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Dying Deal Upgrade

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People die. Sometimes though they're not quite ready to do so yet and strike a deal with a higher power to escape their fate — be it by being rescued against all odds or actually dying but coming back. In addition, their deal includes some kind of Power-Up: They come back as more than they were before.

It doesn't matter if the dying person asked for the rescue and/or their new powers. They may get just what they need to finish off whoever caused their death in the first place, or they may be Blessed with Suck or Cursed with Awesome. Maybe their new powers really aren't worth the price, but in some way, they got an upgrade.

This can happen anywhere in a story, or maybe it's just the backstory of a character. The resurrected may be a hero or a villain (but rarely neither). They may turn against the higher entity that saved them, but just as often they follow them loyally.

Can involve Reforged into a Minion and/or a job to be done by the now resurrected guy, but doesn't necessarily have to. An Emergency Transformation and/or Working for a Body Upgrade may or may not be involved.

Sister Trope to Deal with the Devil and Bargain with Heaven, as well as Back from the Dead. Subtrope of Came Back Strong. Compare Death-Activated Superpower when there's no middleman involved.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Downplayed in the first episode of Code Geass. Lelouch is cornered by security personnel who are about to kill him, and right before he's about to die, he's contacted telepathically by C.C., who offers him a deal if he wants to survive. He accepts and is granted his geass, which he then uses to make the soldiers kill themselves.
  • Hellsing opens with Seras Victoria getting shot and being resurrected as a vampire. It turns out that Alucard himself, upon his execution by his enemies, made a deal of his own to become a vampire.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Mami Tomoe's backstory involves her being caught in a fatal car accident. In her dying moments, Kyubey appears before her to allow her to make a wish to survive in exchange for becoming a magical girl.

    Comic Books 

    Film — Animation 
  • A heroic example occurs in The Book of Life when Manolo seeks death at the hands of Xibalba to spend eternity with Maria. When it turns out that she isn't dead because Xibalba cheated, Manolo makes his way through a heroic ordeal and makes a bet to get his life back. Xibalba tries again to stack the deck in his favor, but Manolo wins, so he goes from dead skeleton boy to living human boy and gets all of his dead family temporarily restored to the real world (still dead) to help fight off the living world's Big Bad.
  • In Bravestarr: The Legend, Stampede finds a cruel prospector who became the victim of his own greed. Stampede saves him and in doing so gives him magical powers.
  • In Transformers: The Movie, Megatron is mortally wounded. As he's dying, Unicron offers to save him in return for his service. Megatron actually tries to negotiate the terms until Unicron angrily reminds him that he's not in a position to bargain — after he accepts, he is upgraded into Galvatron.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Discussed in The Bermuda Depths. One young zoology student meets a charming young woman named Jennie Haniver. Doctor Paulis, the veteran oceanologist, recounts the myth of Jennie Haniver: she was a bride betrothed to wealthy merchant across the sea. When the ship ferrying Jennie to her groom started to sink during a fierce storm, Jennie prayed to the Devil to spare her life. Her prayer was answered: she became an immortal mermaid, cursed forever to lure able sailors to their doom. The zoology student subsequently drowns.
  • Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance: The Devil hires some goons to watch Danny, but they prove no match for the Rider. When the leader dies, the Devil resurrects him and gives him 'the power of decay', turning him into Blackout.
  • The Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns makes a deal with Anubis for a new army after his first one is defeated (as opposed to, say, a deal with Set or Apep).

  • Valgaav from Slayers was originally an Ancient Dragon named Valteria. He was mortally wounded in a civil war between dragons, in which the Golden Dragons slaughtered the Ancients. When he was dying, Gaav (a demon lord and archdevil) appeared and offered Valteria to be reborn as a half-demon and Gaav's apprentice. He took the offer and became the demon-dragon Valgaav.
  • Every servant in The Zombie Knight starts out this way; they die, and then a Grim Reaper offers them eternal life and superpowers in exchange for becoming the reaper's servant. Most of them are non-villainous examples, unless the reaper is a member of Abolish.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Forever Knight: In a Flashback to when Nick was turned, he ends up in an Afterlife Antechamber, and is given the option of dying or coming back as a vampire.
  • Downplayed in an episode of the series G vs E. The Morlocks make Faustian deals with people who are on the verge of death, but there's no inherent upgrade, simply "your soul for continued life". Particularly effective since when mortals who make bargains do eventually die, they become Morlocks themselves. The only way to avoid that fate is to renounce the deal (in this case, killing the mortal).
  • The second season finale of the Israeli sci-fi teen drama HaShminiya ends with the revelation that Amos, the father of two of the main protagonists, did this with a cult leader who could help him treat his terminal cancer in exchange for his rejuvenation machine, and that cult leader later became that season's Big Bad.

