The resurrection mythology has roots in just about every culture and religion on the planet. Resurrection is one of the most powerful storytelling tropes out there. Next to humanity’s greatest McGuffin, the search for immortality, the ability to come back from the dead is the greatest goal. Let’s face it, we are mortal and we are cursed, unlike any other living creature on the planet, with the burden of knowing and understanding our mortality. As a result, history is filled with accounts of people conquering death. So is science fiction and fantasy. In fact, you can’t swing Greebo around without hitting a resurrection plot line. So as many around the world celebrate one of the most famous resurrections in history, here is our Top 10 List of TV/Movie Character Resurrections.
10. Jinx – ‘Warehouse 13’
Everybody loves good ole Jinxy. He was an addition to the Warehouse crew that made sense and the character soon settled right in, even becoming BFFs with fan favorite Claudia. But, as is want to happen even in television not connected to Martin or Kirkman, Steve Jinx found himself on the wrong side of a plot device and was killed. Thankfully his buddies work at Warehouse 13 and he was soon brought back to life with Johann Maelzel’s Metronome. While that was all well and good we were introduced to another trope which often goes hand in hand with resurrection mythology, the downside. Jinx and Claudia were linked to the metronome in a very unhealthy way. Fortunately as fate would have it the episode ‘Second Chances’ saw love conquer all, including the magic of the artifact, setting Jinx free.
9. Daniel – ‘Stargate SG1’
Doctor Daniel Jackson was a staple of the ‘Stargate’ franchise. Not only was he the central character in the underachieving ‘Stargate’ motion picture but he was a lead in the long running television adaptation. That is until they killed him off at the end of the fifth season to be replaced by a cheaper actor. Jackson had ascended to a higher plane of existence and was hanging out with the Ancients, making a few cameos throughout the next season, only to be returned, none the worse for wear, in the seventh season. Jackson continued to fight the good fight through the end of SG1’s run and well into the direct to video movies.
8. Ripley – ‘Alien Resurrection’
Ellen Louise Ripley broke every mold there was in Hollywood at the time. Ripley was an action hero. More important, she was a bright, capable, tough as she had to be woman in a male dominated universe, both in the literary and literal sense. Ellen Ripley kicked ‘Alien’ ass in three different decades before sacrificing herself at the end of ‘Alien 3’ in a tear-jerking swansong… or swan dive to be more accurate. But thanks to the miracle of cloning she was brought back in ‘Alien Resurrection’ with a downside that made her even more bad-ass. She had some Alien DNA spliced into her own. Of course it turns out Ripley is not the only Ripley they brought back, she’s just the Ripley that worked. Who could forget the lab sequence with all of those failed experiments? Chilling. Ah, science gone wrong. Is there anything sweeter?
7. Murphy – ‘Robocop’
Alex Murphy was a good cop trying to keep the crime-ridden streets of Detroit safe for the childrens. Turns out there were plenty of criminals who did not share Officer Murphy’s world views. In one of the most brutal openings in film, Officer Murphy is gunned down… a lot. Thankfully for Murphy, dystopian Detroit has a great HMO. Mega Corporation Omni Consumer Products (OCP) rebuilds and revives the swiss chees corpse of Murphy as a cyborg bad-ass law enforcement machine known as Robocop! Sure, there were downsides and Robocop wasn’t exactly down with the OCP but in the end there was plenty of humanity left in Robocop to make one beautiful and triumphant crime fighting hero.
6. Captain Jack Sparrow – ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’
Before Johnny Depp transcended into a caricature of a caricature of himself, he was the enigmatic Captain Jack Sparrow. Jack, with his Keith Richards’ sensibilities, was one of nine pirate lords of the seven seas. Jack was conniving, lecherous, traitorous, and herpes-riddled but at his core he had a heart of gold… which if possible he would have ripped out and sold. At the end of the second Pirate’s film, ‘Dead Man’s Chest’, Jack is eaten by a Kraken, no good deed and all that, only to be resurrected in the following film, ‘At World’s End.’ Jack Sparrow is so captivating on film that we as an audience welcomed his resurrection, and continued to do so despite a deluge of disappointing sequels. When Jack comes back for the fifth installment my hope will be renewed. If anyone can resurrect a franchise, it’s Captain Jack Sparrow.
