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Near-Death Experience

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"You see, you are having a near-death experience, which inescapably means that I must undergo a near 'Vimes' experience. Don't mind me. Carry on with whatever you were doing. I have a book."
Death (to Commander Vimes), Thud!

A character almost dies but is given a chance to or is forced to return. Often overlaps with It Is Not Your Time and My Life Flashed Before My Eyes. Sometimes overlaps with Near-Death Clairvoyance. If the near-death is a near-suicide, may overlap with It's a Wonderful Plot. To some extent Truth in Television, and heavily overlaps with Don't Fear The Reaper. Expect them to want to Go into the Light.

A Flatline Plotline is about deliberately inducing these.

Compare with Serendipitous Survival where a character avoids death by being elsewhere due to sheer luck when under normal circumstances, they would have died.

Might result from a Divine Misfile if a Psychopomp accidentally collected the character's soul prematurely.

As this is a Death Trope, expect unmarked spoilers!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Black Clover, it's stated that intense wishes or determination can grant power in a crisis. This is seen with characters learning new spells representative of their Character Development in dangerous situations. Gauche gains the power to duplicate others when he learns to trust Asta when they fight the transformed Baro; Noelle learns the offensive Sea Dragon's Roar when she and her friends are threatened by Vetto; an angry Charmy manifests her power to eat magic when she's nearly killed by Lira, after he rejected her offering of food.
  • Hei in Darker than Black, several times. He barely made it through the Phlebotinum War and the first season finale, and comes up against a couple of overpowered characters (Combat Clairvoyance and a Gravity Master, in particular) in the interquel who very nearly manage to kill him. Though frankly, anyone with his job description is likely to have near-misses on a regular basis.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: In the aftermath of Zenitsu’s winning bout against Kaigaku he has a vision of the river of death, Zenitsu sees his beloved master on the other side, Zenitsu apologizes for not being a good pupil and preventing his death, the master, however, cries tears of joy and tells Zenitsu he has always been his pride and joy, Zenitsu tries to cross the river to his master’s side but spider lilies bind his feet, preventing him from crossing over, symbolizing it’s not Zenitsu’s time just yet, he then gets reanimated back to life.
  • Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai has a borderline example - Dai doesn't almost die, but he does dream of his dead parents with the usual tropes of happy and peaceful afterlife environment, but choosing to go back to fulfill his responsibilities.
  • Hyatt from Excel♡Saga, who has a near-death experience about once or twice a week. She has them so often that her senior Excel commented that one of them was 'pretty cliche'.
  • This happening to the protagonist in Fate/stay night in his childhood is his primary motivation for most of the routes in the game, and indeed lost his own sense of self because of this. Having been the only survivor of the incident, he does not want anybody else to go through that, even if it means his own sacrifice.
  • In the 4th novel of Haruhi Suzumiya, Kyon experiences this. In his own words: "Damn it, I'm about to die."
  • Near-death experiences are a dime a dozen in Hell Teacher Nube. Once, a moribund Hiroshi ran into a cute girl while in the fields of the afterlife, and fought valiantly to bring her back with him... only to have her turn out to be an ancient old woman in a hospital who was suddenly quite smitten with him.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, Okuyasu is seemingly killed during the final battle, only to return in Big Damn Heroes fashion. He explains that he had a dream where he saw a bright light and met his dead brother Keicho and realized that he must have died. However, Keicho, who'd always done the thinking for both of them, told Okuyasu that it was time for him to decide for himself what he was going to do; he decided to return to Morioh and help his friends, and woke up just in time to save Josuke.
  • In the Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force manga, Signum and Agito are nearly killed by Cypha of Huckebein.
  • In Naruto Kakashi had one of these when fighting Pain. His chakra exhausted, he died for a short period of time and his spirit met with his father, who had waited for him. When Pain resurrected the fallen, Kakashi returned to life happier than when he had died.
  • Pokémon: The Series: Nearly every single movie has a Pokémon die and come back to life, or barely avoid dying in the first place.
    • During the Orange Islands arc, for the episode "Charizard Chills", Ash's stubborn and disobedient Charizard goes berserk against a Poliwrath and winds up being frozen in a block of ice, causing his tail flame (which is established to be necessary for him to live) to nearly go out. Ash and Pikachu spend all night trying to warm him up to the point of exhaustion, which causes the big lug to have a Heel Realization about how poorly he's been treating his kind and loving trainer, and regains the loyalty he once had as a Charmander once he's full recovered.
    • In the third episode of Sun & Moon, Meowth got hexed so badly trying to peek under Mimikyu's outfit, that he suffered a near-death experience. He walked down a tunnel, then ran toward a light, and found a Glaceon, Gardevoir, and a Lopunny calling for him. But those were really projections by Gastly, Haunter, and Gengar. Then everything disappeared, and he fell into an abyss. At this point, Jessie and James dumped buckets of water on him, reviving him.
  • Ranma ½:
    • In a rare serious arc, Ryōga dies when the superhumanly-strong Lime crushes his windpipe. He finds himself in a field of flowers with a river in the distance, and his grandpa and grandma yelling, from the other side of the river, not to come closer. But when he hallucinates Akane happily saying goodbye to him, together with Ranma, Ryōga is shocked back to life, depressed enough to summon the Shishi Hokodan and crush Lime with it.
    • This is parodied in a later, much more comedic story, where Ranma, Ryōga and Mousse are competing to eat horribly bad-tasting noddles. The food is so lethally bad, all three fall unconscious and find themselves on the shore of the same river, with Ryōga commenting that he'd already been there before.
  • Happens to Mugen three times in Samurai Champloo. Each time it happens, he is shown floating in an empty white space surrounded by grim reaper like beings. And each time, he tells them that he's not ready to die and that they can shove it.
  • Tsukihime loves this trope. The protagonist first narrowly escapes death as a child when all of his clan except for him is slaughtered, then again when he technically does die, but Akiha gives him half of her life force so he can live (this experience is actually what gives him his Mystic Eyes of Death Perception), and for the entirety of the game, he is almost a papers-width away from death. He can sense his own death so well it borders on precognition, allowing him to barely survive against some of the strongest beings in the world.
    • He gets another one during Ciel's True Ending, where he's briefly trapped in a near-death coma dream after "killing" himself and Roa. He realizes that it's fake, and decides to risk never waking up by ending it.
  • In Yakitate!! Japan, Azuma's recipe for Ja-Pan #44 briefly sends whoever eats it to heaven because it's just that good.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Black and White:
    • In "Dead Boys Eyes", Batman is shot and, hovering near death, hears the voice of Gotham City speak to him.
    • In "Leavetaking", Batman is shot and relives the night his parents died.
  • Deadpool is only allowed to have these. Because of his healing factor, even when he dies, it's never permanent. Which sucks for him because he's in love with Death.
  • The Joker nearly dies at the end of the Joker's Last Laugh crossover. This is possibly the first time the reader is able to experience one of his numerous brushes with death with him.
  • The Punisher has this in The Punisher: Born. At the end, during the big battle, he makes a deal with Death. He is given the option of dying there in Nam or having supernatural protection and thusly, a guarantee to see his family again. But the latter option will have a price. Hint: it's his family.
  • In the backstory of the French comic Yui, most of East Asia gets addicted to a drug that induces ND Es, which helps usher in the apocalypse.

