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No Ontological Inertia

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Becky: And the machine blowing up has returned everything to normal in the real school, including Mr. Abercrombie!
Templeton: Hmm. I'm not convinced that blowing up a machine would make everything go back to normal.
Mitchell: Don't question it. We meddled with stuff we don't understand. We got away with it. Let's go play in the snow.
Templeton: I mean, if you blow up a toaster, your toast doesn't turn back into bread, does it?
Becky: Templeton, shh!
Templeton: And if you blow up a cow, you don't make cheese not exist. I mean, it just doesn't make any sense!
Strange Hill High "Teacher's Pet"

Ontological Inertia is the tendency stuff has to continue being stuff. Things, in general, keep existing even when we're not looking at them.

Writers often forget about or ignore this, and assume that the creator of a thing maintains some sort of existential tie to the thing created. That is, if the creator is destroyed, it is "only natural" that the creation will pop out of existence, or, preferably, explode. Whatever damage or curse the Big Bad has done disappears when it is defeated, instantly resulting in sunlight, birds and happy little flowers. (Keep in mind that this ontological tie is actually the case in many fairy tales and faerie stories.)

There are certain situations in which this can be inherently justified. Computer programs, for example, stop running if their hardware turns off, and may be reset to a default state under certain conditions. Magic usually lacks ontological inertia, under the theory that continuous effort has to be applied to work against the natural order, and ceasing that effort will cause things to snap back to the way they ought to be. Sometimes the magic lacks ontological inertia because spells are contracts i.e. pacts (with the spirits, the gods, demons, etc.), and the death of the contractor voids the contract—like what sometimes happens to currencies when the government issuing them falls, e.g. good luck buying things with Confederate dollars in 1866.


In other situations it's more blatant, such as the ever popular Load-Bearing Boss, or a poison/disease that not only stops doing further damage when it is cured, but also erases the injuries that it's already inflicted. A slightly more subtle variation is the Fisher King, whose health is mirrored by the state of his kingdom.

This trope may be considered a Necessary Weasel in more idealistic works, as dealing with the damage left behind by the depredations of the Big Bad or the Monster of the Week can turn even the best Happy Ending into a downer as one realizes just exactly how much work the heroes will have to do to put their world back together. See No Endor Holocaust for the ultimate extreme of this.

Similarly, This Was His True Form is this trope applied to shapeshifters and to any reality that has been overlaid by a fairy enchantment. This is a type of Reset Button. Destruction Equals Off-Switch is arguably a subtrope.


Compare with Critical Existence Failure, when something has no intermediate state between functionally perfect and completely destroyed; and What Happened to the Mouse?, where not only does something disappear, but the author fails to give any clue why. Contrast Offscreen Inertia. See also Liquid Assets and No Immortal Inertia — though these are more about Life Energy, they still represent states that can be easily restored to "normal".

Not to be confused with Status Quo Is God, where the reversion happens offscreen and no reason is ever given.

Some spoilers ahead (villain deaths, primarily).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Time Travel subversion: At the end of the first season of Sailor Moon, Usagi seemed to turn back time/erase everyone's memories of the past year. However, her two friends who had become a couple during that time... still are. To be fair, this was an example of a premature Grand Finale retooled when the series continued.
    • On the other hand, this was usually played straight with Monster of the Week fights. In one episode, the MotW was conjured from a camera and could trap whoever she fired a beam at in a photograph (this included the VotW, Luna, Sailor Mercury and Sailor Mars); all of them were returned to normal as soon as Sailor Moon destroyed the monster.
    • Crystal Tokyo also counts. In the second season, it was a poisonous wasteland. But when Chibiusa returns after defeating the villains, it's a beautiful place.
  • From an OVA of Slayers: a magic mirror is used to make clones of Lina and Naga, prompting the duo to smash the mirror on the assumption that it would destroy the embarrassingly pacifistic and modest (respectively) clones. Subversion: Not only did it not work, but the clones complained about Lina's over-reliance on violence as a result.
  • In Martian Successor Nadesico, this is apparently what destroying the Time Travel Black Box would have accomplished, averting the entire war and whatever else was accomplished through Boson Jumping. After some consideration and a couple childish shouting matches, though, the crew ends up deciding not to destroy the device and keeping the past, good and bad, intact. Fridge Brilliance indicates that not destroying it was probably a good idea regardless, as the device had actually been in use for millions of years.
  • This trope is critical to the plot of Fate/stay night. The seven Masters fight by commanding their Servants — magical beings so powerful and unpredictable that beating one is nearly impossible, even for another Servant. But if you kill a Master or otherwise eliminate his Command Spells, his Servant can only keep existing for a little while (and it's much weaker during that time). Thus the easiest way to win the Holy Grail War is to take the enemy Masters out of commission — and needless to say, only the good guys (Shirou and Rin) are particular as to how.
    • The Assassin-class Servants actually rely on this. Other classes could potentially win the Holy Grail War simply by beating the snot out of other Servants in direct combat and forcing the now-helpless Master to surrender. Assassins, however, tend to fare poorly in direct combat, and possess abilities that are more effective against normal humans than Servants. Thus, Masters of Assassins are usually supposed to target other Masters with their Servants than other Servants.
    • Another similar case is familiars. Generally, if the familiar's master dies, the familiar will also die shortly/immediately afterward. A familiar needs mana in order to live. Len is an exception as she has a partially demonic nature and is also a dream demon, meaning she can gather mana for herself in order to continue living. Possibly justified in this case as it's basically akin to eating/starvation and Len simply knows how to feed herself.
    • All Nasuverse examples avert this trope if you have any real familiarity with how that world works. Gaia, the will of the planet, exerts the force necessary to take anything of magical origin out of existence. In other words, magic has ontological inertia, but the planet destroys it constantly in the same way that it deals with normal inertia through the force of gravity.
    • In fact, the only case in which things of non-natural origin appear to have ontological inertia is in the case of the Crystal Valley, created by Type Mercury/ORT. The idea is that ORT's very existence overpowers Gaia and overwrites the natural laws of Earth with its own.
  • Applied to the Digimon Taken for Granite in episode 17 of Digimon Adventure, even though the character was not even dead.
    • Though he was blasted a rather far way away, so it might still count.
    • The Dark Masters reconfigured the data of the Digital World into Spiral Mountain, each ruling a section of it. When the Dark Master controlling that section was killed, the data would instantly return to the Digital World proper. Justified, as their power was what was holding it together and without them, the section collapsed.
    • In Digimon Frontier, the Transformation Trinkets will take 'extra' data from a defeated enemy such as whatever data he sucked up to gain power, and any spell placed on them by the major villains. Therefore, whacking the Monster of the Week hard enough lets you restore them to their former selves if they're under The Corruption, and fix anything they broke. Apparently, all the world's data knows who and what it's supposed to be, so it's a matter of weakening the enemy enough to make it capturable, and then releasing it. By the end of the series, the world has been reduced to crumbs to revive the Sealed Evil in a Can and the moons were shattered by the first battle with him. When he's defeated at long last, all goes back to normal.
  • In the Yes! Pretty Cure 5 movie, when Cure Aqua kills Dark Aqua, the latter's sword (which had been knocked out of her hand) vanishes behind her. More significantly, the whole reason she's Cure Aqua in the first place is related to a case of this.
  • Subverted in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's where, upon hearing how Reinforce plans to delete herself to save Hayate, the Wolkenritter naturally assume that, being her Guardian Programs, they'd disappear with her. Not so, says Reinforce, as she'd transferred their links to her over to Hayate. They're slowly gaining independent existence, and are far more biological by Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers. Downside is they're easier to hurt, will die for real, and already heal more slowly.
    • Averted at the beginning of the season when Nanoha gets her Linker Core drained while charging Starlight Breaker and she still manages to fire the spell while Shamal's arm is still in her chest.
    • Played straight/invoked in Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force: Massive magical iceberg about to drop onto your ship? Shank the caster and the ice vanishes!
  • Jutsu in Naruto seem to be like this. The reason for this is that every jutsu is powered by a person's chakra which is generated by their body. When they die, their body ceases to produce chakra and anything dependent on their chakra to maintain its form breaks down.
    • When Team Gai fought the Kisame clone, the first thing he did was puke out a whole lake's worth of water and when he was defeated the water disappeared.
    • In the Sanbi Arc of Shippuden, Guren gives Yuukimaru a Camelia Flower encased in crystal via her Crystal style jutsu. She tells him that it will never wilt as long as she's alive. During one of her battles with the Sanbi, the crystal cracked when she was wounded.When she makes a Heroic Sacrifice near the end of the arc to protect Yuukimaru, it shatters inwardly, but stays intact, showing she was Not Quite Dead. She's later rescued by Gozu.
    • Danzo's men were able to tell he died when the seals he placed on their tongues to paralyze him if they tried to reveal information about him disappear.
    • Averted with Kimimaro's bones. Even after he died, the forest of bones he created remained intact. This is likely due to the fact that, while created with his chakra, the bones still had their own strength without the chakra.
    • Madara's black rods and Truth-Seeking Balls disintegrate once Black Zetsu/Kaguya take over him.
  • Half of the tension and drama in the entire Dragon Ball series is based around the Dragon Balls becoming useless stones if their creator dies. For most of the series this is Piccolo/Kami, but Guru's remaining lifespan is a significant plot point in the Namek saga.
    • Bizarrely, Dragon Ball: Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans did this with what appeared to be completely ordinary machines. A Tsufuru-jin scientist named Dr. Raichi tries to kill our heroes — and everyone else on the planet, as a side-effect — by planting several machines that spew out poison gas into the planet's atmosphere. When Dr. Raichi is killed, the last machine disappears with no explanation. Nobody seems to find this odd — perhaps the weird properties of the Dragon Balls have jaded them.
    • Later on in the Buu saga, Dabura turns Piccolo and Krillin to stone. However, when he is killed, his victims return to normal. Turns out the poor King of Demons didn't accomplish anything at all. Even the fact that Piccolo's stone form was broken into multiple pieces was irrelevant because Piccolo can regenerate.
    • Played with in Dragon Ball Super: When dealing with Goku Black, a villain from the future, Beerus eventually manages to find the culprit behind Black and destroy him in the present, saying that this should, in theory, destroy Black as well since the events that lead to his emergence now never happened. Unfortunately, it doesn't work: Black's Time Ring apparently shields him from changes in time, meaning he does have Ontological Inertia. Time travel in Dragon Ball also operates on multiverse theory anyway, with changes in time creating branching timelines, so, really, Beerus should have known better.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! naturally plays this for comedy and Fanservice. Takane constantly suffers Clothing Damage to the point that it becomes a Running Gag, and attempts to combat it by creating a magical set of clothes. Turns out that the clothes can't be maintained while one is unconscious. She learned this the hard way, after getting knocked out by Negi during the Tournament Arc, in a stadium full of people. It's played seriously later, when Nagi defeats the Lifemaker, and the war seemingly ends the next day, causing Takamichi to comment on it. Something of a subversion, as the end of the chapter implies that the problems are not over. And they aren't. Not even close.
  • A possible example occurs in Code Geass, where one of the only cases of someone actually breaking geass (without use of Orange-kun's geass canceller) occurs after the death of the one who used it. Still, it is not made clear if Nunnally opening her eyes was due to a weakening of the geass or Heroic Willpower. Lelouch seems to think that Schneizel will remain loyal to Zero after his death., suggesting that some ontological inertia was in play.
    • Also, when Rolo assaulted the Geass Directorate, he killed children who have used Geass on one of Black Knights, which resulted in the man being released from the Geass., but is also possible that this particular ability requires constant concentration - as the affected was aware that his body was being manipulated by someone else, rather than changing his personality or mindset - so it won't have a permanent effect, like most others seen in the series.
    • This both is, and is not, the premise behind Zero Requiem. The idea is that when Charles dies, the malice and hatred caused by his reign will not vanish, as there is ontological inertia, so something needs to be done about it. The response is to be even more terrible, but equally to everybody, so when the scapegoat in question dies, a lack of ontological inertia takes effect. This conflict of concepts is the major issue with this plan.
  • In Hellsing, all the ghouls (zombies created when a vampire bites a non-virgin human) die when you slay the vampire who created them in the first place (a common theme in vampire stories; see below). That is, unless it's an artificial vampire created by surprisingly resilient Nazis. Then, the ghouls persist even after the vampire is killed.
  • A major issue in Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-. We don't find out until the very last chapter, but clones cease to exist when the creator dies. Even after Yuuko gave up centuries of her life to get the clones into the cycle of reincarnation, they still vanish once the Big Bad dies.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, whenever a limb or other body part of a homunculus is separated from the rest of the body (or, to be more specific, the Philosopher's Stone at the Homunculus's core), it decomposes into dust in seconds, only to be replaced as the homunculus regenerates. If they die their whole body turns to dust. Though, it is possible to reattach it if it's done instantly, as shown when Gluttony keeps himself from falling apart, so to speak.
    • This is a justified use, as it's clear the homunculi are continuously exerting alchemic energy to keep their bodies together, and physically they are comprised of simple materials. In addition to immediately dissolving upon death, there is an implication that it is agony to exist as a homunculus, alleviated slightly by ingesting red stone.
  • Subverted in Hunter × Hunter, where the local form of spiritual power, Nen, can be used to materialize objects or impose 'rules' to people which don't disappear with the death of the caster; instead, they can even get STRONGER. A specific ability (Nen removal) must be used to get rid of this kind of things.
  • One Piece:
    • Originally averted in the Thriller Bark arc as the shadows Gecko Moriah stole would only return to their owners by his will alone. However, it became straight after Moriah absorbed them all to take on a One-Winged Angel form and his defeat by Luffy caused him to release the shadows.
    • It is implied that he released the shadows subsonciously. He was holding onto 1000 shadows and the amount of willpower to hold onto them is staggering. Combined with the intense beatdown, he most likely released subconsciously or rather his will became too weak to hold the shadows anymore.
    • This is one of the basic rules in the manga as a whole. Certain Devil Fruit users have their powers be of active usage or be activated so when they are knocked out or rendered unconscious, the effects of their Devil Fruit are nullified. Examples include Shiki, Foxy, Moria, Vander Decken IX, and Sugar, among others. Other Devil Fruit users have their powers provide more passive effects that are always on, such as Luffy's rubber body, Chopper's humanity and Brook's undead state. Others merely produce substances and so presumably the stuff that was already created would remain (such as Mr.3's wax and Aojiki's ice) though this only applies to substances not connected to the user (such as Donflamingo's strings).
  • At the end of Jack and the Witch (1967), after the evil queen Auriana is destroyed the magic she used to turn children into harpies dissipates, causing the kids to return to normal.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • It seems that any active magical effect is destroyed when the Magical Girl causing it dies, most obvious with their outfits. The same thing happens to a witch's barrier when the witch is destroyed.
    • The Spin-Off Puella Magi Oriko Magica seems to avert this until we learn that there's a magical girl who is slowing down time — including the speed at which the magical effects disappear.
    • The other Spin-Off, Puella Magi Kazumi Magica, also uses this trope in an interesting fashion. The title character is an Amnesiac Hero. When she doesn't get her memories back after the death of the Knight of Cerebus she realizes that her amnesia must have come from something else. Similarly, the Evil Nuts that were supposedly created by the Knight of Cerebus don't vanish when she's killed — they either avert this trope, or someone else made them.
  • One of the best aversions in history shows up in Star Driver. Long story, but an Artificial Human was created using a First Phase power. When the Driver lost the power, it was assumed the creation disappeared. It turns out to be not the case.
  • Pokémon Special: in the Ruby/Sapphire arc, Celebi uses its Time Travel powers to fix all the problems that happened over the course of the arc, including bringing Norman and Steven back to life.
  • Mawaru-Penguindrum:
    • Episode 12: when Himari collapses and then dies due to her possessor (the Princess of the Crystal) being unable to sustain her existence anymore, her Penguin (#3) passes out and later away as well. In episode 13, Sanetoshi revives Himari after making a Deal with the Devil with her brother Kanba: after this, #3 returns too and seems to be all right.
    • Takes place again much later, when Masako Natsume dies of the injuries she sustained in her Last Stand; her penguin companion, Esmeralda, disappears when she kicks it in exactly the same way #3 died. Once Masako is revived (also by Sanetoshi, to strengthen Kanba's Face–Heel Turn), Esmeralda comes back to life too. And when Himari has another seizure, #3 also starts fading away...
  • Happens with locations in Saint Seiya: kill the enemy, the location implodes. It's played straight with temples of the OVA villains, that collapse as soon as the villain is killed (even if it's implied in the second one that it was actually collateral damage that caused the collapse), and with Hell, that self-destructs as soon as Hades dies, but it's subverted by Asgard (fully intact. Then again, Odin was not killed, so...) the Sanctuary (Athena's cosmo protected it from the ravages of time, but as it had been built and repaired by Man's work the collapse would take a lot of time, enough for Athena to return and fix it), Poseidon's kingdom (it was destroyed, but that's because the battle had destroyed the pillars that prevented the sea from falling down on it) and Hades's Earth castle (it's all but stated it was a self-destruct spell that destroyed it).
  • Downplayed in Bleach. Gremmy Thoumeaux has a powerful Imagination-Based Superpower. Once he stops thinking about a subject he has affected it changes back to normal, but this doesn't include indirect effects of his powers. For example, if he imagined a person's bones turned into cookies and they broke their arm as a result, when he stops focusing on them their bones will go back to normal, but the broken arm is still broken.
  • A consistent rule in Jojos Bizarre Adventure is that, if a Stand's power affects the world around it, rendering its user unconscious or killing them (which disables the Stand) undoes its effects (such as Sethan's Fountain of Youth or Grateful Dead's Rapid Aging). The only exceptions are effects that change objects on a physical level, like Crazy Diamond's healing or, on a simpler level, physical damage.
  • In GaoGaiGar, all remaining Zonder metal vanishes as soon as the Z-Master is destroyed. Taken further in FINAL, where killing Pisa Sol causes both the 11 Planetary Masters of Sol and their universe to fade into oblivion.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
    • The end used it to truly heartbreaking effect. The Anti-Spiral is defeated, the universe is saved from extinction, and now all forms of life are allowed to freely expand and explore throughout the stars. And best of all, Simon finally gets to marry his Love Interest Nia, as planned at the beginning of the second story arc. All is well, except that Nia is part Anti-Spiral (due to her being Lordgenome's child and thus having a dummy gene that turned her into their herald when activated by certain conditions, meaning that as soon as her and Simon, who fought so hard to rescue her in the end, share their Last Kiss, she began to disappear into nothingness, since the lack of the gene existing means Nia is fading from existence. Even during the final battle, as he held her in his arms, Simon noticed her flickering in and out of existence. She reassures him that he didn't come all this way for them to not do what had to be done, and in the end, after keeping herself in the physical realm for a week through sheer force of willpower (aka Spiral energy), she fades away smiling in his arms.
    • Notable, in Lagann-Hen, while writing a diary for Simon, Nia's arm briefly disappears, and she forces it back into reality through concentration. Makes you wonder if she really is gone forever...
  • Relatively early on in Devil & Devil, after the time-sucking monster is defeated, the girls it had turned into babies are stated to return to their normal ages.
  • Played with in Fairy Tail. Spells have been seen lasting long after a person's death, but this is usually considered an impressive feat.
  • Princess Mononoke:
    • Played straight when the decapitation and, ultimately, death of the forest spirit transforms the entire ecology of the region.
    • Played even straighter with the flowers that bloom in the footsteps of the forest spirit, and which wither as soon as he lifts his foot back up.
  • Discussed in second arc of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's: When all the little kids in the orphanage are depressed about how Martha and others have been taken by the Earthbound Gods, Yusei cheers them up by assuring them that when they defeat the villains, everyone will return and be all right. After the kids leave, his fellow main characters ask him how he knows that. They're furious when they find out, he doesn't — he just said that to make the kids feel better! It's only sheer luck that it turns out to be true.
  • Medaka Box's Final Boss is a 5000-year-old Fallen Hero who's so powerful, the damage he inflicts doesn't heal; wounds stay open, bones stay broken, and no manner of medicine or healing powers can change that. After he's defeated, this goes away and people are allowed to heal up. Which is good, because he killed most of the heroes, including Medaka herself; the only reason the heroes won is because a Heel–Face Turn'd antagonist with the power to de-age people made Zenkichi's body two days younger, which "reset" him to before he was hurt in the first place, giving him one final chance to turn things around.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Played straight with cards changing zones (such as a creature dying or a card being discarded). The game "forgets" where a card used to be and the rules treat it as a new object when it arrives in a new zone.
    • Similarly, the rules state that when a player loses the game, everything he controlled disappears. This can be very important in multiplayer games.
    • Zigzagged with card abilities. The effects of static abilities disappear the instant that their source leaves the battlefield. In contrast, once an activated ability has been activated or a triggered ability has been triggered, they exist independently from their source, and killing the source will do absolutely nothing to prevent the ability from resolving. This is mostly so that Death Activated Superpowers work the way you would expect them to.
    • This used to be a defied trope with creature damage. Magic uses a timing system called "The Stack," in which whatever was put on it last is resolved first. (This makes sense in gameplay even if it involves a Timey-Wimey Ball.) The problem is, damage dealt by creatures used to go on The Stack, meaning that, in response to your creature dealing damage to your opponent, you could take it out of play in various ways and for various beneficial purposes. In other words, the game's timing rules made it possible for your creature to swing a punch, suffer Critical Existence Failure, and still have its punch land. This was eventually changed with an Obvious Rules Patch that made creature damage not involve The Stack.

