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“That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.”

H. P. Lovecraft

Basic Information

Immortality refers to the state of being Immortal, and thus Immunity to Death and/or Aging. It comes in several varieties:

The TV Tropes Wiki uses the following categories:

  • Type I: Perfect Immortality: The character is immune to all harm, doesn't age, doesn't need to eat.
  • Type II: Undying: Immune to aging and disease, but can still be killed.
  • Type III: Regenerative: The character doesn't age, and heals quickly from any wound that doesn't kill them, but may die to sudden severe trauma. In some cases (think vampire), it takes specific types of injury to do them in.
  • Type IV: Resurrective: The character can die - or so it seems. They'll either grow a new body or transfer their consciousness to one that's already waiting. Presumably includes any process of reincarnation that preserves the chain of consciousness.
  • Type V: Undead: Typically overlaps with Type II or Type III, but ghosts overlap with Type I. May or may not be creepy.
  • Type VI: Age Without Youth: The character cannot die, but shows their age. Could be said that this is immortality without the Required Secondary Powers. Aging may still be so slow as for the person in question to be functionally immortal1.
  • Type VII: External: Immortality granted by a deal with the devil, demonic possession, soul jar or other Applied Phlebotinum. As such may be vulnerable to things that wouldn't harm a normal person, such as antimagic or an exorcism.
  • Type VIII: Legacy: The character can die, but their reputation or bloodline lives on. Think Dread Pirate Roberts.
  • Type IX: Parasitic: Like Type IV, except you force your mind into the body of some unsuspecting victim, and generally do so before the old body wears out.
  • Type X: Vampiric: The character is immortal, as long as they feed off the life-force of others.
  • Type 0: Non Diegetic: The character can't die because the author wouldn't dream of killing them off.

Surviving as an uploaded personality - a sort of transhuman immortality - should probably be included as well.

Related Tropes:


3. Animated TED-ed Video about the likely downsides of immortality.

Game and Story Use

  • Various games and settings use the words "Immortal" and "Immortality" to mean very different things. Can the gods die? Do they need to eat? Can mankind Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence or beat the angel of death at his own game? Is Regeneration or Reincarnation equivalent to Immortality?
  • Some settings use multiple forms of immortality side-by-side.
    • All those many types of immortality can help distinguish different characters and monsters. Yes, we're all immortal, but he's most immortal.
    • This is also one way to give the players a bit of security, and let them start with powerful characters from day one. You can give them a somewhat limited form of immortality, and reserve the better forms for character advancement or the Big Bad.
  • Playing on the downside of immortality is older than you think for example the Greek Myth of Tithonus, who was awarded immortality by the gods, only for them to forget (or whatever, the Olympians were a nasty bunch) to make him unaging (Type VI), so that he eventually shrivelled away to almost nothing and, still unable to die, was transformed into a cicada. The psychological effects of immortality are a more popular modern trope … probably due to the amount of change in recent years, given that in ancient times significant change in anything much might take centuries.
  • Transformation into something unaging may also be a thing - whether uploading to a computer or having your soul bound into a golem - although if the new body is also inanimate, it may be more like suspended animation.
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