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Our Hero Is Dead

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"How could this happen?! I'm the star of the show!"
Lina Inverse, Slayers

So, it's getting near the end of the episode, and the Five-Man Band is in a heated battle against the forces of evil. Sure, it's a tough fight, but you know the team will pull through. Right Makes Might, and because of that, the villain doesn't stand a chance, but then, out of nowhere, The Hero gets hit with a devastating blow and collapses in a pool of their own blood. Their faithful companions, thinking "No One Could Survive That!" belt out a collective Big "NO!". Cue the credits!

This trope is when an episode ends with the main character appearing to have been killed. This is supposedly a very dramatic event, so writers typically save this one for late in a season. Problem is, while the True Companions and the Big Bad will think Our Hero Is Dead, the audience isn't fooled. Contrary to popular belief, most viewers know that if the hero died, the story would be over. But even knowing the hero isn't as dead as they look, it can still be shocking, and sure enough, in the next episode, we learn that the hero's Plot Armor saved them. The rest of the band rushes to their side, finds out they still have a pulse, and the team retreats with the fallen hero slung over the shoulder of The Big Guy to get them some desperately needed medical attention. Then all the hero needs is some time to rest up, and they'll be back to fight another day.

Except, of course, when the character dies because Real Life Writes the Plot, so that they can be The Nth Doctor'd or replaced by a Suspiciously Similar Substitute.

In short, a main character's Disney Death, used as a Cliffhanger.

Subtrope of Uncertain Doom. Contrast The Hero Dies, for when the hero really does die, as well as Dead to Begin With, when they're already dead at the start of the story. Also see Fake Kill Scare, where someone's death is faked to frighten a loved one.