    Comic Books 
  • Particularly aggravating when mutants (in the Marvel Universe) lose their powers and (in general) turn human. That is, you might have looked like this as a mutant, but once you're cured, you get an instant human body. Almost as if you had never been a mutant in the first place. Although, it's only a general rule. Chamber, a mutant whose explosion/fire/whatever powers blew off his lower face and chest, had to be put on a life support when his powers disappeared. It seems it doesn't count if it was an indirect effect of their powers, or if it will cause something even shittier to happen to the character.
  • X-Factor, in fact, did an arc based partially around that premise. SOME mutants became completely human looking when they became non-mutants, but other mutants retained vestiges of their mutations even after Decimation — horns, colourful feathers instead of hair, etc. — and some of them resent ex-mutants who can pass as completely humans who retain their attachment to their previous mutant state, because they can go back and forth, whenever they want.
  • In Spider-Man, the character "The Lizard" was created by a man, Dr. Curt Connors, trying to grow his right arm back. When he becomes the Lizard, his right arm does, indeed, grow back. When he's cured and reverts to normal, however, he loses his arm again. Connors's RIGHT ARM has No Ontological Inertia. Ditto for Kommodo, who uses an improved version of Dr. Connors's formula, that allows her to transform at will. In human form, she has no legs. Where on earth do they come from?
  • Scarlet Witch and her twin sons. To wit: back during the Vision & The Scarlet Witch mini-series, Wanda used a big mass of chaos energy to do the otherwise impossible — make herself pregnant with the android Vision's children. (Why an android would have reproductive organs... let's move on). We find out later on that the twins aren't kids with impossible origins, but magic-powered figments of Wanda's imagination. When she wasn't thinking of them on some level, they literally faded from reality. They were "killed off" when minor baddie Master Pandemonium absorbed them into his demonic gestalt body. Recently, the twins were resurrected and aged-up as Wiccan and Speed of The Young Avengers (though their parentage has never been officially confirmed by canon or Word of God).
  • Used to horrifying effect in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume II. During a dinner scene, Mr. Hyde's conversation slowly reveals that he has just brutally raped and partially eaten Hawley Griffin, the Invisible Man, whose blood gradually becomes visible on the walls and table and all over Hyde as Griffin dies in the next room.
  • Averted in an interesting way in Judge Dredd. In the earliest years of the comic (those set in the 2100s) there has been a prophesied doom that would strike in 2120. Judges Dredd and Anderson used an experimental time machine to travel to the future where they find the cause, a psychic entity of huge power known as The Mutant, travel back in time and prevent it coming to pass. However the Zombie Dredd of the future that The Mutant had unleashed to torment Dredd had come back with them. It has become deanimated, but the fact remained that there was now a 13-year-older Judge Dredd corpse in the Black Museum. This being Judge Dredd, it came alive again and ran amok 12 years later, just in time to get everyone nervous about the old prophecy again.
  • Superman:
    • The titular hero's Kryptonian physiology has often been described as a solar battery, absorbing the radiation from Earth's yellow sun and storing it, which powers his flight, invulnerability, and super-cake-baking powers. However, whenever someone wants to shut off Superman's powers, they just bung him in a room with a Red bulb and he becomes as weak as a kitten. The equivalent with a human would be going into a dark room and suddenly deforming with rickets because of massive Vitamin D deficiency.
    • As with anything Supes-related it varies continually, but one explanation bandied around is that red sunlight blocks up the cell mechanisms which use solar energy in a manner analogous to competitive inhibition of enzymes in cell biology. The stored energy is still there, but he can't use it until he's purged the red sunlight clogging up his cells. Still, it doesn't make sense — a light bulb irradiates way, way, way less light than a sun.
    • Even his reaction to red sunlight varies by writer. Sometimes his powers flip off like a switch when exposed, sometimes the light simply weakens him rapidly, and likewise he can recover slowly or quickly. Recently, the Kandorians made a Red Sun gun that fires a burst of red sunlight at a Kryptonian which shuts off their powers completely for an hour even though the exposure is brief.
  • During the Millennium crossover, the Justice League visited the homeworld of the Manhunters and confronted their leader. The entire planet collapsed when the head Manhunter escaped.
  • A major plot point in Lucifer where everything starts to go straight to hell (so to speak) when God up and leaves the universe. Justified in that His name was technically the only thing that was holding each individual atom of creation together in the first place.
  • Briefly mentioned and sort of averted in the JLA special Foreign Bodies, in which the Justice League undergoes one big Body Swap. Green Lantern, stuck in Martian Manhunter's body, points out to Aquaman (in Wonder Woman's body) that at least he got his hand back—all of the characters' unique physical features stay with their bodies, not their minds, as it should be if you only switch minds. He calls it "proof of some kind of thermodynamic 'conservation of anatomy' principle."
  • This is how the powers of a Green Lantern work. The constructs and effects he creates only exist as long as he is thinking about them. However, any impact his constructs have on normal physical matter remains (if he digs a pit with a glowy shovel, the pit remains after the glowy shovel disappears.)
  • In recent decades, this has been a common theme in the Batman mythos:
    • Bruce Wayne is not truly Batman until he puts on the costume; and as soon as he removes his mask, he reverts to being Bruce Wayne. In part this is an in-universe Enforced Trope: Batman must be stupid, incompetent Bruce Wayne while out of costume to preserve his secret identity. However, it is also a psychological internalization in that Wayne believes that, on the level of reality that most matters to him, he doesn't merely dress as Batman but is Batman - and without the costume, he's stripped down to his skeleton and not truly alive.
    • The same goes for quite a few of the villains. For example, the Scarecrow's primary gimmick is, of course, scaring people - something that he obviously cannot do as the very unthreatening-looking Dr. Jonathan Crane. But his scarecrow mask and the effect wreaked on the human mind by his fear toxin together make him walking, talking terror made form. Batman fully understands this, and in certain cases that knowledge makes the Scarecrow a pretty easy adversary to defeat. He'll be stalking the streets of Gotham City, terrorizing everyone in his path and boasting about how everyone is too frightened to ever stop him - and Batman will just pull his mask off, revealing a pathetic little man underneath...who now realizes he's surrounded by a huge crowd of his formerly terrified, now angry and vindictive victims.
    • Anarky is a violent left-wing vigilante in a gold death mask (and also wears a broad-brimmed hat and a cape, making him look not unlike the title character of V for Vendetta). His modus operandi is self-righteously punishing the rich and powerful for their unethical business practices. He finally bites off more than he can chew when he targets Batman for assassination, blaming him for all of the crime in Gotham. He interferes in a battle between Batman and (ironically enough) the Scarecrow, which proves disastrous for him when one of the Scarecrow's mind-controlled Mooks punches him in the face, knocking off his gold mask and destroying his confidence so that he reverts to the tongue-tied, peevish, cowardly juvenile delinquent he actually is (and his intelligence plunges as well, so that he goes from a brilliant wit quoting the great minds of literature and history to a stereotypically inarticulate teenager who says "man" a lot.) For extra irony, Anarky is fairly masculine in appearance with his mask on, but without it appears pretty effeminate.
  • This is why the Cosmic Cubes of the Marvel Universe are Awesome, but Impractical. Yeah, they make you a Reality Warper, but you have to keep thinking to make any changes to reality permanent. If your attention goes elsewhere or you fall asleep, everything will go back to normal. This is not always applied consistently, however, as things like Steve's restoration of Bucky's memories at the end of the Winter Soldier arc remain in place after Steve loses the Cube.
  • Mazeworld: The defeat of the Satan-esque Big Bad when the hero performs a Heroic Sacrifice to take them both out causes all the demonic Mooks that he created to vanish.

