lifetime, so the real question is: what does it mean for the rest of the world?

This could mean that Death Is the Only Option. Super-Trope to Auto-Revive, and overlaps with Resurrective Immortality, since many people with that power only seem to find out the first time they "die". Compare Came Back Strong, which needn't be lethal, and Traumatic Superpower Awakening, which needn't even be physically damaging. See also My Death Is Only The Beginning and Thanatos Gambit, when the character actually stays dead.

When used offensively, this is an example of Taking You with Me. Compare Die or Fly for when coming close to death activates your power. May overlap with Dead Man's Switch. When used within tabletop and video gameplay, this can overlap with Death as Game Mechanic.

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


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ajin: The titular Ajin posses the ability to regenerate from any form of injury. The kicker is, they need to completely die in order to activate it. This causes some characters to choose death rather than wait to recover from non-fatal injuries, sometimes ones so minor it becomes comical.
  • Bleach:
    • In general, an otherwise powerless person in life once they die has the chance to either end up in Soul Society and develop such spiritual power they could become a Captain-class Soul Reaper...or they become a Hollow and have a chance to become a Vasto Lorde Menos. Either way, they have a chance to basically become a Physical God of the afterlife.
    • In the Bount filler arc, Yoshino is the only one of her kind that can create offspring. If she dies, a bunch of life-harvesting Bitto insects can be created. Filler Villain Kariya kills her, his former love, for just that, in order to make his comrades more powerful.
    • Wonderweiss was specially modified to be able to beat Captain-General Yamamoto. His main ability is to seal away the fire powers of Yamamoto's sword and extinguish any flames it already created. Yamamoto manages to kill him anyway by punching him to pieces, but then it is revealed that Wonderweiss actually stores the flames he puts out in his head and releases them in a massive explosion on death, forcing Yamamoto to contain the explosion with his own body, which leaves him too injured to keep fighting.
  • There are many fans of Code Geass who believe that some of the powers in that show work this way, although the show leaves it open to interpretation. In particular, many of the traits that come with being a Code bearer, such as losing one's Geass, immunity to Geass, not aging, and having weird mental connections with certain people, are thought to not activate until the first time someone "dies" after receiving their Code (which makes them immortal).
    • This is proven true for one case in Code Geass Lelouchofthe Resurrection: The Big Bad of the film, Queen Shamna, has a Geass that allows her to travel six hours into the past, and it can only activate whenever she dies.
  • Hunter × Hunter:
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • In Part 4, the Stand Stray Cat's user is a cat who dies in an accident. After being buried, the cat is brought back to life as a cat-like flower growing on its own burial ground - and more importantly, it gains access to powerful aerokinetic powers. Despite being immobile, it proves a deadly threat both to Kira and the heroes.
    • In Part 5, Notorious B.I.G. is a Stand summoned by the death of its user, Carne. This, incidentally, makes it indestructible; to kill an Stand, you have to kill its user, and Notorious B.I.G. no longer has one.
    • In Part 6, Ermes corners the gangster Sports Maxx and forcefully stuffs him in a sewer pipe to drown as revenge for him murdering her sister. However, Sports Maxx uses his last moments to activate his Stand, Limp Bizkit, which revives the taxidermied bird and alligator in his cell as bloodthirsty invisible zombies that attack Ermes. It also succeeds in reviving Sports Maxx himself, though he's not aware of this until he tries to inject himself with a random prisoner's heroin needle.
  • One Piece
    • Brook's power only activates when he dies. At first it seemed like the power to come back to life once. Considering the setting, this would normally make him a normal human with Super Drowning Skills. However, when he died the first time, a string of coincidences left him reanimating as a living skeleton, with enhanced longevity, speed, and other related skills. The Time Skip allowed Brook to seriously examine his powers, letting him learn that he'd misjudged what he was capable of: turns out he has a general control of his own soul, letting him separate his soul from his body at will (giving him the ability to perform flawless reconnaissance) and learned a new ultimate attack that coats his sword in the cold flames of hell to directly cut at an opponent's soul.
    • Baron Tamago's power, the Egg-Egg fruit, allows him to be reborn as newer, stronger forms, but he can only switch between them if he's physically killed, be it bisecting him, smashing him, or whatever would crack the "shell" that is his body and spill the yolk inside from which the next incarnation is actually born. And if the strongest incarnation (the rooster form) is killed, he goes back to his base from in the same manner.
    • Luffy's fruit only awakened after he was killed by Kaido in Act 3 of Wano. Not even an hour later, he returned to life and began the battle anew in his newest and greatest form: Gear 5, which channels the strength of a being known as "Sun God" Nika.
  • Re:BIRTH –The Lunatic Taker– is essentially The Series of this trope. Every Taker has died while holding onto a special trinket that gives them a second life and abilities to fight with. However they also get a counter for how many days they have left to live and the only way to get more days is to either kill Angels or other Takers.
  • Though not strictly death, Rosario + Vampire has Tsukune Aono automatically unleash his ghoul abilities when his life is in imminent danger (i.e. when his neck is snapped, or a knife is shoved into in his vital organs).
  • In the manga of Soul Eater, Maka's final form is activated because Asura impales her.
  • Toriko: In order to finish his Food Honor training and master Food Immersion, Toriko goes off to obtain the Bubble Fruit, which only appears for those that show absolute gratitude for food. Toriko had to actually die of starvation in order to realize his gratefulness for food and reach Food Immersion, then obtaining the Bubble Fruit.
  • In UQ Holder!, Kirie Sakurame is an immortal who can create a Save Point that brings her or anyone else touching her back to the moment of its creation upon her death.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Near the end of the Chapter Black arc, Yusuke gets killed by the Big Bad of the Story Arc (Sensui), but revives thanks to Puu, unlocking latent demonic powers derived from his Mazoku lineage.

