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"You thought being cut in half could stop me? It's Only a Flesh Wound!"

Smith: Tearjerker?! But he's dead!
Bullock: Why would you think that?
Smith: Because he fell in a volcano!
Bullock: As long as you fall the right way, a volcano can never hurt you. Everyone knows that.

Any situation where the bad guy has been dealt a mortal blow which he could not possibly have survived, and it looks as though The Hero has won - but a couple of scenes later comes the twist: he's not quite dead. On the contrary, he's back, ready for more - and madder than hell.

Maybe he was rescued from certain death by his right-hand man. Maybe he was spared by a healing spell - or in more drastic cases, upgraded to One-Winged Angel status by way of Emergency Transformation, or a case of We Can Rebuild Him. Maybe he's just that hard to kill. Either way, the fight isn't over yet.

Compare Only Mostly Dead and Almost Dead Guy. Often happens after not finding the body. There may or may not be some overlap with Staying Alive. It can be shown by having their eyes open, hand poking out of rubble, or fingers twitch. Not to be confused with The Undead or Back from the Dead. If a villain does this a lot, it's probably because he has Joker Immunity. This can also be a character that's Made of Iron because they're just that strong. Often results in Who Needs Their Whole Body?. Because of this trope, any Genre Savvy character will Make Sure He's Dead.

The Living Dead is when this happens unintentionally due to Special Effect Failure revealing the "corpse" is played by a live actor.


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Various characters with healing factors, e.g. Wolverine, Deadpool, Sabretooth. Most notably, Wolverine is blown up leaving nothing but a skeleton behind, and regenerates his entire body from part of his brain which survived inside his skull.
  • Hammerhead in the Ultimate Marvel and regular continuities make heavy use of this trope.
  • Played with in Blue Beetle #33-34.
  • The Phantom was the ultimate inversion of this: every time the old Phantom kicks the bucket, a new one is chosen, usually his son or closest kin. This allows them to project the illusion to their enemies that the Phantom is immortal, though their friends know better.
  • While the '03 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cartoon was based on the Mirage comic Baxter Stockman became a cyborg by choice and was killed outright thus averting the fate of his later cartoon incarnations. Granted he also had more chances to die with the plots that existed outside of the comic in the '03 cartoon and was stranded more than killed in the '87 cartoon..
  • A sequel comic based on Disney's The Great Mouse Detective was actually about Fidget the bat being revealed to have survived the fall from Ratigan's blimp at the end of his film, and immediately choosing to be on the side of good.
  • In The Secret History, Dyo always seems to just cling onto life one way or another. It remains to be seen if this applies to Aker and William de Lecce.
  • In Death of the Family, it looked like Deadshot had been killed off. However, he wakes up in a hospital bed. The bullet barely missed his heart.
  • Pierre Tombal: A comic strip about a gravedigger at a cemetery who treats the people who are buried there as residents. How? Well, all of them are in fact not quite dead, but living skeletons who spent eternity on the cemetery, while he takes care of them and occasionally tells them frankly to obey the rules.
  • In Wild's End an alien machine is blasted with a shotgun and presumed 'dead.' It soon reactivates and kills again.
  • Of course, there is the legendary The Death of Superman: after fighting one of his most brutal battles so far, the big blue guy drops dead, seemingly for good... then it turns out that the many years he's been living under a yellow sun has given him a strong enough Healing Factor that the battering Doomsday gave him only put him into an absurdly deep coma that took almost a year-ful of treatment with Kryptonian medicinal technology to get him out of.
  • Jarringly played in Plutona: after the kids make plans for what to do with the body, she wakes up and flies off.
  • In the adaptation of the Scooby-Doo episode "Go Away Ghost Ship" (as "The Ghost Of Redbeard," Gold Key #6), the gang are aboard Redbeard's ship when a loud bang erupts. Velma thinks she's been shot and plays out a death scene, only to be told the door behind them slammed shut.

    Fairy Tales 
  • Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. And all their numerous variants. Especially creepy in Neil Gaiman's adaptation of the former, "Snow, Glass, Apples", in which the huntsman really does remove Snow White's heart and give it to the queen. It just doesn't stop beating until Snow White goes into her coma - and when she wakes up, it starts again...
  • In "The Golden Bird", the hero's envious brothers shove him down a well to kill him, and succeed in trapping him there.
  • In "The Story of Bensurdatu", the hero is trapped at the bottom of the river — to perish.
  • In "The Brown Bear of the Green Glen", John's brothers set on him, to kill him, but he recovers.

    Fanfiction 
  • This trope is common in Fanfic; any given fandom is bound to have at least one fic in which a Killed Off for Real character, usually a popular one, returns from the dead.
  • One such example with its own page on the wiki is The Ghost Map, in which it's revealed that Professor Moriarty somehow survived his duel with Sherlock Holmes. In-universe, this is merely suspected by Holmes and confirmed by Colonel Moran, who isn't the most trustworthy fellow. However, Word of God confirmed that Moriarty is indeed alive - now the author simply needs to explain how.
  • In the Pony POV Series Dark World, Rarity kills Fluttercruel during the first fight in Discord's castle. However, it later turns out that her spirit escaped being Dragged Off to Hell and Body Surfed into Sparkler's body, possessing her.
  • Enemy of My Enemy: At the climax, Ferikus combines this with *Click* Hello. "You should have finished what you started." He is then promptly killed by also Not Quite Dead Murphy, who scolds him for not firing first.
  • Soul Eater: Troubled Souls follows the anime in that Medusa supposedly died after Maka used Majin Hunter to get her out of Rachel Boyd's body. She somehow survived and has trapped Maka, Soul, and their friends on Cobra Island.
  • In Webwork, the Old Queen dies of old age shortly before Jade's time in the Emptiness ends. Quite some time later, her spirit is revealed to still be lingering on and begins to manipulate events via cutting a deal with Tarantula.
  • In the first chapter of DIGIMON 2: RETURN OF DIGIMON, Digimon manages to blow up his enemy, the aptly named Evil Digimon, with the laser cannon of his mech suit. However, an authors note soon reveals that Evil Digimon is not dead, but only pretending to be. Evil Digimon then appears in the next chapter, ambushing Digimon by hiding in his fridge.
  • Queen of All Oni: During the flashbacks, it's shown that Tarakudo killed the Oni Elders when he seized control of the Shadowkhan. But in the present it's revealed that their spirits have clung to a semblance of life in the ruins of their Shadow Realm city, waiting for a chance to reclaim their full existence. They try to do this by luring Jade in and draining her chi, only for her to render them Deader Than Dead for their troubles.

