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Sacrificial Revival Spell

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"I couldn't have done it without your pathetic, self-loathing, self-destructive desire to sacrifice yourself for your family!"
Azazel, Supernatural

Heroic Sacrifice meets Balancing Death's Books.

Bob couldn't save Alice in time to prevent her death. After mourning her loss, he discovers that he has a revival spell (possibly a Dangerous Forbidden Technique) available to him. He uses it, and presto! She's alive again. But, suddenly Bob collapses and dies. It seems the spell required the user to sacrifice his life to bring back that of another.


Rarely used in Video Games (with the possible exception of cutscenes or some Roguelikes), since the stakes tend to be lower, considering that there are often some other ways of reviving party members. If it exists, it's usually much more powerful than other such spells, like reviving the entire party.

For this trope to apply, all of these conditions must be met:

Can be part of a Self-Sacrifice Scheme. If the spell is not guaranteed to revive the target and fails, it's a Stupid Sacrifice. If the character asks another character to initiate the exchange, it's Take Me Instead. If age is exchanged, it's Cast from Lifespan. If the caster doesn't actually die, it's Negate Your Own Sacrifice and not this trope.


Compare Holy Is Not Safe (if the spell isn't Black Magic), Balancing Death's Books (for when Death gets involved), Heroic Sacrifice (for the non-magical form), Someone Has to Die, Cast from Hit Points (for when the caster needn't necessarily die).

A Darker and Edgier Sub-Trope of Equivalent Exchange and Heroic Sacrifice.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • An amusing but still touching instance of this occurs late in the Buu saga of Dragon Ball Z. Old Kai gives Goku his remaining lifespan (by his estimate about a thousand years, which is nothing to a Kai) so Goku can return to Earth and assist in the fight against Buu. Old Kai drops dead... then gets back up a moment again, now sporting a halo, since he's already in Other World.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed is killed by Envy, then Alphonse transmutes his own life into Ed's, then Ed transmutes his life and body into Al's life and a new body for him, to boot. Alphonse can't repeat the process after that because Ed gets stuck in a parallel universe.
  • In Naruto, Lady Chiyo uses a secret reanimation jutsu to resurrect Gaara, but at the cost of her own life.
    • Later, Nagato does this as well, but because his power makes him something close to a Physical God, he's able to revive the several thousand Konoha villagers he murdered with his strongest attack before expiring from it.
    • Madara's original plan involved being revived by the above character, not anticipating his change of heart. He's able to compensate by using Obito, who has taken the Rinnegan which grants the ability, as an unwilling sacrifice. Also a tragically subverted one since Obito was planning on resurrecting everyone who died in the war with the Jutsu before Madara hijacked him.
    • In the final filler arc of the original anime, lead Takumi ninja Hōki somehow offers up his lifeforce and transfers it into the corpse of his village's founder, Seimei. The revival works but Seimei isn't back amongst the living for long before Gaara reburies him. Literally.
  • One of the Forbidden Spells in Ojamajo Doremi is bringing someone back from the dead, for the exact reason of it basically being a trade of lives. We see the cast attempt this once in a flashback: We see Momoko attempt to bring Majo Monroe back to life after Majo Monroe had died. Momoko doesn't suffer the penalty simply because the spell doesn't work; Momoko's magical power is still too weak. It's heavily implied that if it had worked, Momoko would have been killed.
  • Toward the end of the Scryed anime, Scherris Adjani finds and uses her "Eternal Devote" alter power on Ryuhou shortly after he's killed by Big Bad Kyouji Mujo. His agony and gratitude upon seeing her deceased boost his power.
  • In YuYu Hakusho, this was Kurama's reason for stealing the Forlorn Hope, a magic mirror that grants any wish, but kills the user to do so. He was going to use it to save his terminally ill mother. Subverted in that Yusuke prevents this by joining him in the wish, so the Forlorn Hope takes half of their lives to save her.
  • The MMORPG in Yureka has the Sacrifice spell, which not only kills you but makes you lose levels and randomises your stats. And has a less than 100% success rate. However, one character manages to avoid Awesome, but Impractical by using it on an NPC who loves her, causing him to enter an Unstoppable Rage.

