In Video Games, this is the annoying effect of having potentially great equipment stolen from you because the character wearing them has left the party. If they come back, their equipment may have fallen victim to the Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness. Or they may have found new, better equipment and ditched what they had before. Or they get themselves killed. Either way, you better hope they didn't have anything powerful and irreplaceable on them. Kinder games will dump the gear back into your inventory.
Especially a risk with Guest Star Party Members who then leave for good. A common tactic on a second playthrough, New Game+, or just after you've looked through a Strategy Guide, is to remove all the neat swag of a Guest Star Party Member just before they leave the party/are Killed Off for Real. However, many games have an annoying habit of having the theft occur after a difficult Boss Battle but prior to being allowed to open your inventory, so stripping the Required Party Member puts you at a disadvantage in the fight. May induce Narm if they leave in a climactic cutscene and end up fighting in their underwear and with bare hands.
Some Meta-Humor is often used here; if you the player know the character is leaving, you'll unequip everything from them. Since "you" the character couldn't possible know the character is leaving, some people will comment that the reason they left is because you took all their stuff.
SPOILERS AHEAD. Read at your own risk.
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Beyond Good & Evil has PA-1's, heart containers you can swap between yourself and your partners. When Pey'j is kidnapped, he takes all of his PA-1's with him, though he has a chance of dropping one... and only one. The rest vanish into the ether, leaving you vulnerable and short in the Life Meter department. You'll get it back only near the end of the game, and might as well hoard them for yourself since they won't be around for too long.
This happens a lot in Maniac Mansion. If a character dies with something important in their pocket, you may not be able to get the item again (this happened in the NES version). If they die with something super important, like the old rusty key, and nobody else can access it, someone is going to sit in the dungeon forever.
On the other hand, some versions place a package on the kid's grave that contains all the items they were hauling around. Considering the lengths you have to go to in order to get the kids killed, it's not nearly as much a problem as it sounds even in versions without packages.
The original game gently pulls this stunt a couple times; twice, JC will be asked in dialogue to hand the best sidearm he's holding to an NPC in order to trigger marginally improved plot outcomes. These NPCs will have no interest in returning said weapons when they're done with them; this is made worse by the fact that most players will have used rare upgrades on these guns. Fortunately, this can be averted while achieving these plotlines' "good" endings by dropping the "good" weapons on the ground and grabbing an unmodified gun for the NPCs from the level.
In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, you have the option to hand van Bruggen one of your weapons to allow him to escape a Belltower ambush unscathed (he'll die if you don't). It doesn't have to be your best weapon, just any in your inventory, but if the only weapons you have are customized and upgraded, be ready to hear about your failure to save him repeatedly over half of the remaining game. It doesn't matter if you devote your every action to protecting him; it doesn't even matter if you clear out the area while he safely hides in this little alcove so that there's no one left to kill him; if a gun is not physically in his hand, you're a heartless bastard. Luckily for you, there is a weapons handler just downstairs from him, letting you buy a spare gun to share. The money is returned to you with interest a bit later in the story.
Both Left 4 Dead games have this if a player in an online game leaves. Survivor AI cannot use defibrillators or any bomb type items, but if a player who has the said items leaves the game, their bot will carry the items but cannot use them. Since the game does not allow dropping items or giving items to other players outside of pills/shots, you won't be able to take a bot's stuck items unless they get killed, where the items will then fall loose for anyone to pick up.
Hack And Slash
In Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires, you can spend a big chunk of in-game money and resources upgrading one of your officer's weapons, only to have them defect during a battle. Lu Bu is particularly prone to this (although the real Lu Bu did have Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, so it has to be expected).
Real Time Strategy
Averted in Warcraft III, where the various hero characters could carry and use items, and would keep them between missions. If, at any point, a hero left, all their items would be on the ground at the start of the next mission. The only exceptions were at the end of each campaign (obviously): if the items weren't there, that character was coming back.
The only exception is if the Hero you can't use anymore was on a separate journey than the main hero of the campaign. For example, Grom Hellscream during his two missions in the Orc Campaign, Illidan during his own single mission in the Night Elf Campaign and any of Sylvanas' missions during the Frozen Throne Undead campaign. Anything they or any other heroes they met had is Lost Forever. There is a minor exception though, since Illidan is a usable hero for both the Night Elf and Alliance campaigns in Frozen Throne, he retains any gear he had between campaigns.