This is a Death Trope, so beware of spoilers.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The quote above comes from late in the first season of Slayers, as Lina narrates over her Not Quite Dead body.
  • In Digimon Fusion episode 53, Shoutmon dies towards the end of the episode. This is ruined when you reach the "next episode" preview, because Shoutmon X7 is there and Shoutmon's silhouette is at the episode title. Subverted, in that Deckerdramon and Beelzebumon did die in the episodes that spoke of their "last cry". They pretty much remained dead until the finale revival.
  • Happens to the title character of Shakugan no Shana, late in the first season.
  • One of the few things to be played straight in Excel♡Saga. The next episode's theme was "no gags", but Excel still survived getting shot by Il Palazzo, mainly because it went through her shoulder area. Must have just missed her lung.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Manga: Ed is impaled by a metal beam after a fight with Kimblee, and collapses from blood loss, while, miles from there, Al collapses, saying he can feel his soul being pulled away. The chapter ends with a shot of both brothers unconscious while Winry yells Ed's name.
    • 2003 anime:
      • Ed is killed moments after Envy's true form is revealed. There was one more episode that followed, showing Al sacrificing himself to bring Ed back to life, and then Ed doing the same for Al, leaving the two brothers on opposite sides of The Gate.
      • And before that, Ed, in his alternate universe counterpart's body, is killed when a WWI zeppelin crashes into him; this is what brings him back to save the day.
  • Hoshin Engi:
    • About halfway through the series, Taikobo is killed by Choukoumei. The chapter even ends with Closing Credits (apparently written by Choukoumei, seeing as how he's listed as the hero). Then the next chapter begins with a new manga series (also written by Choukoumei) until the remaining good guys put a stop to it. It later turns out Taikobo wasn't killed, and another villain sacrificed himself to save him.
    • Towards the end of the series, Taikobo dies during the Tournament Arc. Really this time. He comes back a few chapters later by combining with one of the villains.
  • Yusuke Urameshi of YuYu Hakusho during his fight with Sensui. Turns out he's part demon. Yusuke also died at the beginning.
  • Subverted in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann with Kamina, who pulls the standard "seems to die but then gets back up" only to collapse again, this time for good, shortly afterward. Turns out he wasn't the hero.
  • Played straight in Full Metal Panic!. Sousuke is apparently killed in a rocket blast while hiding behind water faucets in the school yard. The next episode reveals that he simply jumped into one of the classroom windows without so much as a scratch.
    • In the novels, it's shown that he did suffer some minor injuries, and was saved from worse damage only by his bulletproof uniform. Also, he was knocked unconscious by the blast of the explosion — even with the wall in between.
    • In the One Night Stand novel (which covers the Behemoth arc from the anime), it is revealed at the end that Gauron was actually not very far away from Sousuke&co. at the time. He and one of his associates from Amalgam were taking notes and video footage of the Behemoth, because their organization had built the giant AS and wanted to know how it would fare in battle. The associate was disappointed by the results (destroyed in less than 15 minutes). Gauron, however, was simply elated because he had gotten the chance to see "his precious boy" again. So much so, that his partner was literally rolling his eyes in the background.
    • This happens again in the end when Sousuke is left on the island with a nuke speeding his way. It detonates, of course, and he is presumed dead. Luckily, Al is one intelligent AI, and shields them. Now, all that's left to do is have an adorable reunion with Kaname.
  • Rosario + Vampire's ninth episode ends with Tsukune defeated by a Man-Eating Plant and laying in a pool of blood, a Pillar of Light erupting over the Witch's Hill where the story is taking place. He's back to normal by the next episode.
  • Happened in Rurouni Kenshin, at the end of the episode The Age Chooses Shishio. The hero stays down for half of the next episode before getting up again to finish the fight.
  • While in the games not many people really notice, in the Kingdom Hearts manga, Beast and the six remaining princesses are shocked when they realize the Keyblade master had just dissolved into thin air. Especially since they needed him to seal the keyhole. However, as soon as Beast says "The Key-bearer is no longer..." Sora's voice answers from the doorway: "No longer what?"
  • One episode of One Piece during the Arabasta arc ends with Luffy being impaled by Crocodile. He's shown to be alive one or two episodes later, but the rest of this crew is lead by the bad guys to believe that he's dead for a awhile until he makes his long awaited return.
  • Both played straight and averted in Pluto. Being a retelling of a famous Astro Boy story, one can't actually expect Atom to stay dead and, sure enough, it looks like he's finally back. Of course, as this is also a Tezuka story written by Naoki Urasawa, anyone else is free game including Gesicht, the main character — although that's likewise a Foregone Conclusion to anyone who read the original story.
  • Astro Boy: The finale of The Blue Knight Saga ends with Astro losing his head and half his upper torso in a Heroic Sacrifice to protect the evil Count Burg from being killed by the Blue Knight's final desperation attack in his own death-throws. The subsequent "Astro Reborn" arc has several failed attempts to revive him before Dr. Tenma finally resurfaces and pulls it off, but with Astro losing all his memories and briefly doing a Face–Heel Turn.
  • In Macross Frontier, the 24th episode ends with the protagonist Alto Saotome being destroyed, with the path of his explosion following that of Ranka Lee's arm, resulting in the expected reaction montage. In the next episode, once SMS returns, we find that Alto ejected as he passed through the illusion and is 'safe' amidst some debris until such times as his VF-25 is brought back out to him.
  • In the fourth episode of the Gate Keepers OVA, Ayane is shot from behind on the way home after defeating one of the Quirky Miniboss Squad. The last thing she sees before fading to black is her bell, after which she spends the next episode and a half in a coma.
  • At the end of the third season of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, the main character Judai is the only one that doesn't return from the Duel Monsters world (well, Misawa didn't return as well, but no one cares about him — he was Demoted to Extra). However, he returns one episode later, saying he went on a journey to 'grow up'.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, Keiichi dies in just about every arc. Though the emphasis on him as the "main character" isn't as big as deal as other shows. Rika is the true main character and also dies in about every arc.
  • Maburaho plays with this; the entire second half of the anime adaptation deals with the Harem trying to bring him back to life from ghost-hood.
  • This happens in episode 5 of the first Tenchi Muyo! series. The cast spends most of the next episode thinking Tenchi's dead, but he shows up just in time to face the Big Bad.
  • The second-to-last episode of the first season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex ends with the Major's head asploding. Good thing she wasn't in the body at the time. The Tachikoma do one in each season, although more for philosophical reasons than for dramatic ones.
