Authors and filmmakers have proven incredibly capable of resurrecting characters that were apparently “undeniably and reliably dead.” Sometimes it’s public clamor for the character, and sometimes it’s a desire or a need for money
the poster child for this is Sherlock Holmes.. Doyle wasn’t really very fond of his most famous creation, so he killed him off in the aptly-named story The Final Problem.. But the public wanted more Holmes. Doyle wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles, which was supposed to be Watson’s memoirs of a case before Holmes’ demise. But it wasn’t enough. So he resurrected Holmes in The Adventure of the Empty House.. Holmes wasn’t really dead – he faked his own demise. And Doyle was saddled with him for a few more decades.
H. Rider Haggard killed off his favorite character, the femme fatale Ayesha at the end of She: A History of Adventure in 1887. She is definitely dead, being burned to a crisp in the Pillar of Fire.
But she was Haggard’s favorite creation, and he kept tinkering with the text over the next fifteen years. I suspect he liked writing her too much, and eighteen years after the first appearance, she returned in a sequel Ayesha: The Return of She. She basically gets re-incarnated, then gets restored to her original appearance. As far as I know, this is the first complete Return From The Dead of a beloved character, at least the first with an explanation. Haggard went on to write two more books with her, in one pairing her with his other creation, Allan Quatermain.
Ygor, the evil shepherd/hunchbacked assistant to Frankenstein (played by Bela Lugosi) in the Universal film Son of Frankenstein, gets shot and apparently killed at the end. But he’s back in Ghost of Frankenstein, without even a token explanation. I guess he just Got Better. This is the most common way of treating inconvenient deaths and continuity problems – just Don’t Explain. John Carradine as Dracula gets killed in House of Frankenstein, but he’s back in House of Dracula the next year. And, despite being killed again, he’s back in Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein (but played by Bela Lugosi).
Larry Talbot as The Wolf Man got killed at the end, of the first movie, and get buried. But, wouldn’t you know it, moonlight on his corpse brings him back to life in Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman.
The biggest change in a movie series came when they ended Beneath the Planet of the Apes by blowing up the entire earth. It’s pretty hard to talk your way out of that. (“I got better…”), but darned if they didn’t do that. For the sequel, Escape from the Planet of the Apes they had three apes using the spaceship from one of the previous movie to go into space. they travel back not only to Earth, but also through time. This requires monumental suspension of disbelief – the ships weren’t in any shape to take off. They had no support facilities or fuel. The technology was way ahead of what the apes were shown to have. In the original two films the astronauts basically slept through the voyage, so no time travel was involved – but here you had to believe in it. And the apes’ ship had to somehow go through its gyrations and end up on Earth. But if you can buy all of that, it works.
Don’t get me talking about Spock and his damned katra.
What are your favorites?