[[quoteright:256:[[VideoGame/SuperMarioBros1 http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mario_with_3_lives.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:256:You have three. [[TryNotToDie Don't waste them]].]]

Video Game Lives are basically how many tries a player has before a GameOver. They aren't as common these days, but were prevalent in the days of NintendoHard games, and are OlderThanTheNES.

'''Ways to lose a life:'''
* Taking enough damage (if the player has a LifeMeter).
* Taking any damage (if the player is a OneHitPointWonder).
* [[TimedMission Running out of time]].
* Falling down a BottomlessPit.

This is based on carnival games, where you you got a certain number of tries before you had to pay to play again. This was then carried over to {{Pinball}} games, and continued in arcade games. When games were released on home consoles, the need for lives was largely removed (with the exception of games where the goal is to get the highest score and not to beat the game), but they were initially kept in as TheArtifact and the punishment for running out of lives was changed from entering a new coin to starting the game over. Eventually a continue system also became more widespread so players didn't have to start from the beginning of the game when their lives ran out.

In time, the importance of lives diminished, which could first be seen clearly in PC first-person shooters, which started to utilize a save and load system. In the 2000s, many flash games removed the lives system altogether so they could increase the difficulty in their games without being as frustrating. In the late 2000s, this spread to commercially released games too. Despite this, many modern games still use the lives system.

When playing a game with high-stakes lives for the first time, a question looms as the player's lives start to dwindle: is the game displaying the ''spare'' lives the player has, or is their current life in the same pool? Finding that there is a "life zero" for the first time can be quite a relief.

Sometimes, a PlotlineDeath can lead to GameplayAndStorySegregation if it isn't explained why the extra lives didn't kick in at that point.

{{Classic Cheat Code}}s and cheat devices are often a way to gain more lives (from several to infinte).

Modern video games generally do not have lives counters. They instead use a "one-and-done" health bar system (that can sometimes be increased), with infinite retries (it's the way that aspect is done that varies among games).

A SuperTrope to:
* OneUp
* InfiniteOneUps
* JustifiedExtraLives: where they explain in the story why you have more than one chance
* MeaninglessLives: when the lives are almost inconsequential to completion

Not to be confused with ''VideoGamesLive'', concerts in which classical musicians play video game music as directed by Tommy Tallarico.

'''Disclaimer: This is a widespread trope. So examples had best be more than just any game with lives.'''
!!Video Game Examples:
* ''VideoGame/AladdinVirginGames'' and ''VideoGame/TheLionKing'' treated extra lives differently from continues (known as "wishes" in the former game).
* ''VideoGame/AliensInfestation'' plays with this by giving each Marine have their own face, name, and dialogue. AnyoneCanDie, but you can rescue Marines knocked unconcious by aliens be finding the hives where they were taken. (The first time, that is. The second time they're mortally wounded...[[{{Squick}} well]]...) As well, you'll often come across other Marines in hidden locations that you can recruit into your fireteam (though they'll only accept if you're down a man or two.)
* Alien vs. Predator on the Jaguar played with this in the Alien scenario. As an Alien you have the chance to stun an enemy and place an egg inside them. If you do this and are later killed, the egg will hatch and the player will control the offspring. You are even limited to the standard number of lives: only three eggs can be implanted at any time.
* ''VideoGame/ArmedPoliceBatrider'': You decide on a team of 3 different characters, each character representing one life. When your current character is destroyed, you take control of the next character.
* ''VideoGame/AstroBlaster'' gives you three or five starting ships, but run out of fuel or crash into the mothership during the docking sequence and it's instant game over.
* ''VideoGame/BattleCity'' and its sequels start you with 3 lives, but you'll get instant game over if the enemies manage to destroy the base.
* ''VideoGame/{{Bug}}'': The number of lives that Bug starts out per continue is 3. He can get extra lives by getting enough medal collectibles in the bonus levels (10 collected = 1 life), and a {{One Up}}s are generally found in hard to reach areas. [[NintendoHard Bug needs all of them]]. Getting [[LawOf100 100 crystals]] (the regular collectible) ''didn't'' give an extra life, however, it could allow him to enter an end-of-level bonus level for the chance to get an extra continue.
* ''VideoGame/CarriesOrderUp'' uses a "miss" system similar to ''UsefulNotes/GameAndWatch''; it's three strikes and you're out, but [[LawOf100 you can erase a miss by collecting enough coins]]. You can't, however, earn more lives than the cap of three.
* ''VideoGame/{{Columns}} III'' had an odd version, especially since it's a PuzzleGame. You could collect Mystic Hourglasses which turn back time when shattered, allowing you to challenge the enemy you were fighting again.
* ''VideoGame/ConkersBadFurDay'' actually goes out of its way to give a full explanation on how the protagonist, Conker, manages to get away with dying only to come back to life. The in game explanation (obviously used to parody this trope) is shown in the form of a cutscene that plays the first time you die, and explains that "Greg the Grim Reaper", who controls death, must give squirrels multiple chances at their lives. They even give an explanation for 1-UPS, stating that they act as "tokens" that Greg trades for extra chances.
* ''VideoGame/{{Contra}}'' on the UsefulNotes/{{NES}} give you 3 lives, unless you enter the KonamiCode and gain 30.
* ''Franchise/CrashBandicoot'' uses them. Most games in the series tend to hand them out at hilariously generous rates, however, so you might as well have an infinite amount. But as the manual for one game says, "we give you all those lives [[NintendoHard for a reason]]".
* ''VideoGame/DanceDanceRevolution'': The [[NintendoHard Challenge/Oni mode]] is a rare RhythmGame example: you start with four lives, and every time you get a Good, Boo,[[note]]Almost in US versions[[/note]] Miss,[[note]]Boo in US versions[[/note]] or NG, you lose one life, and losing all of your lives will, of course, trigger a GameOver. (And unlike other modes, in which you can keep playing if the other player is still alive, the game stops ''completely'' on your side if you die, showing "Game Over" on your side of the screen.) If you're lucky, the song you're on may give you a life back once completed. The Extra Stage system in ''Dance Dance Revolution [=SuperNOVA=]'' onwards, also uses lives, and One More Extra Stages give you a mere [[OneHitPointWonder one life]].
* ''VideoGame/{{Darius}}burst Another Chronicle'' gives you three lives per credit by default. Additional players can join on the same credit, but they will take away from that stock, so a team hoping to complete the game on one credit needs to be careful; more players means each player has less chances to screw up. Alternatively, players can pay a surcharge to play Infinite mode, which grants all four players infinite lives, but [[EasyModeMockery invalidates all scores]].
* ''VideoGame/DinoCrisis'' has Resuscitation Packs that revive you and send you into the previous room if you die, which may as be your number of lives. The sequel uses them as well.
* ''VideoGame/{{DTET}}'' has lives, unusually for a FallingBlocks ''VideoGame/{{Tetris}}'' clone.. In most modes, you start with multiple lives, and every time you top out you will, instead of getting a GameOver, use up a life and the playing field will be emptied out.
* ''VideoGame/EveryExtend'' makes a single life trivial: you start with a large stock of lives (usually 12), and your only attack consists of you exploding your current life to destroy other enemies. Because of this, the games offer generous amounts of [[EveryTenThousandPoints ext]][[TitleDrop ends]].
* ''VideoGame/{{Fable I}}'' has "Resurrection Phials" as in-game items, which are automatically expended to restore part of the Hero's life if he dies; he can carry up to nine at a time. Thanks to GameplayAndStorySegregation, they can be bought from and sold to any number of merchants, yet nobody else ever seems to use them.
* ''VideoGame/FridayThe13th'': Each character has [[FinalDeath but one life]]. Lose one, you switch to another character. Lose them all, and you get to see the infamous "[[HaveANiceDeath You and your friends are dead]]" GameOver screen.
* ''VideoGame/{{Futurama}}'': The video game adaptation actually explains the presence of lives; the Professor builds a "reanimator" that resurrects you when you die.
* ''VideoGame/{{Galaga}}'' plays with the underlying concept of lives. Each life represents a ship in your fleet. If your ship is captured by a TractorBeam, the enemy takes control of your ship and you move on to your next ship (life). If you destroy the controlling enemy, you can retrieve the ship and regain it. But instead of increasing your lives by one, it instead lets you control both of them at the same time, doubling your firepower. Be careful with tractor beams on your last life however, as a capture on that last life results in a NonStandardGameOver.
* ''VideoGame/GoldenEye1997'': The "You Only Live Twice" multiplayer mode is ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin: you get two lives. Lose them both and [[GameOver you're out]].
* ''VideoGame/{{Gradius}} III'' uses lives in the normal manner, but they can be prematurely consumed to increase one's firepower. The weapon selector lets the player equip a special item. When they use it, they lose four lives, but receive four AttackDrone[==]s in return.
* ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoClassic'' and ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAuto2'' used lives, the total expiration of which led to a GameOver. These would be the only games in the series to use lives: starting with ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIII'', players would simply respawn after dying while free-roaming, or start back at a checkpoint during missions.
* In the online multiplayer of ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoV'', players share a pool of lives during jobs. When one player dies, the party's "Team Lives" are depleted: if someone dies when there are no more Team Lives, the job will fail and the party will need to start over at the last checkpoint.
* ''VideoGame/IllusionOfGaia'' explained the presence of revival after death - the main character is psychic, and the former run is presumed to be a dream giving him a glimpse into the future.
* ''VideoGame/ImpossibleMission'': Getting killed knocks off a certain amount of time. If you run out, [[EarthShatteringKaboom the world goes kaboom]]. GameOver.
* ''VideoGame/IslandWars 2's'' [[CooperativeMultiplayer Invasion Mode]] uses ''palm trees'' as your lives. While your cannons are invincible and cannot be damaged, the enemies will try to attack the palm trees on the island your cannons are on, and it's GameOver if you lose all of them. And on the hardest difficulty, you only have ''[[OneHitPointWonder one palm tree]]''.
* ''VideoGame/IWannaBeTheGuy'' averts this in one of its few merciful concessions. It's nightmarish with infinite lives, imagine it with ''limited'' lives.
* ''VideoGame/TheLastStory'' is an unusual example of an {{RPG}} using lives. Party members start each battle with five lives, when their HP hits zero, they lose a life and stay down for a few moments before getting back up with full HP. If a character loses all five lives, they're out for the duration of the encounter (or in the case of the protagonist, GameOver). This seems shockingly generous until you realize characters are rather fragile in this game and [[NintendoHard a single tactical cock-up will see your entire party losing a life each in short order]].
* ''VideoGame/MakaiToshiSaga'' (''The VideoGame/FinalFantasy Legend'', in North America) is another rare example of an RPG using lives. Each party member has three hearts. If they run out of HP, they can be revived at a House of Life, but doing so requires a heart in addition to a fee. If a party member has no hearts when they die, [[FinalDeath they cannot be revived]] (unless you purchase another heart for them, [[ContinuingIsPainful which are prohibitively expensive]]) and will have to be "retired" at a guild outpost to make room for a new party member.
* ''VideoGame/MightyNo9'' gives you 3 by default, however you can increase this number to 9 for Normal mode in the options menu.
* ''VideoGame/{{Meteos}}'' features this as well, though you have to manually set having more than one [[CallAHitPointASmeerp Annihaliation]].
* ''VideoGame/MonsterHunter''. Three defeats and you're out. Simple enough in single player, as it amounts to being allowed two depletions of the LifeMeter. This gets more complicated in multiplayer hunts, in which the entire party shares those three lives; it is possible for a party to fail the quest even if one or more players doesn't faint at all, as well as for a quest to fail because one person took all three defeats.
* ''VideoGame/PaperMarioTheThousandYearDoor'':
** In a few sections, Bowser plays through a facsimile of the original ''VideoGame/SuperMarioBros''. Before each attempt, a screen like the one above is shown, only replacing Mario with Bowser, and the three with an infinity symbol.
** While ''VideoGame/SuperPaperMario'' doesn't have extra lives, Luigi does mention them at one point.
* ''VideoGame/PaydayTheHeist'' and [[VideoGame/Payday2 its sequel]] use hostages as an ad-hoc lives system. If a crew member is downed during a police assault and secured before they can be revived, the other players can initiate a hostage exchange between assaults to have the arrested crew member returned to action. This means that the number of lives available for a heist is never fixed, it depends on the number of zip ties the crew has, the number of civilians they can take, and their ability to stop the police rescuing them prematurely.
* ''VideoGame/{{Police 911}}'' gives you ''one hundred'' more extra lives above your starting three if you reach the top rank of Comissioner - but since the process of losing a life and restarting takes about 15 seconds of your rarely more than 2 minute timer (the game ends instantly if the timer runs out) this is solely a BraggingRightsReward. And if you die on your way to Commissioner rank, you lose every promotion and have to start over.
* ''VideoGame/{{Purple}}'' is a modern example of this trope, coming alongside with ScoringPoints.
* ''[=RayStorm=]'' (part of the ''VideoGame/RaySeries'') makes this a JustifiedTrope: your extra lives come in the form of the other R-Gray craft in your squadron. When one is destroyed, the next one takes its place.
* ''VideoGame/RockBand'' is another rare rhythm example; if you fail in a band, someone else can bring you back, but if you fail three times, you're done for good (and [[DeathsHourglass so is your band]] unless the song is ending).
* ''VideoGame/SatansHollow'' used extra lives in the classic sense, showing them as replacement ships in the corner of the screen. Enemies will try to grab and fly away with them.
* ''VideoGame/ScottPilgrim'':
** Naturally, it plays with this.
** Heck, the [[ComicBook/ScottPilgrim graphic novels]] and [[Film/ScottPilgrimVsTheWorld the movie]] play with it as well, inasmuch as Scott actually manages to pick up an extra life in real life. [[spoiler: And use it.]]
* ''VideoGame/SilentScope'' used both lives and time in early games - if you get shot, stabbed, or[[HostageSpiritLink shoot a hostage]], you'd lose one of multiple lives (and gain some back by viewing [[MaleGaze bikini-clad women in the scope]]), but the game instantly ends when time runs out. Later games meld time and lives into a life-meter which constantly ticks down - get shot and you'll lose ''time''.
* ''VideoGame/SpaceInvaders'', but it's instant GameOver if those aliens reach the bottom.
* ''VideoGame/SpyroTheDragon'' used lives in the first few game, but the later entries after Insomniac left the series, and Insomniac's own ''VideoGame/RatchetAndClank'', dropped lives in favor of just having you restart at checkpoints when you die.
* In ''VideoGame/StarCitizen'', a player character can "die" a finite but non-specific number of times before being KilledOffForReal. How many "deaths" you get before "permadeath" depends on how you went down and how quickly your unconscious body got hauled to a medical facility. The closer you get to permadeath, the more scars and/or artificial replacement bits you'll have.
* ''VideoGame/StarFoxAdventures'' has an item called the [=BaFomDad=], which works like an optional extra life: die with at least one in your inventory, and it'll ask you if you want to use one; if you do, you come back to life right where you stood. There's only one to collect in Krystal's part of the game, and it doesn't carry over to Fox's part. Fox himself can only carry one until he gets a [=BaFomDad=] Holder, which lets him carry ten. The game has many more, but if you have ten already, you can't pick them up; they stay there until you try with nine or fewer.
* ''VideoGame/StrongBadsCoolGameForAttractivePeople'' normally doesn't have lives (because you can't die), but in ''8-Bit Is Enough", the ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'' world and video games merge. Strong Bad winds up in the world of the Stinkoman game as one of Stinkoman's extra lives. Since Strong Bad needs to get up into the proper game world, he has to try to engineer Stinkoman's death.
* ''Super VideoGame/MeatBoy'' gives this a LampshadeHanging, where [[spoiler: the Hell level is littered with the many, many Meat Boys that have perished brutally in your control.]]
* Another PlatformHell game, ''VideoGame/SyobonAction'', has a lives counter that starts at three ala ''VideoGame/SuperMarioBros'', but instead of giving the player a GameOver when it hits zero, it just keeps dropping into negative numbers.
* A variation of this mechanic occurs in the original ''VideoGame/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles'' game on NES. In that game, you have the four different ninja turtles; rather than providing an arbitrary number of lives, a turtle will be captured when his health bar is exhausted, and the player has to face an additional challenge to rescue him.
* ''VideoGame/TotalOverdose'' had up to 9 'Rewinds', which would back the action up to 5 seconds before death, giving the player opportunity to other choices, [[CycleOfHurting if possible]]. Running out of Rewinds resulted in FinalDeath, but one could always use a Rewind to exit the mission and return to Sandbox mode, cutting their losses.
* ''VideoGame/TyphoonThompson'' had two sets of lives - the first is the number of hovercrafts you have which last for the entire game, and the second is the character's lives which get added at the start of each level. Enemies can either destroy the hovercraft or the character, but the seventh enemy can destroy both at once.
* ''VideoGame/{{V2000}}'': The player character is a drone pilot (supposedly) working alongside many others, and lives are the interdimensional exploration ships they fly. Since there's no danger to pilots but a shortage of crazy world-hopping [=UAVs=], extra lives represent being trusted with more resources. This falls apart the moment the player gets an extra life by finding trophies, but it was a good try.
* ''VideoGame/WarningForever'' gives you a choice between different kinds of lives. You can either have standard lives, or a {{time|dMission}}r which loses large chunks of time if you get killed.
* ''VideoGame/YoshisStory'' has a special variation. Instead of lives, the player has 8 different Yoshis to play as (which differ in color and favorite fruit). There are two ways of increasing the count: finding two secret Yoshis and finding white Shy Guys, which can rescue a lost Yoshi.
* ''VideoGame/YouOnlyLiveOnce'', being a DeconstructionGame, parodies it rather savagely. As the name suggests, it's a platform game where you only have one life. If you try to "continue" when the nerdy protagonist dies, [[spoiler: the game just shows his kidnapped girlfriend calling an ambulance, then the paramedics declaring him a lost cause, his death getting reported on the evening news, the BigBad being arrested for manslaughter because of the death-trap-laden castle (or a random {{Mook}} arrested for murder), and finally a memorial built on the stage where he died. And on top of all that, you can ''never'' play the game again, unless you find and delete the appropriate file.]]
* ''VideoGame/ZeldaIITheAdventureOfLink'' is the only game in its series to use lives. (Though in a way, bottled fairies in later games could be considered extra lives, since in most games you will automatically use up a bottled fairy when you die.)
* In ''VideoGame/TheAdventuresOfLomax'', you have a limited amount of lives. Should you run out of them, you have 3 continues available that will bring you to the beginning of a level with 3 additional lives.
* ''VideoGame/TheEndIsNigh'' features lives in the cartridge levels, where you either have none at all, nine, or an infinite amount. The main levels, on the other hand, provide infinite lives.[[spoiler:.. until you reach the Future levels, where every tumor you collected in the Past levels counts as a life.]]

