"Listen well, because this is very important. There are two villages in the northwest of Altea. The westerly village is home to a paladin named Arran... while the easterly village is home to a hero named Samson. They’re both fine men and fine warriors, but their villages have been feudin’ for years. You should probably resign yourself to the fact that you’ll only get one of them to join your ranks. Give it some thought: the paladin to the west, or the hero to the east?"Many games, especially Role-Playing Games, allow you to recruit characters that have little or no bearing on the plot. For some games, you can recruit all of these characters if you want. However, in some games it is not possible to have all playable characters on your team. Maybe recruiting Eve the Elf prevents Dave the Dwarf from joining, or maybe asking that cute cleric to join your cause makes that badass sorcerer leave the party. It could even just be that the heroic knight is found on a different path than the cool pirate chick. Whatever the reason, the game forbids certain characters from being in the party at the same time, requiring you to boot one out in order to get the other or know ahead of time which of the two you want. Sometimes the exclusivity is limited to a single playthrough, and it is possible to use a New Game+ to go back and acquire the other character (ultimately having both). Other times, the game will never allow the two to be together without the use of a cheating device. If the chosen party member then goes on to play a specific role in the plot, regardless of who it is, this trope overlaps with Static Role, Exchangeable Character. Do note that this trope does not apply if you can't recruit a character because the party has a limit on how many members you can have: that trope is Arbitrary Headcount Limit.
— Villager, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon
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- In Soul Calibur 3's Chronicles of the Sword mode, there are 2 sets of 2 party members that will join you after defeat at the end of the level, with the first one of the pair that is defeated joining the party. One interesting effect of this is that when a character joins, you unlock their customization items, requiring the mode be beaten at least twice to get all the items.
- In the Super Smash Bros. Brawl story mode, one of the first battles has Kirby decide whether to rescue Zelda or Peach from a giant Piranha Plant. The saved character travels with you for the next couple of matches, but eventually, the two story paths merge.
Action Adventure Game
- In Hyrule Warriors, Zelda and Sheik will never be in a mission at the same time. Justified, of course, since Zelda is Sheik.
- Saints Row: The Third, gives the player the option to either destroy a zombie virus under the orders of Mayor Burt Reynolds to prevent a zombie outbreak from spreading, at which point he will be able to be called in as an ally, or return the zombie virus so that you can call them in instead. It's that kind of game.
- In Telltale Games The Walking Dead the Story Branching makes you make a choice in episode one between saving the life of Non-Action Guy robotics nerd Doug, or Action Girl Intrepid Reporter Carley, and who you save is who accompanies you for the rest of the chapters they recur in. Most players went with Carley, though it helps that she has a gun.
- In Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, when the path forks for a second time, you have the choice of taking the top route (which leads to Sypha Belnades) or the bottom one (which leads to Alucard); they can't meet each other. Furthermore, if you recruited Grant DaNasty during the first fork, you will have to choose between keeping him or taking Sypha/Alucard in his place.
- In Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition, the Leader and Helper slots in the party work differently than in other PAD games and only specific characters can be assigned to them. Mario and Luigi (and later, Peach and Rosalina) are Leader characters that can be assigned to either slot, but you can't use two versions of the same character in both (for example, if Fire Mario is your Leader then you can't use Cat Mario as your Helper). Toads, Yoshis, and Bowser are Helpers and can only be used in the Helper slot, and so using one excludes all the others.
Role Playing Game
- In Aveyond 2, you cannot recruit both Nicolas and Gavin.
- Unless you use the Party Goodie, in which case a spell will allow them to work together.
- Chrono Cross, with its Loads and Loads of Characters, has a few examples. Early in the game there are three ways to sneak into Viper Manor, each of which nets you a different party member. Immediately afterwards, you can acquire one of two groups of party members depending on whether you choose to save Kid or not. It's only possible to get everyone on the team at once with multiple playthroughs.
