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Saved by the Fans

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Annie: You dirty bird, how could you? It can't be! Misery Chastain cannot be dead!
Paul: Annie, in 1871 women often died in childbirth, but her spirit is the important thing, and Misery's spirit is still alive.
Annie: I don't want her spirit! I want HER! AND YOU MURDERED HER!!
Misery

So there's a character in a work, but he or she ends up leaving the cast roster. Maybe he/she got killed, maybe he/she got Put on a Bus, maybe the writers just lost interest in him/her.

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But wait, what's this? The fans have begun clamouring for the character's return. The writers, either because they're moved by the dedication to the character or another reason, decide to grant the fans' wish and bring back the character. This is how a character gets saved by the fans.

When this happens to an entire franchise or show, it's been Un-Cancelled. This may be because the fans told each other to Keep Circulating the Tapes.

Compare with Breakout Character. May result in an Author's Saving Throw.


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Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Jeremiah Gottwald from Code Geass, who was originally meant to be killed off early in the series. However, he proved popular enough (with both the fans and the staff) that the creators not only had him survive, but made him a more important character than originally intended.
  • Mohammed Avdol from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure seemingly dies at one point, but comes back and it's revealed that the "fatal" attack only grazed him. Ultimately subverted, as he dies for real near the end of the story.
  • Priss from Bubblegum Crisis was going to die in Episode 6 and be replaced by Vision, until the fans changed Artmic's mind.
  • Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z was supposed to be killed by a rampaging Ozaru Gohan in the climax of his battle on Earth. However, he was so popular that Akira Toriyama decided to spare him up to Namek, where Freeza killed him. That death was supposed to stick, but he was brought back and survived until he died in by sacrificing himself to against Majin Buu, and that was supposed to be his end. And then he was brought back again. This last one is a big source of debate as to whether or not it was a good idea, since his previous sacrifice was so well done that bringing him back seemed to cheapen it.
    • Even Goku got this treatment. Toriyama's original plans had him staying dead after being killed by Cell and leaving Gohan to become The Hero. Obviously, that never happened.
  • This is suspected to be the reason that Bunbee of Yes! Precure 5 was not only allowed to survive the first season, but had a major role in the next. Being a middle-aged man and therefore unmarketable, he's the only member of any Quirky Miniboss Squad to survive a finale and not join the Cures (although the Kiryuu twins did both and were cute girls, and Toei hates them), but he was surprisingly popular and allowed to live, and his final Heel–Face Turn is what allows Milky Rose and the mascots to save the titular heroines before the final battle.
  • GoLion had an odd case of this. Takeshi Shirogane's death in Go Lion was bowdlerized to Sven simply being badly injured and taken to a hospital planet in Voltron. Later on, outcry from Japanese fans of the character prompted the makers of Go Lion to bring in Shirogane's previously unknown identical twin, Ryou for a few episodes before sacrificing himself. Since he never died in the American version, the Voltron writers could say that had Sven simply finished healing up, then cutting out Ryou's sacrifice in a bizarre, accidental subversion of the Dub-Induced Plot Hole.
  • The original ending of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED would have killed off the entire main cast except for Athrun, but even he would not have gotten out of the finale unscathed. This ending was only averted because of the immense popularity of the Seed characters among the viewers.
  • Although Kurama was always supposed to join the main cast, Hiei was supposed to be Yu Yu Hakusho's Starter Villain, but people kept asking when he was going to show up again.
  • Pokémon