At one point in Dawn of War 2 they don't tell you they're going to take a squad out from your control for "guard" duty before it happens, leaving all your best kit stuck on that squad. Wouldn't be so bad if you got control back before having to face the hardest boss yet encountered before you are able to redistribute the equipment. Hey, ya think some GRENADES would be good right 'bout now?
Though you get the gear back later and it does set him up for a Big Damn Heroes moment. Turns out the relics he was guarding were suits of Tactical Dreadnought Armor. Can turn into a Crowning Moment Of Awesome.
Potentially inverted in Chaos Rising, when the traitor in your ranks (assuming he wasn't Martellus) politely drops all the armor, weapons, and gear of yours that he was carrying. Unfortunately, though you may get all the items back, instead you lose the only character who could have used the items with any kind of proficiency (e.g. Avitus' heavy weapons, Cyrus' bombs).
Pikmin 3 has a required example — the first time the team rescues Louie, he will make off with all your fruit juice the next day, which can result in a Game Over if you don't collect enough by sunset.
Role Playing Game
In Final Fantasy II a whole stream of Guest Star Party Members are featured. In the GBA adaption, some of them are used in a bonus section after the main game, together with whatever equipment and magic they had when they left, making this trope actually useful for once.
Though it made the last boss battle in the main storyline kind of a hassle, it was worth it to send the Blood Sword to the bonus section and kill off the Ultima Weapon to gain its reward spell at a ridiculously low-level.
Although Minwu is likely to only have weak stuff on him because he's with you before you pick up anything good and Josef is a barehanded fighter. So really the only one who has the option of being sent off into Soul of Rebirth with anything good is Ricard. Your 4th member there, Scott, you don't get to use in the main game so you can't give him anything there.
Kain from Final Fantasy IV does a Face-Heel Turntwice and takes his equipment with him both times. Not to mention the other party members who frequently leave your party over the course of the game, often more than once, and take their gear with them. This includes Tellah (twice), Yang (twice), Rosa, Edward, Rydia, Palom, Porom, and Fu So Ya - in other words, every character in the game except for Edge (the only character to never leave your party after he first joins, except in remakes). Even Cecil — yes, the game's main character — pulls this on himself when he class changes (though at least none of his old equipment is usable by anyone). Rosa is an especially bad offender, because when she returns she's lost all her armor and all you get to replace it is the second-weakest armor in the game - right before a big boss fight. (Unless, of course, you game the system and unequip Tellah before his second departure.) You might want to keep track of all these shenanigans.
The sequel, Final Fantasy IV The After Years continues the tradition, for the most part, but subverts it at one point: when Dark Kain is "killed", all his equipment is added to your inventory (which makes sense when you consider who the character is and how he "dies".)
It also averts it with the real Kain discarding his hooded man disguise and getting his Dragoon abilities back He'll automatically equip his new spear, but whatever weapon he had will get tossed back to your inventory.
On the other hand, when Kain comes back, he brings a brand-new set of very good equipment with him. Oh, and it's all free.
Averted in the remakes that allow you to freely switch around your party before the final dungeon. Everyone's still wearing what they had when they left, though its by now horribly outdated.
Inverted early on in Final Fantasy VI, where it's possible to strip Mog's Mythril Lance and Shield during his first appearance. Granted, this leaves Mog utterly defenseless for the remainder of the eventnote However, his Dusk Requiem Dance still oneshots the boss of the scenario, and from the back row, too., but by the time he returns to the party it's already stocked with enough superior weaponry to make that lance look like a toothpick.
And even then, he comes with another set when he rejoins anyway for some reason.
Better not give Shadow any rare equipment or Magicite until he joins for real in the World of Ruin.
This trope can be averted, very oddly, by speaking to the equipment guy on the airship who will somehow unequip all of Shadow's stuff and give it to you even after he's gone.
Due to a (minor to the point of being nearly unnoticeable, but entirely unavoidable) bug, inverted with just about the last character you'd expect: the boomerang and shield equipped by Kamog/Cosmog, one of the generic moogles at the beginning of the game, are "returned" to you at the end of the World of Balance. Note that you can't even alter Cosmog's equipment in the first place! (The reason for this is because this moogle shares his party member ID with Gogo, who hasn't been introduced yet, and the "unequip everyone" script accidentally counted Gogo among "everyone".)
