In most video games, when you die, there is a penalty. However, this trope is about how in some games death is nothing more than a minor obstacle, a slap on the wrist, and not something to ever worry about, even for the worst of players.
Death may be there just for formality's sake. For example, the makers of Prey and BioShock both said they didn't want to interrupt the narrative by forcing players to redo sections of the game they are poor at, so they gave you unlimited lives with no requirement to retry what you failed at. Some cooperative games, online or otherwise, use unlimited lives to keep the party going. For example, the offline mode of Serious Sam has a "come back to life where you last saved" system like most First Person Shooters. However, if you're playing online cooperative mode, you come back to life on the spot when you die, and can do this infinite times, essentially transforming the game from a challenge into a party.
There's been a noticeable progression of this trope in the MMORPG genre, starting with the first Multi User Dungeons. Early MUDs and MMOs tended to carry a steep death penalty in terms of lost Experience Points, Character Levels, or even most or all of your character's gear. Later games have gradually reduced or eliminated the penalties in order to appeal to more casual gamers, although some still offer a "hardcore" mode that preserves some or all of them, up to and including Final Death.
Dying without penalty is very common in games today in order to ease frustration of players that may repeatedly die and is also present in games where dying is very common due to the game being brutally difficult. Dying in a game nowadays tend to be quick and the player can return in a just as quick manner without the flow of the game being bogged down by restarting from the last checkpoint or the start of the level.
Lives system and no penalty also became more common in platformers on flash and other indie games since the early 2000s where it spread to mainstream games.
A subtrope is Meaningless Lives, where the player theoretically has a limited number of lives, but there's enough that running out is nearly impossible, or/and you don't lose much at all if you do. Contrast Continuing Is Painful, where you lose a lot more than expected should you decide to keep going after you lose. Contrast Check Point Starvation, where lack of check points results in going back really far after dying. Contrast Final Death, where dead characters stay dead (although in the case of party members they may be easily replaced). Compare Death Is Not Permanent and Death Is Cheap which are non-gameplay equivalents to the same trope. When this applies in the afterlife, as in the myth of Valhalla, see Warrior Heaven or Hell Is War.
If you die in a dungeon in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, rather than being booted back to the entrance like in previous games, you restart in the room where you died. Unless you quit and reload.
If you die in The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords, you come back to life on the spot from a preset number of rupees. The only problem is that rupees are so common in the game that this mechanic is barely a punishment in single player (On the DSi version anyways) and makes it extremely unlikely you'll ever actually get a game over outside the Hero's Trial.
The Lego Adaptation Games give you infinite lives, and you respawn on the spot with no progress lost, except in the first game's vehicle levels, which return you to checkpoints. The only penalty is that you drop some Lego studs (the game's currency), and you can just pick them back up when you respawn, unless you fall into a bottomless pit.
There's also an in-universe example in the Goblet of Fire portion of Harry Potter: Cedric falls apart when killed with Avada Kedavra. When Harry gets back to Hogwarts with Cedric's body, Dumbledore hands Cedric's father instructions to put him back together.
Soul Reaver, Raziel is immortal, the plot dictates he physically can't die since he serves the Elder God. If his health runs out, he just shifts to the spectral plane, where he can simply suck a few strays souls to restore his health, then find a portal and go back to the material realm.
It's slightly harsher than other examples in that there isn't exactly an abundance of portals, so sometimes backtracking is required. Also, if you run out of health in the spectral plane, you get sent back to the first area of the game, which isn't a slap on the wrist so much as a punch in the face.
The sequel, however, averts this horribly. Raziel fights demons that will follow you the spectral plane to kill you. Did I mention that you can't run away and the demons attack in groups?
Konami's Cy Girls contained huge maps that give you a checkpoint practically every time you go through a door. If you should die or fail the mission, you can choose to continue. Doing so will place you at the last checkpoint (which will most likely set you back all of two seconds) with no other difference other than you're now at full health. Using health items is pointless if you can just die to get it all back. To be fair, this certainly is a big help when conserving for certain bosses in the game.
If you fall off a platform in Alice: Madness Returns, you simply reform on another platform. (Death from a fight is a bit more harsh, using the checkpoint system)
In Killer7 this is apparently played straight, but in the long run, it's subverted. Dying as Dan, Kaede, Kevin, Coyote, Con or Mask simply transports you back to the last Harman's Room you visited. You can then switch to Garcian and make your way back to the place where the persona got killed, retrieve it, get transported back to Harman's Room and resurrect it by repeatedly pressing X. You even get to keep all the blood you've collected. However, this means playing through the same stretch of level at least three times: 1) the original run before dying, 2) as Garcian up to the spot where you died, 3) a third run with the restored persona. Considering that the enemies respawn constantly, and Garcian is the weaker member of Killer7, dying isn't the walk in the park it's supposed to be. And if Garcian himself dies, it's a definitive Game Over.
In Geist, if the host Raimi is currently possessing has the life meter depleted, and is an expendable host, Raimi's soul simply leaves the body so he can look for another one. But if the deceased host is key for the mission, or no more hosts remain, then it's a definitive Game Over.
Solatorobo takes this approach to death. Even if you fall off a floating mini-island in a level like Sealyham you'll simply reappear back at the point where you died, same health level and all.
Tomb Raider: Anniversary uses this trope, too. Every time you die, you simply reappear from the last checkpoint with full health. Since checkpoints are plentiful in the game, it's easier to simply off yourself to regain health for free instead of using any health packs.
In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, dying makes you go back a few feet and the enemies are still all dead. Bosses don't even regain health. This does not seem to apply for the DS version.
In the DOS adventure-survival game Wilderness, if you die, you have the option of being resurrected. Don't know how many times you can do this.
