"If you leave your game, stay safe, stay alert! And what ever you do, don't die! Because if you die outside of your own game, you don't regenerate. EVER! Game over."...also known as "Permadeath". Beyond Non-Lethal K.O., beyond Only Mostly Dead. This is a relatively rare case in Video Games where a character dying in battle is gone forever, and now the rest have to go on without him or her. No resurrections, no revivals, this is All Deaths Final enforced as a rule of game play. Usually only happens in games where it's possible to get a fairly steady stream of replacements, so that if you manage to dwindle your party down so much that your next fight is pretty much Unwinnable, you deserve to be screwed. Said replacements may not be as good, however. Note, this is usually separate from Plotline Death via cutscene, which are predestined affairs from the outset (that you usually don't know about beforehand). No; you the player were simply not good enough or not lucky enough to keep them alive and breathing. Hope you have a saved game to go back to! (Unless the game doesn't let you do that.) Roguelikes tend to have this as their standard — and in many cases only — option. This trope is specific to gameplay; the equivalent of this in other fiction is Deader Than Dead. The inverse of this is Death Is a Slap on the Wrist. See also Killed Off for Real. Compare Out of Continues. If it's completely optional, that's a Final Death Mode if the game enforces it, or No Death Run if it's an entirely Self-Imposed Challenge. Truth in Television, of course.note
open/close all folders
- As mentioned by the AVGN, in The Wizard of Oz, if the Lion dies, he's dead for the rest of the game. Same goes for Scarecrow and Tin Man, too. Though you can pick up lives for all three of them, they're pretty rare in comparison to Dorothy's.
- Friday the 13th. When they're all dead, "You and your friends are dead, Game Over''.
- The SMS port of Wonder Boy In Monster Land, and the English version of Wonder Boy In Monster World.
- The Buffy Xbox game and Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds work like this. The health bar for Buffy and enemies is really just a guide to show when they can be killed. On the one hand vampires need to be staked, zombies need their head removed, ect. On the other hand, Buffy dies for good if fed on, bitten, or is dealt one of the special killing moves with no health.
- Heavy Rain is a defining example of this trope: at several points throughout its plot, any one of the four playable characters can get themselves into a situation during which they can die. It's possible to survive the encounter every time it happens, but if they don't, though, they stay dead, and the game keeps on going. Two of them can't die until the final showdown, though.
- It's even possible to kill all of the central characters during one playthrough.
- Maniac Mansion operates on this principle, but since the only ways to actually die (being spotted just gets you stuck in a Cardboard Dungeon) are either so convoluted as to be nearly impossible to accomplish by accident or require such a lapse of thought on the part of the player, one might not even realize it until after a couple of plays through.
- Zak Mckracken And The Alien Mindbenders has a few ways too, such as deliberately running out of oxygen on Mars (or stepping outside without a proper space suit) or walking into the Sphinx' guardian room three times. All are easily avoidable. They will also make the game unwinnable, as both Zak and Annie are needed to trigger the final action needed to complete the game.
Beat Em Up
- In the NES version of Double Dragon III, the player starts off as Billy Lee (and Jimmy if a second player is present) and gains two additional fighters (Chin Seimei and Yagyu Ranzou) after the second and third stages. The player can change characters once they gain the other fighters, but each of them has exactly one life. This can be problematic since a death during the first two stages means an instant Game Over, and with all four characters shared by both players in co-op mode, an unskilled player will become a handicap if he wastes the other characters before his partner can use them. There's only one continue in the whole game and it's only usable after Mission 3.
- In Peace Keepers (aka Rushing Beat Syura), Prokop (one of the four default fighters) will suffer a Plotline Death if the player takes the wrong path in a certain stage, eliminating him from the character roster for the rest of the game.
- The Puella Magi Madoka Magica Fangame Grief Syndrome starts with all five of the main cast, but if any of them die they're gone for good. And if Sayaka dies before the final boss you're forced to fight her witch form.
- If all of your cars are impounded in Need for Speed: Most Wanted or Carbon, you must start your career from the beginning.
- The "Deaths" option in San Francisco Rush makes crashing an immediate Game Over for both you and the opponents.
- in Xpand Rally, in case of a really disastrous crash the pilot can die and the career must. Obviously, restarted from scratch with a new one.
- In the two Street Legal games, damaging or destroying a car's chassis usually puts it out of commission for good: the chassis cannot be repaired in Street Legal 1 without dropping it to the floor and damaging it again, and any part damaged to zero percent in Street Legal Racing Redline cannot be repaired. Autosave in SLRR guarantees that any mistakes are permanent, and if you're left with no cash and no usable cars, you must restart.
- The Oregon Trail.
- This is the entire point of Jesse Venbrux's ultra-short freeware game Execution. You start the game looking at a man tied to a pole through your scope. Shooting him yields the message: 'You Lose'. Attempting to play a second time starts the game with 'Your actions have consequences, it is already too late'. If you try to play, the man will still be dead.
- In some deathmatch-style games, there may be options to give each player only one life per round, or use a communal batch of "tickets" that can only decrease in number. Neutralizing all the respawn points in "control point" matches can also cause enemy deaths to be final.
- In the Fighting Game Weapon Lord, you can continue after losing a match normally, like almost all fighting games. However, if the opponent defeats you with a Finishing Move, you will not be given this chance, and you'll have to start all over.
- The manikins in Dissidia: Final Fantasy. While in the original game they were just Mooks, in the prequel Duodecim it's revealed that anyone defeated by a manikin may not be revived for the next cycle in the "Groundhog Day" Loop, as the manikins generally don't stop attacking, unlike the actual players on the side of Chaos and Cosmos. Being defeated by a manikin can therefore result in being beaten to death so badly that you're unable to be revived. This is why Lightning, Kain, Yuna, Laguna, Tifa, and Vaan weren't in the original. They got overwhelmed by manikins after closing the rift that they were spawning out of.
- The Virtual Boy game Teleroboxer has a "Title Defense" mode in which you must fight all eight of your robot opponents at random (This mode can only be played if you defeat all eight boxers and remain undefeated). If you lose even one match in this mode, then it will say that you are no longer the champion and must now retire. The next time you go to the File Select screen, it will say "CHAMPION RETIRED" on whatever save file you played on, which means you cannot replay the game again on that same file and you will have to start over.
