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Not Quite Dead / Video Games

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Characters who weren't quite as dead as they seemed in video games.

  • In The Adventures of Lomax, deployed two times by Evil Ed. First, destroying the floating rock that he's standing on will make him fall down, presumably to his doom, but then he pulls off a One-Winged Angel moment. Then he falls down again but hangs to the stage for his life. Only making him fall for the third time causes him not to come back.
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  • Early during Another Century's Episode: R, the audience learned of one Dr. Shiki who, according to the antagonists, was killed by human colonists of the planet Eria prior to the events of the game. As it turns out, he inserted his consciousness into one of the evil androids before that happened and proceeded to reveal himself to be The Man Behind The Evil Boss Android at the expense of the 'droids once he deemed them as having outlived their usefulness.
  • In Army of Two, Phillip Clyde goes through this one a lot, to the point where even after you kill him in the final boss battle, they Never Found the Body.
  • Borderlands has a downloadable side quest, called "The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned", in which Dr. Ned is defeated and the credits roll. But in the middle of the credits, a horrific twisted undead version of Dr. Ned tears through the screen and another battle begins.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II: While it was hinted in intel that Frank Woods was still alive, the reveal trailer showed him to still be living.
    • And if certain conditions are met, Alex Mason.
    • In Call of Duty: Ghosts, Rorke survives a .44 magnum round to the gut, a LOKI strike to the face, and near-drowning in a submerged train to come back in the ending and capture Logan, intending to brainwash him into joining his campaign against the Ghosts.
  • In Cave Story, this trope is important to the secret ending, when if you don't actually see professor Booster die, he survives and gives you an improved jetpack later on.
  • In Chrono Cross, it's revealed that Lavos, the giant space tick that was destroyed by Crono in Chrono Trigger, wasn't quite dead; instead, it fused with Schala and became the Time Devourer. The Devourer itself is also an example; killing it the normal way doesn't work. Due to the nature of the Chronoverse, there will always be a timeline where you didn't kill the Devourer, and it'll just come back from there.
  • Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest: Seems that for King/Captain K. Rool, being beaten, punched, thrown from a cliff bouncing twice on the rocks on the way down and splashing into the ocean, THEN getting attacked by hungry sharks didn't stop him from showing up again as the secret/lost world boss, soaking wet and mad. Topping that, being defeated again and getting thrown inside a volcano that erupted shortly after causing the island to sink also didn't prevent him from showing up in the next game without a scratch and under a new alias. Maybe he accidentally ate one (or more) Phoenix Down when he was just a baby crocodile.
  • Pulled multiple times in the final route of Duel Savior Destiny. First, Kaede is poisoned and then rocks fall on Berio Trope while Nanashi/Rubinas appears to be falling apart. Lily Sheerfield gets booted into an alternate dimension that we know would take her mother a thousand years to escape, though granted she's not implied to be dead. They all make it back in time for the finale.
  • In Ecco the Dolphin: The Tides of Time, it ends up the Vortex Queen not only survived having her eyes poked out and her jaw destroyed, she is strong enough to invade Earth, create a new hive, and destroy the Asterite.
  • This is used in the Unlimited Blade Works scenario of Fate/stay night, when Archer carries this to ridiculous levels by first being cut off from any mana at all, then is stabbed through by Shirou, then taking several full-on attacks from Gilgamesh, finally culminating with him suddenly reappearing when he should have disappeared long ago, just in time to both save Rin and then finish off Gilgamesh, yet still managing to stay around long enough to have a good-bye talk with Rin. Talk about hard to get rid of...
    • Also done to Lancer in the same route, who gets impaled on his own spear (which is supposed to cause certain death), but hangs around out of sheer willpower long enough to drive off an antagonist, save Rin, and set the entire place on fire once she leaves.
  • Final Fantasy IV:
    • Scarmiglione comes back from the dead in a much more powerful and grotesque form after you beat him the first time on Mt. Ordeals, proclaiming that he, in no uncertain terms, will knock you all down!