    • The famous Terrible Trio of Team Rocket (Jessie, James and Meowth) were being planned to get written out of the anime in Best Wishes according to Kunihiko Yuyama, the anime's director, but they still had a sizable fanbase, including on the show's staff, and so they're still here.
    • To cement they were there to stay, a Japanese podcast during what was advertised as their Grand Finalenote  gave fans a telephone poll asking which of the trio's earlier Pokemon they'd like to return. Wobbuffet returned in XY.
    • A strange indirect example in Pokémon: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages: after the backlash of a second Mewtwo in Pokémon: Genesect and the Legend Awakened, there was a deliberate effort to imply that every Legendary that made in appearance in this movie is the same one from their own original movies, including Latios of Pokémon Heroes who died at that movie's climax. It's never explained how, but now he's alive and well just in time for the "big reunion" of the Legendaries.
  • Sasha Braus of Attack on Titan was planned to be a Sacrificial Lamb very early on in the story, but with her hilarious introduction in the anime, she very quickly became a fan favourite. Seeing the overwhelmingly positive fan reaction she caused, the idea was scrapped in favour of keeping her on as Plucky Comic Relief. Subverted unfortunately as she was killed in Chapter 105, nearly 70 chapters after her intended death and only a few chapters after her first appearance after the Time Skip.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog: Fan reaction ended up causing the writers to change plans or reveal certain deaths as fake-outs. Most notably was Antoine's injury near the end of the pre-reboot run. The explosion was actually supposed to have killed him, but his popularity amongst fans had the author, Ian Flynn, reconsider. Nic the Weasel was a character that Flynn considered killing off, but her fans convinced him otherwise. Though Nic would ultimately never come back as Ken Penders, her creator, sued Archie and had all of his characters removed.
  • Batman provided an interesting example of this: Fans were called on to decide the fate of a key character and voted via 1-900 number. They voted 5,343-5,271 to kill off Jason Todd's Robin. Jason would later be resurrected by DC, meaning he was saved by the Editor.
    • Played straight with Stephanie Brown, the Spoiler, who had multiple fan groups dedicated to having her either honored or returned. Within a few years, she was back and eventually gained the Batgirl mantle and a solo series. After getting the Brother Chuck treatment by the New 52 in 2011, she eventually returned to the comics in 2014.
  • Similar to Stephanie Brown, Mary Jane Watson has several times been written out, killed off, and magically divorced. Each time she has returned because, to put it simply, they are the Fan-Preferred Couple. It also helped that the co-creator of the web-head continued to keep them married in his own Spidey project
  • Captain America was created during The Golden Age of Comic Books, and it was a huge success back then. However, his comic book was cancelled when the whole superhero genre lost popularity after the end of WWII (a crisis that only Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman survived, ou of dozens and dozens of characters and titles). Superheroes eventually returned during The Silver Age of Comic Books, and Marvel started a good number of new heroes. Cap "returned" in Strange Tales #114 (by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers) as a villain, and fought against the Human Torch; it turned out to be just the acrobat wearing his costume. At the end of the issue Johnny wonders about the fate of the actual Cap, and the text made things explicit: "You guessed it! This story was really a test! To see if you too would want Captain America to return! As usual, your letters will give us the answer!". Let's just say that Avengers #4 was released some months later, and the rest, as the say, is history.
  • Ultimate Marvel was published for 15 years, and ceased publication after the Secret Wars (2015) crossover, that destroyed all alternate Marvel universes. Many fans complained about it, so almost all Ultimate characters were eventually reused in the main continuity, and the universe returned at the end of Spider-Men 2.

