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Death happens a lot in videogames, but for some reason it never seems to stick. From heroes who get infinite do-overs to supporting characters who “die” only to resurface at the nick of time down the road, videogames might be the only medium that leaves the audience feeling surprised, maybe even cheated, if a dead character isn’t magically brought back to life.
And nobody, but nobody gets magically brought back to life more often than villains. The really interesting ones can usually expect to stick around no matter how horribly they “die;” if their creators aren’t ready to let them go, those villains will find a way back to the world of the living. Some are more tenacious than others, often to the point where their ability to defy death has become a defining characteristic. What follows are the most enduring examples.
Oh, one other thing: Bowser’s not on this list, for several reasons. First, he’s too obvious; for Christ’s sake, he “died” in a pool of lava and came back eight times in his first game appearance alone. Second, his antagonism toward Mario and Peach over the years has mellowed to the point where Peach’s kidnapping is just something the trio does for fun on weekends when they’re not racing go-karts, playing baseball, golfing or kicking a soccer ball around.
Above: My goodness, what a terrifying “villain”
Third, THIS HAPPENED:
Above: Oh yeah, it totally happened. Nintendo said so and everything.* You’ll probably still fight him in the next game, though
Killed in: Resident Evil, Resident Evil 5
Calm, resourceful and cool enough to perpetually wear sunglasses, Albert Wesker has been the proverbial man behind the curtain throughout most of the Resident Evil series. And we’re actually less impressed by his apparent ability to come back from the dead than we are with the fact that he’s always at the center of what should be uncontrollable zombie outbreaks, unharmed, unruffled and apparently ignored by the flesh-eating masses.
Introduced as the heroes’ commander in the first RE, Wesker was soon revealed to be an undercover agent for Umbrella, the company behind the Raccoon City zombie outbreak. His work with the STARS special police unit was nothing more than an attempt to farm disposable soldiers he could use them to test out the combat abilities of Umbrella’s freakish menagerie.
His overconfidence bit him in the ass when he tried (in one variation of RE’s story) to pit Jill Valentine against a hulking, nigh-indestructible Tyrant. Much to Wesker’s surprise, the uncontrollable abomination ignored his orders and murdered Wesker instead.
Two more Resident Evil chapters came and went, and Wesker seemed to be just another casualty of the first game’s mansion incident. That is until he resurfaced in Code: Veronica, with glowing red eyes and superhuman strength and speed.
It seems Wesker’s buddy William Birkin (also known as “That Gross Boss Monster With The Huge Arm-Eye Thing from Resident Evil 2”) supplied him with an experimental virus that gave him cool superpowers instead of turning him into a zombie or unstable automaton. After kicking Chris Redfield’s ass around for a few minutes, he was separated from his old nemesis by a piece of falling debris, at which point he took off running. Wesker resurfaced again during Resident Evil 4 (hiring Ada Wong to collect a sample of the Plagas parasite for his research), and was tracked down by Jill and Chris sometime prior to RE5, at which point he and Jill hurled each other through a window and off a cliff.
Wesker seemed to be dead again, which of course didn’t stop him from showing up once again in Africa, somehow even cooler and more of a pain in the ass to kill than ever before.
Above: Go on, just try and shoot him with a rocket launcher. See what happens
SPOILER ALERT: Skip ahead to the next page now if you don’t want to ruin Resident Evil 5’s ending.
His final act was to turn himself into a weird monstrosity with a giant tentacle, after which he was dumped into the crater of an active volcano and shot with two rocket launchers at once.
This appeared to finally kill him off for good, but we have our doubts. Being blown up and/or dunked in lava has never been enough to keep Bowser down, after all.
*No it didn’t.