First Person Shooter
- Call of Duty series: Sometimes fallen Red Shirt Army characters can be healed with medkits, but if their name turns red, they are dead for real. Inverted with major characters, who are invincible except for Plotline Death.
- In the Rainbow Six game series, at least the PC games up to Raven Shield, if any of the named characters are "KIA"'ed during a campaign, they are dead for good, and you have to make do with the reserve agents.
- Left 4 Dead and its sequel has this for the finales. If a survivor dies in the final map, they are dead for good and get an honorable mention in the credits. The sequel does avert this if someone is carrying a Magical Defibrillator.
- One Life takes this Up to Eleven, in a similar vein to You Only Live Once. If you die in the game, you are dead, no restarts, no anything. All you can do now is to delete it.
- There were some old floppy-disk games where if your character died, the whole game would erase itself, ie game over forever, unless you shell out the dough for a new copy. Some online or downloadable games do this as well.
- Sub Mission does this to some extent, and is probably the only game that ever did. There's a practice mode available where you can practice the game with robot, but if you attempt a mission for real and fail, a hostage dies and is erased from the disk forever. Unsurprisingly, sales were virtually nil.
- Hideo Kojima considered using this method for Metal Gear Solid, but thankfully discarded the idea.
- Wasteland did this, and the developers recommended you back-up your bought copy and only play the game using those back-ups.
- There's a game for Mac OS X (Lose/Lose) that deletes a file in your Home folder everytime you kill an enemy. When you lose a life, the game deletes itself. Not only is it a Final Death for your player (of course, you could redownload it, but that's missing the point), but also for your precious files as well. Goodbye, music library and precious childhood photos. Norton Antivirus classified it as a virus, understandably.
- One Chance is a modern Flash game that tries its best to do this. You can avoid it by tweaking your Flash configuration though.
- This gets inverted in the MegaZeux game The Short-Lived Adventures of Hobo Dan - you can die as often as you want, but after you actually beat the game, it erases itself.
Hack And Slash
- Diablo II, already quite similar to roguelikes, offers a "hardcore" setting to players who have beaten the game, in which their character file is locked after a single death, and can no longer be played. (It's still there, though, and you can see a record of all your Hardcore deaths if you feel like keeping them. And cheaters can edit the dead character's save to restore them to life, good as new. But that's cheating. Cheater.)
Note: Blizzard Entertainment is in no way responsible for your hardcore character. If you choose to create and play a hardcore character, you do so at your own risk. Blizzard is not responsible for the death and loss of your hardcore characters for any reason including Internet lag, bugs, Acts of God, your little sister, or any other reason whatsoever. Consult the End User License Agreement for more details. Blizzard will not, and does not have the capability to restore any deceased Hardcore characters. Don't even ask. La-la-la-la-la, we can't hear you.
- Quoth the game manual:
- Diablo III continues the Hardcore tradition, only the setting is available after making Level 10 with your first character. While you can use the Auction House to gear up your Hardcore character, the Real Money Auction House is not available for them. And it makes sense — when your character has only one life and all your character's items are Lost Forever on death (which can happen in any number of ways as described above) do you really want to waste real-world money on your gear?
- So, too, does independently-designed Diablo clone Torchlight, but this setting is readily available upon character creation.
- The same thing goes for Path of Exile. Well, not exactly. Hardcore is just an extra modifier set for certain leagues, and if you die in a league with Hardcore on, your character is kicked out to Standard, so while you don't completely lose your character, you will have to start over with a fresh character if you want to try that league again.
- Darksiders II offers you Nightmare Mode upon beating the game at hard (Apocalyptic) difficulty, where if you get killed by enemies even once, the game resets you back to the beginning. Dying in Bottomless Pits won't impose such a penalty, thankfully.
- There's a longstanding debate over permadeath in MUDs and MMOs. Most of these games have no permadeath and the trend has been in the opposite direction by increasingly making it so that Death Is a Slap on the Wrist. However there have been exceptions, sometimes with very limited scope:
- In Star Wars: Galaxies, the original, highly exclusive Jedi characters had a form of permadeath. This was soon changed after the first Jedi characters in the game were predictably hunted down and ganked repeatedly.
- In ThunderDome MUDS, death from loss of Constitution below 4 resulted in permanent Condeath. The mechanics associated with aging made this inevitable, no matter how much Con could be bought back.
- Many roleplay-intensive MUSHes have a permanent policy on character death; one life, one death. This is more often determined by player agreements and/or moderator judgment than by game mechanics.
- LPMUDs have always averted this, but a player who chooses to retire a character may remain a ghost, removing themselves from play but retaining communication.
- Ultimate Mode in Shaiya allows you the most character points in the game, use of all the skills, and use of the best items. But if you die and are not resurrected within three minutes, your character is deleted.
- In Realm of the Mad God, once you die, you lose all of your items and levels, then restart.
- Some players of DDO do this as a Self-Imposed Challenge. If your character dies and nobody is around to resurrect them, delete and roll a new character.
- In Armageddon MUD, player characters who die are resurrected only in cases of extreme bug abuse/server issues.
- Spoofed in World of Warcraft with the April Fools Day announcement of Wisps as a new player race. They would have the ability to explode, permanently sacrificing the character in exchange for draining 50 mana from all units nearby (the ability wisps had in Warcraft III). This ability would not be even remotely useful if it caused a normal WoW death, and there is naturally no ability in the game worth destroying your character in order to use.
- Wizardry Online promises to feature permadeath as a core mechanic.
- It has since been elaborated upon - after dying, you have to make a run to a previously-touched statue through the spirit world with 10 orbs around your character. These orbs represent a 10% chance of successful resurrection, and there are monsters that can take one and send you back to your corpse to start the run over again. However, you can also sacrifice gold and/or items for a higher success rate if that happens.
- In Face of Mankind, characters respawn using clones, which cost money. If you are killed and have no clones or money left, your character is officially dead.
- You Only Live Once:
- The true extreme is the original game, a flash platformer which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. No extra lives, no continues, you only live once. Oh, and you can't play again, as it will remember that you died. Well, you can if you clear your browser history.