    Films — Animated 
  • Some of the Huns in Mulan survive being buried under an avalanche orchestrated by Mulan, including their leader Shan Yu. They proceed to infiltrate the capital and kidnap and extort the Chinese Emperor.
  • From The Emperor's New Groove:
    Yzma: Kuzco is dead, right? Tell me "Kuzco's dead". I need to hear these words.
    Kronk: [nervously] Uh, do you need to hear all those words exactly?
    Yzma: [angry] He's STILL ALIVE?!
    Kronk: Well, he's not as dead as we would have hoped.
    Yzma: [face turning red] Kronk!
    Kronk: Just thought I'd give you a heads-up, in case Kuzco ever came back.
    Yzma: He can't come back!
    Kronk: Yeah, that would be kinda awkward, especially after that lovely eulogy.
    Yzma: YOU THINK?! You and I are going out to find him! If he talks, we are through! Now, let's MOVE!!
  • King Candy/Turbo in Wreck-It Ralph gets devoured by a Cy-Bug before the climax. During the climax, however, he reappears having fused with the Cy-Bug and has become even more powerful.
  • Mr. Peabody & Sherman: Mr. Peabody apparently didn't survive after falling off a cliff with a Trojan horse. However, being Mr. Peabody, he was able to find a way to return to the present after Sherman and Penny returned on their own.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Trope Namer is Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which has it as a kind of running gag, often combined with I Got Better.
    • Specifically the scene wherein Prince Herbert fires off an arrow with a plea for his release tied to it. The arrow flies straight and true...into the chest of Sir Lancelot's trusty squire Concorde, leading to the conversation in the page recap.
    • This happens again when Prince Herbert falls out of the window to his death, only to appear later at his own cancelled wedding to start singing. Then when the song begins, all of the people slaughtered by Lancelot gradually get up and join in.
    • And again with the bride's father, until Herbert's father has him Killed Off for Real.
    • Not-Yet-Dead Fred does not count
  • Inverted in Johnny Mnemonic. The Priest is blasted with EMP, frying most of his cybernetics, and is then electrocuted to a crisp. At the very end of the movie, he starts to rise from the floor, and a frightened gasp comes from Jane... only to reveal that his body is actually just being hauled up on a pulley. "Just garbage. Get rid of it."
  • A nameless character apparently killed in the first scene of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly comes back for revenge about two hours later, only to be shot more decisively.
  • Naturally, "The Stranger"— played by Clint Eastwood in High Plains Drifter, fares better upon coming back from the dead (although at the very end, it seems that the character may actually have been a ghost playing a cruel game on both his killers, and the people who allowed it).
  • Karl, Hans Gruber's second-in-command, in Die Hard.
  • Lampshaded in Scream (1996):
    (Gale, Sid and Randy are looking at Billy's body)
    (Billy starts to rise)
  • Lampshaded in all the sequels, too, but to the best effect in Scream 4:
    Dewey: (as the supposedly dead Jill rises behind the survivors) She was right behind me...
    Sidney: They always are. [beat] (grabs Dewey's discarded gun and shoots Jill, poised to attack, in the chest)
  • Amusingly played with in Scream 2, Sidney and Gale point their guns at Mrs. Loomis fully expecting this trope. Then the other killer Randy jumps up screaming and they gun him down. Sidney then turns around and shoots (the probably already dead) Mrs. Loomis in the head, just to be sure.
  • Naturally, a lot of slasher films tend to do this. Michael Myers (Halloween) and Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th) routinely get their fair of stab wounds from the Final Girl before it's all over. Jason was eventually Killed Off for Real in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, but since then he came back from the dead in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives and is even more unstoppable.note 
    • Used to full effect to justify the creation of Halloween: Resurrection: it turns out that Laurie had killed a paramedic instead of Michael at the end of Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later; Michael had attacked the paramedic, crushed his larynx, and switched places with him before "Michael's" body was carted out to the ambulance.
    • Chucky does this in the first two Child's Play films.
    • Even Freddy gets this in Freddy vs. Jason, when both he and Jason are set on fire and thrown into Crystal Lake. Freddy returns and attempts to kill Lori and Will, before Jason stabs him and Lori decapitates him. Even then, he seems to wink as Jason carries his head away (meaning the "winner" of the battle is indecisive).
  • In the backstory to Ghostbusters II, Vigo the Carpathian had been poisoned, stabbed, shot, hung, stretched, disemboweled, drawn and quartered. Before his head died he uttered this prophetic warning: "Death is but a door, time is but a window. I'll be back."
  • An example of the scenario which this page is actually about appears at the climax of Iron Man.
  • Joy Ride 3: Roadkill Heralds the return of Rusty Nail a trucker that will leave you be and let you go on your merry way... unless you wrong him. In that case it's perfectly normal for him to get entirely even with you. I mean you deserve it right?. This time around, the Hero turns the tables and crushes Rusty Nail with a crane, destroying both the truck and apparently the man himself. Everybody's happy and completely unaware that Rusty Nail is fine. He escaped without a single scratch and allowed what was left of the Dwindling Party to live. Hope you all learned your lesson.
  • In Army of Darkness, a possessed woman pretends to be dead, but Ash knows better.
    "It's a trick. Get an axe."
  • In Sin City, Bruce Willis' character knows that even when a death looks impossible to survive, one must always "confirm the kill."
  • The comedy Freaked parodies this trope to death.
  • Jason Statham in Crank. He falls out of an airplane, lands on a car, bounces off, hits the pavement, and then blinks. Crank: High Voltage shows us that he's definitely still alive.
  • The titular character of The Spirit.
  • In the movie Ben 10: Race Against Time, the Tennyson trio stumble across the seemingly mummified corpse of Constantine...right before he sits up and declares "I'm not dead!", scaring both Ben and Gwen. Grandpa Max is not surprised, as usual.
  • Averted in the 1997 version of George of the Jungle. After a character falls from a bridge, the narrator reminds everyone that "Nobody dies in this story. They just get really big boo-boos."
  • "Why do they call him Boris the Bullet Dodger?" "Because he dodges bullets!"
    • The same can be said about Bullet Tooth Tony who survived a clip being unloaded into him in a flashback.
  • In The Film of the Book of The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn plunges off a cliff during the warg battle in the Two Towers. To the surprise of no one, he comes back relatively unscathed.
    • Ironically, in the extended DVD of the Two Towers the actor almost drowned when shooting the scene of him floating in the water.
    • Gollum is thrown over a cliff by Frodo in Return of the King, and returns at Mount Doom.
    • Grishnakh, who is more or less a mook, is stabbed by a Rider of Rohan in The Two Towers, yet he is still able to chase Merry and Pippin into the forest before Treebeard kills him.
  • Miller's Crossing plays it straight with Bernie's "murder", then lampshades it with Caspar's policy:
    Tic-Tac: You gotta remember to put one in his brain. Your first shot puts him down, then you put one in his brain. Then he's dead. Then we go home.
  • Red Dragon features this during the final confrontation between Detective Graham and the titular villain, when they shoot each other through a flimsy bedroom door. Later averted when Graham's wife puts a bullet in the killer's head. Several times.
  • Men in Black loves this. Kay shoots the giant cockroach from the inside and splits him in half. However, his top half lives and attacks them for a split second before he is finally killed by Laurel. And Poor Jeebs having his head blown off time and again.
  • Men in Black II: Serleena is shot by Jay and blown to bits, however it is shown she survived, in worm form. Later, she chases after them in her ship, but is tricked and eaten by Jeff, the giant worm. However, she once again returns, this time in a more powerful form, until she is finally destroyed.
  • In Galaxy Quest, Sarris's ship is blown up with mines. However, out of nowhere, he appears on the Protector, having teleported away from his ship at the last second. He is beaten down by Mathasar with a cane, but returns once again before an audience during the final scene, before Jason finally destroys him.
  • The Gamers: "It's Hunk, the mercenary you left for dead!
  • In The A-Team, it turns out that General Morrison survived the explosion that apparently killed him.
  • Austin Powers plays with this numerous times. Usually by dragging it too far.
    • "Why aren't you dead yet!?"
    • Also Dr Evil's henchman Mustafa, after being shot in the neck with a dart and falling down a cliff.
  • In The Tuxedo, the antagonist falls to the ground and burns his face on acid. He later gets back up to charge at the hero, who finishes him in a somewhat gruesome way.
  • Westley in the beginning of the The Princess Bride. Supposedly, he goes to seek his fortune and is lost at sea within the first five minutes of the movie. Yeah, right.
    • There's also the bit where he's tortured to death! Well, mostly death:
    Miracle Max: It just so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there's usually only one thing you can do.
    Inigo: What's that?
  • Played straight and oddly parodied in StageFright -Aquarius-. The straight examples come when the killer survives a fall and then being set on fire. The odd part comes in after the killer has been shot between the eyes, and as he lays on the ground, suddenly turns to audience and smirks. According to the director this was added to poke fun at "the Slasher Movie convention of the killer always being alive at the end".
  • In G.I. Joe: Retaliation Storm Shadow is seen clearly alive after a Disney Villain Death in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, although he now has a scar along his stomach. The scene where he slows his heart-rate may also count.
  • In Disney's TRON, Sark is injured by Tron and for a moment appears to be derezzed but the MCP gives Sark all of his functions and that results in a giant version of Sark that Tron must now battle.
  • The Wolverine:
    • Going back to the Yashida house, Logan technically dies when he removes the cause of his weakness with his bare hands. He revives shortly thereafter when hise Healing Factor kicks back in.
    • The Silver Samurai armour keeps Ichir&#333 alive, but he allows others to think he's dead.
    • Charles Xavier came back alive and well in the Stinger, to Wolverine's surprise.
  • Subverted in Graduation Day. The Final Girl thinks that the killer has come back and is now in her bedroom, but it is actually just her drunk stepfather. Her scared mind had only imagined him being there.
  • Transcendence: It is implied at the end that Will and Evelyn's consciousnesses still exist in their garden, preserved in the only remaining sample of nanomachines.
  • Big Ass Spider: Of course the spider was only wounded by the missile-strike.
  • Twice in Godzilla (2014). The female Muto was discovered dormant and thought to be dead after being dissected by the military, and the male Muto was electrocuted after Dr. Serizawa deemed its EMP-pulses making it be too dangerous to be kept alive. However, neither of them are dead either time.
  • In the supernatural thriller Hellbound, a demon named Prosatanos is stabbed by an old Rabbi with one of the sacred knives that were originally used to bind the demon inside a coffin. The demon appears to die, only to reveal that he can't be killed even by those weapons and murdering the poor old man in response.
  • The Borrower: Every time the cops think the alien is dead (well, it didn't have a pulse), it just gets up to continue its murdering rampage.
  • In Get Out, Chris seemingly kills Jeremy Armitage with a bocce ball. Just as he's about to escape, however, Jeremy ambushes Chris with a headlock.
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Superman suffers greatly from Doomsday, so much so that he is declared dead. They hold two funerals, one in Metropolis and one in Smallville, the Smallville coffin being the only one occupied. After Lois Lane drops a handful of dirt on the coffin, it starts levitating like when he learned to fly. Later, when he is exhumed in Justice League, his body shows no signs of decay, showing he wasn't completely dead.
  • Tale of Tales: You'd think the ogre would have died falling into the deep chasm, but he just shows up again after a while.

