Follow TV Tropes

Following

Healing Factor

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/vpvdvvij.jpg
Wolverine recovers from his latest face-off.

Wolverine: I've survived five different wars in my lifetime.
Comedian: Yeah, that's really nothing to brag about when one of your main powers is not dying.
Advertisement:

A character is hard to kill, not because he doesn't get hurt, but because he has the ability to rapidly recover from serious damage. Although it depends on how fast he can heal and how much of a beating his body can take, a character with healing factor will bounce back from severe injuries that other beings can't, often with no scars or medical treatment.

Slightly more plausible than being Super Tough or Nigh Invulnerable, as it is a souped-up version of a power certain real life forms possess. When this ability is powerful enough (such as regenerating from being reduced to almost nothing), it actually becomes a form of Nigh-Invulnerability, however. Rarely will a character need to worry about infection, as a super immune system is most often packaged in, but they may need to worry about setting broken bones.

Advertisement:

Really powerful characters will be able to regenerate lost body parts. Ridiculously powerful regenerators may be able to recover From a Single Cell in a stain on the floor. Most often, loss of the head or brain injury is the only permanent damage, and even then they may come back just missing some memories or with an altered personality. Sometimes they appear to be dead for brief periods, but that's just the regeneration taking a while to deal with unusually severe damage.

On the downside, extreme regeneration often leads to the character getting targeted by The Worf Barrage so often that people go "Good Thing You Can Heal" because their Immortal Life Is Cheap. Also, regenerators are often more Made of Plasticine than the rest of the show's cast.

Note that if any real-world life form were able to recover this fast, they'd need a reserve of raw organic material to work from, and afterwards would be very hungry. The only way to justify always repairing the exact amount of flesh damaged is if it uses the actual damaged flesh to do it. Writers who acknowledge this often at least have their regenerator out of commission for some time, resting and feeding... or harvesting limbs. The effect may be compared to the rapid cell growth, differentiation and self-organization of human embryonic development if the writer is interested in any degree of scientific plausibility, but most don't bother with even that much Hand Wave; they just have the wounds close up and new tissues and organs appear. Depending on the strength of the regenerator, they may also be a practical Perpetual-Motion Monster, able to go for months or years without food and water since their healing factor keeps their body alive... though this sort of Immortality Hurts.

Advertisement:

Reptilian characters, taking a cue from real-world lizards that can shed and re-grow their tails, are likely to possess at least a minor form of this. note  Dragons, werewolves, and vampires sometimes have it as well. Other Shapeshifting characters may have this packaged in with their powers, though it's often described as returning to their "default" form rather than regenerating. Nanomachines are a common justification for an acquired power by otherwise human characters in a technological setting.

If regenerators have an Achilles' Heel, it's most often a nasty one: either suffocation, decapitation, poison, gas, fire, ice, or acid. Other times, the weakness is similar to Clone Degeneration; each re-growth results in Harmful Healing and increasingly damaged appendages/organs/shorter lifespan.

An in-universe, as opposed to plot-based, version of Hollywood Healing. Doing this to others is Healing Hands or using a Healing Potion.

If a character can be blown to bits and reform you could be looking at Pulling Themselves Together. If it happens offscreen, this may be the explanation for an Iron Butt Monkey. If this appears in a video game without an in-story explanation, it's Regenerating Health.

Also, it's more properly called an Accelerated Healing Factor; "Healing Factor" simply refers to how quickly you heal - normal humans, for instance, have their own healing factor: a normal one. This is in fact what it was originally called in comic books and elsewhere; "Healing Factor" emerged because it's, well, shorter.