  • Ulquiorra of Bleach blew a giant gaping hole in Ichigo's chest after curbstomping him, proclaiming him as was legitimately dead. Yet Orihime didn't care for that and in response to her cries of pain, Ichigo attains a new Hollow form which allows him to return to life and turn the fight one-sided in the other direction, albeit at the cost of maiming Uryu and traumatizing Orihime.
    • Ichigo also was, technically, killed by Urahara back when he was training to rescue Rukia, as in order to regain his Shinigami powers, the excentric Shinigami cut his Chain of Fate. According to the rules, he's now a dead guy periodically wearing a live body that just happens to be his own. This luckily does not seem to have side effects.
  • The 12th episode of Baccano! is titled "Firo and the Gandors Fall to Murderous Bullets," which they totally do. Of course, anyone remembering the first episode (set a year after) knows that they don't stay that way.
  • Mazinger Z: The "Kabuto Kouji Dies In Lava!" episodes (yes, they did this twice, though the second time was done with tongue firmly planted in cheek) are so infamous for this that they border on Memetic Mutation.
  • At the beginning of the Piccolo Daimaou saga of Dragon Ball, everyone believes Goku has been killed by Tamborine (and cannot be resurrected, as his friends don't find his body). Of course, he wasn't quite dead after all.
    • Happens with Goku several times outside his two real deaths that mix The Hero Dies and Heroic Sacrifice together. There's the Jackie Chun fight where he transformed into a Great Ape and was apparently hit by a fully powered Kamehameha (turns out Chun destroyed the moon instead to cause Goku to revert back to normal); his apparent death from Taopaipai after getting hit by a Dodonpa blast (his 4-star Dragon Ball took the brunt of the attack); and most infamously there was his seeming death when Namek exploded (it's later revealed that he managed to get in one of the Ginyu Force's pods and escape at the last second).
  • One episode of The Vision of Escaflowne ends with a worrying volume of Van's blood dripping from the cockpit of an entirely unresponsive Escaflowne — the implication being that he just bled to death after the recent battle. The next episode opens with the reveal that he's still (barely) alive, but things do not start looking up from there.
  • 20th Century Boys contains one of the longest, most effective uses of this trope. At the end of the first arc the everyman hero Kenji apparently dies in an explosion. Throughout the entire middle third of the story he is nowhere to be seen, leaving us to believe he was simply a Decoy Protagonist as the narrative shifts unto his niece, Kanna. Then, fifteen in-story years and ten volumes later, he reappears out of the blue, having taken several levels in badass, just after the series' Darkest Hour, no less!
  • Chrono Crusade mixes this with The Hero Dies. Due to her Deal with the Devil, it's a Foregone Conclusion that Rosette will someday die—so when she drops dead after a particularly taxing fight while Chrono's powers are unsealed, it's very easy for the reader to actually believe it. And she is, in fact, dead, but her soul is able to be returned to her body soon afterward.
  • Tiger & Bunny: Kotetsu is apparently killed (accidentally) by Barnaby while defeating H-01 at the end of episode 24. His powers ran out just a moment too early to jump out of the way.
  • In chapter 253 of Fairy Tail, the entire main cast is apparently wiped out by Acnologia.
  • This happens quite a bit with the titular character of Guyver, mostly to get across the point that he can recover from pretty much anything. The best example is Sho's first apparent death, which he survived by the unit cloning him from the tiniest shred of Guyver material left on the control metal.
  • In the 11th volume of High School D×D, Issei Hyodou apparently dies in an alternate dimension and the only clues that were given were the eight pawn pieces returned to Rias.
  • Cowboy Bebop had its twelfth episode, "Jupiter Jazz, Part 1", end with Spike getting shot. The following one revealed he'd been hit with a tranquilizer.
  • Devil May Cry: The Animated Series plays this trope, like many others, as absolutely straight as possible. Dante is shown brutally impaled in a Crucified Hero Shot as the credits roll silently over the end of the penultimate episode. However, it continues to invoke it all the way through to the last third of the final episode, even unto having Patty deliver a truly heartwrenching plea to Dante's apparently lifeless body, set to a reprisal of the music box theme from the first game that damn near makes you wonder if he died... Of course, the audience is fully aware that she's completely right.
    Patty: "Dante! Wake up, run away! No way you'd die from a little wound like this, right? Please wake up and take down the demons like you always do!... I'm sorry... I'm so sorry!.."
  • Happens twice in the Light Novel versions of A Certain Magical Index. First at the end of Volume 1, when Touma's memories are erased permanently, as Touma is essentially a different person now. Then, at the end of Volume 22, when Touma vanishes without a trace after defeating Archangel Gabriel. He comes back safe and sound at the end of the next Volume.
  • Played straight in Attack on Titan, but unlike most examples here, many in the audience were quite shocked because it happened very early in the series. Additionally, since Eren only returns after several chapters, it initially seems like he was a Decoy Protagonist who was Killed Off for Real.
  • Tokyo Ghoul managed to pull a particularly cruel example of the trope, ending the original series with Kaneki's apparent death at the hands of the legendary Ghoul Investigator Arima. An ambiguous conversation even implies he has been turned into a new Quinque for Arima, while a file shows that he has been "Erased". It isn't until several chapters into the sequel that he is confirmed to be alive as Amnesiac Hero Haise Sasaki — Arima's protege and CCG's prototype for a Super-Soldier program.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Joseph Joestar, the protagonist of part 2, appears to die after his fight with Kars but shows up alive and well at his own funeral just before the end. Given what happened to his grandfather in the first part, his survival was a fairly genuine surprise.
  • In The Legend of Zelda manga written by Maru Ran, during a later part, Link dies via getting hit in the chest by a dead Lynel’s sword. When Link meets up with Zelda, after Link realizes he died, Zelda uses some of her magic to resurrect Link so that he can continue his quest to save Hyrule.
  • In Sonic X, the episode "Agent of Mischef" ends with Final Mova using water spouts to catapult Sonic into its mouth and send him careening down its insides and into the waters of Planet Aquirius, shocking the other members of the cast and causing Amy to tearfully cry out to him in dismay and disbelief as she is forced to watch the event helplessly. In the English dub, the dominant mind of Final Mova, Dark Oak, taunts Sonic over his weakness to water and gloats that "We will now spread across the galaxy and there will be no one to stop us". The following episode, "The Light in the Darkness", focuses on Sonic's friends fighting against Final Mova and coming up with a plan to save Sonic from rotting in what could very well be a watery grave for him, and it takes up until the last few minutes of the episode for him to return to the others alive thanks to Amy.
  • In the 2001 Shaman King anime, the fourth-to-last episode ends with Hao pulling Yoh's soul out of his body and sucking it into his mouth, much to the shock of the rest of the cast, especially Anna, who ends the same episode screaming her fiancee's name in disbelief. It takes until the last few minutes of the second-to-last episode's first half for Yoh to get better.
  • The first half of AMAIM Warrior at the Borderline ends with Amou seemingly sacrifice himself to defeat Ghost once and for all.