    Jokes 
  • An old woman dies and a funeral is held. The pallbearers pick the casket up and carry it out of the church. On their way out, the casket accidentally bumps into a wall. All of a sudden a moan is heard from inside the casket, followed by a surprised, "Oh my God!" Turns out the woman was still alive. She lives for another 10 years and then dies (again). Another funeral is held. When the pallbearers pick the casket up, the woman's husband yells out, "Watch out for the wall!"

    Literature 
  • In Hurog, Oreg is not quite dead after Ward killed his body in a Mercy Killing, respectively, Heroic Sacrifice. Though Oreg had tried to commit suicide-by-proxy hundreds of years ago, as he didn't like his life in slavery, the reason why he asked Ward to kill him was to make castle Hurog collapse and kill the villains in the process. Turns out that body was not his actual body, thus he is able to return by regenerating his actual body, that was in a magic-induced coma for a long time.
  • In Animorphs, after David leaves the barn, Jake sends Tobias to follow him. When Jake catches up, David says that he's killed Tobias, and Jake sees Tobias' mangled corpse. But as it turns out, that wasn't really Tobias, just an innocent red-tailed hawk that happened by. David had simply lost Tobias early in the evening, and the latter had spend a good couple hours trying to find him.
    • While the Helmacrons and the kids are inside Marco's body, he morphs into a cockroach. The Helmacrons shoot Marco's heart, rendering him ostensibly dead. But, as Cassie suddenly recalls, stopping a cockroach's heart doesn't kill it - they have a backup system.
    • Spoken word-for-word near the end of the final battle:
    Visser One: "So. Still not dead."
    Jake: "No, visser, not quite dead."
  • Albert from the Gone series gets shot in the head by Lance, yet manages to survive nearly bleeding out.
    • Played with with Drake. He gets (presumably) killed by Caine in Hunger, but returns in Lies sharing a body with Brittney. Who is also a case, as she gets both legs broken and shot in the chest, yet can't be killed.
  • Sandman Slim teaches us that when you die in Hell you end up in Tartarus. The main character is virtually unkillable.
  • In the tenth and final book of the The Pendragon Adventure series, every character who has died in or before the other books (including the main character who died at the end of the ninth) are resurrected in the exact condition (age, etc) they were in at the time of death, minus the cause of death, and they all band together to fight the Big Bad.
  • In Terry Pratchett's The Fifth Elephant, there's a downplayed example where the hero knows the villain is Not Quite Dead.
  • Morjin in Ea Cycle survives decapitation.
  • Prince Andrei in War and Peace. He's left in a village with other hopeless wounded after the Battle of Austerlitz, and the way the chapter ends suggests that he dies there, but he doesn't.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: Jedi K'Kruhk has managed to be almost killed several times over. He goes into some form of hibernation if seriously wounded, leading to people assuming that he's dead. But no, he's still got a loooong time ahead of him.
  • In John C. Wright's Fugitives of Chaos, when Colin falls off a building while fighting an enemy, everyone concludes he's dead. Then this eagle shows up. None of them, including Colin, knew about his Voluntary Shapeshifting abilities until he was inspired to change.
  • Honor Harrington was once taken prisoner, but escaped, creating a lot of problems for her captors in progress. Havenites, believing that she was dead too, concocted the story of her trial and execution, more for their own masses than anyone else. Naturally, she was not amused. Many of her friends were though.
    • That was not the only time in the series that someone was declared to be dead and then turn up alive later. There are at least three other examples.
  • A footnote in one of the Ciaphas Cain, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!!! books reveals that Cain has been listed as "killed in action" so many times that the Munitorum eventually gave up trying to keep track and decided to keep him on the payroll regardless - even long past his confirmed death and burial with full military honors.
  • In Hardwired by Walter Jon Williams, one character, Reno, is killed when his home is the target of a missile attack. He later makes a series of telephone calls to the hero. Turns out that he was a wirehead and was "jacked into the net" when the missiles struck. He spends the rest of the book as a disembodied mind, wandering around the equivalent of the Internet, looking at everyone's most secret files.
  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel Horus Rising, Maloghurst's unexpected survival makes him a hero in the fleet.
    • In Graham McNeill's False Gods, when Horus is felled by his injuries, the word on the ship is that he died; Mersadie and Karkasy go to see the arrival, and Karkasy notices that apocetharies are still tending him, so he must be alive.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 novel Deus Sanguinius, Rafen is in an exploding factory. He is thrown into a channel of water and ends up thoroughly banged about but alive. He sneaks onto the spaceship and when Arkio and Mephiston are deciding on single combat, Rafen calls from Arkio's forces that he will fight him. He walks out and takes off his helmet, and for the first time, Arkio shows shock.
  • In the Dragonlance War of Souls novels, Tasslehoff's death is retconned with the use of a magical time-travelling device given to him by a god. He's cheated death many other times also.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Voldemort, the main antagonist, blew himself up by accident a decade before the story begins, and only survived as a soul because of Horcruxes .
    • Harry himself, who everyone believed dead for a time.
  • At the end of The Man Who Never Missed, Emile Khadaji has zapped 2388 Confederation soldiers (with paralyzing darts) before they found out who he was and imploded his hideout. And then they found he'd used exactly 2388 darts. The commanding officer is not pleased, because he knows this one-shot-one-paralyzed soldier legend will be a headache for the Confederation, but at least they've killed him. And then the narrative finishes:
    And, of course, Over-Befalhavare Venture didn't know the half of it.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 novel Dark Adeptus, Magos Antigonus survives getting his head pulped through the use of Lost Technology to Body Surf through servitors.
  • During the course of The Lord of the Rings, several of the major characters are thought to be dead at one point or another — and some come a lot closer than others. But the Big Bad of the series, Sauron, actually does get killed off, several thousand years before the series begins. But he doesn't stay dead, because he has the One Ring as his Soul Jar. However, even after the Ring's destruction, he's still around: as a Maiar, he's immortal, and literally cannot die. However, the Ring's destruction resulted in him losing all of his power, so while he still exists, it's as a powerless little spirit, unable to affect anything of the world around him.
  • Santiago: A Myth of the Far Future inverts this in much the same way as the Phantom example. As one of his supporters cackles, after Santiago is quickly murdered by a bounty hunter — whom Santiago then guns down — "Everybody knows that Santiago can't die!"
  • Cunégonde and Pangloss in Voltaire's Candide: the former is raped and disemboweled; the latter is hanged in a Kangaroo Court. Both come back with a lampshade .
  • Bailey in Martin Chuzzlewit (Dickens) is thrown from a crashing coach and left insensible. His death is later reported to other characters. Guess who reappears at the denouement, with a bandage round his head, reeling about with comic concussion?
  • In the Dale Brown novel Flight of the Old Dog, Dave Luger is left for dead after he covers the team's escape from a Soviet base. The events of Night of the Hawk are kicked off when it is learned that he is not dead, merely Brainwashed into helping the Soviets - and that the CIA wants him Killed Off for Real as an apparent traitor.
  • This happens in Necropolis, the fourth book of the The Power of Five series. Following a fight in a temple in Hong Kong, the good guys think they've killed all the Big Bad's henchmen ... But there's one still alive, hiding under the altar. He's dying, but goshdarn, he's going to take one of the Five down with him. He sets his sights on Jamie, the closest, and is aiming his gun when Scott comes bounding into the picture, and telepathically aware of the danger to his twin, bulldozes Jamie out of harm's way ... Thus letting the bullet continue on into Scarlet's head instead.
    • She's probably not quite dead either, but I guess we won't know till the next book comes out.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, "The Titan's Curse", the main antagonist Luke falls off a high cliff onto the rocks below. Percy is sure he's dead, after all No One Could Survive That! but alas, Luke is still alive.
  • In Robert E. Howard's "The Devil in the Moonlight" Conan is, it turns out, Not Quite Dead after a head injury.
    • In "A Witch Shall Be Born", Taramis believes her sister dead.
  • In the Sherlock Holmes story "The Final Problem", Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has Holmes commit a Heroic Sacrifice by throwing himself and the Big Bad Moriarty off Reichenbach Falls, but as we discover in "The Adventure of the Empty House", he didn't actually die.
    • This is also done to a lesser extent in "The Adventure of the Dying Detective", wherein Holmes pretends he's dying of an obscure disease used by the murder suspect in the Mystery of the Week. Luckily we only have to wait a few more paragraphs afterwards to find out he was just faking it.
  • In City of Fallen Angels , it turns out that he isn't exactly dead because of Clary's wish at the end of City of Glass to bring Jace back to life, which screwed up the balance of life and death. This allowed Lilith to fully resurrect him.
  • In Galaxy of Fear: City of the Dead, Doctor Evazam is shot and killed by Boba Fett, then almost immediately buried by the locals. End of this villain? No. He's been creating zombies, had found that fresher zombies retained more of their faculties, and so injected himself before Boba Fett killed him. When he comes back, he has all the benefits of being this kind of zombie, but still looks fine and retains his mind and memories.
  • Legacy of the Dragokin: Mordak survived the previous book's purification and has lain dormant for ten years in Kalak's mind.

