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TV Characters Brought Back To Life (Because Fans Got Pissed)

Updated November 11, 2020 15.4k votes 3.7k voters 133.5k views11 items

List RulesVote up the resurrected character who'd have made you quit watching if they hadn't come back.

There's a special place in hell for TV shows (and movies) that killed characters then brought them back. Whether they killed off a character to shake up an atrophying plot or because it made sense to the story, for devoted fans a beloved character dying cheapens death and provokes outrage. In such cases, shows will sometimes do an about face and bring back a character for plot convenience or as a ratings gimmick. This will usually come with a cute, if unsatisfying, explanation for how the character was magically able to survive his or her decapitation and five hundred gunshot wounds, for example, it was just a character who looked like them or because: magic.

TV characters brought back to life because fans were pissed aren't especially common, as show producers generally try to avoid earning a special place in hell. Fans must be kept happy if viewership numbers are threatened and the controversy might even earn the show a little buzz if the character happened to be especially prominent in the show. Here are characters on TV shows who died then came back due to popular demand.

  • Kenny McCormick
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair use

    One of South Park's longest-running jokes is that Kenny can never die. The parka-wearing elementary school student has been microwaved, beheaded, killed by a bear, and tortured in countless other ways, but he always returned the following episode good as new. So when he dies again of muscular dystrophy in Season 5, fans assumed he'd come back the next season like always - but then he didn't.

    After fans complained non-stop about Kenny being gone for all of Season 6, creators Trey Stone and Matt Parker finally brought him back to life for good. 

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  • Cartoons are more than fair game for deaths and resurrections but in this case the fans would have none of it. The death itself was clearly a ratings grab. Family Guy's Brian just so happens to die in Season 12 right after Stewie destroys his time travel device and is unable to bring him back. The show was likely never going to leave Brian dead, but just in case there was any doubt fans got real vocal about bringing him back. Sure enough, two episodes later Stewie steals the time travel device from his past self and gets Brian back.

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  • When veteran Marvel Universe character Agent Coulson died in the first Avengers movie, many couldn't believe their eyes - which was fine for when Coulson came back to life for his own TV show, Marvel's Agents of Shield. While Joss Whedon felt the move cheapened Coulson's death, creators (and fans) believed the character to be too popular to kill off.

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  • 4

    Optimus Prime

    Granted, this beloved character death happened in a movie, but the character in question, Optimus Prime, was resurrected on TV. A fan-favorite of children everywhere, this semi-truck transforming hero fought the Decepticons to keep earth safe. Then those same bright-eyed children watched tearfully in Transformers: The Movie (1986) as the Autobot fought his last fight and was killed. Not only were millions of children scarred, they were outraged. Optimus was practically a father-figure. 

    Needless to say, the character arose from the dead in 1988 on the Transformers cartoon.

    Glad they came back?