    Fan Fic 
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    Films — Animated 
  • Scrat was originally going to be killed off after his brief scene in the opening of the first Ice Age movie, but the overwhelming response to advance footage led the filmmakers to add more scenes with him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Richard Donner Cut of Superman II was made in part thanks to an influx of mail from fans who wanted to see the director's original vision, as the film was altered by Executive Meddling for its theatrical release (Richard Lester replaced Donner in that duty when the latter had completed 75 percent of his intended shooting).
  • Agent Coulson in The Avengers got this. The fans started a project called Coulson Lives in denial of his death, insisting that he was simply too awesome to die. They got his actor on board, and eventually, he really did come back in his own TV show.
  • Darth Maul from the Star Wars franchise survived getting cut in half and falling down a Bottomless Pit due to how popular he was despite the little screentime he received outside of his duel against Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon. Though he finally dies for good at the hands of Obi-Wan in Star Wars Rebels. And yet it still doesn't stop him from making more appearances after such as in Film/Solo, which was released after his death, but chronologically takes place some years before Rebels.

    Literature 
  • Pinocchio from The Adventures of Pinocchio, alongside Executive Meddling. He was going to die hanged, but a lot of children sent letters to the newspaper to revive Pinocchio, and the editor of Giornale per il bambini made Collodi add more chapters and thus Pinocchio has its famous happy ending.
  • Possibly the oldest example of this is Sherlock Holmes.
  • Misery is one of the most known fictional examples. And surely the scariest one. Paul Sheldon has been writing a series of romance novels based on the exploits of the Victorian airhead Misery Chastain for years, and loathes the character, so he wrote a final book which ended with Misery dying of childbirth. Unfortunately, he's badly injured in a car crash and left crippled and in the not-so-capable hands of the sociopathic Battleaxe Nurse/Loony Fan Annie Wilkes, and when she finds out about Misery's character death, Annie threatens his life unless he writes a brand new novel which brings Misery back to life.
  • Referenced in the Thursday Next books - in this case, it isn't that the fans want Emperor Zhark to not be Killed Off for Real, but Zhark himself visits the author from the fictional universe and... persuades him not to do it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Helo from Battlestar Galactica (2003) was only supposed to appear in the pilot episode and get left behind on Caprica. Fan response to the character ensured that he began a main character in the series, to the point of being part of one of show's most important Story Arcs.
  • In the second season of Bones, Camille "Cam" Saroyan, Bones's and the squints' new boss at the Jefferson, was poisoned by Serial Killer Howard Epps. She was originally intended to die from the poison, but the fans and showrunners alike loved her, so she survived the incident and went on to remain a main character for the rest of the 12-season series.
  • Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was going to last only five episodes, but proved so popular that he was spared and went on to become the show's Breakout Character.
    • This actually happened quite a few times on Buffy, because Joss Whedon is an evil bastard. Several characters were going to appear for a few episodes and then die, but were instead saved (Oz and Faith are the shining examples), some were killed off much later than intended (Joyce Summers and Tara), some were even revived from the dead. Fan reaction to the characters was the deciding factor every single time.
  • Criminal Minds had two straight cases of this and an inversion. During the sixth season, JJ is forced to take a promotion at the Pentagon to make her boss look better, and is written out of the series as a main character, only making a few guest appearances, while a new BAU member, Ashley Seaver, was introduced to take her place. Later in the same season, Emily Prentiss was given an arc revolving around a backstory and Arch-Enemy that, until then, was not hinted to exist at all; this arc ended with her faking her death and going into hiding, also being written out of the show. These were both cases of Executive Meddling done by the studio rather than the writers themselves: in order to budget the spinoff series Suspect Behavior, actress AJ Cook (JJ) was dismissed at the beginning of the season, and then Paget Brewster (Prentiss) had her number of episodes shortened, with Rachel Nichols (Seaver) serving as a cheaper replacement due to being new to the show. However, the studio received a staggering number of complaints from the fans about this, and as a result, once Season 7 began (and Suspect Behavior failed after one season), JJ and Prentiss were both brought back, and Seaver (who was a huge case of Replacement Scrappy for JJ) was written out.
  • Barnabas Collins from Dark Shadows was brought in only as a temporary villain to attempt a revival of the show's ratings. He became incredibly popular with fans, went from Jerkass to badass (or sometimes Woobie or even Jerkass Woobie) and is essentially now the face of all permutations of the franchise.
  • Methos from Highlander: The Series was only supposed to be around for part of season 3, but the fans liked him so much he was kept.
  • Inverted by Lost. Nikki and Paolo were loathed by fans. The writers were very much aware of this, and soon had them killed off with extreme prejudice.
    • Desmond Hume and Benjamin Linus were only going to appear in three episodes each. The audience reacted so well to their characters that they were promoted to main cast from Season 3 onwards.
  • During Season 5 of Mission: Impossible, the producers tried to write out the strongman character Willy (who had been around since Season 1 but was increasingly out of place on the cerebral show) and replace him with a doctor named Doug, played by Sam Elliott. Fan outcry resulted in Doug going away and Willy not only remaining but getting a bigger role.
  • According to rumors, Power Rangers have tried to off Tommy in the same fashion as his predecessor Burai. However, the combination of this trope and the fact that Power Rangers is Lighter and Softer most of the time, they just depowered Tommy, enabling him to come back many, many times. This was actually used to try and save Burai, but Toei refused, trying to instill the aesop of "Even heroes CAN die."
  • Carson Beckett from Stargate Atlantis. So much that fans mounted a protest outside the studio near Vancouver, BC and ended up making the local news. And it worked.
  • Klaus from The Vampire Diaries was initially supposed to be a temporary villain appearing in a handful of episodes, but due to positive fan response he was kept on the series long term, receiving a huge amount of character development, and becoming integral to most of the show's storylines. He was eventually granted his own spinoff series.
  • According to Misha Collins, his character Castiel from Supernatural was only originally slated to appear in six episodes early on in season 4, before being killed off. But such was his popularity that he has remained a constant part of the show for the past five years, with Collins being promoted to series regular and developing as much of a devoted following within the fanbase as the show's actual lead actors.
    • Though Abbadon was always planned to come back in season 9, after Jim Michaels announced via twitter that they were planning to recast her due to her meatsuit's destruction in the season 8 finale, fans immediately began a campaign to get original actress Alaina Huffman back, citing her performance as the reason the character had become unexpectedly popular in the first place. Eventually the writers relented and came up with a Hand Wave ritual that restored Abbadon's original body, allowing Alaina to continue playing the character.