- Dragon Age:
- In Dragon Age: Origins, Alistair will leave your party if you spare and recruit Teyrn Loghain.
- Siblings Bethany and Carver are mutually exclusive at the beginning of Dragon Age II, and one will be shot down by Schrödinger's Gun; if Hawke is a mage, Bethany dies. Otherwise, Carver dies. At the end, Anders and Sebastian become mutually exclusive. If you refuse to kill Anders, Sebastian will not only leave the party, but promise to raise an army against Kirkwall.
- Late in Act I of Dragon Age: Inquisition, you will only be able to have either Dorian or Cole in your party. Whichever party member is available depends on whether you go after the mages or templars respectively. This changes after the attack on Haven, as the party member that wasn't picked will join you after Act I is over.
- Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords:
- PC gender determines availability of the Handmaiden or the Disciple. The former is available only to male PCs, the latter only to female ones.
- Though in Star Wars canon the (female) Exile recruits both - which irritatingly makes it impossible to do a canon playthrough of the game.
- Light/Dark side meter selects between Mira (light) or Hanharr (dark). If the player is precisely neutral, Mira will still join.
- PC gender determines availability of the Handmaiden or the Disciple. The former is available only to male PCs, the latter only to female ones.
- Mass Effect:
- Mass Effect goes for the Player Punch by making you choose between Ashley and Kaidan, your two human squad-mates, on Virmire. "Virmire Survivor" has become an accepted fan term for whoever you pick, as they have similar routes in the rest of the series - chewing you out for working with Cerberus in the second game, then becoming the second human Spectre and (potentially) rejoining you in the third.
- The game also inverts this towards the beginning during the Fist quest. You need to recruit Garrus or Wrex in order to find Fist, although you can easily recruit both before confronting him. When you leave the Citadel, if you do not have both characters, the one you don't have will confront you and ask to join your squad. You can decline them, but it is only possible to decline one or the other - not both.
- In Mass Effect 2, during Samara's loyalty mission, if you have a high enough Paragon or Renegade score, you can choose to recruit Samara's daughter Morinth, who will functionally serve the same role. However, whichever character you don't choose will end up dead by the end of the mission.
- Mass Effect 3 contains a minor example in that you can decide between Drs. Karin Chakwas and Chloe Michel to serve as the Normandy's medical officer. It's purely a case of personal preference in this instance, as neither character has any exclusive missions.
- In Jade Empire, you are forced to kill either Chai Ka or Ya Zhen early in Chapter 4.
- For the penultimate boss battle in Neverwinter Nights 2, Sand or Qara will join the enemy, depending on how high your influence is with the former. If the former stays with you, the latter will not due to their mutual antagonism.
- In Mask of the Betrayer, One Of Many can only be created by using Okku's dead body.
- The Pokémon series is replete with this trope when it comes to its Mons. Breeding and trading with other players notwithstanding:
- There are three elementally-themed starter Pokemon, which you get to pick just one to start your party from.
- There is usually a pair of fossils, and you can choose only one to revive into a Pokemon. This is subverted in Emerald Version, where choosing one of the two fossils will cause the Mirage Tower that contains them to sink into the sand with the other, seemingly gone forever. However, after the Elite Four is beaten, one can travel through the Desert Underpass in which the other fossil can be found.
- In the first generation (before the introduction of breeding) you could pick either a Hitmonchan or Hitmonlee by defeating the master of Saffron City's fighting dojo. You also received one Eevee which could evolve into only one of three final forms.
- In Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, Kyurem can merge with either Zekrom of Reshiram into either Black Kyurem or White Kyurem using the DNA Splicers. However, even if you have more than one Kyurem in your party, you won't be able to have both Black Kyurem and White Kyurem in your party because the DNA Splicers will reject the second fusion.
- In Pokémon X and Y, the Mega-Charizard and Mega-Mewtwo form you can get, as well as several other Mega-Evolution stones, are unique to one of the two versions, with only 1 of each type of stone present per game.