    • Kain is apparently killed by an Earthquake spell from a Titan summoned by Rydia, but shows up later in the game perfectly fine, albiet under Golbez' mind control. However, it should be noted that Cecil survived the same earthquake spell unharmed, so Kain's survival does seem plausible.
  • While Fire Emblem is well-known for characters being able to die permanently, the series has made the occasional exception. Two such examples are in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, where characters who "die" in the tutorial campaign simply retreat so that they can return in the game proper (where they're more susceptible to perma-death,) and Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, where certain plot-critical characters (but not so critical that We Cannot Go On Without You) will suffer career-ending injuries and be relegated to the sidelines for the rest of the game.
  • Forum Community/MMORPG Gaia Online's storyline is notorious for this. Many of the main characters have been shot, dropped off freakishly tall towers, and then crushed by said tower, all in the same plot update. Every single person killed in that particular incident was later revealed to be alive and well in later updates. Two by use of Applied Phlebotinum, and the other two simply by turning out to be vampires. In fact, the characters ever to be Killed Off for Real are characters introduced solely for making the current Generic Horror Movie Parody plausible.
  • A key mechanic in The Godfather 2. If you don't kill an enemy Made Man using the specific "condition" needed, he'll just come back for more later.
  • Prince Rurik in Guild Wars is brought back from the dead by the Lich at the end of Prophecies as an enemy. You fight and nobly kill him in order to end his suffering.
  • In Jak II: Renegade, the mercenary Sig falls into a Bottomless Pit together with a giant Metal Head. He shows up at Daxter's party in the final cutscene, without a scratch.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories: Part of Ansem, Seeker of Darkness (the Big Bad of Kingdom Hearts I) still survives in Riku's heart, but he lacks a physical form for most of the game. Riku has to beat him as the Final Boss to conquer the darkness in his own heart.
  • The Legend of Zelda
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, after Link defeats Ganondorf, he and Zelda have to escape the castle, only for Ganondorf to climb out of the ruins and transform into Ganon for one final fight. He does this again in Twilight Princess as the Sages try to execute him; he survives and kills his killer with the sword before being banished to the world of Twilight. Ganon does this quite a lot throughout the franchise, as while he possesses the Triforce of Power he's effectively immortal, even to weapons forged by the gods themselves (which can usually nonetheless seal him away for hundreds of years at a time). And even when he is actually killed, he invariably gets resurrected or reincarnated anyway.
    • Also in Twilight Princess, after Stallord is seemingly defeated and his skull is lying motionless, Link uses the Spinner to raise the central platform into a pillar, only for the skull to reveal itself to be perfectly okay and attack Link, forcing a second round of the fight.
    • In Phantom Hourglass, when Bellum is defeated by Link, he falls, and is believed to be dead, although Oshus's power has not yet returned. He believes it will eventually, but guess who attacks them later on... and guess who regains all his power once we officially see Bellum turn to sand and explode.
    • In Wind Waker, after Link beats the first form of Puppet Ganon, the normal victory theme plays with Link dancing, until it is revealed that it still has 2 more forms.
  • Ghaleon appears to be dead after you defeat him in Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, but the fact that he leaves a body behind instead of fading into nothingness like everything else does is a big tip-off he's not quite done. Sure enough, he gets up shortly thereafter to deliver a Final Speech before finally dying in an explosion of darkness.
  • When Commander Shepard shows up on the Citadel in Mass Effect 2, they're stopped by security guards who observe that their records say Shepard is dead. "I was only mostly dead. Try finding that option on government paperwork."
    • Unusually for this trope, this is a lie. Shepard was first brain-dead (from lack of oxygen) and then dead-dead (from impact with a planet's surface) for about two years. Details on how their resurrection was accomplished are still uncertain.
  • A lot of Metal Gear antagonists.
    • Vamp is shot in the forehead three times (justified by his healing factor) and, more implausibly, sinks to the bottom of some really light water and doesn't drown.
    • Liquid walks away from a chopper that goes up in flames the instant it crashes, survives having a bunch of Stinger missiles blowing up in his face, and comes back from a fall (which kills you if it happens to you) with nary a broken bone. His spirit lives on in his arm that was transplanted onto Ocelot, but this is subverted when it turns out Ocelot used hypnosis to give himself a second personality which isn't really Liquid.