In Final Fantasy VII Aerith's sudden death makes you lose all her equipment. Thank God the creators weren't cruel enough to take away all her materia, too... The fact that her equipment is not returned is especially irritating because there is a unique piece of armour (the Edincoat) in the dungeon just before you lose her that you will quite likely equip on her, since she is a White Magician Girl who is, for that dungeon, a Required Party Member. Luckily the weapon situation is no problem at all because Aerith is the only one that can equip staves in the first place. Aerith's death also means all the time you invested into leveling her up and having her learn new limit breaks goes down with her when she is killed. Hope you didn't waste time trying to get her level 4 Limit Break!
At various points in the game, Cloud, Tifa, and Yuffie are all temporarily Put on a Bus and you lose their equipment as well, but you get their stuff back when they rejoin the group.
Luckily this is avoided completely by the important stuff: the Materia. Whenever a party member leaves, they hand over their Materia beforehand. Except for Yuffie's sidequest, where they're all taken away.
And if you find hidden materia during said sidequest, Yuffie literally appears just to STEAL THAT TOO. And when it's done she randomly puts all the materia back in random slots on your characters instead of replacing it as you had it before.
In Final Fantasy VIII, don't forget to take back all the magic you gave to Edea unless you never want to see it again after Esthar.
Final Fantasy IX did this every ten minutes. At least you get the gear back when the party members return, but that's small comfort when the fancy new super gear you blew all your cash on wanders off before you can use it. However, the Bag of Sharing effect means that even when two of your party members decide to split off from the main group, they can use items in the shared inventory and even buy items for the other party members (who are now halfway across the continent) to equip later.
The Guest Star Party Members are an exception, however. You can remove Beatrix's armor when she fights alongside Steiner in Disk 3 (although there's no real reason, considering that you'll be able to buy it soon enough anyway), but when Marcus leaves the party after you escape from the Alexandria dungeon in Disk 2, his equipment is gone for good. This is particularly bad if he's got a Mythril Sword equipped, since you need that blade to be able to synthesize some of the very best armor in the game.
The Mythril Sword loss is only a problem if the player doesn't think to visit Esto Gaza before going to the Desert Palace.
However, you can give Beatrix one of the summoning items and cause it to be Lost Forever.
Final Fantasy XIII: The opening 15 or so hours feature several party switches. Anything equipped on (for example) Lightning and Hope when the switch to Sazh and Vanille happens remains on Lightning and Hope. This isn't so much of a problem for weapons, since each weapon type is only usable by one character, but it gets annoying in terms of accessories. This is at its worst during Chapter 7; it ends with a hard Boss Fight, so your instinct is to equip Fang, Lightning and Hope with the best stuff you have. Except, once that's done, the chapter ends and you switch over to Sazh and Vanille, who now have access to either the cast-off accessories with poor attributes/effects, or absolutely nothing (if you sold said cast-offs). Of course, you could just buy new accessories, but it's a waste of money when you consider the party comes together in the very next chapter anyway...
The Final Fantasy Legends games (actually SaGa games renamed for America) all featured temporary party members, but it was impossible to unequip them once equipped. Naturally, they would all take their equipment with them when they left.
Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light does this with every temporary party member, but most notably Krinjh, a party member early in the game. For extra pain, the player is incredibly likely to have loaded him up with expensive magic tomes, since he can use them to change the element of his basic attack, and he leaves immediately after a boss fight he must be used in.
Doubly frustrating if the boss in question drops an item and it ends up on him, meaning you don't even get to look at it before he vanishes.
Although the trope can be inverted by taking equipment from the guests to use or sell.
EarthBound provides at least some acknowledgment of this. If one of your party members is kidnapped / goes on a Vision Quest / discovers True Love / returns to their home planet while holding a key item (such as the Pencil Eraser) then said item will be delivered to Ness's sister's item storage, so you aren't left locked out of certain areas. In some places, if you know a party member is about to leave, this can be useful to help save inventory space.
Mother 3 has this too, with constantly changing party members, though this will usually be reversible later. But three words: Salsa the Monkey.
When the party washes up on Tanetane, all of their items are washed away with the tide. If you defeat the Barrier Trio before getting your lost items back from Ocho, they are lost permanently.