    Comic Strips 
  • Lampooned in Bloom County, where it happened to Opus, but made very little sense. (The guy who told him It Is Not Your Time was famed high school principal Joe Clark, who "expelled" him to send him back to the living world and reminded him to watch Lean on Me, which had just been released.)

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): San and Vivienne Graham seem to have one, before Mothra revives them during their encounter in Chapter 7, similar to Madison's in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019). Darker yet, it's suggested that San has an NDE after his head is ripped off of Vivienne and almost Swallowed Whole before an electric jolt from Vivienne restores his head to consciousness.
  • Death is forced to take a vacation: During Fall Harvest (a recently appointed Reaper)'s first outing to retrieve the soul of a newly deceased pony, he stumbles upon a pony who'd come close to death to the point of having an out-of-body experience, whom he briefly mistakes for the soul he's supposed to retrieve. Once everything is straightened out, Causality assures the stallion that he won't remember most of their meeting after he returns to his body, which he does just a moment later.
  • Guiding Light (AuroraRose2081) opens with Mirabel nearly dying of blood-loss after just barely getting away from a group of horsemen out to either kill or kidnap them.
  • The Loud House:
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Katsuki Bakugou nearly dies after Izuku accidentally throws him through a wall when they were kids. He comes so close to death that he's visited by Death of the Endless, who pulls his soul out of his body so they can chat before he regains consciousness.
  • Olive's Last Partner:
    • The climax of the story revolves around Olive and Oscar nearly dying by way of drowning in orange juice. Although her initial fear gives way to her Rage-Breaking Point as she lets all her anger loose on Oscar, the pair live to tell the tale thanks to Otto saving them at the last minute.
    Olive: Otto...we nearly drowned a minute ago. It was terrifying. I thought for sure we were going to die. Do you realize that?
    Otto: Yeah, I do. I was scared, too. I almost panicked and couldn't hardly focus. It was all I could do to think to use the Freeze-Ray-inator. If I hadn't...
    • The aftermath of the Odd Squad episode "Skip Day" is depicted as Olive telling Oscar that she nearly died. Perhaps the most amazing part of this is that she tacks on an "again" to her statement, considering she's nearly died three times note  in the fanfics of the Ships Ahoy! universe.
    Olive: Oscar...I almost died. Again.
    Oscar: [thinking] Really? She didn't tell me this. [normal] W-what happened?
    Olive: The last thing on my to-do list yesterday was to go skydiving. But I skipped the part where I should've put on a parachute. If Otto hadn't gotten the jetpack and came after me...I would've fallen to my death...