    Comic Books 

DC Universe:

  • Deadman qualifies. Once a daredevil acrobat, he kept his small circus running by providing a ghoulish spectacle — performing death-defying stunts and high-wire acts without a safety-net while wearing ghoulish makeup, luring in the crowds with the prospect of seeing him die. Then he got killed by some criminals who were using his circus as a front for a drug-smuggling operation, but came back — apparently due to being 'Favored by Rama Kushna', according to the circus's resident Indian fortune-teller and rope-trick master. Now he's a ghost, and thus wields a host of useful powers — including the ability to possess and control others. With this newfound power, he fights crime — starting with solving his own murder...
  • Earlier than Resurrection Man, the DC Universe had Immortal Man, whose power was to reincarnate in a new body every time he died.
  • Resurrection Man from DC Comics has the ability to come back to life with a new power when he's killed.
  • The original introduction of Wildfire as Erg-1 in the Legion of Super-Heroes showed him as having such a power; as an Energy Being in a suit he could explode, but that would kill him. It was later revealed that he stayed alive as a disembodied energy that was eventually able to reanimate his suit.
  • Superman:
    • Doomsday from was engineered to come back from death stronger, each time improved to resist whatever killed him last time. And then dropped onto a Death World by its creator. What could possibly go wrong?
    • Superman himself has this, as before his fight with Doomsday he had no idea that he'd enter a state equal to human death to heal. It ends subverted, as the Eradicator explained that the circumstances were unrepeatable.
  • Watchmen:
    • Dr Manhattan gained his powers by being disintegrated.
    • When the "squid" died by Tele-Frag it went off like a psi-bomb. It killed half the population of New York and gave survivors and those out of range horrific visions of a Lovecraftian alien invasion.

Marvel Universe

  • In Avengers Arena, Nico Minoru is given an extreme power boost after casting a spell in a near-death state.
  • Deadpool attempted to defeat cancer with a Healing Factor that didn't seem to work - until a fatal injury forced it to work at full power.
  • Marvel's Great Lakes Avengers had Mr. Immortal, whose only superpower was the ability to come back from the dead. He only learned that he had this power after he tried to kill himself.
  • Norman Osborn, aka the Green Goblin, discovered his Healing Factor after he was fatally wounded by his own glider in the battle against Spider-Man in the "Death of Gwen Stacy" storyline.
  • Dead Girl from X-Force was born a mutant, but her powers didn't activate until she was murdered, whereupon she came back as a Revenant Zombie.
  • The Phoenix Force from X-Men was initially supposed to work this way: it activates when the wielder dies (or is about to die) and imbues them with abilities they never possessed before. You must be a compatible psychic host for the entity to possess you, however. To date, Jean Grey has been the favorite choice, unfortunately for her, and these rules have long-since been discarded.