    Comic Books 
  • In Thorgal, Thorgal is in a place with bright glowing strings all around him representing human lives. He will only get his life back if he cuts a single one, killing the person. He refuses, but Shaniah, the girl who'd followed him (and is desperately in love with him) cuts it herself. Thorgal gets back to life, but as they leave, she fades away, as it was her own lifeline she'd cut.
  • BIONICLE Adventures: Matoro sacrifices himself with the help of the Mask of Life to save Mata Nui's life and, in turn, the Matoran Universe.
  • The Grandmaster, one of Marvel Comics' Elders of the Universe, once challenged Death to a game with the life of fellow Elder the Collector as the stakes. After the Grandmaster won, Death revealed that the artifact the Grandmaster won would kill him to use. The Grandmaster went ahead and used it.

    Fan Fic 
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic A Bluebird's Song makes mention of a spell known as Death's Tally. If used shortly after someone dies, it can be used to bring them back at the cost of another's life, as well as partially heal them. Rarity recounts a story of a father who used it to save the life of his child. After Rainbow Dash is critically injured, Twilight contemplates using it on herself if Dash doesn't make it, feeling like it's her fault for what happened. However, Celestia and her friends convince her to rethink that choice. When Dash does slip away, she's instead saved by Rainbow Shine, her long estranged unicorn mother, who decides to give her life in a final act to show Dash that she did love her. The spell leaves nothing of her behind save for four hoof-prints in the floor.
  • Fan game Corpse Party D2: Depths of Despair is set after one of the Bad Endings of Corpse Party (PC-98), and opens with Ayumi and Satoshi unwittingly casting one of these in an attempt to save their fallen friends. In the climax, Ayumi learns this and must decide whether or not to sacrifice herself.

  • Happens in the end of Dragon Age: Asunder, where Wynne transfers the Spirit of Faith that's been keeping her alive for many years to the fallen Templar Evangeline, resurrecting her but dying instead.
  • Destined to Lead One of their rules of magic is that in order to bring back the dead, the spellcaster must 1. Die. 2.Go to the realm of the dead and ask if they want to be brought back to life. 3.1. If the dead fea says 'Yes' their spirit now inhabits the spellcaster's body- the spellcaster is still dead. 3.2. If they say 'No', both of them remain dead. These people are referred to in-universe as 'Returneds'.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Beric Dondarrion, a follower of the fire god R'hllor and a repeated target of a more conventional resurrection power attributed to that deity, sacrifices his own life to raise Catelyn Stark from the dead. It's implied that it takes more "juice" to resurrect someone who has been dead for a number of days and is already in the process of decomposition than someone who is freshly dead, explaining why Beric is raised multiple times without apparent harm to his raiser but dies (apparently permanently) upon raising Catelyn. The fact that Beric has very little will to live thanks to the damage that repeated resurrections have done to his soul may also have something to do with it.
  • The Inciting Incident of Mo Dao Zu Shi is Mo Xuanyu summoning Wei Wuxian's soul to use Mo Xuanyu's body as a vessel to get revenge on his behalf which kills the mentally-troubled and abused summoner. It's implied that Nie Huaisang indirectly manipulated Mo Xuanyu into finding said ritual.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Super Sentai has done this a couple of times, interestingly almost always with villains:
    • In Go Go V, Venus had a plan to suck the Red Ranger's life force out to revive Zylpheeza. When thwarted, she willingly took his place. A movie from the same series has a villain of the week, defeated by the Rangers, summon a massive kaiju-like monster in this manner as a final screw-you just before going 'kaboom.'
    • In Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger, there was again a trio of sibling villains, though just for an arc. Succubus (female and human-looking like Venus) gives her life force to revive Blitz for one final battle.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Pathfinder, there is a Monk archetype that focuses on using ones own Ki energy to fuel healing magics, harming oneself in the process. At 20th level, said monk can sacrifice his own life to revive all his allies as per the True Resurrection spell. Taken Up to Eleven, as in a world where Death Is Cheap, this technique not only kills the user beyond the power of mortal or deity magic, but also eliminates all memories any other person has, and erases all written records of his/her existence.
  • Magic: The Gathering has Doomed Necromancer, which are sacrificed to bring back another card from the graveyard. Though judging by the illustration depicting the necromancer being throttled by the resurrectee, it's more like an example of Turned Against Their Masters.
  • In 13th Age, the cleric's Resurrection spell eventually turns into this because while the first use is reasonably fast, easy, and effective, each successive casting tracked over the cleric's entire lifetime is increasingly harder on both them and the subject until the fifth resurrection attempt flat-out kills the cleric (for good, no resurrections for them anymore at that point either) and has only a 50% chance of bringing the target back as well. What's more, if the target has already been resurrected more often than the cleric has cast the spell, there's another 50% chance that that higher count will be used to determine the spell's outcome...
  • Mage: The Awakening: One of the setting's very few ways to restore a person to life is "Atonement", a Master-level Death/Fate spell that inescapably causes the mage to die — by accident, murder, or simple heart attack — as soon as it's cast. The description dryly notes that the spell needs to be improvised by each user.