Kingdom Hearts II returns items equipped by 'specific area' party members, but also unequips all abilities activated on a party member if they are removed and returned (making some boss battles a lot harder until you realize that). The game also makes use of this to add dramatic tension: It is also done after the scene when Goofy is seriously knocked out and isn't selectable in the party for a period of time, feeding the temporary but dramatic insinuation he actually died. Of course, we know that Disney's not crazy enough to do that, but it was still pretty convincing.
When you suddenly and without forewarning have to leave Bastila behind because the plot says so, she leaves with whatever equipment she was wearing (except for her weapon, which is dumped back into your inventory). Worse still, when you end up finding her again (if you follow Bastila to The Dark Side), she's wearing new equipment which will be inferior to her original stuff. This is also true of the Force Powers that you've taught her. They're replaced with average Dark Side powers. This will piss you off if you are playing Dark Side and leveled her up as a foil.
This works both ways. If you were particularly Genre Savvy on your second playthrough and give her all Dark Side powers to help you immensely on the Star Forge with your evil character, she will majorly kick your ass in the mini-boss fight.
Kreia in KotOR 2, who leaves no matter what and takes your stuff with her.
To a lesser extent, there's the fact that both games will occasionally throw you on a mandatory run with only one character, often not your main, and at the worst possible time. Good luck winning when all your good weapons are being used by active party members. The second game was much worse about this, particularly Nar Shaddaa, which had a good hour's worth of playtime spent doing nothing but forcing you to switch between numerous characters without so much as a chance to regroup.
When Kratos leaves the party in Tales of Symphonia they take all of their equipment with them, unless you strip it off beforehand.
Amusingly, even if you see it coming and do so, the character is still equipped with a set of the best equipment legally accessible at that point regardless of whether or not you had actually bought and equipped those items beforehand.
Ironically, the game tries to avert this a few times, when a character temporarily leaves the party and their equipment is added to your inventory. But the only times this happens, the character is away for such a short time it's mostly annoying having to put the equipment back on them afterwards.
Actually, there is one instance where this happens and is genuinely useful: if you choose the storyline path where Zelos dies, you still get to keep his equipment. And that happens near the end of the game, so the stuff he was wearing is pretty nice.
Somewhat played straight in the (unofficial) sequel; the 'mons can't be given weapons or armor, but they can hold/wear up to 2 accessories. When they're not in your party, it's impossible to see what is or isn't equipped from the guild menu, forcing you to cycle through them four-at-a-time, exit the guild, manually check every one of them, go back to the guild and select another four to search. That Odin's Cape or Edge Walker statue you spent six hours grinding to find the materials for? Yeah, they were on the spider you released two chapters ago. Good luck!
Averted in scenario 1 of Shining Force III. Julian leaves the party part way through the game (in order to join the party going through scenario 2) and his equipment is actually cloned. He takes one set with him, and the other set reappears in the item storage. However, when he leaves the scn 2 party to lead the one going through scn 3, he plays this trope pretty straight.
When Kalas leave the party in Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean he takes his entire deck with him. Annoying enough already, but given the game's aging system, all his perishable items will likely be gone by the time he comes back. In addition, if he has an aging item that evolves twice while he's gone, that's a hole in your magnus list that can't be filled.
Dragon Quest VII averts this: When Kiefer leaves the party permanently, he tosses a bag with his equipment in it through the portal the rest of the party takes back to the Ancient Fane. He does this even if you strip him of his inventory before the point of no return, because there's a letter to go with it.
There is a true problem with this later in the game. Party members that leave temporarily keep all their gear and the items they are holding. This is usually not a problem because you will gain the character and those items back, however the game has a Gotta Catch 'Em AllMacGuffin system to advance the game and in the rare chance Maribel holds onto a shard, well this is one of the few Game-Breaking Bugs that becomes an Unwinnable by Mistake.
Also averted by Dragon Quest VIII: When Jessica disappears for a while, having become possessed and evil, she has the courtesy to leave behind all of her stuff.
Dragon Quest IV averts this. When the different characters are united after their individual story is over, any equipment that was in the bag when their chapter ended is still there. Their money, however, is lost.
At least it's explained in-game: Maya gambled it all away, Alena hired some mercenaries, Ragnar spent it wandering the world, and Torneko paid for the construction of a ship.
Also any temporary NPCs who join your party have their own personal equipment that cannot be removed and will refuse to accept any item you put into their inventory.
Savvy players will go to the casino immediately prior to the end of chapters 2 and 3 and convert the remaining money into casino tokens, which are carried over to chapter 5. Unfortunately, casino tokens are in chapter 3 much more expensive than normal. Naturally, given that Torneko's store allows him to accumulate vast amounts of money if the player is patient enough.