    Comic Strips 
  • One Sunday edition of Calvin and Hobbes saw the titular twosome engaging in one of their trademark petty arguments in the midst of a meeting of their "anti-girl" secret club. While Calvin's head is turned (he's writing a derogatory "law" about Hobbes in the club charter), Hobbes snatches Calvin's "Supreme Dictator Hat" off of his head and proclaims "Now I'm the Supreme Dictator!" - as if taking off the Supreme Dictator's hat automatically drains him of his power.

    Fairy Tales 
  • Slightly zig-zagged in Cinderella. The coach, horses, dress, etc., all revert to normal at midnight, except for one (possibly both) glass slipper(s).

    Fan Works 
  • The Dragon and the Songstress: The curse inflicted on Aqua goes away after the sorcerer that inflicted it is killed.
  • Averted in the Spirited Away fanfic The Kamikakushi Saga. The kami from the film remain bound to their contracts with Yubaba, despite her death and the destruction of the bathhouse. Working at Chihiro's onsen allows them to fulfil the terms of said contracts.
  • Principal Celestia Hunts the Undead: Brain worms need a source of black magic to survive on Earth. When the source they were using is gone, they die quickly and are purged from the victims' body within twenty-four hours.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
    • In Act IV chapter 18, upon Hitomi's death, all of those she petrified return to normal.
    • Similarly, both times Jovian and Jacqueline are killed, the mind control spell they cast on Felucia, and later Apoch and Astreal, are automatically broken.
    • Discussed in Act VI chapter 51. Kokoa suggests that they just kill Hex to break the spell he has on Falla and Akasha. Moka and Kyouko dismiss that possibility, pointing out that Hex is much stronger than he looks, that Akasha and Falla will fight against them to protect him, and there's no guarantee that killing him will break the spell anyway.

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney's Aladdin
    • Jafar uses his magical staff to hypnotize the Sultan. When the staff is broken by Aladdin, the hypnotic effect is instantly neutralized.
    • Genie moves the palace to higher elevation per Jafar's orders. When Jafar is defeated, the palace instantly and magically moves back to its original position. The fact that defeating Jafar reversed Genie's actions makes this case particularly absurd, especially since the Genie could have voluntarily fixed all that once he was freed.
    • The changes Jafar made using his power as a sorcerer were undone when he became a genie. The rug (which had been unraveled) was re-woven, Abu changed from a mechanical monkey back into a real one, and so on.
    • Also, based on the characters' comments Aladdin's prince wish apparently has to be recast by the end.
    • Aladdin: The Return of Jafar: After Jafar's death at the end, all the destruction he caused as a Genie is reversed, with the lava pit closing back up, the palace getting restored, and Carpet reintegrated after getting shattered.
  • In Home, Oh's invite will take roughly 40 hours to reach the Gorg, yet cancelling the invite immediately stops the signal even though it was mere seconds from reaching them.
  • Near the climax of the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo pours ridiculous amounts of molten copper from a cauldron onto the soldiers in the square below. A little later, Frollo dies by falling into it. Then, when the protagonists come out of the cathedral at the end of the movie, the boiling metal is gone and the square is full of people.
  • In The Lion King, Scar's death immediately brings rain back to the Pridelands and repairs a completely devastated ecosystem in what appears to be a few months. (This may be an instance of the Fisher King, where the beauty of a kingdom is tied to the health of its sovereign.)
  • The Little Mermaid. After Ursula was killed, all of the merpeople she had changed into pathetic little creatures returned to their true form. Justified, though, as it was heavily implied that each merperson was held in said state under contract to Ursula. Upon her death, all contracts were made null and void.
  • DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp. When the genie is made a real boy and thus de-powered, Dijon (who had been transformed into a pig from a wish by the Big Bad) is restored to normal.
  • Sleeping Beauty: Zigzagged with Maleficent. Her death causes the thorns she summoned earlier to disappear, but does not undo the curse put on Aurora. Phillip still has to kiss her for that to happen.
  • Frozen's self-awareness about Disney tropes leads this one to be Played for Drama. The villain believes that killing Elsa will undo the Endless Winter she created, and there's simply no way of knowing whether or not he's right.
  • The Swan Princess makes heavy use of this trope; in the original film, Rothbart curses Odette to transform into a swan every night the moon is out, before simply deciding to have her die when he sabotages Derek's vow of love to her. Derek eventually slays Rothbart in his Great Animal form, and Odette is not only revived but the curse is also lifted. The third film takes it even farther, when Zelda uses the power of the Forbidden Arts to kill Odette, which was only possible with the notes to the spells that Derek neglected to destroy. After killing Zelda, Derek finally destroys the notes, and Odette is magically revived once more.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Magma: Volcanic Disaster, once the hero removes the underlying problem causing the eruptions (by setting off more eruptions underwater with nuclear weapons, despite nuclear weapon testing being the cause of the problem), all the volcanoes stop erupting, the lava recedes, and all fires are put out.
  • The virus pandemic in Outbreak. Once the protagonist has found and isolated the antibody from the monkey's blood serum, by the next scene there's enough antiserum for all infected (how?). Once injected into the dying people, it instantly cures them and everything shortly thereafter has returned to normal, with no lasting ill effects. This was a flesh-eating virus. So, once the antidote is delivered, all damage is instantly healed; including skin lesions and internal organ damage.
  • Ghoulies has an extreme example: after Malcom is killed, all the people killed by him and his ghoulies come back to life for no apparent reason.
  • A major plot point in Underworld: Evolution, As the first vampire, Markus managed to convince the other vampires that killing him would destroy all of them, and killing his brother William (the first lycan) would destroy all lycans—thus depriving them of their slaves. When Selene hears about this a thousand years or so later, she immediately sees it for the lie it is, but the one telling it to her notes that Victor believed it enough to not risk it.
  • A rare biological "science" form of this trope occurs in Van Helsing. When he removes Mr Hyde's arm, it shrivels back to the arm of Doctor Jekyll as soon as it hits the ground. In the same film, killing Dracula kills all of the baby vampire things he made as well. As shown in the opening scene, any supernatural creature that is killed returns to its previously mortal form upon death, including Dracula's wives.
  • The Mummy Returns: Subversion. It appears that the Scorpion King dying causes the Army of Anubis to turn to dust, but it's actually that they've been banished to the underworld by O'Connell, who gained control of them when he killed the Scorpion King.
  • The League Of Gentlemen Apocalypse is a meta-example of this trope. The League of Gentlemen characters invade the real world when their world starts to collapse as their creators have moved on to a new project.
  • In Dario Argento's Inferno, the central apartment building collapses after its designer is strangled. (In Suspiria, the building bursts into flame after Helena Markos is stabbed, but that's more of a Load-Bearing Boss.) The Nurse, aka the Mother of Darkness, is, like her sister, Helena Markos (aka the Mother of Sighs) a Load-Bearing Boss. In both cases, the house is an extension of the Mother who lives there. The same happened to the third and final sister, The Mother of Tears,hence there is an in-universe logic to it.
  • In Super Mario Bros., as soon as Koopa is defeated the King turns back into a humanoid without needing to be re-evolved.
  • Star Wars:
    • Episode IV: A New Hope, as a standalone, would have you believe that the Empire was utterly destroyed after the Death Star was. Return of the Jedi is even worse, as lampshaded in the second Robot Chicken special: "The Rebels are right there! Get them!" "We... can't." "Why not? We still have this fleet, and they're almost destroyed." "No, you see, we lost." "We what?" "Yes, afraid so. They blew up the Death Star and killed the Emperor. We lost."
    • As far as Star Wars the standalone film is concerned, that is somewhat justifiable. The Senate has been newly abolished, causing even the bad guys to wonder how the Emperor will retain control of the Galaxy. Tarkin's answer is fear of the Death Star...which is then blown up. Add then the bad guys worry about Rebel sympathy just from something small like holding Leia, and imagine what the destruction of Alderaan will have done to incite the population. So while it would take some more effort to complete things, the doom of the Empire is basically spelled in the first movie.
    • Somewhat retconned in the books, in that the Empire became much weaker after Endor, but held out for a couple years, and even afterwards held on to an "Imperial Remnant" for years. In fact, the current government of the galaxy, the Galactic Federation Triumvirate, is made up of the Rebel Alliance, the Jedi Order and...the Empire.
    • Hand-waved in the EU by Timothy Zahn with the invention of what became, in the games, Battle Meditation. The Emperor made the Imperial forces awesomer because of the Force. When he died, that awesomeness went away and, in the confusion that followed, the Rebels kicked major buttocks.
      • May be justified even without the hand wave. Many times in history a superior force has been totally routed by an inferior force after a suitably spectacular event saps their morale. With the dramatic destruction of the Death Star, the Executor, the Emperor, and several of his top officers (including The Dragon) the fleet admirals may well have ordered a general retreat in order to prevent any more dramatic losses and re-assess their position. At that point Chronic Backstabbing Disorder kicked in and the rest is the EU.
      • The Empire retreating is likely. Admiral Piett dies with the Executor, taking down their command ship, their commanding officer and one of the fleets ranking admirals. This would create enough confusion among the ships, plus be a big minus to morale. When the ships move in on the Death Star, this confirms that the ground force is defeated, another major morale loss. Then the Death Star blows up. There went their major installation, superweapon and base. And who were on that base? First their major leader, his second in command, a Grand Admiral, and Moff Jerjerrod, the leader of the area. Their objectives have failed, morale is probably down in the ground and not only major military, but their main leadership is dead. Retreat seems likely, plus the rebels shouldn't have too hard to get away, as being chased is highly unlikely. Again, after this, even remnants creates an issue, because of lack of major leadership.
    • In Return of the Jedi, the Rebel commander, at almost the last minute, orders "Move the fleet away from the Death Star". It's possible that in the confusion the Imperial fleet never got a similar order.
    • The post-Endor Expanded Universe storyline is now officially non-canon, but The Force Awakens goes in more or less the same direction that the books did and shows that the Empire was dealt a heavy blow at Endor but continued fighting for some time, and the last major battle (which we see the wreckage of) was on the planet Jakku. Since then The Remnant has persisted (except here it's called the First Order instead of the Imperial Remnant) and has been in a Space Cold War with the New Republic, and its military which is called the Resistance.
  • The climax of 1995's The Net would seem to indicate that since an evil computer program that has erased all of Sandra Bullock's identity records, deleting that program will automagically restore all her records. (This is comparable to deleting your copy of OpenOffice to restore all your documents to their original condition, or un-Photoshopping your pictures by removing Photoshop.)
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, once Saruman's magic hold on King Theoden is released, the King is instantly rejuvenated from his withered form. This not only includes his hair and beard spontaneously changing color, but actually growing shorter again. A Wizard Did It. Literally. The magic doesn't just end, Gandalf actively throws Saruman out, so one can assume he did some fixing in the process (or even completely negated the magic, as this is also when he reveals publicly that he is now a White Wizard like Saruman).
    • In "The Return of the King" the destruction of the Ring causes everything Sauron built to fall apart or explode.
  • Lampshaded/brought up as a plot-point in The Lost Boys. The head vampire is killed, but Michael specifically points out that he doesn't feel any different and that nothing has changed. Turns out to be played straight in the end, with the death of the real head vampire Max. As soon as he get killed, Michael immediately reverts back to human.
  • Vampirism works this way in Suck— killing a vampire turns everyone he sired and everyone they sired back into humans.
  • Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks. When Miss Price loses her concentration after an explosion, all of the animated suits of armor and uniforms collapse to the ground.
  • Fright Night (1985). When the vampire Dandrige is destroyed, his converted victim Amy is turned back to human.
  • In The Avengers, once Iron Man redirected a nuclear missile to the Chitauri base just on the other side of the inter-dimensional bridge from which the Chitauri invaders came to Earth, the alien invading army immediately shut down and were defeated since they were evidently controlled by the base.
    • Averted in the sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron - every copy of Ultron must be individually destroyed, or he'll keep coming back.
  • In Flash Gordon, the moon was only a few seconds away from crashing into the Earth when Ming was killed, instantly restoring everything to normal. Ontological inertia wasn't even necessary at this point - normal physical inertia, or even the Earth's gravity, should have allowed the moon to keep moving for at least a few more seconds. Not to mention that Ming was using a machine to move the moon, so even without ontological inertia someone must have turned it off before Ming even hit the ground. However, it's possible that the countdown was to the point where the moon was too far gone to stop, rather than the actual collision.
    • Word of God says the countdown was for the point of no return, where nothing would prevent the Moon from colliding.
  • Justified in The Faculty. After Zeke examines one of the parasites, he notices that it doesn't have all the necessary organs to sustain itself independently, and concludes (correctly) that there must be an alien queen with a telepathic link to all of its "offspring." Killing it would kill all the parasites, returning everyone to their normal selves.
  • Selectively applied (or so it would seem) at the end of Weird Science. When "Lisa" vanishes, everything that she has directly or indirectly altered in this level of reality returns to the way it was before - except for Wyatt's grandparents, who are never shown awakening from their suspended animation and so still must be lifeless statues in Wyatt's family's closet. Then again, Lisa does reappear at the end of the movie without explanation, so either this is a Zig-Zagging Trope.
  • Hocus Pocus: After the witches are disintegrated, the curses they had laid on various characters end.
  • Combined with No Fourth Wall in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where the Black Beast of Arrrrrgh ceases to exist after the animator suffers a fatal heart attack.
  • Lord of Illusions. After Nix is destroyed for good, his late follower Philip Swann who died minutes before him is stripped to the bone as Nix was the source of Swann's magic, and the hole in the Earth he created also closes back up.
  • Toyed with in Transcendence. The changes Will's nanomachines did to people seem to revert at the end (i.e., the Hybrids appear to revert to their pre-treatment selves), but their efforts to clean up the environment (air and water cleaned to pre-industrial levels) are implied to have remained.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • In X-Men, when Wolverine's powers of healing are drained by Rogue, he ends up regaining every injury he's suffered over the course of the last two days.
    • In The Wolverine, despite Ichirō having absorbed enough of Logan's healing factor to return to his 20s, he reverts immediately upon his connection with Logan being broken.
  • In The Last Witch Hunter, the witches' curses stop working when their authors are killed.
    • After Belial's death, 36th Dolan's deathly stupor is lifted and he comes back to normal.
    • Witch Queen's defeat takes down the entire swarm of Plague Flies, and the disease they carry stops working.
  • In The Forsaken, vampirism as a virus transmitted by the titular eight master vampires, each with their own unique strain. The protagonists of the film were infected by the virus and are seeking to destroy one of the Forsaken, so they can be cured. At the end they succeed, but one of the heroes remains infected as it turns out that was not the original vampire who infected him, so his search still continues.
  • At the end of The Neverending Story, once Bastian has given the Childlike Empress a new name, Fantasia goes right back to its old state.
    Bastian: Falkor, it's like the Nothing never was.
  • Diana's reasoning in Wonder Woman (2017) assumes this trope to be in effect: Ares is responsible for corrupting humanity and making them go to war; therefore, once she kills Ares, the Great War will end and peace will return. She's heartbroken when she finally realizes that warfare is humanity's initiative, not Ares'. Ares does exist, but he merely inspires people, rather than controls them.
  • In Geostorm, when the weather machine is rebooted, all of the adverse weather it caused instantly subsides. Most comically, the flood in Dubai is portrayed as literally going down a giant drain.

