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Normally, I Would Be Dead Now

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"...Okay, let's try a fifteenth stab wound."

Travis Touchdown: Pain in MY ass. Why aren't you dead yet?
Skelter Helter: Such blind arrogance! Like the naked emperor...
Travis: Seriously! I cut off your head!

Despite the prominence of Only a Flesh Wound in media, there are some things that even writers would concede as pretty fatal. For example, if a character gets shot in the head or stabbed in the chest, they're pretty much done for, hopefully with enough time to give a Final Speech before their death.

Unless of course, they're a Determinator or just extremely tough. For them, that little hole where their heart was supposed to be is just another chance to show off how badass they are. Even that is Only a Flesh Wound, and the guy that injured them, likely to be pissing in his pants right now, is about to receive a world of hurt. When this occurs in a climactic battle, you often see a Heroic Second Wind sequence.

Killing the character after their display of Heroic Willpower for extra dramatic effect, or to show that the wounds were fatal after all, just not right away, is optional.

Note that this applies only to things that would have killed a normal character even by Hollywood rules. If it is "merely" something like severe bleeding from the shoulder or leg, that is Only a Flesh Wound. Surprisingly, this is actually a case of Truth in Television. There are many real-life examples of people who had things rammed through their chests and heads and still lived due to the foreign material miraculously missing vital organs. This means there is a fine line between this and mere aversion of Instant Death Bullet. However, it is far more common in fiction than in Real Life and all of them were left incapacitated or unable to move, so Don't Try This at Home.

May overlap with I Can Still Fight!. Tends to go with Rasputinian Death if the character dies by the end of it. Compare Made of Iron, when the character should have been killed by what's been done to him but has only suffered superficial injuries. Contrast Not Too Dead to Save the Day, where the character actually is dead, but somehow still animate enough to kick ass. A frequent reason for villains to ask heroes Why Won't You Die?