!!Non-Video Game Examples:

* ''[[http://youtu.be/tpeXTgwh7F4 Brawl in the Family]]'': Interprets the word "lives" quite literally.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'': One of the show's "Anthology of Interest" episodes featured them in a world that was more like video games. During an invasion, Fry gets killed but comes right back because he still had an extra life. Unfortunately, [[spoiler: General Pac-Man was not so lucky]].
* ''Series/{{Knightmare}}'':
** After explaining how the [[HitPoints life force meter]] works, Treguard would give the team a warning along the lines of "this is no game for a player with numerous lives, and when this one is done, [[GameOver your adventure is over.]]"
** The French and Spanish versions [[OneHitPointWonder had no life force meter]], but had a 4-player team that could play as long as there were one knight and one advisor left (which means three lives).
* ''WesternAnimation/DrawnTogether'' has Xandir, who has the usual "extra lives" being a videogame character. Though this depends on RuleOfFunny because there have been episodes where he has been KilledOffForReal (and then TheyKilledKennyAgain him back to life, just like the rest of the cast).
** In one episodes, Xandir is driven to suicide because he does not accept his homosexual orientation. He stabs himself fatally, disappears, respawns, kills himself again, and so on for hours.
* ''Series/KamenRiderExAid'' uses this as its CentralTheme, comparing humans that only live once to game characters that have endless lives and continues.
** Our hero Emu Hojo is a doctor by trade and thoroughly commits himself to saving every life he can. Even the villains', if need be.
** Kuroto Dan, one of the {{Big Bad}}s, repeatedly cheats death using game powers throughout the series. Early on, he uses a SurvivalHorror zombie game to give himself undead powers so that DeathIsASlapOnTheWrist. Later on, he's lost this but [[spoiler:is able to give himself 99 "continues", which lets him "respawn" shortly after his body is destroyed; the first time it happens it's PlayedForLaughs, since it looks like he's KilledOffForReal again only for a ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros''-style warp pipe to pop out of the ground and him to return. It actually serves an important plot purpose late in the series: Kiriya Kujo creates a vaccine for the Gemdeus virus by repeatedly infecting Kuroto with it until he develops an immunity; it takes all but four of Kuroto's lives, but the vaccine becomes the EleventhHourSuperpower that helps save the day and defeat the BigBad.]]
** Another BigBad, Parado, is one of the respawning game characters and thinks nothing of killing humans because while he knows they only have one life, he really doesn't ''get'' what death is like. When faced with the possibility of FinalDeath himself, he's terrified. Emu eventually gives him a NearDeathExperience that helps him understand the value of life and prompts a HeelFaceTurn.
* In ''Film/JumanjiWelcomeToTheJungle'', the characters who get sucked into the video game get three lives each that are marked on their left wrists. Every time they die, they respawn and one of the marks on their wrist disappears.