  • Lone Wolf:
    • An aversion: after the Darklords are defeated, the lands that they corrupted in their campaign of conquest are still corrupted. The intro pages of the Grandmaster series reveal that the Elder Magi and the Herbwardens are working to restore the Darklands to their original states, but realize that it will take centuries of effort to undo the damage.
    • Played straight in Book 6: killing the ancient Dakomyd causes it to instantly decay and turn to dust.
    • In Book 17, destroying the Deathlord Ixiataaga removes the power that kept the city of Xaagon in a suspended state, causes the entire city to collapse, breaks the cloud cover that prevented sunlight from reaching it, and "shuts down" all of Ixiataaga's undead minions.

  • In The Hunger Games, a character is near death with blood poisoning and a several-inches-deep gash, most likely dehydrated, and they haven't properly eaten in perhaps a week, but after a shot of a very potent medicine of sorts, they're pretty much fine.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Hogfather features such a Collapsing Lair: The Castle of Bones, located in the otherworldly realm of the anthropomorphic personification and winter god called the Hogfather, starts to disintegrate back into ice and snow from which is was created after the Hogfather became the victim of an assassination attempt to erase his existence from mythology. In a weird subversion, the Hogfather seems to have negative ontological inertia; he ceases to exist before the assassination plot is anywhere close to completion, and returns when the plot has been foiled (again, before completion). This can be somewhat explained by the plan consisting of preventing belief in the Hogfather by means of magically not letting people believe in him, but it used bits of people as they were earlier. For example, making a 30-year-old not have believed in him since 8 years old.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, the destruction of Sauron's Soul Jar (the One Ring) reduces him to an impotent ghost-like state, and with his power gone everything he made is undone, notably his fortress and the morale of his army. All the Rings of Power were created and controlled by Sauron's power and innately tied to the One Ring, so they lost their magic as well — thus the instant destruction of the Nazgûl, which had been kept alive and intact only by the Nine Rings. Even the Three Rings of the Elves lost their power. Though Sauron never touched them and had no hand in their creation, the Ring-Smiths learned their craft from him, and whatever he taught them must have ensured their creations depended on his power or could become tied to it. Presumably, any surviving Dwarven rings were also rendered inert.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Spells (at least, some of them) in this universe apparently lack Ontological Inertia. For example, Harry realizes that Dumbledore is dead when the paralysis that character had cast on Harry releases. That same spell has several times been used to zap someone and walk off, so there's no reason but Ontological Inertia that this would work. It is also stated that a piece of soul trapped inside a Horcrux disappears when the Horcrux is destroyed (handwaved as a Horcrux is, apparently, the exact opposite of a human being; thus the Ontological Inertia depends on what contains the soul).
    • Transfiguration also works this way; transfigured objects only stay that way temporarily, and they go back as soon as the wizard stops keeping them transfigured via magic. Referenced by Professor Slughorn, who received an enchanted fish from Harry's mother Lily, one of his former students. Several years later, at the height of magical Britain's civil war, he came into the room with its bowl one morning and the fish had vanished — so he immediately knew that Lily died.
    • More specifically, spells like these seem to be tied to the caster's body being able to house their soul; when a wizard's body is damaged beyond repair and their soul vacates it, these spell effects expire. When Voldemort attempted to kill the one-year-old Harry, his Killing curse rebounded, which destroyed his body but due to his Horcruxes didn't kill him. It's described that after Voldermort's apparent death hundreds of wizards who had been under the Imperius curse came back to their senses – although it's unclear how many of them were actually telling the truth.
  • Deryni magic works this way. Not only is it physically tiring to perform (exhausting when performed excessively), but effects vanish when their creator is destroyed. In The Quest for Saint Camber, Tiercel De Claron dies after Conall pushes him down a flight of stairs, and the handfire he'd created to light their way flickers and vanishes.
  • Commonly in stories involving vampires, werewolves or other "infectious" monsters; killing the "head vampire" (or what have you) also cures or kills any subservient creatures that one had created. Great way to have all of the main cast turned into these creatures and then have them back to normal in time for next week. Then again, magic may work that way for the purposes of plot.