  • In All Fall Down, AIQ Squared learns the hard way that Siphon has this.
  • Blackbird: Paragons (wizards) have to die to be initiated into their powers and return to life.
  • In Invincible, Atom Eve's powers of molecular manipulation can't affect organic matter because of a mental block. This block is disabled when she's on the brink of death, allowing her to heal herself and the people around her whenever she's mortally wounded. It also work when she's about to die from old age, making her functionally immortal, to her very long-lived boyfriend's delight.
  • In The Unbelievable Unteens, Jack Sabbath first gained his mystical powers after an accident nearly killed him, briefly putting him in contact with spirits from the other side. Following his untimely death, those powers have gotten stronger, enabling him to go into other dimensions.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm: At the end of chapter 70, Harry is killed by Daken. At the start of chapter 71 the Phoenix resurrects him and promptly goes on a rampage.
  • There are several Death Note fics based on the idea that when it says writing a name in a Death Note means you go to neither heaven nor hell it means you become a shinigami. Like the fic The Prince Of Death or the Doujinshi God's Eye.
  • In Nexus, for Jack to have finished his transformation into a half-demon, he had to die first.
  • Equestria Girls: Friendship Souls
    • Played with by Adagio Dazzle, who didn't actually develop any powers when she first died because she was Only Mostly Dead and there was a chance her body could be fixed enough her soul could be put back inside since her Soul Chain was still intact. But once her Soul Chain was broken during the fight with Grand Fisher and she further ripped what was left out intentionally in order to become a Hollow and create a Garganta for Sunset, the Humane Five, and her sisters back to the living world, the resulting transformation with her innate magical energy allowed her to skip the line of evolution straight to an Adjuchas Hollow and regrew her lost siren gem. And this was all before she grew strong enough to evolve into a Vasto Lorde and later still an Arrancar worthy as Sixth Espada.
    • A big reveal is that Applejack's father Hard Nail was attacked by a strange Hollow and infected by its bite (much like how Ichigo's mother Misaki was bitten and infected by the proto-Arrancar White), but the infection was contained in his soul and he didn't develop any spiritual powers during his life. When he died, however, that infection and the power that came with it went out of control and his soul was mutated so rapidly that he achieved Arrancar status and enough power to be recognized as the Fourth Espada only a few years after death. A shame it's come at a cost of mental stability only barely held in check by his care for his adopted Hollow children.
  • Event Horizon (RWBY): Ciel has the ability to go back in time by about two days... but only after she dies. Understandably, she had no idea what her Semblance was until she died at the Battle of Beacon. She dryly notes that all her time spent in Aura class trying to meditate to discover her Semblance was largely a waste, and the uncivilized bandit clans who throw kids off cliffs would have had a much better chance of discovering her Semblance.
  • A Massacre of One: Izuku believes that he doesn't have a Quirk, until he gets killed and wakes up as a voice in someone else's head. Turns out that his Quirk is like the Butcher from Worm; whoever kills him inherits the minds and powers of all previous Butchers. This doesn't always end well for the inheritor...
  • moral of the story (Nyame): A variation. Laurel Lance awakens the Canary Cry after her metagene is activated by the waters of the Lazarus Pit during her resurrection.
  • Nutricula has this being Izuku's Quirk, with every time he suffers something fatal, he resurrects with a power related to it. Jump off the school? He can impart a large amount of kinetic energy into an object by impacting it. Drowns in the tub? He can spew gallons of water from his mouth. Infected by a deadly illness from an attack by a villain? His blood becomes a natural antibiotic that can cure himself and others of illness such as tetanus. Cut into multiple pieces by a Portal Cut? He can survive as a severed head and can deattach/reattach bodyparts at will. And these are only some of the powers he's gained from repeated deaths/resurrections. Though he can only use one at a time, forcing him to switch between them.
  • Hysterical is another My Hero Academia fic with Izuku gaining a death-based Quirk; this one grants him hysterical strength that often results in injury and the ability to heal all injuries upon dying and coming back to life.
  • Power Rangers Clockwork: The Zekar Crystal, and with it the powers of Undeath Hunter Zekar, chooses its wielder when that holder has already died. If anyone else holds it, the strain kills that person. The first holder nearly died when he obtained the Zekar Crystal, but after fighting the Delarian King, he died for good, the strain being too much. Ari!Carter Grayson fared better, since he died at least twice, once prior to the events of Super Sentai vs. Power Rangers IV and again in the story itself, before becoming the new holder of the Crystal.