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Sven from Black Cat survives being stabbed through the chest by Eve's mutated knife-arm, because "Eve intentionally avoided his vital organs", although it is unclear how a knife a little over half the size of his entire chest could avoid anything.
  • Bleach:
    • Aizen once mentions Ichigo's resolve to live is so great even lethal wounds simply render him unable to move instead of killing him. When a massive hole is blasted into his chest, he very nearly dies until mysteriously resurrected and healed by his inner hollow.
    • When Rukia's understanding of her own power develops, she explains that her body's temperature drops below a level capable of sustaining life. She remains alive by using her reiatsu to put her cells into a form of stasis and puppeteer her effectively dead body. Returning to her normal body temperature after using her power is so fraught with danger that using her power means she runs the risk of potentially killing herself by accident should she misstep even slightly.
  • Shi woon has even lampshaded this several times in The Breaker. But his Determinator drive keeps him going long after he should have been knocked out cold.
    • In New Wave, he can now heal from practically any wound in about half a day.
  • Kazuki of Buso Renkin uses this to his advantage to defend against his opponent, a kendo genius whose signature (and vaguely illegal) move involves a devastating wide strike to the ribs. When Kazuki fights him, he's using a katana, and to avoid being sliced in half, Kazuki returns his weapon to its passive state where it functions as his heart, actually blocking the strike.
  • In the third fight in Claymore, a youma holds Raki hostage in order to force Clare to throw away her sword. She throws it some ways downhill, and the youma proceeds to impale her with its claws. Except then Clare grabs its arm, dives down the hill dragging it with her, retrieves her sword, and promptly kills it. It would not be fatal to a Claymore, who can self-regenerate. Also, Ophelia had her neck twisted and didn't die.
  • Cowboy Bebop:
    • Spike Spiegel takes multiple bullets while getting to the final fight against Vicious in "The Real Folk Blues (Part 2)". He eventually dies of those injuries and ones caused by Vicious. Maybe.
    • What else has happened to him? In "Ballad of Fallen Angels", he is slashed in the face and thrown out of a building. In "Jupiter Jazz (Part 1)", he is shot in the chest once and falls unconscious. He should have bled out but didn't. In Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door, he is beaten down, shot, and thrown out a moving monorail hovering above the water.
  • Hiro Mashima's Fairy Tail — There's also no explanation for how Gray took being impaled through his stomach without even slowing down while fighting Lyon. In fact, all he apparently did to treat the wound was sealing it with ice (a seal which broke before the end of the fight), leaving no explanation for why he did not lose two or three vital organs. Just to make this even more ridiculous, he then fights better against his opponent than he ever did uninjured and starts by beating the hell out of him with just his fists.
  • Mustang has one of these moments in Fullmetal Alchemist. After having been impaled by Lust, he gets back up, performs first aid on himself and Havoc via alchemy, then tracks Lust down and burns her to death over and over before finally collapsing, but retaining consciousness. His earlier comment to an unconscious Havoc while they are both lying on the floor bleeding out — "Havoc, I won't let you die before me!" — indicates that he basically hauled himself back from the brink by sheer force of will because he refused to allow any of the people he was with to die if he could help it.
  • Nuriko of Fushigi Yuugi was also stabbed through the chest. This didn't slow him down too much, as he proceeded to snap the neck of his opponent and lift the boulder blocking the cave containing the Shinzaho of Genbu. Then he died.
  • Itou Komataro from Gintama was shot repeatedly, lost an arm, got a lot of sword wounds but hey, he died... eventually... after three episodes to which he was given an honorable death of being given the chance to defend himself from the Shinsengumi.
  • In Great Teacher Onizuka, Onizuka is about to take a national test in which he needs to have the highest score in the nation so he doesn't lose his job. One of his students is kidnapped, and he goes in pursuit. While saving the female student from a very dark situation, he is shot three times. He manages to make it back to the testing station, finish the test, and get a passing grade while bleeding profusely.
  • Yuki Nagato of Haruhi Suzumiya takes four massive spear-like projectiles through the torso, then proceeds to kill the culprit — her understudy — without so much as a cry of pain or raised voice. Like Vita above, though, she's a Ridiculously Human Network Terminal, but as she still bleeds and breathes, this had to have been pretty significant damage. She collapses afterward. Well, first she takes several iron spears to the chest (and pulls one out of her and turns it into a desk). Then she gets hit with Ryoko's giant energy tentacles, either through the upper torso or through her head.
  • High School D×D: Seriously, Issei has been subjected to this trope so many times in his entire life. If he didn't accept that flier from one of Rias' familiars, he'd be dead already before the novels even started. And that's just the first case of this trope happening.
  • Inuyasha: Even youkai will die if they're stabbed through the heart. After spending most of the manga being almost unstoppable in battle, eventually Sesshoumaru comes up against an opponent so powerful that he winds up a Badass in Distress and is eventually Impaled with Extreme Prejudice through the heart. Not only does it not kill Sesshoumaru, but Sesshoumaru's determination to keep fighting results in a power upgrade.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Jonathan Joestar's final battle with Dio Brando incorporates this trope, as it starts out with him getting two dime-sized holes blasted through his neck, including one right in the jugular. Additionally, this occurs several times during the battle between Jotaro and Dio in Stardust Crusaders, most notably when Dio famously drops a steamroller on Jotaro, whose Stand frantically attempts to keep it off of him while Dio's stand (which is faster and stronger) presses it down on him, pummeling the steam roller so hard that Jotaro can feel his blows through the steam roller itself as if it weren't there. To complicate things, Dio stops time before dropping the steam roller, and Jotaro can only move for two seconds, whereas Dio pounds on him for a solid nine. After the steam roller is completely crushed, Dio gloats over his assumed victory, knowing that not even Jotaro could have survived the assault. When he finishes his evil monologue, he notices that he cannot move, because Jotaro stopped time himself at the nine-second mark, escaping from under the steam roller while Dio was gloating and assuming that the extended time stop duration was proof of his increasing power. Jotaro then proceeds to beat the carp (yes, the carp) out of him.
    • Jojo is generally made of this trope, including a self-inflicted occurrence by Bucciarati in Golden Wind to trick an opponent. Steel Ball Run has a doozy; Johnny is shot in the head by Ringo Roadagain and survives.
  • Vita of Lyrical Nanoha was stabbed back to front, but still continued to fight in the final battle despite a gaping chest wound. Nanoha also gets badly injured. In both cases, they continue in large part because of their Determinator natures.
    • Though Vita is an Artificial Human, and consequently much tougher than a human, but that was a very serious injury even for her.
  • In Medaka Box, Zenkichi is fighting Munakata in a one-sided fight favoring Zenkichi. However, at the moment of defeat, he stabs Zenkichi in the back with five katanas. It doesn't faze him much.
  • Neji Hyuga from Naruto was shot through the chest twice in the Sasuke retrieval arc, but still managed to kill his opponent with his ultimate technique before he collapsed. This was because he was able to deflect the first arrow away from his vital organs at the last moment, and thwarted the second by turning around. Even so, the resulting wounds would have been fatal if The Cavalry hadn't arrived in time.
    • Other examples were Zabuza (who is the page picture here), Tsunade, and Jiraiya. All were fatally stabbed but, through sheer willpower, managed to stay alive long enough to finish what they were doing. Tsunade even managed to put her Healing Factor into action and regenerate, while Jiraiya was stabbed deeply and multiple times by a weapon that's able to paralyze people and his opponent thought he already heard his heart stop before he spontaneously regained consciousness. Danzou stays alive enough time to pull a Taking You with Me attempt against Tobi and Sasuke. It doesn't work.
    • Tsunade managed to one-up herself at the conclusion of her fight with Madara when she was literally torn in half. Despite that, she still managed to summon up slugs to keep her and the other Kages alive until she could be put back together.
  • Negi of the Negima! Magister Negi Magi manga puts up an admirable fight despite being impaled in the chest by a thick piece of stone, pulling out and gripping the stone in one hand and sucker-punching his opponent with it. He collapses again soon afterward because it is a fatal injury, but it's enough of a distraction that a team effort from the others manages to turn things around enough to recover their gear and heal him.
    • Later, during his match with Rakan, he's turned into pulp by a point-blank physical attack that could kill a dragon and mostly ignored his barriers. In the process of struggling to his feet, he begins puking more blood than his body should probably be able to hold. Rakan tells him to stay down or he might die, but then subtly taunts him so that he won't and they can finish their match.
  • In One Piece, the greatest example has to be Roronoa Zoro. This man according to the Word of God lost what amounted to five liters of blood fighting Hatchan, mostly due to an earlier wound given by the greatest swordsman in the world, Dracule Mihawk, who stabbed him in his heart and slashed him across the chest, permanently scarring him just to finish him off. Mihawk seemed to sense he was badass enough to survive by asking him to surpass him and challenge him again.
    • Zoro also fought Mr. 1, an assassin and Bounty Hunter formerly known as Daz Bones, who during the fight turned his arms into buzzsaws and drove them into his chest.
    • Perhaps the greatest example is when Bartholomew Kuma, a designated Psycho for Hire (known to do psycho things, but now calm and now loyal to The Government) pushed all the pain and fatigue away from Monkey D. Luffy's body from his battle with the Big Bad, and Zoro who himself took some punishment from the zombie giant Oz, and Kuma's shockwave, took all the pain in and survived. When asked by Sanji what happened to him, he replied "Nothing. Nothing at all."
    • Some Lampshade Hanging on Zoro's case when self-proclaimed god, Eneru blasted a large column of lightning through an upper level of Giant Jack and Zoro, Wiper, Chopper, and the giant snake came crashing with massive debris, no less. As he crashed on the ground, he pushed a giant rock away from his body and yelled "Damn rock! I could have died!" Nico Robin agreed.
    • Even Luffy falls into this trope. His match duel with The Chessmaster / Big Bad Crocodile who is fond of giving plans and more so of Gambit Roulettes, ended with the former being impaled by the latter's pirate hook. And even then, he didn't die and had enough strength to grab his arm, so Crocodile threw him in quicksand to leave him for dead. Luffy still had enough strength to pop his head out of the sand. With help from Nico Robin, who helped him out of the sand, and Pell who fed him, Luffy returned to fight Crocodile who sucked the water out of him. And in their next confrontation (Luffy just doesn't give up, does he?), even Crocodile gave some Lampshade Hanging on what he went through. And even after being poisoned, he still managed to knock Crocodile through pure bedrock in the underground chamber, launching him above Alubarna flying in the air until he landed in the town centre.
      • Luffy displays this trope an awful lot, beginning with Crocodile and steadily escalating. His fight with Rob Lucci ends with Luffy unable to stand and having been trashed so soundly Lucci thinks that he must surely be dead. Later during his rampage through Impel Down, he gets poisoned by Warden Magelen (a death sentence in itself) but still has the strength to drag Bon Clay through the arctic conditions of level 5 and beg Ivankov to heal Bon Clay first. After completing his gruesome healing procedure in less than a day he continues fighting and Ivankov constantly lampshades that the only thing keeping Luffy going is his unstoppable will
      • Comes up again at the end of the Wano Arc, Act 3. In this case, Luffy actually did die; his heart stopped beating after Kaido bludgeons him with a spiked war club the size of a tree. However, his heart restarts and he's able to get back up and finish the fight. Death seems to have been the trigger for Luffy to Awaken his Devil Fruit into its true form: Mythical Zoan Hito Hito no Mi, Model Nika. This form, dubbed “Gear Five”, has Luffy transform into the reincarnation of a Sun God with Toon Force powers. With this, he takes full control over the battle and the battlefield, giving Kaido a much-deserved, hilarious (but still painful) beatdown that sent the Yonko into hole deep under Wano, possibly into magma.
    • Oda seems to adore this trope because at least one character per arc seems to fit this trope. The first is Dolton from the Drum arc, who was hit by arrows and then frozen over. To be fair, he got medical attention really fast. Kohza from the Alabasta arc got it even worse when he got shot in the chest a grand total of five times, and he still was totally fine a few days later. However, the character who takes the cake for this trope, by far, is Wiper from Skypeia. He got stabbed in the shoulder, Axe Dialed to the back and electrocuted at least twice. If that weren't enough already, he uses a kamikaze move, his Reject Dial, three times, even though every time someone tells him that he'll die if he uses it! The bones in his arm were pretty much shattered. After all this, you would think he'd be down for the count, but no! He can still get up later that evening! All he needed was a bunch of bandages.
    • If this example isn't first for One Piece, then it's a pretty close second. During the Whitebeard War Arc, Whitebeard took a grand total of 267 slashes and stabs, 152 bullets, 46 cannonballs, and half his goddamned face being melted off. And this is after laying down a well-deserved beat down on Blackbeard.
  • Hiro Mashima loves this trope. Honestly, after reading a few volumes of Rave Master you'll realize that you can never be sure — no matter how much pounding, shooting, blasting, or Explosive Overclocking a character gets — whether they're seriously dead/about to die or Only Mostly Dead. Plue can stop bleeding and pain. But it does not explain Shuda surviving the loss of a limb and a 1000-foot fall, Lucia being up and murderous after his beating from Haru, or the numerous times Sieg is kicking ass again after having a vital organ severely damaged.
  • In Re:Zero, having already been badly wounded by Witch cultists, Rem is seemingly finished off by a single spell from Betelgeuse, who then twists and contorts her limbs just for the sheer hell of it. Betelgeuse is in no doubt that she's dead, but after he and the other cultists have left, Rem somehow manages to crawl over to Subaru on her shattered limbs and break his shackles with her magic before finally dying in Subaru's arms. Luckily for Rem, her death is undone when Subaru himself is killed a few minutes later, causing time to rewind.
  • Rosario + Vampire — Poor Tsukune suffers from this pretty badly, especially after he gets his vampire powers. At one point he's hit in the head so hard it bounces off the pavement, yet he's none the worse for wear. He does have a keepsake of his abuse; two big scars that reach across his chest, forming an X.
    • He was also burned to a husk (while still human) by a four-tailed yoko. Ouch. And it looks like he's about to have it happen again.
  • Sailor Moon loves this trope, the fact that any of the girls survive 'til the end is an absolute miracle (In fairness, more than a few times they do actually die and get revived with the show's MacGuffin). However, there are some times they should die but don't. Doesn't even slow them down really. Most notable in the climax of Season 3 when the title character jumps into the equivalent of an atomic bomb, and still comes out alive)
  • Samurai Champloo: Mugen manages to survive things that would be fatal to anyone else in the series, such as being shot and then blown up after being in two fights which left him tired and seriously injured.
  • Sengoku Basara: Played for laughs when Shingen punches Yukimura, who flies through a screen door, across a courtyard, smashes through a stone lantern and into a stone wall, which crumbles a bit from the impact. Sasuke comments mildly that this would kill a normal man. Yukimura, however, comes running right back into Shingen's fist so he can do it all over again, although he's in a slightly rotated position when he hits the wall the second time.
  • Medusa from Soul Eater really should be very dead after Dr. Stein cuts clean through her torso, slicing her body in half, and then stabs her through the face. It makes some fans wonder whether she will be coming back again after Crona has apparently killed her by sticking multiple swords through her chest.
  • Kamina of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann takes a laser up his chest, visibly tearing his body, and his mech, nearly in two, then gets stabbed in the back with a laser spear, and then gets hit with his own swords/sunglasses. However, he manages to pull himself up, throws his own mech's arm at Simon, delivers a hotblooded speech from hell out, kills an entire Redshirt Army, catches the same laser that injured him earlier, then proceeds to string the guy up on his mech's freakin' sunglasses and then shoves a drill through him that'd make any dentist cringe. All while bleeding out on the floor. Wow.
    • The manga adaptation takes this scene and makes what's only implied in the above scene explicit, and therefore a subversion. He was actually dead, but used Spiral Power to sustain himself and continue the fight. Even more wow.
    • Lordgenome survives after getting a massive hole blown in his chest long enough to give a Final Speech. This is normally not enough to qualify, as he does not keep fighting afterward, but you have to wonder how he managed to talk for so long with no lungs left. The Anti-Spiral does pretty much the same, but shorter and it's a sort of Energy Being anyway.
      • After his death, Roshiu took his head and stuffed it in a jar, and somehow connect him to a supercomputer. Somehow, he's flawlessly connected, despite nobody else knowing about it, and Roshiu being about as smart with technology as the average member of Team Dai-Gurren.
      • It's implied that he had Leeron helping out.
    • And in a much lower-key (for Gurren-Lagann) example, Nia hung on for a week after every other Anti-Spiral construct's Critical Existence Failure, on sheer willpower.
  • The wolves in Wolf's Rain are pretty tenacious, often fighting like crazy despite severe wounds. The (posthumous) prize must go to Toboe, who keeps on fighting even after being shot in the chest at point-blank range. And then dies.
    • Kiba is even more dramatic. He has been practically torn to pieces and still got up and continued fighting. You just can't stop him!
  • Occurred on a number of occasions throughout the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise. If you count reaching 0 Life Points as dead...
    • The first instances were in the Doma Arc of the Original series. The Pharaoh is dueling against the Big Bad of the arc, Dartz. In the latter stages of the duel Pharaoh manages to destroy all Dartz' cards, in response, Dartz summons out his strongest beast, the Divine Serpent Geh, who has infinite attack and defense power. However, the cost to summon him is to pay all of Dartz' Life Points, meaning he should have lost. However, while Geh is in play, he cannot lose by any means. Pharaoh then one-ups him by playing the card Relay Soul which grants the same clause to a monster in his hand which he can then summon. Now both players are out of Life Points and would normally be out of the duel.
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds Kalin pulls a similar move in the Crash Town finale. After goading his opponent into hitting him with enough effect damage to wipe him out on the first turn, he reveals the effect of his Infernity Zero monster; namely, it is unaffected by all other effects except itself and cannot be destroyed in battle. Also, while it is face-up on the field, its controller cannot lose the duel, even if their Life Points are depleted. However, for each multiple of 500 damage he would take, Zero gains a Doom Counter; when the count reaches 3, Zero self-destructs.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman. Seriously, the man just WILL NOT DIE. He's been shot, stabbed, blown up, and hammered with enough physical trauma to kill any normal man. In Night of the Owls, he was stabbed about eight or nine times by a member of the Court of Owls, pitched off a building, and trapped in an isolated maze for god knows how long. He was a little squirrelly afterwards, but He Got Better. Not really a comic reference, but watch the two promo videos for DC Universe Online that shows him taking a missile to the face, and returning in the second one as one of the three remaining superheroes on earth. Ironically, it lends Lex Luthor's cockroach analogy slightly wrong...
  • Cutter in ElfQuest is determined to keep fighting even after being speared through the gut. Not surprisingly this puts his continued survival in doubt.
  • 'G.I. Joe' comics. Scarlett is pretending to be a double agent, so in order to maintain her cover, Snake-Eyes the ninja is forced to give her a survivable stab in the chest. Nobody counted on the Cobra ninja Slice, who realized if Snake-Eyes really wanted to kill, Scarlett would be dead instantly. So the whole thing is a load of B.S. Then Megatron shows up. No, really.
  • Iron Man's origin story involved a deadly shrapnel wound that would eventually penetrate his heart; to quote the movie, "I should be dead already." Instead of resigning himself to fate, he put his inventive genius to work — rigging up an electromagnetic pacemaker to keep his heart beating and keep the shrapnel out. And since the power source was putting out so much juice, he figured he might as well hook up some armor and guns to it.
  • The Punisher is a good example of this.
    • Particularly in the Max series, Frank Castle takes an insane amount of damage over the course of the series. In The Punisher: Born miniseries, Captain Frank Castle survives the obliteration of Firebase Valley Forge by attacking Viet Cong, surviving being shot seven times. It freaked the hell out of the reinforcements that came to see who survived. At one point, he gets shot in the side of his chest, point-blank, with a shotgun. After acknowledging that one of his ribs is "...gone. Not broken, gone.", he gets into an extended fistfight with the man who shot him, tosses him out of a window, and carries on. It seems like you can't finish a story arc without Castle experiencing some near-fatal damage.
    • The Punisher's Nemesis Barracuda is the same. Shortly after meeting the Punisher, 'Cuda gets the fingers on his right hand chopped off, his eye stabbed out, and his teeth broken, not to mention later shot in the chest and hurled off a boat into shark-infested waters. Barracuda survives (he explains this by claiming he grabbed onto the back of the boat and got towed to shore), and comes after the Punisher again, and later tortured by having his nutsack clipped to a car battery, shot several times, blown up, his nose ripped off, before the Punisher finally kills him by chopping his hands off with an axe and shooting his head to bits with an AK-47. As Punisher had noted, "Barracuda was dead when you shot him to bits and shot the bits and burned them. Anything less just left that nagging doubt."
  • In Scud the Disposable Assassin, the title robot is shot with a laser beam through the torso. He then keeps talking about how much it hurt in spite of his being a robot, implying that the wound was rather severe, then drove a semi-truck off of a twelve-mile-high cliff — and he and the truck survived. In fact, he drove the truck several miles through the desert after hitting the ground. Given that the main premise of the comics is that he's avoiding self-destruction (his model self-destructs after killing its intended target, so he instead incapacitates it and puts it in stasis, becoming a hitman to pay its hospital bills), it's strange such a thing would even be possible.
  • In the first issue of The Question solo series by Dennis O'Neil and Denys Cowan, Charlie loses a fight with Lady Shiva, gets beaten by thugs with pipes until more than half his bones are broken, gets shot in the head at close range with an air gun and dumped in Hub City Bay. It's all loosely justified: The airgun fired a low-power round that only fractured his skull, the broken bones took 6 months to heal and he survived in the bay for 10 minutes due to the diving reflex.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Artemis is given two fatal wounds and still struggles back into the fight to distract their opponents long enough for Diana to have a chance. She then talks Diana into taking the Gauntlet of Atlas from her once she can't stand any longer. She perishes in Diana's arms minutes later, but her refusal to lie down when she's been stabbed through the heart saved Diana's life.

