Rebirth, resurrection, metamorphosis, here assembled are characters who undergo transformative experiences, generally involving some period of death, or at least dormancy (at least one cocoon).
While we ourselves undergo a time of great change and transformation, here is our Top 10 list of characters who have been reborn.
10) Everyone – The Vampire Diaries
Turns out when you make a series that’s all about vampires, werewolves, spirits and humans, you’re going to have a lot of dead people. Sorry, that was a little insensitive to the vampires. This was a hard one, as I couldn’t pinpoint one specific character to pull out of the series, but instead the entire series is a really good example for this list. You see, there’s a particular item that makes this entry a shoe-in for this week.
The Vampire Diaries features a cast that have died so many times, it could make Game of Thrones blush. No really, I just went through their wiki and there have been well over 400 deaths, with many returning from the dead to be rekilled again. Anyway, a large portion of the cast die and come back, usually through the use of a ring called a Gilbert Ring. This powerful artefact can bring their human hosts back from the dead, but on their return, a little bit of their sanity is taken with their rebirth. They always come back reborn, somewhat different.
And don’t even get me started with Alaric, who would have been the one we mentioned, if we chose a specific character. Eight deaths.
9) Superman – DC
It’s an epidemic throughout the world (or worlds) of comic book heroism, but Superman may be just about the worst example of refusing to stay dead. While the man of steel has a cluster of powers that have been trimmed down over the decades in pursuit of presenting him with reasonable challenges, he’s still near-enough a god. Whenever he dies it’s a rather dramatic event, but over the years, that too has lost some of its potency.
Much like the DC Universe itself, he has a tendency to be… well, reborn. It depends on the universe, but there have been an approximate fifteen Superdeaths, including the eponymous Death of Superman story. He’s been killed by himself, people trained to kill him, by magic (actual magic, he’s vulnerable to it), kryptonite bullets, kryptonite spears, and of course by the CGI monstrosity called Doomsday. In no instance has he stayed dead, and it’s getting a smidge tiresome.
8) Delenn – Babylon 5
Minbari ambassador to the human-run Babylon 5 was once the perfect image of her species, bone crest surrounding a bald pate, and in every other way subtly different to us. But to better embrace unions with humanity after such a troubled start to their relationship – the little war that almost wiped us from the galaxy – she undergoes a rather dramatic change.
Encasing herself in a cocoon for months, she reemerges with a full head of hair which mysteriously manages to stay straight beneath her bony crest, which has now diminished to something like a headband. It’s representative of something far more profound than an olive branch, humans and minbari are two halves of the same species due to a highly elaborate time travel storyline.
7) Aslan – Narnia
When you’re as powerful as Aslan, death doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Arguably the most prominent character from the Chronicles of Narnia, Aslan is a martyr. Portrayed after the biblical Jesus Christ, there are too many similarities to be discounted from C.S Lewis’ work. Aslan is as close to the depiction of christ as is feasibly possible, which makes it even more suited to this list.
The story of Aslan is that he basically was murdered by the Witch, with her servants humiliating him (shaving his mane). They beat and torture Aslan, before the Witch herself comes along with her stone knife to finish the deed. It feels final, it feels absolute, but then of course Aslan makes his triumphant return, with a victory speech that you can’t help but feel inspired by.
Yeah, take that evil witches! You can kill me because the stone tablet will bring me back! Please don’t kill me. I’m not a willing sacrifice.
6) Neo – The Matrix
Our second… no, third Jesus analogue on this list, not our last I can assure you. Thomas Anderson is a perfectly normal person working a boring office job, just another cog in the proverbial machine, but living a rich if somewhat vague virtual life under the name Neo. He was a cybercriminal who created viruses which never comes up again… unless you count him acting as an antivirus in the third film.
His journey to Oneness with the Matrix requires that he must be killed and reborn, so when he is killed by Agent Smith after an epic showdown, not as part of the showdown, a cheap shot sometime after the subway fight, but he gets reanimated by prophecy or true love or… plot armour, gods that was easily the worst part of an otherwise amazing film, but there’s no denying that when Neo stands up post-death he is crazy powerful.
5) Jon Snow – Game of Thrones
Protected by a thick coating of favouritism, the death of Jon Snow could have been a devastating moment for the fanbase, unravelling so many theories and leading the northern territories of Westeros into deeper and deeper trouble, he was doing a lot to help deal with the actual problem.
But the notion of death and rebirth had rather been established, and the Lord of Light is surprisingly generous when handing out free lives. The resurrected Jon Snow is like some strange revenant, emotionless, distant, oddly driven and completely without the uncertainty that had plagued him until then. He also gets a cool new haircut.