    Film — Live-Action 

  • In The Ancient Future Trilogy by Traci Harding, immortality is genetic, but the gene must be "activated" by death or other means to be able to pass it on. Tory was given her immortality via an Atlantean potion, but Rhun inherited it from her; as such, when faced with the choice to use another potion to save Rhun or Maelgwyn, she's ultimately convinced to kill Rhun to activate his powers, deliver Maelgwyn to otherworldly forces that can heal him, and save the potion for later.
  • The Draconians from Dragonlance. If they're lucky, they turn to stone or into a (dead) clone of themselves. Bad things include point-blank explosions, melting in a pool of acid, and a repeated, magical blast.
  • The Dresden Files: Wizards can cast a "death curse", which is essentially a powerful Cast From Hitpoints curse, on whoever killed them. However, the dying wizard needs to know their target to properly use death curse note . Because of that, the invention of means of killing from extreme long range without the wizard knowing makes it much less of a disincentive for normal humans to kill them...
  • In The Hollows, when a human is first infected with the vampire virus, they gain some benefit but remain alive. Only once they die from some other cause do they become full-on undead and gain the full suite of powers (and the transformation isn't guaranteed unless the virus was passed down from a parent).
  • The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor: As a reward for completing an epic quest arc, the main character Weed unlocks a new class for players, the Necromancer, and is rewarded with a high-level, as of yet unknown power from the class called The Power to Reject Death, allowing him, when he dies, to resurrect as a random class of The Undead with new stats and powers until he either dies again, or until 24 hours have passed and he returns to being human. He actually does die, and suffers all the setbacks of death except for the forced logout and normal 24 hour ban from playing. In addition, some of his revivals grant him full on control of the new necromancy skills, while his class type is normally locked out of any variety of sorcery.
  • In Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Magnus dies in the first few chapters. Because he died a heroic death with a sword in his hand, he becomes an einherji, an undead warrior with limited immortality, and also starts learning about the powers he inherited from his father, the god Frey.
  • Overlord has Victim, the Guardian of the eighth floor and a part of the final line of defense of the Great Tomb of Nazarick. Although he is the weakest of all the Floor Guardians in terms of raw power - level 35, while the other Guardians are at level 100 - his purpose is not to fight, but to die. Upon his death, he inflicts massive debuffs to all of his opponents, leaving them vulnerable to being Zerg Rushed by all the other enemies on the eighth floor.
  • In the Patternist series, most Psychic Powers manifest around puberty, and it is usually physically traumatic. Doro actually died while his powers were manifesting, and it warped them from some kind of Telepathy into more of a Body Surf power. His first victims were his own parents, whom he possessed and killed in his panic at his uncontrolled mind transfers.
  • In Re:Zero, Natsuki Subaru's ability is to return to a "save point" after death. His save points are unpredictable and can change at any time against his will. This power often leads many people confused about his mentality and emotions, as Subaru is unable to speak of it.
  • Scrapped Princess: You remember how they've been trying to kill Pacifica to stop her from becoming "the Poison That Destroys The World"? Turns out the power automatically activates when she dies several hours before it was meant to activate naturally; it isn't clear whether she would have had to die to activate the powers under other circumstances or not.
  • Touch (2015): Kepler becomes a ghost when their first body is murdered and they accidentally jump into the body of their own murderer.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who and Torchwood:
    • Time Lord regeneration. You get a new personality, temporary extreme regenerative abilities (you can regrow limbs), and an explodey light show which can be weaponised. Downsides include the death of your old personality (hammered home by the Tenth Doctor's last words: "I don't want to go."), and temporary mental issues that go away after exactly one episode (or 'story' for the original run of the show).
    • Romana's repeated regenerations in "Destiny of the Daleks", where she takes on multiple new bodies in a row, apparently because she just felt like a change. The reasons for this and how it's possible have been addressed in works of dubious canonicity, and the show tends to pretend it never happened.
    • Jack Harkness is a fact of the universe, and hence it will never allow him to permanently die. As a result, he is immediately resurrected to the same state he was before his first death (more or less perfect health), with all physical and mental traumas healed. He does mention at one point that his hair is slowly turning grey, so he may still be aging, just extremely slowly (he spends nearly 2000 years buried alive and comes out looking the same).
  • In Forever (2014) Dr. Henry Morgan seems to have been a normal man, aging normally, until his first death trying to save the life of an African man taken by the slave traders on The Empress of Africa. After being shot and thrown overboard, Henry no longer ages and every time he dies, his body disappears and he reappears in perfect health in the nearest large body of water.
  • The first death of an Immortal in Highlander freezes them at their current age and they will then resurrect from any fatal injury, save decapitation.
  • Word of God says that the titular John Doe gained his ability to know almost anything as a result of dying.
  • In Kamen Rider Ghost, Takeru is killed by the first Monster of the Week, but comes back as... well, a Kamen Rider ghost, and is given a chance to earn his life back. However, the other Riders in the series are not ghosts.
  • Kamen Rider 555 brings us the Orphnochs: humans that had their evolution accelerated by dying and revived to become superpowered gray monsters that serve as the main enemies of the series.
  • In Misfits, Nathan's Healing Factor only works on wounds that kill him.
  • An episode of Sanctuary (2007) deals with Nikola Tesla attempting to create more vampires by posing as a rehab specialist in Mexico to a bunch of spoiled, rich kids. He uses the cover to inject them with a slow-acting serum that is supposed to gradually turn them into vampires like him (minus the electricity). The process is supposed to take decades, although, being immortal, Tesla can afford to patient. Unfortunately, one of the teens ends up having a car accident and is fatally hurt. The experience triggers the serum early, turning him into a vampire. Realizing this, he gets a gun and proceeds to shoot all of his friends, who visited the rehab clinic, turning them as well. Tesla is rather annoyed by this turn of events, as they were supposed to grow up and inherit the wealth and status of their parents before their vampirism kicked in. A bunch of immature teenagers with superpowers was not what he was aiming for.
  • Dean Winchester, and to a lesser extent Sam Winchester and Castiel, on Supernatural all found out that because of their status as chosen vessels while they had died multiple times on and off screen God always brought them back. Unfortunately for Dean because he's the Righteous Man and bearer of the Mark of Cain not only can he not die but he comes back stronger and virtually unstoppable.

  • Near the end of the first Sequinox arc. After Scorpius kills all of Sequinox, the girls find themselves in one of Gaea's chambers and are both revived and powered up in order to destroy Scorpio once and for all.

