Dr. Sara Tancredi
Taking inspiration from the film Se7en, Tancredi's decapitation at the hands of The Company was revealed when Lincoln Burrows discovered her head in a box. It actually came as something of a relief, as Sara's role had been played by a stand-in and filmed only from behind and in long-shot.
A barrage of pleas from angry fans followed, as ratings continued to plunge and the writers sought to return the show to its former glory. Desperate times needed desperate measures. The execs patched things up with Callies and an explanation for Tancredi's revival was quickly slipped into the fourth season premiere.
Unsurprisingly, it wasn't her head in the box after all. The Company bargained on Lincoln not actually checking the identity of the severed head and assuming it was Sara's because of the superficial resemblance - i.e. the head was ginger-haired and female. It could have been Cilla Black, Geri Halliwell or Carol Decker from T'Pau in there - that dumb mule Burrows wouldn't have noticed.
In fact, in the wonderful world of Heroes, with its frequent non-linear plots, death is often a temporary state of being. Hiro's murdered father Kaito was brought back by his son, only to decide that death was the better option. Presumably he'd read some of the dodgy second season scripts.
Furthermore, both Peter Petrelli and Sylar have the ability to absorb other powers, so their apparent deaths during the first season finale meant nothing. Also, look out for the return of a certain Mr. Linderman in the near future...
Fortunately, our hopes were confirmed when Carlos Bernard was signed to reprise his role as Tony Almeida in the long-delayed seventh season of 24. Apparently his stint as a dead man walking hasn't done wonders for his outlook on life, as he's firmly decamped to bad guy territory, according to rumours. Maybe Michelle Dessler can be exhumed to put a smile back on his face?
Almost everyone on Lost
Actress Michelle Rodriguez is the latest to return, three seasons after feisty Ana-Lucia was
shot dead by Michael along with Libby (who herself has been treated to very brief cameos since). The frequent flashbacks ensure that characters dead in the 'present' can still be explored, but the life-giving properties of the island have also given rise to speculation that iit may have the power to raise the dead.
Both Shannon and Boone have returned, during what we initially assume are hallucinations. Christian Shephard, who arrived in a coffin, is now holed up in a log cabin with his daughter and kicking up a bit of a stink (not surprisingly, given the whole decomposition factor of being unalive).
Lost's increasing use of flashforwards has also witnessed the presence of deceased Brit rocker Charlie in Hurley's mental home. The pair even play board games together. But is it just a psychosis-induced vision or is it really happening within the narrative framework of the show? At least it gives some confort to all those who experience a lump in the throat when Locke's body was revealed to be stone cold in a coffin at the end of the fourth season...