    Fan Works 
  • In Constant Temptation Thanks to the S&M games he used to play Light has a very high pain tolerance and while he's not Too Kinky to Torture, it does allow him to get through his ordeal with Beyond.
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still begins with Rachel in grizzly bear morph slamming into Tom so hard that his skull shatters and his ribs puncture his lungs. He narrates that the pain alone would've killed him if he had been in control of his body at the time. Fortunately, he has a precious few seconds to use his Healing Factor and save himself.
  • In episode 19 of Futari wa Pretty Cure Dragon, Ryan Lee manages to get back on his feet and recover swiftly despite taking a laser bullet to the chest during a martial rhythmic gymnastics match.
  • HERZ: In the battle of 2015 Asuka’s Eva got impaled by nine spears and then cut into pieces and eaten, and she felt each blow, slash, and bite. Her heart stopped for a few seconds. Misato got shot and collapsed bleeding on the floor. The narration pointed out it was a miracle Asuka was alive, and Misato always wondered how she survived.
  • Scar Tissue: At the beginning of the history Shinji has the next wounds: a concussion; a dislocated shoulder; a shattered radius; four broken ribs, two of which had punctured his lungs; his diaphragm was shredded; and his heart had been in danger at some point due to a broken shard of rib bone sticking out of it. It was noted that it was a miracle he was still alive.
  • Thousand Shinji: During her battle against the MP Eva Units Asuka got nearly beat by them. Then she made Unit 02 go Bloodthirster and ripped through eight of them before going down, noting while doing so that she should have been dead twice over.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Trope Namer is the short "Den" from Heavy Metal. The hero is teleported to a savage land and turned from a wimp into a musclebound hero. While rescuing a gorgeous woman from death (as one does), he swims an enormously long time underwater without breathing and quotes the trope title in voiceover in disbelief.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Captain in 300 takes a spear through his chest. He pulls it deeper so he can hack the Persian wielding it to death. It takes a few more Persians to finally bring him down.
  • One of the taglines used to promote Crank: High Voltage, in praise of its too-tough-to-die antihero, was: "Anyone else would be so dead by now."
  • King Arthur in Excalibur does likewise although pulling himself farther down the spear to slay the spearman, his son, Mordred.
  • The narrator of Fight Club shoots himself in the mouth, but insists he's fine.
  • The main character of Hero (2002) is revealed to be able to strike with surgical precision with a sword from a few steps away. This means that he's able to stab people apparently fatally so they can fake their deaths with many, many witnesses, and he can invoke this trope at will.
  • The Bride in Kill Bill survived a vicious No-Holds-Barred Beatdown that most Special Forces Marines would not have. Plus that whole being shot in the head thing. Not only does she survive, but so did the baby that she was carrying.
  • Last Action Hero. Fatal wounds simply are not anymore if one crosses over to the Hollywood-Reality.
  • In the Film of the Book of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Percy complains to Annabeth that she would've killed him if he were a normal person. Annabeth's only response is that he's not normal, and therefore alive.
  • Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride takes a sword through the gut, gets a Heroic Second Wind, and kills his enemy. What's less credible is that an hour or so later he seems to have got all better.
  • Spotted Horse in The Quick and the Dead even boasts that he "cannot be killed by a bullet." He survives the first shot (to the body) in his fight with Cort, but Cort gets him right through the temple with the reload. A prone Spotted Horse briefly raises his gun hand, then dies for good.
  • In Star Wars: The Last Jedi an unusually bloodless version of this happens during the climactic battle. Luke Skywalker projects a simulacrum (a physical illusion, good enough to fool Leia) onto the battlefield and faces Kylo Ren, allowing the Resistance to escape. When the battle is over, Luke is dead.
  • In the V for Vendetta film at the end the titular character takes numerous rounds from several fully automatic or large calibre weapons, and is still able to kill every one of his attackers before they are able to reload. He does die a short time after, and was shown to have been wearing a chest plate which would have slowed down (but not stopped) the bullets, but it still pushes beyond normal human capability.
  • Renard, James Bond's adversary in The World Is Not Enough, survived being shot in the head. A partial subversion in that the bullet is slowly killing him as it drills further into his brain. A bad case of Artistic License – Biology as the part of the brain the bullet is in does not control physical sensation. Further, even if it did, try walking with all your limbs numb sometime. You might find it almost impossible to control what you cannot feel.

