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What Happens When Immortals Go Mortal?

What Happens When Immortals Go Mortal?

Okay, so Wolverine isn’t really immortal, but his rapid healing powers mean that, for all practical purposes, he is. And though he’s been around since the 19th century, Logan doesn’t look a day older than, say, Hugh Jackman. Trailers for the latest big screen adventure of the claw-wielding, cigar-smoking X-man have been teasing us with the notion of the Wolverine losing his healing powers, rendering him normal. So, in his honor, we present five other super immortal (or quasi-immortal) folks, all of whom eventually tried to get normal, too. Spoilers up ahead!

Connor Macleod Highlander
In the end, there can be only one—which is pretty lonely! And all poor Connor (Christopher Lambert) wanted was to not outlive the people he loved. Throughout Highlander’s various incarnations, all the crazy immortals are fighting for something called “the prize.” In the original film, it’s revealed that the prize is actually the granting of mortality, meaning that—despite many sequels and TV shows—Connor’s eternal youth and sword-chopping days were finally over.

Lazarus Long Time Enough for Love, Methuselah's Children, et. al by Robert A. Heinlein
Heinlein was famously fond of messing with the traditional notion of ancestors (his short story “All You Zombies” features a man who becomes both his own parents), but the character of Lazarus Long probably makes the most appearances throughout his fiction. With a life extended to near immortality by future science, Lazarus eventually wants to simply die—a problem, seeing as it’s illegal! Time Enough for Love features a man slightly fed up with his fantastic existence, leading to tragic conclusions.

Dorian Grey The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
While possessing a kind of eternal youth, Dorian Grey has a painting hidden away that represents what his party-going lifestyle is really doing to his body. In a horrific kind of Rumpelstiltskin deal, the guilt of Dorian grows as the appearance in the painting gets more and more morbid. The only way he can become mortal again is by defacing this magical artwork. So think twice the next time you see someone knifing a painting.

Barnabas Collins Dark Shadows
Vampires are famously conflicted about their long lives and murderous tendencies, but of all of them, Barnabas is one of the best. The notion of a reluctant vampire in Dark Shadows is possibly a bigger influence of the trope than is generally believed. There are hundreds of episodes of the cult show, and throughout his adventures, Barnabas (Jonathan Frid) does experiment with a serum to undo his vampirism. For a time, he even ceases to be a vampire. In a Dorian Grey–like move, his actual age is briefly made clear by the appearance of his skin. Gross.

Captain Jack Harkness Doctor Who, Torchwood
Perhaps the most popular reccurring character in the revamped Doctor Who, the dashing, omni-sexual Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) is accidentally cursed with immortality when Rose Tyler absorbs the time vortex. And while being impervious to stabbings, ray-guns, and even bombs implanted inside his body is handy, Jack longs to be normal some day. He even frantically seeks out the Doctor in the hopes of being cured. Will he ever find one? Though Jack has bouts of mortality, he seems likely to be alive for a while. And “a while” just might mean forever.

Did we miss one?

Tags: doctor who, torchwood, books-and-comics, the x-men, wolverine, marvel entertainment

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About the Author
Ryan Britt

Ryan Britt is the author of Luke Skywalker Can't Read and Other Geeky Truths, forthcoming from Plume (Penguin) Books on 11.24.15. He's written for The New York Times, Electric Literature, The Awl, VICE Motherboard, Clarkesworld Magazine, and is a consulting editor for Story Magazine. He lives in New York City.

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