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Barbra's power, inspired by Doomsday of Superman fame, gives her an immunity to anything that kills her. Obviously, this can only take effect when she dies.
    • Nadine has multiple lives, meaning she can regenerate in a new body after she passes away. Naturally, she needs to die first to activate it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The spell called Contingency can do this if you know another spell that would be helpful. Though, the condition for activating the second spell can be just about anything — it doesn't have to be your death. On the other hand, the spell gets triggered when the specified condition occurs, whether you want it to go off at that moment or not.
    • There are a number of Epic Destinies who have powers that state: "once per day when you die" as their activation condition. Usually, it involves getting revived.
  • Exalted: Abyssal Exalted gain their powers by making a Deal with the Devilnote  at the moment of death.
  • Geist: The Sin-Eaters: Sin Eaters are normal humans who, upon being killed were given a chance to make a deal with a powerful kind of ghost known as a Geist to come back to life, while 'hosting' the Geist, giving it a chance to experience the living world once more. This comes with a suite of super-powers that the human will keep as long as the Geist shares their body, which is usually until a proper and final death.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • There are several cards which have abilities which activate on conditions which would normally cost you the game. There are even more creatures whose abilities activate when the creature is killed, such as black creatures that force the opponent to discard or red phoenixes that serve up fiery death to every creature on the board (and can be brought back to do it again).
    • Storyline-wise, Planeswalkers (primarily Pre-Mending) sometimes had their sparks activated at the point of death. Examples include Urza after the detonation of the Golgothian Sylex, and Sorin Markov after vampirization by his uncle. Post-Mending, it "only" requires extreme emotional/physical trauma, such as the murder of a beloved sibling (Ajani Goldmane) , facing an ignoble death in the mud without ever realizing your dreams (Tezzeret), or having your entire hometown wiped out as an indirect result of your actions (Chandra).
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • One of the Space Wolves characters has a stasis bomb in place of a second heart. When he dies, the bomb activates and all models in base contact are removed from the game. Including Titans. All affected are locked in a time loop, and forced to listen to his last laugh. Forever.
    • Upon dying, Champion of Slaanesh Lucius the Eternal will automatically return to life in the body of whoever manages to kill him provided that his slayer drew any form of satisfaction from killing him, simultaneously trapping his killer's soul in his armor. There are some ways of bypassing it, but it's not as simple as you'd think - after being killed by a landmine, he came back to life in the body of the poor worker who created the mine, and he even managed to hijack a Necron that killed him, despite Necrons normally feeling no emotions.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Several monsters have effects that only trigger when they are destroyed, sent to the Graveyard, or banished.

  • BIONICLE has the Mask of Undeath. It's a Mask of Power that allows mask-using characters to complete their tasks if they're fatally injured, the catch being that they first have to die, and that after the task is completed, the mask shuts off.