    Comic Books 
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), Sonic himself had dealt with this trope more than once in the early issues. #125 was the most dramatic, but he survives as well at the very end. He was catapulted across the galaxy and returned to Mobius. Everyone thought he was dead for a whole year.
  • In the Swamp Thing comics, at the beginning of Alan Moore's run, the eponymous character is shot through the head and his body frozen. Moore used this as an opportunity to dissect the character both literally and figuratively, then have him resurrected with the reveal that while you can kill a human by shooting it through the head, the same won't work on a plant that just thought it was human.
  • The Flash: In the 90s series, Wally West was killed off right before issue 50 and issue 100. Before issue 150, the previous Flash got killed as a change of pace.
  • Superman:
    • Starfire's Revenge: At the end of the first issue, Supergirl has lost her powers and got shot. A mook briefly examines her fallen body and declares that she's dead. At the beginning of the next issue, though, Kara comes around.
    • Demon Spawn: After villain Nightflame steals Supergirl's soul, two of Linda's co-workers examine her motionless body and declare she's dead. Before the end of the issue Supergirl's soul returned to her body.
    • In Red Daughter of Krypton, the Red Lanterns get this reaction when Supergirl removes her Red Ring (Red Lanterns die if they take their rings off). Two pages after, Kara revives when her enemy foolishly dumps her into the Sun.
    • In Supergirl (2011) #23, Cyborg Superman steals Supergirl's body to restore his, killing her in the process. Supergirl gets her body back in the next issue.
    • Bizarrogirl: At the end of an issue, Bizarrogirl turns Supergirl to stone and Jimmy Olsen screams Bizarrogirl has killed off her. The next issue, Kara shows she is alive and well.
    • Two for the Death of One: The second-to-last issue ends with Clark Kent dead when Syrene exposes his split duplicate to powerful magic energies. The next issue reveals they were "only" almost dead.
    • The Supergirl from Krypton (2004): The second-to-last issue ends with Darkseid blasting Supergirl to ashes. The next issue reveals Kara was swiftly teleported away and replaced with a pile of ashes as part of a plan to fool Darkseid into believing her dead.
    • The Leper from Krypton: Superman is dying from an incurable and very contagious illness, so he builds a rocket and sets course for a distant star, expecting to be burned down together with his deadly germs. The third issue ends with Superman's rocket plunging into the star and being engulfed in searing flames. The fourth and final issue opens with Supergirl crying for her cousin's death, and two pages later it is revealed Superman survived and was cured.
  • Aquaman: For Aquaman (1994), Peter David was planning to keep the titular character dead for a while, but had to settle for one issue since he was leaving the title.
  • Fantastic Four:
    • Subverted in an issue in which Ben Grimm is killed... a couple of pages before the cliffhanger. The actual cliffhanger is Reed Richards announcing that he's found a way to bring Ben back to life.
    • Johnny Storm dies in a Bolivian Army Ending against Annihilus' forces, and he actually stays dead. For a year.
  • Hellboy's heart is torn out by the Queen of Blood and falls into hell, while his body turns to dust.
  • Spider-Man: In Kraven's Last Hunt, Spider-Man was considered dead for a month, and this was when he had four ongoing titles and none of them actually featured him, and dealt with the concept of his death.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Black Panther, King T'Challa is defeated in ritual combat by the Big Bad, Killmonger, and thrown from a high waterfall, supposedly to his death. Killmonger takes over the throne, as well as the Black Panther powers. However, when his family visits the Mountain Tribe in an act of desperation, their ruler reveals that T'Challa was found by their fishermen, nearly frozen. Giving him the last Heart-Shaped Herb revives him and restores his powers, allowing him to face Killmonger again in a super-powered Final Battle.
  • Subverted every which way in Dead Man, in which William Blake (Johnny Depp), whose heroism itself is arguable, is shot early on. It is indeed fatal, and he spends the rest of the film trying not to get killed while he is, in fact, in the process of dying. It's implied that the film ends with his very last breath.
  • In Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Godzilla is hit by the Oxygen Destroyer and he apparently dies... and then King Ghidorah takes Godzilla's kingship over the other monsters, and he commands them to wake up and destroy the world. The humans later discover courtesy of Mothra that Godzilla has survived and retreated to the Hollow Earth, but they're running out of time to heal him before the other kaiju destroy the world.
  • The second Jaka Sembung film actually has the titular hero decapitated twenty minutes in, by the Blind Swordsman Soca Indrakusuma who intends to perform a Decapitation Presentation for his bounty. But Soca is betrayed by his Dutch employers and nearly killed, so he instead steals Jaka Sembung's cranium for a revival ritual to reconnect the head.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Aragorn is dragged off of a cliff by a warg-its rider even taunts Aragorn's companions about it. But turns out he survived the fall, and his girlfriend (psychically) and horse revive him, and he manages to ride back in time for the final showdown.
  • The climax of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, when the hero (more precisely, captain anti-hero) of the series, Jack Sparrow, gets pulled under along with his ship by the Kraken, thanks to Elizabeth. He DOES die, but the rest of the group finds out that there is more than one way to the afterlife and his is not one-way, if extremely uncomfortable.
  • In The Princess Bride, the kid who's listening to the story can hardly believe it when Fezzik pronounces Westley dead. He asks his grandfather, "Westley is only faking, right?" but gets no reply. A few minutes later, it's revealed that Westley is Only Mostly Dead.