- In its sequel, The Execution, the player commands a firing squad aiming at whichever between Pink Lizard or the hero had been arrested, depending on the ending gotten in the first game. Execute them or leave them be. Execute them, leave and come back gives you a bloody background. Leaving the game without executing them, leaving and returning, will leave them scott-free.
- Mega Man X3 is notable for that. If you play as Zero and Zero dies, that's it, he's permanently badly damaged for the rest of the game and he can't be used in any stages any longer. But you can bring him back pretty easily: Get your new password, enter it in, then keep adding 1 to the last digit and pressing start. Eventually you'll get one that works where Zero's back. It should be noted that the spoilered information is "cheating."
- In the NES Star Wars game Luke can collect up to 7 extra lives (as well as having 10 continues), but if either Han or Leia dies they're gone for good unless you have Obi-Wan in your party, since he can use the Force to revive them, but only about 7 times total.
- Survival Mode in Prince of Persia Classic.
Real Time Strategy
- Many Real-Time Strategy games have a kind of Final Death in place, with units that happen to die in a battle needing to be replaced. Age of Empires II could have special named units die and simply be lost, although this only happens to minor, one time characters (except during some campaigns, which require characters such as Joan of Arc, Attila the Hun and El Cid to stay alive during the scenario). The Total War series, while turn based, has your family members, which can die in battle, assassination, naval battle, plague, riots, disasters, and simply old age. Of course, new family members are born every few turns, but if you lose them all, you lose the game.
- Lords Of The Realm 3 is also notable, and along those lines. Aside from a few infinite Red Shirts, all of your knights are actually drawn from a finite pool specific to the scenario you're playing. Knights are often able to retreat safely, rarely die even if felled, and high-tier or Hero Unit knights have a "luck" attribute that makes them even less likely to die in battle. However, if the knights are killed, or are captured and deliberately executed (as opposed to being honorably ransomed), they're dead for good. Killing certain knights is a victory condition in some scenarios.
- In Real-Time Strategy game Sacrifice, souls are essential for monster-summoning and, for certain sides, resurrection. Unfortunately the battlegrounds are giant floating islands, and if a monster falls off the edge, its soul(s) are lost forever. One particularly nasty spell cuts the ground out from under their feet. Conversely, one side's monsters can use friendly souls to fuel powerful attacks and upgrades.
- In the multi-platform game Cannon Fodder, all of your troops only had one life. The more you killed, the more populated your graveyard would be with gravestones. Although the basic idea was that you'd be sending a few hundred troops to their deaths, it still stung when your current Lt. or General "Witty Name" got taken out by a spear trap.
- In Warhammer: Dark Omen you are given a set number of regiments at certain points: Have one wiped out (as opposed to routed) and it's gone for good. (especially annoying with your Squishy Wizards) even worse, regiments that have suffered casualties will have to buy replacements, and cash is VERY scarce.
- Warlords Battlecry 2 has an "Ironman" mode which deletes the save profile if the players hero dies. (Essentially the same as the Diablo example above)
- Some bosses in Patapon can perma-kill your soldiers.
- Closer to it are roguelike games, such as NetHack and Angband: If your character dies (and you can be very sure that they will), your character is erased. New characters retain a "memory" of monsters fought. Some versions of these games try to detect — and reject — copies of the deleted save file, but most simply put in finger-wagging messages.
- Sometimes there are in-game ways to survive a final death, however, such as NetHack's amulet of lifesaving. If you would die when wearing one, instead the amulet is destroyed and you are restored to full health.
- The presense of Final Death makes roguelike games stressful, of course, but it can also make them more exciting: when the Ancient Blue Wyrm can actually kill your character off for real, the thrill of actually defeating it with a single HP left is indescribable.
- Some roguelikes like Dungeons of Dredmor, Transcendence, and Triangle Wizard, however, have options to disable permadeath if one so choose. Elona didn't even have permadeath until rather recently.
- Risk of Rain being a Roguelike action platformer, naturally, does this often with hilarious death messages. In fact, this can become a form of progress as dying fifty times unlocks an item that lets you survive ONE death should you find it on future playthroughs (with additional 'lives' if you find more than one, which is unlikely). This can become very painful when you suffer a game-ending run from a too-big stack of monsters.
- In Rogue Legacy, when you die, you start a new character who is a descendant of the prior one.
- In Darkest Dungeon, when a hero dies, that's it. All that's left to remember them by is a marker in the hamlet's cemetery. Fortunately, you're never in want of fresh recruits to throw into the meat-grinder. Unfortunately, you're going to need to keep some of them alive long enough to be able to face the Darkest Dungeon itself and two of the heroes you send to face the final boss will die no matter what. And you have to choose which ones.
Role Playing Game
- The "Gone" status from the classic Wizardry is just that: You tried twice to resurrect someone, and it didn't work.
- Class Of Heroes, a Spiritual Successor to Wizardry, operates the same way.
- In Wizardry Labyrinth Of Lost Souls, the character that you select as the "Leader" is exempt from this, and will automatically be taken back to the Temple and revived with one HP if you party doesn't find a way to resurrect him/her before then. Created characters (or anyone originating from the Guild) can still be Killed Off for Real if you're unlucky.
- In most Suikoden games, someone's squad falling in a war can randomly result in either Non-Lethal K.O. or Final Death.
- In the Fallout series, dead is dead when it comes to your companions (though as a player you can reload if you die). In this first game, this was baad news, thanks to your companions having no survival instinct whatsoever and they couldn't equip any armour. It's possible, but extremely difficult, to beat the game with companions — most can be left outside dangerous areas but keeping Dogmeat alive is very challenging.
- The 'Ironman' mode in Tactics makes reloading even more costly, as you can only save while in a BoS bunker. If a companion dies you have to make a hard choice whether to accept it as Final or roll back all progress before even setting out on the trip. If your main character dies, you don't even have that option.
- New Vegas has ally permadeth only in "Hardcore" mode.