- In Quest For Glory V: Dragonfire, you can bring back Erana or Katrina from the dead. Both are Arch-mages. Erana sacrificed her life to save the world. Katrina was a villain, or at best a Well-Intentioned Extremist running on Blue and Orange Morality and bad advice... On the other hand, she sacrificed her life to save you. It also blends into Gameplay and Story Segregation; Word of God is that canonically, the Hero was so bad ass he was able to rescue both.
- In Radiata Stories, which party members you get depends on whether you side with the humans or the nonhumans. However that choice doesn't occur until halfway through the game. Before that, you can recruit humans and nonhumans alike, though there are many on both sides that remain unrecruitable until after the split, and the allies you recruited of the opposite faction are no longer usable.
- Downplayed in Septerra Core, where you can recruit all the possible characters, but if you try to put Selina & Corgan or Led & Lobo in the same party, they'll occasionally shoot at each other instead of the enemy. However you can do a sidequest to befriend them.
- In Tales of Symphonia, there is precisely one dungeon during which you can use both Kratos and Zelos at the same time, after which Kratos leaves (again). Later on, there is a way to have Kratos join your team for good, but Zelos will leave the party before Kratos joins.
- Prevalent in the Baldur's Gate games. Characters of wildly disparate alignments will sometimes snipe and argue through dialogue at certain points, growing more and more hostile until you're forced to choose which one to keep aboard. Fail to make a choice and combat will break out until one or the other is dead. Fortunately, it's fairly easy to figure out which party members will have this reaction, and you'll often have the option of refusing someone into the party if someone on your team objects.
- In Ultima IV, who can or can't join you depends on the class you chose at the start of the game, e.g. if you are a mage, then Mariah the Mage can't join your eight-person gang because it can't have two mages. Essentially, the Avatar is mutually exclusive with the potential party member of the same class.
- In Romancing SaGa, you can't have Albert and Diana at the same time. The two of them are constantly looking for each other, having been seperated during the fall of Isthmus Keep, and short of exploiting a glitch with a very specific set of steps, it's impossible to reunite them in your party.
- Playing Jamil's scenario makes it impossible to recruit Farah. She's allowed to be in the same party as Jamil as long as somebody else is the main character; the reason she's barred from joining in his story is because her choosing to wait for him is a critical part of his ending.
- One unique case that's only accessible after a few playthroughs is Darque and Aldora. In this case, it's Justified as they're two souls sharing a body, and the only way to recruit Aldora is to help along her Split-Personality Takeover.
- In every scenario of SaGa Frontier, most party members can be recruited via the same specific methods, I.E you can recruit the human Emilia by completing the Rune quest. There are a few exceptions, but they are far and few in between, I.E Mystics that you need to perform sidequests for in some scenarios are automatically recruited in Asellus'. The exceptions are player characters Red/Alkaiser and Blue: they are only playable when you choose their stories, and cannot be recruited in others. There's no real reason why Red is left out, but Blue becomes justified since he's presented to be the "evil" sibling between him and his brother Rouge. In fact, a point of contrast is that Rouge can be recruited in almost all of the other scenarios, whereas in Red's scenario, you can run into Blue and he'll refuse to join you solely because of Red's name.
- In a series which is famous for encouraging you to recruit everyone you can, Suikoden II comes with a few examples. The first is when you are asked to choose between Valeria and Kasumi, both of whom are returning characters from the first game who the player would probably love to have on their side for continuity's sake. Not to mention that they both have storyline connections to other characters you'll recruit (the other two ninja for Kasuminote , Anita for Valeria), making it particularly annoying that you can't have both. Official artbooks and the Suikogaiden Visual Novels indicate that both of them did join the Allied Army, despite this being impossible in the actual game. The second comes when you are given two Listening Crystals. These allow you to recruit monsters. You only get the two, and there's four choices of monsters, one of whom isn't even a Star of Destiny.
