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"Immortality is not a gift. Immortality is an achievement, and only those who strive mightily shall possess it."
Edgar Lee Masters

Yes, we don't live forever. People and animals change as they age, and eventually catch disease and die.

Eternal life is ingrained in the collective human consciousness, having been present in literature and myths for as long as they've been around. Literally. The Epic of Gilgamesh (the oldest heroic epic known to the modern world) is, in large part, about the titular character's search for a way to live forever.

Of course, having been around for so long, Our Immortality Is Different and comes in several flavors. These tropes are not mutually exclusive; there's plenty of room for overlap. For general tropes relating to immortality, see This Index Will Live Forever.


  • Complete Immortality: A character simply can't die, ever.

  • Retroactive Immortality: A character can die, but won't stay dead.

  • Biological Immortality: A character is immune to the ravages of time, although usually still mortal to physical injury.
    • The Ageless: A character who has eternal youth and never grows old, or cannot die from any complications of old age. But they can still be killed by anything else.
    • Nigh-Invulnerability: The character is invulnerable to all or almost all physical injury, although they tend to have a weakness that keeps them from full qualification as a completely immortal being.

  • Purpose-Driven Immortality: Someone who is immortal to complete a purpose; once they're done they becomes mortal (or dies instantly). Either because of their sheer will to live to achieve it, or someone provided them with immortality in exchange for fulfilling the purpose. Alternatively, they're given immortality as long as they continue to serve a purpose, lest they forfeit their immortality.

  • Spare Bodies: Any injury that would be fatal is Only a Flesh Wound for this character: his spirit will come back in another body.
    • Body Backup Drive: He has clones/robot bodies to come back into should he die.
      • Brain Uploading: He mostly exists inside a computer/virtual world. He may be able to manifest himself (or a copy of himself) in the real world by either inhabiting a robot or using a hologram.
    • Grand Theft Me: The character steals other people's bodies to survive.
      • Body Surf: The character does the above frequently.
      • Familial Body Snatcher: A common limitation for body snatchers is making them only able to inhabit a body of their relatives.
    • Fighting a Shadow: An effect one might feel from trying to fight someone with spare bodies.

  • How to become immortal? - Methods by which a mortal character can actively cheat death. Key word being actively; once the method is stopped or reversed, they either die or become mortal again.
    • Fountain of Youth: Something that makes a character young again. Can make them effectively immortal if done a lot.
    • Immortality Inducer: Use/do this and you're effectively immortal.
      • Soul Jar: Someone puts their soul into something, usually hidden at a remote place. This makes them immortal, and usually invulnerable, but that very jar becomes the person's weak point.
      • Heart Drive: The part of the being's body that houses their consciousness, which ensures their survival even if most of their body is destroyed; the drive, if it's intact can be put into another body to make them alive again. Differs from Soul Jar in that Heart Drive must be put in their bodies.
      • Elixir of Life: Exactly What It Says on the Tin a magical liquid or potion that restores lifeforce, health or even youth.
      • Immortality Field: A place where you can become immortal.
    • Life Drinker: Someone absorbs the "life force" of another to keep himself alive.
    • Parasitic Immortality: A character is able to live for much longer than a normal person would by jumping from one body to another.
    • Touched by Vorlons: That is, someone else grants them immortality. Either it's a one time deal or it has to be done continuously.

  • How to undo immortality?

  • Incomplete Immortality: They are immortal, but with drawbacks.
    • Age Without Youth: Being eight hundred years old doesn't seem so great when you have the body of a normal human being who's eight hundred years old.
    • Came Back Wrong: You come back alive at the cost of severe physical disfigurement, mental instability, and/or moral corruption.
    • The Undead: You're only partly "alive" after you come back from the dead.

  • Legacy Immortality: They, body-wise, are totally mortal and won't live forever. Their legacy, however, will.
    • Immortality Through Memory: The belief that as long as someone remembers them, they can never truly die.
    • Legacy Character: Someone who actively takes the mantle of another (usually famous) person in order to preserve the image of said famous person in the future.
    • Legacy Immortality: Members of a Master-Apprentice Chain deliberately pretend to be the same immortal person to create a legend.
    • Seeking Fame: One reason for people with "fame" as a goal is to become known to other people even after their death.
      • Fame Through Infamy: For some people, infamy is just the same as fame.
      • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Someone doesn't want people to remember the one bad thing that they did, or that happened to them. People remember anyway, much to their chagrin.