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Self-Recovery Surprise

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A form of Hope Spot, Sub-Trope of Worf Barrage. One of the characters unleashes a powerful attack at a villain and visibly hurts him, possibly even causing some obviously fatal damage, Neck Snap, Off with His Head! or Torso with a View. The villain staggers... and then reveals that he has a Healing Factor capable of handling the damage. Pulling Themselves Together is almost always introduced in this fashion. If a hero does it, it is almost certainly as part of a Mook Horror Show. May trigger a Sequential Boss. Not to be confused with Turns Red, which is also about boss enemies turning out to not be defeated after all.

Compare The Battle Didn't Count (where a boss simply turns out to have been faking being beaten), No-Sell, No One Could Survive That!, Not Quite Dead and Normally, I Would Be Dead Now. Someone who's fond of Pulling Themselves Together and One to Million to One tend to like this tactic. Aversion to No Cure for Evil. Fighting a Shadow would be related to this one.

Even when it sounds similar, this has nothing to do with Good Thing You Can Heal... but maybe it has to do with Hydra Problem.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Is the obvious result when you try to kill an Immortal in Baccano!, no matter how much you maim, torture or destroy their body. Just ask Czes...
  • Bleach:
    • During his fight with the Espada Nnoitra Gilga, Kenpachi Zaraki cuts off one of Gilga's arms. Shortly thereafter Gilga regenerates his lost arm.
    • Aizen does it twice in the Deicide arc — first evolving into his final form after getting a hole burned through his torso, then at the end, after getting vertically cut in half with Ichigo's final technique.
    • In the final arc, Kirge Opie is beaten to a bloody pulp by Ayon, so badly that most of the fight takes place off-screen. At the end of the chapter, he gets up, completely ignoring the broken neck, and starts taking the fight seriously.
  • Embryo from Cross Ange can constantly regenerate himself from death. His host body is contained in his Ragna-mail the Hysterica, and can only be damaged in his host dimension.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The first one to use it was Piccolo, pulling off a broken arm and growing a new one when it looked like he would be defeated.
    • Cell is notable for pulling it off four times: first showing his Healing Factor when Android 16 rips off his tail to disable him; then showing that he can recover from decapitation after Goku blasts him; after blowing himself up, when even the viewers expect him to finally go down, and regenerating From a Single Cell; and finally, the reversal from Vegeta after Cell lost a 1/3 of his upper body from Vegeta's Final Flash.
    • Another minor example is when Videl fights Spopovich in the Tenkaichi Budokai tournament; Videl kicked Spopovich's head so hard that his Head Turned Backwards (making people think she killed him) but then he simply pulls his head back to shape without any lasting problem.
  • In Hellsing, Alucard loves abusing his incredibly powerful Healing Factor, which renders most mortals unable to do a thing to him. Many are the situations where he will allow himself to be blasted to pieces by gunfire before reforming and completely stomping the poor unfortunates involved. He lives for the Oh, Crap! expressions said enemies invariably take on when he does this.
  • Naruto:
    • The first meeting with Edo Tensei zombies looks like this — the Third Hokage blows them up but they instantly heal, forcing him to use Dangerous Forbidden Technique.
    • Sasori pulls himself together after being blown to bits by Sakura, just as she is about to relax.
    • Oddly averted for Orochimaru. He has great regenerative capabilities but with so many Ninja Log variants available to ninjas, hardly anyone is surprised when he doesn't die.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • Used when the Angel Israfel attacks. Asuka cleaves it cleanly in half, confident in her victory, not realizing that both those halves could attack independently and that she had not defeated it at all.
    • Happens with her again in the movie End of Evangelion when she defeats all the MP Evas barely in the time before Unit 02's battery runs out. Shortly afterward, however, all the MP Evas regenerate, despite her literally ripping them in half, smashing their heads in, firing missiles into their brains and running her arm through their chest.
  • One Piece:
    • Buggy pulls it on Zoro, letting him cut him to pieces, before reforming and stabbing him in the back.
    • When Law unleashes an attack that destroys Doflamingo's internal organs without leaving any external wounds and then finishes him with an electric attack, Doflamingo stands back up revealing he used his string ability to stitch up his organs but he admits he's not healed.
    • Logia-Type Devil Fruit generally have regeneration as part of their power set. When Vivi comes face to face with Crocodile she beheads him while Luffy uses the attack that defeated Crocodile to smash Aokiji into pieces. Both times their respective sand and ice bodies reform with no harm to the men themselves.
    • In Skypeia, Eneru is actually killed by a character's Dangerous Forbidden Technique, the Reject Dial. However, his Shock and Awe Rumble-Rumble Fruit kicks in and causes Eneru to defibrillate himself back to life and consciousness.
  • Rave Master: One of the major foes, Hardner, reveals that his Dark Bring grants him a Healing Factor. Let tries working around by attempting a One-Hit Kill via punching Hardner through the heart. It turned into this trope when he came back from even that.