- Just after the halfway point of Suikoden V, you can access a rather difficult bonus dungeon that upon completion nets you the very Mysterious Waif Eresh. If you do not recruit her, then at the very end of the game, you can recruit Euram Barrows to occupy that position in the 108 Stars of Destiny. Eresh has no plot relevance, while recruiting Euram is necessary to complete his character arc...but Eresh is much more useful and it's impossible to fully explore the bonus dungeon if you recruit Euram.
- A somewhat unusual example in Legend of Mana: If you complete the Matilda/Irwin arc, you reach a point where you must fight either Daena or Escad with the help of the other. Though you can bring either one along with you for most of the arc up to that point and switch freely, the one you fight is Killed Off for Real and is lost for the rest of the game (in fact, it's possible for both characters to be gone, but it will always be at least one of the two).
- In Final Fantasy VIII, it is impossible to have both Odin and Gilgamesh as summonable Guardian Forces. If you get Odin before the end of disc 3, he is replaced by Gilgamesh during the battle against Seifer. If you wait until disc 4 to get Odin, Gilgamesh is lost. Gilgamesh is arguably more useful since he can cause damage even to enemies that are immune to instant death, but he's unreliable since you have no control over which of his 4 swords he'll use...one of them being a Joke Weapon that does only 1 HP worth of damage.
- Xenoblade Chronicles X:
- Played with in regards to Phog and Frye Christoph: they are brothers who are opposites in every way and had a major falling-out over a past tragedy. You recruit Phog first, but Frye's recruitment mission requires Phog to be recruited but not in your active party. Afterwards, both of them will refuse to join your party if the other is present. Until they resolve their differences in the "Blitzkreig" mission (unlocked after raising your Relationship Values with both of them to a certain level), you can't have both in your party at the same time.
- Downplayed in regards to Lao and Celica and Mia. You can't recruit the latter two before the point where Lao becomes lost, but none of those characters have any animosity towards each other.
- In Tales of the Abyss, Guest-Star Party Member Asch is only playable at times when Luke is not. This is even enforced by Luke on one sidequest, since they're functionally almost identical, and the party doesn't need two people who fight with their style.
- There are several examples throughout the Star Ocean series.
- Star Ocean:
- If you choose Cyuss, you can't recruit Ashlay, and vice versa. In the remake, recruiting Cyuss also means you can't recruit Erys.
- Recruiting either Cyuss or Ashlay means that Phia is not recruitable in the early game outside of serving as a Guest-Star Party Member, though you can still get her later permanently if you have six or less characters.
- In the remake, if you recruit Erys, you will lose Mavelle. Justified, as Mavelle is Erys, just in another body. She'll reclaim her original body if you recruit her.
- Star Ocean: The Second Story:
- Ashton and Opera are mutually exclusive, with Opera requiring the player to trigger a couple of easily missed Event Flags. Both have quests hinging on a particular dungeon; however, visiting this dungeon is required as part of her recruitment, while for Ashton it's merely a Side Quest. In addition, Opera is required for recruiting Ernst, making him also incapable of traveling in a party with Ashton.
- While Precis is easily picked up once you reach her hometown, Bowman will not offer to join if she's in the party.
- Leon and Dias are also mutually exclusive, though not because they cancel each other out; Dias will only offer to join if Rena is the main character, while Leon remains a Guest-Star Party Member unless Claude is the main character.
- In Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, there are ten total playable characters, six of which are required. While you do get to use all ten at some point, you can only choose two of the four non-required party members (Nel, Roger, Pepita, and Albel) to permanently join you later.
- In Star Ocean: The Last Hope, Arumat joins the party to replace Faize. In a New Game+, you can keep the old party member in your battle party instead of replacing them...but Arumat will still be in their place in cutscenes to keep the main plot consistent.
- Star Ocean:
- In Etrian Odyssey III, roughly halfway through the game you're forced to choose one of the two endgame paths, influencing (among other things) which of the game's two unlockable classes you earn after defeating the next boss. If you sided with Armoroad, you unlock the Shogun, while if you sided with the Deep City, you unlock the Yggdroid. Fortunately, they stay unlocked on a New Game+, which means you can ultimately have both classes in the same party.
- In Soul Hackers, summoning demons into your party shifts the total party alignment, limiting what other demons you can add. So if you have two Chaotic demons out, you won't be able to summon a Lawful one. The DS Updated Re-release comes with an option to turn this off.
- Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura has two pairs of functionally similar but opposite-aligned characters (Smythe vs. Geoffrey and Raven vs. Z'an) who won't stand each other unless you have maxed out Charisma and master training in Persuasion. Magnus will object to recruiting the undead Torian Kel due to a previous incident.
- In Mount & Blade, the player can pick up various unique and named companions in addition to generic soldiers. These companions each have two other possible companions that they can't stand, and (at least in Warband) the feeling is always mutual. Recruiting two characters who hate each other will cause both of their Morale to steadily drop, and recruiting a companion and both of their enemies causes their Morale to drain rapidly; in either case, eventually someone (potentially everyone involved) is gonna leave the party. They can be picked back up again after a little time has passed, but doing so without removing their enemies from your team means the Morale issues will continue.
- Darkest Dungeon has the Abomination, a class with a werewolf-esque Superpowered Evil Side that "Religious" classes (the Vestal, the Leper, the Flagellant and the Crusader) refuse to party with. Flagellants additionally refuse to party with other Flagellants, saying "the burden of suffering cannot be shared".
- Torment: Tides of Numenera has your starting companions, Aligern and Callistege. They had just gone through a bad break up and by the time you leave the initial area, will get into an argument and refuse to be in the same party together.
- Persona 2: Eternal Punishment: When rumors start to become reality, the protagonists decide to spread a rumor that someone is investigating The Conspiracy in an attempt to gain a new ally. The player must choose whether the rumor states that the investigator is a man or a woman, which respectively leads to Kei Nanjo or Eriko Kirishima joining the team.
- Due to the way party creation is handled in both The Spirit Engine and The Spirit Engine 2, every party member is mutually exclusive with two others. Each group of three has similar personalities and fulfills similar roles in the story to each other (for example, in 2 Ionae, Mericious and Kaltos all function as the Token Evil Teammate), and thus having more than one of each in the party would be redundant. Notably, while the game stops you from choosing people with similar personalities, it doesn't stop you from picking people with identical classes; so while a party of Ionae, Mericious and Kaltos couldn't happen, a party of Ionae, Charlotte and Grace is perfectly doable, if lacking in flexibility.
- Taken to the extreme in Marvel: Avengers Alliance - you can take two characters with you on each mission. The only exception is Doctor Doom with whom every single other character, including other villains refuses to work.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the first two potential companions you encounter, elf archer Faendal and Nord bard Sven, are mutually exclusive, as the sidequest that involves recruiting one of them will cause the other one to hate your guts for the rest of the game. Generally speaking, both are lower-tier companions, though Faendal's stats and skills are generally better than Sven's.
- In Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria, there are multiple possible Einherjar for most such weapons you find; you get only one of them, so you'll never have, say, Phyress and Ehrde (both archers from the same bow) in the party at the same time.
Turn Based Strategy
- The Fire Emblem series does this from time to time.
- In Chapter 13 of Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, there are two villages that are right next to each other. One contains Samson, a fairly powerful Hero, while another contains Arran, a Crutch Character Paladin. If Marth is sent down to those villages and enters one, he can recruit one of them. However, doing so causes the other village to close its gates, preventing him from getting the other character.
- Halfway through Chapter 3 in Fire Emblem Gaiden and its remake, Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia there are two bosses, Sonya and Deen, that each control their own armies and both block different routes to another boss, Grieth. After fighting and killing one of the bosses, the other will retreat and can be recruited later, after the group defeats Grieth.
- In Chapter 6 of Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, the player can recruit either Iuchar or Iucharba, but doing so enrages the other one and makes them unable to be recruited.
