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Reviving Enemy

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Sometimes, the Goomba Stomp just isn't enough.

"Alright, alright. You're makin' a nice little dent in my undead army. That's the beauty of the undead — if you kill them they're just dead again, and I just fire up the mojo, and make them re-undead and they're back to gnawin' at your hind fat."

The idea of a creature which gets back up after it appears to be dead is quite popular in fiction (cases in point; Not Quite Dead monsters and protagonists). It makes them seem more intimidating, ensures that the hero is challenged, and in some cases keeps things more family friendly by making sure that no one actually dies.

In Video Games, a Reviving Enemy is what happens when an enemy who is supposedly defeated is able to get back up after a while and start fighting the player again. Defeating these enemies for real may be as simple as simply beating them a second time (expect them to Turn Red and/or go One-Winged Angel after their first knockout), or it may require use of special tactics (such as attacking them when they appear down), or killing the leader of a Keystone Army (usually an Enemy Summoner or a Necromancer), or using a specific weakness against them. The term "defeat" can also be taken loosely; enemies which are capable of escaping normally-permanent restraints or traps can also count.

Note that these shouldn't be confused with Respawning Enemies, which can be defeated normally but are constantly being replaced by their fellows.

These tend to be useful for Survival Horror games, where enemies work best when they're harder to fight off permanently (and having them coming back to life is always good for a scare), or adventure games (particularly Metroidvanias) where it justifies old areas being inhabited without needing to resort to Respawning Enemies when the player returns and obtaining the means to finish them off can be a Beef Gate of sorts. Defeating them might take the form of a Stock Video Game Puzzle where events in the plot get rid of them rather than giving the player the means to do so themselves.

This might involve I Surrender, Suckers for human(oid) enemies and Deader than Dead for supernatural ones. It often overlaps with Roaming Enemy (particularly in adventure games) so that the player can avoid them. Robotic and Undead enemies are especially prone to this. Contrast Respawning Enemies, and some cases of Mook Medic for enemies that revive others instead. If they are the sort with a specific weakness, means for defeating this sort of enemy can include an Achilles' Heel (which may be a Weaksauce Weakness) or Finishing Move (particularly a Coup de Grāce).

Enemies which have a particular weakness but are simply invincible if it isn't exploited fall under Achilles' Heel rather than this trope. Remember that the important part of this trope is that they can get back up after being taken down, not the details of how or how to prevent it.


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    Action Adventure 
  • Solomon Grundy does this in Batman: Arkham City. After damaging the generators powering him a few times, he'll fall to the ground and you'll be given the opportunity to "Finish Off Grundy" — you even get an achievement for "defeating" him to sell it. Batman will jump on top of him, only to get grabbed by Grundy and have to break free of him through Press X to Not Die.
  • Red (or Blood) Skeletons from many Castlevania games. Portrait of Ruin adds Red Axe Armors.
  • The bosses in The Force Unleashed have to be defeated using a series of Quick Time Events, otherwise they just keep popping back up.
  • Gooches, in the ZX Spectrum game Heartland.
  • Vampires in Legacy of Kain - Nosgoth vampires go limp when defeated but have to be submerged in water, burned or Impaled with Extreme Prejudice or their regeneration will kick in a moment later. One of the bosses is actually impaled by someone else and will rise to fight you if you pull out the spear.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Stalfos are animated skeletons that often revive after some time:
      • In A Link to the Past and Twilight Princess, Stalfos (or at least the most powerful types) often need to be finished off by blowing up their bodies with bombs to stop them from reanimating (this is usually only needed to clear rooms that don't open doors or spawn chests until all the enemies within are defeated, since the games make use of Respawning Enemies). The same applies to the Mini-Boss Master Stalfos in Link's Awakening.
      • In Ocarina of Time, a pair of Stalfos serve as a midboss in the Forest Temple while retrieving the Fairy Bow, as well as Ganon's Castle during the escape portion where said castle collapses, and after the first one has been defeated, the second one must be defeated as quick as possible, or else the first one will revive, prolonging the battle.
      • And in Majora's Mask, the two skeletal servants which the King of Ikana sends out to fight you have to be defeated in ordinary sword combat first... and will get back up again if you don't quickly finish them off by reflecting light onto them with your Mirror Shield. The same applies to the King himself.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the Twilight monsters Link regularly fights do not revive by themselves, but if Link is facing more than one, the last monster will emit a paralyzing shriek that revives its fallen comrades if Link cannot defeat them simultaneously.
    • Any stal enemies act like this in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, at least until you destroy their skulls.

