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Features > Five Alive! by Steve

Once you’re gone, you’re gone. Unless, that is, you’re a soap opera character, who seem to return from the dead with alarming regularity. Here we look at five characters who returned to the world of the living when the fans thought they might have seen the last of them.

Harold Bishop
Neighbours’ most famous incident of ‘life after death’ was provided by bumbling Harold Bishop. Harold was swept off a rock in 1991 but, in what writers have since claimed was a deliberate plan to one day bring the character back, no body was ever found. Wife Madge moved on, and left Erinsborough for good the following year but in 1996, the mysterious Ted appeared, working at the local Salvation Army shop. When poor old Helen, not in the best of health, spotted him, few people believed her claims that her former neighbour had returned from the dead, but Madge was contacted and brought back down from Brisbane, and Harold’s missing years were explained away by a bout of amnesia and a spell living in Tasmania. The reunited Bishops got back together, renewed their wedding vows and went on to spend another four happy years at 24 Ramsay Street, before Madge passed away from cancer in 2001, presenting little chance of a return from the dead this time.

Larry 'Woody' Woodhouse
Following his release from prison, Larry Woodhouse, aka Woody, ended up staying with girlfriend Steph Scully and her family as he waited to give evidence in court against major criminal Kev Kelly. It quickly became clear that Woody and the Scullys were in danger as bricks were thrown through windows and Woody was assaulted by thugs, eventually going into witness protection after nervously giving his evidence. But Woody and Steph simply couldn’t stay apart and he returned to Ramsay Street under cover of darkness and asked her to go away with him, meaning that she might never be able to contact her family again. But as Steph and Woody headed out of Erinsborough, Steph was paying for petrol when Woody was joined in the car by one of Kev Kelly’s henchmen and driven away, only for the car to crash and explode in the distance. Steph was devastated but over the coming months, she started to receive mysterious deposits in her bank account and, by the end of the year, Woody was standing on her doorstep. He apologised for the pain he’d put her through, but told her that he’d been thrown clear of the car crash and had decided to disappear, so that she and her family would no longer have to live in fear of their lives. Hoping to pick up where they’d left off, Woody proposed, but Steph couldn’t cope with what was happening, and told him that she never wanted to see him again.

Libby Kennedy
Following a serious motorbike accident that left her with extensive internal injuries, Libby Kennedy was informed that she would struggle to carry a baby to full term should she fall pregnant. A year later, having married Drew Kirk, she did fall pregnant and, knowing this may be her only chance for a child, she decided to keep the baby, knowing she was putting her life at risk. At the end of the year, Libby suddenly went into labour during the Oakey rodeo, trapped in a barn. Eventually found and helicoptered to hospital, Libby gave birth and everyone thought she had beaten the odds until she suddenly went into cardiac arrest. As the 2002 season began, Libby had been revived but was still in a critical condition as she was rushed into theatre for emergency surgery. Though everyone feared the worst, both Libby and premature baby Ben recovered from the trauma and mother and baby were released from hospital within a few weeks.

Karl Kennedy
Proving that it is possible to inherit medical conditions - and storylines - from your children, a few years later, it was the turn of Libby's dad to suffer a heart attack. When the spoilers informed us that Karl Kennedy would die, alone, on a country road, nobody could quite believe what they were reading. With Karl and Susan divorced, everyone had expected them to one day reunite, but it was looking like that wouldn’t happen. Hoping to escape problems with girlfriend Izzy Hoyland, Karl had taken off for a drive in the country, only to find himself with a flat tyre, then suddenly suffer a heart attack as he tried to fix it. After calling Susan to say goodbye, he tried and failed to reach Izzy, before calling for an ambulance. Though Karl’s heart had stopped – technically meaning he had died – the paramedics revived him, but not before he’d had a dream about being reunited with Susan – and Cassie the sheep – at number 28. At the hospital, Susan and Izzy arrived and promptly fought over which of them was his wife, before the man himself regained consciousness a few hours later.

Dylan Timmins
The infamous 2005 plane crash claimed the lives of David, Liljana and Serena Bishop, but another two characters, feared dead, were actually alive and washed up on a beach. Dylan Timmins and Connor O’Neill, the two passengers both facing trouble with the police back in Erinsborough, decided that they’d be better off staying ‘dead’. They built themselves a camp in the bush, but it soon became clear that Connor couldn’t cope, and they started looking for civilisation, only to find a newspaper report about recent events. As Dylan realised that his younger brother, Stingray, was facing jail time, he knew that he had to go back to Erinsborough and sort things out. Connor joined him, and the pair were stunned to realised that they’d returned on the day of Dylan’s memorial service. As he listened to his mum, Janelle, give a touching eulogy and spotted his errant father amongst the mourners, Dylan stunned everyone by walking over and joining them, receiving both a hug and a cold, hard slap from Janelle for his trouble.