    Comic Books 
  • Red Robin: While the Wanderer's healing factor was hinted at previously it's not made explicit until she crawls out of the rubble after Tim drops the ceiling of the cave the Spiders were in on their heads (he'd already seen several of them display mild levels of Nigh-Invulnerability, and he did warn them that they were going to want to get out very quickly).
  • Superman: Doomsday returns from the dead immune to whatever killed him last. He's killed off for good by being sent to the heat death of the universe.

  • Alien: Covenant. David 8 stabs his fellow Synthetic Walter in the neck, apparently deactivating him, but the injury is shown closing up. Walter appears later for a Big Damn Heroes, pointing out that their model has been upgraded since David 8 left Earth.
  • In the climax of Blade, the title character chops the Big Bad in half with his sword. He is a bit shocked when the villain pulls himself back together and heals.
  • Hellboy. The demon in the museum goes down very quickly. Then it turns out it not only regenerates but multiplies with each death.
  • The T-1000 in the finale of Terminator 2: Judgment Day shows a textbook example of Pulling Themselves Together after being frozen and shattered. Nowadays everyone knows the scene but the scene is late enough in the movie that the first viewers must have been as surprised as the characters.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has Mayor Wilkins and his invincibility spell. He let a vampire cut his head in half vertically, and it simply healed up because he was invincible until the ascension. It served as the invincibility reveal.
  • When the Enterprise has their first encounter with the Borg on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the crew are surprised to see that the cube ship they damaged with phaser fire is capable of repairing itself while also pursuing them at warp.

  • Classical Mythology:
    • Herakles' wrestling match against the giant Antaeus went like this, since every time Antaeus was in contact with his mother the Earth his strength was renewed. The solution was to hoist Antaeus in the air and choke him at arm's length.
    • The Lernean Hydra regrew two heads every time one was cut off. So he cauterized the stump before the heads could reform, and since the last head was immortal, he dropped a big rock on it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, some monsters, such as trolls, have the Regeneration ability and thus continuously restore their Hit Points, even after they've been reduced below zero. The only way to kill them is to temporarily disable their Regeneration ability with a specific kind of damage, so if the party doesn't have it, they can only run away.
  • This is a gameplay mechanic in Monster of the Week: unlike its Minions, the Monster itself cannot be killed unless the Hunters figure out one of its specific weaknesses and use it against it. Even if they bring the Monster's Hit Points down to zero, the rules demand that it escapes death in the last moment unless they've exploited its weaknesses to do so.

