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Some say only 1/5, others say 1/50 and others say 1/500 of the Israelites left Egypt. This means between 80-99.8% of Jews (the reshaim who did not merit or want the Redemption from Egypt) died, presumably in in the ninth plague (darkness).

Why did the prototypical

And he retorted, "Who made you a man, a prince, and a judge over us? Do you plan to slay me as you have slain the Egyptian?" Moses became frightened and said, "Indeed, the matter has become known!"

Moses became frightened: [To be explained] according to its simple meaning [that Moses was afraid Pharaoh would kill him]. Midrashically, it is interpreted to mean that he was worried because he saw in Israel wicked men [i.e.,] informers. He said, Since this is so, perhaps they [the Israelites] do not deserve to be redeemed [from slavery]. [From Tanchuma, Shemoth 10]

and recidivist (complainers during the Wilderness, Korach affair etc) reshaim Dathan and Abiram not die?

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The implication is that they brought the korbon Pesach as commanded and accepted the redemption. They only attempted to start trouble later and tried to take political control of the people during the revolt of Korach. They apparently did not rebel earlier (not even at the time of the meraglim). – sabbahillel Jan 25 at 13:50
    
sabbahillel: And yet the quarreled with another (no brotherhood) and informed on Moshe to Pharao (informers to gentile authorities). I was under the impression they started / and were indicated of trouble already in Shemot. – Daniel Jan 25 at 14:22
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yes they caused trouble at the beginning and informed Par'o, however by the time Moshe returned, they were no longer in a position to cause trouble (unlike the way Cecil B. Demille showed it (:-)). They did not cause trouble in the desert until the time of Korach. They apparently obeyed all the commands of Hashem until that point and did not sin with the Chait Haegel or the meraglim. (as an example) – sabbahillel Jan 25 at 15:10

I collected a few links that discuss this question, with several different suggestions for an answer.

For example: The Rosh says that only those who did not believe in the Exodus died in the plague of darkness. The Chatam Sofer says that they were kept alive so that the miracle of the ground opening up will be done especially for them. See more in the links :)

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Thanks for including two of the answers (and +1), but including even more would further improve your answer. – msh210 Jan 25 at 15:51
    
Thanks for your comment. I was short on time, so I tried to give a glimpse rather than only links. I try to expand when I have the time (and knowledge) :) – Cauthon Jan 25 at 17:40

The Maharal (Gevuros Hashem 19) writes that they were specifically left alive to be counter-weights to Moshe and Aharon. The Jewish people were granted such great leaders as Moshe and Aharon, זה לעומת זה Hashem left Dasan and Aviram to oppose and challenge them and, so to speak, keep the balance.

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