    Live Action TV 
  • 24:
    • Tony Almeida was believed to have been killed in Season 5, but promos for Season 7 show him alive, and as a villain. He isn't.
    • Charles Logan receives a potentially fatal knife wound in a season 6 episode, but is last seen in an ambulance, thus leaving his fate unclear (especially by 24 standards). He returns 2 seasons later, and in the series finale he attempts to commit suicide by putting a bullet into his head. And while he does indeed do so, the bullet is apparently off the mark by just enough to leave him "possibly brain-damaged" instead of actually dead.
  • Played with in the season one finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. The Big Bad has been defeated and his lifeless body is carted away. A few scenes later we see him alive and dragging his broken body to a machine that will replace his damaged organs with cybernetics. He emerges stronger than ever and then is promptly disintegrated by Coulson. Since the show is based on comic books, the writers were keenly aware of the prevalence of this trope and decided not to play along.
  • The first crime scene of the Angie Tribeca pilot is Angie arriving for an elderly woman lying dead on the ground. The woman suddenly wakes up with a smile and asks what's going on. The cops respond by putting a sheet over her, still acting like she's dead.
  • Also played comically in the finale of Blackadder the Third: After being shot by Lord Wellington, Prince George awakes, remembering he had a cigarillo case just where he was shot (just like Blackadder, who had switched places with "Prince Mini-Brain"). However, he immediately finds out he left the case in the dresser, and finally dies for good.
  • Buffy:
    • Caleb in Season Seven is thought to be dead, but gets back up and ruins the reunion between Angel and Buffy.
      Buffy: OK... how many times do I have to kill you? Ballpark figure.
    • A lot of other characters, including Buffy herself. Death just doesn't agree with those people.
      • The line in episode "Once More With Feeling" is, "Hey, I've died twice" -Buffy
    • Subverted in 5x01 'Buffy vs. Dracula', after Dracula's been staked for the second time.
      Buffy: You don't think I watch your movies? You always come back. [Dracula starts to reform again] I'm standing right here. [Dracula leaves]
    • Warren, in the comics. To prevent Fanon Dis Continuity, please imagine it is Back from the Dead.
    • Played for Laughs with Amilyn in The Stinger of the movie; he's still lying down dying.
  • Burn Notice: Larry, yes Dead Larry. His original "death" involved walking into an oil refinery before it blew up, which was his equivalent of taking "early retirement". The subtitles have referred to him as "Larry: Undead Spy", "Larry: Spy with Nine Lives", and "Larry: Unfriendly Ghost". Sam and Fiona have more than once offered to make it stick themselves, and by Season 5 it would seem his luck finally ran out.
  • In season 3, Chuck shot Shaw in Europe and watched him tumble off a bridge into the river below. He ignored the entire point of this trope, which is: When you shoot someone and they fall in the water they are NEVER dead.
  • CSI: Miami almost does this with Tim Speedle, who was killed by a misfire of his gun during a shootout in Season 3, but had evidence of his survival found in Season 6. Cleverly subverted at the end, when it's revealed the "evidence" turns out to be head trauma-induced hallucinations from Speedle's best friend and a lab tech using his stolen credit card after the incident.
  • CSI: New York:
    • Someone is pronounced dead, stolen, dropped in the sea and then starts coughing up water, he turns out to be part of a hibernation experiment and now is in a coma.
    • Shane Casey reappears to threaten Danny after falling off a cliff.
  • Doctor Who:
    • When Davros appeared in a classic serial he was invariably killed off, and yet always managed to get inexplicably better in time for his next appearance. This even included dismemberment.
    • Time Lord Regeneration in general works as this. When one is on the brink of death, a Time Lord can release a massive amount of internal energy that restores his/her body to pristine health, albeit while completely changing his/her physique and bringing out different personality aspects. The Doctor himself is the main case of this.
    • "The Long Game": The corpses who were killed by the Jagrafess on Floor 500 aren't completely dead. They're kept just animate enough to run Satellite 5's computer systems, though they have no emotion or ability... or at least, it seems like they don't. The corpses collapse as a result of Cathica's sabotage, but the body of Eva/Suki is still animate enough to grab the Editor and prevent him from fleeing the resulting explosion.
  • Played straight repeatedly in Farscape with every character, but interestingly zigzagged near the end of the first season when Aeryn was stabbed. The episode closed with John saying how lucky she was that the knife missed her heart. It seemed like a very conventional case of not quite dead. Then the next episode subverted this when Aeryn revealed that the wound had done internal damage, and she was probably going to die soon.
    • The best example is definitely Scorpius, with appropriate Lampshade Hanging by John:
      John: Kryptonite. Silver bullet. Buffy? What's it gonna take - to keep you in the grave?
  • Father Jack Hackett from Father Ted. Jack drank floor polish which only brought about the symptoms of death including lack of pulse, rigor mortis, decomposition...
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Howland Reed is a heroic version, given that it was to save his friend. Reed gets the drop on Dayne because he was believed dead or dying from his wounds.
    • The Hound managed to hang on after his duel with Brienne, and survived to return in Season 6.
  • Heroes
    • They had a bit of fun with this when Sylar and Peter Petrelli faced off for the second time in season one.
      Sylar: Didn't I kill you?
      Peter: Didn't take.
    • Arthur Petrelli used his super powers to knock Hiro Nakamura over the edge of a building. When Arthur teleports away, assuming that Hiro is finished, (because No One Could Survive That!), the camera pans over to the edge of the building, where he seems to be dangling from a flagpole for dear life. Even Evil Overlords make mistakes.
    • Nathan Petrelli and Sylar both tend to invoke this trope at the end of every season. In all seriousness, these guys die at the end of a season and are usually confirmed alive by the time the next Graphic Novel comes out. This is taken to its (il)logical conclusion in the 3rd season finale (Nathan is "resurrected" in Sylar's body), where both appear to be Not Quite Dead, in their own ways.
  • In one episode of I, Claudius, Caligula orders Claudius to be thrown off a bridge, assuming that he will drown. Claudius is dragged away, only to return in the same scene, dripping wet and covered in pond weed. Fortunately, Caligula is too amused by this to try again. Earlier in the series, a slave interrupts Caligula as he announces the death of Tiberius - not only is he not dead, but he's feeling a lot better and wants his dinner. Caligula promptly has him smothered, goes back outside, and cheerfully announced that the emperor is definitely dead this time.
  • When the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Great Barrier" aired, NBC let viewers vote on whether Nicole Wallace would be Killed Off for Real or given a No One Could Survive That!. They chose the latter, and Nicole returned for a couple more eps.
  • Mikhail of Lost does this twice. The first time, he was shoved into a sonic fence and assumed dead. He later claimed it wasn't set to a lethal level. The second time, he was impaled by a spear, but managed to live long enough to blow himself up.
    • In the season 4 finale, Keamy is Left for Dead, only to later surprise Locke and Ben in the Orchid.
    • Back in Season 1, when we are led to believe that Shannon has been killed by the 'monster,' only to find out that it was just Boone's hallucination.
    • Many thought Richard died after being punched by the smoke Monster in the penultimate episode. Not only he shows up in the Grand Finale but is one of the few to end the episode alive.
  • In MacGyver the character Murdoc always ends the show by seeming to die in "No One Could Survive That!" type circumstances only to reappear alive, though often worse for wear a few episodes or seasons later.