- In Baldur's Gate 1 & 2, whether or not party members can die the final death is configured by difficulty. On the "easy" and "normal" settings, dead characters can always be resurrected; on "core" and "hard" it's possible for them to be permanently killed if enough damage is done to them in one turn, or if an instant death spell is cast on them. As an exception to this, being the target of a successful disintegration effect or being petrified and then having the statue damaged will always kill a character completely dead, but petrification is at least reversible by applying a Stone to Flesh effect on the statue. And as an exception to all of this, having the protagonist killed or Imprisoned is an instant game over, even if you could have technically "gotten better" at the hands of your party members if it had been a tabletop game.
- You own un-resurrectability is justified: Children of Bhaal instantly turn to dust upon death, their essence going towards fueling the resurrection of the dead god, as seen in BG 1's final cinematic with Sarevok. This still leaves a few strange issues, such as why it doesn't happen to Imoen as well, but those are probably just engine limitations.
- Also, if your love interest gets petrified or imprisoned in the second game, the romance is considered broken even if you do restore them afterwards. Guess they are angry about you letting this happen to them...
- From a gameplay standpoint, because petrification technically isn't killing them, but would present a problem if you have to walk to another area(possibly to get a Stone to Flesh scroll) with the petrified party member unable to move, it's considered equivalent to kicking them out of the party (which would not be good for any relationship between adventurers).
- The first game has a particularly nasty variant towards the end. If you get captured by Angelo (one of Sarevok's henchmen), there is a random chance that he will murder one of your party members. That character is then considered Killed Off for Real.
- In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, if you die you're Dead For Real (unless you have a companion with a resurrection scroll handy). And you get to see your own grave.
- LISA: The Painful RPG combines this with Reality Ensues: Like in real life, your party members can recover from things like being knocked unconscious, beaten to a pulp, or bleeding out (albeit through more bizarre and faster ways that real people.) Also like real life, being hit with a move named "Fatal Chomp", "Neck Break", or "Decapitate" will kill your party members instantly with no way to bring them back.
- In Uplink, if you are caught doing any hacking activities, you will receive a warning or, depending on the severity, your account will be terminated. This means entering the game presents you with a simple "you hacked __ systems, but now you are dead" screen. Most importantly, there are no in-game instructions for covering your tracks. The only way to continue on if you're on the verge of getting terminated is extremely expensive and involves installing motion sensors and explosives in your remote terminal and putting enough money aside to purchase a new one when you blow up your old one to erase any incriminating evidence.
- In the demo there was only one way to get arrested: refuse to pay your fines and you'll get convicted. This is somewhat humorous since hacking into your ultimate employers computers (the titular Uplink corporation) would only get you disavowed. This is probably why it got taken out, along with the clash with the new identity never culpable theme.
- Anyone, save Welkin, Alicia, Rosie and Largo (who are all main characters and therefore have Plot Armor) in Valkyria Chronicles will die for good if you don't get a medic to help them within three turns of losing the most important HP (or if the enemy gets to them first). Even during skirmish missions and side-story battles, they can still be killed permanently if you're not careful. This is proven to be a Scrappy Mechanic, and the next games in the series doesn't have this dreadful consequence of downed in battle.
- In Sweet Home, you have five party members at the start of the game, and the ones that die stay dead. The ending you get depends on how many of them are still alive at the end of the game.
- To clarify, there were no reviving party member tricks, and only a limited number of inventory healing items throughout the game and one minor cleric.
- And said cleric only healed status effects, not health.
- To clarify, there were no reviving party member tricks, and only a limited number of inventory healing items throughout the game and one minor cleric.
- Unusually for what's essentially a Mons series, Geneforge does this with any and all slain party members in games 1, 2, 4 and 5. 3 has your sidekicks "run off screaming" when badly wounded, allowing you to recruit them again, but still has your creations die permanently.
- Final Fantasy IV: The After Years has this for only a handful of characters. During Edge's Tale, you get four mini-missions with his Ninja in training, with each ninja going solo. Whereas in the rest of the game you get a Game Over if the party's wiped out, in this case, if a ninja dies on his or her mission, the game just moves onto the next one, and you never get that dead ninja back.
- In Mass Effect 1, if Wrex, Kaidan, or Ashley dies in Virmire, they stay dead - they don't come back as a burn victim, they don't come back as a badass, they stay dead. And anyone who dies during the Suicide Mission of Mass Effect 2 stays dead, and won't come back in Mass Effect 3. One of the endings even has Shepard dying, and if Shepard dies, you can't import that save for ME3. All of the above fall somewhere between this trope and Plotline Death, since all deaths take place in cutscenes integral to the plot, but you can still affect some of them thanks to the non-linear story (though either Ashley or Kaidan must die on Virmire).
- Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume is partly merciful: just letting an ally fall in combat won't finish them off. Sacrificing their life through dark magic to increase your power? That means Final Death. (Naturally, you get the best ending through refusing to kill off any of them.)
- In Unlimited Adventures (based on Dungeons & Dragons above), a character destroyed with the Destruction spell will simply cease to exist - he cannot be resurrected, since there's no corpse to resurrect. Same happens if a character falls in battle and the other characters flee; all those left behind will disappear from the party. There are also other ways.
- Death of old age is also fatal... to the game itself; it makes it crash.
- The Nuzlocke Self-Imposed Challenge of the Pokémon games work like this; among other rules, if one of your Pokémon faints during a battle it is considered "dead" and must not be used again (it must either be released from the player's possession entirely, or permanently set aside in a PC box).
- The Flying Men in EarthBound Beginnings and EarthBound.
- The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings has this for you on insane difficulty. If Geralt dies, all your saves from that playthrough are rendered inaccessible and you must start over.
- Final Fantasy Tactics has final death occur on any party member that is not revived in 3 turns (this also happens to enemies). If a unit dies, they leave behind a treasure box containing a random item they were carrying or their soul becomes a crystal where another person can pick it up and either restore their HP and MP or inherit an ability from the crystal. If your party members die, you'll have to recruit new ones and if Ramza dies off, Game Over.
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance has a similar feature, but not as harsh. Battles that take place in a Jagd are more dangerous because anyone that is left KO'd when the battle is over dies for real and their bodies fade away. Naturally, the game ends if Marche is killed off in this way. This is handwaved in the story where it is said that Jagds are places that the judges cannot go to, thus the law system doesn't exist in those places, but even the most hardened criminals would rather fight battles with a judge present (the judges and the laws prevent death in battles) than to risk their lives in a lawless battle.