    Role-Playing Games 

    Video Games 
  • If he hadn't been so wildly popular, Shadow would still be dead by now. He showed up in Sonic Adventure 2 as a Criminal Doppelgänger and became a Dragon with an Agenda to Dr. Eggman. He was also a badass who pulled a Heel–Face Turn and sacrificed himself to save the world. Then, Sega brought him back and split the fanbase again.
  • Axel from the Kingdom Hearts series was supposed to die at the end of Kingdom Hearts II's prologue. But he had a lot of fans (including many members of the development team) and he wound up surviving and taking a small role in the main storyline of the game.
  • In Baldur's Gate, Bioware originally planned for Imoen to become Brainwashed and Crazy due to Irenicus' torture in Shadows of Amn, forcing CHARNAME to Mercy Kill her. When this information was leaked, fan outcry convinced them to spare her.
  • Once fans of Tekken heard that Kazuya had been killed in the third game's backstory (the game hadn't really come out yet at this point, mind you), clamors for his restoration apparently began very quickly, very strongly. Ultimately, Namco acceded to this demand by revealing Kazuya's continued existence in Eddy's ending for the Playstation version. Then he returns full blown in Tekken 4 and has been a mainstay again.
    • The only reason why Jun Kazama appeared in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 was because fans constantly asked the series creator Katsuhiro Harada about it. She remains much beloved despite the fact the only main series game she was in was Tekken 2(though she was very popular in the first Tekken Tag Tournament game.), even being replaced by her niece Asuka
  • Mega Man X was going to be the villain of the first Mega Man Zero game instead of a copy. This concept was scrapped during the last month before release because the developers thought X becoming a villain and being killed by Zero wouldn't sit well with the kids who played his games and thought he was a hero.
  • The end of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess had Midna return to the Twilight Realm and break the mirror of Twilight so the portal can never be opened again. But Eiji Aonuma was surprised by the fans' love of her, and responded in an interview that if there is a sequel she may somehow come back. She eventually did came back, though only in non-canon games.
  • Skullgirls may be considered an exemplary example of this. During the process of developing the first DLC character, Squigly, the Skullgirls team was laid off by their original studio, meaning they no longer had the budget to pay the cost for developing her. Hoping not to let their work go to waste, they went to the fans for assistance, starting up an Indiegogo campaign in February 2013 to raise $150,000 in donations to fund the development of Squigly. Not only had they reached the goal amount in a single day, the donations kept coming in until the end of the campaign a month later, with the total amount being more than five times that of the intended goal. With $829,829 raised as the final number, the Skullgirls team will not only use it to fund Squigly, but also four more DLC characters (two of whom will be fan voted), story modes and stages for each of those characters, background tracks for each of those stages, and eight Gag Dub voice packs.
  • The Materials of the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable games were Evil Twins of Nanoha, Fate, and Hayate who were supposed to have been destroyed in the first game, with the remnants of the Darkness of the Book of Darkness disappearing with them to show that they were Killed Off for Real. However, the concepts of The Spock Nanoha, Blood Knight Fate, and Card-Carrying Villain Hayate was such a hit with the fans that, not only were they revived for the sequel and given a starring role, but they were also incorporated into other parts of the Nanoha franchise.
  • Sega's Yakuza series was modestly successful in the west, but not enough that Sega put a lot of stock in the series outside of Japan. When the zombie-themed Gaiden Game Dead Souls flopped, Sega appeared to pull the plug on Yakuza in the west, quietly taking down the English-language website and remaining suspiciously silent about the localization of Yakuza 5. When Sony polled players on what game they wanted to see released most, Yakuza 5 topped the list, so they localized 5 and released it as a digital title. Noticing the hype leading up to the release of 5, Sega announced that they would localize Yakuza 0 and release it on-disc. With faith in the series outside of Japan restored, Sega also announced international releases of Yakuza Kiwami and Yakuza 6.
  • Splatoon 2 really gave Callie the shaft compared to Marie—in story mode, she only appeared during the final battle and disappeared immediately after, never to be seen again unless the player used her infamously rare amiibo or refought the last boss. This was a direct result of the final Splatfest in the first game; unfortunately for the developers, they overestimated just how unpopular Callie was compared to Marie. Upset fans of the character took to the in-game posting feature and flooded it with Callie artwork in a display of just how much she was missed. The movement even got its own hashtag, #BringCallieBack. Evidently these voices were heard in the end, as the 3.0 update in May of 2017 let Callie sit next to Marie at Tentakeel Outpost for some bonus dialogue after beating the game, an addition specifically highlighted in the reveal trailer. This doubles as an Author's Saving Throw, since a lot of what made Marie popular in the first place was her Boke and Tsukkomi Routine banter with Callie, which was obviously lacking from most of Hero Mode in initial versions (and which, tellingly, the 3.0 update made sure to include plenty of).