Contrasts Wound That Will Not Heal. See Anti-Regeneration on ways to defeat these.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Films — Animated 
  • Heavy Metal: In one segment, the protagonist Den encounters the wimpy-looking Sissy Villain Ard as head of a band of monstrous humanoids, and soon learns how he got the job- when Den blasts him multiple times with an automatic weapon, Ard isn't even fazed and the bullet-wounds heal up and disappear almost instantly.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The people infected by the alien parasites in Alien Raiders can regenerate most body parts. When the heroes lose their usual method of telling who's infected, they resort to cutting off the pinkie fingers of every potential host and waiting to see if it grows back.
  • Brandon Lee's character in The Crow seemed to possess this ability. Right to the point of making a very bad religious joke in between successive on-target shotgun blasts. Too bad the actor wasn't so endowed.
  • The titular character's healing factor in Deadpool gets used a lot in the film going from being shot in the hand, surviving a car crash without any long term injuries, regrowing his hand in less than a day after cutting it off, and even waking up after being impaled by Ajax on a piece of rebar to trap him under the burning Weapon X building.
  • In End of Days, Satan quickly heals his host's wounds after Jericho shoots him. However, near the end he suffers so much damage that he doesn't even bother repairing it anymore and starts looking for a new body because he's running out of time to complete his plan.
  • This ability is given as a reason for Jason Voorhees' longevity in the tenth Friday the 13th movie, Jason X. Because he can heal any wounds, the authorities have given up on trying to execute him, and opt to cryogenically freeze him instead (until they get the bright idea to use him in scientific experiments).
  • The Neo-Vipers from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra have one thanks to the nanomites.
  • In Godzilla 2000, the genetic origin of this (dubbed "Organizer G-1") is explicitly described as the ultimate source (in combination with its sheer mass) of Godzilla's apparent immunity to attacks. It's so powerful, in fact, that the invading aliens utilize it in order to give themselves physical form (though the plan backfires and causes them to revert to the powerful but nonsentient kaiju "Orga").
  • The Hellboy films:
  • Immortals from Highlander have fast healing, recovering from non-fatal injuries just as fast as deadly ones. The only injuries they do not heal from are ones to the neck - this is why they can only be killed by cutting their heads off (according to Highlander The Raven, severing their spine by any other means also works and they can't regenerate limbs).
  • Kaulder of The Last Witch Hunter has this in addition to his immortality. Lesser wounds heal in seconds and broken bones need less than a minute to mend themselves.
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Mina and Dorian actually wonder if they can be killed. They both heal from their wounds in seconds during their fight, prompting Dorian to note, "We'll be at this all day." Their healing factor is based on different abilities, though. In Mina's case, it's because she's been bitten by Dracula and is now a vampire. In Dorian's, it's because his portrait takes all his age and damage for him.
  • John Oldman in The Man from Earth is unsure whether he has a full-fledged healing factor, (for instance, if you shot him, would the wound heal in front of your eyes, or would he drop dead?), and has gone out of his way to avoid testing it. All he knows is that he doesn't age (he looks 35 despite claiming to be 14,000 years old) or scar.
  • Jeebs from Men in Black has an incredibly effective healing factor as his alien ability. Every scene with Jeebs involves him getting his head shot off, only to have it grow back in the space of seconds. The RPG specified that he had a limited number of several vital organs, including his head. The animated series said his species didn't need to breathe oxygen, but needed it to regenerate. The healing factor didn't apply to all his physiology. After shooting him, K threatens to shoot him again in a place "where it don't grow back." By the sequel, his head looks misshapen from the repeated shootings by J. Word of God is that his organs don't grow back exactly as before.
  • Spawn: Spawn got the ability to heal wounds as part of his deal with Hell. He notes this with satisfaction when Jessica pumps him full of lead.
    Spawn: Damn...
  • In Star Trek: Into Darkness, Harrison's blood allows his cells to heal at an astonishing rate, which he uses to heal a sick girl in the beginning in exchange for a favor. Later, Bones revives a dead tribble with it, and then uses it to save Kirk. Supposedly, this is something that was invented in The '70s.
  • Terminator:
    • The T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a metallic Blob Monster, meaning it cannot only shapeshift, but almost instantly regenerate itself from gunshot wounds. It's too bad that a lot of scenes from the end were cut, and are thus not canon. The protagonists did enough damage over the course of the movie, specifically highlighting the freeze-and-shoot moment, that the T-1000 isn't able to completely maintain his form anymore. Moments include grabbing a handrail, and having his fingers stick and assume the color of the warning paint, and while he walks his feet tends to melt. This is also what tips John Connor off that his mom is the T-1000 in disguise. In addition, it has its limits, as it gets blown up with a grenade from the inside, and can't repair its mangled form because of the pressurized impact and heat. That and its fall into molten steel.
    • T-3000 from Terminator Genisys also insta-heals from bullet wounds.
  • The title character of the Tomie series of J-horror films has this ability to the extent that every single individual piece of her that is cut off will eventually become a new Tomie. This is justified, at least in the manga it was based on, by Tomie being radiotrophic, feeding on background radiation in the air & somehow converting it into mass.
  • Vampires and Lycans all have an advanced form of this in the Underworld (2003) series. While Silver rounds can kill Lycans, they can use their healing factor to push the rounds out and heal the damage. Vampires eventually get around this by using liquid rounds that release Silver Nitrate into the bloodstream, preventing the healing factor from working effectively. Hybrids have an even more advanced case of this. Taken Up to Eleven with Quint in Underworld: Awakening, who can heal from any wound almost instantly. This screws him in the end, as Selene punches a hole in him, and leaves a grenade inside. The wound heals, trapping the grenade inside him.
  • In Warlock, witch hunter Redferne stabs the Warlock to kill him, but finds that even the incomplete Grimoire gives the Warlock the power to recover from the wound almost immediately.
  • The Djinn in Wishmaster have a ramped-up healing factor as part of their Complete Immortality. They can actually be hurt (as the Djinn in the first film demonstrates by blowing its own brains out, which he concedes hurt a lot), but the damage just repairs itself instantly.
  • One of the upsides of being a werewolf in The Wolfman (2010).
  • Wonder Woman (2017): Diana's arm gets grazed by a bullet. An Amazon doctor puts a bandage on it and then treats some more seriously injured Amazons. A few minutes or hours later, the doctor returns and is shocked to find the wound is already gone, a hint to Diana's divine heritage.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • Wolverine. And how. By the end of X-Men: The Last Stand his flesh is being torn from his body at an alarming rate only to regenerate just as quickly. (This was explained in the novelization as being accelerated and enhanced even further than normal by the energy Jean was putting out.) He also survives a nuclear bomb in the opening of The Wolverine and his body is left a charred and scalded mess from the affair. However, it seems like the film Wolverine's healing factor is not as absurd as the comic book Wolverine's healing factor, considering that decapitation is treated as a viable option in his solo films. X-Men: Days of Future Past also presents drowning as an effective method, though he was fished out before it could take.
    • In The Wolverine, he loses this, which is suppressed by the Yashida Corporation, through technological means. At least until he figures out how they did it and rectifies the problem.
    • Lady Deathstrike in X2: X-Men United, since it's necessary to get adamantium.
    • In X-Men: The Last Stand, Wolverine fights a mutant who can regrow limbs instantly — but is not immune to a Groin Attack.
    • Victor Creed in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Although if Stryker is to be believed, it is not as effective as Logan's (which is why he can't undergo adamantium augmentation). It does allow him to live an unnaturally long life, however.
    • In X-Men: Apocalypse, the villain Apocalypse transfers his essence into an ancient Egyptian mutant who could regenerate from any wound to acquire this power for himself.

