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Raised Hand of Survival

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"Did you see those Huns? They popped out of the snow! LIKE DAISIES!"
Mushu, Mulan

A person is believed dead. But then, you see a hand rising from the location of his body. Sometimes it's a clenched fist, meaning he's ready to go on and keep kicking ass. Sometimes, a weak arm meaning he's losing consciousness and might die. Anyway, it probably means you should start digging.

Compare Rise from Your Grave, Barrier-Busting Blow, Finger-Twitching Revival. Related to Eye Awaken, Playing Possum, Not Quite Dead, and The End... Or Is It? Contrast Dead-Hand Shot and Last Grasp at Life, where the hand gesture indicates death instead of life.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Black Cat: A wall crumbles down on Train, and his arm shoots up out of the rubble before the rest of him follows.
  • Carnival Phantasm: After getting killed in every episode, Lancer finally subverts it in episode 11 with his hand bursting from his grave.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • While Vegeta is training at 300 times gravity in preparation for the fight with the androids, he inadvertently makes his training pod explode. When Bulma runs over to see if he's still alive, his hand thrusts out of the pile of rubble to make it clear he's alive.
    • When Cell is knocked backwards a huge distance by Vegeta, he ends up underwater. A few seconds later his hand raises up out of the water, showing that he survived the attack.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers: In an Solo Avengers storyline, Hawkeye runs into a vigilante called Blind Justice, who gets into a fight with an LA mobster and is shot dead center, falling off the building their fighting on into the water below. Nearby, Hawkeye and the Shroud presume he's dead and walk off. As they go, Blind Justice's hand bursts out of the water. (And then he didn't reappear for twenty-four years.)
  • Red Robin: After Tim Drake blows up the underground League of Assassins base the Council of Spiders was infiltrating, the Wanderer's hand can be seen reaching from the rubble, and an unfortunate rescue worker touches it when trying to help dig out survivors. He dies instantly, and she and the rest of the Council dig themselves out.
  • Supergirl:
    • In Starfire's Revenge, the titular queenpin is believed dead after falling off a window and into a moat as fleeing from Supergirl. As the main characters are leaving the place, though, her hand breaks the water's surface.
    • Adventures of Supergirl: The titular heroine gets smashed into a building together with the aircraft whose freefall she was attempting to halt. Her sister Alex is searching the wreckage, desperately shouting Kara's name, when one hand emerges out of the debris and gives a thumbs-up.
    • The Death of Luthor: When Supergirl wraps Luthor's body in a special cocoon, the first sign that he is alive is his hand breaking out of the shell and grasping upwards.

    Film — Animation 
  • The Taarna segment of the 1981 animated film Heavy Metal has the huge Loc-Nar spew a torrent of greenish ooze, which floods the valley and inundates everyone beneath it, including the red-robed leader. After much time submerged in this ooze, the leader's organic hand breaks the surface. Then his mechanical hand also breaks the surface, and makes a fist. The leader emerges as an undead evil minion of the Loc-Nar, promptly declaring war on the rest of the living world: "Death to all who oppose us!"
  • Mulan has the supposedly killed-in-an-avalanche Shan Yu poke his hand out from the snow (Like Daisies!).
  • In The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie, it seems that Robert the Terrible has drowned after he went down with his sinking ship, but when George, Elliot, and Sedgewick are about to return to the future in their rowboat, Robert's mechanical hand comes out from the water and grabs hold of the side of the rowboat, coming to the future with them.
  • In Superman: Doomsday, a fist punches out of Superman's grave, indicating his return. Actually, it's a clone.
  • In Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo, at the end, Starfire is buried under ink. An arm rises up, prompting Robin to start getting her out.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Batman (1989): During the encounter with Batman at Axis Chemicals, Jack Naper slips off a catwalk and falls into a vat of chemicals. At first, Batman and the police think he's history, but then we're shown a drain pipe that leads into the sea. Jack's hand then rises out of the water, showing that he's alive, and has transformed into the Joker.
  • In the 1976 film version of Carrie, the second to last scene is of Carrie's hand jutting out of the rubble. The last scene is of Sue waking up screaming.
  • How Linda emerges from her grave in Evil Dead 2.
  • Ghostbusters (1984). Dana Barrett is possessed by Zuul, who later transforms into a terror dog upon Gozer's arrival. After Gozer is destroyed, the demon's charred body is found. Fortunately, Dana's hand breaks out of the shell, showing that she's still alive inside it.
  • In Inspector Gadget 2, Dr. Claw's mechanical pincer bursts out of the ground when tunneling out of prison, with a surprising amount of menace.
  • James Bond:
    • In On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the villain sets off an avalanche which buries Bond and Tracy under a heap of snow. Tracy manages to raise her hand from under the snow, upon which a rescue squad come to her aid.
    • The Spy Who Loved Me. James Bond is fighting The Dragon Jaws under a wooden scaffolding that holds large stone blocks. Jaws swings a board and hits the scaffolding, causing it to collapse and bury him, apparently killing him. Bond leaves him for dead, but the audience sees Jaws's hand emerging from the pile of debris, showing he's alive.
  • Jumanji: Van Pelt is seemingly defeated for good when Alan ends up crashing through the store and causing a Disaster Dominoes that results in a shelf full of rather large paint cans to fall on the hunter and bury him alive. However, after a while, we see Pelt's hand slowly creeping out from the pile of paint cans.
  • In Kill Bill, the Bride emerges from her coffin like this.
  • Played with in the climax of the 2019 Kim Possible Live-Action Adaptation: After Drakken's lair explodes with Athena (revealed as a cybernetic humanoid) inside, Rufus spots a hand emerging from the ground. Kim grasps it, and pulls up a severed robot hand. Athena's head then calls out "I could use a hand." A followup scene reveals that she was recovered and rebuilt, sans Drakken's "evil programming".
  • Subverted in The Quick and the Dead. Cort manages to shoot Spotted Horse, known for his resilience, for the second time and he falls to the ground. He raises his arm and everyone gasps, anticipating another comeback, but then his arm falls limply back down to the ground.
  • At the end of Street Fighter: Bison's hand rises out the debris while a computer voiceover informs us that his batteries are still working. We then see him opening a computer file labeled "World Domination" and hitting the replay button.
  • Played Straight and Subverted in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. Played straight at the beginning, when we see the Shredder's hand rise from the garbage. Subverted in the climax, when his hand rises from the wreckage of the dock that fell on him... only to go limp.
  • We Were Soldiers: Lt. Herrick's Lost Platoon spends much of the film pinned by NVA troops, calling down artillery strikes so close to their own position that they end up buried in dirt, foliage, and other debris. When a fellow platoon finally manages to get to their position, SGT Savage reveals himself to them by slowly raising his hand.
  • Young Sherlock Holmes: In Elizabeth's hallucination, hands rise up out of the ground in the cemetery, grab her and drag her down into a grave.

