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Fetal Position Rebirth

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A character is seen in the fetal position before or after going through some kind of "rebirth": legs folded against the body, head close to the knees and arms crossed in front of the legs.

This is of course highly symbolic, this position being one of an unborn child. The character will also often be nude (for reasons like Naked on Revival or Out-of-Clothes Experience), and sometimes floating (in a void or liquid) to better deliver the analogy with a baby in the mother's womb. Compare Symbolic Serene Submersion.

If the character is indeed naked, the fetal position is also a pragmatic excuse for not showing any naughty bits, especially if filmed from the front.

Here, "rebirth" is taken in a very general sense and can mean many things: ascending to a higher plane of existence, experiencing a great revelation, going through a massive physical transformation, healing after a very serious mangling, waking up after hibernation, being removed from storage, etc.

It can even be an actual birth if preceding a Reincarnation, or in the case of an Artificial Human or Clone (frequently seen floating in some People Jars).

To be clear, this trope doesn't concern every instance of a character curling in a fetal position, most likely after a traumatic event — the latter being Troubled Fetal Position. Fetal Position Rebirth is used when illustrating a symbolic (re)birth or major upheaval for the personage.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk:
    • When Griffith ascends to the Godhand, he takes this position as his body is reconstructed. Probably the darkest example here.
    • Happens again when Griffith is literally reborn into the human world through Guts and Casca's miscarried child, which just so happened to be tainted with evil because he had previously raped Casca while she was pregnant.
    • Also, Jill took on a fetal position of rebirth when she almost took up Rosine's offer of becoming one of her demonic elf creatures.
  • The manga adaptation of Breath of Fire IV explicitly has this in its opening pages with Ryu. Justified in that it's a literal birth/reincarnation (yeah, it's complicated).note 
  • Chobits: In the picture showing Chii (or rather, Chobit 01) during construction and linked with a myriad of cables, she is unsurprisingly in a fetal position.
  • Yuna of Earth Maiden Arjuna, when she first goes through her Magical Girl transformation.
  • Eureka Seven: The archaeologists investigating the Scub Corals uncover Eureka in hibernation invoking this trope. Although that may have been her actual birth...
  • Erza from Fairy Tail does it very briefly in the Tower of Heaven arc.
  • In the final episode of FLCL Progressive, Aiko is rebirthed from a giant pumpkin.
  • Yui in Fushigi Yuugi after Miaka uses her first wish to release her from Seiryuu's clutches.
  • Rakka in the opening of Haibane Renmei appears like this, floating in some kind of corridor of life to her cocoon. Oddly, in the cocoon itself she doesn't take this position.
  • The cover from the Manga Icare (Icarus) by Mœbius and Jiro Taniguchi.
  • Inuyasha: When Kikyo's naked body is resurrected, she collapses into a fetal position shortly after being revived.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: Alicia floats in this position in her People Jar while Precia looks for a way to resurrect her.
  • Magical Princess Minky Momo: In the last episode, the heroine is killed by a truck and wishes to be reborn as a normal human being in her former adoptive family. She is seen floating, naked and in a fetal position, while explaining this to her magical parents.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Just before Asuka makes a recovery from her coma during the final assault on NERV HQ, she has been placed inside her Eva for protection and hidden at the bottom of the Geofront's lake. When painfully roused by enemy forces deploying depth charges against her, a gradual-zoom in on her is shown for a full minute while her "I don't want to die" grows from a faint whisper into an anguished scream. She has a vision of her mother, then violently explodes from the lake.
  • Outlaw Star: Melfina is introduced like this.
  • Princess Tutu: When Ahiru undergoes her Transformation Sequence, she curls into a fetal position while being enveloped in an egg made by golden feathers before the egg turns to water and she hatches as Tutu. This happens in the span of 10 seconds or so each episode.
  • RahXephon: When Ayato merges with the eponymous giant robot, he is seen in one of these poses in a sea of light.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Towards the end of the first anime series, the souls of Princess Serenity, Endymion and the Senshi are seen like this and encased inside bubbles, as a dying Queen Serenity uses the Silver Crystal to make sure they will reincarnate on Earth.
    • Sailor Moon's "Crisis, Make Up" transformation into Super Sailor Moon begins with her in this position inside a cocoon before she bursts out in a flurry of butterflies and transforms. In general, Super Sailor Moon is heavily associated with butterflies because they symbolize her "rebirth" into a new, stronger form.
    • In the second Sailor Moon Eternal movie, Hotaru's transformation into Sailor Saturn features a fetal position. Sailor Saturn's domain is life, death, and rebirth, so this trope is present.
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei: Itoshiki is seen like this in the highly bizarre 1st Opening. Observe.
  • Lain at the EP of Serial Experiments Lain. Bonus points for the heavy-machinery fetal.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Simon discovers Nia in this position (albeit fully-clothed).
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Yami Yugi goes through one at the end of the Doma/Orichalcos Arc. Too bad America didn't see it.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Hiei appears to be standing up from the fetal position after becoming the dragon of the darkness flame and going through a fake death, but due to the terrible animation that episode has it's a bit hard to tell.