  • Done to an over-the-top extent in one of Mark E Rodgers's The Adventures of Samurai Cat books, Samurai Cat Goes to the Movies. The protagonist, samurai Miaowara Tomokato, ends up shot nearly to pieces by his enemies. The bullets are said to pass through the several places in his heart and brain where a bullet could pass through harmlessly. He (and his sidekick) are, if memory serves, 'millimetres more accurate' in their return fire.
  • In the BattleTech novel Grave Covenant, during a fight with a trio of ninja, protagonist Prince Victor Steiner-Davion ends up nailed to the floor by a katana through the chest. Heroic Willpower, fear for the woman he loves, and arguably a lot of dumb luck let him pull the thing back out inch by bloody inch and kill his attacker with it instead. He passes out shortly afterwards and very nearly does die — thankfully, he's right in the capital city of the Draconis Combine as a guest of state and gets rushed to the hospital just in time. Played with in that for a little while he really does believe that he died then and there. While in the hospital he hallucinates his dead father appearing to him, telling him that he's dead, and offering to take Victor with him to the afterlife. His love's dead grandfather also appears and says that because he died heroically defending her, he's there to offer to take Victor to their afterlife (a different one, as the two families were traditional enemies until the Clans forced an Enemy Mine between them). The two of them ask him to choose who to go with. As both options involve dying for good, he decides to take a third.
  • Edgar Freemantle and Jerome Wireman in Duma Key both fit the example, and this condition is what opens them up to the key's... let's say environmental hazards.
  • Lampshaded several times in Harry Potter. His nickname is The Boy Who Lived, after all. Everyone just thinks that "normally, he would be dead" part.
  • In Inkspell, Mo survives having been shot in the chest by The Magpie after he was transported to the Inkworld.
  • In Le Morte d'Arthur, King Arthur is impaled with a spear by his mortal enemy, then pulls himself down the shaft of the spear to break the enemy's head open with Excalibur.
  • In Mercy Thompson, a 10-year-old girl is attacked by a werewolf... and survives to become a werewolf herself. Since normally only perfectly healthy and fit adults are allowed to even attempt the Change (and even then have about a 50% survival rate), everyone who hears about this is shocked at how much willpower she must possess to have pulled through.
  • Millennium Series: In The Girl Who Played with Fire, Lisbeth Salander is shot in the hip, in the back, and in the head (the last bullet getting lodged in her brain), then buried (barely) alive, yet she still manages to not only dig her way out and take axe revenge, but also survive all the way into and through the sequel.
  • Redwall:
    • In Mossflower, Tsarmina is extremely unnerved by the fact that no matter how many times she seems to cut him down, Martin refuses to die and refuses to run.
    • The Badger Lords often embody this, to a certain extent: while under Blood Wrath, they will continue to fight, regardless of injuries, until they either drop dead or kill their enemy.
  • In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, (film also available) Sir Gawain of Arthur's Knights is challenged to a duel by the eponymous Green Knight. Given first blow, Gawain decides to take advantage by chopping his opponent's head off and is somewhat put out when the headless body merely picks it up and slaps it back on again.
  • Tortall Universe, The Immortals: In Wild Magic, Stormwing queen Zhaneh Bitterclaws is shot through the eye. She pulls the arrow out, glares with her remaining eye at the protagonist, and flies off swearing vengeance. Less of an example than most in that Immortals are hardier than humans unless the wound is particularly lethal, hence the name.
  • This is one of the traits of Space Marines in the Warhammer 40,000. In the novel Rynn's World, a Crimson Fists captain has his arm ripped off by an Ork. Said Marine proceeds to kill the ork, then exclaim he's ready for more. When his brothers point out that he's missing a goddamn arm, the Marine's response is to say "No, I haven't. It's right over there."
    • Justified in that the Marines aren't really human, and actual human organs aren't even the majority of the parts used in assembling them. They're also specifically built with close combat in mind, so a cardiopulmonary system that rapidly seals itself off to prevent blood loss and redundant organs come standard and are easy to replace or repair if damaged. Things that would easily kill a human, like a bullet through the chest or head, simply aren't a big deal for them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24: Jack Bauer should have been dead several times but apparently was not willing to be pushed around by something as trifling as death when there were terrorists to fight.
  • Angel's title character can take a lot of punishment (and does), but some of his enemies can take even more. At least twice he finds that decapitation isn't enough to put down the demon of the week. ("Oh, come on. I'm holding your head!")
  • This trope doesn't come up much in Breaking Bad but when it does, the writers sure make it count: first, there is Gus Fring, who has a pipe-bomb detonating less than two feet away from him. And even with half of his head blown off, he still manages to walk it off and check his tie before dropping dead. Then, there is Walter White himself, who not only survived his cancer for several months longer than the doctors predicted, but also managed to keep standing and walking for several minutes after taking a stray heavy machinegun bullet to the lung.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy receives a severe electric shock intended to kill her. She manages to escape without severe harm thanks to Slayer toughness, but Giles implies that a normal human would have been killed by the shock. In the series finale: "Mommy, this mortal wound itches." Then again, being impaled through the midsection is demonstrably not always fatal in the Buffyverse. Still, the First Evil seemed to think it would do her in, and the First is probably an expert in fatalities. We see that impaling a Slayer does little to stop them.

