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Our Liches Are Different
aka: Lich

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Even a dead guy can make it in the world if he's got himself a college education!

"For inherent in undeath, and particularly in the state of Lichdom, is a reversal of nature's order. The winter that is the end of mortal life is a rebirth for the undead. The autumnal deterioration of life energy that precedes the mortal winter follows the rebirth in undeath, as the fragmenting of mind and body are sewn back together, resulting in a period of illumination during which the undead sees the world in all its brilliant facets. Finally, there is the Lich's spring, a season of growing power and vitality that can and will be sustained for an eternity, so long as their phylactery and physical vessel endure."
— Excerpt from in-game book "A Philosophical Treatise on the Nature of Lichdom", Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear

A lich is an undead sorcerer, often one who seeks immortality or power above anything else, and became undead as the price they had to pay. Typically, their soul is stored elsewhere in a Soul Jar, at times called a phylactery, which must be destroyed before they can be fully defeated. In other fiction, the Soul Jar is optional.

A lich's physical appearance can range from near-normal, to zombie/corpse-like, to completely skeletal, which usually correlates to the lich's age. Because of their skill at magic, liches tend to be among the most powerful and dangerous type of undead (if not the most powerful and dangerous, barring perhaps old Grim himself) in settings where they exist. They are also common candidates for Undead Abomination if they are particularly powerful and have few or no limitations on their ability to resurrect and act on a large scale.

In nearly every fantasy work in which liches appear, they are antagonistic if not outright evil. They are usually either deeply isolationist, performing terrible experiments and studies in isolation, or power-hungry and ambitious beings with goals of widespread domination. A typical lich of the second sort is usually an Sorcerous Overlord or planning to become one, if they don't have aspirations for higher status still. If a kingdom is ruled by the dead, liches are often at the top of the hierarchy.

Something resembling the concept goes at least back to Koschei the Deathless from Russian Mythology and Tales. He was a gaunt, skeletal villain whose "death" was hidden in a needle inside an egg. To kill him without his coming Back from the Dead, one had to destroy the needle. He was also an Evil Overlord, a powerful sorcerer, and a great fighter. Basically, the only thing that distinguishes him from a lich is that he is very good at using his BFS.

The word 'lich' rhymes with 'witch' and is derived from the Old High German word lih or lika for "corpse". In modern and slightly-archaic English, graveyards are still occasionally called "lichyards", and a lychgate, or lichgate, is a covered gateway at the entrance to a graveyard where a coffin might rest for a time before a funeral. 'Lich' was used in reference to (sometimes undead) corpses by Clark Ashton Smith in the 1930s, and in the story "The Sword of the Sorcerer" (1969), one of his tales of his Conan the Barbarian expy 'Kothar', author Gardner Fox depicted an undead sorcerer, referred to by the term.

Inspired by this, Gary Gygax used the word in Dungeons & Dragons specifically to mean an undead sorcerer with their soul stored away. (Gygax openly acknowledged the inspiration, and claimed Fox as a friend.) The influence of D&D on fantasy literature and Video Games has spread the term to some degree, especially in games, although it's still not entirely standard and there are plenty of undead sorcerers in media that are never called liches. Equally, there are cases where the creature is called a lich, but is just a walking corpse, if the author thinks that "zombie" sounds anachronistic or inaccurate. Rarely, lich is used to refer to zombies that retain human intelligence, but aren't necessarily sorcerers at all.

Funnily enough, Fox's "lich", while undead and creepy, was not entirely evil, or at least not vicious, gifting the hero with a magic sword to complete a quest and even letting him keep it (with conditions). So the trope was only fully codified in D&D; despite its roots in myth, and the fact that the word is Old English, the full trope is more modern than some people realise.

While "lich" is only related to "lech" in the loosest etymological sense, the coincidental similarity between words used for a charismatic but unpleasant suitor and a dangerous variety of undead often associated with self-serving (ab)uses of people and magic hasn't been lost on creators. Much like vampires, liches are frequently depicted as persuasive tempters who at least at one time had status and a taste for the finer things in life, even if they might now be too decayed to enjoy them.

See also Necromancer, a sorcerer who has actual powers over the dead. The tropes may overlap, as liches often have the power to raise the dead, and becoming a lich is commonly the ultimate goal of powerful necromancers as a means of attaining immortality.

See also the Dracolich (a lich who was a dragon in life) and The Worm That Walks, which in some settings is a lich-like undead created by a sorcerer transferring his or her soul into a swarm of vermin. For zombie-type undead who aren't magicians but are fully sentient, see Revenant Zombie.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In 3×3 Eyes, in a very roundabout way, Wu could be considered this: during his life, a Sanzhiyan/Triclop (such as Pai/Parvati) can absorb the soul of a living being, linking their lives together and making them completely immortal as long as their soul is stored inside the Sanzhiyan. While all known Wu in the story (Yakumo, Benares, Amara, El Madurai and Ganesha) look alive and well, they're referred to as undead or zombies by humans and can master spells, taking advantage of their limitless life force required to use magic. Killing the Sanzhiyan will kill the Wu as well, though if the Sanzhiyan is simply depowered through the Humanization Ritual the Wu simply regains his soul and becomes mortal again (wether long age catching up with them is factored in is not known).
  • Ga-Rei -Zero-: The Sesshouseki is essentially a phylactery, and it can animate those who've died.
  • Inuyasha gives us Yura of the Hair, whose phylactery/real body is a comb.
  • In KonoSuba, Liches are undead sorcerers, with the more powerful ones capable of creating The Undead from their presence alone. So far though, both seen in the series have been pretty cordial and not evil. One actually makes it a hobby to go out of her way and lay spirits to rest, the other only became a lich to be with his beloved until her final moments and then waited for a priest to send him to the other world since he can't commit suicide.
  • Magical Girl Apocalypse: The terrifying and murderous Magical Girls are liches in all but the name. They look corpse-like and grotesque; They have abilities that would fit an evil wizard more than a magical girl, including, funnily enough, necromancy; And no matter what you do to their bodies, they will always regenerate, but if you manage to break their phylacteries (In this case, their wands), they will instantly die and won't recover from that.
  • Overlord (2012):
    • Ainz Ooal Gown, the main character, is an overlord, an Evolution Power-Up version of an Elder Lich, which themselves evolved from Skeleton Mages.
    • Liches could spawn when the corpse of an evil magic caster gains unholy life through sacrificial rituals or a player dies prematurely with heavy regrets.
    • Ainz has gifted Fluder Paradyne, a Wizard Classic who joined him out of greed for magical power, a Book of the Dead. If Fluder manages to decipher the book (it's written in Japanese), he would be able to learn a ritual that allows the user to change their race to a lich.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The magical girls are faced with liches in the form of themselves, with their Soul Gem acting as the phylactery. It's even worse than normal liches, because normal liches don't lose consciousness when their bodies are distanced from their phylactery. Additionally, magical girls don't gain any form of immortality, neither biological (at least one magical girl who had reached adulthood is mentioned in supplemental materials) nor any other kind (magical girls can still be killed if too much irreparable damage is dealt to their bodies). They do, however, gain significant pain resistance without which, according to Kyubey, fighting Witches would have been impossible. Their phylactery also has to be purified after they use a lot of their magic.
  • Record of Lodoss War has Karla, an old-school lich whose phylactery is a head ornament. She doesn't actually have a separate body that regenerates — rather, she possesses whoever wears the headband. The anime is obviously D&D-inspired, and the Magic Jar spell fits Karla perfectly.
  • Sailor Moon villain Wiseman/Death Phantom is heavily related to the Lich, being a powerful sorcerer with only glimpses of a skull to his true face. Taken even further in the manga when you learn the planet Nemesis itself is his Soul Jar.
  • In Shadow Skill, liches are the spirits of deceased humans magically possessing artificial bodies composed of Paper Talismans who will exist for a limited fixed period, until their Unfinished Business is settled.
  • Tokyo Ravens: Natsume has her soul bound to her Familiar after her botched resurrection. Her body is that of a normal girl but skilled magic users can still see that she is not among the living.
  • Cannon Busters: The Fetter is a type of immortal wizard that drains the life force out of their victims. After continuous absorption of Philly's Life Energy, he resembles a living skeleton.
  • Dead Mount Death Play: After Corpse God's original body was destroyed, his soul was bound to a jar containing his brain. His master then used the jar to animate a simple human skeleton, which Corpse God would later replace with a massive skeletal construct.

    Comic Books 
  • Arawn: After Fenris is killed by Siahm, he resurrects himself as a walking skeleton but retains his magical powers.
  • Black Moon Chronicles: Wismerhill and his gang decide to go tomb raiding in a kingdom of the living dead in the southern provinces ruled by a lich prince. He's by far the most dangerous undead they face, and almost kills them with his magical powers. They survive only by summoning their boss Haazheel Thorn to help them out, who's an even more powerful dark wizard.
  • Wizards of Mickey: The sorcerer Yen Sid accidentally divided his soul into 10 parts, 9 for his different flaws and evil sides, and the tenth being the incarnation of his little bit of goodness. While the nine evil Yen Sids form a group that seeks world domination and destruction, the nice tenth Yen Sid leaves them and goes studying in a frozen country in order to avoid interruption. Hundreds of years later, when Mickey Mouse is sent in search of the tenth Yen Sid, he finds out that Yen Sid, after all this time, is nothing more than a moving skeleton only living thanks to his own magic.
  • Elementals: The titular super-team might be considered liches. All four members died due to one of the four classical elements. However to stop an evil wizard from unleashing a giant magical vortex, the lords of these elements "resurrect" these four individuals and empower them with incredible magic potential. Unfortunately the newly made Elementals didn't understand that all four of them are actually wizards and instead only really use the specific elemental abilities they have (one did achieve his potential after a face-heel turn). Their "resurrection" was only partial, the Elementals are undead rather than fully alive. When they're not in combat or training, they tend to be aimless and living in a fog, requiring other people to take of their regular wants. Normal humans can only stand being near them for a short amount of time since they can instinctively sense the Elementals' undead nature. The plus is that being undead makes each of the Elementals extremely hard to kill and unaging.
  • In Gold Digger, Gina and Britanny's kindly grandfather got caught in a magical accident that corrupted him into the undead Lich King.
  • Hellboy:
    • Rasputin was killed early on in Hellboy's adventures, but it didn't do much good since the sorcerer had the foresight to bury half his soul in the roots of Yggdrasil.
    • Koschei the Deathless just like in the original Russian myth was an undead sorcerer who had his soul placed inside a creature inside another. Unlike most examples of this trope, he is one of the few sympathetic examples of this trope ever (while still being an antagonist, he is more of an Anti-Villain) its revealed in his backstory that he was turned into a lich by his own father figure, a kindly dragon who saved him and raised him from the dead after Koschei was murdered and hacked to pieces by his treacherous wife.
  • Judge Dredd:
    • Judge Death and his fellow Dark Judges have lich-like properties, having become astral entities occupying dead hosts with various superpowers and psychic abilities. They also seem to possess some level of magic control over the dead even without their dead fluids. No matter how many times Dredd and Anderson seem to destroy them, they keep on coming back to terrorize Mega City One.
    • The two Sisters of Death are clearly this. They strongly resemble Wicked Witches, their powers are explicitly magical in nature, and they gave the Dark Judges their own powers. They have since transcended their mortal nature to become an Undead Abomination who still assist the foursome with their plans.
    • Sabbat the Necromagus is a fairly straightforward example, although his true state as an immortal undead is only revealed towards the climax of the story arc where he is the main villain. While it's already implied since he raises an army of zombies to overrun the Earth, he looks very human, a form that Sabbat maintains only for appearance's sake.
  • Sagos in Lady Death ticks all boxes despite never being called a lich: he is an undead sorcerer who could raise legions of zombies, had a very skeletical visage and his power was connected to a phylactery-like gem, that made it possible to defeat him once it was destroyed.

