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No Ontological Inertia / Live-Action TV

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Examples of No Ontological Inertia in live-action TV.


  • 24: Jack Bauer's heart problems apparently disappeared in between seasons 2 and 3, just in time for him to develop a heroin addiction and suffer withdrawal that could be knocked out with some painkillers. He didn't suffer any permanent damage from the biological weapon from season 7 that we know of.
  • In American Horror Story: Coven, Queenie invokes this trope with Papa Legba. Marie Leveau made a deal with the loa centuries ago: she would be granted eternal life and youth in exchange for performing a "service" for Legba (usually the death of an innocent) once a year. Later, Marie bound herself to Madame Delphine LaLurie with a potion that granted the same effects, then buried her alive in an airtight coffin, wrapped in chains and gagged, unable to move or call for help — ever. After Delphine is freed and various plots are laid and relaid, LaLurie gains the upper hand and chops Marie into pieces, scattering her about New Orleans for revenge. Queenie, who has a personal vendetta against Delphine, wants Papa Legba to take away her immortality so she can kill her, but he explains that since Marie tied herself to LaLurie-, he can't do anything to either because of the aforementioned bargain. Queenie then argues that, since Marie has been dismembered, she won't be able to perform her annual service in the future, which means the contract is technically already nullified. Legba compliments her for this solution — "You are one crafty witch" — and instantly negates the deals, making both women vulnerable again and eventually spiriting them off to Hell for eternal punishment.
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  • Lampshaded in Angel Season Four, when the evil Angelus kills the Beast, then complains when the Beast's blotting out of the sun is immediately reversed (as Angel had imagined in a dream-sequence episode).
    Angelus: Aw, crap! You mean killing the Beast really does bring back the sun? I thought that was Angel's retarded fantasy.
  • Averted and lampshaded in The Aquabats! Super Show! episode "The Floating Eye of Death!". The titular eye turns several people into zombies, and Jimmy the Robot is actually rather surprised when they don't go back to normal after he destroys it.
  • Averted in Big Wolf on Campus when a medusa turns Merton to stone. The medusa is defeated, but Merton can't be changed back without Tommy and Lori going through an arduous process to obtain a special potion. Also, defeating the evil librarian (don't ask) doesn't save the people trapped in her books. Reading the books does, though.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
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    • Averted in "The Pack" (Season 1), though the applicability of the trope is arguable. Xander pretends that he doesn't remember any of his actions after the hyena spirt leaves him (but he really does remember). If memories are erased, that can be this trope. If the possessee was never conscious of the events in the first place, then it's not this trope.
    • In "Prophecy Girl" (season 1 finale), the Hellmouth re-closes for no particular reason when the Master dies. His death also causes the recently released Eldritch Abomination that dwells in the Hellmouth to retreat.
    • Played straight in "The Dark Age" (season 2). The demon Eyghon possesses Jenny, whose appearance gradually becomes demonic. When Eyghon is expelled, she immediately reverts.
    • Averted in "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered " (season 2). Xander misuses a love spell; even after it's undone, the memory of it widens the growing rift between him and Willow (who had unresolved feelings for him already).
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    • Played straight in "The Wish" (season 3). When Giles (in a dystopian alternate timeline) smashes Anyanka's amulet, history is restored. It makes some sense, given that the spell was itself retroactive, but events early in season 7 may still lead one to question the logic.
    • Subverted and Parodied in season 4's "Fear Itself". Parodied EVEN MORE when said Fear Demon, who has an ominous depiction in the book's illustration of him, arrives. He's literally the size of the drawing, and Buffy just stomps him with her foot.
      Giles: [reading] The summoning spell for Gachnar can be shut down in one of two ways. Destroying the Mark of Gachnar...
      Buffy: [destroys the Mark of Gachnar]
      Giles: [annoyed] ...is not one of them, and will in fact immediately bring forth the Fear Demon, itself!
    • Very explicitly played straight in "The Replacement" (season 5): Xander has been split into two halves by a demon's spell, and Willow explains that there's not much to rejoining them — their natural state is to be together and the spell is doing the work of keeping them apart, so all she has to do is end it.