    Gamebooks 
  • In the Lone Wolf gamebook series, the various Healing disciplines. Most of the time they are just granting Gradual Regeneration, but there are instances when they can explicitly save the protagonist's life from grievous injuries, poisoning, or diseases. Especially with Curing by the rank of Archmaster, or the Grandmaster discipline of Deliverance, which can heal 20 Endurance Points even in the middle of a fight if the total falls too low, though only once per adventure.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Classical Mythology: The Lernaean Hydra, of Heracles/Hercules fame, was so difficult to kill because for each head the hero would cut off, two would grow in its place. The fact that its blood was also a deadly poison didn't help either. Only when his nephew Iolaos started to cauterize the stumps with his torch could Heracles finally kill the monster; this may be the (or at least one) source for the idea that fire is bad for regenerators.
  • The Lambton Worm was a serpent or dragon in English folklore that could heal any injury it took, to the point that it can eventually rejoin segments of its body that have been hacked off. The only way to defeat it was for the local lord to wear a suit of armour covered in spearheads fight in a river. Where the worm tried to wrap around the lord, the blades on his armor would cut it apart and the running river would wash the individual segments away so the worm couldn't reconnect itself.
  • Prometheus had his liver torn out every day, and grown back by the next. Over and over again, for centuries.
  • The Greek gods have this kind of immortality, which includes not aging. According to most writers, they can't die from anything. To add to this, the myths say that Kronos is still alive despite being cut up into tiny pieces and scattered across Eternity. Further, Kronos did the same to HIS father who is also still alive despite that. In fact, Chiron, one of the few GOOD centaurs, ends up needing to have his immortality taken from him somehow since the hydra venom in his body couldn't kill him and just continued giving him horrible, mind-searing pain.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Dino Kang Jr. in Kaiju Big Battel. Given a few years, he can regrow limbs.
  • John Cena has actual, no-Kayfabe, near-superhuman healing abilities. After his first major injury and repair surgery (in October 2007) he was supposed to be out for at least six months before he could wrestle again. Guess who showed up in the last spot of the Royal Rumble next January? And won? Yeah, those numbers don't add up, but it happened, and that's not the only time.

