8 TV characters who came back from the dead

The TV stars that managed to rise from the dead. (John Fagerness/Online USA, Inc. CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images. Rod Johnson/Getty Images)

Most long-running programmes end up killing off a character or two or three during their course but most of them tend to stay six feet under once the decision has been made.

However, some TV shows take the bold and - when ratings have slipped - sometimes necessary decision to revive a player viewers believed had gone for good.

Sometimes it’s a clear, thought out part of the plot but in a lot of other cases it’s a convenient bit of retconning when a show needs spicing up or it’s being rebooted.

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Here are eight of the most memorable character resurrections in television history, for better or for worse.

Brian Griffin - Family Guy

Stewie decides to destroy his time machine after too many close calls with altering the course of mankind when he and Brian travel back to 17th Century Jamestown in the "Life of Brian". (Photo by FOX Image Collection via Getty Images)

The Griffin's sophisticated Labrador Brian was killed off in Family Guy’s season 12 in an episode entitled "Life of Brian".

News of the death of the cartoon character caused a lot of controversy among fans due to his popularity on the show and his unexpected demise.

Petitions were launched to bring Brian back and it was even alleged one diehard got an "RIP Brian" tattoo in honour of the perished pooch.

However, he returned two episodes later in "Christmas Guy" because, as luck would have it, Stewie was able to travel back in time to save his pal, leaving the show's fans to breathe a sigh of relief. Except for the one who might've actually memorialised the dog with a tattoo.

Dan Conner - Roseanne

Walt Disney Television via Getty Images's "Roseanne" stars John Goodman as Dan Conner. (Robert Trachtenberg via Getty Images)

The 'it was all a dream' trope was pushed to the limit in Roseanne after series eight of the US sitcom.

Dan Conner (John Goodman) was seen suffering a heart attack at the close of the season eight before series nine had an ongoing storyline of Dan having cheated on Roseanne (Roseanne Barr).

But it was revealed at the end of season nine that the events of the previous episodes were actually fictional as they were all part of a story Roseanne had written and that the heart attack had actually killed Dan.

However, when the show was revived in 2018 Dan was alive once more as the events of season nine were conveniently forgotten.

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The show did make light of it when it returned, however, as the opening moments of the reboot saw Roseanne wake Dan after thinking he had died in bed.

"Why does everybody always think I'm dead?" he asked. Why indeed, Dan.

Bobby Ewing - Dallas

In a scene from the American television series 'Dallas,' American actor Patrick Duffy (as Bobby Ewing) stands in the shower and looks over his shoulder in an episode called 'Blast From the Past,' May 1986. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) met his end in the final episodes of season 8 of hit US series Dallas after being hit by a car, or so it seemed.

The show continued without the character for almost an entire series before he returned as Pamela Barnes Ewing (Victoria Principal) awoke from slumber to the sound of running water in the final episode.

In the bathroom she found Bobby taking a shower, revealing season nine to have been a dream after all in one of TV’s most notorious “returns from the grave”.

Subsequently, the last series (which had seen ratings decline) and its plots were discarded as it was written off as the 'Dream Season' in an infamous turnaround.

Dirty Den - EastEnders

Leslie Grantham (C), Nigel Harman (L) and actress Letitia Dean pose outside the Queen Vic pub on the Eastenders set to promote their new storyline featuring the return of Dirty Den, at Elstree Studios on September 28, 2003 in London. (Photo by Rod Johnson/Getty Images)

It was curtains for EastEnders' Dirty Den (Leslie Grantham) in 1989 when one of his gangland enemies fired at him from a gun concealed in a bunch of daffodils and he fell into the canal.

The Queen Vic landlord was presumed dead for years until producer Louise Berridge decided to resurrect the rogue 14 years later and he returned to Albert Square announcing his presence with a chilling ‘Hello, Princess’ to daughter Sharon (Letitia Dean).

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He was killed off for good back in 2005 when wife Chrissy (Tracy Ann Oberman) whacked him round the head and buried him in the Queen Vic cellar.

However, his body was later retrieved when Chrissy's crime was discovered and he was put to rest alongside first wife Angie (Anita Dobson).

Jon Snow - Game of Thrones

Jon Snow was revived to survive to the Game of Thrones finale. (HBO)

Almost everyone at Castle Black had had enough of Jon Snow (Kit Harington) by the end of the fifth season of Game of Thrones due to his sympathies for the Wildlings and so tried to see him off through multiple stab wounds.

At the time, his return from the dead was considered almost inevitable but the time left between the seasons meant there was room for a lot of speculation about how he would come back.

Ultimately he was brought back to life through the magic of Melisandre (Carice van Houten), thanks to Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham).

It meant he was able to go forward and play a key part in the events leading up to the controversial finale.

Although many believed his secret lineage meant he was destined to go down a different path he ultimately ended up back at The Wall. Though for many fans the less said about the ending, the better.

Buffy Summers - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Sarah Michelle Gellar (r) with co-star Alyson Hannigan and Seth Green (front) at the UCLA campus shooting "Buffy The Vampire Slayer". (John Fagerness/Online USA, Inc.)

As a Vampire Slayer dealing with the dark demons of the Underworld, it’s unsurprising that Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) came face to face with a death a few times but there was one death that had a real affect on her.

While she may have died twice in the series, it was her second death that had the most impact.

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The fifth season finale The Gift saw Buffy sacrifice herself to save sister Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) before being resurrected in the beginning of the sixth season.

Poor Buffy was at peace in heaven after her death and struggled to be back on earth. She finally revealed the inner conflict she'd been going through in the season's iconic musical episode, Once More With Feeling - so at least something good came out of it.

Michael Cordero - Jane the Virgin

Michael Cordero returned as 'Jason' in the season four cliffhanger. (The CW/Netflix)

Jane the Virgin was renowned for having a twist or two at least in every episode thanks to the dramatic telenovela form it was styled on. But the penultimate season saw the biggest turnaround yet as Michael Cordero (Brett Dier) returned after being assumed dead for years.

It was all the more crushing because fans invested in his romance with Jane (Gina Rodriguez) had seen her world shatter when he seemingly died from an injury.

The programme’s main villain Sin Rostro (Bridget Regan) revealed she was behind the deceit surrounding the policeman, who had been drugged, had his memory erased and was now living as a farmhand named Jason.

But Jane just didn’t click with ‘Jason’ and so after many seasons of back-and-forth she ultimately ended up with Rafael (Justin Baldoni), the father of her son Matteo.

Sherlock Holmes - Sherlock

Sherlock managed to fake his own death. (BBC)

The third and final episode of the second series of the BBC's Sherlock saw the titular detective supposedly fall to his death from atop a building.

However, the close of the episode revealed he had in fact faked his own death. Although John Watson (Martin Freeman) believed he really had gone, viewers were in on his deception.

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The big question was how Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) had managed to do so, with the series leaving a long two year stretch between the next episode, ‘The Empty Hearse’.

A definitive answer was never delivered as writers teased fans with a number of ways the sleuth may have managed to complete the impressive stunt, so the details of his resurrection remain a mystery.