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The situation looks bad. Alice and Bob have been bruised, beaten, cut, and shot. On top of that, the Mooks are closing in. They look up to see The Cavalry, but it's too late. Carol, riding alongside The Cavalry, sees the two go down fighting. Cut to the next scene. Alice wakes up in a hospital, surprised to be alive. She's taken to see Bob, who tells her 'At least I got to see you one last time, old friend.'

Due to the Rule of Drama, it's common for major characters in fiction to be Left for Dead or placed in a No One Could Survive That scenario. However, as shown in the Sorting Algorithm of Deadness, it's much less common for major characters to be Killed Off for Real this way. Sometimes the character just turns up later unharmed, sometimes an Unexplained Recovery is Lampshaded by "I got better" or the like, but sometimes the writer wants to Take a Third Option. Usually the 'surviving' characters are told 'there's someone who wants to see you', and there they are, clinging to life. Sometimes the rescue is shown, often in flashback, to highlight the rescuer as well as the victim, while other times the character just turns up later this way. Having a character hospitalized after a dramatic moment gives writers additional options that can be Played for Drama, for example:

  • Clear up loose ends and add realism, showing the character may have gotten away, but not unscathed.
  • Highlight the character as being physically vulnerable enough that their life was really in jeopardy.
  • Suggest the character was literally saved in the nick of time.
  • Suggest the character survived more through force of will than dumb luck.
  • Provide a surprise happy ending / Subversion of a Bittersweet Ending.

In some cases, this is used as a Double Subversion of No One Could Survive That by having the character die in the hospital. Often used to allow the hero or Villain an Obi-Wan Moment rather than having them Killed Mid-Sentence.

It can also be Played for Laughs if the character is hospitalized after a situation that didn't appear life - threatening or is convinced they are dead and wondering why the afterlife seems strangely familiar, flirting with the 'angels', etc.

SPOILER ALERT: This is one of those rare tropes that, by its very nature, has the potential to spoil an ending simply by revealing it occurs within a certain medium. Please read with caution.

Examples of Hospital Surprise include:

Anime & Manga

  • In Code Geass: Euphie gets to say goodbye to rescuer Suzaku before she dies. On the other hand, Cornelia somehow survives being shot up twice.
  • People awake in hospital beds all the times in Neon Genesis Evangelion and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha.
    • An Unfamiliar Ceiling (because of the strong EVA association)
  • In Kanon, in a flashback, Ayu falls from a tree and is presumably killed. Later, it is revealed that she's been in a coma in the hospital the whole time, and she soon recovers.
  • In Eden of the East, a brief scene near the end shows Panties in a hospital room, having evidently survived being run over by 1 and 10.
  • In the animated Street Fighter 2 movie, Chun-Li is wounded in her fight against Vega roughly half-way through the movie. After Ryu and Ken defeat Bison in the climax, Guile goes to the hospital where she's staying, and talks to her unmoving body, which is covered in bandages. Suddenly Chun-Li pulls off the bandages and sits up - she's made a full recovery while off-screen, and was pretending to be seriously wounded and unable to leave the bed to prank him.


  • In Jurassic Park 3, a character who went missing turns up in a makeshift hospital at the end.
  • Happens numerous times inStar Wars
    • both Luke and Anakin end up stranded and injured, and are shuttled to a hospital.
    • In the Expanded Universe X Wing Series, Wraith Squadron pilot Garik "Face" Loran is injured pretty badly when his X-wing is screwed up beyond repair by enemy laser fire. His behavior and the little detail we're given as to the exact nature of his injuries lead us to believe he's dying, but then he wakes up in the hospital at the end.
  • Starship Troopers: Played for Laughs when Rico wakes up in a rejuvenation tank to see his buddies holding his death certificate.


  • Lord of the Rings: happens multiple multiple times.
    • In The Hobbit Bilbo gets hit on the head during the climactic battle. He doesn't wake up in hospital, but he's found by a soldier and taken to where Thorin lies mortally wounded. Their final moments count for this troper as one of fiction's greatest TearJerkers.
  • In the first Icewind Dale novel, Drizzt is called to Bruenor's bedside after the final battle. He assures his mortally wounded friend that he will look for Bruenor's homeland in the spring. Bruenor then reveals that he isn't that badly hurt, he was just trying to force Drizzt to set a starting date for their perpetually delayed quest to find Mithral Hall in the presence of witnesses.

Live Action TV

  • Neverwhere ends this way.
  • In Firefly, in the episode Out of Gas, Mal passes out from blood loss and oxygen deprivation just as he restarts the engine, but before he can give the signal for his crew to return to Serenity. He wakes up in the medical facility, with the rest of his crew around him, being treated by Simon. It turns out that Zoe, who had last been seen unconscious and severely injured from an explosion, ordered the crew to go back for Mal, without waiting for his signal.

Video Games

Western Animation

  • Futurama had an episode where Fry and Leela are stung by a giant alien killer bee. Fry dies and Leela is convinced that he is still speaking to her somehow from beyond the grave. It turns out she actually dreamed it all while in a coma thanks to the bee's venom, and Fry had been at her bedside the whole time, begging her to Please Wake Up.

Real Life

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