    There is also Xander, who survived after being smacked around with a hammer that injures deities.
  • On the first episode of Deadwood, a prostitute named Trixie shoots a customer in the head. The Doctor is summoned and observes in fascination as the customer continues to babble half-coherently despite the bullet going straight through his head (demonstrated after he dies by sticking a metal probe straight through the wound channel.) The customer does die after some minutes, but even the Doctor seemed to think he should be dead, or at least not babbling.
  • Doctor Who:
    • That second heart Time Lords have comes in handy. How many times have the villains managed to stop one of them, not to realise the Doctor's got a second?
    • Jack Harkness might have bits of this trope as well. Normally, he would be dead but comes back anyway.
      • Jack gets it MUCH worse in Children of Earth: He gets blown up by a bomb inside his body. One of the villains observes later, having discovered that his remains are now a skeleton with shreds of bloody flesh, "This was a bag of bits!" Later he wakes up... sometime before his skin is restored.
  • Firefly: After being shot in the stomach on a ship with diminishing heat and oxygen, Mal not only staggers up and forces his attackers to leave, but then manages to get to the medical bay, inject himself with adrenaline, get to the ship's engine, repair the ship's engine by putting in the one busted crucial part, and get all the way up to the cockpit before he collapses. He wakes up to see his crew have returned and are treating him, though he barely survives the ordeal and has to get significant medical care. That's just how tough Mal is.
    • "War Stories": Mal gets captured by Adelai Niska, tortured to the point where he has, in fact, clinically died. Later, when his torturers' backs are turned, he gets up off the table, takes out the torture assistant, and proceeds to 'introduce himself' to Niska.
  • During Stephen Colbert's appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, his statements about Rosa Parks enrage Conan so much that he pulls a pistol and shoots him in the chest. Colbert falls back, apparently dead — then slowly sits up after a few seconds and continues his argument, completely unfazed. Conan complains, exasperated, "I shot you very near the heart!"
  • The Lost Season 3 finale, "Through the Looking Glass", appears to do this with Mikhail. As well as with Locke, who survives his shooting two episodes prior due to having donated the kidney that the bullet would otherwise have hit.
  • Without a Trace sorta does this when the FBI Head of Missing Persons is kidnapped himself by a somewhat unbalanced woman who thinks he's an assassin. She nailguns his hand to a chair and then in the chest. He even rips his hand out of the nail from the other end. End of the episode has him rescued, and all the paramedics do is bandage him up and he walks out of there, commenting that he'll work on the paperwork. Not as badass as other portrayals as he is weak and hurt by this, but no way the paramedics in real life wouldn't do their best to convince him to let them rush him to the hospital via stretcher at the very least.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has a few subclasses that gain this as a feature.
    • The Path of the Zealot barbarian with the Rage beyond Death ability straight-up does not die as long as they are raging. Yes, they are, in fact, too angry to die. They'll still feel the consequences as soon as they stop raging, however, so it's a temporary solution. Thank their God that their resurrections are 100% off materials-wise.
    • Monks of the Long Death can use one of their Ki points to stave off death. This can be done as many times as they have ki points to spare and takes no action on their part. Unlike the Zealot, they outright prevent the damage that would've killed them, allowing them to survive even after the encounter.