    Comic Books 
  • Hellboy: A few flashbacks to Abe Sapien being discovered in the water tube show him curled up in a fetal-like position.
  • The cover from volume 10 of the French comic book series Les Légendaires.
  • Spider-Man: In Kraven's Last Hunt, Peter Parker dreams of himself naked in the fetal position, floating in a white void, while drugged and Buried Alive by Kraven the hunter. Then the drug-induced sleep turns nightmarish, with amongst other niceties Peter "birthing" out of a Giant Spider.
  • Supergirl:
    • The Supergirl from Krypton (2004): Kara slept curled-up inside her rocket until she crash-landed on Earth, woke up and left her pod.
    • Superwoman (Lucy Lane) is killed off in Who is Superwoman?. When she is reborn in Death & the Family, Lucy is found naked and lying on her left side with her eyes closed. Her legs are folded against her body, her chin is nearly touching her knees, and her arms are folded across her chest.
  • Superman:
    • The Death of Superman: This was how the Last Son of Krypton emerged from his regeneration matrix as seen on the cover of Action Comics #687. It was also how the actual Superman was later reborn, with some sneaky writing making it look like this was the Last Son "recharging".
    • "Brainiac Rebirth": As Brainiac rebuilds himself after being disintegrated, his new body skeletal body can be seen huddled in fetal position inside a semi-transparent mechanical womb/cocoon.
  • X-Men: In The Brood Saga, Storm commits suicide by blowing up her space capsule when she discovers the baby Brood Queen hatching within her. She gets better because one of the space-whales the Brood Mind Rape with drugs and turns into living ships (the nascent space-whale prophet, in fact) rescues her and psychically merges with her because it's Just a Kid and needs a responsible adult to look after it. She flits around psychically for a while, the reason being her actual body is curled up in the fetal position inside the space whale to regenerate.

    Fan Works 
  • Thousand Shinji: In the second-to-last chapter, Shinji, Asuka and Misato assume these positions into embryonic sacs while they are being reborn and transformed into gods.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The end of 2001: A Space Odyssey, when Dave Bowman becomes the Star Child (SPACE FETUS!)... obviously.
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery: The title character as he's awoken from cryosleep, as a parody of Demolition Man.
  • Avatar: Whenever the Tree of Souls is being asked to permanently transfer a human into their Avatar body, both the human and Avatar bodies are in this position. On the other hand, there otherwise wouldn't be place for both bodies, with the Na'vi being almost twice a human's height.
  • In the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, Klaatu is injured and taken to a human lab for treatment. The scientists cut away the placenta suit he's wearing, revealing a partially developed human form underneath. Once the suit is completely removed, he curls into a fetal position to finish the transformation into Keanu Reeves.
  • Demolition Man: John Spartan as he's unfrozen from cryosleep.
  • In the space survival thriller Gravity, shortly after Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) refuses Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock)'s Take My Hand!, Stone finally reaches the International Space Station airlock and its promise of momentary safety and oxygen. Floating in the airlock in her underthings, she assumes this pose after stripping out of her space suit. The moment represents her transition from Kowalski's helpless cargo to self-rescuing Damsel out of Distress. Justified to some extent, since this is the natural position that a relaxed body assumes in zero-g.
  • A sinister example happens in the movie version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. After Lord Voldemort (in the shape of a horrific homonculus) is leveled in the mixture that will resurrect him fully, the cauldron dissolves and his misshapen body is seen in a fetal position while he's growing back to full power.
  • In The New Daughter, Louisa, on the eve of her transformation into a Creepy Child, is shown in this position in the bathtub, covered in mud from having spent the day digging around in the Indian Burial Mound.
  • Alice in the first three Resident Evil movies. In the first one, it's where she's knocked out when fumes come into the shower. In the second film she's being resurrected (or cloned, hard to tell) at the end. In the third one, there's hundreds of clones of her, all in the fetal position in water bubble suspension things. Naturally, she's bare-ass naked in all of these, and while her hands do hide her bits, she always moves them by the time the scene is over.

