Not to be confused with Playing Dead.
Examples of False Death
Metal Gear Solid series
This occurs for a number of characters, though is most notably related to the Vamp character, to whom continually keeps managing to survive encounters that would ultimately kill a regular person. Though after being shot repeatedly to the head by Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 2, he makes no more appearances in the game, implying that he may finally have been put to rest. However this is revealed to have not been the case, as he returns in Metal Gear Solid 4 as an antagonist; after receiving an injection to halt the effect of the nanomachines that are granting him immortality, he is finally killed via the combined efforts of Raiden and Solid Snake.
Other examples include Solid Snake himself, who is shown to drown in the midst of the sinking of the tanker during Metal Gear Solid 2's playable prologue chapter. He is eventually confirmed to still be alive shortly after in the Big Shell chapter when Raiden catches a glimpse of him riding an elevator.
Snake's twin-brother, Liquid Snake, is also seemingly left for dead a number of times throughout Metal Gear Solid. He withstands a Hind D explosion with him in it and is then absent for much of the game, only to be revealed to have survived the encounter much later on. He is also beaten in a fist fight and ultimately knocked off of the top of Metal Gear Rex (which is high up enough that it would kill the player character if they fell), and also manages to withstand the explosion of the jeep he was chasing after Snake in. Liquid is finally killed by the Foxdie virus that exists within Snake's bloodstream.
By Metal Gear Solid 4 Raiden is now a cyborg ninja. In his attempts to halt the advance of a massive battleship, Raiden is ultimately crushed by it. Despite such events, Raiden returns to Solid Snake's side to further assist, only no longer has his arms and wields his sword with his mouth and feet.
Meryl Silverburgh & Johnny Sasaki
Meanwhile, Meryl and Johnny are in the midst of a final stand-off against a horde of enemy elite soldiers called 'Frogs'. They both withstand a copious amount of gunfire, leaving their ultimate fate to be a grim one. However they too manage to survive as shown in the ending to where they in fact get married.
The legendary Big Boss is situated as an important though unseen figure for most of the Solid Snake entries in Metal Gear Solid, with his legacy continuing to ripple throughout the series. While long believed to be deceased due to the events from as far back as the original Metal Gear, Big Boss makes an appearance at the very end of Metal Gear Solid 4 and chronicles the entire events of the franchise to Solid Snake. Though only before finally dying for good to the same Foxdie virus that killed Liquid.
Silent Hill 2
Maria, the psychological representation of who protagonist James Sunderland wished his deceased wife Mary was more like, technically 'dies' up to three times throughout the game. Her continued survival is due to how much of what happens in the game is thanks to the effects of the eerie town of Silent Hill mixed with James own psyche & guilt. Depending on certain choices, Maria may finally be 'killed' for good as an end boss who transforms into a horrific monster, or she may in fact be shown 'alive' as she and James leave Silent Hill. But only before she starts coughing, implying that she will ultimately die of a disease similarly to Mary.
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Victor Sullivan, father-figure & mentor to protagonist Nathan Drake, is presumed to have been shot and killed before Drake's very eyes by the antagonist Talbot. However after so long it is revealed Sully is still alive and his 'death' was merely a hallucination Drake witnessed due to the effects of the strange water he drank moments earlier.
Resident Evil series
Albert Wesker, commander of STARS, is revealed to be an antagonist and is an Umbrella researcher in the original Resident Evil. Upon unveiling his creation, the T-002 Tyrant to either Chris or Jill depending on who the player chose to play as, he his then shown to be violently killed by his own work. Wesker's fate was always left up in the air, however, as depending on the character played and certain choices made before hand, Wesker may die differently or will not be shown to die at all. One other such outcome includes Wesker's corpse being found decapitated by a Chimera creature.
The canon outcome is that Wesker is shown to be 'killed' by his Tyrant, with it plunging its massive claw into his stomach and hurling him across the room. Wesker was initially supposed to stay dead, but was instead chosen to be revived for Resident Evil: Code: Veronica mid-development. As such, for the 2002 remake of Resident Evil Capcom removed the possibility of finding Wesker's decapitated corpse.