- In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, if your Spirits fall to 0 HP, a timer starts. If the timer runs out, they revert to their component parts. The timer is extremely generous, and it's easy enough to keep them from being knocked out in the first place that you're unlikely to see it very often anyway (Unless you're trying to harvest dream pieces from them intentionally).
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, any NPC who isn't essential will stay dead once killed, whether they be a shopkeeper or one of your followers.
- Devil Survivor 2 has several moments where one of your friends is in danger and out of your party, necessitating your intervention via battle so you can rescue them. The alternative is to skimp out on the rescue mission, which the game will freely let you do...before forcing you into an event consisting of you witnessing the victim's final moments. The only way to get the character back is to start a new playthrough.
- In the Dragon Ball Z game Legend of the Super Saiyajin for the SNES, this is in effect. If somebody dies in battle, that's it. If it's Goku or Gohan, immediate game over. That's right, you don't get to use the Dragonballs to restore anyone killed in battle, apart from at one fixed point in the plot.
Shoot Em Up
- The Escape Velocity series has a checkbox marked "Strict" for character creation that will delete your character file if you die ingame. While you can eject from a blasted ship if you bought pods, you'll lose your current identity and fail all of your missions.
- In the original Star Fox, if any of your wingmen get shot down, that's it; they're brown bread, toast, worm food, and thou must continue the game without them. Averted in the sequels, where they just get a Non-Lethal K.O. and are temporarily grounded for repairs.
- In BLOODCRUSHER II, you cannot restart the game from previous checkpoints. If you die, you have to restart the game in its entirety.
- The Sims: In the original game, without any expansion packs, once a Sim died, that was it.
- In The Sims 3, the only way for a Sim to be truly dead is if they were made a playable ghost, age normally, and then "die" of old age.
- In one of the most expensive home games ever made, Steel Battalion, your character will be killed and your profile erased if your Vertical Tank (Mecha) is destroyed and you fail to use the eject button on the massive controller included.
- The Wing Commander series has flip-flopped on this a bit. In WC1, all wingmen could be killed with relative ease, meaning that you had to fly the rest of the system's missions solo. In WC2, all wingmen played a bigger role in the plot, and would automatically eject if their ship took lethal damage. Starting with WC3, wingmen would start out automatically ejecting, but after a certain point (depending on the wingman in question), each would start to be flagged as "at risk", and would no longer eject in time
- In the Monster Rancher games, your monsters will eventually die of old age if you don't freeze or combine them.
- Creatures series embodies this - a creature, be it Norn, Grendel or Ettin, that dies, dies for good. There are ways to stall death indefinitely but once a creature dies, there is no way to reverse it. The game uses a save system that prevents simply reloading the game and injecting a ton of various chemicals in the creature's system to stall death.
- In Shadow President, depending on the actions that you take throughout the game, your advisors may resign due to policy disagreements, be assassinated, or be caught up in a scandal. These advisors do not come back, making your job as President very difficult, as they're able to provide many of the facts behind other countries including military capabilities, population statistics, and financial standings.
- The Steam versions of X3: Terran Conflict and X3: Albion Prelude have the Dead-Is-Dead game start, wherein if you die the game deletes your save. Both games feature special achievements for completing plots in Dead-Is-Dead. Unfortunately the implementation is a little glitchy; a poor Internet connection can cause premature deletion.
- In the original Air Combat game that launched the Ace Combat series, if you crashed a plane or were shot down, you would lose that plane for good. If you lost all your planes, then it was game over.
- Your packmates in Wolf will remain dead if something happens to them, as will any animals that you kill for food.
- Uplink ends with a black screen if you failed to cover your tracks. Some company will have tracked your hack to the source, right up to the Gateway you were connected to, and from that point, the Uplink corporation you worked for has to disavow all knowledge of your connections to them, and destroy that gateway. And you can't restart the game unless you backed up the user directory, or deleted your profile to start with a new one.
- In the second MechWarrior Mercenaries, any of your lancemates whose 'mechs are destroyed will usually eject safely, however this trope is occasionally invoked, forcing you to hire a replacement pilot.
- A Tamagotchi's lifespan ends with it dying forever.
- In a non-death example, the Wii Punch-Out!! revamp has a "Mac's Last Stand" mode. Basically, lose three matches, and Mac quits. Which means you can never play Career Mode again from your profile. The good news is that this only opens after you've beaten the entire opponent roster twice, so you're just trying to see how much further you can go before hanging up the gloves. Even after the Career is locked, Exhibition Mode remains available. The main goals players seek during Last Stand are the Secret Character who can appear randomly in a fight (once you fight him, win or lose, you can fight him anytime), and the Nintendo Hard "Champion Mode" (where all your opponents can One-Hit KO you) which turns on after 10 wins and becomes an in-game option from then on.
Stealth Based Game
- The PSP game Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops allows you to recruit your own allies and send them into battle. If these allies die, they cannot be brought back. Amusingly enough, while random allies can end up gone for good if they end up on the wrong end of too many bullets, any character who can't be renamed simply passes out and you get him/her back later. This obviously applies to the main character, Naked Snake, but extremely minor side character Jonathan is also invincible, even though he gets one Cut Scene and then stops being in the plot until his meaningless and accidental Plotline Death, three quarters of the game later....
- This is made more annoying by the fact that soldiers can die for good even with full LIFE - if they run too hard for too long without eating anything, their Stamina empties and they pass out - forever.
- Metal Gear Solid includes the infamous torture scene, where Ocelot goes out of his way to warn Snake that there are no continues, and if Snake can't stand the torture and kicks the bucket, the game is over. Of course, this is all there to give players an incentive to submit to Ocelot's torture if they can't keep up (And don't even think about using auto-fire, or he'll know!), when the ending of the game depends on how well the player does at the torture scene. There is, however, nothing stopping the player quitting and loading a save from before the torture scene and trying again if they fail (the player even gets an Ominous Save Prompt just beforehand).
- In Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, novice Assassins that die are gone for good and you need to recruit a replacement.