  • In The Elephant Man, the title character has to assume this position when he sleeps, due to his oversized head and weak neck. The novel is all about him undergoing a "rebirth" as he realizes his identity as a human, and not a monster. Sadly, this proves his undoing; he finally decides that he should sleep on his back and stretched out as a normal person, and his neck breaks in the night.
  • Kahlan in Wizard's First Rule, when going through Con Dar.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffyverse:
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
      • Angel's own return from Hell in season 3.
      • Also Amy, momentarily, in "Something Blue", though she is sitting upright.
    • Angel: At the end of the first season, when Darla comes Back from the Dead and is in that box, when we first see her, she's curled up in a rather fetal pose.
  • Doctor Who has, at the end of "Daleks in Manhattan", the casing of Dalek Sec opening up to reveal the Half-Human Hybrid Sec, dressed in a pinstripe suit, in a fetal position. He then unfolds and gets shakily to his feet.
  • Dollhouse. Echo is shown floating at the bottom of a swimming pool in this position; not naked, but given the series themes of being reborn as a completely different person thanks to Neural Implanting, the Rule of Symbolism is obvious.
  • The first episode of Firefly, when River comes out of frozen sleep. (The scene, by the by, is a shot-for-shot homage to the sequence from Outlaw Star.) In this case, the symbolism of rebirth is River finally escaping from the Academy and returning to something resembling normal life. The scene is complete with clear metaphors for birthing pains, as she starts screaming immediately afterward. In another bit of symbolism, River adopts the same pose at the end of Serenity, as the title ship is taking off into a new day, once she has finally begun to really overcome her own mental illnesses.
  • The pilot of John Doe, when the eponymous unnamed protagonist wakes up on Horseshoe Island.
  • Naomi from Skins, in the S4 finale when having a massive emotional epiphany about Emily. Considering the major themes of the fourth series revolved around death and rebirth (well, Freddie kinda missed out on the rebirth part), it was probably inevitable that there'd be one of these scenes at some point.
  • The final shot of the third season of Smallville has Clark floating in a black void, in the nude, doing this with the Superman Shield logo appearing behind him, after he has agreed to accept his heritage and become Kal-El.
  • Stargate SG-1: In the first episode of Season 7, "Fallen", Daniel Jackson is cast out by the Ancients from his ascended state. He reappears on some unknown planet, nude and in a fetal position, with no memory.

  • In Episode 1 of The Orbiting Human Circus (of the Air), protagonist Julian the Janitor's personal Interactive Narrator draws attention to the posture Julian's taken in a "womb-like" Air-Vent Passageway, blatantly pointing out that Julian is going to be born into the role of protagonist from this moment on.
    Narrator: ...a small figure lies curled, appropriately, in a fetal position waiting to emerge, as if he were the main character of a show, about to be born! Metaphorically, that is...