    Films — Animation 
  • In Ice Age: The Meltdown, Scrat has this at the end of the movie. Right as he is about to embrace the biggest acorn in the acorn heaven he's entered, Sid revives him.
  • Double Subverted in Little Angels: The Brightest Christmas. When Daniel and Scout are in the path of a truck, Daniel escapes, but the dog is very nearly killed. It looks like they both survived until it turns out that, somehow, the dog still died, and winds up in Heaven. The angels then send him back to Earth, as though nothing had ever happened.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The main character in Fearless survives a plane crash which radically changes his outlook on life.
  • The entire film of Flatliners is a plot built around this. The protagonists are medical students purposely inflicting these on themselves so they can record what the afterlife looks like. It's a kind of Ironic Hell where they're faced with the vengeful spirits of the people they wronged in their lives. They can only stop the spirits tormenting them by making peace with the people they wronged. In the one case this does become a problem when the person in question themselves died years ago...
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): The film hints that Madison Russell has one when she's buried under debris while hiding in her house's bathtub. The film novelization outright confirms it, stating that Madison saw a vision of Mothra in her NDE and hinting that the real Mothra's intervention via Psychic Link is responsible for resuscitating her.
  • In Hereafter, Cecile De France plays a French reporter who is caught in a tsunami and suffers a near-death experience, causing her to become obsessed with the afterlife.
  • Let There Be Light: Harkens undergoes one where he sees his dead son, which convinces him he's still alive and in heaven with God, bringing him back to his former faith.
  • Tony Stark has a few of these across the Marvel Cinematic Universe. First in Iron Man which puts the shrapnel in his bloodstream, necessitating implanting the ARC Reactor that allows him to become Iron Man. Then again in The Avengers when he flies through the wormhole that the Chitauri are pouring out of with the nuclear warhead that Fury’s superiors launched at New York, almost suffocating before freefalling back through the portal. Fortunately Hulk caught him on the other side.
  • In the climax of π, Max experiences his greatest migraine attack so far. As he goes mad from the pain, he suddenly finds himself in a white void and recites the numerical designation of God's name which he was never supposed to discover. His neighbor begs him to come back and comforts him in her arms when he is resuscitated. Then it turns out that he was hallucinating all of it and is truly alone.
  • Salvation Boulevard: Pastor Dan has one after he's stabbed. Unlike many of them, it's explicitly shown to be a hallucination in which he mistakenly views Carl as an angel. He later bases his new ministry in prison on it.

