Anything is possible in the worlds beyond the TV screen, including — more often than you'd think — returning from the dead.
Resurrections, reincarnations and good old fashioned bait-and-switches are part of the bread and butter of TV storytelling. Countless beloved characters on the small screen have appeared dead, sometimes for many years, only to reappear suddenly when the story needs them.
Even in shows with little supernatural influence, it is surprising how often characters come back from the other side. Sometimes, writers appear to change their minds, feeling that they shouldn't have done away with vital characters so easily. Other times it is part of a long and well thought out scheme to confuse and delight the audience.
Typically, viewers will accept a return from the dead story as long as it is satisfactorily explained. Some characters have been graphically killed on screen with little doubt that they were gone forever, but when they come back, the audience welcomes them with open arms. It is a delicate trick of storytelling and a tried-and-true thematic device. No matter how many times we see it, we're amazed to when it is pulled off again.
Here is a look at some of the most beloved TV characters that had died and returned on screen.
Jon Snow (Kit Harington)'s death at the end of season 5 of Game of Thrones was one of the most shocking moments in the fantasy series' run thus far. The show is known for sparing no character from death, no matter how beloved, but fans were completely caught off guard when the heroic Jon Snow was stabbed by a line of his brothers from the Night's Watch.
Of course, he couldn't be kept down so easily. Jon Snow was revived in the next season by the red priestess Melisandre, and his death officially allows him to revoke his vow as to the Watch and take up the title of King in the North. This plot thread still hasn't been satisfied in the books, however, where fans have been waiting since 2011 to see how that version of Jon Snow will recover from the daggers of his supposed friends.
The Roseanne timeline was extremely confusing even before the eponymous star, Roseanne Barr, got the show cancelled with a slew of racist tweets. The final season of the show's original run, season 9, included all kinds of outlandish plotlines, such as the Conner family winning the lottery and Dan Conner (John Goodman) cheating on his beloved wife.
It is revealed in the finale that the entire season was a fictional story written by Roseanne Conner to cope with the loss of her husband, who we learn died of a heart attack in the intervening time. However, the writers chose to disregard this when the reboot began earlier this year. In the coming months, we may see how they deal with Roseanne Conner herself, if ABC chooses to make a spin-off without the disgraced comedian.
In the course of her endless adventures, Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) dies at the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5. Through a powerful magical ritual, her friends resurrect her at the beginning of season 6, but Buffy isn't necessarily happy to be back.
Shameless brought Jimmy Lishman (Justin Chatwin) back from the dead somewhat casually at the end of the fourth season. After being absent for the entire season, Jimmy shows up briefly in the finale under an assumed name and with a whole new life.
Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez)'s husband, Michael Cordero (Brett Dier) apparently died during Jane the Virgin's third season. In the fourth season, the show even jumps ahead several years, showing Jane in the midst of a whole new romance. However, in the finale, it is revealed that Cordero is somehow still alive, or alive again. Fans are biting their nails waiting for the fall so that they can find out how this is possible.
Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) was killed by lethal injection in the course of 24, successfully flooing everyone around him. However, it was later revealed that Christopher Henderson (Peter Weller) had purposefully missed Almeida's vital organs with the shot, allowing him to be revived and healed later on.
In the BBC's acclaimed series Sherlock, the detective (Benedict Cumberbatch) steps off of a building in an apparent suicide at the end of series 2. His bloody body is carried away by medical staff, and his partner, Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman) even checks his pulse himself. Yet at the last second, it is revealed that the real Sherlock Holmes is watching the whole thing from the shadows.
Fans were forced to wait two years between series to figure out how he pulled the hoax off, and even then it was never explicitly explained.
Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) spends the first three seasons of Scandal believing that her mother has been dead for 22 years. Then, it is suddenly revealed that Maya Lewis (Khandi Alexander) has been alive for all that time.
After four long seasons of Pretty Little Liars, it was officially confirmed that Alison DiLaurentis (Sasha Pieterse) was alive the entire time. The complex web of mysteries surrounding her disappearance could not be unravelled all at once, however.