    First Person Shooter 
  • Axe Zombies in Blood are of the Not Quite Dead variety. Any blow past a certain damage threshold that isn't fatal will just briefly knock them down.
  • A common feature of enemies in the Call of Duty series.
    • Sometimes after you kill an enemy, instead of dying normally, the enemy might simply fall down into a wounded state. At first glance, it appears the enemy's dead, but they will pull out a pistol and try and drag themselves to relative safety. They'll die eventually, but it can be a problem for a player who's in a hurry or not very attentive, since rushing forward can end with them getting shot in the back by the Not Quite Dead mook.
    • Multiplayer often has a perk/deathstreak called "Final Stand". When equipped, instead of dying when their health reaches zero (outside of falling damage, explosive damage, or headshots), the player will fall into a "last stand" state where they are injured and reduced to a One-Hit-Point Wonder but able to defend themselves with a pistol (with some games allowing for a variation where they can use their primary weapon) and, depending on the game, can regenerate enough health to get back up if they survive long enough, have someone get to them to revive them, or manage to kill someone while in this state.
  • Skeletons in Clive Barker's Undying are only temporarily stunned by normal weapons. After a while, they get up again. Only using Invoke on them or slicing them with the Scythe several times can permanently kill them.
  • Doom pulls this in two variations. Archviles have this as an ability, able to revive monsters killed in normal fashionsnote . Nightmare difficulty makes this an inherent ability to all enemies, letting them revive where they were killed at anywhere between five seconds to eight minutes after they've been killed.
  • The common Troopers in Duke Nukem 3D do this if they enter the "holding its chest while choking" death animation.
  • Fishgun contains sentient, gigantic killer bananas (yes, really) who can shoot exploding projectiles from their fruits. Shooting them will damage the fruit part, but the peel (which is far more durable) will simply regenerate its flesh, requiring you to blow up the whole thing.
  • Mercy's ultimate ability (in older versions) in Overwatch allows both sides to do this, resurrecting all her recently-killed teammates in a certain radius. She was later reworked so her revive only affects one teammate, but is a regular ability.
  • Zombies in Quake will get up again; you need to gib them with explosives (or with Quad Damage). You can't kill what doesn't live, but you can blast it to chunky kibble.
  • Aliek Hulk Guards in Redneck Rampage will get back up if their corpses aren't gibbed by an explosion of any sort. Given that they take an annoying amount of damage to go down, can do a lot of damage on their own, and that gibbing them leaves a juicy Alien Arm Gun for the taking, they're priority targets in virtually any situation.
  • Undead enemies in Timesplitters will get back up after a few seconds unless you shoot them in the head.
  • In Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun the Aspiring Champions will revive as the tougher and stronger Chosen Champions unless you specifically gib them.