  • In Traitor Queen Lara has one near the end but her husband brings her back. Mostly by doing CPR. She describes it as climbing through darkness and fear and then hearing his voice calling her name and ordering her to fight.
  • Boots from Cemetery Bird was shoved down the stairs by his abusive father at age six. His heart stopped for five minutes, during which he had a vision of Jesus and the angels bringing him back to life. Ever since then, he's had an obsession with religion.
  • A rather strange example occurs in Ghost Hunter. Torak actually does die, but whilst he's confusedly and aimlessly wandering around on the Mountain of Ghosts, Wolf comes and guides him back into his body.
  • In The Curse of Chalion, the eponymous Curse can only be broken by a man "willing to lay down his life three times for the House of Chalion." This leaves poor Cazaril getting just-barely-not-killed twice (once in the backstory and once performing death magic) so his soul is open enough on the third death that the gods can unmake the curse through him. Yes, he had to practice dying. Strictly speaking, only the third time is a real Near-Death Experience, where he gets a full glimpse of the gods' realm and the Lady of Spring gives him the choice whether to return to life or not.
  • Despite being marketed for children, Deltora Quest has quite a few of them, and they're all pretty jarring/frightening. In rough order, Barda has the everloving crap beat out of him by Gorril (saved by a special miracle cure), Lief suffers a several story fall and breaks nearly every bone in his body (also healed by the miracle cure), Jasmine is poisoned by the frog demon Geelick's minions (saved by one of the gems), Barda and Jasmine are nearly murdered by Ol assassins in the same book (saved before the final blow could be landed), and finally, Barda is secretly poisoned by another Ol assassin (saved by one of the gems).
  • Discworld: Due to there being more and more "Bloody Quantum" around these days, Death is increasingly unsure of when anyone will die. He makes the best of it, helped by the fact that apparently only main characters get a 'quantum out'.
    • A literal example of this trope tends to happen to Commander Vimes, as his version involves seeing the Grim Reaper himself, who on one occasion notes that Vimes having a near-death means that he has to undergo a "near-Vimes experience". The Grim Reaper in Discworld is Genre Savvy enough to see Vimes's Plot Armor and acknowledges him for it.
    • Rincewind also has more than his fair share of Near-Death Experiences, though his first in the series is entirely accidental. He runs into Death in the middle of the street, much to their mutual surprise, as Death was expecting to see Rincewind in an hour or so halfway across the Disc. Death offers Rincewind a "very fast horse" to make the appointment, but Rincewind politely declines before hightailing it.
      • Rincewind undergoes a lot of these: As a result of all the implausible events he's been involved in, being Lady Luck's favourite game piece, Rincewind's hourglass isn't so much an 'hourglass' as an 'MC Escher creation in glass'. Even Death is unsure when he'll die, and consequently, he shows up every so often to check up on matters when it looks like it might happen.
      • He seems to be at least slightly dead during the course of the game Discworld II: Missing Presumed..., having survived the explosion that tossed Death quite a ways and later commenting that if he stands still for too long, flies converge on him and he sees zooming star-fields (though considering the form the player's mouse pointer takes, this is more a case of Breaking the Fourth Wall).
      • Rincewind's seeming inability to just roll over and die is referenced and parodied by Death on one occasion, where Death remarks Damn; I feel as if I've had another near-Rincewind experience.
    • In "The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents", Darktan has a near-death experience and believes he's seeing the Big Rat (essentially the god of rats).
  • Harry Potter himself in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Under normal circumstances, he should have been killed. However, because Voldemort used Harry's blood to give himself a new body back in Goblet of Fire, Voldemort inadvertently made it so as long as he was alive, Harry can't die.
  • Happens in Of Fear and Faith to Lilac and Aiden. Their group is caught in a system of underground tunnels when they start collapsing and the two of them stay behind and use their magic to stall the collapse, allowing the others to escape but sealing their own fates. Vatra manages to rescue them just barely in the nick of time, and the event leaves a strong emotional impact on Aiden that he tries to come to terms with in the following chapter. Lilac is just very, very happy to be alive afterwards.
  • Witkacy undergoes this in Shaman Blues after the wraith pulls his soul out of his body after it itself is pulled into the afterlife. The Old Ones would keep him there, too, if it wasn't for Vulture's timely intervention.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5:
    • In the fifth season episode "The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari," Londo (naturally enough) had a Near-Death Experience in the wake of a near-fatal heart attack.
    • Stephen Franklin's "walkabout" actually does end with him meeting himself, in a hallucination after being stabbed. And then there's what happens to Sheridan after he blows up Z'ha'dum, although how close he actually came to dying is an open question.
  • The Book of Boba Fett: After he's knocked into the Sarlacc pit in Return of the Jedi, the titular bounty hunter's time in said pit is shown as he struggles to escape from being slowly digested over the next several thousand years, with the page image showing the end result of him finally getting out. He's left with some pretty nasty scarring, and is wiped out from having to crawl out of the pit (which he was shown suffocating in, and had to flamethrower his way out), he collapses from exhaustion.
  • Calleigh on CSI: Miami after suffering from smoke inhalation while she and Ryan try to evacuate a burning building. She finds herself in a place between life and death, being assisted by the ghost of a victim of the fire, to help solve who set the fire that nearly killed her and did kill him.
  • Mac on CSI: NY has a whole episode of this after being shot in "Near Death." (Exactly a year earlier he'd had one in "Exit Strategy" that both resulted in a BSoD moment and led him to change careers for a few months.)
  • In the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode "The End," Larry dies and goes to Fluffy Cloud Heaven, but after getting into a petty argument with his guide angels, he's sent back to his body.
  • In "Sea of Fire," The Equalizer takes a class of juvenile delinquents to speak to a former hitman about his near-death experience where he allegedly spent a brief moment in Hell (the sea of fire in the title). At the end of the episode, Mickey Kostmeyer scoffs at the idea and asks McCall if he saw anything on an occasion when he flatlined after getting shot in Africa. The episode ends on McCall's silent expression.
  • The Fall: Spector appears to undergo one after being shot.
  • Farscape. Played for Laughs in "Revenging Angel." Crichton is in a coma and sees his world through the eyes of... Looney Tunes?
  • Forever Knight. A flashback to when Nicholas was brought across showed that after his blood was drained by LaCroix, he saw a veiled woman standing in a glowing doorway. LaCroix then called on Nicholas to turn away from the light and return to him, while the veiled woman offers him the choice of going on to the Afterlife, or returning to Earth to live as a vampire. He chose the latter and ends up regretting it. That week's Flatline Plotline involved Nicholas recreating his near-death experience to see if the other choice is still an option or if he's eternally damned.
  • Happy Days:
    • In "Fonzie's Baptism", Fonzie becomes a lot less confident than usual after almost dying in a fire.
    • In "Richie Almost Dies", Richie gets into a near-fatal accident, and it ends on An Aesop about how It's Okay to Cry.
  • In House:
    • The main character had one when he had the infraction in his leg which caused his limp ("Three Stories"). Always the skeptic, he believes that it was just a hallucination. In fact, the way he describes it to his audience is plain impossible, since his dying vision includes two patients of House that he would not meet until years later.
    • In the episode "97 Seconds," a patient had a near-death experience, which made him feel so good that he electrocutes himself to have another one. Intrigued, House also electrocutes himself but pages Amber right before so he would be revived. He sees nothing. This doesn't make much sense, since House already had a near-death experience - or two if you count his hallucinations in "No Reason." Wilson even tells this to him afterwards. It's actually a symptom of his deteriorating mental stability, which comes to a head at the end of the season.
  • Hiro has one of these on Heroes during the operation to remove his brain tumor. He's put on trial for irresponsible use of his powers.
  • iCarly: Happens to a rather harsh extent in "iQuit iCarly". Carly and Sam have been at each other's throats for the episode and end up on a scaffold without a harness; their arguing gets the better of them and Carly accidentally causes the scaffold to lower and eventually break, leaving her dangling for her life several floors off the ground, and Sam suffers the same fate, prompting Fleck, Dave, Freddie and Spencer to rescue them.
  • Happens to (or is mentioned by) several characters in The X-Files. Very notable is AD Walter Skinner, Mulder and Scully's superior. He says he died in Vietnam and that there was nothing "near" about it.
  • The Sopranos: After Tony is shot in season six by a senile Uncle Junior, he goes into a coma where he dreams about being in another city when his wallet and ticket back home get stolen. Before he wakes up he's standing in front of a house party where a person he had killed offers to take his bag and tells him to come inside, but he's distracted from moving on by voices in the wind calling for him (his family in the hospital).
  • Star Trek:
    • Jean-Luc Picard has a Near-Death Experience featuring Q and the origin of his artificial heart in the episode "Tapestry" on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The plot kicks off when a diplomatic mission goes south and Picard is shot with a disruptor beam that causes said artificial heart to falter. As he's rushed to sickbay, he's taken to an afterlife run by Q, much to his dismay, where the omnipotent trickster offers the captain the chance to prevent the incident that caused him to have said artificial heart in the first place—another near death experience where he gets stabbed by a Naussican he pissed off in his youth. Though it turns out that it was a Secret Test of Character by Q to get Picard to appreciate that he was injured all those years ago, as not being harmed left him as a pitiful and otherwise unremarkable lieutenant noted for being meek and unnoticeable instead of the Captain of the Enterprise. note 
    • Star Trek: Voyager: Captain Janeway has a near death experience in the episode "Coda" after a shuttle she is on crashes. After the crash an alien entity enters Janeway's mind, manifests itself as her deceased father, and tries to get her to come back to its matrix but Janeway refuses to go and the Doctor is able excise the being from Janeway's brain.
  • Surviving Death has an episode that features two women whose NDE experiences were documented, at least as far as that is possible.
  • Wiseguy. Happens to Frank McPike after he gets shot. He sees a dog leading him towards the Tunnel of Light, only to be called back by the sounds of the long-silent churchbell his friends start ringing.