    Toys 
  • From BIONICLE, Kalmah could regrow his tentacle (or at least did so in a mini-movie which is actually a vision that another character sees). Unlike him, Nocturn could regrow his partially mechanical arm but not the organic tentacle at the end of it. So he attached a gun to it instead.

    Visual Novels 
  • The primary effect of the "Cure virus" in Ever17 is to give the infected party a healing factor that makes it impossible for them to be killed.
  • Shirou has this in Fate/stay night, spurring his famous "people (should) die when they're killed" line when he chooses to abandon it.
    • All of the Servants have levels of superhuman regeneration as well. The speed of regeneration depends upon the Hero summoned as well as the amount of mana available (Archer takes several days to regenerate from being nearly cut in half),even lost limbs will eventually regenerate. To fatally wound a Servant, you have to damage their spiritual core (brain and heart) or destroy their bodies entirely.
  • Subverted in Chaos;Head. Gigalomaniacs can alter reality, but they can't use their powers to heal. This is explained as an inability to block off person's sense of pain, which in turn disallows their delusions from taking effect. This is eventually played straight with Takumi when he accepted his existence as an imaginary being, which allowed a complete control over his own form.
  • Consuming demon flesh or the heart of a person that has eaten demon flesh gives you regenerative powers in Demonheart. Demonspawn, the offspring of a human woman and a demon have one as well, as part of their Complete Immortality.
  • The dragon and both the dragonslayer and his armor heal very quickly in Dra Koi, especially during the climactic fight at the end. The hero can see the armor stitching or unmelting itself before his very eyes.
  • Arcueid Brunestud from Tsukihime has this, known as the "Curse of Restoration", a spell that rewinds time on her body to undo any damage done to it. Her most impressive feat was, at the beginning of the story, recovering from being cut into seventeen pieces. Technically, however, she did not "regenerate" because Shiki's Mystic Eyes of Death Perception bypass all forms of regeneration to render the target Deader Than Dead. Arcueid got around this by creating an entirely new body from scratch in the instants before she died... her old body was killed, but her soul jumped into the new one. It cost her a lot of energy to do this, though, and she stays weakened for much of the story as she slowly recovers, forced to rely on Shiki to help her face foes that she would normally crush in an instant.

    Web Animation 
  • Xin's titular protagonist knows a technique wherein he uses Qi to quickly mend broken bones. Subverted in that this technique is only a temporary solution, and he needs to have his bones properly mended after fights.
  • Death Battle factors this trope in determining a victor, but in this case it's determining how powerful it is to prevent them from dying.
    • This is a major factor in the wins for Deathstroke vs. Deadpool, Dante vs. Bayonetta, and Hulk vs. Doomsday. The first and the last are especially notable because Deadpool and Doomsday's healing factors are insanely more powerful than Deathstroke and Hulk's (Deadpool is able to reattach his arm and leg twice after he got them mixed up while Doomsday repaired his completely and utterly ruptured arm after Worldbreaker Hulk crushed it. Both would go on to gut their opponents and take their heads off), and while Bayonetta's feats are admirably greater than Dante she has no such ability to recover from injuries where as Dante can easily shake off being stabbed by a sword.
    • This is a major factor in the Deadpool vs. Pinkie Pie battle as the former has an insane healing factor and the latter runs on Toon Physics, thus neither can really die.
    • However, this does not help Wolverine against Raiden, since Raiden had the means to cut through Wolvie's Adamantium skeleton and the means to stop his healing factor by severing the head off.
    • It also does not help Vergil against Sephiroth, since Sephiroth had Supernova as a means to overtax Vergil's extremely powerful healing factor.
    • The same goes with Carnage against Lucy. Like Vergil, Carnage has a ridiculously powerful healing factor thanks to the symbiote, but Lucy's Vectors are powerful enough to literally split atoms, which is more than enough to vaporize the symbiote and its psychotic host.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Cell is capable of regeneration if he is blown apart, but not when he's shattered!
  • RWBY: Theoretically, every Huntsman or Huntress trained to use their aura can use it to regenerate wounds extremely quickly, though aura is also used to shield against attacks so this is used rarely. In Volume 1, Jaune uses it to heal up a minor gash on his cheek from a branch whacking him. In Volume 5, after Weiss is impaled through the back by Cinder, Jaune transfers his own aura into her with his Semblance, allowing her to heal herself; within two episodes, a girl who before was bleeding to death is not only back on her own feet but has summoned the Queen Lancer, floored The Brute who previously overpowered Qrow and can hold her own against Emerald and Mercury.
  • Nazo Unleashed: The titular Nazo has this due to being a a being created from excess negative Chaos energy, allowing him to heal grievous injuries if given a moment to breathe in seconds. It's how he endures his battle with Super Sonic and Super Shadow, as both are slightly stronger than him but don't have the raw power to destroy him in one shot. As he achieves his Perfect and Hyper modes, it increases to the point he can survive a beam from Hyper Shadic powerful enough to overpower his planet-busting attack and blast him into space. He only goes down when Hyper Shadic forcibly rips out the energy that made him Perfect and blasts his far weaker Base form into nothingness.