    Fairy Tales 
  • "Tsarevich Petr and the Wizard": Petr's mother has been kidnapped by Koshchei the Deathless, an immortal and powerful sorcerer. In order to kill him, Petr must find his soul. However, it is kept in a needle, hidden inside an egg, hidden inside a duck, hidden inside a hare, hidden inside an iron chest buried under an oak tree on an island in the middle of the ocean.
  • Alexander Afanasyev's "The Death of Koschei the Deathless": Queen Marya Morevna had managed to imprison Koschei in a cellar beneath her palace. But when Marya's husband stupidly takes pity on Koschei and gives him water, the wizened sorcerer regains his strength, breaks his chains and kidnaps Marya. After defeating him, Ivan and Marya manage to get rid of the undead sorcerer by crushing his head and burning his body.
  • Asbjørnsen and Moe's "The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body": The titular giant is an ancient sorcerer who keeps his soul hidden away in a chest.

    Fan Works 
  • Actually, I'm Dead: An interesting case. After being killed by the Alicorn Amulet, Trixie is turned into a creature that so happens to resemble a lich. When many readers started commenting on this, however, the author explained that he had no idea what a lich even was and thought he was doing something new.
  • Daily Equestria Life with Monster Girl: Although the term is not used, this is effectively what Tirek has become. His power to drain the magic of others comes from having specially treated platinum wires implanted into his body, woven through organs and into bones. At some point, this process technically killed Tirek, but the platinum kept his soul trapped inside his body, able to keep it moving and quasi-alive by spending thaums. However, he still has no ability to generate thaums of his own, and as such is wholly dependent on stealing from others to replenish what he burns through spellcasting or basic functionality.
  • The Freeport Venture: Rising Fire is a fully self-aware and intelligent skeletal undead with a great deal of magical power and a particular talent for necromancy, and is consistently referred to as a lich. She does not appear to have anything like a phylactery, though.
  • The Golden Quiche:
    • The process of creating the first-generation skeletons were reminiscent of android/cyborg productionnote . Humans with magical potential who're converted at near-death or from a fresh corpse keep their SOUL'S colour as 'Liches'. This unlocks the fullest potential of their type.
    • Their descendants inherit their skeletal form and a fraction of their power. Those who had at least one Lich in their ancestry are called 'Lichborn'. The mixture of human traits with magic resulted in a unique branch of spacetime powers that are exclusive to Lichborn. They manifest in the form of a coloured, flaming 'Seer's Eye'. Some are born with two.
  • Oversaturated World: The setting's iteration of Vignette Valencia manages to turn herself into a lich by accident. Earth-aspect magic means that her "pouring her soul" into her phone is Not Hyperbole, and by the time she gets hit by a truck she has more of her soul in her phone than she does in her original body.
  • Principal Celestia Hunts the Undead: The human world's Sombra is a massive armored lich, armed with shadow magic (a form of illusion magic — regular illusion magic creates images and sounds, but shadow magic specializes in concealment, deception, and mental manipulation and mimics the effects of illusion magic by tricking the target's mind). He cannot be permanently destroyed as long as his soul jar is intact, as he will simply regenerate in his tomb over a few years, and he desires souls to fuel his magic.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: In The Return Of Tambelon, Grogar successfully turns himself into a lich. Liches are the most powerful form of undead in this setting, nearly indestructible and possessing powerful magic. They are sustained by souls, and are the only entities in this setting that can forcibly take another's soul. While we aren't given all the details of how Grogar becomes a lich, the final step is to die. However, that death must not come by your own hand or order, you must be killed by another who genuinely wishes you dead.
  • In Resonance Days, Mami Tomoe specifically states that Magical Girls are Liches, not zombies like Kyouko thinks. Ironically, by the time the fic takes place the liches in question have all died and arrived in the afterlife as Energy Beings.
  • Ponies of the Five Rings: Trixie is turned into something like a lich by a combination of Shadowlands taint and the ritual Zecora used to remove the drawbacks. Fittingly, her transformation looks like an Onikage, an undead horse brought back to life by taint.
  • Tiny Sapient Ungulates: Princess Celestia of all characters is interpreted as one, due to the fact that she uses magic to keep herself immortal, thus technically making her a lich by definition.
  • To the Stars: exploits the example from canon Madoka Magica. Magical girls can recover from complete body loss by having their gem transferred to a clone of their original body, or, less reliably, a sufficiently similar fresh cadaver. As a result, they are taught to prioritise saving the gems over everything else, to the extent of abandoning their bodies entirely in emergencies
  • Under the Northern Lights: Liches are powerful undead sorcerers, whose existence is mostly theoretical. Later in the story, Luna explains that liches are specifically animated by the power of the Nightmare, a nebulous force found within the dream world, and were created through her direct intervention. They don't have Soul Jars of any kind; rather, they're literally impossible to kill. Only one lich ever existed, Wiglek the Wicked, and Luna has no intention of creating more, making the existence of liches as a category of things a fairly academic point.

    Films — Animation 
  • Anastasia: Rasputin is a pretty straightforward example, except for lacking a real drive for immortality or power above all else, which were more a byproduct of his quest for vengeance than his main objectives. He was already a powerful sorceror before he made his Deal with the Devil, but he became undead upon selling his soul (not after he went to Limbo; he loses all his flesh when he gives up his soul, and restores it with the powers he gains).
  • The Black Cauldron: Although it's never quite stated exactly what the Horned King is, the fact that he's an Evil Overlord with a Skull for a Head who obtains a magical cauldron to raise an army of the dead to conquer the world makes it pretty obvious.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bloodlands: These are witches brought back by a desire for revenge. Their power is sustained by a pile of flesh that's maintained by killing people, the rest of whom they eat to sustain their existence. They appear normal at first, but their skin turns charcoal black with age, and they can resurrect people into their coven.
  • Doctor Strange in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness temporarily becomes a rather odd version of one when he possesses another version of himself killed at the beginning of the movie.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God has a lich (according to him, anyway) who acts as The Dragon to the villain (who himself wanted to be the Dragon to the Dragon God). That is, he acts as the Dragon until it looks like the good guys are going to win and the villain starts being unpleasant to be around. Then he basically does a Screw This, I'm Outta Here.
  • Lord of Illusions: Post-resurrection, Nix the Puritan is a zombified revenant, but no less evil a sorceror. His mission? Murder the world.
  • The Mummy Trilogy:
    • Imhotep, the Mummy from The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns, was once the Pharaoh's high priest until he killed him to take his mistress for himself. He was punished with a Fate Worse than Death for his crime, but it inadvertently gave him world-ending powers after he returns from the dead. His mummified foot soldiers notably lack almost all of his magical abilities.
    • The Dragon Emperor from The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor became a Sorcerous Overlord as part of a deal with an immortal woman that he would use it to unite China and rule it in peace. When he betrayed her, she cursed him and locked him away, until he comes back as an undead God-Emperor with control over the Chinese elements and the ability to shapeshift into a dragon.
  • The Mummy (2017): After she's resurrected as a mummy, Princess Ahmanet displays vast sorcerous powers courtesy of her Deal with the Devil with Set, including necromancy, telepathy, and summoning sandstorms.
  • Technically, Freddy Krueger of A Nightmare on Elm Street is a sort of "astral lich". He definitely would qualify as a powerful sorcerer, with an appearance that screams "undead", and killing him tends to involve some rather unusual methods, most often dragging him onto our plane, and, even then, nobody has ever managed to kill him permanently. An easier parallel is that Freddy is some sort of ghost or a demon (he is in service to nightmare demons after all).
  • Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean is similar to one; he had his heart ripped out after being rejected by a woman, then stored it away in a chest within a chest, and now is the lord of the seas, gathering crewmen for his ship, The Flying Dutchman. But instead of retaining his live human form or a rotting body, he became a Cthulhumanoid. It's implied that his and his crew's bodies got like that because at some point in the past they refused to do their job of collecting the souls of sailors.
  • The Rise of Skywalker: Palpatine has effectively become a lich, noting that he "died once" as he's visibly decaying but is now seeking to cheat death through either Grand Theft Me or absorbing the lifeforce of other Force users to restore himself. And of course, the Force is effectively just magic powers Recycled In Space, of which he would definitely be considered a very powerful practitioner.


By Author:

  • H. P. Lovecraft:
    • The term "lich" is actually used in "The Thing on the Doorstep" in reference to Ephraim, a body-jumping sorcerer who could also keep a corpse he inhabited animated long enough to seize a new body.
    • In "Two Black Bottles", one of Lovecraft's "revisions" (works on which he acted as uncredited collaborator or ghostwriter) with Wilfred Blanch Talman, the titular bottles contain the souls of undead alchemists.
    • Dr. Muñoz in "Cool Air".

By Work:

  • Liches in Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor are magicians who used forbidden magic to gain immortality (though it is Age Without Youth) and increased magical power. They must drain the souls of others to continue living. Their victims become undead thralls under the Lich's control and are used to help gather souls. A Lich cannot move far away from their place of origin.
  • In Greg Costikyan's Another Day, Another Dungeon, a send-up of Dungeons & Dragons, a lich functions as the main Big Bad's dragon. He's an undead sorcerer, but he's pretty much the Only Sane Man for Team Evil. He once spent a century as a disembodied skull being used as a birdfeeder, and it's left him with an almost uncontrollable urge to kill all songbirds.
  • The Ten Who Were Taken in The Black Company series are strongly based on liches if not genuine liches themselves. They're each ridiculously powerful sorcerers for whom age doesn't mean much. Several clearly seem to have died at some point either before or after becoming one of the Taken (one still wears a noose around his broken neck), and further attempts to kill them have an unfortunate tendency to fail unless you completely annihilate their bodies. As well, the process of becoming one of the Taken is all but outright declared to involve killing and resurrecting them multiple times, making them fairly count as undead.
  • In The Chronicles of Prydain, the party encounters a magician at one point who did the soul-transfer thing into his finger, which he then cut off and put in a coffer hidden in a tree in the middle of the forest. Guess which tree the party had previously rested at and searched....
    • Thanks to the antics of a playful crow, who tried to stash some "treasure" of his own in said tree.
    • However, in the Disney adaptation, it's the Horned King that's a lich.
  • The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: In the First and Second Chronicles, an extinct but incredibly feared and magically powerful class of beings called the demondim are frequently namedropped, and were the creators of the ur-viles and their waynhim offshoots. The Last Chronicles reveals exactly what the demondim were, and it turns out they were like this. Themselves creations of the Viles, the demondim were sentient, reanimated dead with immense magical power (described at one point as "corpses with the puissance of Lords"). Though they didn't apparently use soul jars, their spirits could hop from one corpse to another if their current vessel was damaged beyond repair. However, for all their power the demondim apparently hated their unnatural existence, and when the Ritual of Desecration hit, they remained on the surface of the Land and passively allowed themselves to be destroyed.
  • Counselors and Kings: Akhlaur, a powerful necromancer, has prepared a Soul Jar in readiness for a lich transformation, which naturally worries his Bastard Understudy Kiva, who feared this might make disposing of him after they'd conquered Halruaa rather more difficult. Turns out that Akhlaur, who was already immortal, didn't prepare that Soul Jar for himself, but for his former friend turned enemy Vishna, whom he forcibly converts into a lich and places under his direct control in a feat of necromancy so powerful Kiva hadn't even believed it was possible.
  • The Craft Sequence features the Deathless Kings. Some of them are literal Kings (and queens and other). Some of them are Lich CEOs or Lich Chancellors. They play most lich tropes pretty close, being fleshless sorcerous skeletons. The first major twist is that they don't come about through some dark ritual — "lich"dom (they're Not Using the Zed Word) is just a natural part of a Craftsperson's lifecycle. The second is that there's nothing inherently evil about them — though the culture of the Craft is shot through with a wide Nietzchian streak that doesn't serve very well as an ethical basis, so a hefty proportion of them are non-inherently evil anyway. Some of them like to experiment with alternative bodies. Stone statues are quite popular.
  • The Dark Profit Saga: Book 2, Son of a Liche, has the undead necromancer Detarr Ur'Mayan building an army of the undead to conquer the Freedlands. He looks like a skeleton with a column of amethyst flame wreathing his skull in place of a neck. When the hero who originally killed him decapitates him a second time all it does is annoy him. His son Jynn does manage to destroy his body with Omnimancy but leaves the gem in his skull intact while wrapping it in spells to prevent the body regenerating.
  • The lazar from The Death Gate Cycle are something of a cross between liches and zombies. Their souls are not stored in Soul Jars but rather have partially separated from their bodies, an excruciatingly painful process that drives most lazar completely Axe-Crazy, and the bonds between soul and body can only be severed by an immensely powerful spell that only three mages (in a series chock-full of magic users) were ever able to cast. All lazar seen were originally necromancers in life, but it's unclear if that's a requirement or not.
  • In The Death of the Necromancer, "lich" is the word for a corpse animated by a necromancer to do his bidding, in a usage that deliberately shies away from D&D's influence and goes back to the original archaic term.
  • The novelization of Descent Into The Depths Of The Earth has a lich (standard AD&D type, as it is an AD&D novel) as a major mid-novel foe. He doesn't last very long, but he does yield a few handy magic items that come in very useful for the rest of the series.
  • Discworld: In The Colour of Magic, Liessa Wyrmbidder's father Griecha is a wizard-king whom she murdered, but who hangs around in his dead body until one of his children proves strong enough to claim the throne. How he accomplished this feat isn't specified, but the high level of ambient magic that permeates the Wyrmberg probably helped.
  • Dragaera series:
    • Sethra Lavode is a vampire upwards of 250,000 years old and has been studying sorcery all that time, allowing her to become the most powerful magic-user in the Empire. Given that standards for what constitutes "powerful magic" in Dragaera are a bit higher than in most settings, "most powerful" means "on casual speaking terms with a few gods," who rely on her to keep certain greedy Starfish Aliens out of the Empire when they can't.
    • Lorann, an Athyra wizard whom Vlad confronted twice, was evidently some sort of lich, although he looked ordinary enough to pass for living. The primary evidence for this is that he survived the soul-eating effects of Blackwand in their first confrontation, but was rendered powerless and vulnerable to a Morganti weapon by "dark water" - something that only certain undead are impaired by - in the second.
    • Also worth mentioning: one Cryptic Background Reference suggests that having a Soul Jar is a prerequisite for officially being considered a wizard in Dragaera.
  • In The Dragon Crown War series, Chytrine is served by a Quirky Miniboss Squad of undead lieutenants (some of whom are deader than others) known as the sullanciri or "Dark Lancers". Though they all have magical abilities, most of them are more warrior than mage; however, one of them, Lord Neskartu, is a spectral archmage who was recruited post-mortem and fits here rather nicely.
  • The Dresden Files: Though never explicitly described as such, Heinrich Kemmler may well have been one. He had the immense power (enough to fight the entire White Council) and quest for immortality/godhood down pat, and given it took seven attempts to actually kill him off permanently and not come back like the first six attempts he probably had some means of cheating death. Even his name is a shout-out to the Warhammer character of the same name — who certainly is a lich.
  • Mercedes Lackey brought Koschei back for her book Firebird, only it's his heart encased in diamond, and it's hidden inside a magically fast duck hidden inside a magically fast rabbit locked inside a magic chest at the top of a magically tall tree guarded by a magical mechanical dragon. Get past all that, and the diamond must be smashed at Koschei's feet to kill him; nowhere else will do.
  • Forest Kingdom: Overall, lichs in the Forest Kingdom and Hawk & Fisher series are simply dead bodies animated by a sorcerer's will (or in some cases, the will of an Eldritch Abomination), and aren't required to have been magical themselves when they were alive. However, Hawk & Fisher #2: Winner Takes All features a more traditional lich, a sorcerer formerly known as Masque, who's been reanimated by his own will in order to continue protecting his friend James Adamant (having died defending him from magical assassination) and now calls himself Igor Mortice. Unlike most examples, his lichdom is a temporary state, and he's forced to hide out in an ice-filled cellar to avert his body's slow and painful decomposition.
  • Forgotten Realms creator Ed Greenwood seems fond of using liches (mostly of the (A)D&D varieties discussed below) as various supporting characters in his novels. They're almost never recurring characters, though, as even those few who don't suffer from spontaneous cases of Undeath Always Ends shortly after introduction are generally not revisited.
  • Rare non-villain example: In the Garrett, P.I. novels, the titular detective is advised by the Dead Man, the ghost of a Loghyr (a near-legendary race of geniuses) that haunts its own corpse. Nominally one of the good guys, the Dead Man didn't choose to become a lich — it's just what happens when Loghyr die — but he shares their near-indestructibility, and has Psychic Powers on par with conventional liches' magic.
  • Morthûl the Charnel King from The Goblin Corps by Ari Marmell. He's not so much undead as a powerful wizard who has affixed himself between life and death using powerful magic. His Soul Jar comes in two parts: a crown that lets him possess other bodies, and his dragon, a demon whose immortality Morthûl has been using to sustain himself.
  • Voldemort in Harry Potter is a pretty straightforward example. He split his soul into seven pieces (technically eight; see below) with successive murders, and stored each one inside a Horcrux. When his Killing Curse backfires and kills him unwittingly splitting his soul again and trapping a piece inside the baby he was intending to murder, he remains stuck in the mortal world as "less than a ghost" yet unable to die. Eventually, one of his followers helps him to create a new body (although whatever he then becomes, it is doubtful it can truly be called human), and he gets back in business.
  • INVADERS of the ROKUJYOUMA!?: In book 36, a group of cultists resurrect the long-dead Grevanas (Court Mage of the legendary Blue Knight's nemesis Lord Maxfern) using an Imperfect Ritual, causing him to rise as an animate corpse with a more depraved outlook. Grevanas, himself a proficient Necromancer, immediately realises that he has become a lich, even identifying that he has taken on some of Maxfern's personality due to the cultists' distorted records which conflate the two men. Grevanas is significantly more dangerous in this form than he was in life, though mostly because of Combat Pragmatism and no longer tying up some of his power binding the dragon Alunaya to his will. Grevanas's primary goal after this is to revive Maxfern and serve him once more, though he does not wish to subject his lord to undeath and so spends most of his time trying to develop a spell which can resurrect him completely.
  • The Licanius Trilogy: Though the term is never used, Davian fits this trope. He is technically dead, and keeps his body functional by leaching Essence from all life in the area. Unusually for this trope, he is not a villain, which may be related to the fact that he did not enter his current state deliberately (he was killed as a baby, and instictively activated his ability to steal Essence in order to survive).
  • Lyctors in The Locked Tomb are immortal necromancers with immense magical powers, clearly inspired by classical Liches. They are different in that they are technically alive, and in that rather than removing their soul and placing it in a phylactery, they take someone else's soul and burn it inside of them as an infinite source of power.
  • Sauron from The Lord of the Rings is a famous example, although he isn't really undead. His essence is imbued in the titular ring, which keeps him alive so long as it is intact, thus acting as his soul jar or phylactery.
    • The Ringwraiths are a straighter example. Although a Nazgûl's soul isn't stored into its ring, they keep them bound to the earthly plane, essentially fulfilling the same function.
  • Quatach-Ichl from Mother of Learning is a classic lich.
  • Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner series has the dyrmagnos, which are the ultimate result of the use of necromancy/dark magic: the body deteriorates, leaving a desiccated husk animated by a strong, evil intelligence and wielding very powerful magic. Even dismembering cannot completely incapacitate one of them. Of the two cases seen thus far, one has been divided in many pieces that were dispersed, the head being put into a metal casket and dropped in the deep sea, while the other was still able to nearly kill one of the main characters after being cut in two.
  • Old Kingdom:
    • Kerrigor became a Greater Dead Adept, the in-universe equivalent. In a variation of the typical Soul Jar, he can never be banished entirely to death as long as his magically-preserved body still exists (the Kerrigor most people interact with is just his spirit, which may or may not be riding around in a magically-created fake body). Also, he has a staggering amount of power even across the Wall, because he's one of the royal family, and therefore one of the great Charter Bloodlines.
    • In the sequels, Chlorr of the Mask is a Free Magic sorceress who begins as a living woman but eventually also becomes a Greater Dead; she's not as powerful as Kerrigor but is still extremely formidable. She does a Villain: Exit, Stage Left rather than be killed off in Abhorsen. Goldenhand reveals that, like Kerrigor, she has her original body hidden, and for the same reason, beyond the Great Rift in the far north. In fact, it's implied she may have taught him the trick to begin with.
  • Liches exist in The Riftwar Cycle, but have never played a huge role — Recurring Boss Leso Varen has dealt with them, but while he's a necromancer who uses a Soul Jar, he isn't one himself, since he steals living bodies to inhabit rather than animating dead ones.
  • In Desmond Warzel's short story "Same-Day Delivery", the narrator turns out to be an undead wizard, and so probably qualifies, though no Soul Jar is mentioned.
  • Sepulchre's Felix Kline, via natural Psychic Powers, acquired the preserved heart of Sumerian incarnate deity Bel Marduk, custody of which, along with periodic shedding of his skin, enabled him to transfer the effects of bodily ageing onto a "Keeper" imprisoned in his estate.
  • Skate the Thief has straightforward examples existing out in the wider world, with the suggestion that they tend to go insane as the years drag on. Belamy says he is a lich, though he found an "alternative" method that didn't require anything outright evil to achieve. His restoration is what Skate sets out to make happen at the end of the book.
  • Skulduggery Pleasant (a wise-cracking skeleton detective) isn't a traditional example, but he is an undead sorcerer. Skulduggery's Superpowered Evil Side, Lord Vile is a straighter example and uses a black suit of armor to channel his Necromancy.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, the Fused are effectively liches. They are the souls of ancient Parshendi who were killed thousands of years ago in the endless wars between the Parshendi and humanity, but through their pacts with Odium, they do not pass on after death. Instead, they can inhabit the body of any willing Parshendi, a process that kills the soul of the Parshendi and lets the Fused take control of the body. The process is not easy on the Fused, and tends to drive them insane over time, with the leaders of the Fused essentially being the ones who stayed sane all this time.
  • Koschei (here spelled "Katschei") is final villain in the first Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms book, again it was his heart, he's later mentioned again in the third, which is actually primarily based off Russian folklore.
  • Seker from Tasakeru. Not exactly undead, but his body is frozen in time, meaning that he doesn't eat, sleep, or breathe.
  • An Unattractive Vampire: Yulric looks like a reanimated corpse, but is clearly intelligent, so he is mistaken for a lich by a vampire's guard. Since Yulric was last awake three hundred years ago, he has never heard the modern term, and is just bewildered. He notes that the man definitely isn't German enough to be using the word correctly.
  • The second book of The Winternight Trilogy features famous Russian folklore sorcerer/lich Koschei the Deathless. He really doesn't care for his name either in this version; he notes that it was originally a mocking nickname given to him long before he became a sorcerer, back when he was a sickly child who everyone expected to die before adulthood. He apparently had numerous close calls with death in his youth, but kept pulling through despite how weak and fragile he seemed.
  • Wise Phuul uses the term "lich" to describe any reanimated corpse.
  • Wraith Knight: The Wraith Knights of the King Below are all immortal wizard ghost-warriors who can assume physical forms, wear black cloaks, and sport demonsteel armor. They are the leaders of the King Below, a God of Evil's armies, and each possesses a magical sword that grants them Resurrective Immortality. Of course, the destruction of their sword means that they immediately lose this (and get replaced with whoever figured it out).
  • Xanadu (Storyverse): In "Far Indeed From Sherwood Forest", the villain is a Kestagian mage, a type of undead from a fictional roleplaying game. A Kestagian mage is an undead wizard who stores his soul within a diamond called an Aelpa, cannot be killed as long as this is intact, and has innate knowledge of its location proportional to how far away it is from him — if it's within a hundred feet he only knows that it's within that distance, as it grows further away he gets a stronger bead on its position, and once it's ten miles or more away he can point straight at it. One who seizes this Aelpa can control the mage, such as by casting spells using the mage's magic. An Aelpa can only be destroyed with magic, or if one somehow contrives to make the mage swallow it, which will reunite his soul with his body; this won't kill him, but it will make him mortal.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?:
    • The Tale of the Captured Souls: In a remote inn, Peter Kirlian III, via machinery connected to various mirrors, drains guests' vitality, by which he retains his own bodily youth.
    • The Tale of the Unfinished Painting: In the Hunter Gallery, Mrs Briar invites struggling artists, with enchanted paintbrushes, to work on unfinished paintings. On completion, the painter is absorbed into a phantom solidification of the painting; whereby Mrs Briar, and a disembodied embalmed head in her secret cabinet, feed on their life force.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Davros is mostly dead, is kept alive by dark means, turns people into servitor monsters, and is an Omnicidal Maniac. Additionally, he has survived things that are supposed to be unsurvivable (although the Daleks' gunsticks may have been part of a Thanatos Gambit, which is another common lich pattern) multiple times, is able to modify his body extensively, and once shown that he has multiple bodies (or at least really convincing puppets).
    • A Clarke's Third Law-tinged Evil Sorcerer at their core, for a time, the Master runs Out of Continues and turns into a walking, decayed-looking corpse. He then merges with (and, in effect, kills) the body of a living man and, in effect, returns to life. After that, he becomes a Puppeteer Parasite in the TV movie, the body of which decays as the film went on. Subsequently, after returning in his normal body and dying, he Comes Back Wrong. As Missy, she briefly gains dominion over the dead and learns how to use Cyberman technology for necromancy, which carries over into the "Spy" incarnation. The Expanded Universe books even gave Koschei as the Master's name before they chose their current alias.
    • The Monks from Series 10 resemble withered walking corpses in robes. (They imply that they chose the appearance on purpose.)
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Kuroto Dan, A.K.A. Kamen Rider Genm, is the odd case of a technologically-created lich. By gathering enough data on death (culminating in his own, which he uses as the final data), he creates the Rider Gashat, Dangerous Zombie. It grants him a zombie-like Level 10 form, with continuous resurrections that only make him stronger, the ability to create more zombies (and later, clones of himself), and vastly increased combat ability. The Dangerous Zombie Gashat is his phylactery, though how he's defeated is also rather... non-standard.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: The Dweller is a Black Mage, but during her fight with one of the Istari, is implied she neither alive or dead, as her real form is similar to that of a ringwraith.
  • In Lost Girl, a lich (pronounced "lick") is a species of flesh-eating fae from ancient Egypt. (The historical ancient Egyptians did have fairy legends.) Despite their unusual origins, they do share traits with more traditional liches. They've transformed themselves into quasi-undead creatures in order to extend their already impressive fae lifespans, and maintain living phylacteries.
  • In Willow (2022), one of the Big Bad's four henchman is a sorcerer known as the Lich.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Russian Mythology and Tales: One villain in Slavic folklore, Koschei the Immortal note  (Koschei basically means skeleton) is a lich by any other name (as stated above). Notably, he's also alive, albeit very old, as opposed to undead. While some incarnations made it possible to destroy Koschei by other means (like dropping him into a river of fire) the most notable incarnation makes his Soul Jar a needle, hidden inside an egg hidden inside a duck hidden inside a hare hidden inside an iron chest buried under an oak tree on an island in the middle of the ocean. Notably the hare will try to run away, and the duck will fly out if said hare is killed, so Koschei is probably the lich who put the most security on his Soul Jar ever.
    Worth mentioning is also that isle Buyan, on which said needle in egg in duck and so on resides, is an actual mythical place, considered myth/fairy tale in fairy tales, which changes location by means of teleportation, is inhabited by beings such as the Northern, Western and Eastern Winds, and also, in older legends, is the source of all weather, created there by the god Perun. No wonder heroes only get to it with help of special animals, dragons, elementals and a certain old lady.
  • The warlock of a Russian myth was an undead magician who came alive at night. He would terrorize a town (in the myth, he casts a spell that causes a bride and groom to sleep forever), and could only be killed if he was burnt on a pyre of 100 aspenbaus logs, and even then, his corpse would burst into birds, reptiles and insects, all of which had to be captured and thrown back on the fire. If as much as a single one got away, he would rise again.

