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Unexplained Recovery / Western Animation

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Unexplained Recoveries in western animation TV.


  • American Dad!:
    • Stan shoots a man three times, drops him off a cliff, runs him over, feeds him to an alligator, shoots the alligator, and has it skinned and turned into clothing and a handbag. When he gets back the man is fine except for three bandages over the bullet wounds, offering the explanation "You can't kill a love like this."
    • There's also the episode "Season's Beatings":
      Stan: Jeff! I thought you drowned!
      Jeff: Nope.
      Stan: All right.
  • In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, The Vision becomes badly damaged at the end of "Ultron Unlimited". He then appears briefly in "Yellowjacket", in perfect condition. This recovery becomes undone just as inexplicably in "Emperor Stark", which begins with him getting repaired in Iron Man's laboratory. This example arose from "Yellowjacket" having different writers than the episodes preceding and following it.
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    • For that matter, another example is Ultron. He was defeated by Ant-Man installing a Logic Bomb that forced him to shut himself off. No explanation is made as to how Ultron recovered and, frankly, why he would even want too.
  • Avengers, Assemble!:
    • Ultron is destroyed near the end of Season 2 after plunging into the sun. He returns in Season 3 after A.I.M. comes into possession of his remains. It's never explained how A.I.M. got a hold of him or how there was anything left of Ultron to begin with, since, to reiterate, he was thrown into the sun.
    • In the final episode of the "Thunderbolts" story arc from Season 3, Klaue is transformed into a being of living sound, and then seemingly dies after being completely disintegrated. He returns in the episode "Panther's Rage," where not only is he still alive, but back to his normal human form as well. Klaue just gives a dismissive Handwave when it's pointed out that there's no way he could have survived being disintegrated.
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  • Just how did Harley Quinn survive the fatal fall in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker? Reportedly, the writers have confirmed that Poison Ivy's stamina booster from back in the day is responsible for her survival. It also helps that The Joker himself was a master of this kind of thing.
  • For examples of Mr J being a master of this kind of thing, see Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and The Batman/Superman Movie.
    Harley: Puddin'!
    Batman: At this point, he probably is.
    • The episode (and earlier comic) for the Trope Namer of Mad Love features Batman punching Joker off a moving track and falling directly into a factory's smokestack. He lives, of course, and by this point his ability to survive anything is so taken for granted not even a cursory attempt is made to explain it.
    • Another example from the series: He didn't die, but at the end of "What is Reality?", the Riddler's ends up trapped indefinitely within his own simulation, and Batman has no idea how to get him out of it. Somehow he manages, because the Riddler makes a cameo later, and a full recovery to be the antagonist in "Riddler's Reform". Exactly how is never revealed.
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  • In the second season finale of Beast Wars, Inferno suffers death by vaporization. Despite this, he reappears in the next episode with only Amusing Injuries to show for it.
  • Harry Sachs from Beavis and Butt-Head the man Beavis and Butthead constantly harassed to make fun of his name died twice, in "Butt Flambe" he's in the emergency room for a bullet wound to the stomach, he later flatlines at the operating table and the doctors are unable to revive him, he later shows up alive in "Nothing Happening" where he's in a high speed chase with the police who shoot him after he is thought to have a gun, his body is seen covered with a sheet, and yet years later in "Doomsday" alive and well with no explanation.
  • Ben 10:
    • The third time Kevin shows up (despite apparently being killed previously) his explanation of how he survived boils down to this, as well as a recap of what happened last time.
    • At the end of Tough Luck, both Hex and Charmcaster's powers were sucked by the destruction of the Charm of Bezel. Yet, when we see them come back, their powers have come back without any clear explanation. Averted with Hex turning back into a child however, as it's specifically said that the Fountain of Youth's effects were temporary. Played straight in that we never see how Charmcaster retrieved her magic bag after the end of A Change of Face.
      Gwen: We saw you two go up in an explosion!
      Octagon: Yeah, that sort of thing occurs on a fairly regular basis.
