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Only Mostly Dead

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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. [...] Now, mostly dead is slightly alive. Now, all dead, well, with all dead, there's usually only one thing that you can do.
Inigo Montoya: What's that?
Miracle Max: Go through his clothes and look for loose change.

The step in between Non-Lethal K.O. and Killed Off for Real. It took Jesus three days to come Back from the Dead, but for your party members all it takes is for you to fork over the cash. The procedure is relatively common in in-game mechanics, but possibly restricted to the wealthy.

Game mechanics-wise, there's little difference between Only Mostly Dead and Non-Lethal K.O.. It's the general feel of the plot that is affected. Some writers feel that this cheapens death too much, or complicates Plotline Death, so they don't use this trope. On the other hand, it avoids the problems a Non-Lethal K.O. has with plausibility — a mighty robo-demon topples an entire flaming skyscraper onto you, and you are merely unconscious.

Occasionally, a writer may put in guidelines to explain the difference between Only Mostly Dead and All Dead. This could be the amount of time that passed since death (the soul was still in the Afterlife Antechamber), or amount of damage to the body (Chunky Salsa Rule is virtually always All Dead without Deus ex Machina). Compare with Universes where the Necromantic can only ensure the dead Came Back Wrong. If you inflict a genuine Character Deaths and they're still "alive" in a manner of speaking, then you need to make them Deader than Dead.

Contrast with Almost Dead Guy, who is presumed to be a lost cause, and Resurrective Immortality, where yes, the character is dead, but it's a given that they will eventually come back to life. Traditionally, if the characters believe the Almost Dead Guy can be saved, it is only due to Genre Blindness, and angsting will soon ensue.

Not to be confused with Not Quite Dead. This may lead it to be a Disney Death.

If this triggers something that was supposed to occur upon the character's death, it's the Revival Loophole.

Given that this is a Death Trope, there may be unmarked spoilers. You Have Been Warned.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ash in the 35th episode of Pokémon (the real Safari Zone episode that was banned in America). This is the first episode that shows he is Made of Iron.
    • Ash uses Pikachu as a Magical Defibrillator a lot.
    • It happens again in the Lavender Tower episode, where he actually becomes a ghost for a short period of time.
    • Celebi in the fourth movie. It takes the combined effort of every other version of it in every time period to bring it back.
    • Horrifically averted with Zoroark in the 14th movie. It is blatantly clear that she really was fully dead and that Celebi's actions were a full resurrection instead of a simple healing.
  • In Delicious in Dungeon, there's some kind of hard limit on how long a body can lie around before being revived, but the magic to do so seems plentiful and non-costly, at least in the dungeon itself. In fact, it seems to be an aspect of the dungeon itself, it cannot be done outside a dungeon.
    • This is addressed by ex-party member Namari, who explains that losing even 1/13th of your body permanently (i.e. disintegration) causes Resurrection Magic to become far less reliable — and being turned to ash renders you permanently dead to all but the greatest Clerics. Heaven forbid you get shattered after you're petrified.
    • It's also addressed even further in that meat of some kind is required for any kind of resurrection that involves either purely skeletal remains or heavily rotted remains — immense amounts of calories are needed for the body to both reform and get back to working order. As such, goat or pig meat is used. This also means that deep dungeon resurrections of such a kind are nigh impossible for this reason and one other:
    • While souls are chained to bodies after death, the bonds weaken over time, creating Spirits. However, the moment a Spirit is made manifest, resurrection becomes 100% impossible as there's no longer ANY connection between soul and body. Falin was barely hours or days away from becoming a spirit — Marcille's envisioning of the bonds keeping her soul tethered to her skeleton is that only one decrepit bond remains, necessitating the elf's use of Forbidden Magic.
  • In Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Kenichi himself is at one point 'killed' by Tirawit Kōkin, a disciple of Muay Thai. Although Ryozanpaku's ridiculously good medicine manages a revival, there are some other serious consequences that continue for quite some time.
    • Later, Apachai, one of Kenichi's masters, was 'killed' and confirmed as dead by his rival Agaard (also Tirawit Kōkin's Master), and came back by 'asking a reaper for help' to protect Kenichi.
      • Perhaps ironically, the early series used Apachai doing this to Kenichi as a Running Gag, showing Apachai's problems with the concept of "Holding Back".
  • The 4Kids dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! treats the "Shadow Realm" this way. If characters are sent there, it's a Fate Worse than Death — but if the villain who sent them is defeated within a certain, non-specified period of time, then they are restored (although PTSD is a known side-effect). If they spend too long in the Shadow Realm, however, their minds will be completely lost. This is implied to be what happened to Marik's father (in the original, he was murdered with a knife).
  • Happens to Tenma in Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas after Hades effectively kills him. Turns out Tenma's soul is still barely connected to his body due to the flower bracelet his childhood friend gave him.
  • In Naruto, this happens to both Naruto (by having the nine tails extracted) and Sasuke (by old-fashioned sword to the chest), almost simultaneously, courtesy of Madara Uchiha. Naruto's heart literally stops and Sakura has to pump it herself to keep him alive while they find a way to save him.
  • Hayate the Combat Butler parodies this in an anime filler episode. Risa dies in battle against a slime, but continues to hop around in a coffin after Izumi and Miki; exaggerated later on with the coffin gaining equipment and weapons that Risa couldn't possibly use.
  • At the climax of Fullmetal Alchemist, Father actually succeeds in his goal and absorbs the souls of everyone in Amestris not currently in his sanctum. However, Hohenheim reveals that he had prepared a reverse transmutation circle using the moon's shadow from the eclipse, and dots made of his own Philosopher's Stone souls, so that even if Father had the souls, the minds were still functioning as a link to their bodies, and ensured the souls would be pulled back to their owners, meaning that the seemingly dead inhabitants (which were technically still saveable even in that situation, provided rapid action was taken) returned to life when the aforementioned failsafe activated itself automatically.
  • During part of the Buu arc of Dragon Ball Z, Gohan is thought to be dead. As the narrator mentions, however, he's at Death's door instead of fully dead (and he got better eventually).
  • Frederica from Coffin Princess Chaika, a massive armoured dragon who spends most of her time disguised as a cute little girl, has impressive healing powers and "dies" quite often, but supposedly would die permanently if her brain were destroyed. Naturally, she does eventually get impaled through the head. When the other heroes find her seemingly lifeless body, a tiny version of her disguised self rips its way out of her chest. She had, apparently, shapeshifted her real brain into a spare body, so that she could fake her death if necessary. She grows back to 'normal' size shortly (no pun intended).
  • Danganronpa 3's Side:Future has the majority of Class-77 being comatose after the events of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. All of the comatose students come back for the Side:Hope series finale. In addition, Side:Hope reveals that Kyoko Kirigiri, previously thought to have died during the Final Killing Game, was also in this state, and she is fully revived off-screen during the episode.
  • It's revealed this is what really happened to Mavis in Fairy Tail. While Zeref's Curse of Ankhselam was able to "kill" her due to his love for her, because she suffered from the same Curse her immortality ended up putting her in a state between life and death rather than truly killing her as he thought. However, it took her years before her consciousness was able to regain enough strength to manifest as an astral projection, and at that point her body was trapped inside a powerful stasis Lacrima crystal and had become the container for a potentially-infinite magical source of energy in addition to having the same Walking Wasteland powers as before, so letting herself out wasn't exactly an option.
  • Spoofed, as many things are, in KonoSuba. In episode 6, Darkness starts to wax lyrical about the people killed in the battle with Verdia. But then Aqua casts resurrect on them all.
  • In Dr. STONE, Tsukasa seemingly kills Senku with a Neck Snap, but it turns out Senku had been drawing attention to his neck for months, conditioning Tsukasa to strike there. When Taiju and Yuzuriha find Senku's body, they realize there's a tiny stone fragment left on the back of his neck, and pouring miracle fluid on it heals his broken neck and revives him.
  • Rebuild World: Due to Brain Uploading technology in this Cyberpunk setting, doctor Yatsubiyashi tells the protagonist Akira about how many hunters have a 'black box' of sorts containing their personality on their body to be put into a cyborg one after they supposedly die. When Akira is involved in a medevac mission, they have to treat the corpses as wounded for this reason. This gets taken advantage of by Zelmo and Tiol, with Zelmo having one of said backups, and Tiol’s personality being backed up by Tsubaki to re-upload into a Remote Body he still had.
  • In Bleach, Ichibe ends up getting blasted to smithereens by Yhwach, but comes back to life once Ichigo calls out his name. Bleach: Can't Fear Your Own World reveals that this method of revival is actually an ability shared amongst all members of Squad Zero as long as at least one of them is alive.