    This goes all the way back to Dracula. However, in the case of old Drac, the victim only got cured because the transformation wasn't complete yet. This has also been seen in the film Fright Night and the "Vampire Odyssey" series by Scott Ciencin; the vampiric transformation can be undone but only under very strict conditions (the creator vampire must be killed before dawn the same night, or the fledgling vampire must go without feeding for three whole nights).
  • In Anne Rice's "main" saga (The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned, mostly), one of the first vampires (who was also a witch/spirit seer/whatever) states that killing the first vampire would in turn kill all vampires. The king, who is the first vampire except he is not, it's actually his wife, but neither of them know it at the moment misunderstood it as "killing any vampire will kill'em all", so he let her go. This lack of ontological inertia is explained as vampirism actually being a spirit "possessing" Akasha, the queen. The spirit has lost his mind and identity (Amel has now what he has always wanted; Amel has the flesh. But Amel is no more.) and it's "core" resides in Akasha, granting her all vampire traits. Amel's "body" extends to the blood of every vampire there exists, so each of the later ones can die and that's it, but should the "core" die, the entire spirit passes on and all vampires are pretty much screwed. They manage to kill her anyways, by having another vampire absorb said "core" and become its new host.
  • Subverted in Rainbow Mars by Larry Niven. In one of the short stories in that book, the entire future in which the book takes place has its past altered so that it never came about. This is caused by the ghost of the time traveler who changed it that way in the first place. Long story. However, Svetz returns to the future and finds it the same as always, due to the effects of "Temporal Inertia". There's still a new future, but his exists purely out of the fact that it did. Of course, this is in a book where time traveling back before the 20th century takes you to a fantasy world with unicorns, Moby Dick, leviathans and Edgar Rice Burroughs's Mars. In some Svetz stories it's more or less explicitly stated that Svetz' "time machine" slews across parallel universes so that he winds up in the past of a parallel universe which may or may not closely resemble his own universe's past. The reason that he can return to his own universe is that only PART of the time machine (the "extension cage") actually goes anywhere/when; the other part remains in what Svetz thinks of as "the present" and serves as an anchor. It's confusing, but time travel stories often are. And the Word of God is that he goes to a fantasy world because time travel isn't actually possible in the first place — since it can only exist in fiction, "working" time travel can only send you to a fictional version of the past.
  • This is invoked in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Since magic is the effect of a magician imposing their will on the universe, the surest way to cure a person of an enchantment is to kill the enchanter. Though at the end, the curse of darkness placed on the titular magicians lingers long past the death of the Gentleman with Thistledown Hair who placed this curse. Presumably, this is because the earth and the sky actually placed the enchantment, and the Gentleman with Thistledown Hair simply asked them to do this on his behalf.
  • Averted, and explicitly referenced in the Ciaphas Cain book Cain's Last Stand, at the end Varan is dead, but people remain under his mind control. Cain says it would have been much easier the other way.
  • Played with in Larry Niven's "What Good Is a Glass Dagger?". The castles of the magician Wavyhill all collapse when he no longer keeps them functioning because he built them on hills shaped like waves, so that when the magic failed the hill would fall over and bury the castle, hiding any evidence he left behind.
  • Used straight and made part of the plot in Tad Williams's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series.
    • The eponymous swords: The key to their power is that each sword was created in a manner that violates the natural laws of the world: Thorn is Thunderbolt Iron; Memory (Minneyar) was made from the keel of a ship from a far-off land (allegorical Thunderbolt Iron, if you will); and Sorrow (Jingizu) is a mixture of iron and witchwood, two substances that are naturally antagonistic. The magic required to bind them to a permanent form was so strong that it took on a kind of willpower of its own, desiring nothing more than to be released so the stress on the natural order could be removed. The Storm King capitalizes on this to cause the swords to seek him out, and uses their power to reverse time to bring himself back to life. In the end, the swords, drained of their power, disintegrate into nothingness.
    • the Art is explicitly stated to work this way in general within the books; a rule of thumb measure of a character's magical power is how far they can bend the Laws, how long it takes to accomplish, and how long it lasts.
  • In C. S. Lewis's The Silver Chair, after our heroes kill the witch, the gnomes are instantly freed from her Mind Control spell and her cavernous kingdom begins to collapse. Puddleglum reasons the latter is the result of a spell the witch cast so that whoever killed her would die shortly after.
  • In Patricia C. Wrede's Talking To Dragons, after the evil firewitch is killed, Daystar looks at Shiara, turned to stone. He thinks that some spells die when the caster does, but some powerful casters can do better. This one was powerful.
  • Lloyd Alexander's The Black Cauldron:
    • Averted: Destroying the Cauldron does not destroy all the Cauldron-born zombies. But at least it ensures no one will make any more of them. Played straight in the movie.
    • On the other hand, The High King shows that stabbing one of the Cauldron Born with Dyrnwyn will result in all of the rest dying as well, at the exact same time.
    • Also, killing Arawn will destroy Annuvin as well as mark the beginning of a magic-less time in Prydain (all magic users must sail for other lands, all magic beings must isolate themselves from humanity, and almost all magic items have been destroyed.
  • An interesting variation of this trope is used in Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth series as the power source of a superweapon, called "Fixed Cosmic Inertia". Basically, the device is placed in a stasis field that means that, no matter what happens to it, the major part of it continues to exist at the moment in space and time that it was originally built. When the weapon is triggered, the "rubber band" effect snaps the weapon to the present, translating all the accumulated energy into a single point in spacetime. The results are quite spectacular.
  • In the Old Kingdom series, there's an example of lack of ontological inertia that actually works against the good guys. Because the Abhorsen has sort-of died, the wardings he put on the Wall to stop the Dead are weakened and about to break.
  • An example with an explanation other that just magic; in Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, Frankenstein/Helios ensured that on his death a signal would be sent out to all of his creations via satellite causing them to drop dead.
  • Terry Brooks used it twice. Once in Sword of Shannara, where destroying the Warlock Lord not only collapses Skull Mountain, but also destroys his Skull Bearers, he being the source of the magic keeping them alive. Then in Wishsong of Shannara, the destruction of the Illdatch, also destroys the Mord Wraiths in the same manner, though it's more of a Keystone Army moment.
  • The fairy tale "The Bronze Ring", found in Andrew Lang's The Blue Fairy Book, features a classical genie ring. Ontological inertia is intentionally canceled when the black sorcerer gets hold of the ring; his first command is "make waste of all that you've done." This is a common stratagem in fairy tales where wishing rings are involved, and may be one of the reasons usage limits were hardwired into later models.
  • Justified in the second book of the Chanters of Tremaris Trilogy, The Waterless Sea when the Palace of Cobwebs collapses to dust when the children are rescued and after the iron-call chant is stopped, as it is explained that the continuous iron-call chant was the only thing holding it together by that point, and stopping the chanters meant that the entire structure had about as much support as a gigantic sand castle.
  • Older Than Radio: In The Brothers Grimm fairy tale "Snow White", all of Snow White's stepmother's attempts to kill her work this way. She laces Snow White's dress up tightly and leaves her for dead, but the dwarfs unlace it and Snow White is fine again. She gives Snow White a poisoned comb, but the dwarfs take it out of Snow White's hair and again she's fine. Even the famous poisoned apple is like this: it lodges in Snow White's throat, and when the prince dislodges it she wakes up.
  • Played with in a short story by Neil Gaiman. The story itself is framed as being told in a club for famous con-men, by one of the best-who proves this claim by relating the tale of how he got into the club by selling a bridge (which the other members deride as so base and guileless that having ever tried such a scheme ought to disqualify you from getting in at all). In the particular corner of the cosmos the tale occurs in, magic was used regularly and the conman referred to Ontological Inertia as a "magical half-life", defined as the length of time after a magician's death that a magical working would stand, to convince several very rich people that an extremely valuable bridge constructed by magic was nearing the end of its half-life and that, by paying him a nominal fee of a few thousand, they themselves could profit greatly when it came down.
  • Edgar Allan Poe's "Fall of the House of Usher" describes in great detail how a mansion decays and collapses before the protagonist's eyes after its residents die.
  • Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time describes a One-Hit Kill called balefire that not only instakills the target but undoes their actions for a period of time before their death, depending on the raw magical strength of the caster. It's used tactically at several points and even brings people back from the grave.
  • David Eddings's Elenium trilogy, after Azash is annihilated, the city of Zemoch begins to collapse under its own accumulated age.
  • Averted in James Herbert's The Fog; while the destruction of the fog results in clear blue skies and sunshine, those who succumbed to its effects are still insane. John Holman, the protagonist, even lampshades this.
  • Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian stories:
    • In "Shadows in Zamboula", the death of the Evil Sorcerer causes the cobras he conjured to vanish.
    • In the Kull story "The Shadow Kingdom", killing the Master of Illusion causes them to reappear as half-human, half-snake.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter of Mars novel Llana of Gathol, section "The Ancient Dead". When Lum Tar O is killed by John Carter, all of the people he put into hypnotic suspended animation a million years ago wake up at the same time.
  • In The Dresden Files, things from the NeverNever, be they objects or creatures, will evaporate into ectoplasm if the will keeping them intact flags. This can be a big help in maintaining the Masquerade.
  • In the short story "The Most Precious of Treasures" by Desmond Warzel, the protagonists note that a magical construct has in fact outlasted its creator by several millennia; this trope is not only discussed but mentioned by name.
  • In Replica #16, Happy Birthday, Dear Amy, implanted technology causes Amy to age into an adult overnight on her thirteenth birthday, but she somehow turns back into a teenager when the cause of the age-up is destroyed.
  • Dave Duncan's A Man of His Word books feature a system of magic in which one can assume four levels: Occult Genius, Adept, Mage and Sorceror. Mages and Sorcerors can change the world around them, but only Sorcerors' changes remain without the caster having to maintain them. Of course, sometimes this is a distinction without a difference: "I could turn your head into an anvil. It would be a temporary anvil, but you'd be permanently dead."
  • Firebird: As soon as the sorcerer dies, all his magical creations disappear or revert to their former state. The gardens, gone; the palace, back to being a regular, if large, palace; the statues, free; the monsters, people again.
  • Discussed in Too Many Curses, in which the transformed captives of an evil wizard's castle fully expect their curses to end at once if he dies. When they fail to revert after the wizard's accidental death, one of the captives (a defeated rival wizard) explains that, while novice wizards' spells are sustained by their will, the castle's master was capable of crafting self-sustaining curses that'll take years to expire.
  • One story in Anachronauts centers around Oblivion, a cursed/magic revolver whose bullets make whatever they hit Ret Gone. (These "edits" are as unsubtle as you'd expect from using a Hand Cannon to shoot holes in reality.) When the protagonist manages to get the gun to shoot itself, everyone and everything it removed comes back.
  • Subverted in a non-fantastic way at the climax of Homer's The Odyssey. Odysseus slays Antinous, the leader of the suitors of Penelope, and immediately afterward he and Telemachus have to wipe out all the other suitors as well. It strikes the modern reader as odd because Hollywood action movies have conditioned us to expect to see all the henchmen defeated before it's the Big Bad's turn to die, and if the Big Bad is killed right off the bat, it's often expected that his minions will either run off or simply surrender.
  • In Michael Moorcock's multiverse, the Realm of Chaos is by definition exempt from ontological inertia: in its pure form, Chaos is an ever- shifting ever-changing kaleidoscope of air, earth, fire and water. Things pop out of the primal chaos for no reason, may hold their existence for a while, then morph, change and vanish at random. The realm of Law is the opposite: absolute ontological inertia. Pure Law is a flat barren grey place. Absolute greyness. For ever and ever. Amen.
  • In Jeramey Kraatz's The Cloak Society, Phantom's death means that her marks vanish.
  • Heralds of Valdemar: Magic spells tend not to last past the mage's death, unless they are powered by a Tayledras Heartstone. Some enchanted objects are also quite durable.
  • In the Malazan Book of the Fallen, the goddess Burn dreams reality into existence, meaning no existence without Burn sleeping, meaning awakening Burn will end everything in one go.
  • Used inconsistently in The Divine Cities; when the Divinities were killed 75 years before the first book, City of Stairs, their miracles and anything they had built stopped working or ceased existing. This included a lot of the Continent's cities and infrastructure, leaving the place extremely devastated. The city of Bulikov, for example, shrunk by several miles inward. Other miracles, however, kept working, and no in-story explanation is known for why some things stopped existing and others didn't. Storywise, this is a major hint that not all the Divinities are dead.
  • At the end of the Divide series, the hero inadvertently utters a powerword that severs the connection between the magical and mundane realms. As a side-effect of this, the collapse also causes him and several of his friends to be divided, with one copy in each world. When the hero discovers that the mundane world is now cut off from magic, he is afraid that his heart condition (which mas magically healed much earlier in the series) will return. The magical copy of him is reassured that there's a difference between "live" magic (which requires ongoing power and is thus subject to this trope) and "dead" magic (which is completed and requires no further power). His mundane copy may be unable to work magic, but his heart will stay healthy.
  • Inverted in one short story about a girl who wants to be a witch. Over her life she tries several spells; making it rain, destroying her aunt, making a man fall in love with her (which ends up killing him) and summoning a demon. Upon meeting a real witch, she learns the secret; a witch cannot have any love in her heart. She concentrates and fills her heart with hatred, willing every ounce of love and goodness out of herself...and then all the spells come true at once. A typhoon comes out of nowhere, her aunt is suddenly reduced to a sizzling grease stain, her dead crush claws his way out of the grave to be with her, and the demon appears. Too bad there's no magic circle there to keep it contained.
  • Discussed and subverted in Monster Hunter International by Earl while explaining in his backstory in Alpha. After he was bitten by a werewolf and turned into one, he remembered an old story/legend that if you kill the werewolf who turned you the curse would be broken. He admits that myth's total bullshit and even the him of back then knew it, but he was so desperate to escape the curse that he was willing to try any potential cure and spent months hunting the werewolf down himself before finally killing it. Sure enough, it didn't work and he contemplated suicide before events made him decide to use his new powers for better causes.

    Myths & Religion 

  • Played with in the "Tower" table of Ruiner Pinball; casting three magic spells supposedly destroys the Tower and cause it crumble, but we never actually see it happen.

  • In the Cool Kids Table game Here We Gooooo!: Once the party destroys the Aspartame Crystal and restores the Sugar Crystal at the Grape Escape factory, they get rid of the diet symptoms and restore the surrounding area to it's former beauty.

  • In some versions of dodgeball, getting someone out makes everyone they got out come back into the game.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Occasionally found in the Ravenloft setting.
      • When the Darklord of an "island" domain is killed, the island may cease to exist, sometimes simply being absorbed into the Mists, sometimes violently falling apart. What happens to the island's inhabitants is unknown. This is because the Darklords are Fisher Kings of their various domains, which only exist to serve as a prison and stage for the Darklords they're built around. With no Darklord, the domain literally serves no purpose and is, in the view of the Dark Powers, expendable.
      • This trope forms an important part of the worldview of the Abber Nomads who inhabit the Nightmare Lands domain. Because their surroundings are constantly shifting, they see no reason to believe that anything exists when they are not interacting with it.
    • 2nd Edition adventure FROA1 Ninja Wars, adventure "Tiger-Bird Spirit - The Sequel". Centuries ago a wu jen was turned into a tigbuana buso through a divine curse. He can infect a victim and cause them to become a tagamalang buso. If he is killed, any people he has infected become normal again.
    • Mostly averted in D&D, however. Spells have set durations that will play out whether or not the caster dies before they end, and magical items are their own thing and not reliant on the creator. Killing the master vampire, head necromancer, or golem-creator just means the subordinate vampires, zombies, or golems are now independent. You'd have to specially invoke this trope to make it happen, barring some very unusual circumstances.
    • The trope is played straight with the regional effects associated with the lairs of powerful dragons, vampires, etc., which fade either over a period of days or instantly after the death of the lair's master.
  • The default behavior of magic in Mage: The Awakening. Generally, if a mage is killed, their ongoing spells will end, since they require the mage's soul to function. However, mages have the option of relinquishing a spell, making it self-sustaining, at the cost of no longer being in control of it, and having to invest a dot of Willpower. Relinquishing a spell imbued into an item has a few other options for what has to be sacrificed.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade
    • Level 10 of the discipline Quietus is Punish the Sins of the Father, which kills the target vampire and all descended from him through the Embrace.
    • In one adventure a vampire was trying to kill the vampire who Embraced her so that she could become human again.
  • In Warhammer, the normal rank-and-file undead (zombies, skeleton etc.) in the armies of the Vampire Counts slowly crumbles to dust when the general of the army is killed, since the magic power that have created them is gone. In case of creatures such as ghouls who are not technically undead but enslaved by the vampires will, they slink back to where they come from. This was averted on a grand scale when the spell Nagash was casting to resurrect the entire world's dead was disrupted. Most of them died again, but many stayed around and there are still places where the dead spontaneously come back due to the echoes of his spell.
    • Averted with certain spells that have a delayed response. As one faq pointed out, jumping up and down on a wizard does not stop a meteorite he 'summoned' from crashing onto the battlefield a turn later.
    • Used hilariously by the Glottkin; when faced with a Vampire with an impossibly large army of undead (who was taunting them no less), Otto took a third option and ordered Ghurk to punt the Vampire across the horizon. Literally. As soon as the Vampire went out of sight, his army crumbled away as he was now too far to keep them up.
  • Champions supplement The Circle and M.E.T.E. When a vampire is destroyed, some of the people it changed into vampires become human again.
  • Massively averted inNobilis, where they exist in Celestial time and are mostly immune to the effects of mundane time. You can travel to before a Noble was born and kill her parents...and all you'll do is piss her off. Mundane history now says she was never born, sure, but she still exists, because she she was Ennobled before you tried to erase her.
  • Incorporated into Ars Magica, where less powerful magics often have no persistence, but more powerful magic does persist, mainly through investment of game resource / power-points. Things destroyed by magic stay destroyed, and killed creatures are still dead, even with less powerful magic.
  • Rolemaster Shadow World supplement Demons of the Burning Night. While wearing the Helm of Kadaena the wearer accumulates 10 years of aging during each combat, but the Helm prevents the aging from taking effect. If the Helm is ever removed all of the aging immediately takes effect.


  • BIONICLE's Kanohi Mohtrek toyed with the trope. It's essentially a mask that creates duplicates of the user, but with a twist: the duplicates are actually the user's past selves, plucked out of the timeline into the present. Then they fight or some stuff. When the mask is turned off, the duplicates return to their original time, and will have no recollection of the future events they "just" witnessed. What the mask doesn't undo is physical damage, however. So whenever a past-self is summoned into battle and gets battered and weakened, he/she will return in that state to his/her timeline, but won't know how he/she suddenly got weakened and bruised.