Curse Of Enchantia takes this to an extreme - death is not even possible. Anything that would kill the player character in any other game is a mere hindrance that at worst causes Amusing Injuries that Brad instantly recovers from.
In Leisure Suit Larry 6, Larry can die just like characters in older Sierra games (including the first three Larry games), but in 6 a player is given the option to "Try Again" which resets Larry to exactly where he was just before the player did whatever caused Larry's death.
Beat Em Up
The PlayStation Network / X Box Live Arcade rerelease of X-Men lets you come back to life on the spot simply by hitting X every time you run out of lives. That's because it's an arcade game, except now you have unlimited "quarters". As a result, no matter how bad you are, you can progress just fine.
Quite an unusual example for the genre, but in Save The Date, not only is your date's death a relatively trivial occurrence, it's integral to making progress in the game.
First Person Shooter
After about the fourth level, Prey allows you to appear in the "spirit world" when you die. You have to shoot down spirits to earn life and magic, which is given to you when you come back to life... at the exact spot you died. You can die as many times as you like, and other than the "spirit world" detour, you lose no progress. Even bosses keep the damage done to them.
A small amount of life and magic is restored even if the player does not shoot down any spirits. The effective playable area of the spirit world shrinks around the central hole-in-the-ground portal to the living world, effectively sucking you in. These two aspects conspire in forcing you back to life no matter how desperately you attempt to stay dead.
BioShock keeps your progress when you die. You get physically sent back to a revival chamber, but all enemies killed, items collected, etc. stay the same.
2K fixed this somewhat by adding a switch to toggle the Vita-Chambers on or off, and on the 360 a reward for completing the game on Hard without using any of them in the form of a 100 point achievement titled, appropriately, "Brass Balls". The developers have announced that in the sequel, the "Brass Balls" switch will be available from the beginning.
Partly a carryover from the System Shock series (though there were conditions).
BioShock also includes an interesting variation in the final level. It's an Escort Mission where you put on a Big Daddy suit and guide a Little Sister past obstacles and protect her from hostile Splicers and other dangers. Mitigating the frustration factor is the fact that, if your Little Sister dies, you can just get another one by hitting the nearest vent with your wrench. In that way, the vents serve as checkpoints; when you pass one, a light above it changes from red to green. But more to the point, the variation is that death of the Little Sister is a slap on the wrist.
The use of Vita-Chambers are lampshaded in BioShock 2, where Big Bad Sofia Lamb realizes that she can only merely slow you down rather than truly kill you. Instead she uses this opportunity to capture Delta by first smothering Eleanor to stop your heart due to your symbiotic bond. She then uses the opportunity to capture and strap you down the next time you respawn.
Bioshock Infinite changed the respawning in a way that can be this or Continuing Is Painful depending on the circumstances: you lose some money and come back with half your health while your vigor and current ammo are brought up to a minimum level if below. Enemies stay dead but get back health if they didn't die, while all items in the area remain used up. This makes death against standard mooks trivial but losing to a boss or a Handyman several times in a row can make defeating them nearly or literally impossible without loading a previous save because you have no way to do enough damage to them.
In the Japanese-developed First-Person ShooterOnslaught, dying in the multiplayer cooperative/competitive (you have to work together, but compete for score) mode simply means being dead for 10 seconds... then coming back to life on the spot with 1/4 your score gone. Considering the game's main thrust is really cooperation with score as a secondary concern, that's hardly a penalty.
Dirge of Cerberus: You go back to the last autosave checkpoint, and you even get EXP from the enemies you killed before you died, meaning it's possible to level up by dying repeatedly.
The Halo series' multiplayer campaign mode accommodates two to four players in cooperative missions. As long as at least one team member is well out of the way of any scuffles and isn't moving fast on a vehicle, any other team-mate can respawn nearby with default equips after a matter of seconds. In some cases, this is beneficial, and can be abused at times by repeatedly team-killing to max out some equipment and grenades.
If you die on normal in Battlefield: Bad Company, you get reset to the last checkpoint, but any objectives you've done/enemies you've killed stay the same.
Borderlands zips you back to the last "New-U" station with no penalty other than a small monetary fine. If you're playing with other people, the enemies that you died fighting don't even regain any health.
Just getting dropped to 0HP isn't instant death — you have a short time where you lay prone, unable to aim down the sights and with the screen getting darker, but if you can score a kill while in this state you receive a "second wind" and get back up with about 40% HP.
The same happens in the sequel, Borderlands 2. However, this time you are fighting against the company that makes the New-U stations. They are still perfectly happy to ressurect you, since they take some of your money each time.
New-U: Hyperion thanks you for using our New-U station. Your personal quest for vengence has netted us millions of dollars.
New-U: The Hyperion corporation would like to clarify that the bright light you saw was our Digi Struct technology, and not a higher power. Not higher than Hyperion, anyway.
New-U: Don't think of your death as failure, think of it as fun! Don't think of Hyperion's respawn charges as war profiteering, think of them as war... fun!
New-U: Hyperion would like to take this opportunity to say: cha-ching!
In fact, a late-game sidequest has Handsome Jack offering to pay you with a large stack of Eridium (Green Rocks that can be used to buy character upgrades) if you jump off a cliff for the sole reason of humiliating you.
In Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain, dying boots you back to a checkpoint, but with the level in the same state as when you died. That can hinder your completion of the Timed Missions, though, all of which you need to do for 100% Completion and to access the bonus missions.
In Descent 3, death scatters your items where you died, and the level remains in the same state, as in the first two games, but this time you have unlimited lives, and restart from a checkpoint instead of the beginning. The number of deaths does affect your score, though.