  • Deliberately and effectively subverted in Philip K. Dick's novel Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, where the main character is killed halfway through and the plot basically falls apart for the rest of the novel.
  • When the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was nigh, the biggest question was: Is Harry going to die? Whole news reports were made about the pressing issue, and some people even made protest groups and petitions begging J. K. Rowling not to kill off our favorite lightning-scarred, bespectacled brit. While this may seem like people were taking this too seriously, remember that this is a character who we all grew up with, so his death would feel like the death of a friend or sibling. So, does Harry Potter die? As it turns out, he was supposed to die from the very start. Harry sees, through Snape's memories in the Pensieve, that Dumbledore has discovered that Voldemort accidentally manifested a piece of his soul in Harry's body once the Killing Curse backfired on him, which is why Harry could speak Parseltongue and share Voldemort's thoughts. So Harry needs to die in order to fully destroy Voldemort. Thus, Harry approaches Voldemort and lets the Dark Lord use the Killing Curse on him. Harry wakes up in a sort of "limbo" between life and death, which takes a form that Harry can understand - in this case, it's a train station. Dumbledore, who has been waiting for Harry there, tells Harry that he has a choice - to take a train, onward, into death, or to return to the living and finish what he and Voldemort started. Harry chooses the latter option and proceeds to destroy Voldemort.
  • Retroactively done by the Sherlock Holmes stories; Holmes' Duel to the Death and plunge into the Reichenbach Falls with Professor Moriarty was supposed to see him Killed Off for Real — however, Holmes was so popular with the public that Conan Doyle kept being bugged by people to bring him back to life. Conan Doyle eventually got so sick of it that he capitulated and wrote "The Empty House", which revealed that Holmes had faked his death all along. This is especially interesting because the original story made it very easy to bring him back (no one actually saw him die, they Never Found the Body, etc). Even though he was supposed to be Killed Off for Real, modern audiences reading that just know he's coming back.
  • This ostensibly happens to James Bond at the end of Ian Fleming's From Russia with Love.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's Mirror Dance, Miles Vorkosigan takes a needle grenade to the chest during a covert operation, killing him. He's later revived thanks to the miracle of cryogenics — but he's dead for several months, which causes major problems for his friends and family.
  • The end of The Dresden Files novel Changes sees Harry Dresden killed. The title of the next book? Ghost Story. The ghost in question? Harry.
  • Alex Rider is shot in the heart in the final chapter of Scorpia. Anthony Horowitz has claimed that it was never his intention that Alex would actually die, and he believed that readers would assume he would be fine; indeed, the chapter provides two clues as to how he survives.note  However, many readers very much did not assume that, and the ensuing backlash from upset readers and their furious parents resulted in Horowitz having to appear on live television to confirm that Alex was still alive, and having to start work on the next book sooner than planned.
    • A previous book in the series, Skeleton Key, plays with this. The penultimate chapter ends with the narration saying that the defeated Big Bad, facing down Alex, "raised the gun and fired a single shot". The final chapter is called "After Alex" and opens with the head and deputy head of MI6 talking about how they've "lost" Alex; it is not clarified for several pages that Alex is alive, the Big Bad shot himself, and they were arguing about how they should not employ Alex again after how badly traumatised this mission has left him.
  • At the end of The Two Towers Shelob seems to kill Frodo, and the ring gets to Sam.
  • In Brimstone, Aloysius Pendergast is sealed inside a wall to suffocate to death in the final few chapters by Count Fosco. In the very last chapter, His brother Diogenes begins working to break him out.
  • In the second book of A Practical Guide to Evil Catherine fights William of Greenbury, the Lone Swordsman (one of her two Nemeses at the time) at Liesse. Due to the narrative laws of the universe, he is due a victory. Naturally, Catherine prepares for the fight in any way she can and gets some good cuts in at the beginning of the fight. Still, in the end, William wins and decapitates Catherine. Cue the next chapter - written from Catherine's point of view. It turns out she anticipated the possibility of her dying and prepared that a wizard she's friends with raises her as a zombie. Freed from her narrative fetters, she promptly sallies out to even the score with William and get a real resurrection.
  • In Pact, Blake Thorburn gets into a fight with a demon and loses, being made an Unperson in the process. There's a denouement chapter of various characters reacting to the sudden absence, with his Distaff Counterpart Rose Thorburn becoming his successor as Thorburn Heir, before the narrative abruptly shifts to Goblin hunter Maggie Holt for seven chapters. After that, though The next chapter takes place from Blake's point of view, revealing that instead of being eaten he's fallen into an Eldritch Location called The Drains, which serves as the Symbolic Hero Rebirth moment for his Hero's Journey.