    Platform Game 
  • Contra 4: One of the enemies in the "Harbour" stage does this. It starts out as a humanoid robot, destroy it once and it collapses onto the floor, only to get back up as a walking cannon or a dog mech. Destroying it a second time puts it out for good.
  • Cuphead: The tiny slimes that run about in "Forest Follies" fall into a puddle when shot once, but reform themselves a short while later to continue running around.
  • Mega Man:
    • Mega Man 4 has the skeleton Mooks in Skull Man's stage. Attacking them with most weapons will cause them to collapse, but get up again (although it will do damage). However, a charged shot will put them out in one hit.
    • Mega Man X3: The mini-bosses Bit and Byte and Vile can be defeated with any weapon, but will survive and reappear as main bosses in the final stage. However, if they are killed using the specific weapons they are vulnerable to, they will be Killed Off for Real and different bosses will be appear in the final stage instead.
    • Mega Man X6 has "Nightmare Phenomenon". Invincible Minor Minions which can only be harmed by the weapon you get from defeating the boss of that level.
  • Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame: Skeletons will revive with full health a few seconds after being slashed into a pile of bones. The same applies to the brown skeletons in the SNES version of Prince of Persia.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time: All of the enemies will revive after being knocked down unless you finish them off with the dagger. Later on you lose the dagger but get a sword that one hit kills them.
  • Super Mario Bros.: In various games, the undead Dry Bones easily collapse underneath your Goomba Stomp, but will get back up after a short while; you generally need something stronger (like a turtle shell) to defeat them for real. This carries over into Paper Mario, where Dry Bones will automatically revive after one or two turns of being down unless you Kill It with Fire or end the battle before then.
  • Tomb Raider: Underworld features Norse zombies called Thralls that you need to body-slam to shatter, or they'll pick themselves up off the floor and continue trying to kill you.
  • Wario:
    • Wario Land 4: The skeleton bird enemies revive if their head isn't destroyed upon being knocked down. They're also only weak to attacks from Zombie Wario.
    • Wario Land: Shake It!: The skeletal Recapitator enemies will revive shortly after being hit and knocked down. To actually finish them off, you need to wait for them to throw their heads, then knock them down in order to send the former flying into a wall.
    • Wario World: The larger enemies must be punched two or three times into unconsciousness, at which point they can be thrown around or used for attacks. However, if left alone they will get back up and require the same amount of hits to knock down.

  • City of Heroes: The higher-end members of the Freakshow do this with annoying regularity. And in the final mission of the Imperious Task Force, Nictus-infused Romulus will do this three times before he stays down for good.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has Ed the Undying, a Pharaoh who has to be defeated 7 times in a row until his remains are too broken to fight. Each subsequent fight after the second has half the health of the previous, but all of them are no less painful as before. The "Actually Ed the Undying" special challenge path allows you to play as him, and he indeed can easily come back to life at full HP if defeated in battle.
  • Several bosses in World of Warcraft will revive one another if you don't kill them within a handful of seconds of each other.

  • The Binding of Isaac:
    • Globins collapse into inanimate piles of meat when killed; however, they'll regenerate after a few seconds unless you destroy the meat pile as well. Gazing Globins can actually flee while in this form, making them tougher to bring down permanently. Cursed Globins turn into two goo puddles on death, although split Cursed Globins are significantly weaker than base ones.
    • Any enemy can potentially gain the Globin effect if they're a Dark Red Champion variant.
    • Clickety Clacks introduced in Repentance are skeletons that turn into invulnerable bone piles on death before reforming. They only stay down permanently if you knock down every Clickety Clack in the room simultaneously.
  • Killed zombies in Cataclysm will eventually get back up, unless you take the time to destroy the body while they're down.
  • In Dungeon Crawl, the unique lich Boris never dies permanently. Whenever you kill him he'll respawn somewhere else in the dungeon.
  • In Dwarf Fortress, if you're brave and/or stupid enough to build your fortress in an evil biome, the corpse of anything killed will, after a short period, rise as a zombie. "Anything killed" includes zombies, of course, meaning the only way to permanently kill anything is to encase in in ice or obsidian, or dissolve it in magma. Taking this trope to ridiculous extremes, even severed body parts will come back to life, meaning one dead dwarf can quickly become a one-armed zombie and a zombie arm, then a one-armed headless zombie, a zombie head, a zombie arm, and several zombie fingers.
  • Troll-class enemies in NetHack will revive from their corpses (including Olog-Hai), so they need to be dealt with in such a way that they either don't produce a corpse (drowning works; throw the corpse in a lake, watch it revive and drown immediately), the corpse is contained enough to rot before it revives (store it in a chest), or you eat the corpse quickly enough (and not get "The bite-covered troll rises from the dead!").