  • In Black Dynamite there's Durul who "shot himself in the head playing Russian roulette, and then was hung by his own intestines." The CIA Agent then says "He got better."
  • In Dan Vs. "Canada," Chris tells Dan the story of his great-great-grandfather who disappeared in the forest one day, never to be seen again:
    Dan: Wow. Great story.
    Chris: It's not done! He comes back.
    Dan: You just said, "never to be seen again."
    Chris: Except when he came back.
  • Despite having an enormous gravity cannon blow up in his face (taking about half of the city's tallest building with it,) the title character of Darkwing Duck survived... although he was still wearing casts and was bandaged head-to-toe several days later.
  • Played for laughs in Duckman in the episode "Westward, No!". The character Big Jack McBastard is trampled by a horse, eaten down to his skeleton by buzzards, said skeleton is crumbled by Duckman, and finally his remains are buried. He returns at the end of the episode to scare off the posse of ranch hands, completely unharmed. When asked how he survived he simply replied "long story", said his goodbyes, then left.
  • The Fairly OddParents: An early episode ends with Vicky being trapped in The Most Dangerous Video Game, and we hear her lose three lives, which is stated to be fatal. However, she still shows up later, completely fine.
  • Happens in the "Yacht Rocky" episode of Family Guy. The episode ends with the family in a situation where it looks like they will drown. However, the camera cuts to everyone being perfectly fine in the Griffin's home. In general, the characters often suffer severe injuries or even getting killed in the cutaway gags, but seem to be perfectly fine in the rest of the episode. Though the cutaway gags don't seem to be considered canon.
  • In the final episode of Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom is seemingly destroyed after colliding with Galactus' force field over Earth. Though Mr. Fantastic says that things are never quite what they seem with Doom, no explanation is given for Doctor Doom's survival when he subsequently shows up in The Incredible Hulk episode "Doomed", which is in the same continuity.
  • Roberto from Futurama is killed twice in the episode "The Six Million Dollar Mon", the second time without being resurrected, though he appears yet again for the last two episodes of the series. If one were to follow "Lethal Inspection", it's explained that each robot, except for Bender, was built with a wireless backup unit that save a copy of them every day.
  • Invader Zim hilariously does this in a conversation with the often screwed Invader Skooge:
    Zim: Skooge? I thought the Tallest killed you?
    Skooge: Yeah, but I'm OK now.
  • Kaeloo: The characters have suffered fates such as decapitation, being blown up, and killed themselves, yet by the next episode they're always fine.
  • Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: Virtually every classic cartoon involving Wile E. Coyote, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck and so forth. Many of the gags involve these villains getting squashed, crushed, burned, etc., only to be at full strength and to try progressively more elaborate ways to capture their prey or defeat their antagonist. Usually, the last gag will have the villain "killed" for good and the character they were trying to get has the last line (usually, the punch line).
    • A famous example: "Satan's Waiting," starring Sylvester trying to protect his nine lives, and a Satanic bulldog exploiting this to capture the puddy tat's soul upon the death of the ninth life by goading him into chasing Tweety. Sylvester indeed dies at the end, but not in the expected way; he takes refuge in a bank vault, but two robbers use too much nitroglycerine and blow themselves and Sylvester up! ("Now he tells them!" growls the cat as he heads toward Satan, upon hearing the robbers in front of them remark about their mistake.) Two months later, Sylvester was back, good as new and in full health, in the Hippety Hopper cartoon "By Word of Mouse."
    • Of course, during the height of Saturday morning cartoons, when The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show was a cornerstone, often more than cartoon starring the same villain was placed back-to-back. For instance, Sylvester might be seen meeting his fate in one cartoon (e.g., in "Tweety's Circus," being mauled to death (off-camera) by the lions in the final scene) and then after the commercial break, appearing in full health in a cartoon co-starring Sylvester Jr. and Hippety Hopper.
  • Hilariously lampshaded in Mad Jack the Pirate:
    Mad Jack: Didn't you die a while back?
    Angus Dagnabbit: Aye. I got better.