    Live Action TV 
  • Happens to Marian in the second-to-last episode of the first season of the 2006 series of Robin Hood. It happens again in the finale of the second series. This time she stays dead.
  • 24:
    • Happened to Jack Bauer in season 2, and again in the season finale of season 4. In both instances, Bauer was clinically dead for a few minutes before being revived, which lead to the fun fact "Jack Bauer died for his country and lived to tell the tale. Twice."
    • There's also a cliffhanger roughly midway through the fifth season where Jack manages to catch the current villain but the time he takes doing so leave them both getting caught up in an explosion. They both survive.
  • Bones's third season featured an episode where Booth gets shot and the screen blacks out at the end.
  • This happens twice in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • Supernatural: Death Is Cheap in the show, so the main characters have a habit of dying and then coming back.
    • Subverted in the Season 2 episode "All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1", in that Sam really does die at the end of the episode. Played straight, however, in that he is brought back the next episode when his brother Dean sells his soul for him.
    • And subverted again in the Season Three finale where Dean dies and will stay dead. (At least until September 18th, anyway.)
    • Played straight at the end of the first season which saw the Winchester family getting crashed into by a truck.
    • Almost played straight in the Season 5 finale until the final moments. Sam became Lucifer's vessel and was able to jump into the cage in Hell, taking Michael with him, and making a grand Heroic Sacrifice. Dean presumes him dead and goes to settle down with his girlfriend and surrogate son. Then, Sam is seen looking at them through the window. A widely circulated story is that had the show not continued on without Eric Kripke, the shot of Sam would not have been included and the story would have ended with Sam dying to save the world.
    • Castiel, having gone through a Heel–Face Revolving Door, sacrifices himself trying to stop the Leviathans. Dean mournfully collects his trenchcoat and continues on believing his friend dead. Turns out he is Not Quite Dead.
  • The Doctor of Doctor Who is pretty much unkillable being the Trope Namer for The Nth Doctor, but that doesn't stop the writers:
    • Done in "The Underwater Menace" when the Second Doctor returns to the sinking Atlantis because he's decided he can't leave the villain Professor Zaroff to die. There's a brief scene of Jamie and Polly mourning him and wondering what they can do now before he emerges, revealing he's fine (although failed to save Zaroff). This was before the writers had puzzled out what exactly regeneration was, so his death was quite possible.
    • In "The Stolen Earth", a Dalek finally gets a shot in. Fans were worried about the actor leaving the show rather than the character dying, in fact since it wouldn't have ended this story the uncertainty probably made this a more effective use of this trope than a potential death.
    • The Tenth Doctor's regeneration storyline, "The End of Time", seriously exploited the fact that the audience knew the Doctor was not getting out of this one alive thanks to a highly public Doctor recasting. Multiple times in the climax of the story, the Doctor suffers severe injuries, does suicidal stunts and makes many Hubristic decisions, all of which underline the Doctor's desperation to win this one as well as exploit the tension as the audience waits for whatever is going to kill him. Then the 45-minute mark is reached without the Doctor dying, and just when the audience (and the Doctor) are marvelling at how thoroughly he's cheated death, the story quietly presents the Doctor with the obstacle that will kill him, and the episode is extended to allow the Doctor a farewell tour.
    • In "The Impossible Astronaut" (within the first 15 minutes!) we watch a scene of an astronaut apparently killing a future version of the Doctor. Amy and co. carried on adventuring with a past-Doctor. As it turns out, the Doctor was a Mobile-Suit Human with a miniaturized Doctor riding inside. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • CSI: Miami did this to Horatio for a season cliffhanger. Not only does the show revolve around H's character, but for extra special Like You Would Really Do It bonus points, regular CSI also killed off one of their regulars, and we knew that one would stick thanks to a Role-Ending Misdemeanor, so it seemed suspect that both shows would go through with it.
  • Happens repeatedly in Farscape. Every main character has "died" at least once, but only Zhaan's (and arguably D'Argo's) deaths were permanent.
  • Played in the Monk two-parter "Mr. Monk Is On The Run", in which Monk has been convicted of a murder he didn't commit. The first part ends with the police cornering Monk on a pier. Monk attempts to escape, but Stottlemeyer shoots him in the chest twice and he falls into the lake. The second part begins with him crawling back to the shore. Turns out he was wearing a bulletproof vest, and he and Stottlemeyer planned the whole thing to get the police off Monk's back while he solved the case.
  • After being Brought Down to Normal in Smallville, Clark was fatally shot in "Hidden". Jor-El resurrected him because of his destiny but with a need for an Equivalent Exchange, as seen in "Reckoning".
  • Merlin:
    • In a season one episode, Merlin 'dies' after drinking from a poisoned goblet to save Arthur. He is still revived, however, by the magic Gaius did moments before.
    • Subverted in the season one finale "Le Morte De Arthur", where Arthur is dying from the bite of the Questing Beast, but Merlin and Gaius both rush to save him by offering their lives in place of his. Merlin ultimately kills Nimueh, saving both himself and Gaius while still delivering the price required to save Arthur.
  • Killing Fox Mulder at the end of the season had become somewhat of a staple in The X-Files, but one case stands out: in the end of season four he has a mental breakdown, kills himself, and Scully confirms that he is dead. However, in season five, it is revealed that the two of them have planned it all out to fool the traitor in the FBI.
  • Arrow's third season winter finale ends with Oliver dueling Ra's al Ghul to the death and losing.
  • Revenge's third season opened with an In Medias Res scene of Emily being shot and falling off a boat. The winter finale ended with the full scene in context, then Emily's Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress washing ashore without her in it.
  • Rizzoli & Isles had this happen to Jane Rizzoli at the end of Season 1. She gets shot and collapses to the ground. At the beginning of Season 2, they try to make you believe Jane is dead by showing the 'grief' of her friends.
  • The Defenders (2017) seemingly ends with Matt Murdock being killed under Midland Circle fighting off his resurrected ex-girlfriend Elektra while Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Danny Rand escape. They try to paint the picture that Matt is dead by showing Foggy and Karen, plus the other Defenders, grieving, but the audience knows right away Matt survived because Netflix had ordered season 3 of Daredevil (2015) a full 13 months before The Defenders came out, and killing off Matt would be an odd writing choice given how season 2 set up Wilson Fisk looking into Matt's life. Semi-lampshaded by Karen, who ponders to Foggy, "Maybe...maybe he made it out." Sure enough, the last shot is of Matt recovering in a convent, in a scene lifted straight from the Born Again storyline.
  • One episode of The Umbrella Academy has Vanya accidentally slit Allison's throat with her powers after the latter tries to use her "rumor" powers on the former. The very first thing Diego, Luther, Five, and Klaus do in the next episode is rush Allison back home, where Grace and Pogo perform surgery on her and save her life, although not her vocal chords, rendering her mute for the rest of the season.
  • Kamen Rider has a tendency to pull off this trope, usually in tandem with giving the hero a power up upon ressurecting.
    • It starts all the way back with Kamen Rider BLACK, where it follows the traditional "hero dies as a cliffhanger" format, with Kamen Rider Kabuto and Kamen Rider Amazons having a similar "hero dies but comes back next episode" cliffhanger.
    • Kamen Rider Kuuga begins the format of the hero dying, but then ressurecting with a power up, though it wouldn't take until a few episodes for the actual power up to kick in.
    • Kamen Rider Double kicks off a similar trend of killing off a supportive secondary character but bringing them back in the finale, though in Phillip's case, he's one half of the titular rider.
    • Kamen Rider Fourze is when the tradition of "rider dies in one episode but comes back with the final form" happens, something that Kamen Rider Drive repeats.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim has Kouta dying to a stab from Mitsuzane, but due to slowly becoming a Physical God, his otherwise fatal wound begins to recover next episode.
    • Kamen Rider Ghost exaggerates this, as the premise is that the protagonist is killed and that's why he's a ghost. However, occasionally, he will end up in a situation where he would die again but be revived. Two of which are, unsurprisingly, when he gets a power up.
    • Kamen Rider Build plays with this as Sento doesn't necessarily die but the persona that makes up Sento dies as his original self takes over for a bit before Sento convinces him to let him take the wheel once more.
    • Even Kamen Rider in the west plays with this in Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, though a more kid-friendly way as Kit is banished to the Advent Void, only to be brought back with an upgrade to Kamen Rider Onyx.