Because most single-player PC games effectively let you save anywhere, anytime, with a crapload of slots, this sort-of applies. You can die midfight and still start just before the battle starts getting tough. It's really more of a "when it is a pretty bad idea to save" thing, as overwriting a good save with another can cause you to keep respawning with 5 HP.
Hack And Slash
Diablo II — Ah, good old "You have died. Press 'ESC' to continue." Yes, you lose some experience points and money, but they are relatively easy to get back. Hell, when you are playing on normal difficulty level, you do not even get the experience penalty.
There was always the hardcore mode, which made the game a bit more similar to its roguelike ancestors and made death permanent.
Diablo III makes death even more of a slap on the wrist. "You have died. Your items have lost 10% durability." You don't even lose any experience points or leave your body behind unlike the previous game. The console version makes it even more a slap on the wrist, giving you the option to resurrect right at your corpse if you want.
In the Flash game Ginormo Sword, you just end up back on the map screen if you die. You don't lose any gold, but since it can take a very long time to kill a boss, dying will sometimes cost you a lot of time.
Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game
Should you die in World of Warcraft, you take a 10% equipment durability penalty and have to reclaim your corpse with your spirit, starting from that zone's graveyard. (If you die from a player killing you, only the latter.) Under optimal conditions, neither penalty sets a player back more than a few minutes (unless players from the opposing faction start camping your corpse). But sometimes the graveyard is far, far away from your corpse (e.g. in the Badlands) and/or the durability penalty makes a huge hit on your virtual wallet. Nevertheless, unlike other MMORPGs, you never lose experience points or levels and you never lose any equipment.
It is possible, albeit rare, to die in such a way that you are unable to reach your corpse, in which case you are forced to resurrect at the graveyard for an additional 25% durability penalty to all gear in your inventory as well as 75% reduced damage and stats for 10 minutes, which hurts a bit more. It's still trivial compared to older MMOs, however.
Death is such a minor penalty that in some situations it is a viable strategy to die in the middle of enemies, run back from the graveyard as a ghost, reclaim your corpse as close to your goal as possible and then get killed again, repeatedly until you're where you want to be. This is called a "corpse run". If you do this naked, your gear takes no damage. It's rarely worth the effort, but there are a few places, such as the capital cities of the opposing faction or a cave required for a level 60 quest chain, where shortcuts aren't possible and a corpse run is quicker than fighting your way through.
In addition to the above, some classes have abilities (as well as some items) that can actually be used for suicide. Killing yourself doesn't cause durability damage to your gear so in raids, some players might kill themselves rather than die in a clearly losing fight.
Several classes have resurrection spells. If cast, they remove the need for running from the graveyard to reclaim your corpse, leaving the durability damage as the only penalty. However, this still requires a friendly not-dead character of a class with the appropriate spell nearby, and most resurrection spells cannot be cast when the caster is in combat (druids being a rare exception, and even their combat resurrection spell has limits).
Though rarely useful, death can be used offensively. When encountering a particularly dense group of enemies, the main party stands back. A priest takes off all his clothes (to negate the durability loss) and Mind Controls one enemy. The other enemies kill it, then kill the priest, then walk back to their spawn points. A party member resurrects the priest, who repeats the process until there are few enough enemies left that they can be attacked directly.
Members of the Shaman class not only can resurrect their allies, they can resurrect themselves.
There is another death penalty, although it's not tied to death specifically: when everyone in combat with a certain NPC leaves combat, whether due to death or any other reason like using class abilities to hide or teleporting back home, that NPC generally returns to its original place and regains all Hit Points and loses and buffs and debuffs on it. This is the really relevant death penalty in raiding or other high-end content. If your group manages to get the Big Bad boss down to a quarter of his health but then your entire group dies, when you come back, he will have healed fully and you'll have to try again and hopefully do it right this time.
At one point Anarchy Online used to have all unsaved experience and equipment (with save points reasonably frequent throughout the game world) lost, meaning if you didn't save your character's state, got some supremely expensive item, and then was killed in pvp, it was actually possible for your killer to loot that item. All that was phased out as the game progressed, now you lose nothing and your lost experience winds up in a pool that you can regain over time, so in Anarchy Online, Death Is a Slap on the Wrist.
This is actually lampshaded in the manual - the Omni-Tek corporation was only able to get religious protests against their new resurrection technology (cause death can't just be a slap on the wrist, right?) to stop when they scientifically proved the existence of souls.
In City of Heroes, there's no penalty for dying until level 10, save that you return to the nearest hospital if you don't have another way to revive yourself. After level 10, your character receives experience debt for dying; half the experience you earn goes toward "paying off" the debt. In fact, this can have benefits: you level slower, allowing you to gain more influence (the game's currency).
Prior to the implementation of the time travel system, some completionist players would intentionally incur debt in order to slow leveling and help prevent outleveling story arcs.
After Issue 13, debt simply eats a chunk out of the player's Patrol XP (read: rested XP), turning what was a slap into a light tap. Debt means so little that the developers included the option to turn XP gain off because players were complaining that they progressed too fast.
Urban Dead is one big humans vs zombies fight, and nobody dies forever. Humans who die can stand right back up again as zombies and start attacking other humans. Zombies who hit 0HP are only temporarily dead, and can stand right back up and continue their reign of terror. And zombies who are sick of being undead and smelly can get themselves cured of their condition and restored to humanity by human scientists who inject them with a special drug cocktail. If you die in Monroeville, though, you're a zombie forever, and until recently a headshot would permanently kill a zombie there.
Death in EVE Online is a slap on the wrist to your character. Being a capsuleer, you have access to death-defying cloning technology, and getting shot down is a mere inconvenience. This quickly becomes a fate worse than death, however, if you fail to keep your clone up to date with your skills. If you don't, you can lose literally years of game play by dying.