  • Guy Sajer's account of service with the elite Grossdeutchland infantry in WW2, The Forgotten Soldier, relates the time when Sajer is sent into a warehouse where Soviet partisans are hiding. The subsequent fire-fight leaves him feeling he is the last German soldier left alive in there. He also realises the Russians are in the roofspace, firing down on anything moving at ground level. When a German officer calls from outside to ascertain if any Germans are still alive in there, Sajer raises his arm, very cautiously, to be told to keep his head down and not to raise it. A few minutes later he realises why, as German heavy weapons are fired into the building, sweeping it from knee-height to roof-space. Several thousand rounds of machine-gun ammo later and having heard the crash of Russian bodies falling from above, he walks out, alive...
  • An example without a grave or rubble occurs in Peter Pan: Wendy lies apparently dead, having been mistaken for a bird and shot out of the sky with an arrow by one of the Lost Boys, but is revealed to be alive when she raises her arm to stop Peter from executing the boy who shot her.
  • In The Zombie Knight, after the Battle of Rathmore's Gate Hector doesn't have enough of his body left to do this, but responds to Roman's shouts by raising a pillar of materialized iron in a very similar way.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Another World, following a visiting character's presumed death after his fall from a cliff, the first indication that he'd survived was a hand coming up out of the river to grab a low-hanging branch.
  • An almost identical shot on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman revealed that Sully had survived his fall from a cliff.
  • In an episode of MacGyver (1985), Mac's Arch-Enemy Murdoc is buried under a cave-in. Except (as usual for him) he survives, his hand slowly rising from the rubble. And then a spring-loaded knife jumps from his sleeve into said hand.
  • In the Brit Com Mandy, the episode "Broadsword to Donna Ball" has Mandy Buried Alive and Facing Death With Dignity... until in the last few seconds of the episode she realises she can escape using a Chekhov's Gun from earlier, and her hand rising from the grave provides the visual punchline.
  • On Melrose Place, after Jane and Sydney kill Jane's rapist, Richard, they drive out to the woods and bury the body. Sure enough, not two seconds after they drove off, Richard's hand came up out of the grave.
  • Midsomer Murders: As the first Victim of the Week is being Buried Alive in "Saints and Sinners", her hand thrusts up through the earth in a desperate attempt to escape. But it is a futile gesture, and the hand collapses even as the next scoopful of earth buries her completely.
  • At the end of the MythBusters Halloween special, Jamie and Adam walk away from the "grave" where they just buried a simulaid (in a spandex body suit to protect it) ... and a hand clad in the same spandex pushes up out of the dirt.