    Video Games 
  • The first act of ANNIE: Last Hope seemingly ends with the death of Jack, it's Decoy Protagonist, as the titular heroine took over after a three-month Time Skip as the new hero. But near the final level, the player (as Annie) finds Jack, trapped in the main villain's hideout, and still alive.
  • Chrono Trigger. In an interesting subversion to the trope, you don't even have to bring the victim back to life to finish the game, and doing so triggers one of the Multiple Endings.
  • In Half-Life 2, if you happen to die with some rebel buddies next to you, they'll provide some parting words (before you have to start over from the last checkpoint, of course) that tend to echo the sentiment of this trope, such as "He's... he's dead!", "Now what?", and "Dibs on the suit."
    • The execrable Daikatana did the same. Superfly's laments were probably the highlight of the game.
    • And in the episodes that continue the events of Half-Life 2, Alyx has some strange habit of saying, "Look out!" or some variant thereof the second you die from whatever you should be looking out for.
  • Tales of Monkey Island: The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood ends with Guybrush being killed by LeChuck, who turns out to have been faking his Heel–Face Turn. Guybrush returning to life takes up much of the plot of the fifth and final episode, Rise of the Pirate God.
  • Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow ends on a Cliffhanger with Lawrence and possibly Teresa Killed Off for Real and Xing attempting to resuscitate Logan. According to John Garvin, the series has ended, so it's more of a Bolivian Army Ending.
  • Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation has Lara at the end of the game utterly exhausted from all the running, jumping, and fighting. She is merely a few feet away from the temple's exit when Von Croy appears before her. Still thinking Von Croy is possessed by the evil god, Set, Lara hesitates to approach him, but Von Croy shows he is back to his normal self and urges her to grab his hand. The temple collapses around Lara, forcing Von Croy to leave her behind and buried alive. This was supposed to be the end of the Tomb Raider series but Eidos demanded more games, so Lara's demise was changed to show that she was still alive at the end of Chronicles.
  • Halo 3: After Chief is believed to be dead, Admiral Hood tells the Arbiter "Hard to believe he's dead." The Arbiter replies with a simple "Were it so easy." Then we find out that the Chief's still alive, just drifting in space.
    Chief (to Cortana): Wake me, when you need me.
  • Mass Effect 2 starts with Shepard dying. Although s/he gets better (two years later), it's possible to have him/her Killed Off for Real in the suicide mission at the end.
  • NanoBreaker have you getting betrayed and killed by your partner, Keith, before the third act. By halving you above the waistline, diagonally. But you're a Cyborg, and your partner Dr. Baker salvages your remains before rebuilding you.
  • In Ever17, no matter which of his routes you take, Takeshi always dies at the end; his death sets off half the plot, and he eventually gets better.
  • The Rewinder seemingly ends with your character, Yun, getting killed by Moon's monstrous form in a Hopeless Boss Fight halfway through (there's no getting around it, you will need to encounter Moon regardles your choices). But in the next stage you're playing as Light, your ghost-sidekick, who then ventures into the underworld to get your soul back.
  • This is essentially the setup for the premise of the flash game series Sonny. The player character already died prior to the first game's start, being resurrected by some unspecified experiment. Also, the first (or depending on the game, only) sentence on the Game Over screen reads, "You're dead, Sonny."
  • In Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals, the Sinistral of Death Erim spends the entire game plotting to bring Maxim to Doom Island so she can personally kill him there. She succeeds...then out of Becoming the Mask promptly pulls a Heel–Face Turn and revives him. This gets her shanked by Daos.
  • Happens in cut content in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. After the destruction of the (also cut) Genoharadan base, your team was to believe your own character killed in the explosion, and they would lament their death and inevitable doom of the galaxy.
  • Kingdom Hearts III ends with Sora sacrificing himself to save Kairi, vanishing into thin air. However, most of the cast doesn't believe he's truly gone and are actively looking for him in the Re:Mind DLC. And sure enough, it's discovered later he's alive on a world on the far end of reality.
  • I=MGCM: In Chapter 12 Episode 5 of the 2nd arc of the main story, both main universe Iroha and Omnis are brutally impaled by Nemesis Iroha, who has become a Fallen Hero (you can see her red blood and Omnis' liquid get splattered). And Then it's followed by Kaori's outburst and Omnis' black liquid transforms her into "Beast Kaori", after seeing her best friend Iroha gets killed. Fortunately, in the next episode she's revived by being teleported into the White Room by Kamisaman, while Omnis is just Tobio's Remote Body. Unfortunately, she refuses Kamisaman's offer to be resurrected back to Shibuya because she refuses to fight her raging Alternate Self, as she knows Nemesis Iroha's Dark and Troubled Past. This means that Iroha will probably not return and awaken her dress until the final episode of Chapter 1 in I=MGCM Arc 1; at least it won't affect her presence in the gameplay.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) has the titular character killed off at the start of the final story by a threat he was unaware of now, who's now become more powerful than ever. The rest of the story concerns the other main characters banding together to revive him so he can defeat the Big Bad. Funnily enough, the character infamously wasn't the central hero of the story until this point, as Silver and Shadow were the ones fighting against the greatest threats while Sonic was busy with the smaller scale threat of Eggman.
    • Speaking of Sonic, this is also essentially the tagline behind the visual novel The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog, with the blue blur being seemingly murdered. The gang initially just brushes it off as part of the murder mystery game they were playing for Amy's birthday (and indeed, Sonic was the designated victim), but an outside interference means that Sonic was actually hurt for real, though by the end of the game, it was revealed that he was Only Mostly Dead, and he does recover in time for the final confrontation. It was, perhaps, inevitable, given the day the game was announced and released.
      YES... ALL OF IT
      * Cue Sudden Soundtrack Stop as the camera cuts to Sonic lying under a spotlight in the memetic Family Guy death pose*
      HE'S DEAD
  • At the end of Shadows of the Empire, the Rebels think that Dash perished in the Skyhook explosion, but on Normal and higher difficulties, an additional cutscene reveals that he escaped into hyperspace at the last second.