5. Gandalf – ‘The Lord of the Rings’
If there is one thing that Tolken taught us it’s that you don’t #%&! with old people. Well, that and weed is just fantastic. In fact, the older you are in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ the more formidable you become. From Elves to Ents to Sauramon and Gandalf the Grey, the geriatric crowd is where it’s at. Gandalf embodied the fantasy hero archetype and his selfless actions at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, where he faced down a Balrog, was worthy of song. In the end, Gandalf the Grey was killed and the Balrog cast down. Gandalf was sent back with a new set of clothes and a brand new bag as Gandalf the White and continued to play a key part in freeing the denizens of Middle Earth.
4. Buffy – ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’
Buffy Ann Summers was a typical valley girl until her true destiny as the Slayer was revealed. Her family then packed up and moved to a sleepy little town BUILT OVER A HELLMOUTH. Together her and the Scooby Gang slew many a dark critter. Much like Ripley before her, Buffy broke the mold of the helpless girl stereotype by exhibiting a natural leadership and confidence that permeated through the series. That is until she sacrificed herself by jumping into a Glory Hole, thereby saving her new sister Dawn and the rest of the world. Buffy’s resurrection through a spell cast by her friends, who naturally believed her trapped in Hell, was not without a pretty big downside. You see, Buffy was actually in Heaven, having the time of her unlife and enjoying the peace and contentment that had eluded her for her entire life. Being ripped away from that caused her to spiral into a deep depression with lasting consequences for the character and the series.
3. Captain Jack Harkness – ‘Doctor Who’ / ‘Torchwood’
Captain Jack was arguably the best thing to come out of the reboot of the ‘Doctor Who‘ franchise in 2005. The time traveling, multi-sexual, con-man and heart throb quickly became one of the Doctor’s finest and most popular companions. Just because everyone loves you doesn’t mean death won’t find you and at the end of the first series Captain Jack was killed. Briefly. He was resurrected by a time vortex wielding Rose Tyler and inadvertently stranded in the 19th century. Interestingly enough, his resurrection had the side effect of leaving him immortal, so it was only a matter of time before he would again meet up with the Doctor and eventually get his own television series as well as some pretty ground-breaking mini-series. ‘Children of Earth’ still stands as one of the most gut-wrenching, tear-inducing pieces of television ever produced. I still say Jack is the only Captain on television to ever truly face a no-win scenario. Oh the feels!
2. Phil Coulson – Everything Awesome About Marvel
Phillip Coulson was the lynch pin of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Played with such a sympathetic grace by Clark Gregg, Coulson quickly became a Marvel fan favorite. First introduced in ‘Iron Man’ back in 2008, Agent Coulson went on to rub shoulders with the likes of Thor, Captain America, and the other Avengers. That is before he had his patented leaf on the wind moment at the hands of Loki. But let me tell you something about Phil Coulson. He is bigger than death. Revived by black-ops technology and good old fashioned Kree juice (at least that’s my take on Big Blue), Coulson was brought back to lead a hand-picked team of Agents on the small screen in ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Of course it wouldn’t be the Whedonverse if poor Phil didn’t go through great personal pain as a result of his unwanted resurrection.
1. Spock – ‘Star Trek III: The Search For Spock’
“I have been and always shall be your friend.”
Spock’s death at the end of the cinematic tour de force known as ‘Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan” stands the test of time as one of the most shocking and satisfying cinematic moments in science fiction history. Sure, they tarnished Spock’s death by beating us over the head with the fact his final resting place was going to be on the freaking Genesis Planet. Sure, they tarnished his unwavering loyalty and sacrifice by having Doc Brown kill The Greatest American Hero right after Not Kirstie Alley had Pon Far sexy time with an under aged reborn Spock. I am; however, willing to look past all of that for the sheer fact that Spock would go on to anchor many more movies, television series, novelizations, audio-fictions, and webisodes in the decades that followed. The older and wizened Spock embodies everything that is right with science fiction and Star Trek in particular. It doesn’t matter how he was resurrected, the fact he was is good enough for me.
Honorable Mention: The Doctor – ‘Doctor Who’
Ah yes, the Time Lord. Perhaps one of the greatest science fiction characters ever created. The Doctor is a pop-culture phenomenon. Now, the Doctor may be a special case in our list as the being is not actually dying as much as he is regenerating, a process which allows dying Time Lords to transform into a new physical form. The regenerated being retains all the memories and experiences of the previous incarnation but exhibits a different personality and completely new set of physical characteristics. So yes, while the Doctor doesn’t actually die in the literal sense, an aspect of him surely does. What started as a clever way to recast a popular character has turned into one of the most satisfying sci-fi tenets ever.
What are some of your favorite movie and television resurrections? Find your voice below in the Comments Section and let us know!