    Comic Books 
  • In Detective Comics #64, "The Joker Walks the Last Mile", this is part of a plan for the Joker: after he is fried by the electric chair for all of his past offenses, his henchmen quickly retrieve his body from the prison morgue and bring him Back from the Dead with a life serum within 15 minutes in order to keep him from slipping off from "only mostly dead" to "all dead". Once he is revived, he walks away a free man... that is, until he is apprehended for newer robberies.
  • Black Panther was once killed during a battle with Erik Killmonger. Though his friends were able to (just barely) resuscitate his body, it took Moon Knight venturing into the afterlife to actually bring his spirit back to the realm of the living.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW), Donatello's shell is shattered by Bebop and Rocksteady and everyone initially thinks he's died. However, the Fugitoid detects faint signs of life and realizes that he's just barely alive. Acting quickly, they put his body into a cold room in order to slow down his biological processes, then upload his brain into Metalhead while they repair the damage — which includes an artificial shell.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): The Silver Age/Earth-One Steve Trevor's third death turns out to have not quite fully killed him, allowing him to be resuscitated by using a purple healing ray to repair the internal damage to his torso from the fall.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): When the Amazons revert to clay statues due to the Olympians withdrawing their magic from them their breathing and measurable life functions cease but they're not considered fully dead.
  • Immortal Hulk: After the Avengers defeat Hulk with Project: Helios, Captain Marvel states he is only in an "inert state resembling death", the implication being that all of his previous "deaths" are the same.
  • One of Wonder Man's powers is that when he seems to be killed, he is just recouperating in an "ionic coma".

    Fan Works 
  • Many Redwall Fix Fics claim that Rose, Martin the Warrior's love interest, was Only Mostly Dead when she was taken back to her home.
  • In Abraxas:
  • In Aeon Entelechy Evangelion, Shinji got into this state after Mot's counterattack.
    "Do not worry," Rei said, face emotionless. "He is only clinically dead." There was a pause, just enough for the black-haired woman to take a breath to respond, before Rei added, "He will get better."
  • Seen in Cinderjuice and its sequels. Thanks to the Magically-Binding Contract presented at the end of the first story, Beetlejuice is this; Lydia, by contrast, is Only Mostly Alive. She's accidentally been given a small portion of his powers over time, and the contract removes an equivalent portion of her humanity and gives it to him. The second story illustrates this with the yin and yang symbols.
  • In Gold Poisons, Xichen is this close to actually being dead after the antidote appears to not work. Thankfully, he’s still barely alive, enough so that they can give him qi and save his life.
  • A shout out to the trope namer occurs in Hogyoku ex Machina by Unohana.
  • The Immortal Game: Rarity is mortally wounded during the Final Battle, with her heart being dissolved by Titan's magic. Twilight, having become an alicorn herself by this point, puts Rarity in stasis, keeping her preserved long enough for Twilight to give her a new heart and save her after Titan is defeated.
  • In One Punch Man: Hero's Harem, Deep Sea Queen (sister of Deep Sea King) is revived from near death when a Heroes Association worker accidentally spills his water bottle on her body, though she's still badly injured. Earlier, Vaccine Woman is nearly killed by Saitama's punch and reduced to a child-like form that is too weak to fight off human children.
  • In Son of the Sannin, unlike in canon, Akatsuki's ritual to extract the Shukaku from Gaara is interrupted, so Gaara is left with a sliver of chakra that keeps him alive long enough for Naruto to transfer some of his own chakra and save his life.
  • In Tangled In Time, Ganondorf was mortally wounded by the Master Sword — but the Twinrova manage to save him in time since the sword wasn't removed from his body, and he wakes up decades after The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
  • In the Transformers fanfic Things We Don't Tell Humans, we discover that Jetfire is this after Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
Van Helsing: (coming out from his cover to check her over)"She's almost dead!"
Johnathan: (wiping the blood out of his eyes)"She's dead enough!"
  • The Trope Namer is from The Princess Bride, wherein Westley, following torture to near-death by suction pump, turns out to be revivable — as long as the pill has time to work and he doesn't go swimming for at least an hour.
  • In The Golden Child, Love Interest Kee Nang is struck by a crossbow bolt after Taking the Bullet for The Chosen One, Chandler Jarrell, forcing him to race against time to rescue the titular Golden Child so his powers can be used to save her. It's also played with a little. Her body is laid out on a table, with the sunlight shining on her through a window. Jarrell is told that as long as the sunlight touches her, she can be revived by the Golden Child, but if he takes too long, it'll be too late. After defeating Numspa and saving the Child, Jarrell notices sadly that the sunbeam has already moved past Kee Nang's body. Then the Golden Child walks over, props Kee Nang's foot back up into the sunlight, and revives her.
  • The Invisible: Nick thought he was dead until he saw a bird hit a window, and its spirit stuck around only until its body finally died. Cue the race to find Nick's body.
  • According to Congo, the ghost tribe has different levels of dead (presumably including catatonia as a condition where the spirit has left the body [death] yet the body still breathes). Only the last level is dead-dead.
  • The British Hammer Horror film Wake Wood has the post-death caveat type — there is a ritual to bring a loved one back to life for a short amount of time, as long as the death didn't happen too long ago. A grieving couple bring back their dead daughter after lying about the length of time since the death. Hilarity ensues.
  • In the movie Source Code, Colter Stevens is not quite dead yet.
  • Mentioned in The Wizard of Oz as Munchkinland does not begin full celebrations until it's definitely confirmed that the Witch of the East is dead (even though a house fell on her), implying that the Munchkins have run into this trope before:
    As coroner I must aver
    I've thoroughly examined her
    And she's not only merely dead,
    She's really most sincerely dead
  • In Star Trek Into Darkness, Kirk appears to die in the containment chamber in Engineering from radiation poisoning after saving the Enterprise from crashing on Earth. He is then shown lying in an open body bag in Sickbay. But when McCoy figures out how to save himnote  he gets a cryotube and has Kirk frozen to preserve his brain, revealing he wasn't quite completely dead yet.
    McCoy: Oh, don't be so melodramatic. You were only barely dead.
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction: Turns out getting an axe through what was left of his head, which was then torn off his neck, wasn't quite enough to put Megatron down for good, and he's able to survive long enough to transfer himself into a shiny new body.
  • Justice League (2017): Bruce Wayne suggests this when he's talking about reviving Superman using a Mother Box. Diana argues against it and tells him to accept that Superman is dead, to which he answers that "we don't know what state he's in." Well, either way, you guessed it, they are able to bring him back.