  • "Go Back" by Country Music singer Chalee Tennison is about one. In the song, a truck driver is asked to "go back" and visit his wife after she gives birth to their newborn child. On his way, he crashes the truck and "slip[s] into the light", when an angel tells him to "go back" because it's not yet his time to die.
  • In Cypress Hill's "Lick a Shot", a bullet passes through B-Real's lung but he survives.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In the Dinosaurs episode "The Last Temptation of Ethyl", Grandma Ethyl has two near-death experiences. After the first one, she gets her own talk show telling the world about the afterlife. In the second, she briefly reunites with her husband Louie, who warns her not to obsess with the afterlife or profit from it anymore, or else she'll end up in an Ironic Hell instead.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Likewise, Geist: The Sin-Eaters, a spiritual successor to Orpheus, has it so that Sin-Eaters come into power after a near-death experience. Well, it's not so much a near-death experience as it is actually dying and being led back by a geist, but still.
  • In Orpheus, a character must have at least one near-death experience to work for the Orpheus Group (or any of its rivals). The more you have gone through, the more likely it is the company will take an interest in you.

  • Just when Mimi in RENT seems to have died like her equivalent in La Bohème, she suddenly revives and claims she was heading toward a warm light when Angel, who died earlier in the show, appeared and told her to go back. In the Forbidden Broadway parody, Mimi's actress, Daphne Rubin-Vega, is dying but sent back by Lady Thiang from The King and I.
  • Jasper in Deadland:
    • Having a near-death experience gets Jasper to the entrance of Deadland, but it takes some effort for him not to immediately get pulled back out, and getting through the city gates is impossible without Cerberus's permission.
    • Inverted later on - when Jasper's presence starts restoring the memories of Deadland's citizens, the effect is referred to as a "Near-Life Experience".

