Happy Easter time! As far as I understand it, this time of year is all about chocolate, bizarre chicken-rabbit hybrids, and rebirth.
There’s various takes on the story of Jesus’s resurrection, including DH Lawrence’s brilliantly titled ‘The Escaped Cock‘ about dealing with post-resurrection ennui, as well as the widespread belief in Zombie Jesus Day.
But there’s plenty of examples of other characters coming back from the dead elsewhere, and to celebrate Easter in pop culture style, here are my ten favourite revivals from the world of television.
Buffy (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Buffy heroically sacrificed herself to save her sister and the world, then was mystically brought back to life by her friends who assumed (for no real reason) that she was eternally stuck in a Hell dimension. If you ask me, the idea that she’d end up somewhere other than the Elysian Fields sounds rather unfairly judgemental. Anyway, Buffy had to claw her way out of her coffin in a confused state, and found it hard to readjust to being one of the living, especially as she was (understandably) depressed at having been ripped out of Heaven by her friends. Still, not being dead led to good times for her, such as sex with Spike and a demonic musical. Life’s not all bad!
Dean sold his soul to save his brother, which meant that he was given just one year to live before dying bloody and being dragged to Hell. In the appropriately titled ‘Lazarus Rising’ he clawed his way out much like Buffy (I think the lesson here is try not to do anything overly nice for your siblings), and discovered that he had been gripped tight and raised from perdition by an angel. The forces of both Heaven and Hell were hot on the heels of the Winchester boys in the lead-up to the Apocalypse, and the brothers ended up being brought back to life repeatedly. In fact, not being able to (permanently) die took on a horror of its own, as it seemed that Sam and Dean wouldn’t be able to avoid their roles as meatsuits for Michael and Lucifer.
Jeremy (The Vampire Diaries)
It seemed like Jeremy was definitely dead and gone after he was accidentally shot, which wasn’t wildly surprising given how willing the show is to bump off characters. Sometimes they come back as vampires, undaggered originals or ring-wearers, but a fair few have been bumped off permanently (even if some of those have had ghostly stints) like Vicki, Anna, Jenna, Isobel, Bill, Papa Lockwood, John, Mason, Zach, Rose, Bonnie’s Grams, Pearl, Logan, Luka, Jules and Mikael. However, Jeremy proved the value of dating a witch if you’re going to be involved in supernatural shenanigans, his girlfriend Bonnie was able to resurrect him with a spell, and some help from her ancestor Emily. This led to him going all Sixth Sense and being able to see dead ex-girlfriends however, which threw a spanner in the workings of his relationship with Bonnie.
Darla, Angel’s sire, was killed off early in the first season of Buffy, however the flashbacks in which she featured after that really fleshed out her character. In the spin-off series Angel, the evil law firm Wolfram & Hart brought her back, as a terrified human. She was close to death again though (due to syphilis contracted during her time as a New World prostitute, back when she was alive the first time around) which led to her being re-sired by Drusilla, and the two set about tormenting Angel and trying to drag him over to the dark side. She wasn’t able to make him lose his soul, but she did manage to conceive a child with him (quite a feat for two vampires), and the show’s plot pretty much spun out of control from there.
Chuck (Pushing Daisies)
Ned had the power to bring people back from the dead but barely used it because it led to the death of others (at least if they were brought back for more than sixty seconds). He couldn’t help himself from saving his murdered childhood best friend Charlotte Charles aka Chuck though. She was given a second lease of life, but frustratingly had to keep herself hidden (especially from her family) because she couldn’t admit to being reanimated without raising too many questions, and despite her and Ned’s feelings for each other they could never consummate their relationship in any way because a second touch would lead to her dying, forever this time. No one ever said (coming back to) life was supposed to be easy!
The Charmed girls seem like mightily inefficient witches, all of them dying multiple times all over the place. It hardly ever seemed to stick- except for the last one of Prue’s when the actress who played her, Shannen Doherty, left the series. Piper managed to get herself killed- and brought back to life- a grand total of nine times. Some of her, and her sister’s, deaths were solved by messing with time, but many of the reanimations were due to Leo, their resident Whitelighter and eventually Piper’s husband. Her and Leo’s eldest child, Wyatt, also had magical healing abilities and managed to bring his mother back from the dead at one point. Apparently sisterly powers aren’t always enough, so it’s a wise idea to extend your family if you think demons are likely to try to kill you a lot.
Nathan took a while to discover his super power, but when it finally revealed itself it turned out to be pretty handy. He was essentially immortal, which meant he could always come back from the dead, as the gang discovered when they went to pay their respects at his grave. He had to actually “die” in order to come back new however, being severely injured just meant he was stuck like that. He sold his power to support his girlfriend Marnie and her newborn baby, but I’m holding out hope that his new scamming powers (and his arrest) mean there’s a chance of him reviving the show by returning for the fourth season, even if the loss of other major cast members, and the introduction of new ones, means that his presence probably wouldn’t completely cure things.
Claire had a similar power to Nathan, the ability to heal in an accelerated fashion, meaning that she could revive from death too. She was freaked out by this at first, leading to lots of videotaped experiments, but it’s a useful thing to be able to do! She could not only heal from injuries and come back from death, but she could re-grow missing bits of herself (like a toe) which is awesome, if a tad gross. Her liver wasn’t immune from this accelerated re-growth either, which meant that she couldn’t get drunk. Sad times, especially as with all the shocks she went through she could probably have used the solace of the bottle. Transfusions of her blood (or others’ with the same ability, like Adam) could also spread the healing magic to others, so I guess she could try to make herself feel better with do-gooding instead of boozing.
Ben Hawkins had a similar condition to Ned from Pushing Daisies, he could bring people back to life, but only by ending someone else’s. He wanted to save Ruthie, the carnival’s snake charmer whom he’d recently grown close to, when she died as a result of a venomous snake bite. He was initially unable to revive her- until he strangled Lodz (upon learning of his role in Ruthie’s death). Although Ruthie got to be alive again, and her strongman son Gabriel wasn’t left all alone, a second lease of life isn’t necessarily all good. Her body was possessed repeatedly by Lodz, who used it to communicate with Lila, who in turn went around screwing up important plans. Plus Ruthie was rather disturbed when she began seeing dead people…
Kenny (South Park)
Kenny might well be the television character who has died the most times (unless you count Itchy and Scratchy…), he’s even got a TV trope named in his honour. During the early seasons of South Park he died in episode after episode, making the time that his demise actually stuck rather striking. He bounced back from that too, eventually, of course. Apparently he’s reborn each time he dies and turns up in his bed again (clearly ageing impressively quickly too). I guess that’s what parents get for going to Cthulu cult meetings! You’ve been warned.
Tell us about other born-again characters in the comments!