    Video Games 
  • In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, the altar of the Top God Velorien will grant you great power if you've correctly made offerings to all the other gods. The catch is, you need to sacrifice yourself. If you do it correctly, you are resurrected. A second, unadvertised catch is that characters with high technological aptitude are immune to magical resurrection, so you need to have a follower with a tech-based revive standing by.
  • Bravely Default includes the unlockable Dark Knight ability "See you in hell!", a quadruple-powered multitargeted attack which triggers upon the defeat of the user, and which cannot combo with Reraise. Be thankful the enemy dark knight doesn't have it equipped.
  • In Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, Ryu's dragon transformation is firstly activated when Bosch stabs him in the throat.
  • City of Heroes has several powers that you can only use upon defeat. Many, like Rise of the Phoenix and Soul Transfer, revive the user. Some like Vengeance and Fallout, are used to buff your allies or nuke your foes.
  • Various monsters in Diablo II have devastating "cast upon death" abilities. The player characters can acquire some of those, too, a great aid in retrieving your own body.
  • In Doom, the Pain Elemental can spawn a number of Lost Souls when it dies.
  • Exit Fate: Each party member has up to three "Relations" to other party members, and if that person is in the active party with them and drops in a fight, they get temporary stat bonuses so they can avenge their friend. A relation can also be antagonistic, in which case they still get positive bonuses - possibly from the delight of seeing that jerk go down.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy IV, Scarmiglione, Archfiend of Earth, originally appears as a hooded figure, and is a fairly simple boss. However, after being defeated he declares that his true power lies in death and resurrects as a far more powerful undead monstrosity. Fortunately, Revive Kills Zombie and after that, he stays down.
    • A Behemoth encountered in the Cave On the Veldt in Final Fantasy VI will also resurrect as a stronger, undead monster once it's killed.
    • In Final Fantasy VII there is the Final Attack Materia, which lets you cast the spell/effect of any materia it is linked to... including the Life Spell or Phoenix Summon, meaning that as long as you have enough MP, you simply will not die (and with the correct materia combination to draw MP from anything, you are basically immortal). The Final Attack materia is limited to five "uses" per battle when fully leveled up, however.
  • Ghost Trick's titular abilities are granted upon death under a certain condition. The recipient's soul is free to move around between objects, and among several possible ghost powers like object manipulation, there's the ability to go back in time 4 minutes before someone's death in order to avert it. This doesn't work on the recipient's own body of course.
  • From League of Legends:
    • A handful of playable characters have abilities that only activate on death, most often to be used as a means of taking your enemies with you. Karthus becomes immobile once killed, but can fully cast any of his abilities within a few seconds (and since he's already dead, he's impossible to interrupt, arguably making him even more dangerous than when alive), Kog'Maw turns into a walking bomb that detonates for true damage, and Sion enters a frenzy state where he regains all his health, a surge of movement and Life Drain, and can continue fighting his opponents until all his health expires for a second time.
    • An in-universe case of this happened to Warwick, the victim of a sadistic series of experiments involving extensive genetic splicing and cybernetic implants. He succumed to the torture and his corpse was tossed out, but only then did the chemtech machinery in him finally activate, bringing him Back from the Dead, but as a perpetually feral, highly bloodthirsty Super-Persistent Predator.