  • Zig-zag: The M*A*S*H episode "The Late Great Captain Pierce" has the Army precipitating the biggest reel of red tape when they declare Hawkeye as dead.
    • Another had a Luxembourg captain missing and presumed dead when he suddenly rises from his post-op bed in bandages and cast when he hears his national anthem.
  • In The Monkees episode "Monkees A La Carte", the Monkees, in an effort to save their favorite Italian restaurant and other Italian restaurants from being taken over by mobster Fuselli and a syndicate he has just met for the first time, disguise themselves as "The Purple Flower Gang" and "Monkee" with their plans, unintentionally causing the syndicate to get into a gunfight. Despite Micky's best efforts to break up the fight, the syndicate (including Fuselli's thug Rocco) shoots each other dead, but Fuselli is the only survivor... or is he? Stuttering gangster Benny the Book uses his last bit of strength to shoot Fuselli dead before succumbing to his own wound.
  • Power Rangers:
    • In Power Rangers Zeo, King Mondo is destroyed yet somehow he returns towards the end of the series, only to be blown up again. Even after that he appears in Power Rangers in Space. An earlier example in Zeo was when Adam assumed Rito and Goldar didn't survive the explosion of the Command Center. The viewers soon learned he was wrong.
    • Trakeena from Power Rangers Lost Galaxy does a cross-series one. Surviving the events of the finale, Trakeena appears in Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue seeking to regain her former power.
    • Power Rangers Wild Force
      • Big Bad Master Org managed to survive several finishers that would normally destroy a villain in Power Rangers. During his first demise he appeared dead when he lost his powers battling Cole's Super Mode and was soon tossed off a cliff by the new Big Bad Mandilok. He got better and made Mandilok Quite Dead (though he did revive him and the other Org generals to serve as guardians during his final transformation. Presumably Brainwashing was involved, which he can do.) After he managed to transform to a stronger form, he took two finishers directly and some other zord attacks until 1 more finisher destroyed his body. However the org heart survived and was still beating. It then brings back Master Org and he proceeds to resume his rampage.
      • Zen-aku is seemingly destroyed after Merrick is purified of the evil of the mask, only to reappear wanting to merge with Merrick again. Even after he's destroyed from that battle he appears again at the end of the series seeking redemption and begins following Merrick.
    • Zeltrax from Power Rangers Dino Thunder has to set some kind of record. His backstory is being a former friend of Tommy's who was thought dead. He goes on to eat a Finishing Move at the end of a climactic battle against Tommy on his airship, which soon explodes from the damage it had taken during the battle. Dead, right? Nope, he comes back, though his mind isn't what it used to be. He eventually gets his own Super Mode and fights Conner's Super Mode, and gets quite kablooified. ...and immediately stands up in his normal mode. Destroyed by all the Rangers in the penultimate episode... and reveals that he'd used a hologram to fake his death and had actually jumped out of the way of the combined-weapon BFG blast. We're pretty sure his defeat in the season finale was his Final Death (his Power Rangers S.P.D. appearance was by way of Time Travel.) but there's such a thing as Reunion Shows and the dude has died about five times... so who knows.
    • It also appears in Power Rangers RPM where after Venjix's new body is destroyed, (multiple times) he always returns to his tube within his fortress. Even after the final battle is over and the rangers turn in their morphers, a red light reminiscent of Venjix's light in his tube is seen on the morphers beeping, while Venjix's theme plays in the background. A possible return.
  • In the Season 1 finale of The Pretender, Dr. Raines should not have survived when Sydney shot his oxygen tank and it exploded, yet he's still alive albeit badly burned in Season 2.
  • It stands to reason that this would occur in Sherlock, as this IS just a modern-day incarnation of the original stories and the season two finale is titled "The Reichenbach Fall". One difference between this episode and the original "The Final Problem" is that while we know Sherlock's alive because we see him standing under a tree after his funeral, watching John watching his headstone, Doyle intended to keep Holmes dead.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Apophis exhibits this particular trope on several occasions, surviving his ship being blown up, a catastrophic explosion (both by ringing away at the last possible second), and a star going supernova. He was finally killed when his mothership was about to explode, burning up in the atmosphere of a planet, infected by replicators, which were swarming over his personal shield. And he STILL managed to get guest spots in later episodes where he appeared in flashbacks and an alternate time line. For a villain who was really kind of bland and uninteresting, you sure couldn't keep the guy down.
    • Dr. Daniel Jackson is able to survive the un-survivable. He repeatedly actually dies, almost dies (ergo, this trope), or is believed to be dead a total of seventeen times, including the movie. Such incidents include getting shot by a staff-weapon or other energy weapon (Stargate the movie, "The Nox", "With the Serpent's Grasp"), radiation poisoning ("Meridian"), not-dead deaths ("Fire and Water", "Threads'), temporary deaths such as a heart attack ("Avalon") and alternate universe deaths ("Moebius", "There But For the Grace of God", "2010"). His robotic clone also died first in "Double Jeopardy", before we knew that they were the robot SG-1. This is lampshaded by two archaeologists finding some ancient ruins:
      "Dr. Jackson's going to die when he sees this!"
      "What, again?"
  • At the end of the Star Trek episode "Amok Time", Spock resigns in disgrace after having killed Jim Kirk. Tri-ox compound, my ass.
  • In Supernatural, the Winchesters are surprised to see Meg again after she fell out of a window to her apparent death.
  • Derek from Teen Wolf in "Lunatic". In the previous episode, he gets clawed in the back by the Alpha, while Scott and Stiles make a run for it. We see him hit the ground, but he turns out to be fine.
  • Buredoran of the Comet from Tensou Sentai Goseiger fits this to a T after he's seemingly destroyed he comes back as Buredoran of the Chupacabra then after that he comes back in the Vs movie as Buredoran of the Bloodbath and then is finally brought back as Buredo-RUN before he assumes his true form.
  • Captain Jack Harkness of Torchwood. If he dies, he gets better. This has fooled many a foe. He normally turns up again after the villain says to the rest of Torchwood "Well, your leader's dead".
  • Happens to the new vampires of The Vampire Diaries - they have to die first before returning as the undead.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Happens in the The Iliad, making this trope at least Older Than Feudalism. While he's walking back to the Greek lines after winning a duel with Paris, Menelaus gets shot by a Trojan archer, but Athena deflects the arrow and it only hits above his hip after passing through several overlapping pieces of armor. Agememnon, Menelaus' brother, doesn't realize this at first and goes into a long monologue about how pointless the entire war would be if he lost his brother. Menelaus eventually cuts him off by pointing out that he's fine and that he's going to alarm the troops.
  • The Not Quite Dead theory is used by some people to try to explain away the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth in The Bible. They argue that Jesus was only unconscious and after his disciples stole his "body" from the tomb, they nursed him back to health then invented the resurrection story as a deliberate lie to enhance Jesus' reputation. This argument is just plain silly when you know that not only did Pilate have the Roman guards double-check that Jesus was indeed dead before releasing his body for burial, but also that if the resurrection was a lie then Jesus' disciples must have known this and yet they refused under the most terrible tortures, and in the face of imminent death, to recant their testimony. People will only die for a lie if they believe it to be the truth. Whether or not Jesus was resurrected may still be debatable, but the "not quite dead" theory is obvious nonsense.