  • The Wheel of Time has several levels of being dead. Most people die and their souls are eventually reincarnated sans memories. The Dark One can also resurrect followers of his who die normally. Big heroes are bound to the Pattern and between incarnations they inhabit the World of Dreams where they retain memories of their past lives. When they're reincarnated, their new lives tend to be just as heroic as their past ones. Finally there's people who die via balefire, which kills you retroactively. Their souls can still be reincarnated according to Word of God, but they can't be resurrected by the Dark One. However, as a consequence of killing you before it hits you, anyone who was killed by you after your adjusted time of death gets unkilled, with some funny memories of dying. About the only cause of Deader than Dead shown is dying while in the World of Dreams. Dying there removes you from the Pattern so you can't be reincarnated.
  • The entire premise of Altered Carbon, in which death and Real Death (or RD) are two separate concepts. Everyone is fitted with a brain backup implant called a cortical stack at birth. As long as it's intact, a person who dies can be resurrected into another body (provided they can fork up the cash for it).
  • The eponymous Skulduggery Pleasant is this trope entirely. He was human but was killed in agony by Serpine during the war, then was burned and put in a bag - but it turned out (through Necromancer power that we find out about in Book 6) that he was only Mostly Dead, and as such was able to pull himself together and continue fighting.
    • Mortal Coil has Valkyrie become mostly dead in order to have her true name sealed, in one of the single creepiest bits of the series. And that's saying something.
    • Also applies to the partygoers in Death Bringer who were dead until their energy was returned to them.
  • Harry Potter gives himself up to Lord Voldemort in an attempt to save his friends in the last book. Harry is hit with Avada Kedavra and his soul enters some form of limbo long enough for exposition from Dumbledore, but because Voldemort accidentally tied him to life by taking his blood, Harry eventually revives unharmed.
    • Voldemort himself could count. He is hit by an unstoppable killing spell, but survives as a spirit 'less than the meanest ghost' because he split up his soul and hid the pieces in ordinary objects. He eventually returns to his whole body.
  • In Terry Pratchett's The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, the titular cat, Maurice, uses one of his nine lives to avoid becoming "all dead". He also trades another of his lives to save Dangerous Beans from the same fate.
  • In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, famed Disaster Area frontman Hotblack Desiato is "spending a year dead for tax purposes". He still manages to eat at fine restaurants, travels the universe hooked up to his Death Support System, and employs a medium to translate his psychic impulses from beyond the grave into music.
  • In Lonely Werewolf Girl the souls of dead werewolves go to the Forest Of The Werewolf Dead, fortunately Fire-Demon Malvera is able to intercept heroine Kalix's soul while it's just in the outskirts and bring her back. All for the bargain price of one human girl's ability to love.
  • In the book The Princess Bride, Miracle Max actually first proclaims Westley "Sort of Dead." After a while, he notices something wrong, and the other characters ask him what it is. He then informs them that Westley has just slipped from Sort of Dead to Mostly Dead.
  • George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series has a few examples of this. Lord Berric Dondarrion was brought back to life repeatedly by the Red Priest, although his regenerated form still had the wounds and scars from his death, most notably a huge hole in his chest left by a lance, and he gradually forgot more of his life with each subsequent revival. Catelyn Stark was murdered along with her son Robb at the Red Wedding, then later reappears, restored to life by the same sort of magic as Dondarrion. In a subversion, Catelyn is visibly rotted as a result of being resurrected several days after her demise.
  • In the The Crew of the Copper-Colored Cupids story The Grand Multiverse Hotel, the Queen of the Black Market bound her soul to her body, so that she could be easily resurrected even if her body physically died. A slightly more lively form of Only-Mostly-Deadness comes in when characters attempt a resurrection on her body but don't quite manage it, resulting in her spending the climax as a mostly still presence who can barely manage to whisper. (She eventually gets better.)
  • In the Warrior Cats series, Clan leaders are granted nine lives by their ancestors. When they receive a fatal injury or sickness, they'll stay dead for several minutes before waking up, assuming they have more lives left.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • This happens in Ghost Story when, after spending the entire book as a ghost, Harry attempts to move on, only to awaken in his still-alive body. Mab and Demonreach had healed Harry's mortal wounds while his disembodied soul wandered Chicago.
    • In Dead Beat, the Enigmatic Minion Kumori Invokes this on a mortally wounded man, using Necromancy to bind his soul to his body until EMTs are able to stabilize him normally.
  • Main villains of Nightingale's Lament put a very popular singer into this state to keep her compliant and easily controlled.
  • The Stormlight Archive:
    • Healing magic is rare but does exist, so this is examined in depth. It's pointed out that most few things actually instantly kill, no matter how terrible they are; you have at least some time until the brain dies. Until that happens, the Surge of Regrowth (or fabrials that imitate it) can be used to heal the person, bringing them back from the bring of death. Of course the setting also has Shardblades, which ignore living flesh and cut straight through the soul, and if one connects with your spine, you do seem to actually die nearly instantly as your soul is severed from your body. In Words of Radiance Szeth is specifically revived this way, although because it was done so late his soul is not fully properly attached, resulting in some people seeing a ghostly afterimage when he moves. It's unclear what (if any) the consequences are to this.
    • Surgebinders holding Stormlight gain a powerful Healing Factor. As long as they have enough Stormlight in them, it is seemingly impossible for them to die, no matter how terrible the wound. Characters have survived falling hundreds of feet, getting their throat slit and then stabbed through the heart, and even taking a crossbow bolt to the head. Of course, healing also consumes the Stormlight, so there are a number of occasions where a Surgebinder runs out of Stormlight without actually fully healing their wounds.
    • This appears to be the effective status of the dead shardblades. Spren don't die in the same way humans do as they are more akin to elemental forces than normal living beings. It has been mentiond that if their Radiants returned, the spren could be revived, but since their Radiants are long dead it seems impossible. However in Oathbringer, Adolin's blade has appeared to show more signs of life than usual such as saving Adolin's life of her own volition when he was in Shadesmar, telling him her name, and appearing in his hand on only seven heartbeats rather than the usual 10 when he desperately needed her. It's unclear if it is possible to fully revive her, however.
    • Then there's the Sibling, the Genius Loci spren of Urithiru. They were always mysterious, even to other spren, and something happened to them, disabling most of the tower functions and forcing the ancient Radiants to abandon it. Navani knows that death for spren is always weird, so she interviews several spren that were active at the time. They say the Sibling is "slumbering," but she notes they treat it with an air of finality. In the end, the answer is rather simpler: The Sibling was Faking the Dead, fully awake and aware the entire time but refusing to help humans.
  • In The Story of Valentine and His Brother, Val's boat is knocked over while he's rowing. He's normally an excellent swimmer, but because of his breakup-induced Brain Fever he passes out in the water. When he's rescued, his mother spends some time thinking he's dead until a doctor revives him.
  • In Almost Perfect (2014), the dog Susie starts to give birth while outside. Her first puppy lies in the snow for some time before David finds him and, thinking he's dead, wraps him in a newspaper and takes him inside. When David unwraps him, he and Bess are surprised to find that he's still breathing. Bess tucks him inside her shirt until he's warmed up.
  • Goblins in the Castle: While Fauna's visiting her in Goblins on the Prowl, Granny Pinchbottom reveals she's working on a combination spell/recipe which is supposed to be given to someone who's on the brink of death and hold them in that state for a while, though since she was interrupted while working on it, she doesn't know if it'll actually work. She still gives Fauna a piece, just in case, which comes in handy when the Baron suddenly collapses and seems to be dying — the specipe saves his life, but won't wake him up. When Helagon is banished back into the Pit of Thogmoth, all his spells are broken and the Baron safely reawakens.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Seven Days: A backstep goes wrong (of course) due to sabotage, which kills Frank...mostly. He's still a ghost, and when a Blind Black Guy is able to hear him Parker manages to save the day by backstepping again.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy is killed, she is brought back by a magical ritual.