    • Played very straight in "Same Time, Same Place" (season 7): to save Dawn from paralytic poison, the team must kill the demon that poisoned her. She recovers abruptly and funnily.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Played straight in "The Daleks". The Thals' anti-radiation drugs seem to restore the Doctor and company, who were nearly close to death from radiation poisoning, almost instantly.
    • "The Tenth Planet" ends with the titular planet's destruction sparking the death of all Cybermen on Earth. While it's said they were wholly dependent on power from Mondas, thus explaining why they died alongside it, not only do they drop dead almost instantly, but their organic parts, for almost no reason, disintegrate completely.
    • Played straight in "Terror of the Autons", the Master's somewhat inauspicious debut. He awakens a dormant meteorite containing the Nestene Consciousness, which animates a group of Autons (plastic automata) he created, which go on to create second-generation Autons that also come alive with the Nestene Consciousness. When the Autons take care of the first phase of the invasion, the Master uses a radio telescope to broadcast some kind of energy that allows a Nestene mothership to instantly materialize in Earth's sky. When the Doctor reverses the polarity of the telescope, not only does the mothership disappear, but every Auton falls lifelessly to the ground. Justified in that the Autons are not independently intelligent, but are directly controlled by the Nestene Consciousness.
    • The ending of "Colony in Space" implies that without the radiation caused by the Doomsday Weapon, the planet will instantly become fertile and provide ample sustenance to the colony who has chosen to continue living there.
    • Also played straight in "New Earth". The Doctor uses a vaccine to cure Artificial Humans used as lab rats, complete with the visible signs of their illness disappearing before our eyes.
      The Doctor: I'm the Doctor, and I cured them!
    • "The Vampires of Venice": When Eleven turns off the generator that begun to give Venice its own natural-disaster apocalypse, including a tidal wave started by an earthquake, within less than a second the sky clears up, the clouds move, and everything is sunshine and rainbows.
    • "The Curse of the Black Spot" features a Monster of the Week that enters our world using reflective surfaces as a gateway. At one point she does this via a crown; the Doctor responds by tossing said crown into the sea. This somehow causes the monster to vanish. The "monster" was actually a projection from a ship on the other side. Throwing the crown in the water severed the connection.
    • "In the Forest of the Night": After the solar flare, all the trees just melt away into fairy dust.
  • Ghosted: Double Subverted in "The Machine". Leroy breaks the Cronos machine, to defeat its indestructible owner but it fails to have any effect. He then destroys the cursed tree powering it, which succeeds in undoing the immortality and turns him to dust.
  • Heroes:
    • Adam Monroe (spoilers ahead). He's over 400 years old, but looks to be in his mid-twenties. However, once Arthur Petrelli steals his healing ability, Monroe ages all 400 years, dies, and turns to dust. His youth and health have no ontological inertia. This is particularly aggravating in that it makes no sense with the way Monroe's powers work. They don't cover up his age or mask it, he has highly advanced regenerative capabilities. Logically, once he loses his power, he should just be normal, still young, but able to age and be hurt NOW. It's especially glaring with Claire, having the same healing powers, as a main character. When we first met her, her hobby was jumping from heights of several hundred feet just so her twisting her mangled limbs back into place and healing can be filmed, or severing body parts just to watch them grow back. A period of depowerment should mean an instant and gruesome death. Insteead... she's just normal, able to age and be hurt now.
      • They try to explain it by claiming that over the years, Adam has been hurt and killed so many times that his cells now continuously die and regenerate. It's possible that Arthur only took the "regenerate" part away, meaning all the cells in Adam's body instantly died.
    • In the Season 3 finale, Sylar activates Primatech's security system, causing heavy bars to drop over the windows and all the lights to go out. When he "dies", the heavy barriers all rise and the lights turn back on. The building then explodes, but for unrelated reasons.
  • House is a regular offender. However, depending on the dramatic level of the episode, they might avert this.