    Pinball 
  • In WHO dunnit, Tex survived his car crash after his brakes were sabotaged. He gets plastic surgery, adopts a new identity of "Bruno", and is out for revenge against his ex-wife Victoria.

    Tabletop Games 

    Theatre 
  • The second act of Into the Woods reveals of The Mysterious Man, "I thought you were dead." "Not completely. Are we ever?" What he means by this is left ambiguous.
  • At the end of Wicked Elphaba is revealed to be, in fact, quite water-insoluble.
  • The Musical, Spamalot references this Trope with the song "He Is Not Dead Yet".
    Oh we're not yet dead, to Camelot we go
    To enlist instead to try and earn some dough
    And so although we should have stayed in bed
    We're going off to war because we're not yet dead!
  • In Ken Ludwig's Lend Me a Tenor, Italian tenor Tito Merelli appears to have died of a phenobarbital overdose in his hotel room. However, he's just sleeping really, really deeply and wakes up, puts on his costume, and runs out the door at the end of Act One. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In Martin Guerre, Martin is shot on stage saving Arnaud's life, and tells him to return to his hometown to tell his wife he's sorry. One dead person impersonator Becoming the Mask later, Martin returns to Artigat, alive and well, and demanding his name.

    Visual Novels 
  • War: 13th Day has this trope where you might not expect it. Wildfire can join King Barium's harem and stab him in the heart. However, she will find that he's still alive and now very, very angry.
  • In Time Hollow, Irving pulls this after falling from a cliff.
  • A big example in Cause of Death in Special Agent Shawn Mallory. After becoming the vigilante Big Bad The Hand of Justice throughout Season 5, he is shot atop the roof of Alcatraz prison, and appears to drown in the murky waters below. And he does. But as revealed in the final episode of Season 8, he was resuscitated by Genevieve and the Salazars and had a complete Villainous Breakdown and becomes the Big Bad of Season 8. Emphasised by his unnaturally aged appearance from that point on.
  • Played with in Super Dangan Ronpa 2. With the return of Monokuma and the High School Life Of Mutual Killing, one would think that Junko Enoshima, the mastermind of the original game had somehow survived her execution. However, it's eventually revealed that while the Big Bad of the second game is Junko, it's merely an AI simulation of her, while the real Junko is still long dead. It's also implied at the end of the game (and confirmed in Dangan Ronpa 3) that everyone who died is still alive (they all died in a VR simulation after all) but probably in some kind of comatose state, since Hinata and the survivors are trying to find a way to revive them.