    • Big Boss is presumed dead at the end of Metal Gear, but survives to challenge you again in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. (Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain reveals how: the Big Boss you fought was a body double named Venom Snake.) And then he does it again: he survives that and returns at the end of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots to explain the series' Kudzu Plot and finally die for real of old age.
  • Metroid:
    • Super Metroid: Big Bad Mother Brain pulls this one off twice in the epic Final Battle. First, Mother Brain appears as it did in the original NES Metroid game — stuck in a glass tank, attached to various life support systems, incapable of attacking on its own, and apparent missile fodder. Once enough damage is done, the entire structure holding Mother Brain in place will be blown away, and the brain will crash to the ground, seemingly defeated... until it starts to rise up into the air, newly attached as a head to a gigantic grotesque body, and emits a horrible shriek at Samus, letting her and the player know that she won't go down quite so easily this time around. Second, the reformed Mother Brain proves to be too much for Samus to handle, but the eponymous Super Metroid shows up at the last second to save Samus from the brink of death and seemingly incapacitate Mother Brain, transforming it into the same sepia coloring that the player has seen from the rest of the Super Metroid's previous (deceased) prey, and starts restoring Samus to full energy. Unfortunately, as this is happening, the final boss BGM continues to play — already never a good sign that the foe you're facing is truly defeated — but just to hammer the trope in, suddenly some drool and puffs of smoke emit from Mother Brain's mouth... cue the upcoming Tear Jerker scene where the Metroid sacrifices itself in a last-ditch effort to stop the revitalized Mother Brain's advance, followed by Mother Brain's third (and final) asskicking from Samus.
    • No mention of Ridley? He practically embodies this trope! The actual entity known as Ridley has died 5 times, the first four of which he came back from. Subsequent appearances in the chronology (Metroid: Other M and Metroid Fusion) have merely been clones, though his clone's appearance in Other M was enough to make Samus go through a terribly controversial Heroic BSoD.
  • Midway through Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Ratbag gets whacked in the head by the Hammer of Sauron and is left for dead. Come Middle-earth: Shadow of War, it's revealed he survived when you find him in charge of the fortress at the Sea of Nurnen.
  • In the Monkey Island series, the grand villain LeChuck, who is actually a ghost in the first game and is seemingly destroyed at the end of it, comes back as a zombie, a demon, and a ghost/zombie/demon over the course of the next three games.
    • In Tales of Monkey Island, both Guybrush and Morgan LeFlay are killed but return in spirit form (the former in zombie) to combat LeChuck.
  • Saya from Namco × Capcom was killed by Reiji with a Boom, Headshot! from his revolver. Cue Endless Frontier and Project X Zone where she's still alive and kicking with Reiji and Xiaomu on her tail while all three do not know why she's back alive.
  • Part of The Reveal in Overlord is that the previous Overlord who you believed dead is in fact possessing the body of the Wizard, and has been using him to corrupt the heroes who defeated him.
  • Pikmin 2 had some enemies that, after they're defeated and left alone for a while, would slowly recover their health and eventually come back to life.
  • In Portal the credits song indicates that GLaDOS isn't dead, even after she was taken apart and incinerated.
    • Perhaps a much stranger example from the second game is the Companion Cube.
  • Resident Evil loves playing with this trope.
    • In Resident Evil Albert Wesker is impaled by the Tyrant, and is presumed dead up until Code Veronica, where he turns out to have survived and becomes the Big Bad of the series. However, it should be noted that it is possible to beat the game with an ending in which Wesker does not get stabbed by the Tyrant. The game franchise does not specify which ending officially counts as canon.
    • In the RE: Remake, the following absurdity can occur. You have to fight Lisa Trevor on a platform of some sort, surrounded by a huge pit on all sides. If you fall off, it's an instant death. Wesker backs you up by firing on Lisa. However, it's possible for Wesker to get hit by Lisa and fall into the pit. If that happens, he'll still somehow turn up none the worse for wear in the Lab final battle, with absolutely no explanation.
      • Wesker only helps fight Lisa if you play as Chris. If you choose Jill, Barry Burton helps fight Lisa, and if he dies, then he's Killed Off for Real.
      • According to the Code Veronica: Wesker's Report file — it turns out that Wesker planned this by injecting himself with some (unnamed) virus that would give him super speed, super strength, and preserve his mind — but it could only be activated by him almost dying. Not even Capcom could believe something that ridiculous, so they then retconned their retcon by simply having him disappear during your battle with the Tyrant in one (apparently canon) ending of the Resident Evil Nintendo GameCube remake.
      • Which was re-retconned in Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles as showing Wesker being impaled by the Tyrant, rising from the dead as a superhuman, and being highly pissed the place was about to blow.
      • Also in the original Resident Evil, if certain conditions were met, instead of Wesker being killed by the Tyrant, you can find his body decapitated by a Chimera in the self destruct control room. The Battle Game in the Saturn version even had a zombie Wesker. Seems he was going to be Killed Off for Real but Capcom changed their mind and saved that for Resident Evil 5.
    • Also in the GameCube remake, if you assume the bodies of the zombies you shot are staying there to avert Everything Fades, you're in for a very nasty surprise in about an hour when they get back up stronger and faster than ever. In the rail-shooter Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, all the zombies you killed in the first mansion mission get up in time to serve as the enemies during the second mission when you back-track out, with Chris even evoking the trope:
      Chris: I thought we already killed them!
    • Ada Wong in the sequel is presumed dead after either a nasty fall, or being electrocuted. She returns in Resident Evil 4 feeling much better. Seems, she was merely pining for the fjords. Also, it's revealed in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis's epilogues that she survived. Resident Evil The Dark Side Chronicles has a bonus mission where you get to see how she did it: badly injured and with a bit of help from Wesker, she limped through hordes of zombies and monsters and stowed away on an escaping Umbrella chopper.
      • Even in that same game, about five minutes after this happens, a shadowy female tosses down a rocket launcher to Leon while he's fighting the final boss.
    • Jack Krauser in Resident Evil 4 has this as well. It would appear that he was Killed Off for Real in the final battle with Leon, only for him to appear and be killed at least three more times in Ada's mini game that is taken as canon. Fans still believe he's alive.
      • If he got off the island in time.
  • If any video game villain embodies this trope more than Ridley, it's Dr. Eggman from Sonic the Hedgehog. At the conclusion of most of the earlier Sonic games, Sonic has destroyed Eggman's mech and blown up his base, supposedly killing him as he is not seen again in the game, but he always escapes somehow and returns for the next game. Once his Joker Immunity became apparent, they even stopped pretending to kill him off in later games, often showing him after the defeat of the final boss.
    • In fact, this serves as part of the plot for Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. In the game's start, Eggman is apparently killed when his battleship explodes while he is in it. Naturally, he's still alive. The trope is even lampshaded by the protagonists, many of whom suspect that Eggman is still alive before there's even any reason to suspect as much.
    • Happens to Shadow at the end of Sonic Adventure 2. He seemingly dies at the end of the game, falling from space and presumably burning up in the Earth's atmosphere. Come Sonic Heroes, he's alive and well, albeit suffering from amnesia. In a somewhat convoluted explanation, Shadow the Hedgehog revealed that Eggman somehow managed to save him.
  • Star Wars Legends: In Knights of the Old Republic, Darth Revan was killed when Malak bombarded the bridge of his flagship with turbolasers. He manages to come back, destroy Malak's plans, and kill him anyway.
  • M. Bison of the Street Fighter series has apparently been killed off several times throughout the series, only to come back in the next game. Chronologically, his first death occurs in Street Fighter Alpha 3, in which his body is destroyed by the Psycho Drive, but his consciousness survived and he receives a new host body for the Street Fighter II series, which doesn't have the same abilities that his "original" body from the Alpha series had. Apparently Bison's body is destroyed again at the end of Super Street Fighter II Turbo, this time by Akuma's "Raging Demon" technique, only to get another new host body for the Street Fighter IV series (which reveals that he has a factory of host bodies). Since IV is a prequel to Street Fighter III, where Bison doesn't show up, it remains to be seen if he will be Killed Off for Real this time.
