Audiences love TV shows with twists and unexpected things happening every other episode. That’s what keeps fans interested season after season. And what could possibly be more shocking that seeing a character (especially a fan-favorite) come back from the dead? Not in the un-dead zombie kind of way, but in the sense that everyone thought they were dead, but it surprisingly turns out that they aren’t.
Soap operas are the masters of the “faking a death” story line, but there are plenty of prime time shows that do the same thing. Even when it seems like a character is dead beyond a shadow of a doubt, fans still speculate about all the ways they might actually be alive. For example, who knows what Jon Snow’s future will hold in the next season of Game of Thrones.
Bringing a character back from the dead in a believable way isn’t always easy, which is why some shows end up going with some ridiculous plot line that would only happen on TV. They hope fans will suspend their sense of disbelief for a minute and just be happy the character is back. Here are 10 TV show characters that came back from the dead. (By the way… spoiler alert!)
10. Alison – Pretty Little Liars
ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars follows four teenage girls whose good friend, Alison, was murdered. But there’s a mysterious person called “A” who somehow knows all their secrets, some of which make them look like they had something to do with Alison’s death. A constantly threatens to reveal them to the world. In season four it’s revealed that Alison is actually alive and she faked her death. From there, the girls continue to search for answers about really happened the night of Alison’s “death” and who A really is. At least two more characters fake their own deaths in the next couple seasons so it’s pretty obvious that death is never necessarily final on Pretty Little Liars.
9. Fred – Angel
Winifred Burkle, or Fred, is one of the key members of Angel’s gang until season five, when she inhales air from an ancient sarcophagus holding the essence of a pure-bred demon known as Illyria. The parasitic essence eats away at Fred to make her body a shell for the demon to inhabit and eventually Fred disappears. Her soul is consumed by the fires of resurrection, making it impossible for her to ever return to her former self. But Illyria now inhabits Fred’s body and is able to impersonate her by using her memories, which she sometimes does. Illyria takes on human form when Fred’s parents come to visit and later in the series finale when Wesley dies.
8. Brian – Family Guy
In season 12 of Family Guy, the episode “Life of Brian” shows the Griffins’ dog Brian getting hit by a car while he and Stewie are out playing street hockey. He passes away at the vet clinic and the Griffins mourn his death for a short period of time before getting a new dog named Vinny. Three episodes later, Stewie, who misses Brian very much, spots a past incarnation of himself who has traveled forward in time using his time machine. He and Brian had destroyed it just prior to Brian’s death, so until then Stewie didn’t have the option of going back in time to save his beloved dog. Luckily the other version of him has his own time machine which Stewie uses to save Brian and then everything goes back to normal. According to Seth MacFarlane that was the plan all along.
7. Sherlock – Sherlock Holmes
In the second series finale of the BBC’s Sherlock, fans were shocked to see Sherlock (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) and his enemy Moriarty both fall to their deaths from Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. The episode was based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s story “The Final Problem” in which Sherlock Holmes fakes his own suicide and disappears. During a special mini-episode/third series preview it is revealed that Sherlock is in fact alive, and he returns to London to continue solving crimes in series three. A fourth series is expected to begin filming in 2016 and many fans are already speculating that it will involve the return of Moriarty, who is also suspected to have faked his death.
6. Dean Winchester – Supernatural
Supernatural is currently in its eleventh season, so there’s been plenty of opportunity for the Winchester brothers to die only to find their way back. According to one infographic, the brothers died a total of 117 times in the first nine seasons of the show. At the end of season nine, Dean is killed again by an archangel on a power trip. Since Dean had made a deal earlier in the season to take on the Mark of Cain so he could use a special weapon, he is resurrected once again, but he’s no longer human, he’s a demon. It isn’t long before his brother Sam finds a way to restore him to his human state, and all is well again. Until the next time one of them dies.
5. John Locke – Lost
Lost was one of those shows where nothing and no one was what it seemed. John Locke was in a wheelchair before crashing on the island, and then he miraculously became able to walk. He’s also one of the only characters who believes something mystical is going on on the island. He’s eventually murdered by another character, Ben, and his body is used to recreate the events of the original plane crash and get certain characters back to the island. After the crash, he appears to the survivors, apparently resurrected. After a while it turns out that the real John Locke is in fact dead, and the mysterious smoke monster has been impersonating him. So maybe he didn’t return from the dead for real, but it sure seemed like it.
4. Buffy – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy dies and is brought back to life twice. The first time is in the finale of season one when she drowns, but Xander is able to revive her with CPR. Later, in season six, Buffy is killed for real when she sacrifices herself to stop an apocalyptic portal from opening. It takes her friends five months to figure out a way to resurrect her through witchcraft. But of course Buffy’s death set into motion a chain of events that no one could have anticipated. When she returns, Buffy admits to Spike that she had been in Heaven, and she wishes they’d never resurrected her.
3. Clara Oswald – Doctor Who
Doctor Who‘s Clara Oswald is the titular doctor’s companion on the show. But before she becomes this, the Doctor meets two other versions of her who both die in previous episodes. The Doctor decides to use his time traveling abilities to figure out how Clara is able to have multiple lives. The truth is complicated, has to do with time travel and trying to explain it would take forever and contain a lot of spoilers. But we know that Clara is capable of dying and coming back, so what’s stopping her from doing it a few more times? She’s just one of those characters that fans will probably never believe is truly dead.
2. Fox Mulder – The X-Files
FBI agent Fox Mulder has believed in the existence of extraterrestrials since the disappearance of his sister when he was a kid. He’s always believed she was abducted, and has devoted his life and career to finding out the truth. In the seventh season finale, Mulder himself is abducted by aliens. His dead body is eventually returned to earth and found halfway through the eighth season. They hold a funeral for him and he is buried, but three months later they realize he might not have been dead and exhume his body. Turns out he just had an alien virus that made him appear dead. Good thing, because The X-Files was nothing without Mulder.
1. Sara Tencredi – Prison Break
In FOX’s Prison Break, Sara Tencredi is a doctor at the Fox River State Penitentiary. She develops a relationship with Michael Scofield, an inmate with mysterious motives for getting to know her. She ends up helping Scofield and his brother, Lincoln escape prison therefore becoming a target of a dangerous organization called The Company. In season three, Sara is kidnapped and murdered, her head sent in a box to Lincoln. Fans of the show weren’t happy about her death, and in season four she returns as a main character, meaning her gruesome death was somehow faked.