  • The Adventure Zone: Balance: Liches are powerful spellcasters who have fused their soul with their magical essence, making them immortal and unbelievably powerful. The catch is that the process tends to shred the consciousness of the caster, often either killing them outright or leaving them functional but far more evil than they were in the past. Liches therefore try to anchor themselves with powerful emotions in order to keep their identities intact. It's actually very possible for liches to remain good, but it doesn't happen often because of the nature of the process. Lydia and Edward are implied to be how liches usually turn out, while Lup and Barry are rare exceptions.

  • Roll To Dodge: Savral: Most liches are undead made of billions of spiders with black rings as phylacteries. Philosopher in his second and third incarnations is an exception to this, as he takes the form of a more traditional lich with a zombie-like body and an amulet phylactery.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 13th Age: Liches are arcane spellcasters who turn themselves into undead creatures to continue their pursuits after a lifelong study of magic. The new lich creates a phylactery, a relic imbued with its essential life force. If the lich's body is destroyed, it slowly reforms near the phylactery over a period of days. To truly kill a lich, the phylactery must be destroyed first.
  • Ars Magica: A supplement included notes on how to become a lich. In a world where most mages create longevity potions anyway (as each "adventure" was a season or ten long, characters rapidly got older in a long-term campaign), such an enterprise wasn't going TOO much further. However, the execution was odd — instead of becoming undead, the character effectively replaced his failing organic bits with inorganic bits, effectively becoming a magitek cyborg and eventually a golem type.
  • Blue Rose:
  • Dragon Dice features the lich as a playable undead unit - it is the most powerful spellcaster available to the faction, and is also capable of melee combat.
  • Dungeons & Dragons, of course.
    • The Monster Manual-standard lich is a powerful spellcaster who chose undeath over mortality, using a dark ritual that involves ripping out their soul and binding it to a Soul Jar called the phylactery, then drinking an elixir that completes their transition from living to undead. Liches enjoy Resurrective Immortality, as when "killed" their undead bodies will reform from the phylactery unless it is destroyed before they do so. There are, however, many, many different variations of liches, not all of which of have a phylactery, and some of which are specific to a certain setting or edition.
    • To power their phylacteries, liches must regularly feed souls into them, which is why the vast majority of liches are of evil alignment (the rare good "archlich" presumably uses a different ritual to maintain themselves). But if centuries of unlife wears away a lich's mind and they forget to feed their phylactery, or a lich chooses to "evolve" into a higher form of undead, their physical bodies deteriorate until nothing but a skull, skeletal hand, or other small part of it is all that remains, while the lich's disembodied consciousness roams the multiverse. Such a "demilich" loses the arcane spellcasting ability of a normal lich, but remains a fearsome opponent able to drain energy from anyone who disturbs it, or snuff out the lives of intruders with an unearthly howl. If a demilich's phylactery remains intact, it can regenerate its reduced form after being destroyed, or by feeding a fresh soul into their phylactery, a demilich can regenerate as a lich.
      • In 5th Edition, a demilich may even be more dangerous than a normal lich in its lair, with a Challenge Rating of 21 or 23 compared to a "normal" lich's Challenge Rating of 22 while in its lair. The example given is the demilich Acererak, the infamous master of the Tomb of Horrors. However, these liches became that way by intentionally transforming into one via a special procedure. Demiliches that came to be due to being unable to feed their phylactery are actually weaker due to losing their spell casting and procence of mind.
    • "Arch-shadows," from older Monster Compendiums, are what happens when the ritual to achieve lichdom results in a Critical Failure. A magical explosion reduces the would-be lich to a tormented specter, not bound to a prepared phylactery, but a random magical item in the vicinity. The arch-shadow can use its relationship with this magic item to improve its power, but doing so runs the risk of destroying the item and, by extension, the arch-shadow. If the arch-shadow can drain enough energy from someone who has handled their soul receptacle, they can transform into a "demi-shade" and regain a physical existence, but remain bound to their knock-off phylactery. These demi-shades become obsessed with somehow transcending their precarious grip on undeath, but are also consumed with spreading death and destruction throughout the land.
    • Even a destroyed lich can be dangerous, should its remains not be disposed of properly. A lich's phylactery can be stolen and used to power a grisgol, a golem-like construct composed of magical detritus such as expended spell scrolls and charge-less wands, but which gains several of a lich's abilities thanks to the occupied phylactery inside it. Meanwhile, should an ordinary spider decide to make its home in a fallen lich's skull, the residual magic and echoing thoughts may transform the spider into a gray shiver, a megalomaniacal arachnid with the power to dominate other creatures with its bite, and mid-level spellcasting ability.
    • The Fiend Folio (1981) brought a different type of lich to AD&D 1e game — the Death Knight. They were created from a fallen paladin by a demon prince (it was thought to be Demogorgon). In this incarnation they needed not be skeletons and there was no indication they had a phylactery. This was changed with the 2e incarnation.
    • A third-party supplement, The Immortals Handbook, has akaliches, which are what remains when the last of the demilich's bone withers away, leaving only gemstone teeth within a shadow. Demiliches are consuming souls for food. Akaliches eat gods.
    • The Dark Sun setting has a specific type of lich-like being called a Kaisharga. The Kaisharga is an extremely powerful type of free-willed undead, but it differs in a few regards from a "normal" lich: a Kaisharga is usually created by someone else (generally very potent magic users) and therefore can have any baseline class (including completely mundane ones), and it doesn't use magic by default as liches do, but gains psionics upon becoming undead on top of any supernatural abilities they had in life.
    • In the Red Hand of Doom campaign, one of the Red Hand allies is a lich known as the Ghostlord; unlike other examples of this trope, he is NOT an arcane spellcaster but a corrupted druid! The Ghostlord is providing the Red Hand with undead soldiers but if you are able to find his phylactery and return it, the Ghostlord ceases aiding the Red Hand.
    • A Mummy Lord is, in many ways, the clerical counterpart of a Lich. Just like how a Lich's existence is tied to its Soul Jar, a Mummy Lord also cannot be permanently destroyed unless its Soul Jar, namely the Mummy Lord's shriveled heart, is destroyed. The key differences are that a Mummy Lord does not have to engage in Soul Eating to sustain itself and the fact that Mummy Lords usually wield divine magic as opposed to a Lich's arcane magic, as Mummy Lords were generally high priests of evil gods in life.
  • If you're an Abyssal Exalted, you can become one with Immortal Malevolence Enslavement. Normally, dead is dead even for Exalted, but this Charm even allows you to quip "I'll be back" if you meet your (temporary) demise. The drawback of this charm is that your soul is too tightly bound to the Neverborn for you to ever seek redemption, and you'll inevitably fall into Oblivion if you ever meet your death.
  • Fighting Fantasy doesn't explicitly have liches, but some of the characters have heavy features of them, especially Zanbar Bone in City of Thieves, described in a later Universe Compendium as "more than half undead himself".
  • Godforsaken: A lich is a powerful wizard or priest who has used their knowledge of necromancy to bind their soul in a magical object called a phylactery, making them immortal and undead unless the phylactery is found and destroyed. Having corrupted its own life energy in an obscene ritual, a lich can pursue its other magical goals, usually the acquisition of more wealth, magic, and power. A newly made lich may look like a recent corpse, but maintaining its physical vessel becomes less of a priority as the centuries pass, so over time liches tend to look withered and eventually skeletal. Liches often work with or command other undead, such as wraiths, skeletons, vampires, and zombies.
  • GURPS Technomancer, a setting that injects magic into a previously mundane modern world, a CIA project to artificially create mages with radioactive potions failed when all the subjects died. However, a few of them returned to unlife as angry glowing skeletons. These atomic liches are stronger and tougher than normal humans, leak radiation, and have high-level spellcasting abilities. One of the most prominent is Elrond Carver, the Dark Lord of Chicago, who runs the crime syndicates in the Midwest.
  • Magic: The Gathering has three enchantments that turn you into a lich, making you impervious to damage, though you die immediately if your opponent manages to remove the Lich enchantment. There are also a small handful of Lich creatures, almost all Blue and/or Black Zombie Wizards. The most straight example is probably Phylactery Lich, which must choose an artifact you control as a phylactery in which to hide its soul when you play it — it cannot die as long as the phylactery exists, but dies instantly if it's destroyed.
  • Pathfinder has the standard Liches and Demiliches, but it also has Bones Sages, liches from the dead planet Eox, survivors of a self-inflicted Apocalypse.
    • The Graveknight is a variant of a D&D Death Knight, mostly because the Death Knight is product identity. The Graveknight's armor serves as its phylactery, making it a Magic Knight version of the lich. Merely breaking a graveknight's armor does not destroy it; it must be ruined, such as by being disintegrated, taken to the Positive Energy Plane, or thrown into the heart of a volcano. If the armor isn't destroyed and the adventurers who "killed" the graveknight and looted that sweet +1 full plate might end up losing the unlucky sod who decided to wear the armor, as the armor slowly corrupts the wearer and, after 1d10 days from when the graveknight was slain, if the person wearing the armor fails a will save, the graveknight pulls a Grand Theft Me on the person, immediately slaying the person and utterly destroying the body. The armor can be cleansed and made safe to wear, but this requires casting three spells on it: break enchantment, holy word and one that varies with each graveknight and relates back to the unique circumstances surrounding its first death and return. Figuring out the correct spell to cleanse the armor usually will entail a lot of research and thinking. And while this detective work is happening, the armor continues to steadily regenerate the graveknight.
    • The ultimate Big Bad of the "Shattered Star" adventure path is the Clockwork Reliquary, which is essentially a lich/golem hybrid containing the soul of the wizard who founded Thassilon, a now-lost empire of the past. It's essentially a somewhat distorted human skeleton encased in a massive crystal, which is fitted into an arcane clockwork apparatus (tripodal legs, four arms) for locomotion and defense. So sort of an undead wizard in a weaponised coffin, like the above Space Marine example.
    • Alling Third is a cyborg lich, whose dark ritual consisted of feeding a barbarian tribe into a sick machine he built, one by one. "Third" wasn't actually his surname in life, and nobody's entirely sure why he's using it now.
  • In The Splinter the Asilos and the Haon-Dor are essentially shape-shiftier liches, with a human form, lich-like middle form, and ghost-like "beast" form. The Haon-Dor also have a tendency to wield various high-tech/magitech weapons and equipment.
  • Warhammer provides us with some examples of liches (n.b. the singular of "liches" in Warhammer is "liche", not "lich") who don't have a Soul Jar — the liche-priests of Khemri, an ancient mortuary cult that learned the secrets of necromancy and managed, after several generations of study, to preserve themselves as liches and cheat death. Their skills came into their own when the rest of their destroyed civilization was raised as undead by the Great Spell of Awakening. There is also at least one example of a wizard who was so absorbed with his work in the lab, he "didn't notice when he died", becoming a liche purely by accident.
    • Nagash, "The Great Necromancer", is also an example, having become undead through a combination of great magical power and Heroic Willpower when his body died in the desert. By his looks he is clearly a liche (though constant exposure to Green Rocks has made him over 9 feet tall) and behaves as such but doesn't seem to have a Soul Jar. Even so, even cutting him up with Infinity +1 Sword and burning the remains to ash failed to kill him for good.
      • Warhammer's liches don't follow the Soul Jar trope as a matter of course, but in Nagash's case his spirit clung to the world in a similar fashion thanks to the persistence of his severed hand - cut off during his battle with Alcadizaar and overlooked - and his Crown of Sorcery. The Crown, in particular, was imbued with much of Nagash's power when he created it, and he is much weakened now he no longer possesses it. Whether he made it specifically as an insurance policy against his death is unclear however. He also has the ludicrously gigantic Black Pyramid that he always reforms in when killed, which unfortunately for him is in territory he no longer controls so he then has to fight his way back to his own fortress.
    • Heinrich Kemmler (the Dresden Files character is named after him) is known as "The Lichemaster", although in this case it's because of the older meaning of "liche" (a corpse). Although a powerful necromancer, Kemmler himself is a living human being and stays alive through a pact with the Chaos Gods.
    • Nagash's lieutenant Arkhan the Black is also referred to as a liche, although unlike the others he actually spent a few centuries ordinary dead before Nagash raised him as undead. Amusingly, while he's described as a powerful necromancer in the lore, in the tabletop game he doesn't have access to necromancy (also known as the Lore of Vampires) at all.
  • As an effectively undead psyker, the God-Emperor of Man in Warhammer 40,000 bears not a few similarities to a lich.
    • The entire race of Necrontyr.
    • The Blood Angels Librarian Dreadnoughts also resemble liches. A Dreadnought is essentially an undead Humongous Mecha and a Space Marine Librarian is essentially a wizard, so it's pretty much an undead wizard in a weaponized coffin.
  • The Lich Lords of Cryx in WARMACHINE are otherwise your typical liches (ie. skeletal undead spellcasters), except with added Steampunk. Since the Cryx are piratical raiders, this technically makes them Pirate Zombie Robots. Which is awesome.
    • Led by the love child of Godzilla and Cthulhu no less, oh and it's only a matter of time until they throw in some ninja.
  • World of Darkness/Chronicles of Darkness:
    • Liches in Mage: The Ascensionnote  are mages who discovered how to turn themselves into immortal undead while still retaining the ability to learn and use magick. It comes at high cost, however, including insanity and inability to develop their Arete (their basic magickal strength) further.
    • Mage: The Awakening features a Left-Handed Path known as the Tremere Liches, whose origins lie in a bunch of vampires trying to diablerize a bunch of mages and the whole thing going horribly, horribly wrong. They're not technically undead, but they become functionally immortal by consuming the souls of others. Of course, later books in the line clarify that the "accident" that led to the formation of the Tremere Liches was actually wholly intentional on the part of the mages, who attempted to find true mastery over the soul and bound themselves to a force in the deepest depths of the magical realms that promises complete mastery of the universe by merging all the "subtle" magical arcana (Fate, Mind, Spirit, Prime, and Death) into one singular force. The Tremere not only subtly evangelize, they recruit, with several Houses made up of other soul-eating Legacies that they've managed to conquer and cannibalize.
      • The Second Edition further clarifies things by explaining Lich, in this setting, covers as a whole all Mages who use their Mage to either become immortal or further their lifespan, with Tremere Liches merely being one of the most unpleasant variants. Other examples include undead Mages who survive through their ghosts by using their Dedicated Tools as Anchors, Shaman who convert themselves into Spirits, Psychonots who preserve their soul in the Astral Realm, or Mages who just apply a lot of enchantment on themselves to stop their aging process.