    Pro Wrestling 

    Video Games 
  • If you beat Castlevania II: Simon's Quest quickly enough, the ending you receive will show what happens to Simon, then the screen goes dark except for Dracula's tombstone and a hand reaches through the ground.
  • In Clock Tower 2, Helen's Ending B has Scissorman's hand rises amidst the castle's wreckage to show that he survived. This doesn't happen in Jennifer's Ending B for some reason, despite it having similar circumstances.
  • Finishing the first Metroid Prime with 100% Completion adds a brief cinematic showing a hand reaching out from the puddle of Phazon that was once the title creature, which was even more disturbing since the Metroid Prime didn't have any anatomy that resembled hands. At the time the player would have no idea who or what this is: Metroid Prime reviving as Dark Samus, Samus Aran's nemesis throughout Prime 2 and 3.
  • The Halloween update for Overwatch adds emotes for all the characters in open graves with their items around them, and some of them are doing this. There are a few variations: for example, Hanzo isn't doing anything to get out, D.Va is making a peace sign with her raised hand, and Widowmaker has raised legs of survival.
  • At the end of Quake II, the protagonist's escape pod crashes on some planet. The hatch is knocked away, and a hand rises out. It ends with it clenching into a fist.
  • In Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, Dr Nefarious' return as a robot is heralded by his robotic arm rising from a scrap heap.
  • After defeating the Sorceress in Spyro: Year of the Dragon, her hand is shown to reach out of the lava that she was cast into, onto the edge of the arena. Sure enough, you fight her again at the end of the bonus world to reclaim the last dragon egg.
  • Warcraft III: The icon for the Animate Dead spell is an undead hand raising to the sky.
  • An alien hand raises from a street grate in X-COM: Terror from the Deep in the final scene of the "good" ending, showing that the alien threat may not have been completely dealt with yet.

    Web Comics 

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • Used and subverted in American Dad! episode "Tearjerker", when the caption says "The End", Roger's hand comes out of the lava and the caption says "The End?", then the hand falls and the caption says "The End" again.
  • In Beware the Batman, in the episode "Toxic", Metamorpho ends up sucked into a ventilation tube as a gas - and that's after Batman says the antidote which was supposed to prevent him from dying didn't take. Later, we see liquid dripping into a sewer with a roughly humanoid coloration visible in the water. Then, Metamorpho's fist rises out.
  • In the first episode of Cyberchase titled "Lost My Marbles", Hacker is buried under a pile of rocks along with his henchmen. However, once the main characters make their escape, Hacker's hand rises out of the rocks before cutting to the next scene.
  • At the end of the Grand Finale of G.I. Joe: Renegades, Cobra Commander emerges from the wreckage of his mansion (destroyed by the explosion of the MASS Device), arm first. He'd fallen into an Acid Pool (with his face being even more mangled/ugly than it was already), and vows that if the Joes wanted to start a war, Cobra will finish it. (Sadly, we didn't get to see him carry out this promise.)
  • In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002), Skeletor is apparently slain by King Hiss when the latter throws him into a pit and seals it up, burying him alive within Snake Mountain. The moment King Hiss is defeated by Zodak in his debut (temporarily at least) and his power over Snake Mountain fades, Skeletor blasts his way out of the ground, with the first thing we see being his outstretched arm.
  • In the Justice League episode "Maid of Honor", Vandal Savage emerges from the rubble of the Kaznian royal palace fist-first. In an unnerving Double Subversion, he is not exactly OK—the explosion has disfigured his body in a rather horrifying fashion—but his Complete Immortality keeps him alive and conscious, regardless.
  • In an early episode of The Simpsons motorcycling daredevil Lance Murdock jumps over a pool filled with sharks, lions, gorillas, etc. He manages to jump it successfully but then falls in afterwards. As he's being stretchered out he weakly gives a thumbs up. The announcer cheerfully tells the audience "He's OK, folks!"
  • In one episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) Splinter defeats the Shredder by collapsing a water tower which washes Shredder off the side of the building they were fighting on and then falls off the building, landing on his prone body. The final shot of the episode is of Shredder's extended fist punching its way out of the debris.

    Real Life 
  • In auto racing, after a crash the driver will wave with an open hand to indicate "I'm OK."
  • The sight of an open chute is the aviation equivalent to this, as the fast and furious nature of air combat can lead many to wonder if anyone got out of a stricken aircraft. And because pilots can be hard to see, friendly pilots will look for chutes instead. If they see a chute, then the pilot at least got out. In modern air combat however, this is followed by a short fly by over the pilot once he's on the ground if possible. If he waves, he's O.K., and would very much like a ride back to base/boat.
  • Sadly subverted in the case of news reporter and inspiring actress Anne Pressly. After being severely beaten and sexually assaulted by an assailant who broke into her home, her mother later found her and in spite of her grave injuries, she managed to flail her arm in the air. She fought for her life for five days before she succumbed.


Video Example(s):


Carrie's Hand Rises Up

In the ending of the film, Sue dreams of putting a bouquet of flowers on Carrie White's grave, suddenly, Carrie's hand rises up and grabs Sue's arm.

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