It’s that time of the year where Christian societies celebrate a man who died and came back to life so that we could all eat chocolate. And teach us about love and peace and stuff. But how does this relate in a geeky context? Well, what about those TV characters who died and came back to teach us a lesson about the fact that beloved characters never die? While a lot of TV shows are guilty of using the Back From The Dead trope, it’s Doctor Who which has turned it into an artform.
“I can't die, but I keep getting older. The odd little grey hair, you know? What happens if I live for a million years?”
Following an encounter with the Daleks and the Bad Wolf version of Rose Tyler, Jack was left stranded on a space station with an unfortunate case of the resurrections. It took a while, but Jack finally figured out that he couldn’t die permanently. While some people might take their newfound immortality as a reason to do whatever the hell they want, for Jack it’s a duty he owes to the people of the universe, using his invulnerability to do the things that other people can’t. He might not always manage to do the most ethical thing, but he will damn well try his hardest to help the greatest amount of people.
Devoured by Abaddon
Torn apart in the Time Vortex, holding onto it as it travelled to the end of the universe
Buried alive for nearly 1,900 years
Incinerated by a Dalek furnace
Blown apart by a bomb implanted inside him
- “Then what? You just come back to life?”
- “When don’t I?”
It’s not like Rory ever chose to come back to life. It’s more pure bad (good?) luck that he keeps on being in the wrong place at the right time that none of his deaths ever stick. And in fairness, most of the time when he “dies” it’s because he’s in a dream or perceptions are being altered. Rory Williams is just an ordinary human who hasn’t been altered by an omnipotent being. Maybe that’s why he sees death as just another wearying thing that keeps happening to him.
Turned into dust by a possessed pensioner
Shot by a Silurian and erased from all of time and space
Threw himself off a building to create a paradox and “escape” the Weeping Angels
- “You're dead.”
- “Yeah. I was brought back. Like Jesus, really. But without the beard, you know. Shit, I'm never gonna have a beard. Not that I wanted one, you understand, but one day I...”
Compared to the others on this list, Owen comes off pretty badly in terms of resurrections. Shot while on an investigation, Owen is the closest the Doctor Who universe is ever going to come to proper zombies. Still entirely mentally conscious, but without the capacity to heal, Owen’s body just decays around him. It’s not really the greatest gift, being brought back to life by the Resurrection Gauntlet, and Owen doesn’t think of it as one. His post-death life doesn’t involve any sex or food or anything that makes life worth living.
Shot protecting Martha Jones
Destroyed by radioactive waste
This body was born out of death; all it can do is die.
It’s difficult to kill a really good villain. And if they come from a race of beings that can regenerate their bodies, it’s almost impossible. But the Master takes Time Lord regeneration to a whole new level, using up his original lives, becoming a living corpse, stealing someone else’s body, and getting a whole new set of regenerations from the Time Lord council. There’s probably no-one more scared of death than the Master.
Burnt alive by the Doctor
Turned into a Cheetah person and abandoned on a dying planet
Executed by Daleks and surviving as a goo snake
Blasted himself while sending Rassilon and the Time Lords back into the Time War
Shot by the Cyber-Brigadier
Everybody knows that everybody dies. But not every day. Not today. Some days are special. Some days are so, so blessed. Some days, nobody dies at all.
Well, OK, except maybe the Tenth Doctor. Like the Master, the Doctor’s DNA is generally what allows him to cheat death (except for that one time when he had a separate hand to divert his regeneration energy into). But he’s the one who uses his deaths for good, generally dying to save his companions, or unnamed billions, from a dreadful death.
It’s difficult not to compare the Tenth Doctor to Jesus at Easter, given the whole “restored by faith and everyone repeating his name” thing in Last of the Time Lords. And people who complain about Ten’s post-fatal-incident and pre-regeneration companion goodbye tour need to take another look at the Bible, where Jesus spent his post-death days chilling out around Judea, appearing to all of his disciples before he went off to Heaven.
Fell from a radio transmitter dish after the Master rotated it
Shot by gang members accidentally, and then killed during subsequent operation by Grace Holloway who thought he only had one heart
Absorbed the Time Vortex
Shot by River Song (OK, not really him)
(*We are not here including all the deaths the Doctor died in the alternate universe of The Curse of Fatal Death, because that would require an article in itself)