    • Buffy in "Prophecy Girl", after the Master drowned her.
    • Buffyverse has a good few levels of dead including but probably not limited to: vampire/demon possessed corpse, mummy/zombie/reanimated corpse sans demon, ghost, resuscitated, dead but brought back by magic, dead and beyond being brought back by magic (e.g. Darla), whatever the heck happened to Cordelia.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Played completely straight, and even quoted, in "The Big Bang". Amy, who'd been shot and presumably killed, is placed in the most secure prison in the universe — designed so that the person inside it could never escape, not even through death — and stored there until given a way to be revived.
    • In "Hell Bent", Clara is extracted from her timeline in between her next-to-last and last heartbeat, and kept suspended in that moment while still being able to walk and talk and act pretty normally. So, she's right on the edge of dead, but not quite there.
  • Aeryn Sun on Farscape qualifies for this - she drowns and is given a tearful burial scene. Then Zhaan, grieving, decides to give up her own life using her mystical Delvian powers and revive her deceased friend. Zhaan's able to do this because - yes! - Aeryn's not totally dead!
  • In the Pilot episode of Fringe, Walter suggests to Olivia that they communicate with the comatose John Scott by linking their minds.
    Walter: I have used this technique to extract information from a corpse once. You can do that if they haven't been dead for longer than six hours.
    Peter: Right, 'cause after six hours, that's when they're really dead.
  • In Heroes, anyone with a Healing Factor is rendered "dead" if an object is stabbed into a certain part of the brain, but if it's removed, recovery is as quick as with any other injury. The characters believe that being shot in that part of the brain would kill such a person permanently, but it's never been done yet.
    • Except since neither Ted nor Peter have hurt themselves while using that power at the lower levels, it shouldn't immediately follow that they'll blow themselves apart when going fully nuclear.
    • In the alternate future of season 3, Sylar goes nuclear while standing a few feet away from Peter and Claire, both of whom are shown to survive.
  • Charlie does this in Lost. At least, that seems to have been the case, since Jack finds him hanged yet manages to resuscitate him. Mikhail has been Only Mostly Dead a few times.
  • Maleficent is this in Once Upon a Time. Regina was extra angry with her when she trapped the Enchanted forest residents in Storybrooke, so cursed Maleficent so that she could never die. She's seemingly killed by Emma in the first season finale, but returns in season 2 as a phantom that attacks Killian. By season four Cruella and Ursula are able to revive her.
  • In the Stargate-verse, there seem to be two levels of dead: "revivable by the Sarcophagus"-dead (which, as the sarc is purely non-magical advanced technology, should probably be considered "dead as best as Earth medicine can tell but not truly dead", but they call it dead) and dead-dead. Daniel Jackson winds up Only Mostly Dead on several occasions, though all of the original four got their turn at least once. (Kawalsky, on the other hand, winds up dead-dead.)
    • And in the Stargate SG-1 Tabletop Games, there are two degrees of death: merely dead, between -10 and -25 HP (revivable by a sarcophagus), and destroyed, below -25 HP (the body is messed up beyond repair). And certain species, such as the Unas, have the "Sarcophagus Incompatible" feat; for them, dead is dead.
  • In the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part Two" (S02, Ep22), Dean claims that this was Sam's state, but that Bobby patched Sam up.
    • This has also been intentionally invoked by the boys in order to communicate with spirits or get in touch with a Reaper. Dangerous, yet effective. See, for example: Advanced Thanatology.
  • In Torchwood, after Owen is killed and brought Back from the Dead by the second Resurrection Glove, he ends up in a state like this; he's clinically dead and all metabolism has ceased, but he is kept conscious and ambulatory (and non-decomposing) by residual Green Rocks in his system. How he manages to talk if he doesn't breathe is a question for Fridge Logic philosophers to decide.
  • In the various Ultra Series', a common rule among the titular and rotating Ultra Heroes is that they have only 3 Minutes to survive on Earth's atmosphere. When the plot calls for it however, this can change in more climactic ways than expected...
  • Mulder makes a regular habit of this in The X-Files. The most noteworthy occurrence is in season 8. It went so far that his body started decomposing and he was buried with a funeral and everything, only to be dug up three months later and found to be only mostly dead.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Old-school RPGs based on Dungeons & Dragons rules often had relatively easy resurrection at shrines/churches for those willing to "donate."
    • The SSI Gold Box games, which use AD&D rules, also have multiple levels:
      • "Unconscious", at exactly zero hit points and can be restored with any sort of healing.
      • "Bleeding", when between -1 and -9 hit points (inclusive). Works like "unconscious", but the character loses 1 hit point each round, which leads to...
      • "Dead", requires a "Raise Dead" or "Resurrection" spell to restore; caused by having -10 or less hit points. Which one you need depends on whether the corpse is in one piece or not.
      • "Gone", results from a failed raise, death from disintegration or dragon breath, or having the party flee from battle when the character is laying unconscious, bleeding, or dead on the field. Restoring the character from this typically requires nothing less than a "Wish" spell or divine intervention.
    • The tabletop games have multiple levels of 'Mostly Dead', depending on edition, the power of the spellcaster, and what spells the spellcaster knows. This means that in 3.5 the smallest possible 'Mostly Dead' is less than nine days dead, cannot be missing vital parts of the body, can not have been turned into an undead or have been killed by a death effect, and must not have died of old age, while the greatest (assuming that one does not get into supplements or epic-level stuff) requires that the death was not of old age, that it was less than 200 years ago, and that the deceased can be unambiguously identified in some way.
    • Hack Master builds upon the AD&D second edition rules, and imposes the limit that a character's starting Constitution score represents the number of times they can be resurrected; this total can never be raised short of the personal intervention of an actual Gawd.
  • Some games have a different kind of "Mostly Dead", meaning that the character is unconscious and unresponsive, but not actually dead yet and still capable of being revived by "normal" (i.e. magical) healing processes. For example, in some editions of D&D, there's a reserve of 10 "negative" hit points, and you don't actually die die until you hit -10 HP. Any magical healing you receive while in the -9 to 0 range takes you to 0 HP and then adds HP normally. It's also possible to use the healing skill on such a character, which doesn't actually recover any hit points but does stabilize them and keep them from getting any worse (unless they get hit again). In some editions there's a feat characters can take that allows them to remain conscious and active with negative hit points, but -10 is still dead.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem, being critically injured will knock a vampire into torpor, a deathlike sleep that lasts a certain amount of time based on their Karma Meter. Sending one to final dead requires special measures - throwing them into a fire or into direct sunlight is most dependable. (A stake through the heart also triggers torpor.)
  • If a character is "zeroed out" in Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies, he is literally "mostly dead", as a nod to the Trope Namer, and to swashbuckling fiction in general. Killing an unconscious or helpless foe is Bad Form, even among villains.
  • In the FASA Doctor Who roleplaying game, there is no point of death, only a slowly increasing modifier to the difficulty of bringing someone back. Eventually you just have to give up.
  • Genius: The Transgression: Actual resurrection of a dead body is not only a scientific sin that will ding your Karma Meter, it's an open invitation for a Monster from Beyond the Veil to make your life harder. However, when it comes to mad science, if the person died less than an hour ago, not of old age and not of head-applied Chunky Salsa Rule, it doesn't really count as dead, and you can bring them back with neither of those problems.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Raising the dead is usually a costly, lengthy bit of Ritual Magic that causes long-term Resurrection Sickness. However, the "Breath of Life" spell can do it for free, provided it's cast within a few seconds of death and the target wasn't too badly mangled in the course of their demise.
    • Defied by the nation of Galt in the default Lost Omens setting, which conducts executions using "Final Blades": guillotines enchanted to trap the souls of people executed on them. During the early days of Galt's revolution (inspired by the French Revolution), this was intended to prevent wealthy convicts from escaping justice by prearranging resurrection or cloning magic.
  • The One Ring: A hero who falls to zero Endurance or suffers two major Wounds is merely unconscious. A hero with zero Endurance and a Wound will die within hours unless they receive proper medical care.