    Video Games 
  • Advent Rising. In a cut-scene hero falls out of a walkway, hits the side of a building hard, slides down it for about thirty stories, and slams into an observation platform. He just shakes it off. And this is before getting any superpowers.
  • Dark Souls, hands down. Sure, you die a lot, but the advantage to being "Chosen" is that bleeding out is a LOT harder (though possible) to kill an undead with. Thief in the Undead Burg slit your throat? Not strong enough. Walk on LAVA? It normally does massive damage but your whole body isn't on fire after walking out of the lava bed. You accidentally pissed off a mimic/giant magical clam? Again, have enough HP and it'll eventually stop trying to MUNCH ON YOUR HEAD. The fact that the darksign is supposed to turn the player character into a pure hollow after dying multiple times in a row without using a humanity puts him/her into the Determinator category (thanks to the inherited eponymous Dark Soul).
  • Falling Fred (and Super Falling Fred) has the titular Fred endlessly falling down from the building. The game ends when Fred suffers fatal injuries from the deadly obstacles thrown at him, which often include decapitation of his body parts. No matter what the final outcome was, the newspaper article shown afterwards reveals that he survived all of the injuries in the end, and is taken to the hospital. This might be the case of Early-Installment Weirdness since the later games justify Fred's countless deaths via Resurrective Immortality.
  • Fallout: New Vegas begins with the player character getting shot in the head. Twice! However, after a few days (with help from a friendly robot that thinks he's a cowboy and a local doctor) you're back on your feet and good to go. Naturally, the people who shot you are extremely freaked out when you catch up to them.
    Mr. New Vegas: A package courier found shot in the head near Goodsprings has reportedly regained consciousness and has made a full recovery. Now that is a delivery service you can count on.
    • Gameplay and Story Integration: If you kill the guy who shot you and take his gun, you'll find that it can't kill anyone else in two shots to the head either, being a weak 9mm handgun.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Several times in Final Fantasy IV:
      • Most notably, Cid leaps from the airship, presumably falling several miles onto either rocks or lava, with enough explosives strapped to his chest to seal off the route to the underworld to stop a pursuing fleet of airships, which he sets off on-screen. And lives.
      • Yang also survives the destruction of the robotic Giant of Babil, which he himself caused by jamming himself into its world-sundering laser cannon so it misfired. He shows up at the end of the game without a scratch.
    • A famous instance in Final Fantasy V. Partway through the game, Galuf gets into a fight with Exdeath, and Exdeath's first attack is likely to take him down to zero HP.note  He continues fighting until Exdeath retreats. After it's over, though, Galuf falls, and no amount of healing spells or items can save him.
    • In a cutscene in Final Fantasy VII Sephiroth stabs Cloud with his extremely long sword, whereupon Cloud pulls himself down the blade until he has enough leverage to shake Sephiroth off.
    • You can do this yourself in Final Fantasy XIV! At level 50 the Dark Knight class gains a skill called "Living Dead" which lasts for 10 seconds. If the user falls to zero hit points in that time they gain another 10-second status called "Walking Dead" which makes them unable to be KOed. However, they drop dead instantly when the timer expires unless their teammates are able to heal them back to full health before then.
  • Marx in Kirby Super Star Ultra survives crashing into Nova, gets blown up proceeding the crash and is sent floating in space. He then goes One-Winged Angel(again), hellbent on destroying Kirby.
  • Queen Sectonia from Kirby: Triple Deluxe gets fried by her own redirected laser but manages to return in the true arena powered by four miracle fruits, and when you kill her there, she rips her head off of the dreamstalk for one last, frenzied attempt to kill Kirby.
  • Link in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has it quite hard. He has to face off Darknuts with swords twice his size and Moblins strong enough to punch him clear across a room and slamming into a wall. Ganondorf is no less forgiving — he uses moves that would normally slice one's head off. Yet he never receives damage above one-and-a-half hearts per hit (Ganondorf only does one heart of damage). And this is despite the fact that Link is only a child.
    • In all 3D Zelda games before The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Link only receives a maximum of one-half of a heart of damage, even if he falls from a height of upwards of 600 feet (the tall tower in The Wind Waker's first Dummied Out test room contains a 200-meter tall tower, and falling off of it only gives one-half heart of damage).
  • In Mabinogi the deadly status is this as a gameplay element. The player character has 0 hp or less (in theory there is no lower limit, just try getting hit by a dragon), and somehow they're still standing. Should they get hit one more time in this state they die no matter how much damage it was. This mainly happens when you get hit for something that should kill you when you have more than half health, and for bonus points, the chance of this actually happening is governed partially by the character's will stat.
  • In Marvel: Contest of Champions The Punisher has an ability called Defy Pain that allows him to endure what would otherwise be a lethal hit for several seconds, with the exact length of this and chances of it succeeding depending on his level.
  • Zaeed Massani from Mass Effect 2, when talking about his former colleague Vido Santiago, mentions that, twenty years ago, Vido paid six of Zaeed's men to restrain him while Vido held a gun to his head and pulled the trigger (which explains how Zaeed got the badass scar). When Commander Shepard acts surprised that he survived, Zaeed casually responds, "Yeah. And you survived your ship getting disintegrated.note  A stubborn enough person can survive just about anything. Rage is a hell of an anesthetic."
  • Max Payne absolutely loves this trope, taking the Hollywood Healing approach to Action Heroes. By the end of the second game, he has been shot through the chest and head, fallen twenty feet onto hard concrete, and had the building he was in blown up, none of which slow him down much. Lampshaded in Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne. When he is brought into the hospital after Winters shoots him in the back. The doctors and nurses reference 'multiple gunshot wounds' 'severe head trauma' and use the phrase 'this guy is a trainwreck.'
  • Metal Gear:
    • In Metal Gear Solid, Liquid, after getting the crap beat out of him by Solid Snake, falls of Metal Gear Rex, supposedly to his death, then, later on, it is revealed that he survived, only to die from FOXDIE
    • Metal Gear Solid 2 offers a unique example near its endgame:After disabling Fortune's bullet-deflecting plot device, Ocelot fires a bullet straight through the left side of her chest...which she survives, because as Ocelot quickly remembers, Fortune is dextrocardic.
    • Mentioned in Metal Gear Solid 3. If the player reaches the Groznyj Grad cells after a rough ride, Volgin remarks that lesser men would be dead by now.
    • Snake pulls one of these near the end of Metal Gear Solid 4 in the microwave hallway. Otacon and Snake talk about it as if it's a death sentence to even try. What makes it this trope is that Snake can keep going even if his Life bar empties, pulling himself along literally by his fingers. Even before then, Naomi gives Snake a thorough medical examination and notes that due to his Rapid Aging, the only thing keeping him together is the strength of his will; she states outright that a normal man wouldn't even be standing by now.
  • Mortal Kombat, particularly the later games where you could have a sword lodged in your chest or forehead yet still be able to fight!
  • No More Heroes: Several characters in the series survive impalement and massive blood loss before deciding it's time to die. Sometimes even by decapitation. One boss in the first game refuses to die until Travis admits defeat, even though his sword is currently sticking through her chest. She finally collapses and bleeds out over him the second he says she has won. Travis himself survives getting impaled through the heart with Jeane's fist, immediately after she killed a man by impaling him through the crotch with that same fist. Another case is Skelter Helter in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, whose decapitated head keeps talking and takes Travis by unpleasant surprise. The most extreme case is Destroyman, who is split into half in the first game, has those halves united respectively with robotic halves in the second, and then becomes a mass-produced army in No More Heroes III.
  • In Persona 3, the main character managed to live for a couple of months after using all of his life energy to seal Nyx away from the world in order to fulfill a promise he made with the rest of SEES. Too bad he couldn't hold out for a couple more minutes...
  • In Tales of Maj'Eyal, Berserkers can unlock the Unstoppable talent that prevents any effect at all from reducing them to less than 1 HP for a time, while Necromancers have the Blurred Mortality talent that changes their threshold for death from 0 HP to -50, or even less — at maximum talent level you have to get to -250 HP to die. There are also Heroism infusions equippable by any class that can let users survive with negative HP in the hundreds.
  • Tales of Vesperia:
    • The game has Raven/Schwann, whose heart was speared through ten years ago during the Great War. Alexei replaced it with a special blastia that kept him alive. Of course, you only discover this after beating the snot out of him during his ten-minute Face–Heel Turn.
    • Yeager received a similar heart replacement, which he reveals halfway through the fight against him. The secret mission for the fight is to destroy it by having Raven shoot him with a particular arte after you break his guard, but he's able to keep fighting even after you do this.
  • Some Danmaku shooters (read as: Touhou Project ) thrive on this trope, granting extra points for having enemy shots intersect the character's sprite without actually killing you. I suppose that as long as the bullet doesn't hit you in the heart...
    • Taking that one step further, even if your actual hitbox gets hit, in some games (read as: Touhou Project again) there's a split-second window where if you use a bomb you'll survive.
  • This happens an incredible amount of times in the Trauma Center series. Rifle wound to the heart in the middle of a snowstorm when the hospital is ten minutes away? No problem, and that's just in the first chapter. Never mind the parasites that slash your internal organs apart. Not to mention the guy who has multiple brain aneurysms burst before you even open him up.
    • In Trauma Team, there's a girl who is holding a bomb when it explodes, yet survives. Did we mention that the same kind of bomb has killed grown men in two different incidents?
  • Any enemy unit in Valkyria Chronicles who's not one of the four Imperial Commanders (except for Berthold Gregor) is killed when they're shot down during a mission. Even named enemy aces never return after they're gunned down...except the aptly named Ty the Immortal, who appears in 3 different missions regardless of whether or not you "killed" him in any of the previous ones.
    • Your own units have an uncanny ability to not only survive but immediately jump back from in only two turns, any fatal injury as long as a medic can reach them in the three turns before they're Killed Off for Real. It doesn't matter if they took a sniper bullet to the face, got perforated by a dozen machine gun rounds, or took a direct hit from a tank shell, they'll be back as if nothing happened.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction, after you defeat Bandit Keith in a duel, Yami Yugi fries him with lightning. Reshef immediately possesses him and makes him get back up, though after he's done using him he passes out.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Ever17 Takeshi has a good number of bad things happen to him (see Determinator page for details) and the game even states that he'd probably drowned by this point. He's lying at the bottom of the ocean, in pitch blackness in cold water. Yet he's up and moving and lives through the whole episode.
  • Shirou in Fate/stay night. Like with Shiki, it's practically his shtick that he can't pull off any impressive victories unless he's been rendered three-quarters dead first.
    • Lancer and Berserker have the 'Battle Continuation' ability that allows them usage of this trope. In Unlimited Blade Works, Lancer is ordered to kill himself with Gae Bolg by his master, which removes his heart from his body. Keeping that in mind, he stays alive long enough to kill Kotomine in retaliation, stare down and wound Shinji, offer some Gallows Humor, and use his runes to burn down the building before giving up the ghost.
    • Archer, who in the same route, although having been nearly killed by Lancer, master-less and near out of magical energy from ability overuse, manages to stay alive for another day to have an exhausting duel with Shirou. He gets run through, shot In the Back, and skewered by half a dozen of Gilgamesh's swords (something which would kill most of the other servants several times over even at full health), and is still somehow alive a whole day later to rip apart half the holy grail, finish off Gilgamesh, and survive to see the end of the war. Good grief.
    • Kotomine in Heaven's Feel is cut off from his source of life by Dark Sakura, which effectively stops his heart. Next day, he's still moving around and able to give Shirou a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. Shirou is in the same boat at that point due to the backlash from his Badass Transplant having nearly destroyed his body and mind.
  • Saya no Uta: When Dr. Tambo survives long enough to kill Saya after having her shoulder smashed and her left lung popped like a balloon by AN AXE. Sure, all she had to do was pull the trigger, but still. This is a game where humans are just human.
  • Tsukihime: Shiki is impaled in the guts by a black deer, has some animals eating him, and then gets up and starts fighting in a rather badass fashion. After winning, he falls down and gets back to bleeding to death. Obviously, he doesn't but...
    • Kohaku pulls off one of these in the doujin game Battle Moon Wars, when she takes a blast from Gilgamesh's Enuma Elish. She was pretty goddamn torn up afterwards but she wasn't completely atomized.