    Mad Jack: You were DEAD! How do you get better from being DEAD, you Scottish twit?!?!
  • In Megas XLR, Magnanimous was dropped into a quantum singularity at the end of episode 2. Early in the second season, he shows up again with no explanation for how he returned beyond "it wasn't easy".
  • Metalocalypse:
    • In the season 3 premiere Offdensen is revealed to be alive — having "gotten better," despite having been shot, pronounced dead, and presumably undergone an autopsy and coroner's report certifying him as such, after the end of Season 2. Then again, other previous indications have shown that he's not quite human to begin with.
    • In "Doublebookedklok," there's a flashback to the season 02 finale. Offdensen is bleeding from his injuries but still alive and coherent, asking a Klokateer to "kill him." With this ambiguous wording, it's entirely possible that he was alive the whole time and just staged his death. It's still a bit unclear.
  • In My Life as a Teenage Robot, there is an episode where Jenny tries to date a boy who is afraid of machines, and when explaining why, tells a story about his father being "horribly maimed" because he got stuck on an assembly line. However, a man rides up on a bicycle after the story and Jenny says, "Is that your dad?" and the boy literally says, "Yeah, he got better."
  • In Rainbow Brite, the Dark Princess returns in the last episode attempting revenge on the heroes. She gives no explanation on how she survived her spaceship exploding with her in it in her previous appearance.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Ralph Wiggum's return in "Simpsons Bible Stories".
      Bart: Ralph? I thought you were dead!
      Ralph: Nope!
    • Also in "King of the Hill" when Grandpa tells a story about his mountain-climbing days; "I fell 8,000 feet onto a pile of jagged rocks. Of course, people were a lot tougher in those days. I was jitterbuggin' that very night!" Note that his story begins with him warning Homer not to try climbing a particular mountain: "You'll die up there, just like I did!"
    • In another episode, Groundskeeper Willie recalls when he allegedly worked as a miner. According to him, at some point the cave he was in collapsed, a tragedy that claimed the lives of all miners in the cave at that time, in that "not even Willie" escaped!
    • And Dr. Marvin Monroe returned with the line "I've been very sick.", despite the Marvin Monroe Memorial Hospital from several seasons before. He even had a tombstone in the cemetery.
    • In "Bart's Dog Gets an F", the Soap Within a Show features a Priest walking in on an illicit affair, to which the woman says "I thought you were dead." The priest jovially responds "I was!"
    • Hans Moleman has been killed on-screen numerous times in various ways, from being run off the road and crashing into the birthplace of Norman Vincent Peale, to being executed in Springfield Jail on what's implied to be a shoddy legal basis, to Mr. Burns confusing him for Lucky the Leprechaun and taking a power drill to his skull in order to "get his Lucky Charms". Yet he still returns.
    • In later seasons, Gil starts falling victim to the same fate, finding himself gored by bulls, shot to death in a bank robbery, and presumably burnt to a crisp when his car explodes, among other things.
    • In the movie, Dr. Nick Riviera was impaled on a giant shard of glass the size of an SUV. He manages to cheerfully shout "Bye bye, everybody!" before losing consciousness. Even Word of God confirmed that he was dead. A year later he showed up on the series, as good as new, with no explanation.
    • Though not quite death, there was Homer's version of that Harry Potter parody. "I escaped from the hourglass somehow!"
  • South Park:
    • Kenny, after his ultimate death at the end of season 5, was reintroduced at the end of the following season with little more than the following explanation: "Oh, I've been places."
      • Kenny also reappeared unscathed, despite (obviously) dying in the Season 1 finale, returns in Season 2 by simply rejoining the main characters at the beginning of the episode.
      • A Cerebus Retcon many seasons later in the "Coon and Friends" saga explains that Kenny has the superpower of not dying, so when he is killed he returns to life with only him remembering what happened. Kenny's parents made a deal with Cthulhu that their son would always be reborn the evening he dies and grow up overnight, awakening the next morning not knowing how it happened. Kenny's mom now thinks this sucks almost as much as Kenny does. Kenny's parents probably didn't know they made the deal, largely because they spent their time drinking the free booze that was served at the meetings, which was the only reason they joined in the first place.