    Video Games 
  • The classic game Wizardry had 3 levels of dead. They are:
    • "Dead", which could possibly be cured with a simple "Raise Dead" spell.
    • "Ashes", which was the result of a botched resurrection. This person could still be brought back for more gold, but if that failed...
    • "Gone", where nothing other than hacking the game will bring them back. At the time, there weren't that many hackers, however, if one sent their character disk to the game developers; they would bring them back and send the character disk back. Provided they be allowed to use the previously wiped out party as enemies in Wizardry IV.
  • Pikmin:
    • Pikmin (2001) has multiple endings. The Bad End happens if you don't manage to collect at least the 25 necessary ship parts within thirty days; Olimar, unable to take off with his spaceship, dies (offscreen) from oxygen poisoning, but his corpse is brought to an Onion by the Pikmin, thus reviving their "leader" as one of their own kind, turning the situation into slightly creepy Disney Death.
    • Pikmin 2: The Gatling Groink and Spotty Bulbear enemies slowly regain health after being "killed". If you let their health get back to full before you convert them into Pikmin food or money, they'll get back up and attack your team again. The Bulbear doesn't do this in Pikmin 3, notably.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy Tactics, any defeated characters would fall over with a turn-counter above their heads. If a Raise-spell or a Phoenix Down is adminstered to them before the timer runs out, they return to life - they are Only Mostly Dead — but if the timer runs all the way out, they are Killed Off for Real. If this happens to any plot-important characters, it's Game Over. Interestingly enough, the same rules apply to all enemies... while Undead types may actually come back to life on their own after the timer runs out, unless a special spell is used to permanently destroy them.
      • In Final Fantasy Tactics Advance this was altered: If a character (other than the protagonist) is defeated, he is merely knocked unconscious, and can either be revived during the battle or automatically after it's over. However there are certain areas in the game called "Jagds" where if a defeated character isn't revived before the battle is over, then they are Killed Off for Real. The plot explains this by saying that conflicts in these areas are not overseen by the Judges, and can therefore turn lethal.
    • The heroes tried the full range of Phoenix Downs, Life spells and such during the Plotline Death in Final Fantasy V. It didn't work.
    • And we all wondered why they didn't just use a Phoenix Down when Aerith dies in Final Fantasy VII...
    • Final Fantasy IX: There are two ways to "die" in this game: KO from HP loss, and being Stopped. KO can be remedied via the usual tactics, but Stop cannot be reversed until the spell wears off on its own. If all characters are stopped, it's Game Over.
    • Multiple games in the series also have the Zombie/Undead and Petrify/Stone conditions. As long as at least one member of the active party remains alive and unafflicted, the affected characters can usually be restored to normal with a spell or item that heals those particular status effects. But if everybody who's not already K.O.'d is affected, then it's Game Over, just the same as if everybody was K.O.'d.
  • Rainbow Six 1-3:
  • In games with Magical Defibrillators, this happens when you're brought down by gunfire or other non-Permadeath means, but only lasts until you respawn. Occasionally results in cases of people "dying" repeatedly by headshots and massive explosions, to be zapped back to full health moments later.
  • In Legacy of Kain: Defiance, it is revealed that, even though the heart was ripped out of his chest, Janos Audron's body had not been decayed for 500 years, and trying to find his heart to resurrect him became a plot point. That heart of his was christened as "The Heart of Darkness", and was used to resurrect Kain at the beginning of Blood Omen.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Might and Magic 6, 7, and 8 have three stages of Death: Unconscious, when HP is below 0; Dead, when negative HP exceeds the inverse of the character's constitution; and Eradicated, a condition caused only by certain late-game attacks, and being so powerful that it "destroys the body", but not their weapons, armor, or inventory. Each condition only differs in the cure. Unconsciousness can be remedied by any source of healing, but Eradication can only be fixed by end-game magic or a temple.
  • In Persona 4, the silent protagonist may revive himself with a number of moon tsukubames in his pocket, depending on the difficulty selected. At a certain event in the game, the character's choices determine whether 7-year-old Nanako remains dead, or miraculously revives herself with some apparent help from Teddie.
  • In Treasure of the Rudra during the battle with Nagiya, one of the Four Horsemen, Foxy is hit with an attack called "Foxy Killer" and cannot be resurrected until you get a certain plot related item.
  • After a certain (Early) point in FPS Prey (2006), it's simply impossible to die. Upon losing your last drop of health you're simply sent to the spirit world where, rather than move on to the other side you're granted a brief moment to restock on health and spiritual energy by shooting the conveniently color-coordinated spirits before being reunited with your mostly dead body. However, this simply negates Check Point or Save Point attrition with death attrition. With enough deaths, you can grind your way past any situation. This is arguably still an improvement, however, as playing a shooting gallery Mini-Game with weird undead creatures, then jumping back in where you left off is probably more fun than being sent back to your last save/checkpoint and having to work your way back to your original location.
  • Assuming you remembered to activate them beforehand, the "Quantum Bio-Reconstruction Devices" in System Shock 2 would resurrect the player if he died anywhere within the level they were located on. Not found in the climactic final level, of course.
    • The original System Shock had something similar in the form of automatic healing devices that are converted to cyborg conversion chambers. By deactivating the cyborg process, the healing process is reactivated without the enemies knowing. So when you die, you just wake up in the healing chamber with no one the wiser. Of course, some of them were easy to find but extremely difficult to activate, and at least six of the games thirteen levels don't have healing devices at all.
  • In BioShock and BioShock 2, every time you die, you are revived at the nearest "Vita-Chamber" with some of your health restored, though your enemies' health stays the same. In both games, there is an achievement for beating the entire game on Hard with Vita-Chambers turned off.
    • In BioShock 2, The Vita-Chambers are even a plotpoint. Subject Delta was psychically forced to shoot himself in the head during the prologue and remained dead for over a decade until he is revived in a Vita-Chamber. And later in the game, the Big Bad realizes that the best way to deal with Delta is to simply restrain him, since if she kills him, he'll just revive and continue his rampage to save his "daughter".
    • And you are returned to the opening screen when you die, Loads and Loads of Loading away from resuming at your last save point. A fate worse than this particular death.
  • The Sims 2 University expansion pack introduced the Resurrect-O-Nomitron, which is unlocked when a Sim completes a certain career path and allows them to summon The Grim Reaper and attempt to buy back any Sim (or pet!) whose tombstone is still in the neighborhood. If the tombstone's been sold or destroyed, though, they're gone for good - and if the Grim Reaper doesn't like what you're offering in return, you may not like what you get back.
  • Throughout the Dragon Quest series, monsters overcome in battle are described as "defeated". This rule does not apply to your own party, however — when a character is reduced to zero HP, the game announces, "(Character) dies". In addition, monsters dispatched by the instant-death Whack and Thwack spells are explicitly described as "killed". Dead party members were put in coffins and carried by the remaining party members. (The American Bowdlerization changed this to ghosts.) Dead party members need to be revived at a church, with a special item, or high-level magic.
