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Instant People: Just Add Water!

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Someone's body is reduced to powder, then reconstituted. Comes in two types: living-to-living and dead-to-living.

Living-to-living is usually Phlebotinum-based, and may be described as dehydrating the body or reducing it to its "basic elements." It's technically a form of suspended animation. Dehydrated storage on a large scale (a.k.a. "instant Mooks, just add water") is a usually-comic sub-subtype.

Dead-to-living is usually magic-based, and often uses ashen remains.

Because powder is easily scattered and easily mixed, damage to the reduced body is an implicit possibility, and may result in Came Back Wrong. Sometimes (particularly when the method is given as "dehydration"), compact, friable solids are used instead, and the danger is that they will be crushed.

See also: Fossil Revival, No Body Left Behind, People Jars, Pulling Themselves Together, Taken for Granite. Sometimes, sea monkeys are like this. For everything in general that's dehydrated, see Instant Mass: Just Add Water!.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Ranma ½, any mortal who touches the Kinjakan will have all water in their body be evaporated. This happens to Akane who in her dried up form shrinks to a doll-sized version of herself. Only by being exposed to Jusen water will her body rehydrate and be restored to her original size, however it must be done before a time limit is up, as if she closes her eyes she will be gone forever.

    Films — Animation 
  • The dehydration gun from Megamind turns people, objects and animals into dehydrated cubes. Water turns them back.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Batman: The Movie has a machine that dehydrates living people, turning them into piles of powder which can be reconstituted with water. Accidentally mixing the powders leads to swapping of languages and personality traits. And when The Penguin accidentally reconstitutes some of his mooks with heavy water, this makes the mooks so unstable that a single punch from Batman can completely vaporize them. Then he stole an entire room full of world leaders, whose dust was accidentally mixed during the rescue - cue the Molecular Dust Separator.It mostly worked.
  • In Dracula: Prince of Darkness, the title character is reanimated by having his ashes mixed with blood.

  • The "essential saltes" in H. P. Lovecraft's The Case of Charles Dexter Ward are powdered remains of dead people (or animals), which can be reanimated by sorcery — but incomplete specimens will Come Back Wrong.
  • In the Necroscope series it's possible to raise the dead by first reducing their bodies to dust before doing the magic (which seems to be a Shout-Out to H.P. Lovecraft — Brian Lumley has written several Mythos works, after all).
  • Discworld vampires are turned to ash if they're exposed to sunlight. They're reconstituted if exposed to blood.
  • The Three-Body Problem: To survive hostile periods on their Death World, the Trisolarian aliens can voluntarily expel their bodily fluids, go into suspended animation, and reawaken when they're exposed to liquid. Their society even has storage facilities for the dehydrated bodies.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of My Favorite Martian, Detective Brennan accidentally gets disintegrated and scattered. Tim and Martin spend the rest of the episode running around collecting his particles so Martin's gizmo can put him back together.
  • The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "By Any Other Name" had the Aliens Of The Week reduce the Enterprise crew to cuboctahedral blocks of their basic elements. One character was killed by being crushed while in this form; others were restored.
  • In Ultraviolet (1998), the Code 5snote  turned to dust when killed and had to be stored in jars or urns. It was noted that they weren't "dead", just temporarily/indefinitely out of circulation. At the end of the series, we discover that mixing the dust with fresh human blood reconstitutes them.

  • In one episode of DJ Kenny Everett's science fiction spoof "Captain Kremmen", the eponymous hero is forced to take off on a mission without his crew. Fortunately, his sidekick, Carla, has remembered to bring a packet of Dehydrated Crew for just such an occasion.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The "essential saltes" mentioned under Literature also appear in Call of Cthulhu, where they are the essential ingredient in the Resurrection spell.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Basic D&D, The Book of Marvelous Magic. The Urn of Ashes held the ashes of a creature. If treated with blackflame (a kind of anti-fire) they would change back into the living creature.

    Video Games 

  • In Looking for Group, one of the characters ended up burnt into a small bagful of ashes. They were resurrected, of course, and were as good as before.

    Western Animation 
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In "Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century", the effects of the Disintegrating Pistol can be reversed by, yes, an Integrating Pistol.
    • Another Daffy Duck short, "Boston Quackie", has this trope at the end, where the MacGuffin Daffy was delivering to the Slobovian ambassador turned out to be a jar of "Instant Girl". Sure enough, with the addition of water the contents become the ambassador's plus-one for the embassy ball.
      Daffy: Ya know, there just might be a market for this.
    • The Bugs Bunny cartoon "Hare-Way to the Stars" had Marvin use "Instant Martians" to generate some Mooks to chase down Bugs. When Bugs accidentally drops a jar of them into a sewer, back on Earth, at the end of the cartoon:
      Bugs: Run for the hills, folks, or you'll be up to your armpits in Martians!
  • Count Duckula features a version of the "Vampire resurrected by a ceremony involving blood" where the servants of the title character accidentally switch blood with tomato ketchup and thus get a literal Vegetarian Vampire.
  • An episode of Beetlejuice had the appropriately titled "Party People in a Can", which BJ used to bring in some guests for Lydia's Halloween party. Unfortunately, he failed to look at the warning that said not to use it during a full moon (which there was), resulting in the "Party People" growing very unruly and terrorizing the city, leading BJ and Lydia to track them down and dehydrate them. Unfortunately, after they were all collected, BJ got rid of them by flushing them down the toilet.
  • Ben 10: Ultimate Alien: Ma Vreedle used a giant machine in one episode to combine cloning mix and salt water in a bid to create 4 billion Vreedles that would have used the entire ocean.
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series: Jumba had all of his previous experiments turned into small gumball-sized pods. They are activated when they make contact with water.
  • The Dick Tracy Show: In "Lab Grab," the Brow and Oodles crumble into a powder after drinking a tainted invisibility formula. Joe Jitsu reconstitutes them after pouring water on them.

    Real Life 
  • Tardigrades are probably the closest real-life equivalent to this trope. They can survive dehydration, extreme pressure, extreme temperatures, radiation, and even the vacuum of SPACE. When reintroduced to water, they're fine.


Video Example(s):


"Run For the Hills, Folks!"

After getting back to Earth, Bugs accidentally falls into the sewer with Marvin's jar of Instant Martians. After leaping out, he advises the audience to run for it, while the Martians begin emerging from underneath.

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