    Webcomics 
  • When the guru of Koan of the Day was put on trial, fans were asked to tweet to save or kill him. In this case, most fans voted him dead!
  • Subverted in 8-Bit Theater. Not only does Brian make it clear that Black Belt is dead forever, he does so in a thinly veiled, particularly spiteful Take That! against his fans demanding his return.
  • In College Roomies from Hell!!!, during the Blue Mushroom arc, Dave's soul was stolen by the devil. Fan outcry on the forum was so great that the cartoonist invented the Miraculous Shotgun in order to save him.

    Web Original 
  • Mottis, the creator of Bunnykill, has stated this to be one of the possible ways Ruby can return.
  • Brad Jones created 80's Dan as a one-off gag for his Caligula Cinema Snob review, but fans really took to him, and he ended up appearing in an episode of Brad Tries.... 80's Dan has his own show now.
  • The Nostalgia Critic was originally retired by being sent to The Plot Hole to stabilize the universe and IRL, allow creator Doug Walker to focus on other projects that he'd wanted to do for years. However Demo Reel's reception was... complicated, good enough views (mostly from women and queer fans) to carry on but Doug admitted in the DVD Commentary that the site needed more money so he had to do reviews again. This has lead to plenty of Broken Base, as Doug wasn't exactly thrilled with having to return to the Nostalgia Critic, and many fans feel that at times this shows.

    Western Animation 
  • Angel (Experiment 624), a character from Lilo & Stitch: The Series, was only intended to be a one episode character. However, once the executives realized she was one of the most popular characters, they brought her back for the last episode and gave her a small scene of her kicking Leroy clone patookie in the Grand Finale Leroy & Stitch. She even became a major character of the franchise thanks to the succeeding anime. Somewhat doubles as an Author's Saving Throw, as her episode put the character on a bus to Hell, which goes completely against the core theme of 'ohana that the Lilo & Stitch franchise is built on.
  • Kenny from South Park after he was supposed to be Killed Off for Real. Additionally, Kyle was originally the one to be killed off.
  • Waspinator from Beast Wars, who was slated for death to make room for a new toy. Online popularity saved him, or alternatively, prolonged his suffering.
    • Optimus Prime was killed off in the movie to make way for new toys. Fans were saddened and outraged to a level that no one at Hasbro could've predicted. By the end of season 3, the writers specifically made a two-part episode in order to bring Optimus back to life, though his toy was only available via mail-order (at least, that's what Hasbro wanted you to think, as his toy was actually still being shipped to stores due to its popularity).
      • This outrage also saved Duke from being killed off in G.I. Joe: The Movie. Originally, Duke was to be killed when Serpentor speared him in the heart. After the backlash against Prime's death, the audio was redubbed to specifically say he was put in a coma, and new dialogue at the end of the film mentions him awakening from it.
  • Princess Luna in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was originally only to last to the end of the pilot and never be seen again, hence her absence from the rest of Season 1. For the next year, fans took a massive interest in the younger princess, and she finally returned in Season 2. She has ironically gone on to get far more screen time than her elder sister, as fans would have to wait all the way through most of Season 7, as well as several more episodes starring Princess Luna, before Princess Celestia would get to share the spotlight with Luna and Starlight Glimmer.
  • Family Guy episode "Three Kings" contains a parody of Misery in which Stewie obliges Brian to bring the character of Snuggly Jeff back from the dead.
  • The Rowdyruff Boys from The Powerpuff Girls. Intended to only be one shot villains. But the fans loved them so the writers eventually brought them back in the fifth season.
  • Not saved from death, but Noah, Cody, Ezekiel and Tyler were all brought back for Total Drama World Tour because of their major Ensemble Dark Horse status.
  • Shiro from Voltron: Legendary Defender, when it was revealed that he was supposed to have been removed from the series after the second season finale, but was brought back by Executives due to his quickly growing fanbase.
  • In X-Men, Morph was the Sacrificial Lamb. The only X-Man on the team but not in the opening credits, he died in the first episode to show that the series played hardball. However, during his short time in the show he became so beloved that we find out in the second season that Mr. Sinister saved him but put him under More Than Mind Control. He became an important part of the whole year's Myth Arc, and made a few appearances after that.

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