    Video Games 
  • Alcatraz in Crysis 2 has more than his share of these. First at the beginning of the game when he’s mortally wounded by the Ceph gun ship that attacked the sub he was in, two more when he falls out of a helicopter and a VTOL, and finally after he corrupts the Ceph spores in an airborne Central Park and falls to the streets below. Crysis 3 and the tie-in novel Crysis: Escalation reveals that the last one was more than a near-death experience, as while the Nanosuit kept Alcatraz’s body alive, the trauma from the whole ordeal left him braindead, allowing the suit’s personality record of Prophet, the special operator that gave Alcatraz the nanosuit before offing himself at the beginning of the game, to more or less possess Alcatraz’s body.
  • The "plot" of DanceDanceRevolution tracks "Healing Vision" and "Healing Vision: Angelic Mix" (if you have the background animation turned on) suggest near-death experiences. In Angelic Mix, you even hear an explicit flatline about halfway through the song (and the arrows freeze momentarily) and a ghostly angel fades into view.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: The player character's ship is destroyed in the middle of the ocean, only for a mysterious voice to tell them (and the optional Companions) that It Is Not Your Time, after which they wash up safely at Fort Joy. Later, they learn that the voice was their patron god and they're The Chosen One.
    Lohse: Well... thanks, disembodied voice.
  • For the Luigi's Mansion games, supplemental material exists in the form of Professor E. Gadd's Research Journal which gives the backstory and creation process for Gooigi. In it, E. Gadd notes that he suffered a near-death experience twice, once when some goo was accidentally knocked on to his face, causing him to nearly suffocate, the next when he was nearly sucked into a gooey Poltergust. Both times he only escaped thanks to Gooigi's weakness to water.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has a boss fight take place during one of these after Snake jumps off a cliff into a river some 50-100 feet below to escape from an enemy base. There you meet The Sorrow, a medium and former member of The Cobras, and you have to face everyone you've killed in the game before you can come back to life.
  • A variant in Murdered: Soul Suspect has detective Ronan thrown out a fourth-story window while chasing a serial killer at the beginning of the game. When he sees his body lying on the street, he initially thinks he's dead but notices some movement. He tries to return to his body, but it's unknown whether or not it would've worked, as the killer shows up and shoots him seven times just to be safe.
  • In Mystery Case Files: The Black Veil, the Master Detective is knifed by the game's antagonist in order to summon the Goddess of Death, and goes through a short near-death experience before Ankou (the goddess in question) restores her to life.

    Web Comics 
  • In The Beast Legion Xeus is almost killed at the hands of Dragos in Issue 04 before Brilight saves him.
  • Girl Genius, as a world filled with Mad Scientists, has quite a few — although some possibly count as actual death experiences.
    • The killing of Gil, Tarvek, and Agatha was the subject of the particularly lengthy Si Vales Valeo arc - it was necessary for all three to have near-death experiences to cure them of Hogfarb's Resplendent Immolation.
      Tarvek: [weakly] I... I don't think I'm at all well...
      Agatha: No, no! It's all going to be all right! We're just going to kill you, and then you'll be fine!
    • Tarvek's sister Anevka was saved from her near-death experience, following her involvement in one of her father's experiments, by Tarvek connecting her barely-living body to a clank that she would be able to control. This didn't exactly go as planned, as according to Tarvek her body died anyway, and the clank continued living Anevka's life without realizing it wasn't her.
    • Tarvek has had a couple of other near-death experiences separate from his illness and the Si Vales Valeo — one when he was stabbed and then shot in Sturmhalten, and then another when he was stabbed by Martellus and poisoned with something that should have made him dissolve within half an hour. Luckily for him, that was when the Baron set off the timestop, and Gil was able to heal him once he pulled him back into realtime.
  • In Powerpuff Girls Doujinshi, it's made pretty clear that the only reason Blossom didn't die in the Mandark arc was that Angel!Dee Dee convinced Grim to hold off on claiming her for a few extra seconds...which were thankfully exactly long enough for Dexter to save her.
  • An important plot point in Wapsi Square is that Monica and Shelly both had near-death experiences on the same day long before the comic started. They were both saved by Jin. A third major character actually did die that day.

    Web Videos 
  • The Cry of Mann: Jouglat nearly died in the warr note , shown in a flashback. He was badly injured and losing a lot of blood, and survived mostly thanks to Ghost Lady and his helpful callers.
  • My Dad's Tapes: As discussed in backstory, both the father and donotcontinue note  suffered from near-death experiences, which caused them to see the world in such a different way, it drove them to murder.