    Western Animation 
  • The Minions of Set from Samurai Jack have an incredibly powerful healing factor. Even Jack's sword, forged by the gods themselves out of the power of human righteousness, and the only thing in the universe capable of harming the Made of Evil Aku, only slows them down for mere moments. They can regenerate from nearly being cut in half with it in less than a second, with no side effects whatsoever.
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, the Horse Talisman does this, granting whoever has the power to heal almost instantly from injuries, together with the Dog Talisman, which grants immortality and eternal youth/youthful energy (the energy going to those above a certain age) they grant Complete Immortality.
  • Transformers:
    • Starscream gets this in Transformers Animated from an Allspark fragment in his head. Which is based on how G1 Starscream was Ret Conned into having one to explain how he came Back from the Dead. But that was only his spark (soul) which was immortal, he didn't have a body, regenerating or otherwise. Which lead to him floating around like a ghost for quite some time until he could scam himself a new shell (or steal someone else's).
    • Transmetal 2s in Transformers: Beast Wars have the ability to heal mild to moderate damage near-instantaneously using energy from their spark. Rampage also has one, as he was created by an experiment to duplicate Starscream's spark.
    • Godmasters in Transformers: Super-God Masterforce have this as one of their defining features.
    • Megatron in Transformers Cybertron can regenerate damaged parts of his body much more easily than ordinary self-repair systems thanks to the Armor of Unicron. Stealing a Dark God's power has its perks.
  • Gargoyles have a form of accelerated healing attached to their stone sleep. Spending a day in stone sleep cures them of any wounds, infections or toxins in or on the body. However, if a body part is amputated, it's gone for good. This only applies to their hibernation. Until the sun rises, they're as badly affected by an injury as any other creature. Demona and MacBeth appear to have this, too, as long as they're not in the same room.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • SpongeBob, being a sponge and all, can grow back severed parts of his body with no problem. He was surprised when he found out others couldn't do it as well.
    • In "Karate Star", Patrick tears off his karate chop arm in order to stop the wreckage he's uncontrollably causing. He grows his arm back, but the arm grows a new body, as is typical for starfish.
  • Darkwing Duck: Bushroot's Healing Factor is seldom seen, but he completely recovers from being squashed in his first episode and later from being shredded into small pieces. Being part plant helps.
  • Killface of Frisky Dingo has a rather handy healing factor. Metal pipe through the lung? Nah, tend to Simon's scraped arm. Rocket through the chest, and a gaping hole from the explosion? Fixed with a little bedrest. Though his healing factor was unable to heal his eyes after he was blinded by AntAgony.
  • Adventure Time: The Ice Crown grants this to its wearer, to the point where both wearers shown were able to survive nuclear war. Marceline also seems to have this due to her demonic ancestry, although it isn't as powerful as the Crown's.
  • The Septarians from Star vs. the Forces of Evil have this ability. Toffee's in particular is very potent aside from his missing finger which was blasted off by dark magic. Later we learn that they can regenerate from body parts (though it takes a long while) as Rasticore was reduced to a hand and when we next see him he's gone up to his elbow.


Alternative Title(s): Regeneration, Super Healing, Enhanced Healing

Top