    Role Playing Game 
  • In Dark Cloud, all of the skeleton-type enemies (Master Jacket, Corsea, ect.) have a chance of getting right back up after falling over dead. It can happen multiple times with a single foe.
  • Skeletons within the Catacombs in Dark Souls will reassemble themselves ad infinitum when you defeat them. There are two ways to permanently defeat them: One, defeat them with a Divine-upgraded weapon, or a unique weapon that deals Divine damage, or find the local necromancer and defeat him. Post 1.04 patch, where skeletons finally give souls, whether or not you receive souls for your kill is the only indication that they're dead for good.
    • The mechanic returns in Dark Souls III: any skeleton with glowing white eyes will revive once, meaning you'll have to kill it twice to put it down for good. Again, you'll know they're truly dead when you absorb souls from them.
  • The Reanimated Horde for the Diablo II expansion pack had a chance of rising again after you'd killed them (although this could only happen a finite number of times and wouldn't always happen). The only way to be sure was to Kill It with Ice, which would cause the body to shatter and evaporate.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Monsters with the Regeneration ability need to be killed by a form of damage that they can't regenerate away, or they'll come back to life. For example, trolls can only be permanently killed by using acid or fire (or by temporarily killing them in some other way, and then inflicting acid or fire damage on the remains).
    • Liches will reform with a new body at their phylactery a few days after being destroyed. The only way to permanently kill them is to find and destroy the phylactery as well as the lich.
  • Elden Ring: Skeletons have a unique gimmick in which, after they die, they will revive within ten seconds unless struck with an extra attack. They can do this as many times as the player fails to Double Tap them. Alternately, holy weapons will put them down permanently.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
    • Some enemies will surrender and might flee or invoke this trope (there's no real penalty for finishing them off). Trolls and Frost Trolls' animation for this has them play dead (referencing the fact that they have fast regeneration) which could invoke this trope if the player doesn't notice that they've got some health left.
    • Spriggins also count, since they can restore themselves to full health.
    • Any enemy can become this when there's a character who can raise the dead around, since unless you take steps to vaporise the corpse (e.g. kill them with lightning when you have the appropriate perk or raise them yourself) you'll have to kill them again (anything being raised this way collapses into ash when they or their "master" is killed). This makes necromancers and vampires rather annoying.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy:
    • Spirits (from the second and fourth games) have this as their primary gimmick - they enter battle with the Auto-Revive status effect, which will bring them back to life if not dealt with. In Epic Battle Fantasy 2, their Auto-Revive will last indefinitely until consumed or Dispelled, whilst in Epic Battle Fantasy 4 it will expire after five turns.
    • PHOENIX, an optional miniboss in Epic Battle Fantasy 5, has its aptly-named Immortality skill, which it casts every turn to give itself Auto-Revive. Killing PHOENIX whilst Auto-Revive is active will cause it to use Resurrection, fully healing its HP. PHOENIX will be unable to use Immortality if afflicted with Syphon or Berserk, however.
  • The Ghost People of the Sierra Madre from the Dead Money DLC of Fallout: New Vegas will revive after several seconds unless killed by dismemberment.
  • The Animated Armor mooks in A Hint of a Tint fall apart when defeated and reassemble themselves several turns later.
  • In Mass Effect, krogan enemies would always fall down dead after their HP hits zero, but would sometimes randomly get back up with a little bit of extra health. This could be prevented by using the Neuroshock, Warp, Lift, or Singularity powers on them or by shooting them with toxic, cryo, or incendiary bullets.
  • Minecraft Dungeons: Some Shulkers will usually revive a short time after killing them. Anti-Frustration Features are in play here considering the player has to unlock some gates or activate lifts using a Shulker's bullet in order to progress and the player would be completely stuck if the Shulker couldn't respawn.
  • Terranigma has Blood Skeletons that don't disappear when they are killed because, of course, they revive a few seconds later.