    Video Games 
  • Arx Fatalis has them filling a mini-boss role, much like the Ultima games. In Arx, they're ghostly entities (who can manifest from piles of bones) rather than the still-animate bodies of sorcerers.
  • Baldur's Gate 2 has several liches as dangerous high-level opponents, and two demi-liches appear as bonus bosses (Kangaxx the Lich in Shadows of Amn, and an unnamed demi-lich in a tomb that is a side area of the Bonus Dungeon of Throne of Bhaal.) You never have to seek out their phylacteries though.
  • Gruntilda in Banjo-Tooie could be considered a kind of lich, given that she fits the idea of a very magically powerful intelligent undead. She has an instant-kill spell, for God's sake! AND she wasted away into a skeleton under that rock inbetween the games, and yet she's still moving, fine and dandy. "Determinator" doesn't even begin to describe it, especially in Nuts & Bolts, where she shows up as nothing but a head.
  • Common villains in Battle for Wesnoth, this turns out to be a central point of Descent into Darkness.
    • Also simply one of the two final advancement choices for a Dark Adept unit that makes it past the Dark Sorcerer/Sorceress stage (the other being the Necromancer), so it can potentially show up in general play if the Undead faction is involved and the game goes on long enough.
  • Azoth from Brawlhalla was an evil emperor who became a skeletal Lich Lord after using seven soul stones that returned him to life when gathered. When he was finally defeated and his soul stones were dispersed, he was granted entrance to valhalla because of his battle prowress. Whenever his soul stones are gathered, however, he comes Back from the Dead and becomes the scourge of the living once again... even though he would rather just stay retired in Valhalla, fight in the ocassional tournament and look after his cat. But apparently the only way to break his old oath is to do ten thousand acts of uninterested goodness (if pet care counts, then he's at one), implying that, unlike most phylacteries, his soul stones cannot be destroyed. Also, while he has some attacks that summon ghostly skulls, he mostly fights with either an axe or a bow.
  • Bravely Default II: Vigintio Isaac was once a wizard who performed unethical experiments on people in order to understand the nature of life and death, until he was killed by Lady Emma of Wiswald. Revived from the dead as the "Mighty Wight" by his own dark magic and given the Arcanist Asterisk by the Holograd Empire, he seeks revenge against the nation of wizards who killed him and seeks to turn them into his undead minions.
  • Chest: Hyroin II is a skeletal sorcerer who attacks the party for disturbing his grave.
  • In Darkest Dungeon, the first boss of the Ruins is referred to as the Necromancer, but as a scholarly sorcerer who was Slain in Their Sleep by the Ancestor and revived using the necromancy they taught him, they do fit the trope. After the Ancestor revived them, they went into the Ruins and started reviving the long-deceased remains of the Ancestor's forebears into an undead army, who now crowd the Ruins. As hinted by their Eldritch classification and utterance of Black Speech, whatever the Ancestor did to them, they definitely aren't human anymore.
  • In Dark Souls III, High Lord Wolnir fits the bill down pat. He was once the ruthless sorcerer king of a desert kingdom of Carthus. He conquered many surrounding kingdoms through brute force and quite literally stamped the crowns of the other lords out of existence. One day he encountered the Abyss and tried to harness its power for himself, but it consumed him, so he killed his clerics and looted their holy bracelets in an attempt to stave off the darkness. When that didn't work, he set up shop in the catacombs in a deliberate attempt to trap people and damn them to the Abyss to prolong the inevitable. His form is that of a gigantic skeleton, several stories tall (though his legs and hip-bones are missing) and he can be accessed by interacting with a jawless skull chalice that houses his essence. The easiest way to defeat him, destroying his protective bracelets and letting the Abyss swallow him, is similiar to destroying a Lich's phylactery.
  • In Dealt in Lead, the Lich-Emperor Abraham Lincoln has risen from the grave to continue the war against the South.
  • Destiny:
    • Many of the Ascendant leaders and gods of the Hive are examples of this. The gods of the Hive, such as Oryx, his sisters, and his children, all have "throne worlds" where their true souls reside, and when they enter reality they are echoes of their true power. If killed in the real world, they return to their throne world to recover and will resume their assaults later on unless someone (i.e. the player) goes in after them and kills them there, which will permanently end them. Oryx takes things a step further, preparing for his ultimate defeat by crafting a weapon of immense power and instructions on how to obtain it. This weapon, the Touch of Malice, carries part of Oryx's soul and, as the wielder uses it, the Touch of Malice will gradually merge their two souls together, combining them into a new Taken King.
    • On a much wider scale, every single Guardian can be considered a light-aligned technolich due to how they are created; a Ghost wandering out in the wilderness happens upon a corpse that has the capacity to accept the Traveler's Light, and by funneling said Light into the corpse/skeleton it revives them into the being they once were (albeit as Space Wizards, Space Paladins, or Space Rangers with no memories of their life before they died). The Ghost then serves as that Guardian's Soul Jar and can revive them an infinite number of times upon death so long as the Ghost still has Light to give. There are exceptions to this however, as some Guardians were still alive when their Ghosts found them, with Ikora Rey and Shin Malphur being the most notable ones.
    • This has lead to the budding profession of Thanatonauts like Pujari, who spend their days holed up in a lab with a notepad and a gun with which they kill themselves over and over and then describe the experience when the Ghost revives them.
  • In Disciples II, The Undead Hordes have liches as their mass-attack magic units. Male necromancers can become liches and later archliches (one of the most powerful mass attacker units in the game). The Undead mage hero unit, the Lich Queen, is a female necromancer who went through the process of becoming a lich. In the expansions, Mortis takes her revenge on Gallean by raising fallen Elves as pale vengeful undead shadows of their former selves. The former Elves hold nothing but resentment for the Elves and their god Gallean. In a particularly vicious move, she even does this to their son after he is slain by demons. The sight of his undead son cursing him for letting him die a horrible death enrages Gallean to the point of madness.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: Liches are characterized by their skeletal bodies, green Volcanic Veins, and Horror Hunger for Source, which they try to drain from living victims. Xhaxh the lich has a Soul Jar, which doesn't protect him from death but does destroy him if broken. One small group of undead are cursed to rise from death as long as their Soul Jars are intact, but they aren't named as liches in-game.
  • Double Dragon Neon: The Big Bad, Skullmageddon, is referred to as a "super-lich". He doesn't use much actual magic until the end of the game, where he tears a portal through time and transforms into a mechanical version of himself.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Arcane Horrors are the corpses of mages animated under Demonic Possession, and possess many of the standard traits of liches.
    • Corypheus / the Elder One is basically a lich in all but name. One of the Tevinter Magisters who tried to enter the Golden City in the game's backstory, he instead became one of the first darkspawn. After being sealed away for centuries, he returns in the present to wreak havoc — and if he's killed, he can Body Surf into any creature with the darkspawn taint. He inadvertently creates a Soul Jar analogue by corrupting a high dragon. So much of his power is invested in it, killing it temporarily disrupts his body-jumping ability.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest III: Zoma isn't explicitly anything besides a "demon lord", but his huge and gaunt frame, sunken face with a skeletal nose, show of necromancy, and overpowering sorcery centered around deathly cold all definitely invoke the image.
    • Dragon Quest VIII: The Tortured Soul Boss is an undead high priest with magical powers.
  • Lobelia in Duel Savior Destiny is essentially a lich, though her body is as beautiful as it was when she died. She's still quite undead, however, and has ceased to age. Her soul is contained in her body, but this is because it's free to jump out, meaning physical destruction still is not really enough to kill her.
  • Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup features the spell Necromutation, a high-level Necromancy/Transmutations spell that temporarily turns a character into a lich, giving them increased necromantic power and various resistances associated with undeath. Downside is, you also gain the weaknesses associated with undeath, such as vulnerability to holy weapons and the inability to eat or drink.
    • Regular liches (i.e. powerful undead spellcasters) also appear in the deep portions of the Dungeon. There's also unborn (lich-priests of Yredelemnul, god of death), ancient liches, Zonguldrok, a special lich who jealously guards his special side level, and Boris, a lich who has mastered the art of regeneration to the point where he can show up to fight you again so long as there's a new floor for him to spawn on.
  • The PSP game Dungeons and Dragons: Tactics has liches of the 3.5 edition. However, because of video game quirks, liches in this game are the Piñata Enemy. No enemy, not even the final boss (a dragon that's trying to achieve apotheosis), gives out as much experience as a lich and they become fairly common later in the game. Additonally. in Dungeons & Dragons, liches are normally really dangerous but not these punk-asses, they're highly vulnerable to your party's magic and melee characters can completely shut down their spell-casting. Preying on liches becomes an almost guarantee for maxing out your characters' levels.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Throughout the series and in the backstory, liches are a type of powerful undead wizard, having sacrificed their very lives and humanity in exchange for extreme magical power. They can be found throughout Tamriel, where they can often be found using their gifts in the school of Necromancy to create legions of undead followers. As with many of Tamriel's supernatural creatures, there are regional variants when it comes to the specific powers and abilities of liches. One variation on the standard fantasy lich is that a soul jar does not seem to be required for certain lich variants, though soul jars are mentioned in lore. Instead, the most common means for becoming a lich is said to be the consumption of a potion made up of powerful and rare magical ingredients. Some liches are able to maintain a facade of humanity, using powerful illusion magic. If this form is killed, they switch to their true undead forms and must be defeated again.
    • The most famous lich in Tamriellic history was also the first to complete the transition. Mannimarco, a powerful Altmer necromancer known as the "King of Worms", became a lich as part of his being an Immortality Seeker. It was his first step toward his ultimate goal of truly becoming a god with Complete Immortality, something he he later accomplishes following the events of Daggerfall... sort of...
    • Oblivion has a quest involving the only lich soul jar in a game to date. A necromancer is oh-so-slowly changing himself into a lich; if you steal his Soul Jar, he instantly drops dead. An in-game note states this is the origin of the old wife's tale about the Soul Jar being a lich's weakness. After the transfer is complete, a lich can discard the item with no ill effect.
    • Skyrim:
      • The Eight Dragon Priests are Nordic versions of liches. These powerful undead dragon worshipping sorcerers can be found in various tombs and barrows and one Dragon roost. The return of their master Alduin has stirred them from their ancient slumber. One quest actually has you stop a Dragon Priest's efforts to become a full lich; this one actually does involve a form of Soul Jar, as the Priest in question drained his own blood and stored it in three jars. You have to collect the jars and pour out the blood, preventing him from gaining full lich powers, and then kill him.
      • In the Dawnguard DLC, in order to enter the Soul Cairn, the Player Character has to technically be dead. As such, they have to choose between becoming a vampire (if they aren't one already) or becoming a semi-lich, having part of their soul trapped in a phylactery which must be retrieved later, lowering their stats (thankfully, the process can be reversed).