    Video Games 
  • Nu-13's Arcade Mode ending in BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger has Nu herself in one of these. Given the context of "waking from a dream," it's almost impossible to say what the character is being reborn into, if anything. It's really artful, in that Mind Screwy, Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory kind of way. The Yandere mumbling makes it unsettling, though.
  • Chrono Cross: Serge returning to his original form (not body; that one is stolen) from the shape of Lynx: he disintegrates and grows from a baby to his actual age inside of a big bubble of water
  • Sera of Digital Devil Saga spends a good portion of the early parts of the games in the fetal position.
  • In the good ending of Final Fantasy X-2, Tidus is shown waking up this way underwater.
  • First Encounter Assault Recon: Alma is shown adopting this form in one of the hallucinations during Project Origin. This is probably quite deliberate, considering that childbirth and maternity are major themes in the series.
  • Heart Of The Sarm: If Kerrigan dies in the campaign, she respawns in a cocoon while her body reforms in fetal position.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep: More of a Fetal Position Birth than anything, but when Ventus's darkness is extracted, it takes the form of Vanitas. For a second, he's in this position.
  • Metroid:
    • "Crystal Flash", a hidden ability in Super Metroid that restores all of Samus' energy tanks at the expense of her ammunition, does this. When used, Samus goes into a fetal position, gets surrounded by a sphere of energy and her suit temporarily disappears. To be honest, the cool animation is probably the main reason to ever use this ability, as it's not very practical. Although it has its usefulness: as your ammo counter (255 missiles at max) is a lot smaller than your life counter (1699 with max energy tanks), and it'd be faster to reload than it is to have to get back to some places after you die.
    • In Metroid: Other M, the opening cinematic has Samus in a fetal position as a small child. After a few seconds we see Samus being lifted off the ground by the baby metroid.
  • At the start of Princess Maker 2, you get a heavenly child who is being sent to the world of mortals by her guardian deity. She is shown from a front fetal position as she is floating down in the light and to you, seemingly forgetting everything that happened in her ten years of life in Heaven. Since it's not really that kind of game, it's artistically done and you don't actually see anything.
  • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne: This is how Isamu is fused with his God Noah.
  • Happens in Silent Hill 4 when Henry enters the "deepest part" of Walter. Rather than symbolizing rebirth, though, it symbolizes regression to a fetal stage (which is what Walter wants).
  • This can be seen in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, in which Sonic curls up in the fetal position before going Super Sonic.
  • In Tales of Destiny 2 ending, Reala is reborn like that.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • Each chapter of Broken Saints has a "cover" animation that opens and closes the chapter, and one of them utilizes this.

  • In El Goonish Shive, Pandora's rebirth is shown as a flash of light followed by her silhouette seen in the fetal position.
  • Rune Hunters: After being nearly killed and becoming one with the Master Fire Rune, turning into a being of primordial fire able to jump from fire to fire, Ada is finally reunited with her sister, jumping out of her campfire. When she returns to human form on a patch of scorched forest floor, she's naked and in the fetal position.

    Western Animation 
  • Code Lyoko:
    • Season 1 episode "Code Earth": Aelita is materialized for the first time, and she arrives inside the scanner in a fetal position (although clothed). Since everybody thought she was an A.I. at the time, this is treated as her birth into the real world.
    • Season 3 episode "Final Round": William is seen floating in fetal position above the network after his Evil Costume Switch, being reborn as XANA's Dragon.
  • In Transformers: Animated, when Sari is "born" the protoform is curled up into this position and even vaguely resembles a fetus.
  • The Venture Brothers, Season 3 Episode "The Doctor Is Sin": After Dr. Killinger makes Dr. Venture work through his daddy issues, Thaddeus is left nude on the floor in the fetal position. Killinger specifically says he's naked because he's been born again. Doc is more skeptical and thinks he slipped him a roofie.
  • In W.I.T.C.H., the season 1 Transformation Sequence include the girls curling in the fetal position during the Barbie Doll Anatomy "naked" silhouette part.


Video Example(s):


Ryan's Moment of Calm

In the space survival thriller Gravity, shortly after Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) refuses Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock)'s Take My Hand!, Stone finally reaches the International Space Station airlock and its promise of momentary safety and oxygen. Floating in the airlock in her underthings, she assumes this pose after stripping out of her space suit. The moment represents her transition from Kowalski's helpless cargo to self-rescuing Damsel out of Distress. Justified to some extent, since this is the natural position that a relaxed body assumes in zero-g.

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