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Quest: Kerplunk does this with everyone in your party that is dead. It also removes all of your MP so you can't just have your newly revived healer revive you so you can use it again.
    • There's a Magic Dance version of the spell. There is also a piece of equipment that automatically casts it once the character dies, but destroys itself in the process.
  • Final Fantasy XII has the Revive Technick, but you didn't get it until long after you got the basic Raise spell, and it was also on the market next to the more useful Arise Spell. It becomes more useful in the international version however, due to the new job system meaning that not everyone in the party is going to have access to Raise/Arise.
  • In Persona 3, Chidori revives Junpei after he was shot by Strega, at the cost of her own life.
  • In Onmyōji, this is one of Oguna's skills. It's the only revive skill in the game which can revive multiple allies at once. Plus if you use Yaobikuni's Auto-Revive ability, or revive him with another reviver like Momo, he can do it multiple times (which also highlights another advantage over other revive skills- it has no cooldown, because he's not meant to use it more than once anyway)!
  • In some entries in the Shin Megami Tensei series, the Recarmdra spell will revive all fallen party members at the cost of killing the caster. In games where the caster's death means game over, it instead reduces their HP to 1.
  • Lufia: The Ruins of Lore has the Sacrifice skill, which kills the caster to heal the target to full HP. Unless you use it on yourself, in which case it just heals you to full HP. Presumably, it kills the user first and then heals the target, but the programmers forgot to put in code to prevent you from having the user use it on themself.
  • Phantasy Star II has the techniques Sak and Nasak, used by Nei and Amy. Both kill the caster, and the former fully heals one other party member; the latter fully heals the whole party. Phantasy Star III would bring back Nasak as an Order-based technique.
  • Quest for Glory IV has Erana's Staff have this function, Toby sacrifices himself to bring his Undead Child master back to life as a human.
  • Valkyrie Profile has Lenneth able to grant this to others if they ask. She never forces anyone. The spell also exists in general in the game; one rule, however, is that it cannot be reversed. If someone is resurrected this way, and they try to resurrect the original sacrificer; both stay dead.
  • In Borderlands 2, Krieg's "Redeem the Soul" skill allows him to instantly revive a downed teammate in exchange for putting him in a downed state.
  • In the Knights of the Old Republic Game Mod Brotherhood of Shadow: Solomon's Revenge, Koybayashi's mortal injuries are healed by Solomon, who accepts death and becoming one with The Force as a proper punishment for his fall to the Dark Side. It is not only his way of atoning for his actions, but his way of apologizing to and freeing his former padawan, Channa Mae, allowing her and Koybayashi to have a normal life.
  • The Sacrifice L spell in Final Fantasy XIV can restore a player to full HP, even if they are knocked out. The trade off comes from the caster being inflicted with the Doom status, which will knock them out after 10 seconds and it can't be removed. The spell can only be used in the Eureka instance.
  • Tales of Symphonia has Colette's Sacrifice spell. It revives any downed teammates, damages all enemies, and knocks Colette out. The AI will almost never attempt to cast this spell of its own accord.
  • Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark has the Pektite’s Coalesce spell, which kills its user in order to revive one ally with full HP, and gives the revived unit any buffs that the user had. There’s also the Templar’s Rapturous Chant, which fully heals all allies (but doesn’t actually revive anyone) and removes their debuffs at the cost of the user’s life.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: The "Last Rites" Necromancy spell kills the caster but resurrects the target with full health (compared to the 20% from a Resurrection Scroll). However, it works just as well if the caster uses other means to negate the instant-death effect.
  • In Etrian Odyssey : Heroes of Lagaard, The Medic can learn Phoenix, which, like the aforementioned Recarmdra from Shin Megami Tensei, fully revives their team at the cost of their own life.

Alternative Title(s): Sacrificial Revive, Revive Kills Caster


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