    Strategy Game 
  • Undeads and Surgeants from Dead Ahead Zombie Warfare are capable of coming back to life after death, with the Undead able to do this 5 times. Burning them with fire will prevent their resurrection.
  • Undead in Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance do this unless you use Revive, a special skill, or Phoenix Downs on them (if they're already temporarily killed it's a guaranteed removal and for the latter two a chance of a One-Hit Kill if they're not). If you don't, you'll only win a "defeat all enemies" goal if every other monster is dead and all undead are waiting to revive at the same time.
  • Kingdom Rush Series:
    • Vengeance has the Frozen Heart enemies in the Frozen Nightmare Mini-Campaign. They're ice elemental golems powered by a soul and release it a physically resistant enemy when killed. Should the player fail to destroy the soul in time, they'll reform their body good as new.
    • Legends of Kingdom Rush has the Skeleton and Skeleton Champion enemies, which will revive two turns later with half their health, unless all other enemies are killed/downed first. Thankfully, they do not get to attack upon revival. There's also the Saplings in the Wild Moon campaign, which turn into a pile of ashes when killed. If four of their turns pass and there are other enemies still alive, they rise up as much more powerful Trunks.
  • In Pikmin 2 Spotty Bulbears and Gatling Groinks do this if not returned to the Onions/research pod, defeated while petrified with Ultra-Bitter Spray, or tricked into marching into a bottomless pit. This is part of the reason why they are more bosses than regular enemies.
  • Warcraft III:
    • The Blood Mage's summoned Phoenix is technically unkillable, since on every death it turns into an egg (and even has negative health regeneration), and the egg turns back into a phoenix after a while. Killing it while it's an egg, however, is much easier.
    • Any unit accompanying a high-level paladin is liable to become this thanks to his Resurrection spell. And it's no good killing the paladin first, as they have a shield that turns them entirely invulnerable for excruciatingly long periods of time.
    • Tauren Chieftains have the Reincarnation ability, a move that restores them to full life and mana when killed, though it has a long cooldown.
    • In the expansion, Spirit Walkers can revive any Tauren unit (that is, Tauren and Spirit Walkers) to full health. Note that Tauren have more HP than any other standard unit of any faction.
    • In the expansion's orc campaign, this ability is inexplicably given to centaurs as well, who are the Tauren's archenemies. It makes running through the wilderness to finish yet another Fetch Quest particularly tiresome.
  • Andromedons in XCOM 2 are aliens in bulky Powered Armor that serves as an combat-capable hazmat suit. Depleting its health the first time will rupture the armor and kill the alien inside it, but then the armor itself will reactivate and come charging after you again, with a second health bar to deal with. This also means that these enemies have two different Achilles Heels - the alien pilot has a weak Will score and is therefore vulnerable to Psychic Powers, while the autopiloted suit is a mechanical enemy that can be hacked and takes extra damage from EMP attacks.

    Survival Horror 
  • In The Evil Within:
    • The Haunted, barbed wire wrapped zombies, will get back up again after they're killed, unless they're burnt with matches.
    • The Keeper, the boss of Chapter 7. He respawns at least 3 times, and even rips his own head off once so he can respawn right next to you!
  • Skeletons would also constantly recover in Nocturne (1999). Only by cheating and using a flame-based weapon can you permanently destroy them.
  • In the REmake of Resident Evil for the GameCube, zombies must be killed via decapitation or have their bodies burnt. Otherwise they'll come back to life as the much more powerful Crimson Heads after a set amount of time.
  • All ghosts in Silent Hill 4 revive and come back after Henry and Eileen. A single ghost can be rendered vulnerable by pinning it in place with a very rare sword item, but can only be destroyed with silver bullets, which are also scarce in proportion to the number of ghosts in the game.
  • The shibito in Siren cannot be killed, due to the red water permeating the village where the game takes place. They can only be incapacitated just long enough for the player to make their escape. The sequel has a variation, where enemies are revived upon being possessed by a shiryo (for the old shibito) or yamirei (for the new yamibito), which can be killed and would allow for permanently removal of enemies in a stage - except that the shiryo and yamirei infinitely respawn after they're introduced.


Video Example(s):


Dry Bones

Across the series, Dry Bones are famous for their ability to pull themselves back together a few seconds after being stomped. While they can be gotten rid of permanently, the opportunities to do so are uncommon, so it's better to just stomp 'em and run.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / RevivingEnemy

Media sources: