[[quoteright:270:[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkToThePast http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/hearthealth_6451.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:270:[[WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}} Take, I've got five of them.]]]]

->''He's got heart! But when he's hurt, he loses some. Keep an eye on this counter, because if Chauncey turns "heartless," the game's over.''
-->-- ''VideoGame/TheHorde'', instruction manual

A common bit of widely understood symbolism in VideoGames: a heart is used to represent someone's health or life. The LifeMeter or [[VideoGameLives lives counter]] may be made of hearts, and health-related pickups and {{power up}}s may be in the shape of hearts as well (see HeartContainer).

The reason the heart specifically is used for this trope is because of the positive connotations the heart has [[OlderThanDirt picked up over the millennia]]: "lifeblood", [[CardiovascularLove love]], as well as it being considered the most important organ by the medical community for the longest time (and it's still considered the second most important organ behind the brain, but brains are rather {{squick}}y and have different connotations entirely, mainly intellectual, so they should be {{mana}} if anything[[note]]Or SanityMeter if the game has that mechanic[[/note]]).

This is so common, that some games can confuse players when [[AvertedTrope hearts represent something else]] (such as the ''Franchise/{{Castlevania}}'' games or ''Videoame/KidIcarus'').

Compare HeartContainer, HeartSymbol, HealingPotion.