  • Gesta Danorum: Sigurd, son of Ragnar Lodbrog, is severely wounded in the first battle he fights in, and it looks like he is going to die. A strange, very tall man who calls himself Roftar appears and promises Sigurd that he will cure him, if Sigurd in turn agrees to "consecrate unto him (i.e. Roftar) the souls of all whom he (i.e. Sigurd) should overcome in battle". When Sigurd agrees, Roftar instantly heals his wound by a touch of his hand, and at the same time makes little snakes appear in Sigurd's eyes. Sigurd, now called Sigurd Snake-Eye, later becomes a great warrior-king. We are expected to understand that "Roftar" was Odin.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted: The Abyssal Exalted gain their powers through deathbed deals with the deathlords. They live again and gain a host of death-themed powers in exchange for a promise to work towards the end of all things. And if they try to go back on that promise, their resonance will simply destroy things for them.
  • Geist: The Sin-Eaters: Sin-Eaters gain their powers in this fashion- when they are about to die, they strike a bargain with a geist, who saves their lives and gives them cool powers. The downside is that the sin-eater and the geist are stuck together for the rest of the sin-eater's life, which can be quite long indeed, since a geist can keep bringing the sin-eater back from death... for a price.

  • BIONICLE: Vultraz is saved from death by Gorast in a deal that would make him a test subject to make him the first Shadow Matoran.

    Video Games 
  • Subverted in Devil May Cry: When Dante mortally wounds Griffon, he prays to his master, Mundus, for a final burst of strength so that he might finish Dante off before he dies. Mundus appears in the sky but declares that his servant has failed him and executes Griffon himself.
  • Elsword: This is part of Raven's backstory. After he and his mercenary group had been betrayed by his country's troops and he's left for dead, someone offers him recuperation and empowering; and he agreed. Said someone turns out to be the Nasod King, who then gave him a special left arm (to replace his missing one) and made him his underling.
  • In God of War, Kratos served in the Spartan army when he led his men against a barbarian invasion. Heavily outnumbered, the Spartans were all but massacred by the barbarians. When the Barbarian King was about to finish him off, Kratos called out to Ares and offered his life in exchange for the destruction of his enemies. In response, Ares obliterated the barbarian army and bound Kratos to the Blades of Chaos, which he promptly used to decapitate the Barbarian King. It all went downhill from there.
  • The Wise One does this to your Proxinian antagonists in Golden Sun: The Lost Age, though in this case the heroes might be the ones to lose, since the game continues on either way. Regardless, if you defeat them at the Jupiter Lighthouse, they'll show up later in the Mars Lighthouse, having been turned into powerful Flame Dragons by the Wise One.
  • In Kingdom of Loathing, after you defeat your Nemesis for the third time during the Nemesis Quest, they call out the name of a demon lord and unlock a One-Winged Angel form which they use for the fourth and final battle. You can later use that name during a demon summoning ritual, to learn that your nemesis hated you so much they pledged their soul to the demon lord of revenge in order to defeat you.
  • The Last Story: The Guraks give Jirall a cursed sword to help him consummate his revenge against Zael, but at the cost of destroying his sanity in the process.
  • Marvel vs. Capcom 3 sees Galactus make this offer to Thor, Amaterasu or Shuma-Gorath, should he defeat one of them.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2, Black Garius and his priests are killed about halfway through the second act but are resurrected as Shadow Reavers by the King of Shadows and serve as his Elite Mooks for the rest of the game.
  • In Prince of Persia (2008), the Warrior is a Tragic Monster who almost died fighting to protect his kingdom but, at that very moment, traded his soul to Ahriman for power. He saved his people, but they rejected him, throwing him in despair.
  • Nanashi dies shortly after the start of Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse and makes a deal with the god Dagda to be restored to life in exchange for becoming his Godslayer. Nanashi comes back three levels stronger, with demon summoning powers, a Centaur to fight with, and Resurrective Immortality. Much later in the game, Plucky Girl Asahi dies in a Heroic Sacrifice. If the player chooses the Bonds route or chooses the Massacre route and decides to resurrect her, she comes back to life with greatly enhanced healing magic. Unlike Nanashi, she never gets a choice.
  • Splatterhouse begins with a mortally wounded Rick being approached by the Terror Mask and offered a deal to be revived with immense power at the cost of becoming the Terror Mask's host — which he desperately accepts. The same applies for its Video Game Remake.
    The Terror Mask: What do I want? Ah, same with any God: a little faith. For without faith, I am nothing, and without me, you're fucked.

  • Caera from Genocide Man is hit with GM neurotoxin, and even though she manages to take the antidote in time, she's still left crippled. Then a non-rogue Genocide Man offers her a job.
    Caera: This isn't survival. They say that after months of therapy, I might walk again. But I'll never be what I was. I'll never again be useful to my people.
    Kevin: What if I told you I could cut those months of rehabilitation... down into weeks? And at the end, you'll be faster, stronger, and harder to kill than ever before?
    Caera: I would say, draw my blood... fill a pen... and show me where to sign.

    Western Animation 
  • In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002), we learn that Skeletor was originally a blue-skinned humanoid named Keldor, who when mortally wounded begged his master Hordak to save his life. Which Hordak did, at the cost of Keldor being mutated into Skeletor.
  • In the Looney Tunes short "Devil's Feud Cake", Yosemite Sam goes to Hell, where Satan lets him return if he can get him a certain wascawwy wabbit. The premise was expanded upon in the compilation feature Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie.
  • Primal (2019): After losing a battle with Spear and Fang, including losing his son, the chieftain is brought to a large horned creature deep underground, and given a chance for revenge, being turned into a huge fire creature.
  • Trigon from Teen Titans (2003) does this for Slade in the fourth season, giving him a number of demonic abilities while Demoting him to Dragon.