    Video Games 
  • Many games rely on First Aid kits to heal the player. Picking one up tends to cause evidence of prior injuries to instantly disappear. This goes back at least as far as Wolfestein 3D, in which the player could actually regain a lost eye.
    • Clinkz from Dota2 lampshades this aspect of healing items when picking up a regeneration rune.
    Clinkz: Does this mean my flesh will grow back?
  • It's also common in video games for the level to end at the instant the hero gathers enough plot coupons. Even if an uncountable wave of enemies are swarming in for the kill; the minute you complete your objective it's is 'well done' and on to the next mission completely unharmed.
  • Might and Magic VIII: Day of the Destroyer has this, complete with sunshine, rainbow and birds flying.
    • On the other hand, it appears that the consequences of the opening of the portals to the Elemental Planes remains even after the portals are destroyed — the ending only gives short glimpses, but the island on which the Earth Portal is situated doesn't appear to sink after the portal is destroyed, nor does the lake in which the Water Portal is situated drain away as soon as the portal is destroyed. The post-ending gameplay would seem to corroborate that, except the elemental portals remain open despite the ending explicitly showing all of them being destroyed.
  • A rather ridiculous example of this is mentioned in Shang Tsung's Mortal Kombat: Armageddon bio: Supposedly, his master, Shao Kahn, has a contractual stipulation with anyone who pledges allegiance to him that, if Shao Kahn ends up biting the dust, so too will they, which also means he's able to revive his minions should they die due to this link. In a minor subversion, however, it's apparently treated as an unsubstantiated rumor among Khan's allies, hence why Shang Tsung had no compunction about slaying him with fellow sorcerer Quan Chi's help at the beginning of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. A minor point of argument with this among fans is exactly who will be affected by this trope should Shao Kahn be Killed Off for Real.
  • Mortal Kombat 3:, as defeating Shao Kahn revives all the people who died in the game's opening apocalypse (presumably having their souls taken only rendered them mostly dead). This wasn't the case in the very first edition of Mortal Kombat 3, which suggested that most of humanity remained dead even after the game ended, but that changed in all the subsequent editions, presumably to make further Earth vs. Outworld sequels easier to write.
  • Occurs in the end of Kingdom Hearts I. When Sora and Mickey seal the Door to Darkness, every world and everyone that the Heartless destroyed was brought right back to the way they were before the Heartless attacked.
  • The world of Drakengard has no ontological inertia. You ready for this one? The seals placed against the Seeds of Resurrection also hold back the "true world", in which the Grotesqueries roam free and hold dominance over all things. The world the protagonists are trying to save is a protective illusion. Thus the world that the majority of Drakengard takes place in doesn't have any real permanence: the moment all the seals are broken, the world as we've known it disappears. The sky, for one, immediately turns red. In the sequel, the change is even more violent, as the sky literally shatters. This leads to a bit of Fridge Logic when one wonders how those seals came to be in the first place.
    • Dragons did it. They served the Grotesqueries in the true world, until the dragons wrote the seals to create a safe pocket of reality where they were the dominant species. Then humanity emerged and kind of mucked it all up.
  • In Makai Kingdom, anything that has been created by being written down in the wish-granting Sacred Tome will suffer the same fate as the page it was written on should the tome be damaged. Spilling coffee on the book is probably not a good idea — burning it is even less so.
  • In some video games, projectiles cease to exist if the enemy that fired them is destroyed. In some other ones (such as Shoot Em Ups), the projectiles turn into "happy things" that are attracted to the player to give points. But don't count on either behaviour.
  • At one point in the console RPG Chrono Trigger, the player is given the choice to fight and kill Magus, the villain for the first half of the game, or to spare his life since certain other characters have far surpassed him on the Villain Meter. If you choose to kill Magus, his curse on Glenn/Frog is lifted at the end of the game, whereas if you let Magus live, Glenn is still a frog at the end. This raises questions, because if Magus is alive at the end of the game, he travels back to 12,000 BC to search for his sister, after which the time gate closes forever. So what exactly happens in a scenario when Magus dies of natural causes after laying the curse in his personal timeline, but thousands of years before the curse in objective time?
    • The PlayStation version adds to the confusion with an additional ending cutscene which features a human Glenn, which plays whether or not you killed Magus.
    • The Nintendo DS version adds one more ending that may avert the issue of Magus dying of old age in 12000BC: Instead, he's killed by the Time Devourer outside time.
    • Chrono Trigger also averts this trope when the heroes attack Magus's palace, an assault which ends with the whole palace getting sucked into a massive time vortex. The disappearance of their ruler doesn't end the Mystics' war against the Kingdom of Guardia as his second-in-command picks up where Magus left off.
      • The big statue of Magus in the Monster Town is replaced by a statue of his general. Once you kill HIM, then the statue goes away and all of the Mystics in the present become friendly to humans.
  • Averted in Bloodrayne 2, where killing the Big Bad at the end of the game doesn't actually change anything; the world remains the same vampire-ruled hellhole the Big Bad turned it into halfway through the game. The protagonist even remarks how thinking everything would change back to normal after the Big Bad's death was "pretty stupid, huh?"
  • Mega Man Battle Network is all over this trope. In any battle, as soon as you kill the last enemy, you're invincible; all onscreen attacks will either disappear or pass right through you. This is true even in Network Transmission, a sidescrolling homage to the classic series. Examples abound in the plot of the games too: when you beat an enemy NetNavi, whatever havoc it's created in the real world is harmlessly defused.
    • Averted by the bosses of the first Mega Man, where boss attacks did in fact survive their user's destruction and could do damage to Mega Man. Made worse by the fact that you couldn't move for a split second after defeating the boss, meaning if the timing was just right (or wrong, as the case may be), you were a sitting duck for a stray shot or one of Fire Man's ground plumes. Especially problematic against Elec Man or Ice Man, whose projectiles could take off roughly a third of your health.
  • In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, the final boss is a load bearer of galactic proportions — upon defeat, not only is the boss's planet destroyed, but so is all Phazon throughout the entire galaxy, instantaneously, and in suitably explodey fashion. This is due to the fact that Phazon is alive and the planet in question was the very source of it. The final boss had essentially hijacked into the planet's "brain" to control all the galaxy's Phazon and with their death caused the death of the planet, which killed off all the Phazon.
  • In the MMORPG City of Heroes, killing a character with summoned pets kills the pets as well. This arguably makes sense when the pets are animated stone or illusionary phantoms, but in the case of the "Mastermind" player class, this extends to autonomous robots and ordinary street thugs. Note, however, that ordinary mooks brought onto the field by such an act do have ontological inertia. However, this is subverted by a lot of NPCs that summon particularly annoying pets that are more difficult to defeat than their summoners.
  • Tales of Xillia reveals that, if Maxwell dies, the schism that separates the world of Rieze Maxia and Elympios will disappear.
  • The same effect applies to hunters and warlocks in World of Warcraft. Whether it happens with NPCs tend to vary on whether they are normal units (where they almost never disappear) or bosses, when they frequently do.
    • Played straight with the shaman class and their totems (elemental talismans dropped on the ground that buff players or debuff/damage enemies). When the shaman dies, the totems vanish.
    • Averted with buff or debuff spells with lasting effects cast on friend or foe (including heal-over-time and damage-over-time spells). They remain in effect until the spells wear off or are specifically removed, or the recipient dies. They do not wear off just because the caster dies.
    • Subverted in the Wrath of the Lich King. The initial invasion is planned to defeat the Lich King and then wipe up the remaining Scourge after his fall. It is subsequently revealed that the Scourge will not simply die with the fall of the Lich King, but instead will become even more dangerous without the control Arthas imposed. Even if he is slain, somebody must assume the role of the Lich King or the Scourge will overrun the world.
  • EverQuest has an odd variant of this: When player characters are killed their summoned pets disappear. However, pets of NPCs do not and must be killed separately.
  • It's a slightly odd moment in Sonic Adventure 2 (amongst other games) when you realise that destroying an enemy causes all of its projectiles that are coming towards you to mysteriously disappear.
    • Not to mention that after Eggman blew up the half of the moon with the Eclipse Cannon, in got better in later events showing the moon after the cannon was put out of commission. It's especially jarring in Sonic Advance, where the final boss fight takes place on the moon.
      • According to Word of God, Eggman restored the moon (somehow) after the game as an apology for his part in his grandfather's scheme.
  • In Mushroom Hill Act 2 of Sonic 3 & Knuckles, the green grass on the ground turns into brown leaves and the sky turns a strange color at the start of the level. The effect gets worse as you progress though the level. At the end of the level, you find a satellite dish broadcasting some type of signal. Destroying the dish will instantly revert the ground back from brown leaves to green grass and make the sky (and the rest of the stuff in the level) turn back to its correct color.
  • Averted in Disgaea 2: According to the art book, even with the death of The fake Zenon, Veldime will in fact remain a netherworld. The people will remain Demons, the monsters that were attracted to the world under Zenon's influence will not leave, And while the landscape's transformation has been halted, what had already been changed will remain so. The book does go on to say however, that since Zenon is no longer draining the morality and consciences out of the people, they will at least stop turning evil, and points out that many changes brought to Veldime as a Netherworld were in fact positive, so things still work out in the end.
    • Invoked in Disgaea 4 : Valvatorez believes that eliminating the source of the A-Virus pandemic (Namely, Axel), will reverse the virus's effects. He's wrong (Though things still turn out A-OK when a cure is found).
  • Takes on another form in online games that utilize "lag compensation," notably first-person shooters. Suppose two combatants fire upon each other, one with a plasma gun, another with a rocket launcher. From each player's perspective, the other hasn't yet fired; meanwhile, on the server, the rounds pass each other by mid-flight. The plasma bolts, having faster velocity, hit their target first for lethal damage. Should the rocket launch and plasma death occur within the lag compensation window (usually around 1/10th of a second), the rocket "was never fired," and the plasma gunner gets an easy kill. Outside the window, the plasma gunner still has to dodge the rocket. This phenomenon also causes hastily-flung grenades to disappear, and assault rifle victims to apparently die from one or two bullets rather than the five to nine they have to hit anyone else with for a kill. On a related theme, some weapons "charge up" by holding fire, and launch when their button is released. Killing players during the charge up sequence often causes the super-attack to instantly dissipate rather than either launching at that instant (or wildly). Lag compensation in many of these games lead to the phenomenon of the high-ping sniper, a player whose bullets seem to curve around corners or otherwise kill enemies that are out of their effective range.
  • In Digimon World, it is possible for a fireball, stormcloud, or various other projectiles to vanish in midair because the user's technique was interrupted.
  • In Final Fantasy IV, killing a summoned creature kills the summoner as well. Played for a My God, What Have I Done? moment in the village of Mist, when Cecil and Kain discover to their horror that not only did the King of Baron's package just nuke the town, but they personally murdered Rydia's mother by killing her summoned dragon in the Mist Cave. There is also another important plot moment with the Dark Elf who stole Troia's Earth Crystal — he cast a spell on the cavern he hid in, magnetizing the entire cavern so strongly that equipping even a hint of something metallic will completely paralyze the character in-battle, making it impossible to defeat him. But when Edward's music breaks the Dark Elf's concentration, the aforementioned magnetism immediately vanishes and the party can defeat him for real.
  • Played very straight in Final Fantasy VI, with good reason. During the game's grand finale, after you've defeated Kefka, the player is shown that life is springing back all over the world. Sometimes through obvious elements like flowers and grass regaining color, other times through more symbolic touches like one of the NPCs giving birth to her baby. Justified because with Kefka being the closest thing to God — specifically god of a force that explicitly alters reality — existence was unraveling. With him defeated creation slips triumphantly back into place.
  • Played heartbreakingly straight in Final Fantasy X. After the Fayth are released from their state of constant dream summoning, everything they summoned starts to fade away such as the Aeons and the people of Dream Zanarkand including Tidus.
  • Teased with in Final Fantasy XII. Amidst an intense aerial battle with the Vayne's forces and the resistance, Vaan and Co slip into Vanye's fortress. After defeating Vayne, the heroes gather together and stare triumphantly at the sky, their faces proud at their accomplishment at defeating the Big Bad. A few seconds later, a burning ship flies by, reminding them that yes, a battle is still going on.
  • Happens in a way in Final Fantasy XIII-2. Temporal anomalies referred to as "paradoxes" link different places and times together, often with disastrous consequences. By resolving the paradox, most of whatever doesn't belong is prone to disappearing. For example, when the "Mutantomato" paradox was resolved in the Sunleth Waterscape in 300 AF, Snow Villiers also vanished due to having been pulled there by that very paradox in the first place. A broader example; in Yaschas Massif 10 AF, a paradox caused a flying fal'Cie to eclipse the sun two centuries early. When our heroes go to Oerba 200 AF to resolve the paradox from that end, they end up creating a NEW Yaschas Massif 10 AF where said eclipse never happened.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines mocks the "head vampire" variant, as that's really not how the game it's based on works. You can find a neonate who's lamenting his undead condition and seeking a cure; you can either let him down easy or try to con some money out of him by saying it only works if you kill the head vampire with a stake of "holy rosewood" (which you just happen to have).
  • Referenced but Averted in the Legacy of Kain series. Ancient vampire Janos Audron mentions to Raziel that the Sarafan think killing him will be the end of the vampires but adds, "We are not that fragile."
  • Killing a Demoman in Team Fortress 2 will cause all the explosive traps he's laid to disappear. There's even an achievement for removing a certain amount of traps by killing the Demomen that made them.
    • Similarly, killing an Engineer during Sudden Death (and possibly Arena) will make all his buildings explode. Note that this does not happen in any other game mode, where the Engineer can then respawn and go back to his hopefully still standing buildings.
      • Also if an Engineer switches to another class, all their buildings will disappear. This is probably an Acceptable Break from Reality because otherwise someone could build a sentry, switch to a more deadly class, and still get sentry kills.
      • A now fixed bug made so that any missiles fired from a sentry that got destroyed after they were fired became neutral entities, allowing potential griefing Engineers to kill allies.
      • Engineers who switch between the Gunslinger (a mechanical hand that gives him 25 extra HP and replaces his normal sentry with a combat mini-sentry) and any wrench will have their sentry destroyed, presumably to keep him from having the Gunslinger's benefits and a level 3 sentry gun at the same time. Previously, switching melee weapons at all destroyed all his buildings, forcing him to have to start again from scratch.
    • Averted with weapons who make the enemy bleed, burn, or otherwise lose health over time like the Pyro's flamethrower or the Spy's Sapper, that continue to damage away at enemies even after the user has been killed.
  • Justified in Heretic; D'Sparil was keeping his minions in your dimension with his power, so after his death they all die or get sent back. The beings of his home plane of existence, covered in the Expansion Pack, Shadow of the Serpent Riders, remain unaffected though.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura has a few quest-based curses that expire on death. One example is found early on, and the other involves the Crystal Ball quest. The Gypsy Blood curse, on the other hand, is caused by death.
    • This actually applies to a large majority of spells. Summoned monsters disappear when you no longer sustain the spell, time reverts to normal when you're no longer consciously altering it, et cetera. Actually, Arcanum makes considerable use of the ephemeral nature of magic both in its discussion of the setting's philosophies, sciences and cultures, and in its game mechanics. No Ontological Inertia is again used here with deliberate intent. Its few exceptions run the full gamut from excellent writing to dropping the ball.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The series has this in spades. A usual pattern is visiting a new area, finding something wrong with the local environment, slaying the boss monster inhabiting the nearest temple, and collecting your reward from the grateful townspeople when their lake is refilled, their mountain quits erupting, their well quits sending out shadows to stalk them at night ...
    • But averted in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. You kill the spider that lives in the Deku tree, but it's too late to save the tree... Said tree knew this all along, but tasked Link with ridding him of his curse anyway to see if Link was worthy of being the hero Hyrule needs.
  • Though this trope is not used in the original King's Quest III, the two remakes by Infamous Adventures and AGD Interactive avert it and play it straight, respectively. In the first, an epilogue shows Alexander and King Graham rebuilding the kingdom of Daventry from the devastation wrought by the dragon, but in the second a magic glowing pinball rebuilds the kingdom and puts everything right once the dragon is dead and the royal family is reunited.
  • Cabal has this in spades. To beat a level, you had to defeat enemies and destroy structures until a bar at the bottom filled up, at which point every remaining enemy died/blew up and every remaining structure on screen collapsed. As for the two Flunky Bosses, destroying the main target would cause all the flunkies to spontaneously explode.
  • In Pokémon Black and White, when the event Zoroark is defeated/captured, the clearing it is in fills with flowers and much more pleasant-looking trees. Justified because the Zoroark had not actually changed the clearing, it was using its powers of illusion to make it appear otherwise.
  • Averted in the Valley of Dying Things scenario of Blades Of Avernum. The Vale is suffering a curse in which the rivers poison the vegetation and anything that drinks from the river or eat food grown with river water. After destroying the source of the toxins, an abandoned magical waste treatment facility deep below the surface the poison already within the environment does not leach away or vanish, and the inhabitants of the Vale flee only to come back once the Vale has been magically cleansed. Even then, the land is still not as prosperous as it was before the curse.
  • Subverted by the Fallout series. At the end of the first game, you kill the Master of the Super Mutants. In all the subsequent games, supermutants continue to be present, ranging from The Remnant, hostile to all, to contributing members of society (including one who's an NCR Ranger).
  • Averted in Knights of the Old Republic, where, if an enemy who wields the Force casts any lasting Force Power on you (or your party), such as "Plague," which slowly drains your health, his or her death will not stop the effect of the Force Power. It will run out eventually in the allotted time establish for that skill, unless you cast a Power of your own previously designed to counter it, but killing the NPC who inflicted it on you does nothing to help.
    • Story-wise, the second game reveals that taking advantage of this was part of how Revan did so well against the Republic following the Mandalorian Wars - he would deliberately target influential people on the other side, either converting them to his cause (causing their followers to follow suit) or killing them outright (leading their underlings into chaos).
  • Averted in Sword of the Stars. If you attack a planet and kill all the population, any planetary defenses will still be active and need to be destroyed before you can take over. Sometimes you can even kill just the "imperial" population, leaving (most of) the "civilian" population intact. (Basically killing anyone directly related to the faction who owns the planet, but leaving everyone else.) If nobody moves in to grab the planet after that, they will just declare independence and become a neutral party until someone muscles in on them again.
  • Averted in Anvil of Dawn. While trying to get past the gargoyle in the basement of the Dark Lantern, you can point out that the mage who summoned him as a guardian is now dead. The gargoyle says he's pleased to hear that, but he's still bound by the summons, which you have to break yourself before you can get past him.
  • The stealth shooter Vampire Rain takes this trope Up to Eleven with the Nightwalkers being completely dependant on the vampire who sired them. This becomes a gameplay mechanic about halfway through the game, when killing certain vampires will destroy all the vampires sired by that particular vampire in the level. This is used as a plot point, when the protagonists destroy the four head vampires, purging the city of their bloodlines completely.
  • Averted twice in the Parasite Eve series. The first is after the death of Eve. The Ultimate Being she was trying to birth is born despite it's mother melting into a pile of goo and serves as the final boss. The second is revealed in Parasite Eve 2. Eve's monstrous creations did not all drop dead after Eve or the Ultimate Being are destroyed and wreak havoc across the U.S for several years.
  • In Super Mario Bros. (and all spinoffs), any enemies in boss battles will immediately vanish once the boss is defeated. In Super Mario World this extends to sprites in general, if you're riding a Yoshi in a battle, the Yoshi vanishes once the boss is defeated as well.
  • According to the original plot for Killer7, managing to kill a being called the "Final" or "Last Shot Smile" would have caused the regular Heaven's Smiles the player faces throughout the game to cease existing. The Final Smile isn't in the released game, though the supplementary "Hand in killer7" material is still based on an earlier version of the story where an FBI agent, making use of a prediction machine whose probability of a successful prediction went up with each successful prediction, was manipulating the direction of the plot from behind the scenes to force the Last Shot Smile into existence and destroy it himself. Garcian Smith does end up killing the Big Boss, however, which is implied to be the sire that fertilizes all the egg-laying Heaven's Smiles - killing him will result in the eventual extinction of the Smiles, since reproduction by conversion isn't a valid long-term tactic. The sire is Iwazaru, one of Harman's (Garcian's boss) servants, who is revealed to be a clone of Kun Lan, the primary antagonist.
  • Egregious in Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds, where destroying a builder unit detonates any unfinished buildings that unit was working on, destroying an HQ building detonates all other buildings in the sector, and destroying the central HQ in the faction's home sector destroys everything, granting instant victory to the other side.
  • At the end of Super Robot Wars Compact 3, Alkaid says that there's no worry. Once he dies, the dimensions should return to their rightful state without his power tugging at it. These people should be sent home. Alkaid then notes that he has no regrets about his life and to meet Folka and his new way. In the end, he gives Folka his thanks to which Folka says that the same goes likewise. Alkaid then dies with the Raha Extim exploding and there is a flash, sending everyone back to their homeworlds.
  • Warlock: Master Of The Arcane averts this. When a faction is defeated, all their units and cities remain in the game, but are now considered "neutral".
  • This one's a plot point in OFF: Whenever a guardian is killed, his zone, and all its inhabitants, in one of them's words, "fall into nothingness, never to return".
  • In the Sega Saturn RPG Albert Odyssey, the main character's adoptive caretaker is turned to stone early on in the story. A search for a powerful healer eventually reveals that numerous other people have suffered the same fate, with the most powerful known healer unable to help them. Defeating the megalomaniac wizard who cast the curse is speculated to be the only possible cure, and in fact the aforementioned caretaker is seen fully recovered soon after the wizard is taken down.
  • All minion attacks and a large number of hero abilities in Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign create countdown tiles that, when the specified amount of turns have elapsed, trigger the character pulling off a special ability. The countdown tiles can be destroyed like normal ones, or they can all be instantly wiped off the board by their owner being downed.
  • DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu BLACK LABEL allows you to trigger this. Destroying a large enemy with your shot and laser firing at once causes its bullets to vanish too, turning into point-accumulating stars and adding to your combo. Cancelling bullets en masse, especially with Red Mode activated, is the key to earning massive scores.
  • Averted in Golden Sun: Tret the Holy Tree is normally a kind and wise soul, but has entered an Unstoppable Rage due to Psynergy Stones, and started turning all the people in Kolima into trees, hoping to spread the curse around as much as possible so he can take as many humans down with him as he can. After Isaac and his friends bring him back to his senses, Tret laments the fact that partially because of the wound the Kolima lumberjacks gave him, he's dying and no longer has the power to undo the curse. Isaac and his friends then head to the Mercury Lighthouse to fetch some Water of Hermes, to heal the dying tree. Only then is a grateful Tret able to return the people of Kolima to normal.
  • In EarthBound, defeating the Starman Deluxe causes the Stonehenge base to noisily shut down, which frees everybody from the People Jars in the last room and removes all the enemies.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Several Vampire bloodlines in the Iliac Bay region are known to have this as a weakness. If their progenitor (known as a "Blood Father") is killed or cured, the other vampires of the bloodline will lose their powers as well. This is said to include Rapid Aging, which for those who have been alive longer than their natural lifespans, leads to death.
    • Atronachs, a type of unaligned lesser Daedra which are essentially the Elemental Embodiments of the elements they represent, typically have this occur if they've been summoned to Mundus (the mortal plane) by a mortal summoner. If that mortal dies, the Atronach will vanish or disintegrate. This is also the case for a number of types of undead and their necromancer summoners as well.
  • In the story mode of Granblue Fantasy, when Celeste is defeated and sealed, death returns to the Mist-Shrouded island and all the villagers crumble to dust. Justified in that they were all supposed to have decayed for a long time.
  • Some of the Command & Conquer games have an optional setting for skirmish and multiplayer battles that enforces this - as soon as a player loses all of their buildings that produce things (Construction Yard, Barracks, War Factory, etc.), all of their remaining defensive structures and units currently on the field will self-destruct or drop dead, forcing them out of the game. The only thing that stays around are walls.
  • Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite: Averted. After Ultron Sigma is defeated, the Convergence between the Marvel and Capcom universes remains in place, contrary to what the heroes were expecting. Because the Reality Gem was damaged by Thanos earlier in the story and can't be used at full power anymore, there's no way to separate the universes, meaning that there's now a permanently merged Marvel vs. Capcom universe.
  • Left 4 Dead zig zags the trope with the healing items. First aid kits fully heals all wounds, but it takes a few seconds for the survivors to apply the bandages to their wounds, which instantly heals them the moment the survivor is finished. Pills instantly gives survivors a boost to their health (albeit temporarily since it doesn't restore permanent health) the moment they consume the pills. In the sequel, adrenaline shots work instantly whereas injecting anything into your body in real life would still take a while to work.
  • The Big Bad of BlazBlue is Yuuki Terumi, a ghost separated from his body long before the plot began. This means he doesn't have a stable existence. He solves this by deliberately acting as an in-universe Hate Sink - the hatred he receives from characters like Ragna and Kokonoe validates and sustains his life. A Discussed Trope in later games is that everything in the Blaz Blue universe has no ontological inertia - they only exist because they are being Observed. Most things are Observed by Master Unit Amaterasu, but Terumi takes a more direct route for his sustenance by deliberately antagonising everyone. The more you hate him, the stronger he gets.