  • Antimony falling off the bridge, ending Chapter 7 of Gunnerkrigg Court. This was also the end of the first, self-published, print volume of the comic.
  • Phobia, at the end of PepsiaPhobia, chapter 6, fell from the top of a tree and was knocked unconscious. And Klepto couldn't wake her up. Then night fell and, according to the Alt Text, she was eaten by wolves.
  • Roy in The Order of the Stick literally died—thank goodness he lives in a universe where Death Is Cheap, even if it took a few months to get his corpse to a cleric for resurrection.
  • A chapter of Girl Genius shows Agatha apparently being picked up and fried by a clank. The story then switches to another POV for a while.
  • This happens in Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures.
  • Sluggy Freelance did this very dramatically with two main characters at the end of the chapter "bROKEN"; some people were actually convinced, while others were deep in He's Just Hiding. The truth was something in between. A much less serious one was at the end of a single comic (in the middle of the story, but in this case the daily nature of the webcomic was clearly exploited to make it a cliffhanger), where it appeared that Oasis had broken Torg's neck. Two days later it was shown that the snapping sound was really Bun-bun eating celery. And in one of Bun-bun's fights with Santa Claus, the rabbit ended up in a warehouse rigged to explode and wasn't heard of again for a while.

    Web Original 
  • At the end of his review of Final Fantasy VIII, the Spoony One was killed by the game's main character, Squall Leonhart, at the bidding of Mad Scientist Doctor Insano. Fortunately, there was enough squishy gray protoplasm left of Spoony to bring him Back from the Dead.
  • As of his review of It, The Nostalgia Critic has been killed by balloons.
  • Spoony and the Critic have nothing on their fellow reviewer Phelous, who almost always dies Once per Episode (or is Dead All Along, or is killed at the start and the Phelous from the next episode shows up to do the review, or...); even when he cameos he has a nasty habit of not surviving long.
  • Chapter 16 of the 2010 Neopets story arc, "The Faeries Ruin", ends with Hanso turned to stone after destroying the artifact.
  • Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction ends with the death of the series' protagonist, Church. Played with, in that Church really does die and stay dead, but in the next season aversion of him comes back in the form of a Living Memory.
    • Agent Washington, the deuteragonist of Reconstruction, is shot in the chest and has his fate left ambiguous, but is revealed to be alive (though imprisoned) in the following season.
  • Following the climax of Worm, Taylor in shot in the head and apparently killed by Contessa. It turns out to have merely incapacitated her, and Contessa De Powered her and sent her to an alternate reality to give her a chance to start her life over.

    Western Animation 
  • Optimus Prime does this a lot. However, he's nice enough to wait a few episodes before coming back. Except in Animated, where he died in the pilot movie and came back in seventy-five seconds.
  • Played straight in Avatar: The Last Airbender, when Aang gets struck by lightning and killed in the second season finale, only to be brought back to life afterwards. Almost everyone in-universe thinks he's died, which becomes pivotal to the plot. But Azula, the one who blasted Aang with lightning, isn't fooled.
  • Enzo in ReBoot get this in "Game Over", when the User wins a game he was playing. The audience isn't fooled because we see him change his icon right before losing, but the people in Mainframe believe he dies. Next episode Enzo is back, but timeskipped into a badass adult and nowhere near Mainframe.
  • Happened in the penultimate episode of Superman: The Animated Series. In it, Superman had been captured and brainwashed by Darkseid into attacking Earth. Eventually, Lois confronted him and was able to get him to regain his memories... about one second before the government blasted him with a kryptonite missile.
  • This happened to Æon Flux a lot, as in in every single episode during the silent shorts. During the half-hour episodes Æon tended to survive, with some partial exceptions: One episode where a copy of her kills the original (which was planned all along), another where she's trapped in a sea of paralytic fluid at the end (although the fluid could be neutralized), and another where she seems to die multiple times, but nobody knows what the hell was literal in that episode anyway. Explained somewhat in the video game.


Video Example(s):


The Death of the Divine Dragon

At the end of Chapter 21, Sombron appears and tells Veyle, who has snapped out of her evil mode due to her helmet being damaged, to get him the Emblem Rings, to which she refuses. Sombron then declares her a failure and tries to kill her, only for Alear to take the attack and die from her wounds shortly after.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / TakingTheBullet

Media sources: