Kill One, Others Get Stronger

A group of characters, usually antagonists, who seem to have a shared pool of personal power, distributed among all living members. If one of them is killed, the others become proportionately stronger, making the last of them the most powerful of all, regardless who it ends up being. Provides a natural enemy challenge escalation for the protagonists. This is one way to make a Dual Boss or Wolfpack Boss turn red.

Not to be confused with Victor Gains Loser's Powers (where the victim's power goes only to his killer) or Unstoppable Rage triggered by the death of a comrade (this trope is about quantifiable increase of power, not psychological effect). Awareness of this trope can lead to a There Can Be Only One motivation. Compare Conservation of Ninjutsu for when smaller numbers inherently equal more competence and Level Scaling for when a character becomes stronger but his foes grow stronger with him.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The magi of Nasuverse operate under this principle. Any magi using the same mysteries draw upon a predetermined pool of power. Therefore, the more practitioners of a certain mystery there are, the lesser each individual's power is. Naturally results in hoarding knowledge of one's particular branch of thaumaturgy, the most typical example being Single Line of Descent.

    Comic Books 
  • in Rising Stars, this is eventually discovered to be true of the Specials and is why they're being murdered. After enough die, all but one gain Flying Brick powers.
  • In Avengers vs. X-Men, each time one of the Phoenix Five is defeated, their portion of the Phoenix Force is divided between the others. Namor, then Colossus and Magik, then Emma Frost go down. Finally Cyclops is left as Dark Phoenix.

  • In The One, life energy is distributed equally among all versions of the same person across 125 parallel universes. Normal deaths don't change anything, but if one person is directly killed by his alternate universe self, all the remaining selves become stronger and faster. The antagonist discovered this and has been killing the others for their power. The theory goes that anyone who can kill all of his alternate selves becomes a god, but it has never actually happened (and being superhumanly strong and fast is bad enough).
    • At one point a dimensional enforcer considers killing the protagonist to prevent the antagonist from getting any stronger, but he decides that it isn't moral and instead enlists him to help capture the antagonist.
    • The now-defunct website explains that Yulaw is not the first example of someone trying to do this. Yulaw himself got the idea from a criminal who has been doing this for some time. Another criminal is a female assassin who does this for her boss, meaning it doesn't have to involve a double being killed by his or her counterpart.


    Tabletop Games 
  • A Dungeons & Dragons version of the Prydain Chronicles Huntsmen of Annuvin appeared in Dragon magazine #40. Each time one of them was killed, his original Hit Points are divided among all of the surviving Huntsmen, making them more difficult to kill.
  • In White Wolf's Scarred Lands campaign setting for 3rd Editon D&D, there is a type of demonic outsider called the Feral. It always appears in groups of eight, and every time on of them is slain, the other Ferals gain an extra Hit Die (giving them better attacks, hit points, saving throws, etc.).
  • A borderline example in the Deadlands setting Lost Colony. You can fight the four Big Bad demons but each time you kill one, a fifth demon will absorb the power of the killed (unless you thwart his plans first) and become stronger until he absorbs all their powers combined.
  • The eldest generation of Treemen in Warhammer exhibit this phenomenon. As manifestations of the power of the Forest of Athel Loren, when one of these Eldest of Ancients dies, its powers migrate to its surviving kin. Since the death of Ancient Adanhu centuries ago, the last two remaining Ancients are the noble but scarred Durthu and the corrupt, malign Coeddil. A confrontation between them seems inevitable.
  • Menoth's Knights Exemplar in WARMACHINE have the "Bond of Brotherhood" rule which causes the remaining members of the unit to grow stronger for each other that has died.