- There's also something of a long-term case in regards to the children characters and their replacements; in the first generation of the game, you could pair up certain characters and have them marry. If this is done, the second generation would consist of children of the characters from the first generation, barring certain exceptions. If this isn't done, the player instead get a set of "replacement characters" who for the most part were unrelated to characters from the first generation. While it is possible to have some sets be children and others be replacements, it is obviously impossible to have the replacements meet the children they're replacing (even though the replacements exist even if they're not in the party; two of them are even the cousins of two "main" children). Most of the replacements are inferior to the children in terms of stats, usable items, and skills, so it isn't much of an issue.
- In Fire Emblem: Thracia 776, recruiting Ilios requires you to not have recruited Olwen a few chapters before, and recruiting Ced causes Saias to leave the party. The branching paths in the story also determine which of two sets of party members can be recruited: Sleuf, Misha and Amalda in the A route, or Shannam, Princess Miranda and Connomool in the B route
- Branching paths make it impossible to recruit Bartre and Echidna in the same playthrough of Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, and a second branching path will prevent the player from getting either Juno or Dayan.
- One can't re-recruit Wallace in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade without giving up the opportunity to get Geitz. Similarly, certain actions you take in the chapter "Pale Flower of Darkness" determine whether Harken or Karel will appear. Once you beat the game, you can play it again from Hector's perspective, and not only does he have several new maps exclusive to his mode (with one side map being exclusive to his version of the game's Hard Mode to boot), but he also has two units (Farina and Karla) that you cannot get on Eliwood's version of the game.
- In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, there is a Duel Boss against the Black Knight. If the player fails to win but survive for five turns, Ena joins the party. If the boss is defeated, Ena's grandfather Nasir joins instead. Then, during the final level, you are given the option to recruit one of three powerful new characters. After one is chosen, the other two are unavailable for the rest of the game.
- In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn there are three herons. A heron can give multiple units an Extra Turn, so if the player had two of them together, they could give each other extra turns perpetually while also giving other units the ability to attack again. Instead of an Obvious Rule Patch not allowing Herons to get an extra turn this way, they're made to follow this trope.
- In Shadow Dragon, doing the sidequest to recruit Nagi both requires Tiki to have died earlier in the game and also prevents Gotoh from joining the party. (While the Aum Staff can bring Tiki Back from the Dead, it's impossible to recruit Gotoh no matter what). Due to being a remake of the first game (and thus the first book of the third), the Arran and Samson example from above returns (albeit in a later chapter).
- Shadow Dragon has several other examples, in that the players can only access certain sidequests by having a maximum of 15 living units at the time. This is doable if one spares only the characters you use most frequently, but many players have issues with letting even one of their party die.
- Fire Emblem Fates takes this Up to 11 through splitting the game into three routes. On the first two routes characters unique to each kingdom (e.g. Ryoma for Hoshido or Xander for Nohr) are the only ones recruitable, with the characters not chosen becoming characters the group has to fight at some point in the campaign. The third route allows the recruitment of most of these characters, but exceptions still remain: Yukimura is only available on the Birthright route while the Nohrian characters are only on the other two routes, Scarlet is primarily exclusive to Birthright and suffers an unavoidable Plotline Death before Flora and Fuga can join in Revelation, and Izana is available only on Birthright and Conquest while Fuga is exclusive to Revelation.
- Jagged Alliance: Some mercs will refuse to work with others, either turning down your offer on the ground that you have their personal enemy or leaving the party. Though this feeling is not always mutual, so hiring people in right order you can sometimes hire both of them.
- In the first game, failing to listen to the complaints of your mercs can have terrible consequences: Fidel does not like working with Hurl, for example, and failing to fire one or the other will result in Hurl disappearing in the middle of the night (the implication is that Fidel killed him), and you'll lose all Hurl's equipment.