  • 8-Bit Theater: Used as a Running Gag, usually involving Red Mage. Every so often RM has something horribly fatal happening to him only for him to casually brush it off either by his irrational belief of him being in a Tabletop RPG suddenly working or by sheer delusion alone (an example of the former being him surviving a fatal fall by "forgetting to write down the damage" and an example of the latter being surviving having his skeleton removed by believing that skeletons are wholly vestigial). In every case, it's the Rule of Funny at work. His genius plan was to increase his melee damage by willingly remaining on fire and casting healing spells on himself every few rounds.
  • Parodied in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, where after being absolutely riddled with bullets and brought to the point of death, he proceeds to argue with The Grim Reaper that every single bullet missed his vital organs, and are therefore only... flesh wounds!. To add to the effect, he survives by kicking The Grim Reaper's ass... tag-team style..."tagging" with himself (his Ninja side and his Doctor side).
  • Dominic Deegan: Dex Garritt achieves this trope through the inversion of Redemption Equals Death. Shortly after learning about his horrible past where he beat his girlfriend (only once, as he lamely defended himself) he gets into a fight where he is disemboweled and blown up with little to no chance of recovery. Since he is not forgiven for his past deeds, he survives on what seems to be sheer willpower.
  • Used frequently in Girl Genius. For instance, Higgs manages to keep fighting despite what are realistically deadly wounds to the torso, and manages to (apparently) suffer no real ill effects only a few minutes later.
    Tarvek: "How are you even still moving?"
    Zola: "HATE! Hate and drugs!"
  • A Miracle of Science has Ben being shot through the torso with an energy weapon, after already having been shot and barely patched up. He manages to stay conscious just long enough to get Haas to surrender before he finally collapses. He only survived because Martian nanotech was able to stabilize him long enough to get replacements for the organs that got speared.
  • The Order of the Stick does this with many, many characters, including one instance where a certain Knight Templar gets stabbed through the chest. This is mainly done because the comic is a parody of D&D, where it doesn't matter how much damage you take if you have at least one Hit Point left you can fight on without penalty. It doesn't help that the characters appear at some times to literally be two-dimensional.
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • The more extreme injuries Oasis and Kusari take are justified since they seem to possess an as-yet unexplained ability to come back from the dead. However, Kusari did get stabbed through the chest four times and was still able to ask for someone to pry her off the wall she'd been stuck to. Oasis, meanwhile, managed to survive for several days with untreated knife wounds in her stomach.
    • Sam gets away with this by virtue of being a vampire (and a particularly tenacious breed of one, too). He's suffered a gaping hole through his torso without stopping and had most of his brain eaten by a nanite-powered scientist with no significant impediment (to him, at least; the scientist "absorbed his stupidity" as a consequence). It takes having most of his body devoured by a demon to actually stop him, and even then it doesn't outright kill him (though it required some high-powered vampire queen blood to get him to regenerate properly).
    • Aylee has her moments, although it tends to vary depending on the qualities of her current form. Once she had Bun-bun tear his way out of her chest and then cut off her arm, both of which are treated as insignificant scratches that will heal and grow back shortly, whereas in a later form, she gets stabbed in the neck and takes a few months to heal. That same form still powers through getting stabbed in the chest because it didn't hit her heart.

    Web Original 
  • Red vs. Blue has the Meta. Just watch Chapters 19 and 20 and you'll see just how much he can take.
    • In Season 9, several sniper rounds to the chest? No problem. Eight pistol bullets to the face and neck at extremely close range? Not an issue. Thrown off a moving truck into a HUGE semi-truck going 50 miles per hour in the opposite direction and falling off the freeway which shown later on is about 200 to 300 feet up? Who cares. Out of all of these wounds, only a single pistol shot to the neck does damage by hitting his vocal cords, rendering him The Voiceless.
      • Season 13 reveals that what finally put him down for good was drowning! Sword to the chest? Being dragged off a cliff? Nope. Drowning!
  • Whateley Universe has several people who can pull this off. Tennyo and Jade, on Team Kimba's side, along with werewolves; Great Old Ones; other regenerators...there are a lot of people that you need to be really sure stay dead if you think you've killed them. Tennyo periodically has chunks of her body blown off, and Jade's technically died several times. On the same day.

    Western Animation 
  • Ace Lightning: Chuck Mugel is hit by Ace's lightning bolt attack twice. The first time (a "deflected shot") it gave him temporary superpowers. The second time just knocked him out for a few minutes, though granted, it freaked the main characters out a bit anyway.
  • In The Movie of Kim Possible Shego is kicked from the roof of a building that is several stories high, into an electrical signal tower, which not only electrocutes her but also collapses right on top of her. This was intended to be fatal (since the movie was an intended finale), but the execs vetoed it so she comes out of the incident with just slightly torn clothes and frazzled hair...
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man:
  • In Transformers: Armada, Smokescreen takes an almost point-blank hit from the Requiem Blaster that blasts a hole clear through his abdomen. He still manages to stagger upright as molten metal drips down his torso and stagger towards Megatron for another attack, and winds up surviving after having his body rebuilt. While they are robots, other Transformers in the series have died from lesser wounds. Laws of Fatality are not consistent in Transformers. The same person can be unharmed by some attack at one point and next dying after being hit by the same attack.