    Web Comic 

    Web Original 
  • Believe it or not, Kill 'em All series Survival of the Fittest has this in Andrea Vanlandingham and Denise Dupius. There are also hints that more supposedly-dead characters may show up, at least the ones whose deaths haven't been shown.
    • It's been revealed that most of the students whose deaths weren't shown ended up being involved in an escape plot and had their collars removed. However, around half of those have now been Killed Off for Real by the terrorists.
    • In V4, Clio Gabriella knocks Garry Villette off a cliff and watches him plunge into the water below. She doesn't bother to check to see if he surfaces again and believes him to be dead. He isn't.
  • The entirety of Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction is spent trying to kill the Meta. Recreation revealed that this failed, though apparently he suffered damage of some sort, forcing the Meta and Agent Washington to capture Doc to fix him.
    • Church himself is a heroic example. He was killed in the very first season, but it didn't take long for him to come back as a ghost.
      • Really, Red vs. Blue loves this trope; Sarge died for an episode only to be brought back via CPR, Tex died at the end of season one and came back next season, Captain Flowers died in his first appearance, but was brought back in the next season before dying again. Donut can be added to this list, as he was confirmed dead by Doc at the start of Revelation, but gets brought back to life in a sponsors-only ending of chapter 13 and was confirmed as being alive by Word of God. He finally returns to the show proper in Season 10.
  • The miniseries The Gamers mocks this trope when the players' characters meet up with an angry mercenary the left for dead in the "castle of almost certain death."
  • In Tales of MU, the main character's mother is believed by everyone to be dead, but side stories reveal that she may be alive and living under an assumed name, for reasons not completely clear yet.
  • In DSBT InsaniT, it happens in 'Beach Brawl' when Bill 2 destroys Cell's brain, only for him to regenerate later on, and in 'The Camping Webisode' when Dave crushes Killer Monster with a large stone slab, only for him to melt it with lava soon after.
  • In Dreamscape, the Possessor Ghost comes back after Melissa supposedly banishes him.

    Western Animation 
  • Kenny in South Park does this often in Season 1, only to be killed seconds later. It's later revealed that he's actually Cursed with Awesome with a literal superpower: no matter how he dies, he will wake up just fine tomorrow morning in his bed and nobody else will remember. Having "lived" through some pretty gruesome deaths (and remembering each and every one), he thinks it's terrible.
  • In Teenage Mutant NinjaTurtles, this occurs to the Shredder a grand total of four times—three if you count the occasion that was retconned into Back from the Dead.
  • Stinkmeaner in The Boondocks dies in "Grandad's Fight", but in "Stinkmeaner Strikes Back" he beats the Devil's Martial Arts Gauntlet and gets sent back to Earth.
    • Another example of this trope occurs during episode 5 "A Date with the Health Inspector". Ed Wuncler III and his friend Gin rob a store ran by people of Middle Eastern descent. A police officer happens to be there who in a parody of the Iraq War and the status of whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction or not is asked by Ed if he sees any weapons on the Middle Eastern man. The police officer refuses at first but then agrees not wanting to get on Ed's bad side, as it turns out the Middle Eastern man did have a gun and he and some other Middle Eastern men open fire on Ed and his friend Gin with the police officer getting caught in the crossfire. Then the police officer is laying down on the ground and Ed's friend Gin has a brief exchange with the man, whose name turns out is Freddie, that is word for word with Monty Python. Freddie then gets up and gets shot again. At the end of the episode backup is called and the Middle Eastern men are arrested and Ed and Gin are viewed as heroes who stopped "terrorists" and Freddie makes a full recovery.
  • In Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Satan sends MC Pee Pants back to Earth often, providing the only continuity the show has.
  • In Family Guy's famous chicken fights the chicken is killed three times yet he always returns for more. Within a single fight (the first) he is seemingly beaten to death, only to attack Peter again seconds later.
    • For that matter, this should also apply to the monkey in Chris's closet, Connie, Mort, and Meg, who have all sustained typically fatal injuries and led fans to wonder whether or not they were actually Killed Off for Real by the end of these episodes until they show up fine in later episodes.
  • Shendu from Jackie Chan Adventures is killed off at the season one finale, and is assumed dead. The act of "killing" him off allows him to become a spirit and he returns in the body of Valmont. The rest of the series sees him being resealed in the demon underworld, reborn, resealed in his original state, revived, and final sealed off for good in another dimension. He is never actually killed.
  • In the season 1 finale of X-Men, the massive robotic Master Mold pulls a Chernabog and bursts out of a mountain, insisting it can never be destroyed, after seemingly being destroyed with the rest of the Sentinels by a massive explosion. This is the cue for Professor Xavier to fly in with the TNT-loaded Blackbird jet, fly at Master Mold full speed, and eject.
    • No, this is not Master Mold's final appearance, if you're wondering.
  • Transformers:
    • Swindle in Transformers Animated was, at the end of "S.U.V", paralyzed and trapped in vehicle mode, which the Autobots allowed the Detroit Police to tow away with the stated goal of either selling him or stripping him down for parts, not even mentioning that the "SUV" was a Decepticon. In "Five Servos of Doom", he turns up alive and unharmed, though still stuck, Sentinel Prime having bought him from the impound lot (considering his parts couldn't move, they probably weren't worth much).
    • The Transformers:
      • Starscream himself. In nearly all versions, the guy just won't die, or at least stay dead. In both Animated and G1, he's literally immortal. He doesn't survive the former, however, thanks to the MacGuffin that was empowering him getting yanked out of his forehead. Animated takes this to its logical conclusion.
      • Never mind all the times that Megatron almost died and then turns out he didn't. At least 3 times in season one: Part 3 of More Than Meets the Eye; Transport to Oblivion, Heavy Metal War, and the end of part 3 of The Ultimate Doom. The last one was the most believable time that he had perished, after all his starship blew up with him in it. All the Decepticons believe he is dead right up until he walks through the door in Countdown to Extinction.
        Rumble: But, Megatron! We thought you were, you know, Kkkkkkcct! (the sound a person makes when motioning a finger across the throat like a knife; ie, "You're dead")
  • Near the end of Barbie & The Diamond Castle, one of Lydia's spells backfires on her and she disappears. The main characters finally reach the Diamond Castle and are about to undo all of Lydia's spells when guess who comes flying in the window?
  • In Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, Phil Ken Sebben gets hit by a bus in Season 3. Then at the series finale: "Ha! Ha! Final Episode stunt casting!"
  • Parodied on The Simpsons in their Bible Trilogy. A story called David and Goliath 2, an Affectionate Parody of silly actioners, has Ralph Wiggum's character die at one point pretty finally. Later in the story, he suddenly reappears anyway. Bart says "I thought you were dead!" All Ralph says is "Nope!" Absolutely no explanation is given for this.
  • Occurred quite often in SWAT Kats, especially in the season 1 finale "Katastrophe", where four of the major recurring villains are caught in a massive warehouse explosion. They all get better by unknown means.
    • Earlier, this occurred to Dr. Viper in the episode "Destructive Nature", where he falls off a 300-story building only to reappear in "Katastrophe" unscathed. Viper was one of several SWAT Kats villains whose Origin Story involved coming Back from the Dead, so this might explain it.
  • Darth Maul has been revealed to have survived his encounter with Obi-Wan Kenobi and makes his debut in Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode "Revenge." He is then (seemingly) killed off by Darth Sidious later in the series, only to return again in Star Wars Rebels, where he is finally killed by Obi-Wan, for real this time (probably).
  • In The Fantastic Four (1967), Doctor Doom manages to cheat death not once, but twice.
  • In Ninjago, Pythor is implied to be killed when he's eaten by the Great Devourer in season 1. He reappears in episode 30, but with his purple scales now bleached white by stomach acid and his voice now sounding like he can keel over any second, though he gets over the latter.
    • At the end of season 3, Zane looks like he's been destroyed in the process of permanently defeating the Golden Master, but at the end of the episode uploads his consciousness into a new body based on P.I.X.A.L.'s specs. We don't get to see what his new body looks like until the following season.
  • The Bugs Bunny cartoon "Hare Trigger" has Yosemite Sam go into death throes after he thinks the red ink Bugs pours on his head is blood. When Sam finds out he was duped:
    Sam: (demurely) Why did you pour ink on my head?
    • Gandy Goose does this as well to a western outlaw with a bottle of ketchup.
    • Bugs' debut cartoon "A Wild Hare" is probably the Ur Example, where he allows Elmer to take a shot at him and plays out the mother of all faux death scenes.
  • In the finale to G.I. Joe: Renegades, Duke knocks Cobra Commander into an Acid Pool and escapes his mansion as it implodes, but The Stinger reveals a badly scarred Cobra Commander emerging from the ruins of his mansion and declaring war on the Joes.
  • Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!: During the Season 2 finale, Mandarin gets swallowed whole by the Dark One Worm. An entire season later, he's revealed to still be quite alive inside, but has suffered both physically and mentally from the ordeal.
  • Samurai Jack: In the first episode of Season 5, Jack fights and destroys the robot assassin Scaramouch. Five episodes later, it's revealed that he's actually still alive, albeit reduced to just a head.
  • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker: After Joker attacks Bruce at Wayne Manor, Terry comes in to find the house a wreck and Bruce slumped over the Batcomputer with the telltale rictus grin of Joker venom. As Terry checks his pulse and heartbeat, Bruce springs back to life long enough to tell Terry about the antitoxin, which ultimately saves his life.
  • Pink Diamond from Steven Universe was revealed in "Back to the Moon" to have been shattered by Rose Quartz. However, in "The Trial", Defense Zircon suspects that it could have been one of the Diamonds who did it instead, and in "Your Mother and Mine", Steven suspects Pink Diamond may be alive as well. In "A Single Pale Rose", we get our answer: Pink Diamond faked her death with the help of her Pearl (our Pearl). Subverted, however, since Pink Diamond, who is Rose Quartz, eventually gave up her physical form to give birth to Steven.