    • Nope. He returns in Street Fighter V, where he gets blasted with a pure Hadoken by Ryu. Apparently he's really dead this time.
  • In Super Mario Galaxy 2, the final fight with Bowser seems to be just like the previous two fights, only with more attacks from Bowser. You beat him, he falls into the darkness, and he loses the Grand Star just like in his previous battles. Before Mario can claim the star, Bowser quickly rises up and EATS IT, becoming more massive than he ever had been in his history! Epic battle ensues as Bowser tries to fly closer to Mario and punch him while Mario leaps from meteorite to meteorite and smashes Bowser with a few of them.
    • This happens again in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. After Mario defeats Bowser just like he did in Super Mario Bros., Kamek makes him giant, and he reemerges from the lava for the final phase of the battle.
    • In Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, Elder Princess Shroob is defeated, and turns into a mushroom. At the end of the game, she is eaten by Bowser, and the two become the final boss of the game before Elder Princess Shroob's spirit is finally destroyed.
    • In Super Paper Mario, Dimentio seemingly blows himself up in what appears to be an attempt to kill one of the protagonists. It turns out he was setting him up so he could possess him and become the final boss of the game.
  • In scenario 11B of Super Robot Wars Compact 3, Tekko Oni has arrived in town and demands that Getter Robo battle him. The Getter team responds by deploying in Shin Getter Robo. Ryouma recognizes Tekko Oni who says that he has come for their death-match. Hayato and Benkei can't believe that Tekko Oni is still alive. Tekko Oni says that his Tekko Ki can only be commanded by him so it is truly him and Ryouma asks why does he want to battle them to the death now, as the Hyakki Empire is destroyed. Tekko Oni says that it's now that they can guarantee no interference. Last time, Hidler forced him to deploy in the unfinished Tekkou Ki and intervened in their fight also. Ryouma says they have no reason to fight but Tekko Oni says that his dream is of defeating Getter Robo. Ryouma ask if they cannot fight elsewhere, like on the soccer field like before but Tekko Oni says that he no longer wants that. He joins the group after an Enemy Mine situation.
  • System Shock's resident diabolical AI, SHODAN, was not destroyed at the end of the first game. Nor at the end of the second game, apparently.
  • Chief minister Onsen Kinugawa, the Big Bad of Way of the Samurai 4, manages to survive being shot in the shoulder and a fall into a pot of boiling water. The only thing this seems to have done is turn his skin red and steaming.
  • Multiple cases in World of Warcraft:
    • Illidan Stormrage, the Well-Intentioned Extremist, was struck down earlier and left bleeding in the ground. However, we find out he did not die.
    • Magtheridon, a demon Illidan defeated and supposedly killed, is revealed to have been imprisoned instead. Admittedly, Illidan later used his blood to empower an army of enhanced orc soldiers.
    • Maiev Shadowsong, the night elf warden defeated by Illidan, was also revealed to have been imprisoned instead of being killed, which makes even less sense since she is no use for him and the only reason she lived was to kill him anyways. Guess who ended up killing him?
      • Worth noting is that Maiev was employed as Illidan's warden for his ten thousand year imprisonment. Small-minded as Illidan was, he had the intent to do the same to her.
    • Muradin Bronzebeard was believed to be dead (though you can say his death scene in Warcraft III is questionable at best) then turned out to just have Laser-Guided Amnesia and survived the event.
    • Several old classic bosses are confirmed alive at 'Cataclysm. Including Hogger, Ragnaros, Balnazzar, and Nefarian.
    • In the comic about Varian Wrynn, it is revealed that assassin Garona Halforcen and Twilight's Hammer leader Cho'gall are still alive.
    • There's also Kael'thas "Merely a setback" Sunstrider. The lore says he's dead now, but since Tempest Keep was merely a setback, fans would not be surprised at all if it turned out that the Magister's Terrace was too. The quest to beat him in the Magister's Terrace is even called "Hard to Kill".


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