Resurrection (story trope)
|Trope · Genre|
|Synonyms:||back from the dead, back to life, no one stays dead forever|
|Related:||Reincarnation, Alternate Universe, Immortality|
|Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom|
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Resurrection is a common trope in many fandoms. While it is particularly common in canon sources with magical elements, its variants can occur in more "realistic" sources as well.
Resurrection is different from Reincarnation which often involves a destiny-type storyline and is distinguished by a person being reborn as a child, sometimes with no memory of who they once were (at least at first). Instead, resurrection may involve anything from a very brief death where someone is simply mistakenly believed to have died, to someone being gone for years and somehow brought back. But it does not involve the following:
- An actor returning (or continuing) in a canon as a form of doppleganger to the original character (i.e., Madeline "Maddy" Ferguson in Twin Peaks, or Harmony Kendall in Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
- Ongoing use of flashbacks to a time when the character was alive
- Storylines that turn out to be extended dream sequences where the character dies but actually doesn't in the canon's timeline (i.e., Bobby Ewing in Dallas, or Dan Conner in Roseanne) or deaths of a character in an Alternate Universe storyline.
The killing off of characters  and then the (often) return of characters from the dead  has become so frequent a storyline in recent years that it has been commented on as cheapening the death of characters generally and a sign of lazy writing. In canon, the reasons may include the renewed availability of an actor, the need for a ratings boost, or a twist in a long-term story arc. Resurrection can take various forms such as:
- Mistaken death
- Literal Resurrection A character is actually brought back from the dead after a considerable time.
- Agent Coulson dies in The Avengers (Marvel). It is revealed in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that he was revived, days after his death, using a serum made from alien DNA.
- Darla dies in Season 1 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and is brought back four years later by Wolfram & Hart in Season 2 of Angel
- Urameshi Yuusuke from Yuu Yuu Hakusho dies in the first episode, but several episodes later comes back to life with help from Koenma.
- Unclear Death A character returns potentially changed from a deathlike experience.
- Undead Resurrection A character returns to an unnatural or incomplete state of life.
In fanworks, resurrection is generally a fix it storyline where a character lost in canon can be returned. The death itself and its effects are usually important, however, so resurrection is distinguished from:
- An Alternate Universe where the death storyline never takes place.
- A Canon Divergence AU where the storyline is similar but the death is somehow averted.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy spends most of Season 6 depressed and attempting to readjust to the comparative harshness of her life after the peace of death. She arguably would not have become sexually involved with Spike had she not died. Many fanworks centered on her during this season either examine her state of mind or imagine alternate behaviors for Buffy, particularly if other circumstances are also changed (for example, Giles does not leave, her friends are more supportive, or her own mother had not died).
- In Merlin, Merlin is shown in the series finale to have spent thousands of years waiting for Arthur's return. In the stories of Arthur's resurrection, or even in those where he does not appear, but an expected resurrection is at the center of the story, the toll the wait has taken on Merlin may be a story feature. His response can run the gamut from relief and joy to ones where Merlin has become suicidal, deranged, or destructive from the effects of his long wait. In other cases it is Arthur's lack of familiarity with the modern world or his own horror at Merlin's experience that can be a central feature.
- In Supernatural stories centered around the episode "Mystery Spot" may examine the psychological effects on Sam of having repeatedly experienced his brother's death, or of a Dean who may be haunted by flashes of his deaths within the time loop.
- Don't Be Shocked When Your Hist'ry Book Mentions Me series by hollimichele, Gement, ReginaCordium, raven_aorla, and atheilen (Hamilton (musical), Sleepy Hollow (TV series) & RPF). Real-life Alexander Hamilton is resurrected into a version of the Sleepy Hollow universe in which the musical Hamilton--and Ron Chernow--exist. (2015-2016)
- city of the future (or: the hamdevil au) series by QueenWithABeeThrone (Hamilton (musical) & Daredevil (TV)). Musical-verse Alexander Hamilton gets resurrected into the Daredevil (TV) universe, and he has to earn some kind of a living, so he takes up lawyering with Foggy and Matt. And is Very Opinionated on all kinds of media. (2015-2017)
- VanDerWerff, Todd. "TV is killing off so many characters that death is losing its punch." Vox June 1, 2016
- Chainani, Kartik.16 TV Characters Who Were Brought Back from the Dead BuddyTV May 06, 2016.