- In the second game, if you manage to hire two mercs that do not like each other, they will (grudgingly) work together for the duration of their contracts. However, when the option to renew their contracts comes up, both of them will refuse to extend their contracts, meaning you'll lose two mercs instead of just one.
- In Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. A 3 character party has a caveat on what characters can be on the team which are: 1. Mario must be on team and 2. At least 1 Rabbid must be on the team. This makes Luigi, Peach and Yoshi mutually exclusive on 3 character teams.
- In Shining Force II, when you go to Creed's Mansion, you are given a choice between four characters: Karna, Tyrin, Randalf, and Eric. After you pick one, the other three become unavailable to you. Subverted, in that later in the game, it's possible to recruit the characters you missed.
- In Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis, the player can, at a certain point in the game, decide between two paths. On one path you recruit Shiven and Cybil, while the second path has you recruit Orson and Rictor. Then, later in the game on both paths, you are given the option to recruit either an Angel Knight or a Lesser Daemon, which locks the other from you, but if one of them dies or be turned into Infinity +1 Sword you can still do the event of getting another (only if you didn't complete Lesser Daemon event with alive Angel in your party).
- In the original Tactics Ogre, the path you take will determine which party member you will get:
- Choosing the Law route will let you re-recruit Vyce, and also gives you the option to recruit Xapan, Jeunan and Ocionne the Dragon Tamer. The PSP remake also includes Ravness and Ozma as your exclusive characters in your party.
- Choosing the Chaos route will let you recruit Arycelle the Archer (although in the PSP remake she can be recruited in the Law route), Folcurt, Bayin and allows you to complete the Four Phoraena Sisters roster as it lets you recruit Cistina and Cerya.
- Stay in the Chaos route and in the original version, you get to keep Arycelle, and in the PSP version you can recruit Cressida.
- Move to the Neutral route and you can recruit Oelias and Dievold. However, Gildas, who's available in every other route, is unavailable here, while in the original version, Arycelle leaves your team.
- In the original Tactics Ogre, the path you take will determine which party member you will get:
- In Odium, if you go into an optional side-area to recruit Slavsky, one of your teammates, Medusa, goes insane first and must be killed. Technically, that's also Arbitrary Headcount Limit in play, since having both Medusa and Slavsky would exceed your limit of 5 members.
- In Yggdra Union, you recruit either Roswell or Rosary after killing one of them. The survivor joins your army.
- Being a large series, Super Robot Wars has quite a few of these, dating all the way back to Super Robot Wars 3.
- In Shin Super Robot Wars (during Scenario 28 of the Earth Route) Domon Kasshu wants to settle the score with Allenby in a Gundam Fight, but Rain doesn't really buy it and storms off. Domon can then choose to go to fight Allenby or to go after Rain. If you choose the former, you have done a step to get Allenby and her Nobel Gundam, but if you do the latter you can get a chance at Rain in the Rising Gundam. Also, in the same game (and any game with Blue Comet SPT Layzner as one of the series), you eventually get the choice for Layzner's Mid-Season Upgrade: The Powered Layzner or the Layzner Mk 2 depending on how you handle a mission earlier, though that's more a Mutually Exclusive Power-Up.
- In Super Robot Wars Compact 2 (and it's remake, Super Robot Wars Impact), late in the game Excellen is Brainwashed and Crazy and leading a horde of Einst on the Saotome Laboratories. If you want Shin Getter Robo and the Rampage Ghost, you must let one Einst get close, but if you want the Rein Weiss Reiter you must destroy all of the Einst and then convince Excellen.
- In Super Robot Wars Judgment, you could save Gale and Julia, but you would only obtain one as playable. Saving Gai Daijouji (Jiro Yamada) and Balzac, however, is entirely exclusive, you will either get one or the other.
- Super Robot Wars L has an odd example of this. Every character in the game is recruitible in one run except for three. Of these specific three (Michael (who will die if you do not do certain things), Soubi (who is a villain in the early game and will be killed if you do not recruit him), and Stella (who, unlike the other two, will survive if you do not recruit her, but will not be able to pilot)) you can get any two, but you cannot get all three in one run - this works because Soubi's recruitment has multiple "do this OR that" points, and it is impossible to get the proper combinations without skipping one of the other two.