    Western Animation 
  • Rocko's Modern Life:
    • In "To Heck and Back", Heffer has one after choking on a chicken bone, where he is sent to Heck for gluttony, and Peaches shows him a montage of the times his gluttony hurt his family and friends, especially Rocko.
    • Rocko's car has one of these in "Manic Mechanic", complete with encountering the Grim Tow Truck and meeting St. Peterbilt at the Pearly Garage Door.
  • The Simpsons: Bart has one in "Bart Gets Hit by a Car" when he gets hit by a car. In a weird variation, he goes to Hell, and the Devil is the one who tells him It Is Not Your Time, saying he isn't supposed to be here until the Yankees win the World Series, which he claimed wouldn't happen for 100 years. (Of course, it actually happened in 1996... Call customer support, Old Nick.)
  • Alfred J. Kwak: After Alfred and Henk visit the sawfish to ask for his help, they're caught in a storm and Alfred is thrown overboard. He almost drowns and has a trippy nightmare in which he imagines being alone in the world, before being resuscitated in Captain Stoppel's home.
  • Over the Garden Wall: Greg's dream adventure in Cloud City as the temperatures slowly drop in "Babes in the Woods" can be read as an in-story example of this trope; more vitally, Wirt and Greg are drowning in real-time, making the entire series a near-death experience.
  • The Dilbert animated series has an entire episode revolving around this. Dilbert gets hit in the head in a gas station parking lot and winds up seeing the afterlife, which, much to his chagrin, turns out to be an office cubicle in the middle of a white void. He receives a second head injury near the climax of the episode, where he finds that Wally is now in a cubicle next to his (in accordance with the beliefs of the Wallyites, a cult who had established a religion based on Wally due to a series of events during the episode).
  • From Family Guy:
    • In the episode "Death Lives", Peter ends up struck by lightning, which knocks him out into a spirit form and immediately encountering Death, though it's quickly established that he's merely experiencing one of these, though according to Death, he will die for real shortly after his wife divorces him some time in the future. As Peter's presently in the middle of a marital crisis, he takes the opportunity to do some soul-searching with Death to figure out how to salvage their relationship.
    • The three-episode story arc, "Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story", Stewie ends up in one after one of his schemes goes wrong and he's crushed by a lifeguard chair, explicitly ending up in Hell for his troubles before he snaps back awake. After facing struggles in trying to be good to avoid such a fate again, several shenanigans lead to him to encountering his future self, who as a result of the extended trauma of the incident turned him into an unambitious loser living a safe, but uneventful life.
  • Mr. Krabs experiences one in SpongeBob SquarePants for the episode "Born Again Krabs". When the restaurant folds due to Krabs refusing to sell any new food until an old and moldy Krabby Patty is given (and naturally, no one will eat it), he eats it himself and winds up in the hospital. The "Near Death" part comes from the Flying Dutchman stopping by to claim his soul for being a cheapskate, so Krabs promises to change his ways. Then he goes too far the other way and has a very violent Snap Back that causes the Dutchman to come back for his due.