Also inverted with the modules you put on your ship; they aren't included in your insurance coverage. Losing several faction guns costing several hundred million isk each is not a fun thing to do.
In Champions Online, death is nearly literally a slap on the wrist: You lose nothing from dying except one of your hero stars, which each give you a 15% damage and healing bonus. In instanced dungeons, the enemies you've already defeated don't even respawn, only those who had survived your attacks receive full health again. If you're in a team, they might not even do that unless the whole team is defeated near-simultaneously. This has led to a 'strategy' for defeating some particularly difficult bosses that the developers have referred to as 'zerging', where everyone just bolts back to the boss fight room as quickly as they can after death. They claim to be working on ways to prevent this.
Since Spring 2010, most of the new bosses have had special doors used to lock out re-entries when players are killed in mid-battle, which only open after the boss is dead or has been reset by a team wipe.
No one ever dies in Kingdom of Loathing, they only get 'Beaten Up', which is four rounds of -50% reduction to stats, effectively only three rounds because the round of getting Beaten Up is counted. There are easily obtainable cures and skills that remove even this effect, and an update to the game in early 2013 allowed you to remove Beaten Up by simply resting at your campsite.
Phantasy Star Online is a bit like this. When killed, your character appears in the medical room, completely healed for free (not that it was expensive to start with). It's simply a matter of finding your way back to where you were, which is tedious but by no means difficult, or shouting at another member to lay down a pipe as a shortcut. It does, however, reduce your limit break bar to zero, which can be irritating.
Asherons Call 2 had a lenient death penalty. You restart at the last point you binded yourself to with a temporary 5% reduction in your maximum health and stamina (called Vitae). The penalty can be removed with a restorative spell, or by gaining experience (which you would normally do anyway). The Vitae penalty stacks until the player is at 60% of their maximum health and stamina. This can make it harder to restore, but there are Vitae-heal-bots in town who are willing to heal anyone who requests it.
The death penalty in Guild Wars is so slight it makes some rather frustrating Game Play And Story Segregation when a major NPC is killed in the Prophecies campaign. Characters take -15% penalty to their HP and Energy for each death, to a maximum of 60%. This penalty decreases as the character earns XP and is completely erased the moment he sets foot in a town or outpost (which are typically every 1-3 zones). The only annoying thing is that a dead character has to be resurrected manually by a living party member using a resurrection spell—but even that is ignored if the entire party dies, at which point they'll be resurrected and teleported to the nearest "resurrection shrine" they passed (typically at the entrance to the zone or just outside a major checkpoint). There is no gold cost or damage to the progress in the current instance in any case.
Somewhat less true in Hard Mode though. If every party member reaches the 60% penalty during a wipe, the party is considered defeated and forced to return to their starting outpost. For certain activities like vanquishing, this can mean losing entire hours of work.
Age of Conan: The death penalty lasted for 10 minutes and was a 2 point deduction to your attack stat, which did very little to melee classes and absolutely nothing to casters.
In Wizard 101, death takes you back to the hub of the particular world you're in, with only one hp. However, your health restores steadily in the hub, or you can go back out to the dangerous areas and grab some red wisps, which restore a quarter of your health. You don't lose gold, experience, or anything else when you die, either. The only real downside is the time it takes to get back to wherever you were when you died.
In Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited, death gives you a small penalty to your currently equipped items and makes you intangible. If another player picks up your Soul Stone, or if you're close enough to one, most dungeons have Resurrection Shrines where you can revive yourself. Doing so leaves you with 1/8th of your health and gives you a stat penalty - both are easily remedied.
The Lord of the Rings Online, another Turbine game, allows certain classes to resurrect dead party members. Otherwise, you can opt to return to the resurrection point (usually a circle of stones, or at the start of an instance) nearest (for some value of "nearest") to where you died. Once every couple of hours you can resurrect on the spot for free, or you can pay some "mithril coins" (purchased with real-life money) to do so more often, though this is possibly less than useful, since whatever killed you may still be hanging around. (It also doesn't apply in instances or if you died due to "misadventure", like falling off a cliff, since falling off a cliff could put your body in a spot you can't normally get to or more importantly get out of).
Dying used to increase your "dread" level for some time, slightly lowering your maximum morale. Certain classes had ways of removing dread from themselves or their companions, and the penalty didn't usually apply anyway if someone else resurrected you. As of update 10, the penalty was removed completely, probably because it hit some classes harder than others during solo play.
Battlestar Galactica Online has no real penalty for death. You merely get sent back to the nearest friendly Outpost, although it could be quite far from where you were if you've been going far behind enemy lines.
Players who do "3-iteming" in RuneScape usually don't have a lot to worry about.
Mafia Wars - especially when healing using the New York City currency.
Hobo Wars - a player can use the hospital to fully heal themselves. Losing to other players does decrease the win rate, but the win rate has no benefits other than allowing the player to enter Bernard's Mansion at no cost.
Most of the time, Star Trek Online has no penalty for death at all, you just have to wait a few seconds to respawn. While playing specific "Elite" multiplayer missions, you will get injuries when you die, which you must heal using items or by visiting an NPC. You can also activate an optional higher difficulty setting that does the same in story missions. Even then it's still largely in the slap on the wrist territory. The injuries will only noticeably affect gameplay if you have many stacked on at once, the healing items are not expensive and the NPC will heal them for free.
Wizards And Warriors allows you to die and come back to life right at the spot where you left off. It's enough to make one wonder if the Boots of Lava Walk are worth getting. Who cares if they protect you from getting hurt by lava, if you can respawn on the spot indefinitely? Exception to the rule, however, is on boss fights. If you die on a boss fight, the boss's life gets refilled, thus causing lost progress at that point.
In Psychonauts, you have health. And lives (well, "astral projections"). When you run out of health, you respawn with one life lost. When you run out of lives and you're in someone's mind, you just get kicked out of their mind, and you can go right back in without having to backtrack.
Even more so in the case of drowning. When grabbed and dragged under, you reappear nearby with no loss of health, lives, not even a loading screen. Except for in the final level - going back to the checkpoint is seriously painful because of how Nintendo Hard the level is.
For some odd reason, the whole astral projections thing carries over the the real world. If you get mauled painfully by a psychic bear, then you'll... reappear. And if you lose all your lives in the real world, you'll... reappear. Again.
In its Nintendo64 incarnation, Banjo-Kazooie had a death consequence in the form of having to start from zero when collecting Notes (which could become a rather large pain in the arse on some of the more tricky levels). Banjo-Tooie did away with this with unlimited lives, Notes becoming permanent collectibles, and dying will simply send you back to the entrance of a room (rather than the beginning area as saving and quitting does). The XBLA incarnation of B-K follows suit turning death into a slap on the wrist at best.
Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time on the PlayStation. You have unlimited lives, and your only penalty for dying is being sent back to the last checkpoint you touched, with all of the Clocks and Golden Carrots you've picked up. Even if you die at a boss, the boss will still have the damage you gave him beforehand.
Dying (or even continuing) in Mega Man X5 and X6 just takes you back to the last checkpoint you reached in the level. Thankfully, at least in the case of the latter, because of its pretty unforgiving difficulty.
It's a saving grace in otherwise hard game VVVVVV where checkpoints are almost everywhere.
The Simpsons Game plays this one straight. If you fall into a pit, you'll be returned back to the edge. If you run out of health, you'll automatically switch to the other character. The dead character will soon revive with full health, but you can also revive them instantly with a push of a button if you're right next to them. If both of your characters are dead, you will be taken to the latest chackpoint.
If you die in Scaler, then you'll just reappear, usually not that far away from where you died. There is absolutely no penalty at all.
If Harry Flowerpower dies during the various boss fights, he's able to continue the game. Other than having to fight the boss over again, he doesn't really suffer any consequences for dying during the game.
This is the entire point of Runman Race Around The World. Dying is no different than pressing the suicide button and even then, colliding with a boss is the only way to die. There isn't even any death counter (like in Matt Thorson's other games) to punish your stupidity.
In Wario World, if you die, you can continue right where you left off as long as you have enough coins. Not having enough coins to continue is unlikely, since coins are everywhere.
In Don't Look Back, each death simply restarts the same screen (in some cases even finishing the jump you missed for you).
God of Thunder, an old DOS game, simply restarted you to the point where you entered the area that you died in. This was mostly because it was a puzzle game. In fact, you can press D to commit suicide should you ever find yourself stuck (as mentioned in one of the fourth-wall-breaking hints).
In Bookworm Adventures, dying in combat only sends Lex back to the beginning of the chapter he died in with no experience or potions lost (other than the ones he used up during the fight). In fact, if Lex dies in a late chapter of a book, he can replay Moxie's minigames to get more potions and gem tiles. Pretty much the only reason to be concerned about dying is that it lowers your final score.
Thanks to Sissel's Time Travel powers, failing to save someone in Ghost Trick just means you have to rewind time and try again. Amusingly enough, the characters themselves start to take this view as well, much to Sissel's exasperation.
In Immortal Souls, if John dies in a battle, you just simply have to fight the battle over. You even keep any XP and Money you earned in the last battle before dying. Despite the game's title and vampire theme, John actually could theoretically die permanently in the story; the game just doesn't punish you with the fact.
Checkpoints in Limbo are everywhere and lives are infinite.
In Fez, after death, you respawn on the last solid platform you stood on.
In Braid, death is hardly consequential. Land on burning spikes? Rewind. Mauled by a meowing Killer Rabbit? Rewind. Consumed by a Carnivorous Plant? Rewind. In fact, if you are attempting to get everything, dying is sometimes required.
Jonathan Blow has stated that he specifically designed the game this way to deconstruct platformers that are Nintendo Hard. Of course, Braid is itself Nintendo Hard - its challenges merely come in the form of puzzles, rather than tests of skill.
In the RPG-like Orc campaign in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, when one of your characters dies, they instantly reappear at the selected Resurrection Stone with full health. Almost all resources you need to complete a quest are replenished indefinitely; you can waste as many batriders as you like to sink battleships threatening the troll islands - replacement ones will appear soon.
Your critters in Patapon. They can die. And again. And again. But as long as you retrieve their caps before they dissapear, you can revive them for free once the level is finished without any penalty at all. In the sequel, the only drawback of getting your hero unit killed is 20 seconds 'till respawn. However, certain boss battle attacks, like Dodonga's Om Nom Nom, are an one-hit kill which not only destroys the Patapon, it also destroys his cap, so your little guy will be gone forever.Hatapon is another exception: If he dies you fail the mission, similarly to what happens when all your army gets destroyed. However this is unlikely, given his ridiculously high HP.
The penalty for hitting an object or falling down a pit in BIT.TRIP Runner is just your score being reset and your status going back to Hyper Mode. In fact, the only way to get a Game Over is to deliberately not use the spring that will help you give the Final Boss the well-deserved Goomba Stomp that ends the game.
In the Casual mode of Audiosurf, overfilling a column will simply knock a few points off your score. Pro and Elite modes up the ante a bit by making you have to wait a few seconds to respawn, but nothing that is likely to ruin your day. Putting Ironmode on, however, averts this trope by causing you to have to restart the song from the very beginning and not posting your high score if you overfill any column. Forgetting that this mode is on and trying a difficult song can lead to some frustrating situations.
In Azure Dreams, if you "die" in the Tower, you simply reawaken back at home too, which you would do anyway even if you hadn't die and returned normally. However, if in case of "death", you awake sans everything else you had with you except for home-hatched familiars.
Dying in Elona will cause you to lose a small percentage of your money, and the potential (i.e. the speed at which it levels) for some skills may degrade after level 6. You may also drop some of your items, which will be there when you return.
In Zettai Hero Project, death boots you from the dungeon, but you also gain permanent statistic boosts for every level you gained on the way to it, making frequent and repeated deaths an integral part of the gameplay.
Role Playing Game
Kingdom Hearts lets you continue from the last room you were in anytime you die with everything you had when you died. The only time this ever really matters is on boss fights, as the enemies in the room you died in respawn with full health.
Suikoden games also employ this, giving the player a choice of whether to give up or try again; trying again means you start the current battle over again, making for only minor lost progress. On the other hand, when your army goes to battle, your generals can die, causing story-disrupting consequences.
However, in most of the games, choosing to restart puts you back at the last place you saved...with all the experience you gained in the meantime, and all the items you had used are returned. You get items that increase your stats permanently when you use them. You don't lose this boost when you die in this way. So yeah...
Which gets to ridiculous levels in one of the story routes of Suikoden III where, if the player is patient enough (it takes hours of real time to do, making it a bit Awesome but Impractical), it's possible to use this death system to get several of the characters to level 100 just by winning a certain (normally hopeless without Level Grinding) tactical battle that rewards an automatical two-level gain for total victory and then dying in the immediately following field area, thus returning to a save point BEFORE that tactical battle. Which can then be won again... over... and over... and over...
In Suikoden V, this system is still in use; however, losing important battles can trigger alternate endings that force you to start over from your last save without any carryover benefits.
On losing a battle in The World Ends with You after a certain point, you get three of four choices: restart the battle at your current difficulty level, restart the battle on Easy difficulty (giving up the harder difficulty pin drops in exchange for a simpler fight), go back to the title screen, and unless it's a boss or Taboo Noise battle you can just run.
If you lose a fight in Riviera: The Promised Land you can immediately restart that fight from the beginning, but with the enemies having slightly less HP. The HP penalty stacks with repeated losses.
Generally speaking, losing a fight in Dragon Quest only results in being punted back to the last town you were in with half your gold. The worst that can happen in addition to this is you also lose some (non equipment) items and often not enough for you to notice.
This penalty is lessened by Dragon Quest IX. You can store gold with the NPC Banker, in 1000 gold units, and it will not be touched even if your party dies. You will then only lose 1/2 of the gold in your inventory.
EarthBound does this in a similar way to Dragon Quest IX, with the addition of having your PP set to zero. In fact, in EarthBound, the money you receive from battles is automatically put into storage, so you're not even likely to be carrying any money to lose. In Mother3, not only is money a literal non-issue in the first three chapters, but you don't even lose any PP.
Final Fantasy Mystic Quest enables players to restart battles if they lose. And if the fight started with the player being ambushed, it'll just be a normal fight next time.
Upon losing a fight in My World My Way, you can choose to have your XP gain for the (game) day cut in half, have your gold supply cut in half, or expend 20 Pout Points to nullify both penalties and revive on the spot (albeit with only one HP)
If you die in Final Fantasy XIII, you can retry from just before entering the battle, allowing you to retry the fight as much as you want, or just run away.
Death is even beneficial, nearly mandatory, in some plot fights. The game just loves to throw you into a boss fight right after a cutscene where your party members change. Leaked Experience prevents it from being Unwinnable, but you haven't had an opportunity to spend that Leaked Experience yet, and it starts your new party out with random paradigms (combinations of class roles) so it's entirely possible that you will lack the class roles necessary to beat the boss. If you retry one of these fights, it puts you directly into the options menu so you can take care of this.
Dying on a mission in Crisis Core is actually a great way to heal your HP, MP, and AP to the max. The only "penalty" incurred is that your DMW emotion is set to normal, which may not even be a penalty depending on how much you want the DMW to interrupt the fight.
Unless it involves the storyline, if the player loses a battle in Mana Khemia Alchemists Of Alrevis, instead of a Game Over screen, the player characters will be automatically teleported to the school infirmary.
Mage Knight Apocalypse revives you at the nearest magestone crystal when your character dies, pretty much without penalty. Letting your allies die is a bit more serious, they respawn, but a glitch resets their AI, so they'll use physical attacks instead of skills.
Too Human respawns the player on-the-spot infinitely. The only penalty is a small reduction of Hit Points on your equipment. Which doesn't break at zero, only stops giving stat bonuses, and can be repaired at any time. The long, unskippable cutscene of a valkyrie coming to pick up your corpse, however, will get very annoying after a while.
In Kingdom Of Drakkar, this is usually played straight. All you need to do is run back to get whatever item(s) were in your hand and purchase a point of constitution. However, when you die to certain lair monsters (such as dragons, griffons, and the like), it is averted in that your character will lose experience, skill, and permanent hit points, which may not be able to be recovered at all. Even worse is that dying in some areas will cause monsters to remove your gear and destroy it.
In Planescape: Torment death only means you revive back at the nearest morgue. This is in fact, the entire premise of the game.
Though they're far and few between, there are instances where you can die permanently and get a game over.
Legend of Mana: If you die, and you have a companion animal (or Robot Buddy) and/or NPC, you can come back to life if they can manage to stay alive while you respawn. And even if your entire party gets wiped out, you just restart in the screen you started in with maxed out super meters. (Of course, if you fall during Tropicallo...)