4) Kara Thrace – Battlestar Galactica
While the ending to Battlestar Galactica was a little divisive, perhaps the biggest dangling question was “What the hell was Starbuck?”. Half cylon half human, seems pretty likely, weird prophet cursed with images of the unfolding end, sure, dead… but she got better.
Cylons are blessed with a kind of immortality, but based on a series of reincarnations into prepared bodies. Kara just re-emerges from the heart of a nebula, fully reformed, complete with her Viper, oblivious to her own demise and filled with pseudo-divine knowledge. No one trusts her, no one believes her, but ultimately she proves to be the guiding star to humanity’s new beginning… whether you like it or not.
Fly, you fools!
Yes, Gandalf was definitely one of the main motivators for this week’s list. When he died, he lost his status as Gandalf the Grey. I mean, you can make the assumption that he didn’t actually die, but his status completely changed from this insane moment. You believed it, we all believed it, the wizard had fallen and he was not going to be around – Until he showed up as a literal white wizard knight.
Now sporting the fetching title of Gandalf the White, he was renewed with a new vigor. You couldn’t help but feel happy and inspired by the now very well washed Gandalf, who had finally gotten the stains out of his robes. Jokes aside, Gandalf’s fall to the Balrog was one of the most shocking moments in fantasy history, but his return was arguably even more impressive.
2) Captain Barbossa – Pirates of the Carribbean
You remember when Captain Barbossa actually died? Yeah, he did, he definitely died. But then he was such a beloved character that they couldn’t actually kill the pirate badass off. Ultimately, Captain Barbossa is one of those characters who no one really wanted to see killed off, but he needed a fitting end to his arc in the first film. So when he died, he was brought back for the second film.
One side of being reborn sees your priorities change. Perhaps you’re now interested in different passions? Perhaps your friend circle changed? (I mean, you try explaining to your friends that you’re actually alive more than you were before, after being killed). The point is, Captain Barbossa died in the first film, returned triumphantly in the second film and became a sort of goodie at times.
And we love Barbossa.
1) The Avatar – Avatar: the Last Airbender
The Avatar is a perfect representation of what rebirth is like. The Avatar we all known as Aang is one of many Avatars, but he was the latest person to have taken the spirit of The Avatar. With that in mind, The Avatar reincarnates, or is reborn fairly regularly, although in the life span of the series we don’t really get to see it. Avatar: the Last Airbender follows in the path of the child Aang, who has to deal with being this powerful avatar.
The whole premise of the show wouldn’t stand on its own, if it wasn’t for the conflict that the young Aang has to deal with. Military action being taken because of the age of Aang, this is enough to scare the young boy away. However, The Avatar represents a spirit that keeps peace between the four nations, which Aang can’t run away from forever.
And with that our Top 10 is done… but what’s this? Does life yet stir in this article? But this is not the list it used to be, changed, diminished, top 10 in name only. A couple of honourable mentions to those characters who have died and returned in some way that didn’t quite fit.
Ok, his rebirth is undeniable, having died, chatted with his headmaster, and returned to where he started now free of the spiritual hold of Voldemort. As the final Horcrux, his death was necessary, and act of self sacrifice made a little hollow by the fact that he just respawned.
With that in mind, Potter’s rebirth changes little about himself, and has far greater impact on Voldemort. He doesn’t grow, change attitude, it’s like death was an inconvenience rather than a transformative experience like so many of the characters listed above for whom resurrection or metamorphosis actually made a difference. Harry’s just… Harry.
Isaac – The Binding of Isaac
When you take a step back to look at what The Binding of Isaac is, the game’s a fairly unique take on the bible. We all know how many characters came back from the dead in the bible, which can be said of Isaac too. Many of the characters that you can play as are represented as the fallen, the dead and the reborn. From the fallen Azazel, to the skeleton The Forgotten, this game features plenty of born-again chances for Isaac.
An interesting take on this list, we couldn’t help but put Isaac himself into the game. Whether he has succumbed to the evil within, or if he actually died in that little wooden chest, that’s up to you to decide. This game is all about interpretation, so go ahead and have at you. Decide what you think happened to Isaac.
…. It’s dead… it’s definitely dead this time. And yet life still goes on at GeekOut, and so we emerge, reformed into a new week, ready for our next geeky list.
Did we miss your favourite undying character? If this list were to come back, who should be on it? Give us the business in the comments, or on our Facebook or Twitter pages.