    • In the Dragon Quest V remake, wedding vows include "in sickness and in health, and for as long as you both shall be resurrected from death in a church."
  • In Ultima III, if someone was so gone that they have since then reincarnated, there is still a spell that brings them back anyways. Presumably, the baby they had become drops dead. There is a cost of the wisdom stat to the caster, though.
  • Class of Heroes, which is largely inspired by Wizardry, has the same three stages of death (Dead, Ashes, and "Lost"). It is possible to pay the doctors at the infirmary to revive a character who has been turned to ashes, but the cost is three times as much as it is to revive a character who is simply "dead". And if that fails,'ll just have to enroll a new level 1 character, won't you?
  • Referenced in Mass Effect 2, which starts with Shepard dying and being painstakingly revived by Cerberus over two years. Later, when asked about it, one possible response is, "I was only mostly dead. Try finding that option on government paperwork."
  • Alyx in Half-Life 2: Episode 2 was dead enough for a Combine Hunter to credit it as a kill (although why it ignores Gordon is uncertain). However, she isn't too dead for the Vortigaunts to render assistance.
  • Similar to the RPG examples above, the Exile system has "dead", "dust", and "stone" statuses. "Stone" was relatively rare, being applied only by certain special monsters, and reversed by a spell. "Dead" was the common form of death, reached by being hit to 0 HP and then hit again while on the brink of death (if you were at 1 HP and hit for 100, you still lived - until the next swing), and could be reversed by the Raise Dead spell - but if it failed you were dusted. "Dust" could also be caused by an excessively powerful kill-shot, and was much harder to reverse. Assuming you didn't cheat, anyway.
  • In Left 4 Dead 2, if one of your teammates dies they can be revived with a defibrillator regardless of how much time has passed since their "death." While many fans attribute this to a Magical Defibrillator, others believe that the character is instead Only Mostly Dead.
    • The latter is more likely, considering it can't be used on the one character who actually does suffer a Plotline Death (poor Bill).
  • In World of Warcraft, players can be resurrected for the cost of a bit of mana, or by running their spirit back to their corpse. NPCs are slaughtered by the thousands, but respawn minutes later (or every week in the case of raid bosses). The only final deaths are dictated by the plot, and you can be sure that if the plot requires someone to die for real while you watch, you can do nothing to save them.
    • Even in the storylines, you occasionally see a character previously you saw killed in front of you be standing before you, very much alive. (And we're not talking respawns of the same character, we're talking about later events involving the previously "dead" character.) When it's a boss, often you'll get the line "[previous location] was merely a setback!"
  • In Metal Gear Solid 4, Big Boss is revealed to have been sealed away in a coma for 15 years after his "final" battle with Solid Snake, having been snatched away by the Patriots, his legs and arms amputated and his consciousness locked away with nanomachines. As it turns out, that was actually Solidus Snake, who is physically identical to Big Boss aside from the fact that the eye he lost is on the other side of his face. Big Boss shows up in the ending later with new cybernetic limbs (as well as replacement limbs from his sons, Liquid and Solidus) to let Snake know that he shouldn't spend his last days as a soldier. He finally succumbs to FOXDIE at the end of his speech to his son.
  • Dungeon Siege has resurrection shrines scattered about multiplayer mode, as well as resurrection spells that Nature Mages can use to revive a dead character. Carries over into Dungeon Siege II with the addition of Resurrection Scrolls that any character can use, as well as NPC's at the various major towns to summon your corpses (and the gear you were using at the time) for a fee. Alternately, you can go back to where your party died at and recover the equipment manually.
    • Dungeon Siege II: Broken World introduces enemies called Familiars that, once they hit 0 HP the first time, fall down as if dead for a few seconds, then spontaneously revive in a blast of energy, badly damaging any characters unlucky enough to be caught in the blast. Quite the nasty surprise for newcomers to the expansion.
    • There is also a fourth level in multiplayer games: "Ghost". Ghosts revive if they find a resurrection shrine or after a set period of time automatically.
  • Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal addressed this point by having the character Imoen ask Sarevok what it was like to be dead. He pretty much responds with a "Pfft, like you've never been dead before," suggesting that in the game (rather than as in the Forgotten Realms) there's a distinction between Raise Dead dead and dead dead. Dead.
    • In fact, Imoen confirms this, as she recounts what it's like being "dead until the priest gets there".
    • Shortly after the beginning of Shadows of Amn (the game T.o.B. is an expansion pack for) the party discovers Jaihera's husband Khalid lying on a table horribly tortured to death, sending his widow into a traumatized fit of grief. When Imoen suggests using a resurrection spell, the widow replies that "some things can not be fixed by magic". The implication is that the body is seriously damaged due to Irenicus' 'experiments', which is actually a nice aversion of Gameplay and Story Segregation — in D&D, a corpse must be whole for revival magic to function, and a character that is reduced to less than -10 HP in the Baldur's Gate series is 'chunked' and Killed Off for Real.
    • Not everyone takes it so seriously. "Greetings, everyone. Sorry, no gifts or souvenirs this time but I'll keep you all in mind the next time I'm gone. Oh, Keldorn, the gods say 'hi' and that you should wash your underwear more thoroughly. Everyone ready? Let's go adventuring." Yes, this is said by someone brought back from the dead.
    • Due to your character's...unusual heredity, your character is the exception; dead is dead is very, very dead. Sadly this leads to some retcon-induced Fridge Logic with regard to Imoen.
    • A lot of entities also seem to be Not Quite Dead in the series. The most notable of course being your daddy who keeps talking to you despite being long dead and gone. This seems to be par for the course for his class of beings though as Amaunator, dead God of the Sun does similar things.
    • Vampires get a standard "killing them only makes them turn into mist and sends them back to recover in their coffins, unless you destroy them there" treatment, so they barely count as even mostly dead then, since while they're inanimate, they will recover automatically. In a special case, it turns out a character incompletely turned into a vampire just turns into a mostly dead body that can't be raised normally but can be raised with a special ritual at the temple of Amaunator.
  • Most units in S.W.I.N.E. will merely lose their turret and the ability to move. This allows players the ability to recover "lost" units and bring them back into service with a repair trailer. There are a few exceptions to this, but all but one of those are non-combat units. It's fairly easy to go along with it, as all the units in the game are some sort of vehicle.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) has Sonic killed off by the Big Bad, except not really due to the princess detecting the fallen's spirit lingering around and everyone then deciding the Chaos Emeralds can bring their friend back to life. It does.
  • Fallout Shelter: Dead Vault Dwellers can be brought back to life if you stump up the cash.
  • In Undertale, part of a monster's natural death process is a comatose period, known as being "fallen down". Monsters that have fallen down will eventually turn into dust, but they're technically still alive, as proven by experiments documented in the True Lab that unexpectedly brought some monsters back from this state, sort of.
  • Comes up in the finale of Tombs & Treasure. The girl is found in Tentacula's Shrine, laid out on a stone slab, and the protagonist thinks she's dead at first... but upon further examination realizes she's not, but she can only be woken up by burning some incense in the Silver Censer. If you didn't bring either item (or the Zippo lighter from the very beginning of the game), your only option is to reset.