      • Undeath, a popular Game Mod, allows the Last Dragonborn to become a lich, too. This grants the ability to transform into a new form that works a lot like the Vampire Lord, with the ability to cast a spell similar to Vampiric Grip with the right hand and a variety of powerful Expert and Master-level spells with the left.
  • Pious Augustus, the chronologically first playable character in Eternal Darkness, becomes a "lieche" due to the "magick" of the Ancients. The artifact isn't a traditional phylactery, though, as it's mainly through the magical protection from the Ancient's link to the universe that grants him undeath and magical power. You still have to destroy it to get him vulnerable again, though.
  • EverQuest has Lucan D'Lere, Venril Sathir, and Miragul.
    • Lucan was a human Paladin who betrayed his god, was stripped of his holy powers, and found a way to turn himself into a lich, in which form he now rules over the city of Freeport with an iron fist.
    • Venril Sathir was an Iksar necromancer who once ruled over the Iksar empire. His pursuit of power and knowledge led him to become a Lich by inhabiting the body of one his own sons many years after he had died. He currently rules over the Sathirian Empire on the continent of Kunark, as well as forcing all the Iksar rulers who took over after him to become his own vassals. They are fully aware that he is forcing them to work for him against their wills.
    • Miragul was an Erudite necromancer who only wanted to learn all the world's knowledge and master all forms of magic. As he grew older, he realized that his body would soon fail and he would die, so he created a lich body to transfer his soul into so he could continue his studies. Unfortunately, a miscalculation caused the ritual to go wrong, and his soul was transferred into the phylactery and not into the lich's body just as his body died.
  • Liches aren't necessarily evil in the Exile/Avernum games (one was even created from a war hero to guard a demon's tomb in the aftermath of a battle), but most of them are egotistical psychopaths. A possible variation on liches might be the Crystal Soul, souls immobilized inside crystals that can only talk and cast spells.
  • The player character in Fallout: New Vegas at least briefly becomes a technological example of this in the DLC "Old World Blues." Upon being transported to the Big Empty, the Courier’s brain is promptly scooped out of him or her and deposited into a jar, after which it sends and receives data using a wireless connection to its dismembered body via "The COILS of NICOLA TESLA!" that had been placed in the Courier’s head. Despite player “death” still resulting in a game over, it can be argued that the Courier is alive and kicking until someone or something comes along and mashes up their brain wherever it’s stored in the Big Empty. That the Big Empty is absolutely full of lobotomized “skinvelopes” also makes the Courier’s body easily replaceable.
  • Nas'Hrah, a floating, sentient wizard head is this in Fear & Hunger. His goals align with that of a typical lich, and he is completely unkillable — reducing his Body (health) to zero only stuns him instead of killing him like every other character.
  • The original Final Fantasy has the Lich as the boss of the Earth Cave; a powerful spellcaster capable of using some devastating magic. The later games, however, merely borrow the word for any undead mook; the only time this trope is in effect is in the rare cases when the original Lich makes a superboss appearance.
    • His successor Scarmiglione in Final Fantasy IV is also a clear Lich, too. Like the original Lich, Scarmiglione is the undead fiend of Earth, and he is able to use magic effectively.
  • Liches in Final Fantasy XI are mid-level skeleton monsters who drop an item used in the first level cap quest. Corses more closely follow this trope- they are incredibly powerful skeleton sorcerers that absolutely no one willingly wants to fight because they are death on a stick that can charm players. And a few of the Notorious Monster Corses have skeletons that assist them.
  • Liches appear In Name Only in Fire Emblem Gaiden, there, they are simply sword using skeletons who mindlessly obey their summoner. Later games would call this monster class, ''Wight'' (Hellbone in Japan). The Spanish version of Fire Emblem Gaiden also uses the word, Lich, but for a basic zombie monster.
  • One of the major villains of Guild Wars Prophecies is a lich necromancer, transformed during the Cataclysm of Orr by Abaddon.
  • Kan-Ra from Killer Instinct is an ancient Babylonian sorcerer who was cursed with a withering rot that causes his flesh and organs to disintegrate. He seemingly cannot be killed as shown by him surviving the Night Guard's attempts to burn him alive. He can also steal souls.
  • Kingdom of Loathing's Misspelled Cemetary contains lihces, which do not look very much at all like traditional liches. The Cyrpt also contains slick lihces, dirty old lihces, and senile lihces (who performed the requisite dire rituals to become immortal accidentally, while trying to make some breakfast). There is a Giant Lihc Mini-Boss; who can be killed instantly if you destroy a "plus-sized phylactery" during battle with it. It is not difficult to defeat without doing so, though, and it never appears again even if you kept the phylactery intact. It also has a Dracolich called the Bonerdagon.
  • In Kult: Heretic Kingdoms, two are encountered, both of whom were once official government necromancers back in the days when that was legal. Percheron, the lesser of the two, is rather addled from his isolation. His master, Sice Larwan, is a lot more lucid (and a lot more powerful). Neither, however, have to be fought — rather, they're sources of information, since the magical master-apprentice links they had in life persist after death (and Larwan's other apprentice is of interest to the protagonist).
  • League of Legends features the lich Karthus. He was captivated by the moment between life and death and voluntarily chose to enter a permanent, skeletal, undead state at the Shadow Isles. Karthus is a lategame-oriented, sustained damage mage notorious for having an ultimate that strikes all enemy Champions regardless of range for large magic damage. His passive, Death Defied, lets him cast spells (albeit standing still over his corpse) for no cost for 7 seconds...after he dies. This is *much* better than it sounds — Karthus is known for having absurd damage output lategame, and 7 seconds of that for free in the middle of a teamfight is more than enough to decimate careless foes. His Soul Jar isn't known (and he can be "killed," albeit very easily resurrected), although if he has a Soul Jar it might be the Shadow Isles themselves.
    • As of his 2015 lore update, Mordekaiser has also become a full-blown lich. Unlike Karthus (who may not even have a phylactery), he explicitly does have one; the skeleton of his physical body is tied to his undeath and must be intact for him to be able to resurrect if he is felled, as he does not appear to be able to self-resurrect and requires a ritual (which he conveniently has several liches bound to his will for). He also does not appear to have a physical form; while his armor moves, it appears to be animated purely by his will, as there is no apparent body within.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess:
      • Death Sword appears as an undead Magic Knight who wields a giant sword. Notably, he disintegrates into flies when defeated; it is actually the sword itself that goes through the standard monster death animation, hinting that it was a phylactery of sorts.
      • Ganondorf exists somewhere between life and death, having barely survived his execution thanks to the Triforce of Power reanimating him. In addition to his considerable magic power, he can switch between his "mortal" Gerudo form and a giant ghostly head. When the Triforce of Power finally leaves him, he goes with it.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks features Skeldritch, the Ancient Demon. He wears a viking helmet and specializes in spitting up rocks. You need to deflect and load the rocks onto catapults so they destroy Skeldritch's rib cage, and finally knocks the helmet off so you can stab the gem embedded in its skull.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Ganondorf is introduced as a Not Quite Dead mummy entombed under Hyrule Castle, who unleashes potent magic once he is unsealed. He also fits the "destructively ambitious" archetype of a lich, since he is ruthless in his pursuit of unlimited power which he wants to use to not just conquer Hyrule, but destroy it entirely. Moreover, he owes his power and longevity to the Secret Stone he carries, and the only way to kill him is to destroy it.
  • In Loop Hero, the entire world is destroyed by the Lich Omicron, who appears as a skeleton filled with stars and void with an ornate robe and nimbus. In life, he was an archmage who felt that sleeping was a waste of research time, so he created a spell that allowed a copy of his mind to puppet his sleeping body. When the archmage died of natural causes, the spell took over his corpse and continued his research.
  • In Lords of Magic the Lich is the legendary creature for the Death faction, made through the transformation of a necromancer. It can reach level 12, otherwise attainable only by faction lords, has the largest mana pool in the game, and strong attack and defense and the ability to enter defense mode, averting the Squishy Wizard issue most mages suffer.
  • Lichdom is the ultimate skill in Necromancy in Lusternia. The Necromancer dies, but rises again as an archlich — with increased strength and intelligence, a freezing aura, and the ability to bestow a lesser version of lichdom upon non-Necromantic allies. Nihilist priests fit the Evil Sorcerer mould and like the idea of immortality: elite ur'Guard troopers are mainly in it for the increase in power, becoming Death Knights in the process.
  • Mabinogi's most infamous field dungeon is called Peacanote . Its standard difficulty features the Demi Lich as its final boss. The creature is fast-moving and wields high-level magic spells that can kill even advanced players in one or two hits. It's also invulnerable to all but a very specific class of weapon that is prohibitively expensive to craft and breaks after one hit. Really, it's no wonder Peaca is the only dungeon in the game's history with a minimum party size restriction (though that's since been removed).
    • Peaca's higher-difficulty version takes it a step further with the Master Lich. This goat demon doesn't have the nigh-invulnerability of the Demi, and he's a fair bit slower; but he more than makes up for that with nearly half a million HP (compared to the Demi's 5,000), an advanced AI with high-level magic that can outclass all but the most veteran of players, and a unique area-of-effect spell called Flames of Hell that is a guaranteed death sentence if you get caught in it.
    • Finally, there's the toughest of them all, the Arc Lich. A field boss found only in a certain part of the Connous desert, he's similar to the Demi in lots of ways. For example, he's immune to all weaponry. All of it. The only way to deal any damage to him is with explosions. Luckily, he spawns along with a bunch of explosive horses, so the battle is overall easier than the other two if you just play your cards right.
  • One of the bosses in Majesty The Fantasy Kingdom Sim is the "Liche Queen", who uses powerful dark magic and can summon undead minions. The flavour text doesn't mention any Soul Jar, but it does explain that she used to be a high priestess of Krypta whose mind snapped when a ritual to increase Krypta's power backfired. Presumably, that's what turned her into a lich.
  • In Might and Magic VII, it's possible for sorcerers in your party to undertake a ritual to become liches, complete with Soul Jars. Liches also show up as part of the Necropolis army in the Heroes of Might and Magic games, both as heroes and units; however, they don't require Soul Jars — their use of necromancy allows them immortality, while also eating away at their vitality until they're reduced to emaciated living corpses. Lich units are typically mid-high tier shooters (usually tier 5 out of 7), often with a "death cloud" area of effect component to their shots. They also have additional dark magic abilities in the games where units can have them. As heroes, Liches are on the "magic" side of the "might and magic" scale.