- Hell Night had you fleeing through an Absurdly Spacious Sewer with a partner. If the monster caught up with you, your partner would die permanently and instantly. You'd be on your own until you found the next one.
- In the original Resident Evil, the two heroes you can pick from each get a partner. If they die during the game, they don't come back. Chris' partner Rebecca can be killed by a Hunter after the death of Richard if you don't get to her in time. Jill's partner Barry can die during the final part of the game if you agree to split up with him in the underground passage instead of letting him go with her or having him wait at the entrance (this happens if you answer "no" to his two questions; answering any other way ensures his survival). Note that both Rebecca and Barry both survive in canon.
- The Nintendo GameCube remake changes Barry's case; if Jill doesn't give Barry his gun back during a particular Boss fight, said Boss will launch him into an abyss.
- ObsCure gives your five characters (two of whom, Stan and Kenny, are discovered over the course of the game) to play as. If any of them dies, the game continues on without them, until everyone has been killed. This is the only way that a character can die; there are no Plotline Deaths within the main cast, and you can theoretically finish the game with everybody still alive (indeed, this is the only way to get the good ending), or with only one survivor. The sequel removes this system, instead opting for Plotline Deaths.
- The main twist of ZombiU. If you die, the player character becomes a zombie, and you take control of a new survivor. You lose all your items, but you can get them back by killing the zombified previous player character.
- Outlast has a difficulty level completely dedicated to this idea. The idea is if you die, that's it. You have to start all over again. Which is annoying, because a few enemies can perform OneHitKills on you. This difficulty level is appropriately named Insane.
Turn Based Strategy
- In Tactics Ogre, deaths are permanent, unless the character is resurrected during the battle in which they died. Note that the resurrection spell is not found until late-game and is very expensive MP-wise. Few alternatives exist, and those are found even later.
- Final Fantasy Tactics had characters reduced to 0 HP have Non-Lethal K.O. only for a limited time within the battle. If they were not healed and the battle wasn't finished within a certain number of rounds, they're gone for good.
- Various games in the Final Fantasy series have stages called "Jagds," which always lack some vital mechanic of the game. In Final Fantasy Tactics Advance the mechanic in question is the magical law system that governs combat and keeps people from dying of their injuries. Any allies who have 0 HP at the end of a fight in a Jagd will die. Should that happen to Marche, the game ends.
- In the Fire Emblem series, a unit that falls in battle in the missions is gone for the remainder of the game (as far as that campaign data is concerned). Plot important characters are considered to have sustained a crippling injury so that they can never fight again (allowing them to interact with other characters during cutscenes), whereas lesser characters simply perish. If (a) main character(s) is/are killed, it is game over. The end.
- A notable feature to the series is that every unit has their own unique death quote(s) and ending. This, the fact that many units are genuinely interesting, and the fact that many players do not like to have the characters they've invested their gold and EXP gone to waste is largely why most players will immediately restart the mission if even the most minor of their units die.
- Both NES entries allow for limited resurrection: The first allows one character to be brought back near the ending of the game with the Aum staff, while in Fire Emblem Gaiden dead characters can be revived if you travel to a resurrection spring (which are often difficult to reach, involving multiple encounters). A dead leader still ends the game.
- The Aum staff returned in Fire Emblem: Mystery Of The Emblem: Book 1 and Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, both of these being remakes of the original game. It is not usable in Fire Emblem: Mystery Of The Emblem: Book 2 however.
- In the fourth game, Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, the Valkyrie Staff can revive one dead party member, similar to the Aum staff. The upside is that it can be repaired and used again. Like all holy weapons however, it requires 30,000 gold to repair, and unlike the rest of the holy weapons which can be partially repaired for a fraction of the price, the staff having only one use requires the whole amount be paid.
- In Fire Emblem: Sword of Flame, any character who is defeated during the first ten chapters will return later in the game. This is because the first ten chapters are basically a glorified tutorial.
- Characters who die in a chapter can be brought back by restarting the chapter of course, but the game (some of them, at least) will keep track of how many times each character died in battle, just to remind you how much you suck.
- The DS version of Mystery of the Emblem has a "Casual Mode" to turn off permadeath. Characters who die in battle will be usable again for the next battle.
- This mode returns in Fire Emblem Awakening. Also, even in Classic Mode, every first generation female retreats instead of dying. This rule can apply to males who have a major role in the story and Lucina. They're still retired for the rest of the game when this happens however.
- Critical Mass, a game originally created in the mid-90s, would delete your file if you died without ejecting, or your pod was destroyed. And, given the nature of your AI allies to shoot you as much as the enemy, it has become the main competition on the forum to see how many missions you can survive. (Don't worry about finishing, it's an Endless Game.)
- Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate- once a Marine is dead, he's dead. You only have limited Terminators too and can't move them over.
- Unlike every other game in the series, the original Super Robot Wars on the Game Boy has permadeath. It can get away with it because it has the bare minimum of plot, compared to the series' modern trend of mixing tons of plots together.
- In Operation Darkness, any fallen unit that remains dead at the end of the stage stays dead. Luckily, you've got Herbert West, who can revive anyone before end of stage.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! Monster Capsule GB, losing a monster means it's gone forever, though this doesn't apply to Yugi's friends.
- This is the case for normal mode in Telepath Tactics. In casual mode, characters return in the next battle with a slight nerf to their max health.
Turn Based Tactics
- In Jagged Alliance 2, ALL deaths are final. This ranges from a bullet, to a knife in the gut, to, in one frustrating example, an unlucky swimming skill check. Down to Davy Jones' locker, Ira!
- In the X-COM series you can hire recruits cheaply and easily. Usually most of them will suffer perma deaths before they're experienced enough to stop being One Hit Point Wonders who graduated at the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy. Maybe if your troops are lucky, they might just get an incapacitating wound instead of flat-out dying, but even that comes with long-term consequences.
- While not "turn-based", OgreBattle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber is tactical, and sometimes, if a human dies, they permanently change class into an angel or a zombie. The angel's nice, but only happens to female characters who were extremely lawful in life. The zombie class can happen to any human, and is exceptionally spoony. (However, they could upgrade to a passable skeleton, only to turn into an even spoonier ghost.) In some games, there was a zombie dragon for dragons.