  • Girl Genius:
    • Adam and Lilith Clay are ripped to pieces by Von Pinn. They are later resurrected by Agatha's love interest Gilgamesh. Of course, they are constructs, built by the Heterodyne boys.
    • However, dialog elsewhere in the series makes the rules for being Only Mostly Dead more clear; having your brain incinerated, for instance, is described as making you Deader than Dead, while one character notes that even aside from that resurrection techniques usually don't work so well.
    • Also, if you're a member of the nobility, being killed causes you to lose your status (rulership or Xth-in-line-for rulership), even if you are successfully resurrected. "So, the good news is, you're alive again. The bad news is ... well, here are the want ads." Baron Wulfenbach doesn't respect this rule, though.
  • Terinu: Terinu himself is believed killed after being speared through the gut by poisonous, acidic stinger the size of a shortsword. Fortunately for him, his species is designed to go into a protective coma when they can't sustain themselves. Of course the fact that he could survive a week with an untreated gut wound in a cell with no food or water is pretty amazing already...
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja has a ridiculous parody of an example: Doc appears to get shot to death, and collapses to the ground, riddled with bullet holes. Shortly after this, it turns out he's perfectly fine, supposedly because the bullets missed all his vital organs. At least, that's the excuse he gives to Death, who doesn't buy it. So Doc beats him up and declares his own previously fatal injuries to be Only a Flesh Wound.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • Referenced. Any injury other than damage to the brain is repairable, so the characters can be (and have been) reduced to just a head in a nannybag at one point or another, before having your body rebuilt. This is apparently referred to in the UNS military (although not among the mercenaries) as being "mostly dead." Later advances in technology lead to there being five levels of "dead", Laz-1 to Laz-5, explained here. Laz-1 is 20th Century dead - cessation of brain-stem activity. Laz-2 is Laz-1 plus damage to brain-tissue. Laz-3 is total loss of brain, but distributed nanite-backups are intact. Laz-4 is Laz-3 with significant damage to the backups. Laz-5 is complete loss of identity and memory beyond retrieval by technology so far.
    • Later, they come up with a way to store off-body backups, allowing one to be brought back from even a Laz-5 death, though missing any memories since their last backup. Opinions differ in-universe whether or not someone brought back this way is the same person as the one that died.
  • Roommates is generally a Nobody Can Die work, but is also a Massive Multiplayer Crossover Meta Fic soooo it runs on two main powers: (1) Clap Your Hands If You Believe (mostly the fandom's) and the (2) Theory of Narrative Causality. If you have both on your side you're obviously alive (even if the story calls it differently). If only (1) then you are "Canonically Dead", which means this trope, you can come back just don't go close to a narrative that wants you not breathing (this is why Death by Origin Story works). If only (2) then pray that you never have to leave your story or you are as good as dead. If neither you never existed in the first place.
  • In Kill Six Billion Demons, the first Demiurge Zoss massacred most of the Prime Angels after breaching Heaven, leaving one barely alive to torture for information about the Gods. Since this left it trapped on the verge of death in a broken body for millennia rather than trigger its Resurrective Immortality, it's gone a bit wrong in the head.
  • Gloomverse: What happens when your wand breaks.