- If Gendo chooses to activate EVA-03 in Super Robot Wars Z3: Jigoku-Hen, Z-Blue loses Asuka and gets Mari for the rest of the game.
- Rondo of Swords has Alicia and Naji, due to the game's plot split halfway through the game. Alicia is only available on Route A, and Naji is only available on Route B.
Real Time Strategy
- Majesty does this with unit types, specifically the non-human races, and the various temples and their priests. If you recruit one of the non-human races, you can't get the others unless the mission starts you with more than one of them already (elves think dwarves are uncouth, dwarves think elves are snooty and corrupt, and both look down on the gnomes). Also, while there are numerous gods, some hate each other so building the temple of one will lock out two or three others - or in the case of the barbarian war god, all of the others. Then again, the barbarian god's "priests" and only spell are so powerful it's sometimes very worth it.
- Age of Mythology and its expansion have this in terms of gods. Each individual faction has three starting gods as benefactors, and every time your population advances in age (level), you have to choose between two different gods to advance you each time. For example, when you begin a skirmish in the Archaic Age, if you play the Greek army, you start with either Zeus, Poseidon or Hades as your benefactor, and if you choose Poseidon, when you advance to the Classical Age, you have to choose between Hermes and Ares as benefactors. Given each individual god has their own unique God Power, unique unit upgrades, and unique Myth unit, very often you will have to choose between having one particular legendary creature in your army while excluding the other.
- In Billy vs. SNAKEMAN, completing the third part of The Trade (a Death Note pastiche) requires you to murder either Right or Anonymous. Whichever you spare will level up (as will your third Trade ally, Lisa Lisa, regardless of who you pick), but the murdered one will, for obvious reasons, not be available anymore. Likewise, the Monochrome Academy questline will culminate with you choosing to side with either Strawberry or Mister Tea, with one being lost forever (or at least until next season) and the other becoming really powerful.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic; some are downplayed thanks to a terminal on Odessen that lets you (unofficially) add the other option to your Alliance:
- In the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion, which faction your character originally belonged to determines whether you can recruit M1-4X (Republic) or Pierce (Empire). This one is not affected by the Odessen terminal; there's really no way to recruit the other faction's character.
- Near the end of the Knights of the Eternal Throne story, you have to choose one of two companions (Vette and Torian) to save, and whichever one you don't save dies.
- In the War for Iokath update, when you arrive on Iokath, representatives from the Republic and Empire have come to propose a partnership with the Alliance; the representative of whichever side you support joins the Alliance while the other opposes you.note
- Jaesa can be considered mutually exclusive with herself; she has two versions, depending whether you make her fall to the Dark Side when recruiting her or not. The two are coded as different characters with different companion stories, and once the choice is made, there's no changing it.
- On a meta level, in 2016 a game-wide event was held to determine which of two characters would be added to the game as a companion: Dazh Ranos, a Chiss Jedi Master, or Darth Hexid, a Zabrak Sith. Ranos won. Downplayed about a year later when Hexid was also added.
- World of Warcraft: In the Legion expansion, the introductory quests for demon hunters in Mardum are commanded by Illidan Stormrage's Lieutenant Kayn Sunfury. Later on, after a Time Skip, you find yourself in the Vault of the Wardens where Maiev herself releases you out of desperation, once the Vault is stormed by demons. Then, you're to release two fellow demon hunters: the aforementioned Kayn and Altruis the Sufferer, who went rogue from the Illidari and gave quests to players in Nagrand, back in Burning Crusade. These two bicker incessantly while securing the Vault and escaping, until by the near-end of the scenario you're given the choice of siding with either of them. This determines whether in one later mission you convince Akama to join your ranks, or you're forced to perform a ritual to extract his shade from him.