Wide Open Sandbox
- Survival Crisis Z has Hardcore mode, where player death is usually final. There's an item that will let you take over someone else's body when you die, but you lose your entire inventory except your money. If you get a high enough score in Arcade Mode, though, you'll get a cheat that will let you revive as many times as you want, without any item loss.
- Your allies will die permanently if they run out of health or remain infected for too long, regardless of whether you're playing Hardcore mode or not. Unlike the above, there is no way to reverse it, though another ally will usually replace them sooner or later.
- In Dead Rising, all characters suffer from this. (Of course, if Frank dies, you get game over.)
- Minecraft has Hardcore mode where you are stuck on Hard difficulty and dying means your save for that world gets erased from your computer!. Not recommended for players who want to build and/or explore.
- Hardcore mode extends to multiplayer as well should the server admin allow it on. Anyone that dies on the server automatically gets kicked out and banned.
- Terraria has hardcore difficulty. If you die, the character you made is gone. As multiple characters can go through your worlds, it's not a total loss if you stored items regularly. You still lose that inventory and HP/MP gained on the character.
- DontStarve is always on permadeath, unless you activate a Touch Stone, build a Meat Effigy, or wear a Life Giving Amulet. Touch Stones are rare and inconvenient, Meat Effigies are made from middle to endgame materials, and Life Giving Amulets are only accessible in the very late game. The multiplayer mode, Don't Starve Together, is a lot better about permadeath, allowing dead players to remain as ghosts - but there are a lot of penalties for resurrection to both the resurrector and resurrectee, and ghosts that have not yet been revived will continuously drain sanity for all players. Additionally, when all players have died at once, the entire server resets itself after a few minutes.
- Very unforgiving example in The Long Dark. You can't manually save, the game maintains a single Autosave which it automatically deletes if you die, forcing you to start all over. A single dumb decision in game can cost you dearly. Just like real life, of course.
Non-video game examples:
Anime & Manga
- In YuYu Hakusho, Yusuke and his friends are forced to play in an actualized version of a video game titled "Goblin City" against a young kid known only as the Gamemaster. The Gamemaster takes the role of the game's final boss the Goblin King, not realizing that the Goblin King is killed off after the player completes the game, whereas the player can revive as many times as he wants since the game has unlimited continues. As a result, the Gamemaster dies for real when Kurama completes the final stage.
- The basic premise of Sword Art Online is that you die in real life if you die in the game.
- Log Horizon, on the other hand, applies this trope on NPCs instead of players.
- A particular Pokémon horror story features Mew doing this to all its trainer's pokémon.
- This is the underlying point of the Nuzlocke challenge in Pokémon games. The base rules are simple: one can only attempt to capture the first Pokémon they encounter in any given route, and anyone that faints is considered dead and must be released or placed in a PC box indefintely at the next opportunity to do so.note As this makes any Pokémon captured very difficult to replace, it becomes surprisingly heartbreaking whenever one of them do faint, whether as a result of a random Critical Hit or, worse, because of your own mistakes. I believe this is all happening for a reason.
- However, some players consider it fair to keep any "dead" Pokemon in your party as HM slaves so long as they aren't used in battle, thus subverting the trope.
- One of the rules in the Wreck-It Ralph universe is that if a character dies inside their game, they'll respawn, but if they die outside their game, they're dead for good.
- In Gamer, the player avatars in Slayers, the fictional video game at the center of the film, are real death-row inmates who have offered to have computer chips installed in their heads so that they can be controlled by people in a violent First-Person Shooter meets real-life Deadly Game. When they survive thirty matches, they win their freedom. Needless to say, none have made it so far.
- Spy Kids 3 does this with a virtual reality game, "Game Over", where if you lose all your lives, "You lose. No replays, no restarts." And judging by what happens when one person loses their lives, well...
- The Wheel of Time has balefire. It doesn't just kill you; it burns you out of the fabric of reality itself! There's also death within the Dream World; dying there removes you from the Pattern, meaning you can't reincarnate.
- The novel Sword Art Online is about the world's first Virtual Reality MMORPG in which the creator tries to increase its realism by taking out magic and also adding the fact that if you die in game, your headset will microwave your brain making death final. The story ends with about 4000 people dying.
- Used in Otherland in a fictional MMORPG, where character death is permanent. After losing his high-level character due to the interference of the titular network, Orlando's driving goal is to find out why.
Live Action Television
- In Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, the members of the evil Deboss Legion end up in the Darkness of the Land/Deboss Hell when they're slain, and can be brought back to life by retrieving them (something that happens several times over the course of the series). In the final arc, the team's mentor Torin allows himself to be killed so he can destroy Deboss Hell from the inside, preventing the members from ever coming back.
- In Doctor Who, a Time Lord is very Long Lived, and can regenerate into a new body to avoid most brands of death. The rule is 12 regenerations for a total of 13 lives. As such, a Time Lord would enjoy a lifespan in at least five digits if s/he were to live a full life in each body. Even then, regeneration energy can be granted or stolen. However, Time Lords can be and are Killed Off for Real sometimes, either by taking so much damage that what's left can't trigger a regeneration (River Song says stopping both hearts at once would do it, the Master says that and the Chunky Salsa Rule are a sure method), or certain poisons, or certain brands of punishment in the early, unstable days of a new body, or Time Lord weaponry. Trying to regenerate when Out of Continues is a good way to evaporate on the spot, too (though the one time we see that comes from an unfinished episode whose finished portions have been released, so the canonicity of this is debatable.)
- In Dungeons & Dragons, the Final Death is that of old age. Any sentient creature, even if Deader Than Dead, can be brought back by a true resurrection spell, unless dead of old age. Certain spells such as trap the soul can prevent resurrection at the GM's discretion, but using a wish to bring someone back to life can trump even that. Just make sure the wish isn't being granted by a Jackass Genie...
- There are ways around even that. An Elan (no relation) has no maximum age. The Green Star Adept Prestige Class confers agelessness, although it otherwise isn't that good. And depending on the DM, "Reincarnate" might be interpreted as a loophole, as it explicitly creates a young body.
