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Destination Host Unreachable

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

Unfortunately, something goes horribly wrong.

This rare Sub-Trope of Came Back Wrong occurs when the resurrectee comes back just fine, but due to the logic of death in the story, lands in a different reality/dimension/existence/class/situation and becomes completely or almost completely unreachable to the resurrectionist. To further the tragic effect, the resurrectionist (who may have been indirectly involved in the resurrected one's death) may feel they have to distance themselves from the reanimated character as self-punishment, or as the only means to "let them lead the life they deserve."

Depending on whether or not the Love Interest was mutual and/or whether or not the resurrected one knows their situation, either the resurrectionist, the resurrectee, or both may suffer lifelong or eternal bereavement. In other words, body and soul come back fine, but the ominous shadow of death is just too strong to be overcome.

The Trope Namer is the titular layer 3 network error message.

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


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    Anime and Manga 
  • At the end of Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) Ed finally gets Al's body back... in exchange for being shunted from Amestris (and erasing all of Al's memories from being a suit of armor) and ends up stranded in another world, forever separated. You just can't win, can you?
    • In The Movie, Al regains his memories and is reunited with Ed, but at the cost of being stranded away from Amestris too, not to mention Al's counterpart is killed as well.
  • Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi exhibits this when Eutus tries to resurrect Mune-Mune and Grandpa Masa in their original lives in ancient Japan. The ritual was successful, as they were both resurrected in the “real,” modern-day world, and Etus can even go there to see them. But Etus still separates himself from them, realizing if he stayed they would have died in the exact same way.
  • Due to the way the afterlife works in Bleach, it's pretty much statistically impossible for someone to reunite with loved ones after ascending to the Soul Society.
  • We're not quite sure how this trope is played in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, but Homura's wish for Madoka to not die during Walpurgis Night has a similar effect. Madoka is fine because the universe is rewound to the time before Walpurgis Night, but Homura finds that she turns cold and unreachable due to the inevitability of Walpurgis Night and the "Groundhog Day" Loop implication of her wish.

    Comic Books 
  • Kang the Conqueror, his young self Nathaniel loses the love of his life, Ravonna, when his future self kills her to teach him to never love. He later finds her reincarnated millenia later, but each time they get close, she dies. Eventually he discovers she is "destined to die", so he decides to break that fate by forcing time to keep reincarnating her, invoking this trope by writing her soul into time itself at thousands of points.
  • In The Ultimates, Ghost Rider returns to life after making a bargain with a demon to continue sending souls to it. His wife is happy now, with a new family and a "great sex life" (as the demon is oh so proud to taunt Ghost Rider with), but he keeps his distance from her, just satisfied to know that she's happy.
  • In Spawn the title character comes back from the dead, but arrives several years late to find his love has already remarried.

     Fan Works 

  • In the curious Jean Cocteau French film Orpheus, the story of Orpheus is changed so that, even after he brings her back from the underworld, Orpheus can still never look at his wife Eurydice or else she'll return to the underworld for good. Needless to say, this doesn't last long.
  • In The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, the titular doctor loses a bet for his daughter's soul. Distraught over the loss, he makes another deal to get her back by sacrificing the life of a conman. Once his daughter returns, Doctor Parnassus decides to remove himself from his daughter's life, rather than continually subject her to his otherworldly gambling addiction.
    • This is lampshaded when he goes through with the deal, only to be confused when she doesn't actually show up. When he asks the Devil where she is, he's told, "You're her father. Can't you keep track of her?" It's implied that since his daughter reached the age of legal adulthood shortly before this all happened, she left him of her own free will. Either way, he lost his daughter.

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has the Resurrection Stone, which can bring people back from the dead, but just enough so that they're not dead or technically alive, and suffer while with the living. It also seems to depend on the intent of the person using the Stone. Cadmus Peverell, the Stone's original owner, tried to use it to bring back the girl he loved. She suffered, and he committed suicide to be with her properly. When Harry used the Stone to bring back James, Lily, Sirius and Remus, he believed that he was about to die and would be joining them soon. They greeted him warmly, and comforted him.
  • A Herald from Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar books can choose to return as a Companion; it basically just takes saying pretty-please to the Powers That Be in the Havens. This is kept secret from living Heralds because there's just no way it will end well emotionally. Which would be worse: to know that your beloved spouse/sibling/child has returned to the world but can never be with you, or to wonder why they didn't?
  • A warped example in the Ravenloft novels. The vampire lord Count Strahd Von Zarovich has tried various attempts to claim the soul (and reincarnations) of his beloved Tatyana only to fail. Several novels hint that this may well be because only part of Tatyana's soul remains in Ravenloft, the rest is elsewhere on another world.
  • In Stacia Kane's novel Sacrificial Magic, exorcist Ceasera Putnam has to thwart an attempt by an obsessed high school teacher to resurrect the soul of a high school pupil he had an affair with, who then killed herself.
  • This is the theme of Michael Moorcock's continuation of the Hawkmoon series; Hawkmoon broods over the lover and friends killed in the last battle with the Dark Empire, and seeks to get them back at any cost. He ends up plunged into alternate universes, and restores his wife — at the expense of their children, who in this phase of the Multiverse are dead...
  • The protagonist of YA novel Circle Home is a girl in a neolithic tribe who is killed by a saber-toothed tiger, only to wake up in the body of a similar-aged girl in the 20th Century in the United States. The other girl had been pronounced dead at the scene after falling from a window during a waterballoon fight — but then miraculously revived at the hospital. She then has to deal with the culture shock of attending a suburban Jr High. she eventually finds the way back to her old time — still in a new body.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Heroes, Hiro's final attempt to save Charlie. In the end he manages to save her from being killed by Sylar and by that brain tumor (Sylar cured her, his original season one self no less, in exchange for a little information from the future) only to have her immediately kidnapped by another villain and sent to the past. He meets her in the present when she's old and has lived a life separate from him that he can't take away.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • After being murdered by Set, the god Osiris from Egyptian Mythology was resurrected twice but couldn't stay in the living world either time. The first time, he died almost immediately after having sex with Isis and impregnating her with Horus. The second time, he was shuffled off to the underworld to rule over the dead. This wasn't such a bad deal for him, though, as in Egyptian Mythology the underworld is a pretty nice place, more akin to heaven than to other mythological underworlds. And Osiris stayed a powerful god and was venerated by the people of Egypt as one of their chief deities.

    Multiple Media 
  • In BIONICLE, it was explained post-cancellation that the characters who have died in the Matoran Universe (which amounts to a good 95% of all the deaths in the story), are actually alive, but trapped on a space station called the Red Star. They were, by design, supposed to teleport back to the Universe after death, but due to a system glitch, remained stuck on the Star.

    Video Games 
  • At the conclusion of Persona 2 Innocent Sin, Maya Amano is stabbed fatally with The Lance of Longinus, fulfilling the Oracle of Maia and destroying the world. Philemon offers a solution by creating an alternate reality, at the cost of the party's memories and their friendship. However, Tatsuya refuses to forget, initiating the events of Eternal Punishment. However, even at the end of this chapter, the original Tatsuya from Innocent Sin must return to the post-apocalyptic world he'd left behind in order to avoid a paradox in the new world and leave his friends, including Maya, to their lives without him.
  • Shadow of the Colossus revolves around Wander's quest to bring a girl named Mono back from the dead by making a deal with the mysterious god Dormin. Wander fulfills his end of the bargain, but winds up falling victim to Demonic Possession and being transformed into a baby before he can see the fruit of his labors. When all is said and done, Mono is left stranded in an unfamiliar land with no way back to her home and only the baby Wander and his horse for companionship.