    Web Original 
  • In the MMORPG for Gaia Online, if a player loses all health they they are "dazed", which leaves them unable to attack, open chests or crates, move to another screen, or really do anything besides use the chatbox or wander around drunkenly. The player can be saved from this state by clicking the "awaken" button which whisks you to a place called the Null Chamber (thanks to the mysterious attack rings), using a potion, or having another player use a reviving ring on them.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Possibly the Trope Maker behind the trope: The Mbuti people of the Ituri forest in the Congo use a gradated series of expressions to convey the degree of "death," ranging from plain "dead" (i.e., very ill) to "completely dead" and finally "dead forever." Described in The Forest People (1961), an anthropological bestseller by Colin Turnbull.
  • Clinical death means that the heart and circulatory system has stopped functioning. Up until the 20th Century, this was the official definition of death. Even today it usually means your ticket's been punched. But, thanks to modern resuscitation science, death can no longer be considered an absolute moment but rather a process that can be reversed even many hours after it has taken place. If medical interventions do not exist at any given time or place, then of course death cannot be reversed. [1]
  • The Lazarus syndrome is defined as a delayed return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) after CPR has ceased. In other words, patients who are clinically dead sometimes spontaneously return to life. Occurrences of the syndrome are extremely rare, and the causes are not well understood. A possible theory is the delayed action of drugs, due to build-up of pressure in the chest. [2]
  • Hypothermia: there have been been multiple cases of people who've been pulled out of extremely cold water or found outside in sub-zero temperatures, seemingly dead. They're cold, stiff, blue and without any vital signs. But despite appearances they're actually this trope due to hypothermia both causing, or at least contributing to, the lack of vitals and greatly extending the length of time that the brain can go without oxygen. Many of the individuals in question have gone on to make full recoveries after being warmed up and resuscitated. This is why there is an adage in medicine that goes, “they’re not dead until they’re warm and dead.” [3]
  • Suspended animation is the temporary (short- or long-term) slowing or stopping of biological function so that physiological capabilities are preserved. [4]
    • DHCA is a surgical technique that induces deep medical hypothermia. It's used when blood circulation to the brain must be stopped because of delicate surgery within the brain, or because of surgery on large blood vessels that lead to or from the brain. It's is a form of carefully managed clinical death in which heartbeat, breathing and all brain activity cease. [5]
    • EPR is an emergency procedure to save dying patients with traumatic injuries. The blood will be replaced with a cold saline solution, which stops cellular activity. There is no heartbeat, no breathing and no brain activity. At this point, the patient is technically dead. But the cells will stay alive, working at a much slower pace at the lower temperature. This gives doctors more time to fix the injury. The patients can be returned to life by replacing the saline with blood. [6]
    • Scientists hope to create a drug that induces suspended animation (pill or injection).
  • Cryonics patients. They arrange to be frozen after death, in the hopes that future technology will bring them back to life. [7]
  • Sometimes it’s posible for long dead languages to come back to life if the language was well documented enough. Motivated people can learn it and then pass it on to their children as as their native language. Examples include Hebrew, Cornish, and Massachusett which are spoken natively today despite their last original speakers dying centuries ago. A list of revived languages can be found here.


Video Example(s):


The Body of Janos Audron

Vorador shows Raziel the body of Janos Audron beneath a hidden chamber. Despite having his heart torn out from his chest five centuries before, Janos Audron had stayed dormant and well-preserved this whole time as long as the 'Heart of Darkness', as the humans christened it, still beats. Raziel decides that he wants to find the Heart of Darkness in order to resurrect Janos if he wants the answer to the riddle of the Reaver from him.

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Example of:

Main / OnlyMostlyDead

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