- Inversely, there are also ways of making sure someone stays out of the way forever, too. Certain spell effects or monster special attacks have a 50% chance of essentially destroying the soul of the victim as well, meaning that there's nothing to resurrect. Also, the spells for resurrection require the soul being brought back is willing so if they're happy being dead, then dead they shall stay, and finally, there are alternate rules for the DM who wants death to be a wee bit more enduring then a nap in the dirt.
- Also, starting in the 3rd Edition, it is stated that someone cannot be brought back to life against his will. (Why would a soul object to this? A variety of reasons, mostly spiritual and religious in nature; possibly, the cleric trying to raise him/her from the dead is an enemy who would make the risen hero a prisoner or slave). In such a case, resurrecting an unwilling soul is impossible.
- In the splatbook Tyrants of Nine Hells states that Lawful Evil souls end up as sickly, pathetic soul-maggots in the eponymous place. The devils can then legally torture those soul-maggots to extract some evil divine-energy from them. And after nothing is left, the maggot can be crushed for a last drip of power, this act remove said soul from the multiverse, forever.
- However, this can happen to any fiend, no matter how powerful. If they are summoned from their home plane, they are reborn back there if killed, but if they physically leave or are killed on their home plane, they risk True Death, and are not reborn. No-one knows what becomes of their souls, but many believe - and hope - they face only oblivion. (This is one of the few things that even devils are afraid of, mostly because they are control freaks to the extreme and really don't know what happens to them when they truly die.)
- In 4th Edition, resurrection is handled as the person in question having an "unfinished destiny" and being able to come back. Thus, if the Game Master deems an NPC's death as "important to the plot", then he won't be able to be brought back. PCs can always be brought back by resurrection spells, though(unless the GM is a dick).
- In GURPS this occurs when the body is completely destroyed; for a normal (HP 10) person this requires taking 110 points of damage. Any other sort of death can be fixed by sufficiently powerful magic while only a god can fix that much destruction.
- In Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem, vampires have two stages of death: Torpor, basically a lengthy but recuperative hibernation (up to centuries, in a few cases), and Final Death, which can only be caused by what the game terms "Aggravated Damage". This means the type of damage that a vampire cannot automatically heal: sunlight, fire, magic, another supernatural creature, decapitation, or completely destroying the body.
- You get three tries to bring someone back with the only resurrection spell in Rifts. It's very high-level. If you fail all three times (you have a 45% chance to succeed), one other mage may make three attempts. If the other mage fails thrice, the dead person is gone.
- In Eclipse Phase characters get cortical stacks and off-site backups, allowing players to keep playing the same character even if they get vaporized. However it is possible for a persistent enough enemy to steal or destroy the stack, and delete all backups. In addition, if a character is infected with a strain of the Exsurgent virus that stays dormant long enough their backups may be overwritten with infected versions.
- In Paranoia, the Computer creates clone backups of all citizens, but you only get six. Or you may be able to buy more, but your credit limit only stretches so far (especially after cleaning up genetic drift). Or the Computer may discover that you have Machine Empathy and immediately wipe your template.
- Captain SNES: The Game Masta: Normally, characters don't die, and if they do, it's a plot-related death, which can be reversed. There are two cases of potential "true" death however.
- Firstly, the main character is not a video game character. He has the power to make use of save points and such to avoid death, but if, for example, he travels to a new video game world and dies before saving again, he will not revert to the last save, and die.
- Second, the main villain of the comic uses an energy foreign to Videoland called "Omega Energy", which is capable of ignoring the usual rules and killing someone outright. It's all but stated to come from the real world, via Kevin Keene.
- In Homestuck, each of the kids/trolls/ alpha kids has a "dream self" that acts as a second life if they are killed and serve as a way to ascend to God Tier later down the line. If these dream selves are killed, than characters will STILL appear as ghosts wandering through physical memory bubbles deep in the furthest reaches of space. But should these ghosts be caught in Lord English's blasts, which have the power to shatter reality itself, then they are irrevocably dead. Game over, indeed.
- The form without an option even to restart the entire campaign, seen in You Only Live Once or Sub Mission above, is parodied in a Cracked Photoplasty. It's called the #22 terrible idea that would have ruined Super Mario Bros..
- Sarena from La Mouette Noire was already deceased at the start of the series, despite the series being based on a (fictional) video game, and that she had many Video Game Lives.
- TV example, sort of: Captain N: The Game Master could survive death in the video game world a few times, but if his "extra lives" ran out, he'd "go to the big game-over in the sky" (Also a Never Say "Die").
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Avatar spirit itself would suffer this if the current incarnation of the Avatar is ever killed while in the Avatar state. Otherwise it would just reincarnate into the next part of the cycle after his/her death.
- Xandir being a pastiche of videogame heroes, has Videogame Lives. When he was suicidal he killed himself 98 times. Building up to this trope with #99. He was talked out of it.
- On Code Lyoko, "dying" on Lyoko usually just meant being forced back to the real world (as the virtualization process transformed the heroes' bodies into computer avatars) but there were exceptions. Aelita was the biggest exception; she had no human body until season two, and until season three (her body in season two was virtual; in the season finale she regained her real one), she was at risk of ceasing to exist if her life points ever fell to zero, forcing the other heroes to act as a Hero Secret Service for her much of the time. Also, XANA would frequently try to block off their means off access to the devirtualization process, hoping to trap them so that dying on Lyoko would mean actual death. (Fortunately, he never succeeded.) There was also the matter of falling into the Digital Sea, basically a representation of raw network data. Falling bodily into it was assumed to result in the virtual avatar being scrambled beyond recovery (there was one time when three of them were about to fall in, so they all DV'd each other to prevent it). When they developed a way to traverse this sea in order to locate XANA's replica worlds, the craft served as a link back to the Supercomputer. DV'd characters were held within, so the craft had to be protected to prevent a Final Death.
- The characters in Aqua Teen Hunger Force die multiple times, but always come back thanks to a mix of Snap Backs and Negative Continuity. In the Grand Finale, however, both Frylock and Shake die, and their deaths stick. The final few minutes of the episode are a Distant Finale showing what happened to Meatwad after the deaths of his friends.