    • Magic-users had the option of becoming liches in Might and Magic VII through IX. The process was always quite complicated, and the main payoff was access to the top dark magic powers. It didn't give any particular immortality (it grants immunity to Body magic and removes age as a factor, but otherwise you're no more protected from death than any other character) — though this might be because they games vary between indicating that the soul jars are only needed for the process (with the souls then put back in the body) or that liches have to carry their soul jars with them. VII has dialogue revealing that necromancers are still actively researching how to refine the lich transformation, which is why there's so many living necromancers around — the current iteration of the ritual has so specific requirements for soul jars that the supply of it (the production of it is not under necromancer control) acts as a bottleneck, and some necromancers that would be powerful and influential enough to get a claim forgo it in the hopes that research will lead to better versions of lichdom.
    • In Might and Magic Heroes VI, lichdom is achieved by replacing all of the blood in your body with the venom of the Mother Namtarru, the embodiment of the creator goddess Asha's nightmares. If you remain a lich for a long time, you eventually become a vampire.
  • In Minecraft Dungeons, the Necromancers and their King Mook variant, the Nameless One, while being able to both attack the player and summon undead hordes with their magic, are skeletal and undead themselves.
  • Two of the Masters from the Real-Time Strategy game Minion Masters are liches: Mordar and Morellia. The former is a skeleton while the latter doesn't look undead at all.
  • Quan Chi of Mortal Kombat is an arguable example — he's not entirely undead physically, but he did rise from the Netherrealm in sorcerer form (after being an Oni) and isn't exactly the most lively-looking man in the world with his white skin and sunken eyes. The unnaturally deep voice doesn't help.
  • The titular Fallen Lords of Myth: The Fallen Lords fit the bill. Like The Black Company, which the game takes heavy inspiration from, the Fallen Lords are powerful spellcasters from throughout the setting's history brought back from the dead and enslaved by the Leveller. While none has a proper Soul Jar, The Watcher's severed arm serves as his greatest weakness, and finding it leads directly to his destruction. There is also a powerful unit called a Shade that can be fielded by the Dark. It's essentially a generic Fallen Lord, wielding extremely dangerous magic and a sword for melee combat. Like The Black Company, Squishy Wizard is averted in this setting.
  • Neverwinter Nights is a D&D CRPG, so naturally it has liches of various types, as does its sequel:
    • In Shadows of Undrentide, the Netherese scholar Belpheron survived the aeons since the Fall of Netheril by becoming a lich, but was apparently defeated by the Harpers, with his mummified hand being one of the artifacts stolen from Hilltop. The hand is a Red Herring, but Belpheron's onetime apprentice Heurodis becomes a lich herself as part of her ascension.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2
    • The original campaign has the crystal wyrm Nolalothcaragascint, a dragon who was hired by the ancient elven kingdom of Illefarn to kill the King of Shadows. Nolaloth actually came pretty close, injuring the King badly enough to force it to withdraw to the Astral Plane, but he was killed in the attempt. Illefarn transmuted his heart to crystal and bound his soul to it.
    • In Mask of the Betrayer, Rammaq is a demilich who fought alongside Akachi when he rebelled against Myrkul, and will join you in the invasion of the Fugue Plane in the endgame. Since he was a Titan in life, even as a floating skull it's ten feet tall.
    • Storm of Zehir has an alhoon as a superboss — a mind flayer lich. It is meant to be an encounter for epic-level characters and is about the only reason to keep grinding after you beat The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, which is doable at level 18.
  • Liches in Nexus Clash are the dedicated summoners of the humanity-focused, free-will-defending Transcended side, who have ironically given up their humanity to undeath in defense of their free will. Undeath and necromancy in the Nexus are neutral, not evil, so Liches can be civil or even downright saintly in practice so long as they can keep the violent nature of their undead minions in check. Most don't bother, and there's no shortage of angels who prefer to kill the undead on sight just to be sure.
  • Most of the Ogre Battle series features Liches, both as enemies and playable units. They do look quite desiccated/skeletal, and are usually dark-aligned. But you can actually make Holy-element Liches. The Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors system means that they'll hit harder against dark Liches, but will also take more damage from their dark spells.
    • Usually, getting one requires an upgraded Wizard character of low alignment, plus several extremely rare evil artifacts. As the trade-off, though, they receive multiple castings of the most powerful multi-elemental spells around. Having one in any unit is usually enough to decimate all comers.
    • In Tactics Ogre, Nybeth is a necromancer who becomes one in a bid to cheat death.
  • Outward borrows from Dungeons & Dragons in that liches are empowered by hidden "phylacteries" that allow them to regenerate their body if it is destroyed. However, they depart from there: rather than moldering undead, most liches resemble biomechanical constructs and are aligned to one of the damage elements of the game: fire, lightning, poison, etc. Additionally, they have a noticeable lack of empathy, regardless of their actual motivations, implying that their immortal status has robbed them of their initial humanity. They're not necessarily villains, either: the Plague Doctor can be reasoned with, the Light Mender can be forced into a stalemate, and Whispering Bones is willingly helpful.
  • Tubba Blubba from Paper Mario can count, possibly even as a dracolich if one is willing to count an oversized monstrous turtle as a dragon. His (sentient) heart has been removed from his body, making him invulnerable. Mario and friends beat up the heart and force it to rejoin the body, which removes Tubba Blubba's invincibility. Unusually for a lich, he does not have magical attacks, though his heart does.
  • Pillars of Eternity liches are fairly standard (although it is possible for people who aren't mages to become liches, even if it is implied they'd need help to set it up), which in the context of the setting is unusual — undead are people that died but had their souls stuck to their bodies, and need to consume fresh flesh, preferably kith flesh to avoid degenerating physically and mentally (and it's practically impossible to keep that up forever, so sooner or later a fampyr will degenerate into a dargul, and so on until they end up as skeletons who can't consume flesh). Liches are people that used a very rare ritual (there's exactly one lich that shows up throughout the game and expansion) that involves a phylactery and their soul, with the end result that when they die they avoid the hunger for kith flesh and the mental part of the degeneration (they do still get the physical part, though, hence why they tend to look like skeletons).
  • Puzzle Quest has liches, which are rather strong enemies, and archliches, which are even stronger.
  • Liches in Rift are towering skeletons with their ribcages showing out of their robes, hovering slightly over the ground, and having wings made of bone. Necromancers get Lich form as their end talent; neither of these cases seem to use phylacteries.
  • In Secret of Mana, Thanatos is the linchpin of some eldritch lich pact which has recently started wearing off and now his mortality is finally beginning to manifest. But you can't cheat death forever...
  • In the third Gold Box game, Secret of the Silver Blades, the Final Boss is a classic liche. He must be defeated and then his phylactery must be destroyed in order to complete the game.
  • Skullgirls: Every seventh year, the Skull Heart manifests and grants one girl a single wish. However, should her heart be impure then the wish will be corrupted and the Skull Heart will take Demonic Possession of the wisher and turn her into one of the titular Skullgirls, an immensely powerful undead being. If her heart is strong enough, however, she'll be able to retain her sentience for a while... The current Skullgirl, "Bloody" Marie Korbel, is noted as being the weakest Skullgirl ever, much thanks to the strength of her heart allowing her to fully retain her sentience and keep Fighting from the Inside against the Skull Heart's influence. She's still powerful enough to raise her victims as undead thralls by the hundreds though.
  • Liches appear in Total Annihilation: Kingdoms as a Tarosian unit. They follow the characteristics for other undead units in the game (can't be turned to stone, fade away on destruction without leaving a body), can cross bodies of water by floating above them, and their weapon is a life-draining wave of energy that can also damage your own units in the vicinity.
  • The form of cheating death used by Toyosatomimi no Miko and her coterie in Touhou Project resembles lichdom. They swap their soul into an inanimate object, which takes their form when they 'die'. Not exactly undead, though, so much as confusing heaven into thinking that they've died. Their awakening even follows the standard "evil necromancers stir up from their millennial sleep in their forgotten tomb and threaten the life of decent people" plot.
  • Ultima had the Liche as a monster.
    • In Ultima I the evil wizard Mondain can survive being repeatedly killed as long as his phylactery is left untouched. The monsters the game calls liches, though, have no similar phylacteries evident. It's unclear how smart they are, but they are powerful and dangerous. They appear as merely floating skulls, so they look more like AD&D's Demiliches.
    • Ultima Underworld 2 even has non-wizard liches — a quadrumvirate of warrior, wizard, assassin, and one more as a hidden superboss. The warrior is the leader and the most dangerous.
  • Liches are uncommon enemies in Vagrant Story. They're Glass Cannons: They can actually be easy to defeat if you attack them enough times before they can get a spell off, but said spells can be devastating. Liches are some of the only enemies in the game who know Radial Surge, a light spell. In Vagrant Story, the main character gains resistance to elements the more he's attacked by those elements, but light spells are extremely rare and so the main character is likely to have absolutely no resistance to it. It's entirely possible for a Lich with a high-level Radial Surge to kill you in one shot.
    • Vagrant Story's liches are a subversion of the way liches are traditionally portrayed, in that they gain their powers and immortality from a Deal with the Devil rather than a Soul Jar, and the game treats them as evil-type enemies (akin to demons) rather than undead.
  • Liches in the Warcraft universe are former mages or warlocks turned Undead. The first round of Liches were Ner'Zhul and his Orcish Warlocks and Death Knights (which is why Liches in WC3 have those huge fangs; they're Orcs), Death Knights in the second war were the corpses of Azerothian knights from the first war animated by the soul of a dead Warlock. Human mages can also be turned into Liches, the most obvious example being Kel'Thuzad. Death Knights in the third war are undead Paladins with their souls sucked out, hence why Arthas turned into one. The Lich King (the 'second' one formed by merging Arthas with Ner'Zhul, not to be confused with just Ner'Zhul, who was also the Lich King) is therefore the body of a death knight combined with the mind of a lich with his soul bound to his sword, making him somewhat of a combination of the two. It's complicated especially given that the term "Death Knight" is, per the Fiend Folio, used to denote a type of lich in D&D.
    • While this is usually not important, liches in World of Warcraft do have phylacteries, though they CAN be slain without destroying the phylactery. However, it is mentioned they may come back if the phylactery is left untouched. Back in vanilla World of Warcraft, a quest involving the phylactery of Kel'Thuzad has the player character pull a Nice Job Breaking It, Hero by selling it to an Argent Dawn member (who later turns out to be a Scourge spy) instead of destroying it, and for Wrath of the Lich King Naxxramas indeed returns as a level 80 raid, complete with Kel'Thuzad.
      • It's also mentioned that what is ostensibly the lich's body (the skeletal, adorned upper body with the strips of cloth flowing down to about ground level from the hips) isn't actually their body from when they were alive, and is instead merely a physical form projected by the phylactery. As such, even destroying the body to a ludicrous extent won't matter when it comes to keeping the lich dead.
    • While his power seems to be demonic in nature rather than undead, a warlock in the Goblin starting experience will come back to life repeatedly if his Soulstone is not destroyed. (Of course, since every player passing through his cavern has to kill him to progress their own story, he respawns in a minute's time even then.)