    Web Comics 
  • Averted in Bob and George; George is wearing a time travel suit that makes him intangible. When the suit is destroyed, he stays intangible. A lot of fans were surprised by this, given the prevalence of this trope.
  • Averted in Dominic Deegan with the poison infecting orcish lands. It takes so long to be undone after the source was destroyed that Dominic face palms himself for completely forgetting it was there.
  • Summons in El Goonish Shive follow this rule. See ''Taurcanis Draco".
    • Earlier, Fox dissolves after Abraham uses a mass sleep spell, knocking out Nanase so he can kill Ellen. The author admits it looks more disturbing than he originally intended.
    • On the other hand it is averted with creations of the Dewitchery Diamond, when Tedd read a log of the diamonds original creation wherein a man cursed with lycanthorphy was separated into himself and a giant wolf-beast when the man died the wolf still survived.Tedd point out this means if Elliott dies Ellen will be just fine, this doesn't particularly reassure Elliott.
  • In The Order of the Stick, three fiends discussing a magic-boosting 'soul-splice' mention that any spells cast during the splice will end when the splice does, except those with permanent non-magical effects (like death).
  • In Shadows Of Enchantment, a common annoyance for the True Companions in the past has been for them to heroically slay a huge, hideous enchantment-created monster, only for its corpse to revert to a dead squirrel or something.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, the demon K'Z'K possesses Gwynn's body and changes it to a large, monstrous form. He seems able to change alter this form at will and does so, and at one point even reconstructs it after being put through a meat grinder. And when he's banished from the body, which is looking monstrous at the time, it returns to its normal shape (albeit comatose because he keeps her soul). At least, before this, one of the characters mentions the possibility that she might come back as minced meat.
  • The permanence of any spell run amok in The Wotch seems inversely proportional to the number of people still stuck when the danger has passed. For example, a demon turns dozens of people into human-animal hybrids, and even a stone fountain, but they all turn back when he vanishes. On the other hand, a girl turned temporarily into an imp switches a couple, and they stay switched for months after she turns back, and only switch back at all because a witch does it for them.
  • Invoked in Manly Guys Doing Manly Things when Commander Badass hunts down Gackt with the belief that defeating him will cure his case of Nomura Syndrome. It doesn't work.
  • In Axe Cop, "The Dogs", once the Siberian Witch Doctor Mummy Cats are sent to Mouse World, their evil magics are undone because they become so happy, and everything they enchanted (which was a lot) returns back to normal. The birds shrink back to normal size, the fish return to normal and fall from the sky, the humans turn back into humans instead of witch doctor mummy kittens... It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context.
  • In Sorcery 101, a werewolf's Healing Factor has no ontological inertia, so when a person is cured of lycanthropy, any wound they received as a werewolf will come back.
  • Subverted in this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic. The protagonist murders the source of all swear words, yet the use of such words still persists.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Ben 10, a giant tick-like alien lands on Yellowstone Park and begins sucking all life in the area dry. The Tennysons are in the area, but are unable to stop it immediately due to the usual aliens proving ineffective. By the time Ben finally learns to use the new alien of the week, the entire area is gray and dead, the usual geysers are spitting poison, and the ground is brittle and breaking apart in large floating chunks. After the tick is destroyed, the background literally turns green and lush again in mid-conversation, and the gunk that Ben has to wash off the Rustbucket is the only evidence that the tick was ever there. Why then did the gunk remain? Just to make life suck for Ben.
  • In an episode of DuckTales (1987), a magical golden duck artifact with the power to turn things into gold has unleashed a magic wave that is turning the world into gold. Scrooge and the guy who accidentally started the whole thing are rushing to return the artifact to the shrine fountain it came from. They eventually reach the shrine just ahead of the magic effect and throw the duck into the water even as they're turned to gold too... and then everything is returned to normal.
  • An episode of My Life as a Teenage Robot involved Jenny being turned into a rampaging monster by a tiny machine that had infected her. As soon as the machine was removed all the changes were undone in seconds right before the camera. The thing that makes this particularly egregious is the fact that Jenny is a robot, but then again, so was the thing that infected her in the first place (done by the Cluster.)
  • The Gilligan's Planet episode "Too Many Gilligans" featured an alien cloning machine that began cranking out copies of the cast until the landscape was filled with them. When the machine was destroyed, all the clones vanished.
  • In Superman: The Animated Series, this is true with Mister Mxyzptlk's powers. When he's banished back to his home dimension, everything he did is instantly undone; most notably, victims of Baleful Polymorph are restored to human form. (Although Lois, who he turned into a horse, still wants to eat the carrot he was feeding her, and questions why when she notices.)
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius once had an episode where Jimmy used a hypnosis machine to make his parent think the next day was his birthday to get a chemistry set, only for it to turn out to make them think every day was his birthday. After eventually getting sick of it, Jimmy decides to unhypnotize them, but the party clown destroys the machine in a misperformed party trick. The next day his parents tell him that (assumably because he's had so many birthdays) that he's now 18 and going to college, but they were just faking it and destroying the machine really made the hypnosis end (the bill for the clown was still there, though).
  • In the Sushi Pack episode "But is it Art?", once the Ominous Pipe Organ The Collector used to bring famous paintings to life is destroyed, the "art zombies" immediately return to their canvases.
  • Gargoyles:
    • Sort-of subverted in an early episode, when Demona cast a spell on Goliath, transforming him into her thrall as long as she carried the original spell (or at least, the page from the book it was written in). While the book and the page that the spell was written upon were both recovered and Demona defeated, none of the gargoyles had the necessary magical skill to undo the spell, thus leaving Goliath stuck as a slave to whoever held the spell and fully aware of his actions and unable to stop himself. Elisa, however, came up with an elegant solution; she held the page with the spell written on it in her hands and commanded Goliath to live the rest of his life as if he'd never been put under that spell in the first place. Needless to say, it worked.
    • Generally averted, however. Spells cast tended to have permanent effects until either a counter-spell was used or an escape clause was evoked. Even Oberon's Children tend to follow these rules.
  • SWAT Kats:
    • In the episode "Chaos in Crystal", the Monster of the Week, Rex Shard, transforms large swathes of the desert near Megakat City into crystal, as well as many kats, the prison he broke out of, and the water in the Megakat Reservoir. Transforming Shard back into a normal kat fixes it all, except possibly for the Warden, whose crystallized body was clearly shattered, but that was left unresolved. It was left unresolved because the results would be something not showable in a cartoon series. It's almost Getting Crap Past the Radar, as it was most certainly fatal.
    • Most episodes involving Dr. Viper and his mutations are also included. Anti-mutagens apparently are "reverse mutagens" and capable of shrinking bloated, mutated creatures back to normal, rather than stopping further mutation.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In a Treehouse of Horror episode based on Bram Stoker's Dracula, in order to de-vampirize Bart they have to kill the head vampire. (It doesn't work, since the vampire-slayers turn out to be vampires themselves, and in this universe vampires apparently benefit from ontological N-Word Privileges.) They also didn't kill the real head vampire. The episode ends before the only human (Lisa) can, so it's never revealed if it would have worked.
    • Zigzagged in another Treehouse of Horror episode, when a witch turns Homer into a mishmash creature. Killing the witch undoes his transformation, all except his chicken undercarriage, which he can conveniently use to lay eggs to feed his family.
  • In the first season finale of Transformers Prime, Unicron unleashes a whack of natural disasters all over Earth, including loads of tornadoes and a humongous tidal wave that rises above the cityscape. After he's been defeated, the wall of water plainly freezes mid-air and promptly falls apart, and the blowing winds also disappear.
  • In the The Fairly OddParents! episode "Whishy Wash" Cosmo and Wanda turn into teenagers thereby getting rid of their child, Poof, yet the result of a wish they grant before then remains, as does Timmy's memory of Poof.
  • Tended to be the case on My Little Pony. For instance, when Tirac was killed his spells were undone.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the episode "Secret of My Excess", Spike's greed causes him to grow into a larger dragon progressively over the course of the episode, until by the end he is a rampaging dragon the size of a small mountain. When he realizes that he was wrong to be so greedy, Spike immediately, and magically, poofs back to his original size.
    • Subverted twice in "Inspiration Manifestation":
      • Spike tries to invoke this by eating the spellbook. This accomplishes nothing, as Rarity retains her powers and corrupted behavior. It takes a Curse Escape Clause to set Rarity right again.
      • Even after the book is destroyed and the spell breaks, the changes to Ponyville still remain. It takes three princesses all day to reverse everything.
  • Part of why Gang leaves Crystal Cove at the end of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. After they destroy the Evil Entity that has manipulated everyone for hundreads of years, everything it ever did was erased from history. All of the cases and all of the monsters are now gone. Furthermore, this means everyone go to live happy, healthy and productive lives (especially their families); the entire scenario weighs heavily on them since they were five of the only six or so people on the planet who still remember the original timeline. As for the other person, it turns out to be Harlan Ellison of all people (who is able to remember multiple timelines due to being a "genius") and has become the Mr. E. He's invited them to study at the new university is he at and will grant them plenty of new mysteries to solve.
  • Happens all the time in Martin Mystery; whatever effect has had a monster on humans (like turning them into zombies) will be completely reversed once the monster is beaten/captured/banished. Another example: in one episode, a geode was used to bring dinosaurs back to life. But after the geode is destroyed, the dinosaurs it created immediately disintegrate.
  • South Park:
    • Invoked (sort of) in Goth Kids 3: Dawn of the Posers: Henrietta is brainwashed by emo plants bent on world domination, causing her to switch cliques. When the others confront the plants they discover that the whole thing was a scam and Henrietta only became emo by the power of suggestion. Afterwards they let Henrietta save face by pretending that "killing the plant leader" freed her from their control.
    • Played Straight in Pinkeye. A newly zombified Kenny turns the other inhabitants of the town into the walking undead, prompting the boys to fend them off with the use of chainsaws. Kyle is informed killing the original zombie magically turns everyone back to normal, which it does, but that's tough luck for everyone who was already hacked to bits by then.
  • On Steven Universe, Onion uses a Replicator Wand to flood the entire town in millions of cheap plastic toys, and then replicates cars to throw at the Gems. When they finally get the Wand back Garnet destroys it, causing everything to disappear.
  • In the final story arc of Gravity Falls, the demon Bill Cipher and his otherworldly allies have invaded the central cast's home universe and transformed various people and objects for their own amusement. In the series finale, the leader of this invasion is killed, causing the other alien beings involved to be immediately returned to their own universe and the transformations to be reversed.
  • Averted in the Superjail! episode "Jean And Paul And Beefy And Alice".
  • Samurai Jack; In Season 5, Jack meets an assassin named Ashi, whom he eventually redeems and starts a romance with. In the penultimate episode, she is revealed to be Aku's biological daughter, and after briefly being subject to a Villain Override she uses her new powers to send Jack back to the past to kill Aku. However, a little while later she realizes that since Aku was destroyed in the past, she and her sisters were never conceived in the future, and she fades away to nothingness in Jack's arms.
  • Averted in the Miraculous Ladybug episode "The Collector" - Hawk Moth's plan specifically relies on an akuma sticking around to carry out his orders after he temporarily renounces his Miraculous, because he plans to akumatize himself to throw Ladybug off his trail, and akumas won't work on the Butterfly Miraculous's owner.
    • While "The Collector" has one instance of trope aversion, every single episode of Ladybug other than the first episode of her two-part Origin Story plays the trope more or less straight, as all the damage caused by the super villain of the week OR Ladybug and Cat Noir is undone when she tosses her Lucky Charm in the air.
  • Space Ghost episode "The Sorcerer". The title villain changes Jan and Jace into giant versions of Blip (the Team Pet monkey) using the powers of his magical wand. When Jace grabs the wand away from him and breaks it, the spell is broken too and Jan and Jace turn back to normal.
  • Averted in the episode "Marco Jr." of Star vs. the Forces of Evil. Destroying a painting that was causing Marco's body to transform doesn't stop the process, as the ash that the painting became still has the magic enchantment on it. Star and his parents find themselves having to take a personality test for him in order to overwrite the spell instead.
    • Played a bit straighter in "Conquer." Meteora, formerly known as miss Heinous, has been rampaging through Mewni, shooting people with her newfound laser eye powers that take people's souls, leaving them in a lifeless state with black eyes, with her growing bigger every time she does so. Seeing this happen before at the hands of Toffee, Star tries to get to the sanctuary where there is a substance that can revive everyone it's happened to, but fails. In the end, after Meteroa is turned into a baby, everyone's souls are automatically restored and they revive, saving Star from having to make loads of trips there.
  • A recurring element in The Real Ghostbusters and Extreme Ghostbusters is that any damages done by the Ghost of the Week is reverted after the ghost is caught or defeated.