    Real Life 
  • Most studies attempt to replicate the sensation of NDE, rather than to study the processes occurring during clinical death (a complicated thing to do, though).
  • Most reported NDEs are positive and very similar (if not nearly identical) in nature. But some people experience a negative NDE. These negative NDE's may include the same events as a positive NDE, but perceived negatively (the light is blinding, the journey through the tunnel is nauseating, the person feels judged during life review, etc.), void (perceived negatively, as many positive NDEs also include it) or even Hell (very rarely). Sometimes, negative NDEs eventually turns into a positive one. Such NDEs are often experienced after an attempted suicide, for example.
  • People, who experience a positive NDE (most cases) usually come back changed for the better, as their experience convinces them that the afterlife exists and becomes more caring, less interested in material possessions, etc.
  • While there are many known cases, only a few have been well observed, with evidence that the brain was inactive during the "experience." One of them is Pam Reynolds. Watch here [1] or here [2]. If those statements by Pam and the scientists turn out to be true, then Cessation of Existence will be subverted for everyone who hadn't believed any afterlife existed, and averted for those who always believed an afterlife did. There are many cases of this "veridical perception", but, unfortunately, most of them are anecdotal and retrospective, and cannot therefore be truly confirmed. One way to potentially confirm them is to put hidden, unusual objects or other targets (unknown and invisible to both patients and staff) into rooms where NDEs are expected to happen. So far, there were very few studies (including AWARE) with such setup. They did not find any convincing case, mostly because only a few people reported such an experience, usually in a room without any targets. But even if this is possible, finding and verifying a case will prove difficult, as most people will probably observe their lifeless body and ponder their situation, rather than look around for anything unusual.
  • Those who believe that near-death experiences are purely the result of processes in the brain and not something else in nature will counter that we don't know at what moment they happened and that we shouldn't assume that it was while the patient had no brain activity, as well as that at times, there might actually be brain activity when none has been registered as the instrument used may have been able to measure only surface brain activity, although this would still change neuroscience, as conscious activity is considered to be impossible without "surface brain activity".
  • In Proof Of Heaven neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander recounts his own near-death experience and asserts, using his own experience as a brain specialist, how his physical brain simply could not have generated the "hyper-real" world that he experienced. In his own words, Eben's experience as a brain surgeon, his passive atheism, the detailed scans taken of his brain showing almost no activity, the hairsbreadth he came to actual death, and his remarkable full recovery essentially made his the "perfect storm" of near-death experiences. Regardless of your personal beliefs, it's hard not to take his account seriously. However, his account and assertion is questioned by others.
  • The recent AWARE study, led by Dr. Sam Parnia, is dedicated to objectively studying whether or not near-death experiences (and their out-of-body components) do indeed happen when someone has died. So far, his findings seem to imply, in his own words, that that which makes a person who they are (their "soul" or consciousness) is not simply annihilated after death. His final publication doesn't claim to prove it though, and only 2% of results were positive from the study, this number is so low especially because most patients died during or shortly after resuscitation, or were too sick to be interviewed. Actually, only one patient reported an out of body experience and was fit enough for an interview, he was able to describe his surroundings and resuscitation procedure rather precisely, his NDE was even timed, as he heard 3-minute sound signals. But there were no hidden targets present in the room. Sam Parnia started an AWARE II study, which is expected to end in September 2020.
  • There is also the issue of whether those who have published accounts of their near-death experiences are telling the truth or are fabricating the stories with a hidden agenda. Or, more generously, that these NDEs, while definitely seeming real, are actually hallucinations caused by oxygen loss and other things. Although it cannot be denied that those,who experience a (positive) NDE are also usually changed for the better.
  • There are several sites, such as Near-Death Experience Research Foundation (see ) and (, which are dedicated on near-death experiences and their research. One of the most well-known organizations for research of NDE's (And also past life claims and psi phenomenons) is Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia.
  • Many organized religions take near-death experiences very seriously as proof of their doctrine. Others may shun them or dismiss them as delusions or even Devil's tricks (as they believe you have to be of particular religion to actually get to heaven, and NDEs happen to everyone, including atheists). One thing critics point out is that the NDEs are contradictory in terms of religious imagery (e.g. people see imagery reflective of their religion or what is dominant where they live) so claiming this as proof of any one religion would be problematic at best. According to Sam Parnia, people are seeing the same things, and when inquired further about the experience, they usually admit they only assumed what they saw was their god or prophet, while atheists simply do not know exactly, only that they saw something or someone full of light, love, etc.
  • NDEs are often dismissed as hallucinations. According to NDE researcher Penny Sartori, there are indeed cases that may be similar to NDEs, but they are actually caused by medication and residual sensory input. For example, one of her patients described his NDE as purely hellish, as he experienced being roasted on a spit. In reality, the patient had a very low body temperature from surgery, and had to be heated up with a special heated blanket and turned from side to side due to the nature of his wounds. Other patients reported being on a ferry boat, as she was lying on a pressure-relieving mattress, which may indeed create a rocking sensation. Also, retrospectively, hallucinating patients usually realize their experience was not real, while NDE experiencers firmly believe it was real regardless of time passed.
    • What's especially notable about this is that many users of the powerful disassociative anaesthetic report experiences that are almost exactly the same as those of [NDEs], further suggesting that this may be simply a common type of hallucination. For this reason, ketamine use has been referred to as 'voluntary death'.
  • See here for an overall critique.
  • Josh Homme suffered one of these in 2010; his heart stopped and he was effectively 'dead' for several minutes. Unlike many N.D.E.s, it's clear from how he talks about it that this was not a pleasant experience for him. The traumatic nature of this event, and its mental after effects, was a heavy influence on the band's next album, ...Like Clockwork, particularly the harrowing final song, I Appear Missing:
Calling all comas,
Prisoner on the loose
A spitting image of me
Except for a heart-shaped hole where the hope runs out
Tear me apart
Pinned like a note in a hospital gown
Prison of sleep
Deepened now
A rabbit hole never to be found
  • A woman named Sara Brautigam suffered thirty-six in one single year, due to a rare heart condition called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. She described the experience of 'dying' and being revived..pretty differently to many other witnesses:


Video Example(s):


Dr. Jan saves Anne

Dr. Jan and the museum guards burst right into the museum right before Anne could be killed by the Cloak-bot, causing it to flee without her in an instant, saving her life.

How well does it match the trope?

4.6 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / BigDamnHeroes

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