In Persona 4, if a character goes under and you don't revive them, they come back to life with 1 HP after the fight.
In Persona 3, if one of your allies is KO'ed in Tartarus, they'll just lie unconcious where they were and will have to be revived. If you leave the floor they're on without reviving them, they'll be sent back to the first floor and revived, but you won't be able to get them back until you return to the first floor as well. If the main character dies, however, it's a game over of the We Cannot Go On Without You variety.
In Jade Cocoon, if you "die" in the Forests, you simply reawaken back at home.
Did you just die in Xenoblade Chronicles? That's fine, you're just back to the latest checkpoint and even keep all the Exp and items you got. Even if a boss kills you: just go back to where's he patiently waiting for you. It can lead to an amusing situation where dying on the second fight against Gadolt puts you next to the warp gate you were going to take when he attacked, but trying to take it earns the player a "You must defeat (boss name) first" message.
Some bosses even have snarky lines when the party shows up for the rematch.
In Fable II, the consequences of death are losing what few experience orbs were lying on the ground at the time (they tend to decay pretty quickly even while you live) and... a permanent scar on your character. While the designers intended this to be a deterrent, in practice this can become a worthwhile objective as it adds a more Badass touch to your character.
Lost Odyssey has immortal characters that function this way in battle. Even when knocked out, they'll self-revive after a few turns as long as at least one party member is standing at all time.
If you get a Game Over in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, you can just restart the battle from turn one - no loss of coins, items, EXP, or progress (unless you choose to return to the title screen).
Any character who dies in battle in Chrono Trigger will be revived with 1 HP once the battle is finished (unless all of your characters die, then it's game over).
Shoot Em Up
Sidestepping the legendary difficulty of the rest of the series by several miles, R-Type Leo features instant continues instead of checkpoints, throws powerups around like confetti and actually has you drop one when you die.
While we're on the topic of Shoot-Em-Ups, many of those give you a mega powerup if you lose your last life and continue.
On the other hand, many of them also drop your current score — the most vicious doing so without giving you an opportunity to add it to the high score table. And the nastiest also give you the universally-underwhelming Bad Ending if you continue. Which, depending on what you're playing for, moves it over to Continuing Is Painful.
In Metal Slug, dying isn't really a problem, considering if you have enough quarters or if you have hacks inside your consoles, it will never be a problem. It really compensates because if you are new, there is a guarantee that you will die.
All the games in Metal Slug Anthology are set to Free Play, meaning you can easily breeze through all the games even if you're dying constantly.
Guns of Icarus: If you fall off your zeppelin, you respawn, but it does waste precious time. And if you fail a mission, you have unlimited tries.
Stealth Based Game
If one does not care about the just-for-fun play ranking at the end of the game, the Metal Gear Solid games would qualify. Dying (or otherwise failing the mission) simply takes you back to the beginning of the room/area you're in, with little to no progress lost.
The exception is during the torture scene in the first game:
Ocelot: "There are no continues, my friend."
Third Person Shooter
Star Fox Adventures has this... partially. Anytime you're in an Arwing, including the final battle with Andross, you can be destroyed without losing lives. In fact, if you know you missed too many Gold Rings to open the forcefield, actively wrecking your craft is faster than waiting until you arrive at the end of the course and are told you didn't get enough. (In ground mode, losing more lives than you have BaFomDads to counteract it is at least theoretically possible.)
Gears of War 3 has the campaign playable in Cinematic and Arcade mode. Cinematic is the standard "death = restart from last checkpoint," but Arcade has a respawn timer as long as at least one human-controlled player is alive. Considering it allows up to 4 human players, dying becomes much less of an issue. Players respawn with their character's standard weaponry, and some of them have weapons far superior to the standard rig (Clayton Carmine, for example, spawns with a Torque Bow, arguably the best weapon in the game), and always respawn with a fixed ammo count, meaning that suicide can be an attractive proposition for a player who is out of ammo.
In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas the player would normally lose his weapons when he dies, but the penalty can eventually be negated by dating a nurse, after which death only means respawning at the nearest hospital minus a trifling fee. In Grand Theft Auto IV the penalty is removed completely, no dating required. In both games, though, if you die during a mission you have to restart it from the beginning.
Saints Row 2, in contrast to its rival franchise Grand Theft Auto has almost no consequences for dying. You only lose a little bit of money, and there's no way to lose your weapons in the whole game (all weapons you acquire are permanently stored in your crib). It also allows players who die during missions to start again immediately without any in-game consequences, and some longer missions even have checkpoints that allow you to restart at a later point in the same mission.
In The Godfather: The Game (at least the Wii version), death is pretty laughable. For example: Let's say you're at the point of the game where you need to go start bombing the armories of other families to take control of various parts of the city. You shoot your way inside, inevitably triggering a mob war on your way in, you plant the bomb, and you, unfortunately, don't make it outside within the 10 second time limit. No worries; you're dead. You get transported to the nearest hospital, you don't lose any money, experience, health, skills, anything. On top of that, the bombing still counts, and you're declared the winner of the mob war you triggered. It is literally more advantageous to sit there and get blown up on purpose than to try to escape. The sequel expands this to enemy made men, who won't stay dead until a particular execution style is used on them.
In Crackdown, the only possible penalty for dying is losing any gang weapons you may have picked up but hadn't yet stored at a supply point, which is pretty rare an occasion. Since you get full ammo reload and get to choose where to respawn, killing yourself is actually pretty useful at times as a rapid transit method. This is even acknowledged by the developers...there is a suicide option in the main menu. It gets even more useful in the sequel, where you no longer have to unlock the respawn locations and also get a vehicle of your choice delivered every time you respawn.