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 

  • 8-Bit Theater has the Lich as he was in the original Final Fantasy: an undead sorcerer. He managed to seal his soul in the Earth Orb, a powerful magical objects that controls the Earth itself, until Thief expels it by invoking anti-pollution laws. He is then dragged down to Hell thanks to Black Mage, but manages to replace him as the ruler of Hell, until the Lich is briefly summoned back to life by one of his son's former allies. Black Mage then promptly utterly destroys him.
  • Ashface's Daughter: The Master is one of these as well as a powerful and skilled necromancer. He's also quite fond of sipping tea and playing with kittens.
  • Baskets of Guts: Liches are wizards who somehow bound their soul to an inanimate object (a phylactery) and thus kept their link with the mortal world after their technical death. Though a phylactery can't actually move, the bound soul can still cast spells. Your guess what kind of magic comes in handy first.
  • Harry Potter Comics: The Necromancer is the inventor and perfector of the Horcrux formula that Voldemort used.
  • Homestuck: Liches are enemies encountered in the Medium once the kids are drawn into the reality-warping video game Sburb. They're only shown fleetingly and in limited detail, but they don't appear to be undead creatures and instead resemble demonic humanoids with horns and skull-like heads.
  • Looking for Group: Richard is an undead warlock. He seems to store his soul elsewhere, likely his gem or father's corpse, but this has not yet been confirmed. Many fans speculate that he is a lich.
  • The Order of the Stick: Xykon is a standard lich by D&D rules, as well as the Big Bad. (Although Redcloak, Xykon's Chessmaster Dragon, may have something to say about that before all is said and done,) He is naturally protective of his phylactery, (in this case the phylactery is Redcloak's unholy symbol) and threats to it are one of the few things that can motivate Xykon into serious action.
  • In their store, Penny Arcade has a shirt that says, "Life's a lich, and then you never die".
  • In Unsounded, Duane is an interesting subversion. One, he's a quiet, lawful scholar who's been blackmailed into escorting a brat of a child. Two, there are indications that his raising was done to him (later we find out that Bastion did it as an experiment). If he has a phylactery, he certainly doesn't know it.
  • Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic is D&D-based, so it features a lich named Lewie (short for King Lewstrom VII). At first he is portrayed as an Affably Evil Harmless Villain (a trait he shares with many of the characters) who would gladly lend you some of his skeletal minions to help with your gardening, and is fond of saying "Curses!" when annoyed. However, once he gets his hands on an artifact that allows him to summon his death goddess, he becomes a Not-So-Harmless Villain. Unfortunately, he has forgotten what his original goal was (i.e., why he became a lich in the first place, and began plotting and scheming and amassing power). And by the time he does recall the reason, it turns out that the whole idea is pointless now, since several centuries have passed and his enemies are long dead.

    Web Original 
  • In Angel of Death, a community of around 2,000 liches exists. They can shapeshift between a human form and that of an 8-foot tall corpse, and have copious amounts of magical power. Most horrifying of all, these liches must devour the souls of the living on a nightly basis, or else their starvation will drive them into a frenzy likely to kill hundreds of people.
  • Magic, Metahumans, Martians and Mushroom Clouds: An Alternate Cold War: Koschei the Deathless, one of the Trope Codifiers, is discovered by the Soviets when they dig up the golden egg his soul was tethered to, which then possesses one of the officers involved. In exchange for this, he pledges loyalty and use of his extensive magical knowledge to the Soviet Union; he even manages to prolong Stalin's life an additional five years after the stroke which killed him in OTL.
  • The Necromancer in the true path of Necromancer (End Master) and in Death Song becomes a lich after Lord Rostov breaks his neck in an attempt to kill him. The same world had been terrorized by a lich centuries before.
  • Boris Yegorovich of The Wanderer's Library is an Evil Sorcerer who hides his death inside the thirteen days that Russia skipped when it moved from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar after Red October.
  • Discussed in Void Domain. Said to be one of the main things that Death cannot stand existing. One of the main villains of the first book was attempting to turn himself into a lich.
  • An extremely rare benevolent example is illustrated here.

    Web Videos 
  • The final boss in the first campaign of Critical Role is Vecna, the most iconic lich of all time. See the tabletop games folder for more info on them.
  • The Big Bad of Dimension 20's Unsleeping City season is Robert Moses, a real-life realestate developer who planned most of modern New York, but intentionally bulldozed a lot of poorer-income (and mostly african-american) to do so, who at some point stored his soul in a phylactery.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
    • The Lich is introduced as a nigh-unstoppable Walking Wasteland trying to escape being Sealed Evil in a Can. At first, he appears closer to a traditional Lich, with sorcerer's robes and necromancy, but by his second appearance he's portrayed more like an ephemeral Humanoid Abomination. Later, it was implied he was struck as a human by a demonic nuclear bomb, becoming possessed with the desire to end all life. As of "Evergreen", it appears he's somehow connected to the comet that killed the dinosaurs. In "Gold Stars", he claims to know what it was like before there was a universe. In some form or another, he may have been around long before the bomb.
    • Although the word isn't used, the Fight King from the episode "Morituri Te Salutamus" is blatantly a lich. He's a horribly-scarred, mummified figure with evil magical powers, who dies instantly when Finn destroys his sword, which was presumably his phylactery.
  • Aladdin: The Series: Mozenrath, arch-enemy of Aladdin throughout the show, is the magic ruler of the Land of the Black Sand. His sorcerous powers are derived from a cursed gauntlet which is actively eating away at his lifeforce, with his hand bearing the gauntlet having already become skeletal, and the rest of Mozenrath's body having a very gaunt, unhealthy appearance. Finally coming to terms with the fact that he's on the border of life and death, he seeks to skirt his Faustian bargain through Grand Theft Me.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls (1998) episode "Abracadaver", the magician Al Lusion had his tricks exposed and was mocked by the entire town before he fell into an Iron Maiden. Decades later, when the building containing the maiden is demolished, he is released and rises from the dead as a zombie with magic powers to get revenge on Townsville. The city immediately falls into chaos as he starts transmuting people and buildings and trapping the girls themselves in death traps. In fact, he was such a dangerous Monster of the Week that he was only defeated by a Deus ex Machina.
  • The Pastmaster from SWAT Kats is never called a lich, but he fits the image: a skeletal, undead-looking Evil Sorceror who makes a big deal out of being immortal. His first appearance shows him reanimating two skeletons to do his bidding, and a later one has him calling up an army of giant mummies. His pocket watch seems to be the source of his power (he's unable to do magic when it's stolen in one episode), but whether it's an actual Soul Jar is never addressed.
  • Despite his name and semi-bandaged appearance, Mumm-Ra from Thundercats 1985 and ThunderCats (2011) comes across more as a lich than a mummy. His exact mortal status is never made entirely clear: he must retreat to his sarcophagus every 24 hours to maintain his existence, but at the same time... "As long as Evil exists, Mumm-Ra lives!!"
  • While, again, never referred to as a Lich, Lord Hater from Wander over Yonder fits the bill — a skeletal sorcerer with grand evil plans of galactic conquest. The stinger of the series finale heavily implies he was originally an ape shot into space by NASA, who was uplifted and reanimated by some magic in the show's main galaxy.
  • In The Owl House the main villain Emperor Belos initially appears to be a witch like most others, albeit with supreme mastery over magic. However, it is later revealed that he is a human from the 17th century that survived the centuries through arcane means. This process has transformed him into a horrific skeletal beast covered in foul ooze, which also allows him to recover from almost any injury. While he has no phylactery like traditional liches, he maintains his immortality by devouring the magical essence of Familiars.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Lich


The truth about the Soul Gems

Kyubey reveals the truth about the soul gems, which actually house the Magical Girl's soul inside of them, making the girls zombies.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (34 votes)

Example of:

Main / SoulJar

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