    Video Games 
  • In Assassin's Creed Syndicate when Jacob and Evie fight Starrick individually at the climax of the game they are constantly stabbing away at him but he is wearing the Shroud of Eden which allows him to heal immediately. It takes them together to get the Shroud off him and finally kill him.
  • Etrian Odyssey has the Golem. Aside from being way overpowered in general for the time you can first access it, it heals to half health on the first mortal blow. And when it gets into the last 25% health area after that it casts Regen, which further heals it. However, it is possible to get around all that if a one-hit kill technique triggers. If fact, doing so is required to get a secondary drop from the Golem.
  • Final Fantasy IV: Scarmiglione is the first elemental find you encounter, and is a standard boss battle. After you cross the bridge he was guarding, he self-revives and attacks again - although he's undead in this second battle.
  • In Fire Emblem Engage, bosses quickly gain the ability to restore themselves at full health after depleting their HP to 0 once on account that your units have anti-counterattack empowered attacks that Emblems bestow upon them to keep things fair.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: When ambushed by Shadow Beasts, leaving one alive will cause it to revive the others. The solution is to kill the last two at the same time, usually with Midna's One Hit Multikill (the use of which is introduced the first time they encounter this situation).
  • Mega Man Zero 4: Dr. Weil, the Big Bad, is the prime target for a Kill Sat attack done by his treacherous right-hand man, Craft, that completely annihilates the empire of Neo Arcadia. But later it's revealed that he survived, because his special armor gives him a Healing Factor. Then, in the first part of the Final Boss battle, Zero confronts Weil and defeats him, detonating the Ragnarok Core he grafted himself on to, leaving a hole on the floor right in front of Zero. Ragnarok is still descending, and Weil re-emerges from the hole, battered and his battle armor in pieces but still very much alive, declaring that he just can't die.
  • Pok√©mon:
    • There are various potions available that restore mons health like Full Restore or Max Potion. Certain Gym Leaders, Elite Four members, the region's Champion, and other lategame Trainers will use either one of these options when their mon is down to a couple of HP and your next hit would have knocked them out.
    • Morning Sun, Moonlight, Synthesis, Recover, Softboiled and Milk Drink are moves that recover half the mon's maximum HP, with the former three recovering more health in sunny weather. (Which doesn't make sense for Moonlight until you remember the light of the moon comes from reflecting the sun.)
  • The zombies from Quake will fall supine when shot with bullets or shotgun pellets, but only stay down for ten seconds or so. Then they rise back up to resume trying to claw you to death or throwing chunks of flesh at you. To put them down for good you need to gib them (for zombies, a single blow that does at least 60 HP damage) which normally takes an explosive such as a grenade or rocket (although a double-barreled shotgun blast under the effects of Quad Damage will also suffice). However, zombies at close range mean the player will take damage as well from explosives, being within the blast radius.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Throughout the series, the Diarahan spell restores all HP to its target, and yes there are some bosses that will cast this on themselves. The best measure against this, nine times out of ten, is to make sure they don't cast it in the first place, whether it be determining the condition that makes the boss cast it or simply inflicting a crapton of damage; if you see the boss cast Diarahan even once, you will likely not have enough resources to win the fight. The most notorious example of this is the final superboss from the second Digital Devil Saga game, who is scripted to cast Diarahan if he gets a turn on his last 1,500 HP, restoring all of his massive 30,000 HP.
    • In Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, the fourth boss, Best Friend, has a dramatic death animation once its HP reaches zero. Then, the skill "Endure" activates, and the boss recovers 6000 HP, making the battle significantly longer.
    • In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, the first boss past the Law and Chaos alignment locks, Commander Gore, nominally has 7,500 HP. When that HP runs out, they will fully heal up and keep fighting, giving them 15,000 effective HP.
  • The Final Boss of South Park: The Stick of Truth, Nazi Zombie Princess Kenny, will keep getting up no matter how many times you reduce its HP to 0. The only way to end the fight is to cross the Godzilla Threshold by farting on Princess Kenny's balls when Cartman grapples him.
  • Final Boss Gill from the Street Fighter III series has this in addition to his fire and ice powers, a full-screen (and massively damaging) Super Art in Seraphic Wing, and the cheap A.I. and unfair advantages expected of a SNK Boss. If you defeat him when his Super Art Gauge is full, he automatically activates his Resurrection Super Art, which can restore his lifebar from empty to full in a few seconds. And due to the move emitting a shockwave that pushes the player away from him, Gill is guaranteed to recover a little bit of health no matter what. The only saving grace is Resurrection completely locks Gill out of the use of his Super Arts for the rest of the round, meaning he can't use Resurrection again nor he can use Seraphic Wing or Meteor Strike. Additionally, really skilled players can parry the shockwave to keep from being knocked back and finish him off instead, but it requires extremely precise timing.
  • In Undertale, in the Genocide Route, you kill Undyne in a single blow. However, she is so determined to strike you down she is able to come back even stronger than before.
  • There are boss encounters and even trash encounters in World of Warcraft where enemies are able to heal themselves and others.
  • Wild ARMs 3 has Maya battle Siegfried after she's been his prisoner for a period of time. She initially does a good amount of damage but a few moments later, he's perfectly fine. Maya is understandably confused and frustrated so Siegfried reveals the Tear Drop healed him instantaneously. (Because of this, the first thing you need to do when you fight Siegfried is have Jet pickpocket the Tear Drop from him.)
  • In Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Wolf fights the Guardian Ape, a massive monkey with a nodachi lodged in his neck. When Wolf delivers a finishing blow, he grabs the nodachi and twists it, decapitating the ape. Several seconds after the 'Shinobi Execution' text fades, the ape stands back up, grabs its head and the nodachi, and comes after Wolf again.

    Web Original 
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged: Perfect Cell tells Vegeta to hit him with his biggest attack. Vegeta complies, not caring that it might destroy the planet. Fortunately the beam goes off into deep space, leaving Cell screaming and minus an arm... then he reveals that he was just going along, grows a new arm thanks to having absorbed Piccolo's powers, and hands Vegeta his ass.
  • Grrl Power: In a series of Oh, Crap! moments during a battle with newly revealed villain Vehemence, one big one is Maxima exploding his arm off, only for him to note that he has one power he hasn't mentioned yet and regenerating his arm. This allows Sydney to realise that the key to defeating him isn't to just injure him deeply, but consistently and continuously injure him by damaging his windpipe, maintaining noose-like pressure on it, and submerging his head in water, so that all his energy has to be focused on not drowning.
  • In One-Punch Man, when Genos is fighting the Sea King, who took out several heroes, he managed to do some serious damage on the Sea King but then it turns out that the Sea King can regenerate his wounds. But when Saitama fights the Sea King he punched his stomach so hard that his eyes popped out of his head and he has a hole in his stomach, making it obvious that his wounds cannot regenerate from that punch.
  • Demonhead Mobster Kingpin's three heath bars in Problem Sleuth work like this. The sleuths think they've defeated him, then it turns out he has two other health bars to work through. DMK also has some serious regeneration effects that allow him to create whole new health bars.
  • Whateley Universe: Galatea Debutante: It was a perfect challenge Gunny had cooked up, a "simple" Exemplar Two with the "strength of ten men" who was also a top level regenerator and practically immortal.