  • Legends of Runeterra: Units with the Last Breath keyword will activate a special effect upon death. For example, there's the "Legion Grenadier" who will damage the enemy Nexus upon death, the "Hapless Aristocrat" who will summon an allied Spiderling, and the "Mageseeker Conservator" who leave behind a random 6+ cost spell.
  • In Loopmancer, you can activate your Mental Time Travel abilities, or "looping", by dying. In fact more than one cutscene sees you killing yourself to return back in time.
  • In Mario Kart 64's multiplayer battle mode, if you have more than 2 players, defeated players turn into bombs. They can proceed to drive into an opponent to remove one of their balloons (unless they're hit with a shell first).
  • Phoenix in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. If she dies with five super meters stocked, she resurrects as her Superpowered Evil Side, Dark Phoenix.
  • Pokémon:
    • The move Destiny Bond, which, when used, causes the Pokemon who K.O's the user to be instantly K.O'ed if Destiny Bond was the last move used by the user. It directly ties in with the "death" (or in this case, "knockout") of the user - if the user isn't knocked out, the move is completely harmless. This can be extremely useful in competitive play, as it allows a badly injured Mon nearing the end of its usefulness to quickly and efficiently take down a key opponent.
    • There is also the Mana equivalent in Grudge; If the user of this move is K.O'd immediately after its use, the move that the attacker used for the K.O loses all its PP.
    • Other moves induce the death themselves. Memento lowers the opponent's stats upon death. Healing Wish restores HP to the Pokémon that switches out for the one that just fainted. Lunar Dance, only useable by Cresselia, restores both HP and PP and removes status conditions for its replacement.
  • Albert Wesker from Resident Evil gains his powers after his death due to a virus he injected himself with.
  • In Sengoku Basara 2, Mitsuhide Akechi has a personal item that, if equipped, auto performs his Basara attack upon losing all of his life. His innate element allows him to steal health from any opponent he hits, which means he basically has a shot at self-resurrection.
  • One Cyberware implant available in Shadowrun is a tactical nuclear device implanted in the skull. It can be detonated by remote or, of course, dying.
  • Gill in Street Fighter III has his Resurrection Super Art, which revives him with full health (25% if he is hit out of it at the right time) upon his defeat. Given his SNKBoss tendencies, this is something the player doesn't want to happen.
  • In TowerFall, a setting in multiplayer lets killed players return as ghosts. Ghosts bump into opponents to kill them, but can still be killed by a jump on the head or an arrow.
  • Undyne from Undertale is the only monster in the underground capable of generating her own Determination, granting her the ability of defying death. (Un)fortunately, if you kill her, it only delays the inevitable. However, in the Genocide route, when she senses as she dies that all life the entire planet is in danger, she becomes Determined enough to become Undyne the Undying, the most powerful monster in the entire undergroundnote 
  • World of Warcraft:
    • The priest class has a talent technically called Spirit of Redemption. When the priest is killed, they temporarily become a spirit healer which allows casting of all healing spells at no mana cost.
    • The shaman class has the Reincarnation spell, which immediately resurrects you on death. It's sometimes called the "shaman Slow Fall", because when you're faced with a huge cliff you need to get down now, you don't have time to find a mage to cast Slow Fall on you. Go ahead, leap off the cliff, splat at the bottom, and then come back to life!