During Chris's story amidst the confrontation against Wesker, Rebecca will be shot by him. However after the ensuing T-002 boss battle, Rebecca is revealed to have survived the shot thanks to her body armor.
Though this is only if Rebecca is saved from the assault against a Hunter earlier in the game, to which she will actually die for good if Chris doesn't arrive in time.
Ada Wong, supporting protagonist and femme-fatale for Leon S. Kennedy's Scenarios in Resident Evil 2, is shown to die in two distinct ways depending on whether the player is playing Leon's A or B scenario. In the A scenario, she is shown to fall into a seemingly bottomless nothingness, and in the B scenario is violently thrown against a generator by a Tyrant, and is then implied she bleeds to death. In both scenarios, however, a shadowed figure--strongly implied to be Ada--arrives to provide the player character--Leon or Claire Redfield--a rocket launcher to kill the Tyrant.
Ada's survival is confirmed in Resident Evil 3, which includes a text-file epilogue detailing her patching up her wounds. Her survival is also expanded upon in the Umbrella Chronicles, to which has players take up the role of Ada as tries to escape the Umbrella Laboratory. This also confirmed that Ada's canonical false death is that of Scenario B, where she is simply hurled against a generator, to which is perhaps the more believable of the two.
Nicholai Ginovaef is the human antagonist of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, and is believed to be dead by the protagonists after going through either of two scenarios: an explosion of a gas station with him inside it, or an onslaught of zombies upon his position in a pharmacist. Though his death is never shown, the causes are severe enough to have the characters believe he is deceased. However when switching control from Jill Valentine to Carlos Oliviera, he either stumbles upon information that Nicholai is still alive, or will in fact come face to face with Nicholai himself, who then attempts to kill Carlos but is forced to flee from a grenade explosion. To escape the radius he leaps out of the window, despite being on the fourth floor of a hospital, though also manages to survive that as well.
Three years before the main story of Resident Evil 5 begins, Chris Redfield & Jill Valentine inadvertently encounter their arch-nemesis Albert Wesker in their attempts to locate Ozwell E. Spencer, who is shown dead on the floor. The two are completely thrashed during the ensuing conflict, with Wesker almost given the chance to perform a mortal blow against Chris. However at the last second Jill is able to charge and tackle Wesker, saving Chris, but also sending she & Wesker crashing through a window and hurtling to the ground. She is thusly implied to be deceased in the narrative, though is eventually revealed to still be alive later on as a brainwashed attack slave to Wesker.
Parker is shot by the plot-twist betrayal of Jessica Sherawat, though is later encountered by Jill. After having to holster him up due to his injury, Parker then inadvertently falls into the flames below as the ship is slowly being destroyed from within. However he is shown to have survived after being saved by Raymond Vester.
During Episode 4 at the end of Claire Redfield's segment of the story, Moira pushes Claire out of the way of falling debris, which crushes Moira almost completely. The tower they are in is also undergoing a self-destruct timer, with Moira thusly urging Claire to carry on without her and escape on her own - Claire reluctantly does so.
In Barry's segment of the episode, Moira is shown to be alive and arrives just in time to thwart Alex Wesker's attempt at killing Natalia Korda. How Moira survived was from being saved by a native of the island she's on, called Evgeny.
However Moira will only survive should she have been the one to kill the mutated Neil Fisher in Episode 3, otherwise she will in fact die and the game's story will end prematurely.
Devil May Cry 4
Sanctus, to whom will eventually be situated as the main antagonist, is shot directly in the face by Dante during the opening of the game. Despite such an action, however, he is later shown to be recovering on from his wound and must ultimately be fought by Nero twice.
The Wolf Among Us
The head of Snow White is found at the end of the first episode, having both players and the story characters believe she is dead. However in the next episode she is shown to be fine, and the head is revealed to have belonged to a different character. One that had used a 'glamour' to have her temporarily take on the appearance of Snow White.