Averted in Persona 3 with the full-moon incident on October 4th. After all is said and done, all of Shinjiro's equipment can be found packed up in a box in his room... most likely because he knew he was going off to be Killed Off for Real that night.
Averted in The Legend of Dragoon when both characters who leave (Lavitz suffers a Plotline Death and Shana gets Put on a Bus) are almost instantly replaced with characters who have exactly the same Dragoon levels, XP, equipment, and addition experience as they had.
The Valkyrie Profile series is an odd turn in that it actually puts this under your control. You choose (with a couple exceptions in the second game) when to get rid of your guest party members, and thus have full control over what equipment they have at the time. The twist here is you get items in exchange for the characters, and you get better items for a well-equipped and high-level character than one you've stripped bare.
Betrayal at Krondor both plays this trope straight and averts it — each character has their own personal inventory, so when someone leaves for a little while, it's very easy to lose an important item to them. However, whenever someone leaves for an extended period of time (or permanently), you are given a chance to retrieve any items that you wish to keep.
On the other hand, since the party permanently splits into two at one point, you can end up with your good items on the party that doesn't need them.
Some Ultima games avert this by having the character spontaneously drop everything, including clothes. Humorously, in Serpent Isle you pick up Selena, who is very transparently working for the bad guys and tries to lead you into a very ineffective and badly planned deathtrap. When the mercs she hired show up, she makes a remark about going back to the inn (she's not going to be there, though) and then literally teleports out of her clothes. One wonders what she thought she'd accomplish.
In addition, if you fail to reveal the villains' true plan to Gideon when you meet him in Tsen'Ang, Vollinger, if he's with you will challenge you to a duel and leave the party. When you show up at his place, your opponent will have standard equipment rather than what you gave him before the betrayal; that stuff is, of course, Lost Forever.
Present in Chrono Trigger, though everybody who left would return, often fairly quickly. The first couple of times this happens, it's so early in the game that you won't lose anything particularly valuable, but Ayla can leave you without one of your most useful accessories for a while, and Crono's (reversible) Plotline Death will almost certainly nick something, given that you Can't Drop The Hero until then.
Averted in Arcana. Every time someone joins or rejoins the party, they have no equipment at all, and you have to buy new gear for them. This can be a hassle if the character joins in the middle of a dungeon, which means you'll need to go back to town. On the other hand, every time they leave their equipment is automatically removed and left in your inventory, which you can then keep or sell as needed.
In Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, when Tia, Dekar and Lexis leave your party, never to return, whatever they had on them is lost. Particularly annoying since, if you've never played the game before, the point at which they leave and never come back can be difficult to anticipate.
Although the game lets you retrieve their equipment later, by buying it in a pawn shop.
Which is morbid when you think about it, as Tia and Lexis leave of their own accord, but Dekar is killed. It doesn't stick, though.
In Fallout 3, there are numerous temporary companions you can have on your journey. On occasion, they can be equipped with weapons, and a few can be treated outright like party members and equipped with both weapons and armor. For example, Red from Big Town, who you have to rescue from Super Mutants. The second these people have reach their destination, THE DIALOG OPTION TO TRADE ITEMS VANISHES. Then they'll just be walking around with the gear you gave them, totally unwilling to give it back. You can't even steal it without giving them better gear. The only solution is murder, which tarnishes your karma. Fortunately, it also works in reverse on occasion: Fawkes carries one of the most powerful melee weapons in the game in his inventory when you first meet him, and most players will take it (he'll equip a replacement). A temporary example occurs when you leave the Wasteland for a DLC area, you have to leave your companions behind, along with any gear they were carrying. Also, if a companion dies (which may happen due to a glitch when entering the Operation Anchorage simulation), the weapon and/or appareal they were equipped with may disappear. Worse, in Fallout: New Vegas, Arcade Gannon is permanently removed from the game once you complete his quest. Averted in Lonesome Road when ED-E is captured by Ulysses, since whatever stuff it was carrying is automatically returned to you.
In Baldur's Gate II, when Yoshimo betrays your party, their equipment is dumped into the Child of Bhaal's inventory. If their inventory is almost full, most of Yoshimo's equipment drops to the ground. Unfortunately the character is at that point trapped in a kind of glass jar, which is inaccessible from the outside after getting out.
Unless you kill him in an optional boss fight, in which case you can strip your gear from his corpse per usual.
If you keep Aerie and Korgan in the party together for too long Aerie will eventually get fed up with the dwarf, storm off and vanish from the game with all your stuff.
There are around a dozen romance dialogue options which will cause Aerie to leave forever in tears. Sometimes she gives you your stuff back first, but often you're screwed.
It's also possible to drive off Jaheira, though you have to mock her husband's death so you really have only yourself to blame.
Performing blatantly evil actions like allying with an undead criminal syndicate / death cult or encouraging mercenaries to butcher civilians will prompt most of the more socially upstanding party members to immediately abandon the PC, if they don't simply attempt to kill you on the spot.
Both played straight and averted in Mass Effect 1. Killing Wrex will give you all his equipment as if it just dropped. However, any items equipped on Ashley or Kaidan are Lost Forever. Which is kinda justified, what with the nuclear bomb and all. The weird thing is, though, that the cutscene which depicts their deaths puts them in their starting armor, but you still lose the one you had actually equipped them with, even though they apparently weren't wearing it. You do get Ashley/Kaidan's weapons and armor back on a New Game+.
Mega Man X: Command Mission inverts this: Someone leaves, their equipment goes to the Bag of Sharing. Whenever Zero leaves and re-joins, however, you'll wonder how he got new weapons after he left his old ones with you. You actually get FOUR Heat Haze weapons (which only Zero can equip) over the course of one playthrough.
In Suikoden III when you return to Karaya, Lulu is accidentally killed by Lady Chris, and you lose every piece of equipment that he had on him.
Losing some low-powered items was worth it to get rid of Lulu.f
Used and then inverted at the end in The World Ends with You, due to Neku getting a different partner at the start of each week. You can buy some of the clothes again if you want them that desperately. Thankfully, the first time it happens, it's not too much of a loss: female equipment is useless to Neku and his other two partners after Shiki unless you really powerlevel Bravery. And most of that first person's equipment is likely to be Shiki-specific, anyway. The loss of the money stings a bit, though.
Although once you finish the game and can visit any day, and also have the option of the alternate verse to run around in with any partner you choose, any clothing given to someone is easily recoverable at that point.
Rather realistically inverted in the Siege of Avalon anthology, where most party members have at least some equipment that cannot be unequipped, but can be taken from them if they die. (Naturally, you don't want the new kid taking the armor that's served you well for months of siege, even if he is the war hero's younger brother.) Unfortunately, it's mostly just standard mid-level armor with a distinct coloration (rare, but not unique) or even non-unique, non-enchanted, basic clothing, and it also means that you can't upgrade their armor at any point. And you'll want to. However, all but one of them will only die (permanently; every death is real) if you're badly outnumbered and you don't or can't heal them in time to save them, or get a magician in your party and set him to do it for you.
Played obnoxiously straight in the Gold Box series of Dungeons & Dragons CRPGs. NPCs who left the party would lose any equipment, weapons, armour, gold and even experience that they'd gained while with the party. Particularly notable in Dark Queen of Krynn where several NPCs would leave and rejoin the party at several stages, each time resetting to the same default stats and gear they started with.
Rather strangely done in Live A Live due to the fact that the Final Chapter only uses the main characters from each chapter. Not stripping Taro of his item-gained specials before completing Akira's chapter means you lose some equipment for Cube later on.
In fact, you only get to carry forward things the people yanked into the final chapter have on them; again, this matters mostly with Akira (you'll only be able to bring the robot equipment from his chapter to the final chapter for Cube if you equip him with all of it, even though it does nothing for him.)
When someone dies in Interplay's Lord of the Rings, you are instantly given the task of transferring inventory to another party member. If your inventory is already full, that stuff is gone. If the One Ring is gone, you're screwed, and the game ends.
Averted in Eien no Filena; when a character leaves your party, their equipment is dumped into your inventory. Curiously, this happens even when they leave involuntarily, such as when a party member falls off a bridge.
Happens a couple times in Golden Sun, though usually there's not too many negative effects. At the start of the first game, Jenna leaves permanently after the first dungeon, but there's practically nothing she can steal except her armor and some wimpy herbs.