    Real Life 
  • (Possibly) Real life example: Rasputin the Mad Monk was poisoned, shot, beaten, shot a couple more times, and had his body dumped in a river — and he only died from hypothermia.
    • He must have survived drowning then to die of hypothermia, that's how - at the post-mortem - they knew he was alive when they put 'his body' in the river: there was water in his lungs!
    • He also had his belly sliced wide open in a previous assassination attempt, eliciting a cry of "I have killed the Antichrist!" from his would-be murderer.
    • But Wait, There's More!! It turns out that when they cremated his body, they forgot to cut the appropriate tendons in his body, thus, the heat caused them to contract, causing him to sit up.
    • Ironically enough, Rasputin did not actually suffer a Rasputinian Death. Autopsy reports conducted in 1916 and released after the Cold War reveal that Rasputin died of a single gunshot to the forehead, after having suffered some cuts and bruises as well as a couple non-fatal gunshots beforehand. Interestingly, though, the fatal shot came from a British revolver, adding a different layer of intrigue to the murder.
    • Much of the confusion over Rasputin's death comes from the fact that his killers didn't exactly know what they were doing. He had been invited to Prince Yusupov's mansion where the conspirators first tried to poison him with laced vodka, however they had no way to judge what was a fatal dose. They then beat and stabbed at him, but a bunch of aristocrats were up against a monk from an order that practiced self-mutilation, so that was ineffective. He was then shot (which depending on the wound, isn't always fatal), rolled into a carpet and dumped in the Neva river. He could have easily lived through all of that only to drown at the very end.
  • Rapper 50 Cent laughs at your Instant Death Bullets.
  • Simo Häyhä. Finnish sniper in WWII had over seven hundred confirmed kills of Soviets, 505 with his sniper rifle and two hundred or so by submachine gun. They tried everything up to Artillery strikes to kill him. He finally took a bullet to the jaw and it exited the left side of his face taking most of it. His buddies commented half his head was blown off. He woke up a few weeks later and lived to the ripe old age of 96, dying in April of 2002.
  • A famous case in Belleville, Illinois. A teenager was attacked by the teacher she was friends with (and may have been having a relationship with) who broke her neck and then strangled her with a belt before dumping her body in the woods. Thirty hours later, in a driving rainstorm, the police found her body. Only she had somehow survived (her attacker pleaded guilty and went to jail for 20 years).
  • Mark Linkous, leader of the band Sparklehorse, fell into a coma after mixing anti-depressants and sleeping pills in a London hotel room in 1995. He was found clinically dead with his legs pinned under him, and was lucky not only to be revived, but also to be able to walk again after six months of rehab. Linkous, who continued to struggle with depression and substance abuse, killed himself more decisively in 2010 by shooting himself in the chest with a rifle in an alley near a friend's house while intoxicated.
  • In one British legal case, the defendants tried to use this defence. Because a crime must have both an action coupled with an intention (or recklessness/negligence etc), two individuals tried to argue that, because the man they had decided to beat to death was not quite dead when they threw his "body" off a cliff to dispose of it, the Crown did not have the necessary convergence of action and intention (they did not intend to kill him when they threw him off a cliff, believing that he was already dead). The judge told them, essentially, to bugger off.
  • A fifteen-year-old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafzai, spoke out against the Taliban, who shot her in the head for her trouble. She survived, came out of a coma, and went right back to her campaign.
  • A woman who decided to commit suicide in Soldier Township, Kansas shot herself in the head, survived, had second thoughts, and called 911. By the time firefighters arrived she had passed out and they assumed she was dead, so they went outside to protect the area as a crime scene. She then regained consciousness and called 911 again.
  • A video filmed by a hunter in Minnesota shows him filming himself after just having shot a deer, which he mentions he shot through the neck. He follows a trail of blood and eventually comes upon the deer, seemingly dead in the field. As he laments not taking a kill shot, he kicks the deer's front leg and its eyes snap open. It suddenly leaps up and runs off as the hunter reels back in fright.
  • When Boleskine House burnt down in 2016, ghost hunters detected smoke rising from the house, when no smoke could have been possible, speculating that the demonic forces that Aleister Crowley had unleashed were returning.

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