  • Kamen Rider Den-O has an interesting dual case of this. Similar to the other kids show example above, when monsters go back in time to wreak havoc and the title character defeats them, any changes they've made to the timeline are reversed... almost. Human beings have no ontological inertia, since their existence is dependent on memories others have of them. So if someone is killed in the past, but everyone that knew them in the present loses their memories of them at the same time, that person won't come back to life, and will be forced to wander the timestream. This leads to a very glaring plot hole later in the series. Ryotaro isn't worried when Yuuto is killed in the past, erasing his future self because by killing the Monster of the Week, all the damage is restored. Unfortunately, Yuuto doesn't return because "Ryotaro never knew Yuuto at that age". All well and good, until it gets revealed that Airi and Sakurai's plan to hide their child hinged on Ryotaro's memory: basically, the entire timeline would be reconstructed from his memory, sans the baby which was erased from his memories by the Zeronos Cards. What about all the other people that Ryotaro had never met?
  • Averted in Kamen Rider Double's portion of the Crossover Movie Wars CORE: the Spider Dopant has the ability to plant "spider bombs" in people that go off if they get too close to their loved ones. The bombs are still active after his defeat, which forced Double's mentor to avoid his own daughter for the last decade.
  • Averted in Kamen Rider Gaim: When Roshuo (the king of the Inves) is killed, it does absolutely nothing to stop the spread of the Forest of Helheim or the other Inves attacking; the only way to permanently end the threat is for someone to take Roshuo's place as the master of Helheim, abandoning their humanity in the process.
    • Which turns out to not be a breach of the rule: it was thought that the Overlords were the Big Bads sending the Helheim Forest into our world, but in fact, the forest has a will of its own, personified in a guy we'd thought was a normal human, and has its own ideas as to why its spread is necessary. Roshuo's the top monster in his world, having claimed the key to some control of the forest, but he's far from the "master" of the series' events.
  • The succubi in Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire reproduce by forcing an egg down a man's throat, which then swells in size inside their stomach to give them the "ninth month of pregnancy" look and apparently bursts out from their belly like in Alien. That is, unless you slay the succubus that laid it, causing an immediate "miscarriage" and the victim vomiting up the remains. This could just be an effect of the Flaming Sword of Fire, as we don't see a succubus being slain with anything else, but it still doesn't make sense either way.
  • In Lost Girl, The Djieine's venom instantly disappears from its victims' bodies as soon as its heart is destroyed. Lauren starts to give a perfectly rational and sensible explanation (something to do with magnetic fields) for why it stopped instantly, but trails off when she sees that Bo doesn't understand any of it.
  • In the Merlin (1998) series, Queen Mab's spells begin to lose their power and fade away after she disappears. It seems to take at least a few years, though.
  • Extremely common in kids' shows, but perhaps best exemplified by Power Rangers. In such series, the destruction of a monster almost always reverses whatever effect his power has wrought on the community. In Power Rangers, even objects stolen by the villains will also be returned when the Monster of the Week is slain — when it wasn't even that monster that took them. The most ridiculous example of this is in one episode of Dino Thunder where the ocean-controlling monster has used his powers to summon a tsunami out of the depths, which is about to hit the city. The Rangers destroy the monster just as the wave is about to hit, and the tsunami fades away into nothingness.
    • Super Sentai does this as well, with occasional Lampshade Hanging.
    • Played straight in Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger but is usually justified due to the monsters of the week being mere delusions. The battles are simulations the sentai-wannabe "heroes" take part in, all entirely in their heads. When they defeat the monster, they find themselves in reality again, usually wherever they were the first time the monster showed up as they haven't really moved and not much time has really passed. Until the delusions manage to cross into reality that is...
  • In Assignment 3 of Sapphire and Steel, the Changeling can reduce things to dust by touching them. When Steel returns him to his original condition, everything he had touched is instantly restored.
  • Averted in The Sarah Jane Adventures' "Eye of the Gorgon". Defeating the Gorgon doesn't turn the people it's petrified back. You need to use the talisman, and it only works if they haven't been stone too long.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Deadly Years". A strange form of radiation causes Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty to age at a rate of 10 years per day until they're all senior citizens. Once a medicine that neutralizes the radiation's effect is administered, they quickly de-age back to their original ages.
  • Averted in the Star Trek: The Next Generation series finale. Picard (who is moving back and forth through time by Q) is warned by Q that he will be responsible for destroying humanity. In each time frame Picard travels to the Neutral Zone to investigate a "spatial anomaly". Eventually, Picard realizes that the inverse tachyon pulses he is using to scan the anomaly are actually creating it and will, in the far past, prevent the human race from ever coming into being (and all other life on earth, apparently). Turning off the beams does nothing, however, and Picard bemuses "Why isn't the anomaly being affected?" Turns out the anomaly does have ontological inertia, and the Enterprise has to find a way to repair it.