Dying in In FAMOUS bears virtually no penalty. At worst, you will have to start at an area rather far from the location where you died, or redo a small section of a mission you may have found particularly difficult. However, there is almost no load time between death and getting right back into the action, keeping any experience points you may have racked up.
Should one of the Smiths die in Killer7, you can either just switch to another Smith or have Garcian retrieve their severed head and bring it back to life with no penalty to the player. If Garcian dies, you lose, but most players would never use Garcian except to retrieve killed Smiths; he has no special abilities aside from resurrection, his stats cannot be increased and his weapon is a dinky pistol.
Just Cause 2 is another textbook example, unless you're on a mission (in which case you restart with what you had at the mission outset), you can continue with everything just as it was when you died (ammo, collectables and sabotage) , only you'll be sent to the nearest friendly base and thanks to the Black Market man AKA Sheldon you can head right back to where you left off.
Cube World has you keep all items, experience, and money when you die. You respawn at a slightly random checkpoint, which can get annoying since you tend to respawn quite a distance from where you died. However, respawning a distance away from your death spot is intentional in order to prevent the player from being repeatedly killed by enemies that could camp at a spawn point.
Non-video game examples:
Anime and Manga
Perhaps most famously, Dragon Ball Z. Characters who die can wait (and train) while others can collect the Dragonballs and bring them back. By the end of the series, the majority of major characters have died at least twice. Apparently you can even take stuff with you on the way up...
Justified: It was Bulma's radar that invoke this trope in first place. The balls turns into rocks for a whole year and King Kai mentions that a universal rule is that Dragonballs can't revive a person that has been dead for more than a year. Now without the radar, that would be a nearly impossible task to be revived more than once, especially since her radar is so advanced compared to others (The red ribbon ones for example). Thats why it was so complicated to revive Goku in the Buu saga. The events of The Shadow Dragon Saga subverts this trope even further. On top of this, Shenlong is quite literal minded when asked to revive someone; wish for everyone killed by Frieza to live? You forgot Vegeta's victims. (Which is odd, given that when Nappa and Vegeta attacked Earth, they were technically still Frieza's minions, and the wish included those killed by minions and not just personally killed by Frieza himself.) Or you can just follow Oolong's example and wish for panties while someone else is trying to wish for revival.
Surprisingly, used in an anime. In Angel Beats!!, being mutilated beyond recognition is roughly equal to being knocked unconscious until the bizarre universe pulls you back together. This makes sense, though, because they are already dead.
Of course, being "mutilated beyond recognition" still hurts like hell.
Also used in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, in an episode where Jaden/Judai duels Kaibaman, and loses. Kaibaman reveals that nothing bad will happen, as it's just a game. Considering that every other duel in the series has very real, and very serious, consequences for losing, this is a Broken Aesop.
Played fairly straight in ½ Prince where most of the story takes place in a game world and dying is just penalized with the loss of a level (where previous games in the series would force you to start over from level 1 if you died.) It gets averted in the final arc when the NPCs rebel and dying will delete your character completely.
Kyubey, of Puella Magi Madoka Magica has a massive number of spare bodies, which makes killing him essentially impossible. Homura even admits that it's just a waste of energy to try.
In Arkham Horror, being reduced to zero stamina or sanity is a trip to the hospital/sanitarium instead of the morgue. You will lose half of your items but you get to choose and you round down. Being devoured on the other hand is the end for your investigator.
In Eclipse Phase, characters have cortical stacks and backups that can be downloaded into a new morph after death— though there's no guarantee your new body will be anything like your old one (unless you have good enough insurance), and if restored from backup, you lose all memory and rez gained since you last checked in.
Not always the case, but dying can be harmless or even beneficial in Munchkin. Dying makes you lose all items and all cards in your hands, which is very bad if you've been building up a huge stockpile. However, on your next turn after death, you get a new hand of cards. If you had nothing, there's a chance you'll finally get some bonuses.
From its first (Advanced) edition onward, Dungeons & Dragons has always had a "raise dead" spell that clerics could eventually learn. Once you reach high enough level, coming back from the dead is just a matter of having enough gold pieces' worth of gems and resting for a week afterward. At higher levels, clerics learn the "resurrection" spell, which can bring a character back from the dead with full hit points, ready to wade right back into battle, even if the only piece of him remaining intact before the resurrection was a single toe. For even higher level clerics, there is True Resurrection. Which brings you back to life even if your enemies killed you, burned your body, then divided your ashes into four urns and scattered them all in seperate continents, possibly over twenty years ago. Well over in fact; the rule for True Resurrection is that it can revive anyone killed within 10 years ago per caster level, and the lowest caster level a cleric can have and use it is 17. True Resurrection also has absolutely no drawbacks for the character being brought back, unlike Resurrection and Raise Dead which cause the loss of one level. It got so crazy, that spells like Soul Bind and Imprisonment were created specifically so people had SOME way of keeping dead characters under wraps. Death of old age, though, can't be negated by any Resurrection spell.
In the MS Paint AdventureProblem Sleuth, a character can be revived by playing a game with Death. If they win, they get to leave through a door. Some (like the Big Bad Mobster Kingpin), exit through the door when Death is preoccupied. Averted when Death jams a contrabass between the doors of life and death.
Kenny on South Park is a non-video game example. Because he seems to be aware of the fact that he can die and come back to life, he uses this to his advantage a number of times, for example in "Cartman's Mom is Still a Dirty Slut" when he uses his body to connect a generator to a hospital and "Jubilee" when he smashed his head against a conch shell to free Moses. He does at one point complain that repeatedly dying hurts like hell.