    • Notably in episode "Die, Hippie, Die" Mayor McDaniels shoots herself in the head but turns up at the end of the episode with her head wrapped in a bandage.
    • In similar fashion, Bill Gates makes an appearance in another episode, with band-aids covering his forehead. That probably had to do with the fact that he was SHOT IN THE FACE in the movie.
    • In "Krazy Kripples" Saddam Hussein is suddenly alive again with no explanation.
    • In "Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants", a trip to Afghanistan features the death of Osama Bin Laden. Many seasons later, he's still operating in the Middle East when the town contacts him to help stop New Jersey from taking over the rest of the world.
    • In a case where we don't actually see the recovery between deaths, Steve Irwin dies in "Prehistoric Ice Man". Much later in "Hell on Earth 2006", Satan is throwing a Hell party, and Steve shows up with the same stingray that was the actual cause of his death in real life.
    • One particular spoof on the concept: Cartman responds with this when Kyle taunts him by saying that he was a stillborn.
  • Zorak's debut episode of Space Ghost ends with the titular hero redirecting a missile that destroys the planet the mantis villain was on at the time. He returned in subsequent episodes with no explanation. Decades later, in the spinoff series Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Space Ghost and Zorak watch the full episode with MST3K-esque commentary and Space Ghost asks how he survived the planet's destruction. Zorak snidely answers that he "ducked."
  • Many characters in Teen Titans suffer apparent death, then show back up unharmed without explanation:
    • The most blatant occurs in "Aftershock, Part 1", where Terra hunts down and seemingly kills all five Titans. In order of apparent certainty: Starfire is knocked off a cliff into water (which Terra should know is little more than an inconvenience). Beast Boy and Cyborg fall down a crevice that Terra closes after them (Cyborg is also very durable, while Beast Boy could turn into something small enough to crawl through the space). Raven is pulled under in a pool of mud (she could have teleported out, though Terra should have noticed). Finally, Terra smashes Robin with a boulder at point-blank range, at which point it immediately cuts to her kicking his crest across the floor to Slade, implying she found a corpse to take if off. And then they all show up underground looking little the worse for wear and ready for round two.
    • Matched (if not topped) by the fifth season premiere, where the Doom Patrol falls one by one as they fight their way to the Brain's lair, except not really.
    • In the series finale, Terra has seemingly recovered from petrification. No one has any idea as to how.
  • Scott in Total Drama All Stars after being mauled by Fang in Revenge of the Island.
  • At the beginning of the Transformers Animated episode "Nature Calls", a familiar-looking construction worker is attacked by the Monster of the Week, and is implied to have died. He still shows up again. However, this could be writer miscommunication: Sparkplug 1.0 has a different voice actor and completely different speech pattern from Sparkplug 2.0.
    • They pull this again the third season: A flashback has an appearance by a character named Warpath. However, he actually had already appeared in a smaller role in another flashback a couple episodes earlier, namely a dismembered body in the middle of a battlefield. Despite this, he's still in a crowd shot set in modern-day Cybertron. (Same body-type?)
    • The original G1 series had this too in regards to the Coneheads - despite Unicron seemingly eating them in the movie, all three turn up alive and frequently in Season 3. The Insecticons, who became the Sweeps (and possibly Cyclonus, in Bombshell's case), also show up prominently in both the later parts of the film and the Season 3 multi-part opening, "Five Faces of Darkness". Skywarp and Thundercracker also pop up in crowd shots in the movie, as does Brawn in a later (very poorly animated) episode. The weirdness of the Insecticons, Skywarp, and Thundercracker owes to the fact that Cyclonus and Scourge were not originally created from those characters, but the lost souls of Decepticon leaders.
  • In Wakfu, Tristepin's master Goultard thought to be dead, returns in episode 22 of season 1:
    Tristepin: But you died.
    Goultard: Death was overrated.


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