In fiction, death is just a plot angle that will usher in a renewed version of the character we saw seemingly perish. No one truly stays dead in stories that have resurrection as an option – except maybe Uncle Ben.
In all forms of fiction stories, we’ve seen heroes, villains, and anybody required come back to life. Almost always, the result of their resurrection is a power upgrade, and this is served as a means to signify that they won’t be getting killed as easily as before. With that in mind, here are 10 characters in fiction who got stronger after coming back from the dead.
10 Gandalf - The Lord of the Rings
After his fall at the end of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf came to Middle-Earth; with a brighter visage than when we’d first seen him. He was previously referred to as Gandalf the Grey, who was a powerful being, but limited to his human body.
As Gandalf the White, he didn’t have any restraints in power, at least in theory. Now, his human form was just a necessity needed to appear in front of mortals who could not perceive his true form. This version of Gandalf was a true immortal in spirit.
9 Optimus Prime - Transformers
In both the film continuity and the animated series, Optimus Prime has bit the dust; both universes also saw him return eventually. In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Optimus Prime saw his end when the film began, only to return by the climax, when a defected Decepticon decided to sacrifice himself to empower Prime.
The new Prime had the ability to fly and could withstand greater damage, as well as have further artillery in his kitty. This version was so much more powerful than his original form, that he was able to behead Megatron in a swift move in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, when he’d originally been beaten to submission by the same opponent in the first Transformers.
8 Castiel - Supernatural
Then angels in Supernatural have been powered down greatly compared to how they were when first introduced, although Castiel did see his most powerful version around Season 6. This was when he was reassembled after Lucifer blew him up in Season 5's finale, and Castiel’s first act was to easily resurrect Bobby Singer.
Castiel himself termed his revival as being “new and improved”, displaying powers such as instant travel, power granting, advanced smiting, invisibility, and even time travel. By the end of Season 6, he’d become powerful enough to proclaim himself as god, although this had been the result of some magical tampering. After his death in the beginning of Season 7, though, the formerly super powered Castiel was taken down a notch.
7 Vergil - Devil May Cry
For almost two decades, fans had no clue what became of series’ protagonist Dante’s brother, Vergil, who had last been seen in a demon version called Nelo Angelo. Devil May Cry 5 finally answered our questions by having Vergil be resurrected.
This was possible after two forms of Vergil had been previously shown: one his darker demon form, and the other his human form known as V. When they were both combined, Vergil finally came back into being. This was one was shown to be more powerful than Dante, against whom Vergil had previously lost to in Devil May Cry 3. The renewed Vergil didn’t take more than a few seconds to beat Dante with ease.
6 The Scotsman - Samurai Jack
The protagonist of the series didn’t age a day in 50 years due to a side effect from time travel, but his good friend, the Scotsman, did see himself become an old man. He was easily killed when he tried to fight in his old age, but was then revived as a spirit by his sword possessing “Celtic Magic”.
He wasn’t truly dead or living, and interacted with everyone as if nothing had changed. However, he couldn’t be harmed in the slightest due to being incorporeal, which made it impossible for his enemies to harm him. In the end, the Scotsman was instrumental in sending Jack back into his time.
5 Agent Smith - The Matrix
The Agents seemed to be supremely powerful in their first film, but we hadn’t seen anything yet as evidenced when the revived Smith returned after his original death by Neo. Now a virus in the Matrix, this Smith wasn’t encumbered by the rules of an agent, and did whatever the heck he wanted.
By the ending of The Matrix: Revolutions, Smith’s ability to assimilate all beings in the Matrix into copies of himself was so great, that everyone in the digital world was a Smith clone. His powers were so immense that he could fly, have super strength, possess zero fatigue, and could even see the future. He was truly undefeatable, and it took some real world wizardry from Neo and the machines to finally delete him.
4 Spider-Man - Marvel Universe
It often feels like everyone in the Marvel Universe has died at some point or another, and Spider-Man is no exception. We’ll be counting his resurrection against the Superior Spider-Man for this list. After Doc Ock replaced his conscience into Peter Parker’s, the latter had died in the supervillain’s body.
However, Peter would be “resurrected” in the body controlled by Octavius, as part of his conscience survived in his original brain. After a long time battling for control, Peter was able to supplant Octavius out and return to his body. The new Spider-Man benefited from wisdom from his brush with death, and used this knowledge to assist him in the “Spider-Verse” story that followed soon after, where he became a leader to all the other universes’ Spider-Men.
3 Dr Drake Ramoray - Friends
This might be a bit of a joke entry, but consider this: Dr Drake was supposed to be brain dead, but not only did he come back, he did so with the mind of a woman! In the Friends world’s Days of Our Lives, this character was shown to be revived by getting the brain of a female character.
However, after initially acting as a woman, the following season showed the Dr Drake personality returning fully. It meant that Dr Drake was so powerful, that he could reject the brain of the female donor and become his male version again, fully equipped with all his memories. Now that’s just some next level kind of powers.
2 Kratos - God of War
Kratos has died quite a bit in the God of War series, with every game taking him into the Underworld, but we’ll count his first resurrection here, since he came back to become a god. After having his life taken by Ares, Kratos escaped Hades to return and open Pandora’s Box, which granted him the powers of a god.
This resurrected Kratos not only killed Ares, but was so powerful – due to unlocking the power of Hope – that he ended up killing all the gods there were. Everyone including Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hercules, and a whole lot more saw themselves get killed brutally by Kratos, whom no one still has been able to beat.
1 Doomsday - DC Universe
It’s impossible to count the number of times Doomsday has “died”, because death to him is just a shortcut to gaining an upgrade. Whatever way you kill Doomsday, he’ll be getting resurrected with a new immunity to the way he was killed before.
This means that should one have killed him by throwing him into the sun, then Doomsday would just return – this time being immune to the sun! Whatever kills Doomsday only makes him stronger, and the fancier way he’s killed, the more powerful he’ll become. Should anyone manage to take Doomsday’s life, they would only be giving him means to become even more insanely stronger.