    Real Life 
  • Phineas Gage got a tamping rod shot through his skull and survived. He never even fully lost consciousness.
    • Said injury DID eventually kill him, however; it just took twelve years to do it.
  • Rasputin, who according to legend was poisoned with about five times the usually fatal dose of arsenic cyanide in some food, then was shot four times, bludgeoned, hanged, by some accounts castrated,note  and tossed into an icy river, and still managed to survive long enough to try and claw his way out from under the ice. The final cause of death? Hypothermia: the autopsy showed that there was no water in his lungs at the time of death. Tenacious isn't the word. After the February Revolution, the new government dug up his body and burned it, just to be sure he was really gone.
    • He even sat up during the burning note .
    • Incidentally, the reason Rasputin didn't eat sweets was because of a condition stemming from a previous assassination attempt, in which he had his belly slit open so that his entrails hung out (a.k.a disembowelment). Also, a working girl was hired to try to take some overzealous nibbles while working down below.
    • Rasputin purportedly practiced Mithridatism, which is the practice of taking small non-lethal amounts of poison in order to build an immunity to that poison over time, which might be the reason why Rasputin supposedly ingested five times the minimum amount of cyanide required to kill a normal man. Since his assassins did not know of his Mithridatism, this might explain their impatience with him not dying and going loud after a while.
    • A good deal of the story was likely made up by the assassins to demonize Rasputin further and make themselves appear vindicated. An unpublished autopsy performed in 1916 and reviewed in 1993 and 2004/5 found no poison in his stomach but determined that the third bullet wound (directly to the forehead) killed him instantly. The culprit? Lt. Oswald Rayner, an Englishman. The bullet was the only unjacketed round found in Rasputin's body, and the only gun that fired unjacketed rounds and was present at Rasputin's murder was a Webley .445 inch revolver, owned (and most likely fired) by Lt. Rayner. That said, three rounds and numerous bladed weapon wounds are still a lot to kill a man.
      • Although there is a possibility that the poison was destroyed when the food was baked note .
  • Blackbeard the pirate, whose Last Stand involved a half dozen pistol wounds and over a dozen saber cuts. The bit where his headless corpse kept swimming around the ship until they riddled it with musket balls is a myth, though.
  • Fazal Din, an Indian soldier in WWII, managed to get himself run through in a bunker with a Japanese officer's sword. The weapon penetrated all the way through his back. Rather than dying like most mere men, Fazal proceeded to rip the sword out of his chest and went on to slaughter pretty much every soldier in the bunker holding the very same sword. He continued to give orders to his men until he died hours later.
  • During one battle in World War II's Pacific Theater, the medics doing triage at the field hospital came across a soldier with an entrance wound in his forehead and an exit wound at the back of his head. Upon hearing a medic declare him dead, the head-shot young man sat up and stated: "The hell I am!" Turns out the bullet hit him at a very shallow angle, traveled along his skull under the scalp, and exited at the rear.
  • The French resistant Armand Bacquer was born in 1920, executed in 1944 and died in 2005. Armand Bacquer was a French policeman in Paris, caught by Germans the day Paris was liberated, he was promptly shot at nightfall, and survived all night until a passerby called the Red Cross. His most important wound was in the left lung which is usually very fatal. He limped for the rest of his life, having been also shot four times in the right leg. He recovered slowly and lived until 2005. He was 24 at the time of his execution.
  • All the tales of I Shouldn't Be Alive, which was a show on the Discovery Channel.
  • And on I Survived, a show on the Biography Channel.
  • Pretty much everyone on this list but especially Alexis Goggins, who took six bullets (apparently including a couple to the head) and survived, which would be pretty impressive for a trained Marine, but crosses into borderline unbelievable territory when you find out she was a 6-year-old girl.
  • Cracked has another article about historical people who were hard to kill (which started with Blackbeard and ended with Rasputin.).
  • Anyone on this page, but Lt. Chisov in particular. He survived a fall of 22,000 ft without a parachute after bailing out of his crippled bomber.
    • Flight attendant Vesna Vulovic survived an even greater fall, 33,000ft (10,160m) when the plane blew up. She even overcame paralysis but did limp for the rest of her life.
  • Similar to the Marine story mentioned above, a man was robbing a small town bank when, through pure coincidence, one of the tellers happened to be a former classmate who recognized him. Now needing to eliminate the witnesses, the crook took them to a back room and executed them each with a shot in the back of the head with a large-calibre handgun. Except, again coincidentally, for the woman who knew him: the bullet traveled around her skull and out the forehead, knocking her unconscious and (like all head wounds) causing so much blood that he assumed she was dead. She testified at his trial.

    Getting shot in the head and having the bullet not penetrate is surprisingly common, even with modern firearms. Given the strength and roundness of a skull, bullets can skip off or pull the "run under the scalp" thing described above. Of course, more powerful rounds are less likely to fail to penetrate.
  • Mötley Crüe Bassist Nikki Sixx has been pronounced clinically dead on three separate occasions after overdosing on heroin. The first time, after being revived by two adrenaline shots to the heart and taken to hospital, he got up, checked himself out of hospital, and hitchhiked back to his house wearing only his leather pants. He did this again in London where he was dumped inside a dumpster after the dealer he OD'd in front of tried to beat him back to life with a baseball bat.
  • Army dentist Dr. AnnaLee Kruyer came back from Iraq with the story of an anonymous sergeant who was shot in the face in the exact right spot for all of the bullet's energy to be transferred to one of his teeth, ejecting it from its socket and stopping the bullet there. He initially assumed the shot missed and kept coming, scaring the living hell out of the guy who hit him, who surrendered immediately. Snopes confirms it here.
  • Merriweather Lewis (of Lewis and Clark fame) tried to kill himself by shooting himself in the head. This seems pretty foolproof, but a couple of bullets in his brain (yes, two) didn't quite get the job done. He wrote a short letter explaining the circumstances, slit his wrists, and finally bled to death.
  • As though Simo Häyhä's being a One-Man Army Cold Sniper with Improbable Aiming Skills isn't enough to make him seem more unbelievable than most fictional Action Heroes, he survived getting half his face blown off by an exploding bullet near the end of the Winter War. He shot and killed his attacker, passed out, and would live on to a ripe old age of 96 as a successful moose hunter.
  • In the real-life Determinator category, it's well-known that there's a reason for the crossbar on a boar spear — without that, an enraged boar impaled on a spear can charge right up the entire length and savage its wielder (sometimes to death) before it dies. Hunters claim this for many large, aggressive species, including brown or grizzly bears.
    • And even if a boar would be instantly killed, 150 kg of dead weight crashing into a human body at 50 km/h can still easily be fatal.
  • Then there's the well-known case of Curtis Jackson, better known as 50 Cent, who in the early 2000s was shot a total of nine times in the chest, hand, arm, hip, and both legs, but survived to become a multi-million dollar rapper.
  • Notorious Depression-era bank robber George "Baby Face" Nelson, who was cornered by a couple of FBI agents wielding a shotgun and a Tommy gun. Instead of retreating, Nelson advanced on them across an open field, emptying his bolt-action rifle into them as he went, and being hit nine times. The G-men died at the scene. Nelson got back into his car and drove off, dying several hours later.
  • Sonny Barger's (of Hell's Angels fame) autobiography tells of a biker nicknamed "Zorro" who was shot several times with a .45 during what is described as a "friendly altercation" Not only did he survive, but went on to have rings tattooed around the bullet holes, one of which notably inscribed with the words ".45 don't mean shit."
  • Theodore Roosevelt was shot in the chest by an assassin and took the time to finish his speech before he sought medical attention. He was helped a bit by the bullet being partially stopped by his glasses and the thick, folded speech being held in his breast pocket, preventing the round from piercing his lung. He also willed himself to live through a near-fatal case of malaria which ate fifty pounds off his body weight. When he finally did die, peacefully, in his sleep, one contemporary said, "Death had to take Roosevelt sleeping. If he'd been awake there would have been a fight."
  • On January 8th, 2011, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head by a deranged attempted assassin. Unfortunately, six other people, including a 9-year-old child and a federal judge, were killed in the attempt, but Congresswoman Giffords survived. She returned to office on August 1st, 2011, to be met with a standing ovation, though she retired shortly thereafter due to complications from her injuries, including difficulty forming sentences because part of the brain responsible was damaged by the bullet along with partial vision loss and paralysis.
  • Malala Yousafzai was a young education activist living in Taliban-controlled Pakistan. On her way home from an exam on the morning of October 9th, 2012, her bus was stopped and boarded by Taliban gunmen. Malala was shot in the head. It passed through her head and into her neck, before stopping in her shoulder. She survived with little permanent damage, and continues to be an education advocate to this day — she even won the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy, the youngest person in history to win.
  • Trevor Noah in his autobiography, Born A Crime, recalls when his mother was shot in the back of the head by her ex-husband. The bullet traveled under the scalp then exited through one of her nostrils. Trevor Noah remarked that once the blood was cleaned off his mother's face, it was clear the damage was fairly minimal.
  • Niki Lauda had a brush with death in 1976 when he raced in Nürburgring. He was initially reluctant due to what he saw as safety issues, and called for a drivers' meeting to gather a consensus on whether to continue with the race. Unfortunately for him, he himself attested to the dangers of that track the hard way, sustaining serious burns on his head and damage to his lungs from the toxic fumes he ingested from the wreckage. His injuries were so harrowing that Niki was given the Last Rites by a priest as his wife was certain that he was going to buy the farm, only for the Austrian to fight his way out of his injuries and get back to the championship fight with James Hunt just six weeks later, all while his scars are still fresh and bleeding. He would have won the 1976 championship had it not for the inclement weather in the Japanese Grand Prix, not to mention the fact that his eyes were watery and had difficulty blinking due to the aforementioned injuries. (Lauda ultimately passed away in 2019.)