One of the major characters of the story, usually (but not always) on a quest to find the aforementioned phlebotinum, is at death's door and finds the phlebotinum just in time to save their life.
- In the original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, before it was hijacked by card games, Yugi's Millennium Puzzle is stolen and he is forced to play a cursed game to win it back, with a loss resulting in the loss of his soul. He plays, and loses... but touches the puzzle at the last second, allowing his Superpowered Evil Side to jump into his body and use it to win his soul back.
- In the Stargate movie, Daniel is shot by one of the staff weapons and (apparently) dies. He wakes up in Ra's sarcophagus, having being resurrected.
- In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Big Bad shoots Indy's father to force him to find the holy grail and save his father's life this way.
- The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. Prince Koura is trying to obtain the three golden tablets and get them to the Fountain of Destiny. Unfortunately, his use of black magic ages him and by the time he gets there he's an old man close to death. Luckily for him, one of the tablets restores his youth.
- Raistlin Majere of the Dragonlance chronicles, overcome by injuries and the fact his body was not too healthy in the first place, appears on the doorstep of a magical library and manages to decipher enough of the tomes to help regain his strength.
- In the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons: On his journey down the River Tethys, Raul Endymion contracts a near-fatal kidney inflammation and is only saved by finding the now-repaired Consul's Starship that promptly cures his ailment as they set off for their next destination.
- Subverted with Ponce de Quirm in Discworld, who spent his entire life searching for the fountain of youth. Eventually he found it as an old man, and only then learned the important thing about drinking the water from the fountain - boil it first.
- The Stormlight Archive: From the second book, Words of Radiance. Kaladin, who had killed Sylphrena, his honorspren Familiar, earlier in the book by breaking his oaths, has a Heel Realization. He then attempts to atone for his mistake by protecting the king against multiple assassins, including a Shardbearer. He is almost immediately defeated and is on death's door from internal injuries, when he realizes and speaks the Third Oath ("I will protect even those I hate, so long as it is right."). This returns Sylphrena to life and releases a pulse of magic that instantly heals all his wounds. It also lets Syl assume the form of a Shardblade for Kaladin.
- In Mistborn: The Original Trilogy, Elend is stabbed through the gut by a mist spirit and then left to die. He is saved only by Vin stumbling across a bead of Lerasium, which transforms him into a Mistborn and grants him pewter's Healing Factor.
- In Alan Garner's mystical novel The Moon of Gomrath, when Susan is reduced to a coma after the exorcism of a powerful Celtic spirit of evil, her brother Colin is sent on a moonlight quest into Faerie to find the one thing that will restore her sundered soul to her body. He passes from the surface-England into the superimposed England of Faerie and locates the Motham, the magical plant that will restore her. But this isn't all he brings back - he also awakens the sleeping god, Herne the Hunter...
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Averted in "Children of Time". The episode made it seem at the midpoint that both the crew and their descendants could be saved by duplicating themselves, but it turned out there was no Take a Third Option, and that a Sadistic Choice had to be made. Ultimately, they decide to repeat history and strand themselves, but the older Odo ended up hacking the auto-pilot to make sure they escaped. Even after two hundred years, he couldn't stand to see Kira die again.
- The sarcophagi from the film reappear in Stargate SG-1, and it's eventually discovered that Side Effects Include... Sanity Slippage.
- RWBY: In Volume 8, the solution to the crisis lies with the Relic of Creation, something all the opposed groups want for different reasons. However, obtaining it requires the Winter Maiden to kill herself in the process of accessing it. To activate the Relic, the heroes devise a plan that will allow them to save the Maiden's life with it. Penny is infected by a virus that will force her to self-terminate if she unlocks the door to the Vault. The heroes intend to use the Relic to rescue Penny before using it to save Atlas, banking on the Relic's activation time-freeze to stop Penny's auto-destruct long enough for the solution to be implemented.