    Video Games 
  • In the 2008 Prince of Persia, the remaining Corrupted bosses grow stronger with each Corrupted the Prince and Elika defeat for good.
  • In Space Invaders, the more enemies you shoot, the faster the survivors become.
    • By extension, this applies to any game where the sheer number of enemies lags the system enough to slow all the enemies down. As you kill them, the game stops lagging, making the remaining enemies faster (up to a point).
  • Happens in Clive Barker's Undying to the Covenant brothers, according to Word of God. Bethany, the last to be killed, certainly had created a good army of creatures prior to her death.
  • In Dungeon Crawl, you might run into elven twins, Dowan the mage and Duvessa the fighter. While killing Dowan first merely results in Duvessa's berserking (a non-permanent bonus to speed and strength), killing Duvessa first makes Dowan's spellpool instantly expand to include devastating new spells for no apparent reason.
  • The Godbeasts in Seiken Densetsu 3 can be fought in any order (with the exception of one which is always fought last), but each time one is killed, the others and the monsters living in their lairs grow in power by a few levels. The fairy Hand Waves this by claiming that the Godbeasts are just growing more powerful with the passage of time, despite Take Your Time clearly being in effect for the whole of the game.
  • Certain mobs in Star Wars: The Old Republic have an ability to grant a (semi-permanent) powerup-status to nearby allies when they are defeated, which is described as this trope—basically, they're so heroic that seeing them fall just makes their allies fight even harder. Large groups of them, while rare, can be quite hazardous...
    • This also applies to several boss fights against multiple enemies; when one of them falls, the others start hitting harder to compensate. Sometimes the surviving boss will be capable of doing more damage by themselves than the entire group did when they were all still alive.
  • In Phantom Brave and Makai Kingdom, whenever an enemy unit is tossed out of bounds, any surviving enemies get an increase in level.
  • In Mega Man (Classic) arcade games The Power Battle and The Power Fighters, the first few boss fights have the enemies start relatively weak, but by the last Robot Master, you'll be facing a boss with a full health bar.
  • World of Warcraft features a raid boss battle against a group of three enemy generals known as the Assembly of Iron; as each one falls, they unleash a unique power called Supercharge which increases the damage that the survivors do by 25%. When only one remains, they receive a nasty new ability. Raids must choose the order careful, lest they find themselves swiftly overwhelmed by the power the last one standing possesses. Killing the strongest boss last nets the raid higher-level items.
    • Used three times in the Mists of Pandaria expansion. The Protectors of the Endless function similar to the Assembly, complete with better drops for killing the strongest boss last. The boss Horridon will enrage if the raid kills his companion mini-boss first and vastly increase the damage done to the tanks (If you defeat Horridon first, however, Jalak disappears, and you win). Additionally, in the Paragons of the Klaxxi boss encounter, every time you kill one of the three enemies out at a time, the other two receive a stack of a damage-increasing buff.
    • Some trash mobs have this principle. The trash mobs before Atramedes, the spirits of several Dark Iron dwarf rulers, attack in groups of four, each having a specific ability that they give to the survivors upon dying. The trash before Norushen consists of small Sha mobs that buff the ones nearby when they're killed; it's best to use AOE attacks to reduce their health together, then finish them off quickly as they get buffed. On a more minor case, the Boneweavers before Rattlegore in the updated Scholomance can summon skeletons quickly as you kill each Boneweaver.
  • City of Heroes features the Vengeance power, which provides a powerful and relatively long-lasting team wide buff when cast on a defeated ally. The version of it used by Lieutenant-level members of the Nemesis faction might be a better fit for the trope, however - they are able to unleash the power as they are defeated, described in game as the loss of a good leader enraging the team.
  • Supervillain Red Sun in Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich has the ability to exist in several bodies at once. When you defeat one, not only do the rest become stronger but also heal.
  • In Heiankyo Alien, when there's only one alien left, it moves faster.
  • In Heroes of Might and Magic 5, some creatures have the rage ability: they gain a attack bonus whenever an allied stack of friendly units is destroyed.
  • In Devil May Cry 3's higher difficulties enemies will Devil Trigger, giving them a dramatic boost in health and stun-resistence, when another enemy dies. This necessitates some tactical fighting to reduce the number that do it at a time and weakening them before they do.
  • The "Avenger" ability that some Elite Mooks can have in Diablo III is basically this.
  • In Super Mario Bros. 2, there's Fryguy. Hit him enough, and he splits into four mini-Fryguys. With each mini-Fryguy you destroy, the others get a bit faster. When you're down to just one...
    • In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, during his boss battle Big Massif is surrounded by his fans. If his fans get hurt, this will piss him off and boost his attack. If you defeat too many fans with one attack, he will get enraged and boost his attack even further. However, he can summon more fans as a free action, and if you don't start defeating them, he'll do a large crowdsurf attack that'll also deal significant damage.
      • This can actually lead to a case of Hoist by His Own Petard, however, as countering some of his attacks after he's powered up will cause him to take more damage (Especially in the case of the mentioned one).
  • In Dark Souls, killing either Ornstein or Smough will cause the remaining one to absorb the fallen one's soul, gaining their power in the process. In Smough's case, he gains Ornstein's lightning attacks, while Ornstein gets bigger and stronger.
  • This is how the 3 mini-bosses in the Getsu Fuuma Den level in Castlevania: Harmony of Despair work: when you kill one of them, the others gain additional attacks, which is signified by the dead miniboss' soul floating next to the alive one(s). You also need to kill all 3 to open the door to the actual boss' room, who summons the spirits of all 3 minibosses to attack you in his final form.
  • Digital Devil Saga has Cerebrus, who has three individually-targetable heads. Nothing special happens if either the left or right head is saved for last, but if the center head is the last one remaining, Cerebrus will start spamming Psycho Rage to gain four half-turns at a time and ensure a quick death for the party with his other attacks.
  • The final battle of Shaundi's Loyalty Mission in Saints Row IV works this way: Your group is surrounded by a mob of initially weak enemies, but the more of them you kill, the stronger the remaining ones get—up to and including having deflector shields and superpowers.

    Western Animation 
  • Once-off villain group of demons in Conan The Adventurer are the "Serpent Riders of Set", essentially a lizardman version of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They start out as monstrous-looking serpent-men on giant lizards, but when one is killed, it turns into mists that the others absorb, making them mutate into even stronger versions. When only one is left, he can No Sell starmetal attacks — it takes about five people striking with them all at the same time to banish him back into his pit.