    • Played straight in Insurrection with Geordi La Forge's eyes being regenerated to normal functioning eyes, only to become blind again after the effect had caused it had worn off, as if healthy eyes require some kind of constant external effect to remain healthy and functional.
  • In Star Trek: Voyager's two-part episode "Year of Hell", destroying the Krenim time-ship also undoes all of the changes it made to the timeline.
    • While the above is Justified in the shownote , Voyager earned itself the nickname U.S.S. Reset Button for a combination of this and Status Quo Is God.
  • In Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad, it's not automatic, but Servo and his accompanying Humongous Mecha have a yellow beam to shine on damaged circuitry, reverting anything that's been reprogrammed or outright smashed to normal. On top of that, sometimes doing so fixes damage to the real world (for example, one Monster of the Week caused a factory to start putting out toxic gas. Fixing the damage in the Digital World that represents reprogramming some air filters means it doesn't put out any more gas? Understandable. This means the gas instantly fades? Uh...
  • Supernatural:
    • The changelings all asploded when the mother was killed.
    • In the episode "Heart," whether or not werewolves are subject to ontological inertia is actually a central plot point. Sam and Dean haven't seen a werewolf "since [they] were kids" (and presumably didn't actually participate in that hunt). Their father had a theory that if the werewolf who bit and turned another was killed, said other werewolf would turn back to a normal human. They test said theory. It doesn't work.
    • In "Two Minutes to Midnight", Pestilence's mere presence infects the Winchesters with so many diseases they can't even stand. When he loses his Ring of Power, they're back on their feet in seconds.
    • The same effect appears with Death's ring in the same episode. Chicago is being pummeled by a massive storm, which Bobby estimated would kill 3 million people. As soon as Dean has Death's ring in hand, however, the weather dies down and everything is fine.
    • Similar case with the Nigh Invulnerable Leviathans. They don't die, however with their leader Dick Roman dead they have become "normal" monsters albeit extremely hard to kill. At least according to Crowley.
  • Played in Teen Wolf. Derek said there's a rumor that a turned Beta MAY be able to be cured by killing the Alpha who turned them. However, it doesn't say what happens to any other Beta's the Alpha may have turned, so it would at most be situational, or, it could just be a Motivational Lie Derek told in order to get Scott to cooperate with his plans.
  • Played with in Todd and the Book of Pure Evil; whether it is played straight or averted seems to depend on the nature of the wish. The general rule seems to be that if the wish creates a separate physical monster, killing the wisher isn't enough. But if the wish is something more abstract or mental (brainwashing, brain-drain, teleporting the main cast, etc.), it will usually revert the moment the wisher dies. Though sometimes there are exceptions where the wish is lifted without the wisher dying...
  • In The Vampire Diaries, when an Original Vampire is killed, all vampires created from their bloodline also die.
  • Used inconsistently in Warehouse 13 — as soon as artifacts get neutralized, all their effects generally go away and people return to normal. There are numerous exceptions, though. Usually caused by a second artifact.
    • In one particular case, a highly explosive artifact (a remnant of the London Blitz with all the firepower of the Nazi war machine)) is fueled by hate. They use Gandhi's Shroud to try to remove all negative emotions from the artifact, but the timer is still ticking. They finally realize that they need to use the Shroud on the Big Bad, as, apparently, it's his hate that fuels the artifact. Apparently, killing him won't remove the hate. However, as soon as the Shroud is put on him, the timer stops. He apologizes and dies (guess there was nothing left in him but the hate).
  • Wonder Woman: In "Fausta, the Nazi Wonder Woman", Major Steve Trevor is faced with utterly damning evidence of being a traitor. Once Wonder Woman punches out the bad guys, all of the evidence still exists, but is ignored. In "Judgment from Outer Space", the world is visited by a confirmed alien who demonstrates his powers and meets with world leaders such as President Roosevelt. But once Wonder Woman beats up a few Nazis and rescues everyone from their clutches, the very existence of extraterrestrial life drops out of everyone's sight.


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