8 People Who Didn't Realize They Were Dead

Illustration for article titled 8 People Who Didn't Realize They Were Dead

For some people, dying is a traumatic event. For others, not so much. In fact, for some ghosts, it seems that dying is something that is very hard to notice or remember—because they have no idea that they’re actually dead. Here are some spooks who should have paid more attention to their mortality (or loss thereof).

1) Dr. Malcolm Crowe in The Sixth Sense

After being shot by a former patient he had failed, Dr. Malcolm Crowe attempts to help a young boy with the ability to see ghosts. As pretty much everyone on the planet knows by now, Crowe is dead himself, and just one of the ghosts the boy can see. This revelation was such a shock to audiences that it basically has propelled M. Night Shyamalan’s entire Hollywood career, despite having made almost entire bad films afterwards.

2) The Family in The Others

In this 2001 horror flick, Grace (Nicole Kidman) is raising her terrifyingly light-sensitive kids alone in a creepy house after her husband went missing in World War II. Things get creepy, partially because a strange old woman keeps showing up in random places but mainly because they’re dead and their fellow ghosts keep showing up and acting creepy. As it’s eventually revealed, Grace actually snapped and murdered her kids and herself and they’re the ones haunting the house; the strange woman in a medium hired by people who want to buy the house who hope she can exorcise it. In the end, Grace and her family aren’t kicked out, but they do agree to basically chill.


3) Barbara and Adam Maitland in Beetlejuice

After accidentally driving off a bridge, this young couple played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis wake up in their country home believing there are fine. Admittedly, it doesn’t take them too long to suspect something might be up, given they there’s suddenly a book titled “Handbook for the Recently Deceased” in their possession. Oh, and when Adam tries to leave the house he enters a hellish nightmare-scape full of giant sandworms. That definitely helps tip them off.

4) A Bunch of People on Lost

The creators of the hit TV show Lost swore that the plane-crash survivors were in fact survivors, and there would be no trickery that they were actually dead and the island was some kind of purgatory. So I’m not really sure why they thought they could get away with suddenly putting their characters in purgatory, disguised as an alternate universe, after they died in the main timeline. The showrunners hadn’t lied… technically… but viewers were annoyed all the same. Anyways, all the main characters eventually ended up in this afterlife until they made peace with something-or-other and moved to the next stage of being dead.

5) Parl Dro in Kill the Dead

In this 1980 book by the late Tanith Lee, Parl Dro is a famous, merciless ghost-killer-for-hire who sets out to destroy the Ghyste Mortya, which is like an actual fort HQ for ghosts. Of course, Parl eventually discovers he’s also a ghost. So that’s awkward.

6) Mary in Carnival of Souls

After the protagonist of this 1962 cult classic drives off a bridge drag-racing some boys, Mary crawls out of the river with no memory of how she survived. Obviously, she’s dead as hell. However, unlike Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense, everybody can see her and talk to her. She even manages to get a job as a church organist in Utah, and her only inkling that something is wrong is that she keeps seeing a terrifying specter (only named “The Man”) in various places, including her own reflection. Eventually, things get creepier and creepier for her, and she runs into a body of water, leaving footprints on the sand for authorities to find… and back at the bridge, the car is pulled out of river with Mary’s long-dead body inside.


7) Oliver Queen in Green Arrow: Quiver

I guess I’m not 100% Green Arrow is technically a ghost in this Kevin Smith comic miniseries, but you read this and judge for yourself. Oliver Queen is dead. Hal Jordan as the Spectre resurrects him, but Oliver weirdly has no memory of the past several events and is missing several scars he obtained during that time. It’s like Hal resurrected a version of Ollie from well before he died. The reason is because it turns out Oliver Queen was perfectly happy in heaven and didn’t want to be resurrected, so they compromised and the Spectre brought back Ollie’s body. Eventually this soulless body causes some problem—who would have known?—and Ollie has to leave heaven to shoot things with arrows until everything turns out okay.

8) Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica

After her Raptor blows up with her inside, Kara “Starbuck” Thrace reappears two months later with, inexplicably, her Raptor intact and with the location of the legendary planet Earth in her head. Like Mary in Carnival of Souls, she can interact with the physical world—which includes shooting people when necessary—but that doesn’t keep the crew from eventually finding her actual, totally dead corpse later, to her confusion. After she finally leads the Galactica and surviving members of humanity to a habitable planet, she says “My job is done!” and disappears. Note: For being some kind of semi-resurrected being sent by a mysterious divine power specifically to lead humanity to its safety, Starbuck was given shockingly little assistance from beyond to fulfill her task.


Contact the author at rob@io9.com.




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