Killing off a popular character can yield mixed results. It can help to bring focus to a story, delivering an emotional punch in the process. Yet killing off a much-loved character can bring a show to its knees, robbing it of the very thing that made viewers engage. Of course, returning from the grave doesn’t happen to every character killed off, so we decided to take a look at the characters that made that return from the grave.

What’s your favorite/ least favorite example of characters returning from the dead?


5. LOTR – Gandalf

One of the biggest fantasy epics of all time The Lord Of The Rings followed a similar fake-out in the first movie installment. In The Fellowship Of The Ring after assembling as a group the adventurers must make their way across Middle Earth and destroy the ring of power in Mount Doom. After deciding to venture through the belly of a mountain the group are attacked by a Bal Rog, a creature from beneath the earth that threatens to destroy them all. In order to save the group Gandalf the Grey confronts this beast, sporting the quotable line ‘You shall not pass’ before this beast drags Gandalf down into the abyss.

This appears to be the end of this character until the second installment of the franchise. Gandalf makes his return as the mysterious white wizard, this reveal delighted fans everywhere and lead to the evolution of this character from a wise wizard to a powerful one. This moment in the fantasy genre is renown for both the gripping demise of this character and the miraculous revival even though the moment was rather predictable; especially considering it was in the books, and with such a critically acclaimed actor like Ian McKellen playing the part it would have been a waste.


4. The Walking Dead – Glenn

The sixth season of The Walking Dead saw a much-debated end to one of the shows leading characters. In this scene after being separated from the rest of the cast, Glen and another character are surrounded by a horde of zombies. The two find themselves trapped on top of a bin awaiting the inevitable. After his comrade takes his own life Glen is knocked onto the floor. The episode ends with Glenn on the ground helpless as the horde swarming and begin tucking into some good old guts. A few episodes later it is revealed that it was not Glenn ripped to pieces but in fact the corpse of the other character. Glenn hid himself beneath the bin awaiting a chance to escape.

This escape moment felt very unusual after what was quite a shocking scene where a beloved character met a gruesome end but felt wasted after the reveal that this character was perfectly fine. This would’ve been an interesting and shocking way to kill off this character, considering most of The Walking Dead’s character deaths are predicted episodes beforehand. Considering Glenn meets his end at the beginning of the next season it appears that this moment could’ve been a more interesting way of ending the characters journey. The Walking Dead missed out on a chance to stand out from the crowd by killing off this character at the right time. As it happens, his return fromt he grave may have harmed the shows credability.


3. Marvel – Agent Coulson

The Avengers Movie was a big hit back in 2012 that has lead to Marvels unending movie catalog. In The Avengers a beloved character was tragically murdered after being stabbed in the chest by the villain Loki. This character death becomes the driving force for the Avengers and units them in saving the day. After this death fans were saddened by the loss of this beloved character, which made a greater impact for audiences but in Marvel’s expanding universe Agent Coulson’s death wasn’t going to last.

As Joss Whedon’s Agents Of Shield began fans were surprised to see Agent Coulson leading this new team. His resurrection was shocking but became a large part of the first season. While audiences were at first confused by this choice and with the bad rating for the show the decision seemed unnecessary but the decision turned out to be very successful with the growing success of Agents Of Shield. This resurrection brought a lot of possibilities to the Marvel universe and will be a standout moment in the Avengers saga.


2. Eastenders – Dirty Den

Arguably the long-running BBC soaps most well-known character, Dirty Den was a major character in the late 1980’s, becoming a staple of the shows main storylines. Eventually, a contract dispute led to his character being killed, via bullet shot. His daughter Sharon identified the body and it seemed that Den Watts would remain dead.

But the grave couldn’t hold Dirty Den as in 2003, the star returned to the BBC Soap. It was a hugely shocking moment for audiences, who believed there was no way back for the popular character. Sadly his return marked a downturn in the quality of the show, as audiences grew tired of the storylines and awkwardness that hung around his character. The decision was made in 2005 to kill him off again – this time for good. We suspect there won’t be a return this time, as he was buried under a good few inches of concrete.


1. Game Of Thrones – Jon Snow

Game Of Thrones a show full of beloved character who are known to meet an untimely end has only one moment of resurrection that was highly anticipated by audiences. This character is, of course, Jon Snow the former bastard son of Eddard Stark. At the end of season 5, Jon Snow’s body was left in the snow after being betrayed by his brothers, the wait between the seasons was full of speculation as to Snow’s fate. When the next season finally returned Jon Snow’s fate was revealed to the delight of fans everywhere. Jon was resurrected from the dead.

This moment began a stand out for fans of the show, an audience united in their theory that Jon couldn’t possibly be dead. A stand out for a show that became popular on its unrelenting decisions to kill off any character. Jon’s return was an insight into the importance of his character but was sadly a break from the shows gripping realism. One instance where returning from the grave may have harmed the show more than it helped.