No One Ever Dies In Sci Fi

no one ever dies in scifi

I have heard the phrase “no one ever dies in scifi” frequently during talks at scifi conventions. The actors, the fans, the writers – all know that it is relatively easy to bring a character back from the dead in the realm of science fiction and fantasy.

Still, as anyone that watches these genres knows, it is not always true. I think in many ways it is dependent on how popular the character is, who the character is, and what TPTB (the powers that be) want. Sometimes a character dying permanently is due to the actor wanting off the show, other times it is the result of contract negotiation problems, and sometimes it is attributable to the show runners wanting to shake the viewers up and prove to the fans that no one is truly safe or to bring in someone they feel fits their target demographic better.

Basically, not always the rule

For me, the hardest permanent (although, you *never* know..) death was of the character Ashley on Sanctuary. According to the actress, the character’s death was a decision from above. Another example is the killing of Trip in Enterprise, but it occurred very late in the series when the show cancellation was a well known fact.

That said, most of the time our favorite characters do not go away. Thankfully, there are many ways to bring characters back. Here are 7 of my favorites.

1) Higher being influence

Consider the case of Daniel Jackson, in Stargate: SG-1. His devoted fans keep a count of how many times he died in the series, be it real deaths, virtual deaths in a video game, or alternate universe character deaths. The death with the most impact occurred at the end of Season 5, when Michael Shanks left the series. Thanks to the fans, at the beginning of season 7 he was brought back as fully human, flesh and blood, after having spent a year as an ascended being and appearing in three season 6 episodes. That death still brings tears to my eyes when I watch the season 5 episode “Meridian.” He then went on to die and ascend again in season 8, although this time he was only ascended for one episode before returning. He is Stargate’s Kenny!

Then on the show Supernatural, The Winchester brothers, Dean and Sam, have died multiple times in various ways. In fact, both of them have been to hell and back, literally. Dean’s death by means of hellhounds was especially horrible, and I will never forget the look of terror on his face. Sam ended up in hell after allowing Lucifer to inhabit his body in order to trap him. He made the ultimate sacrifice to stop the Apocalypse. Both boys were able to come back from the dead due to intervention by angels and demons.

These three are all major characters – stars of their respective shows, so it makes sense that they returned, despite being killed.

2) Cloning

To the everlasting dismay of his fans, Dr. Carson Beckett, from Stargate: Atlantis was killed off in the episode “Sunday.” He later came back as a clone of himself and was a recurring character from that point forward.

3) Alternate Universe

On Stargate: SG-1, Dr. Janet Fraiser and Martouf were both killed off, again to the dismay of the fans, and were seen again in the season 9 episode, “Ripple Effect,” where they visited from an alternate universe. This episode brought tears to many an eye, especially at the end where they said their goodbyes to the main characters – something they had been denied in our universe before they died. Stargate: SG-1 also brought back the character Kawalsky, who died early in Season 1, with two different alternate universe episodes.

A variation on this is a substitution of a character from our universe with a character from an alternate universe. I think the best example of this is the substitution of a young Peter Bishop on Fringe. In fact, this substitution is the pivotal event to the entire story – it was Walter opening the rift and taking Peter to replace his own son that has cause all the events in the series.

Another example is from the program Star Trek: Voyager, when during the episode “Deadlock” Ens. Harry Kim and the infant Naomi Wildman die in our universe, and are substituted with the same characters from the alternate universe.

4) Virtual reality

Stargate: SG-1 character Kawalsky was also brought back when the team was trapped in a virtual reality machine on an alien world. Then during a later season, in a virtual reality game related to the same technology, Jack, Daniel and Sam were all killed multiple times inside the game before they figured out how to defeat it.

5) Time travel

Going back in time is a good way to bring back a character that has been killed off, since you can go back to a time before that person died. In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Tasha Yar was killed towards the end of the first season. Tasha reappeared in a time travel story, in season 3, and then Denise Crosby played the daughter of Tasha in a multi episode story arc in seasons 4-5 resulting from the time travel storyline.

6) Twins or triplets

Multiples make it so easy to kill one off and yet still have virtually the same character on the show. In Heroes, Niki dies in season 2, but one of her triplets, Tracy, then appears and tries to take her place. Niki’s son Micah sees the difference, but she does manage to fool others.

7) Inhabiting someone else’s body

My favorite such possession was when the consciousness of the deceased William Bell, who had been played by Leonard Nimoy, took over the body of Olivia on Fringe. Star Trek fans did not miss the irony of that, considering the fact Spock inhabited Dr. McCoy’s body in the third Star Trek movie, The Search for Spock.

Nathan in Heroes also died, and then returned with Sylar inhabiting his body, until he somehow managed to once again gain control and died a second, more permanent death.

So, these are among my favorite ways of bringing back characters. Do you have any favorites or maybe have another that I missed? Please share any ideas in the comments below!