    Real Life 
  • Small children (below 8 months) don't have cognitive functions for object permanence and have to acquire them. So if they can't see something anymore, the object — at least for them, which makes this at least partly Truth in Television — fades away as if it never existed in the first place.
    I see you
    • Apparently, most animals have this same problem.
  • During the next stage, children understand the significance of objects and people disappearing, but don't quite understand that they can return. Cue the baby crying while Mom is away.
    • There follows an interesting stage where they try to work out where unseen objects are. Before this stage, Baby can watch you put a cushion over his toy and he won't think to lift it up- the toy no longer exists because he can't see it. Later, he will lift up the cushion to get it again. If you then move the toy and he sees you cover it with a different cushion... he'll look under the first cushion first, because that's where it was when it was invisible before.
  • Those who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depending on the severity thereof, often find themselves lapsing into this mindset long past infancy. They have to make absolutely sure that something comforting they saw really exists, and they didn't imagine it - or that something that frightens them really doesn't exist, and they did imagine it. (It gets worse when Your Mind Makes It Real kicks in, which it sometimes does.)
  • Quantum-mechanics is the other way around. Particles are thought not to have certain characteristics until they are measured. It's not that we don't know what, say, its spin is until we measure it — a particle has no fixed spin until after we measured it. Though it should be noted that it's the physical interaction with the measuring equipment that does it, and would presumably still happen if nobody paid attention.
    • All possibilities being equal, though, said particles essentially exist in all possible ways they possibly can until observed.
  • Many examples of modern technology (and all young animals) cease to function (sometimes followed by a violent end to their existence) if they are abandoned for even short periods of time.
    • A lot of technology that relies on a rechargable battery will need recharging even if you don't use it for a few days. The Sony PSP is particularly notorious for this.
    • More worrying are items that rely on an internal battery. Sometimes these batteries die after many years and there are no batteries around to replace them. Nintendo's Famicom Disk System is like this (in addition to having a no longer manufactured drive belt), but the good news is that many of the games have been emulated in recent years and Nintendo hasn't forgotten about them.
    • Certain DRM schemes (that rely on communication with an authorization server) have a side effect of effectively making it impossible to legally use protected software after its maker goes out of business. Of course, with the maker no longer in business, there is no one to prosecute illegal use either.
  • To a certain extent, human vision and memories. Experiments have shown that the brain will actively alter what we think we see (and have seen previously) in order to make sense of the world. For instance, if somebody is slowly altering a picture or the letters on a page or simply ducking behind a counter, most people will insist that the changed version is what they saw to begin with and only realize the difference once they see the before and after shots. This has been taken to the extreme, with experiments having completely different people switch places and the test subject never even noticing.
  • In classical physics, gravitational and magnetic forces behave like this. As soon as the object producing the force stops existing, the force is gone. So if the Sun disappeared, all the planets would fly off on tangential paths before we saw the light stop. Testing this in real life would be hard because there's no way to make an object suddenly stop existing. In modern physics however, information cannot travel faster than the speed of light, so it would take some time for the sun's disappearance to be felt at a distance.
  • In a way, this happened with the Mongol armies. Mongol tradition stated that if the khan died, everyone had to drop what they were doing and go home to mourn the khan and bury him. Thus, whoever they happened to be attacking at the time would suddenly find the Mongols leaving or gone. Western Europe got VERY lucky when the rather young khan died of a heart attack, saving it from being being overrun like most of Eastern Europe - and possibly becoming a Buddhist or Islamic region instead of a Christian one.
    • Actually Batu-khan, who led the Mongol invasion of Europe, just wanted to influence the election of the new ruler rather than follow any tradition. Anyway, it's just one of the possible explanations for the Mongol withdrawal from Eastern Europe.
  • One of the odder side effects of how Linux handles process hierarchy is that if you launch a program from a terminal window — even one that runs in its own window — you need to keep the terminal open or the other program will also quit right in the middle of whatever it happens to be doing. A rather nasty shock to anyone who's using it for the first time and is used to Windows' method of treating the DOS prompt as little more than a piece of the interface.
  • Autocratic states led by the force of personality of a single leader can have this sort of impact on their societies. When all social mores, political relations and economic order is built around the will of the leader, the loss of that leader can have catastrophic consequences for the society. At best, there will be a brief (if tense) Succession Crisis (as has been the case with most some monarchies, the Chinese and the North Koreans) and at worst, the entire state will die with its leader (as was the case with Saddam and Gaddafi).
  • In 2016 astronomers made a routine check on a massive star expected to explode as a supernova in the very near future and found that it was simply gone. It almost certainly did not explode, as the blast would have clearly been visible to observatories around the Earth for weeks. One hypothesis is that extremely massive stars have such extreme gravity that a collapsing core simply consumes the entire star before it can explode. Resulting in the star simply winking out of existance. (Though leaving behind a black hole.)