    Visual Novels 

  • From Kajiri Kamui Kagura, Habaki Sakagami's Distortion, Misogiharae - Yomotsugaeri, born from the desires "I want to live" and "I don't want to die", allows him to take his opponent's Distortion, attacks, or ability and use it to resurrect himself after he's "killed". The absorbed attack is amplified many times over, being compared to reviving 1,500 times for every 1,000 deaths, and the excess energy is reflected back at his enemy, which cannot be avoided because it twists causality so that the effect is the "karmic response of his own death".

  • The FreakAngels already have powers like telepathy and telekinesis, but they gradually discover that if one of them is killed they become even more powerful after reviving.
  • Homestuck
    • Dying is the only way to rise to the God Tiers, awarding the player with full, inherent mastery over their aspect and conditional Resurrective Immortality.
    • When Lord English's avatar is decapitated in the Final Battle, his head floats up in the air and a few seconds later explodes, obliterating most of the planet he was on.
  • Adrestia in morphE Awakens as a mage right as she dies from a Slashed Throat. Luckily for her, her powers include healing. The other mages' Awakenings are traumatic but much less lethal.
  • Not until Attley is shot in the chest in The Sanity Circus does anyone - even her - realise she's a Scarecrow. Apart from Posey, of course.
  • Sluggy Freelance mentions that this sort of power is hard to predict; even Hereti-Corp scientists don't consider their test subjects expendable enough to test for this.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls Reimagined changes the girls origin story from being artificial humans who gained their powers from Chemical-X accidentally being added to the formula that created them, to being The Professors unborn children who were murdered before birth and later brought back by The Professor, with their powers being side-effect of this process.

    Web Novel 
  • Servants in The Zombie Knight. If a normal person dies a reaper will probably just ferry their soul, but one may decide instead to take a person on as a "servant". Servants get free unlimited resurrection and healing factor, super strength and slowly developing superpowers.

    Web Original 
  • The Afterlife SMP and New Life SMP, sharing a similar premise, zig-zag this. When a Human character dies, if this isn't their final life, they're rerolled with a new origin and gain the resultant powers and abilities of said origin. This can also be inverted with a super-powered character with a non-Human origin dying and coming back as a Human.
  • The Shakespeare clone in Darwin's Soldiers was the only Pelvanida test subject who appeared to have no psionic power...until he died and discovered he could live on as a ghost.
  • Magic is gained in the Saga of Soul by having a Near-Death Experience and deciding not to Go into the Light but rather to draw upon it to change the universe.
  • The SCP Foundation's Lily Veselka already had anomalous powers when alive, which the Foundation used in Project Lethe to create a global-range antimemetic concealment system. However, the Foundation killing her made her into the much, much more powerful SCP-3002; now, instead of merely a tool to erase specific memories, she's a sapient infohazard with the ability to completely alter all memories belonging to people she infects, the ability to spread via any information of any sort created by infected individuals, and the ability and will to utterly destroy the Foundation and quite possibly eradicate human consciousness.

    Western Animation 
  • South Park:
    • In the episode "Fantastic Easter Special" (a parody of The Da Vinci Code), Jesus can resurrect a short distance from where he died. Kyle kills him while they're in jail, allowing Jesus to escape and save the day. Kyle is reluctant to do this, given the whole "Jews killing Jesus" thing and insists that Jesus never tell Cartman about it.
    • Mysterion, aka Kenny, also has the power to regenerate upon dying. It's implied that this is a C'thulhu-related power, since his parents joined a cult when they were younger.