* The LifeMeter and the famous {{Heart Container}}s of ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' series. ''VideoGame/ZeldaIITheAdventureOfLink'' is the only one not to have one--opting for a LifeMeter instead.
** ''VideoGame/DistortedTravesty 3'' being a Zelda fangame (among many other things) borrows the life meter, heart containers, pieces of heart, and even [[https://youtu.be/mAvdJnekJpg?t=7s heart shaped healing pickups]]
* ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros'':
** In ''VideoGame/SuperMarioBros2'', hearts restore health, and the ''Super Mario All-Stars'' and ''Super Mario Advance'' remakes use hearts for the health meter (the original NES version uses hexagons instead).
** In the ''VideoGame/PaperMario'' games, your health is explicitly called "Heart Points", and picking up hearts that enemies drop refills it a little -- both you and your partner in ''VideoGame/PaperMarioTheThousandYearDoor''. There are also Recovery Blocks which refills your Heart Points (and Flower Points) if you hit it, though you're charged coins for the service in the second game.
** In ''VideoGame/SuperMarioLand'' and ''VideoGame/SuperMarioLand2SixGoldenCoins'', hearts are instead extra lives. This is probably due to color limitations: how would you distinguish between a normal mushroom and a 1up Mushroom? In the latter, one of the bonus minigames at the end of the level makes it possible to pick up a 3up, which is a heart with a "3" on it. In the Psuedo-Sequel ''VideoGame/WarioLandSuperMarioLand3'', hearts alone don't restore extra lives. Instead the player has "Heart Points", and collecting hearts adds ten heart points, while defeating an enemy adds one heart point. Of course, collecting 100 hearts adds an extra life.
* ''VideoGame/JurassicParkTrespasser'', despite its novel DiegeticInterface, still measures the protagonist's health with a heart by tattooing it on her chest and filling it up with red as she takes damage.
* ''VideoGame/{{Pandemonium}}''
* In many ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAuto'' games, touching a heart restores health. Most hospitals have one nearby. ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoII'' uses hearts for its LifeMeter.
* There's an unpleasant variation in the unlicensed {{NES}} game ''Little Red Hood''... the hearts that replenish health are ''human''.
* ''VideoGame/TheSmurfs1994'' uses hearts as a LifeMeter.
* ''PrehistorikMan'' does as well. It also has heart containers.
* In the [=XGen=] Studios WebGame ''Stick Arena Ballistic'', your LifeMeter has a beating heart next to it. As you take damage the heart becomes damaged, leaks blood and beats more weakly.
* ''VideoGame/CrystalCaves''
* ''VideoGame/{{Terraria}}''
* The LifeMeter in ''{{Sapiens}}'' depicts a heart of variable size when you're still quite healthy. It is replaced by a skull when you get weaker.
* ''VideoGame/StarTropics I & II'' both use hearts as a LifeMeter which are filled by {{Heart Container}}s, similar to Zelda.
* Non-video game example: it became a sort of MemeticMutation for Kakuzu in ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' - he really did have five hearts and wouldn't go down until all were destroyed - as the new chapters of the manga progressed, fanart would depict him with a decreasing heart meter.
* ''VideoGame/DecapAttack'' plays with this; your health meter is comprised of actual, realistic beating hearts.
* ''VideoGame/CaveStory'' has both heart-shaped health refills and {{Heart Container}}s.
* ''VideoGame/{{Purple}}'' represents its health restoring items as hearts.
* ''ViewtifulJoe'' runs on pink-colored hearts the shape of peppers.
* ''VideoGame/{{Minecraft}}''
** In [[OneHitPointWonder Hardcore]] these hearts have menacing eyes (or maybe blood vessels), which is a worrying reminder of the finality of death in this difficulty.
* ''{{Astyanax}}''
* ''PrimalRage'' has a slightly more gruesome application this: your lifebar is represented as a major artery ending in a beating realistic heart, and your [[BreakMeter stun gauge]] is represented as a spinal cord ending in a brain: when the stun gauge is depleted, the brain crackles with electricity, and when you take damage, the heart beats faster. If you lose a round, the heart explodes and the brain is fried to ashes.
* ''EternalDaughter''
* ''VideoGame/{{Spelunky}}'' combines this with CardiovascularLove: it uses hearts for life, and they are restored by the floating love hearts that appear when you get a kiss from a damsel.
* {{Heart Container}}s in ''VideoGame/AnUntitledStory'' take the form of hearts radiating with red light.
* ''VideoGame/TheBindingOfIsaac'' has hearts representing health. Little hearts and half-hearts can be grabbed to replenish them. Items that add a heart to your maximum health include blood bags, a realistic looking heart, and various questionable "foods". There's also the Yum Heart, represented as a big red heart with a bite take out of it, which can be used every six rooms if need be to refill one of your hearts. There are also steel-blue hearts you can get that serve as a shield of sorts, with no limit on how many you can have at a time.
* In a similar vein, ''VideoGame/{{Blood}}'' uses "life essences" (which look like realistic hearts) as a healing item.
* In ''VideoGame/AladdinVirginGames'', the powerups that restore health are ''blue'' hearts with goatees: this is fitting considering most of the other powerups involve the Genie somehow as well.
* The ''VideoGame/SuperStarWars'' games uses a lightsaber as your health meter, but hearts are used for health restoration.
* ''{{Splatterhouse}}'' is another game that uses realistic-looking human hearts for life points (and ''hockey masks'' for lives).
* ''VideoGame/MilonsSecretCastle''
* In ''VideoGame/LittleSamson'', big hearts restore four units of health, and small hearts only restore one unit.
* Hearts restore health in ''VideoGame/TheGoonies'' games.
* ''Videogame/TeslaTheWeatherMan'' uses hearts for the LifeMeter and as healing pickups.
* Given a {{shout out}} in an issue of HeroicPublishing's ''Tigress'' title, in which a supervillainess graphically slaughtering her way through a compound explicity compares the experience to a videogame -- complete with [[{{Squick}} all those neat hearts you find]].
* ''VideoGame/SeriousSam'' uses the standard heart symbol on one end of Sam's health meter. A giant heart is also used for the games' Ultra Health pick-up, which adds 100+ hit points.
* All the ''[[VideoGame/BatmanSunsoft Batman]]'' {{Platform Game}}s by Sunsoft use hearts to refill Batman's health. This does not apply to the PCEngine MazeGame, where Batman is a OneHitPointWonder.
* Your life meter is this in ''VideoGame/PacManAndTheGhostlyAdventures''.
* In ''VideoGame/GirlsGarden'', the hearts labeled "LOVE" on the StatusLine are actually VideoGameLives.
* Extra lives were originally represented by stars in the ''{{VideoGame/Touhou}}'' series, but were changed to hearts from ''Ten Desires'' onwards.
* Your life meter is this in ''VideoGame/TreasureHunterMan''.
* ''VideoGame/KidDracula'' plays this straight, unlike the main ''Franchise/{{Castlevania}}'' series, with the LifeMeter, healing items and {{Heart Container}}s all represented by hearts.
* The Transformer characters in ''VideoGame/AngryBirdTransformers'' use hearts for their health meters, while their enemies get the standard green-to-red meter.
* ''WesternAnimation/TinyToonAdventures'' games:
** In the 1991 [[UsefulNotes/NintendoEntertainmentSystem NES]] game of the same name, everything [[OneHitKill kills the player with one hit]], unless the player has a HeartContainer in their inventory. If they already have one in their inventory when they find another, they will get an extra life (of which, they can hold up to nine).
** The sequel, ''Trouble in Wackyland'', has a three-heart health bar. However, heart power-ups are very rare to find in the game.
** In ''Babs' Big Break'' for the UsefulNotes/GameBoy, the player starts out with two hearts. A little heart will add one heart to their health bar, while a big heart will extend it up to three. Completing a level will reset your health bar back to two hearts. Playing on hard mode will subtract one heart from your health bar.
** In the sequel, ''Montana's Movie Madness'', the player stars out with three hearts in their health bar, and heart power-ups are only accessible through a bonus roullette. If it lands on Babs, she will extend the player's health bar to the maximum of four, and if it lands on Plucky or Hamton, they will restore the health bar to its full extent. Like in ''Babs' Big Break'', completing a level will reset the health bar back to three hearts, and playing on hard mode will subtract one heart from it.
** In ''Buster Busts Loose'' for the [[UsefulNotes/SuperNintendoEntertainmentSystem SNES]], if played on Children or Normal mode, the player starts out with three hearts in their health bar, and can extend it up to five by finding crystal carrot power-ups. Completing a level will reset the health bar back to three, and playing on Hard mode subtracts two hearts.
** In ''[[VideoGame/TinyToonAdventuresBustersHiddenTreasure Buster's Hidden Treasure]]'' for the UsefulNotes/SegaGenesis, the player starts out with three hearts in their health bar and can extend it up to five by finding bell power-ups. Unlike ''Babs' Big Break'', ''Montana's Movie Madness'', and ''Buster Busts Loose'', the player's health bar will retain its extra hearts after a level is completed. However, if the player loses a life, their health bar will reset back to three.
* ''VideoGame/IttleDew'' uses hearts to represent health and as a healing pickup.
* ''VideoGame/DontStarve'' uses a heart to depict the health meter.
* In ''Snoopy's Grand Adventure'', Snoopy has a health bar that consists of three hearts, and over the course of the game, he can upgrade it up to nine. If Snoopy gets hit, the heart he loses will float above him, and he can re-collect it before it disappears. In addition, Snoopy can also regain lost hearts by collecting cookie power-ups.