With the fate of our narcissistic (but still beloved) hero, Sterling Archer, currently up in the air, it’s important to remember that he has managed to cheat death time and time again. While we wait anxiously to hear of Sterling’s fate, not to mention everyone at the Figgis Detective Agency, here’s a ranking of all the other times that Archer faced death and managed to walk away on Archer… although sometimes not right away.
9. Fighting Pam
Pam Poovey (Amber Nash) has proven she can handle herself before (just ask her would-be kidnappers), but when you take someone as formidable as she is and put her inside a body cast made of cocaine, things are certain to get out of hand rather quickly. Archer learns this lesson right away when attempting to stop her from eating all the cocaine. Her response? Smashing his head against a tile wall, knocking him unconscious, giving him a possible concussion, and a bleeding head wound. Pretty minor stuff in the grand scheme of what Archer deals with, but even though it’s on the low end of the list, we all know that being knocked unconscious, even for an hour, is super bad for you.
8. Crashing Into Earth
This one wasn’t nearly as chaotic as it could have been, considering that they’d left Earth to liberate a space station, only to be captured by the very pirates that had commandeered it. To top it all off, Barry Dylan (Dave Willis) shows up at the last second to try and exact some revenge on Archer. Still, the only reason everyone (well, almost everyone) makes it back to Earth in one piece is because of Cyril’s (Chris Parnell) proficiency at the flight simulator. Although Archer’s attempt to commandeer the landing at the last second forces the shuttle to crash, for which Cyril ends up with the blame, proving that Archer can cheat basic responsibility and death itself at the same time.
7. The Car Crash
Leave it to Archer to survive a worldwide burn notice put on him by his intoxicated mother and then piss off Lana (Aisha Tyler) so much that she deliberately crashes her car, sending him through the windshield. It’s never really brought up again, but he looks pretty rough when he’s all mangled on the hood of the car like that. Even though he certainly seems to be his normal, shallow self.
6. Shot Twice In The Back
Sent to the U.S./Mexico border to deal with a coyote, Archer all but abandons his plans once he lays eyes on the beautiful Mercedes Moreno (Carla Jimenez). Before long, Archer’s willingly driving her station wagon across Texas for her. Until he’s shot in the back by two Border Patrol agents, that is. He seems alright at first, even though he keeps coughing up blood between his healthy swigs of tequila (straight from the bottle, of course). As a testament to Archer’s resilience, the unlicensed veterinarian who helps stitch him up can’t believe he’s still alive. Not like that barn full of horses that cost him his veterinary license.
5. The Cancer Diagnosis
When Malory has a close-call with breast cancer, it prompts some of her employees to get tested as well, with Archer ending up testing positive. Before he’s scheduled to go into surgery, Archer goes around to his co-workers trying to make amends with everyone, even treating himself to Woodhouse’s (George Coe) vacation in Vegas with his brother, Dicky. The surgery seems to work at first, but Archer’s doctor (eventually) relays the message that the cancer has spread to his lymph nodes, which means he has to start chemotherapy. It’s not all bad, though, as it inadvertently helps him blow the lid off a counterfeit chemotherapy drug dealing ring.
Once Archer starts getting proper medicine, it takes its toll on him physically, but it doesn’t affect his attitude or his desire to go on a good, old-fashioned rampage.
4. Stabbed In The Back
After Agent Conway Stern (Coby Bell) is hired to up the agency’s employee diversity, he takes Archer on a mission to obtain a special hard drive, known as ‘the whisper drive,’ from its inventor, Wilhelm Schmeck (Mark Paterson). Just as Archer’s about to get ambushed, Conway saves his life from a half-dozen-members of a Cuban hit squad before stabbing Archer in the back — literally. Lana ends up bursting in at the last minute, saving Archer’s life with a little saran wrap. Naturally, Archer is still able to work in a reference to “Danger Zone” even though his lungs are filling up with blood. Which would’ve been perfect last words for him.
3. Shot Six Times In The Chest
When Archer’s kidnapped and implanted with a mind-control device, he’s programmed to assassinate his mother, Malory (Jessica Walter). However, when he shows up at her door, her cold, unfeeling demeanor manages to override everything Archer had been programmed to do, and his mission to kill her is replaced with a desire for a simple grilled cheese (and some motherly love). Just when everything seems to have calmed down, a poorly-timed phone call sets off the device in Archer’s brain once again, sending him back on a cleaver-wielding rampage. That is until Malory shoots him six times, all right in the ten-ring.
Even Archer tells Malory how impressed he is with her grouping while he lays in a hallway bleeding all over her fine linens. Although he doesn’t end up getting that grilled cheese, he does get a little loving attention from his mother, at least.
2. Actually Drowning
When Archer and company go on a mission to liberate a sea lab deep under the ocean, you can imagine things going very, very wrong. What does it here is Archer being unable to figure out any of the modifications Krieger (Lucky Yates) has made to their weapons. For example, “Safe” does not necessarily mean the gun’s safety is on, which means Archer inadvertently fires a bullet into the outer wall of the sea lab, which then starts to rapidly fill up with water. The four agents on board, Archer, Lana, Cyril, and Ray (Adam Reed, the show’s creator), are forced to make a difficult choice when they find out that there are only three sets of SCUBA gear available. Two are set to go to Cyril and Ray, (a naturally strong swimmer and guy with robotic legs, respectively), when Lana drops the bomb on everyone that she’s pregnant, meaning she gets the third. With Archer drawing the short straw, he ends up being pulled underwater by Lana while they swim to a nearby submarine for safety.
Once they arrive at the sub, Lana is able to revive Archer via the sub’s defibrillator, but due to Archer’s careless nature, the first thing he does is short out the CPU that controls Ray’s robotic legs. It’s a wonder these people make it alive out of the shower every morning.
1. The Snake Bite
Speaking of Archer’s carelessness, it just so happens to be responsible for the moment when he was closest to death: having been bitten by a cobra while he was off relieving himself. As the venom quickly courses its way through his veins, Archer’s condition grows worse and worse, and even leads to a cut-rate James Mason (Peter Serafinowicz) taking him on an unwanted tour through his past, in the vein of It’s a Wonderful Life. During this immersive journey/fever dream, he’s treated to some crushing moments from his childhood, including a different near-death experience, and a forgotten 6th birthday, all before Ray’s finally able to explain to the Turkmen that they need an anti-venom shot in order to save Archer’s life.
Most people would be endlessly grateful for being able to cheat death yet again, but Archer’s irritated that he was woken up right on the verge of finding out who his father was — believing that his subconscious was about to give him a profound clue about his childhood. Keep in mind, gratitude was never Archer’s best feature. Even in the face of certain death.