A very noticeable one happens in the second game, where Piers temporarily leaves your party to go to the cemetery. While he's gone, you don't fight any enemies, but there's one point where you need a special item to make a tightrope up to the top of a building. If Piers has the item, the man in the building lowers the rope, which is the only time in the game where the sprite for lowering a rope is used.
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn does this with Sveta as well. She joins your party at one point but then quickly leaves the party and doesn't rejoin until much later. If you happened to give her any of your best equipment or items, she'll take those with her. She also takes the Djinn she came with.
Not that there's any reason to give her much. She comes equipped with the best vendors have to offer at that point, and she can't use anyone else's weapons. Her stats are good enough that it might actually be in your best interest to take her stuff and give it to weaker party members before she leaves.
That said, if you DO take her claw/fist weaponry, and sell them off to vendors because no one but Sveta can use them, then when she comes back, she won't have ANY WEAPONS TO FIGHT WITH and you'll be stuck inside a major dungeon until you beat at least one and possibly two boss fights (there's a collectable claw inbetween, but it's easy to miss). This is a case where letting her keep her equipped gear as she leaves is actually WORTHWHILE.
Happens constantly in Phantasy Star IV, because only the four main characters stay in the party the whole game; all the others join temporarily, and then return for the final battle when you have to pick one, except Alys who dies. Hahn, Alys, Rune, and Raja can be un-equipped before they leave the party, and you can sell their stuff to help pay for better armor and weapons later on, but if you want to do that with Gryz, Demi, or Kyra, you have to be gutsy enough to go through a boss battle with them naked because they leave in the cutscenes following the victory.
Sa Ga Frontier 2 averts this by allowing you to access the inventories of characters not in your current party, and you can even equip techniques that they've learned. (This is, in fact, how you can pick up a technique that would otherwise be Lost Forever.)
Dragon Age: Origins is pretty obvious with which party members will stay with you and which won't (hint: look for an approval bar), so it's easy to tell when you should strip your buddies in the pre-initiation mission. It's just Vendor Trash, but hey. As a bonus, the usually dramatic initiation cutscene gets an added dose of hilarity. However, even the "permanent" party members will leave if you cross their personal Moral Event Horizon — though if they decide to attack you first, you can then kill them and take your stuff back. Thanks to the game having equippable Game Breaker rewards from purchased Downloadable Content, it's entirely possible for them to walk off with equipment you paid real life money for. Granted, you could get the armor in a new game, as the DLC quests stay once you've bought them, but it still feels like the game literally robbing you blind. Penny Arcade makes note of it in this strip.
It's averted with the guys in the pre-initiation mission. Their stuff automatically goes into your inventory after the inevitable occurs. It is played annoyingly straight with the random guys you get in the Tower of Ishal.
On the bright side, regarding the Tower of Ishal guys, if you just leave them in default gear you don't actually lose anything, and if you strip them you can get some bonus vendor trash as well as one of the only robes that'll be available for a while- normally trash too, but potentially useful if you're playing as a mage and plan to use Morrigan in your party early.
As mentioned above if Alistar leaves he takes his stuff with him, and you've no option to get it back, nor can you attack him for leaving. If Zevran decides to leave you actually can demand his equipment before he does in a dialogue option, but he'll refuse, stating he earned it for his service. You can still attack him though, and take it from his corpse.
Paladins Quest can have this happen, but the worst example is the mercenary who will only join you when you buy her her full equipment set. Of course, if she leaves, you don't get the items back.
Unless you use a tavern card. This item can be used at any point of the game and lets you rehire any mercenary. And the chick you bought equipment for will be with it and join you for free (when all other mercenaries cost the exact same amount of money they did the first time).
Albion is nice enough to give you a chance to take equipment from the one character who leaves for plotline reasons. However, this is played straight if you neglect to take equipment off character who you fire to make more room in your party.
Suikoden I, of course, has this a few times, with characters that leave your team (either temporarily or for good) and take everything they were carrying with them. There's also an unusual instance of the trope where this is caused by the main character; when he obtains the Soul Eater rune, it's automatically equipped to him, and whatever rune he had equipped before is Lost Forever. This is particularly frustrating because he might have one of two extremely rare runes that you can get right near the start of the game, if you know how to find them. Later games avoid this problem by allowing characters to equip up to 3 runes instead of one, and if a character will be getting a True Rune (or other unique story-based rune, in the case of Suikoden V) in a particular slot, chances are good that slot will be locked until they get it.
You can't equip or unequip guest characters, and characters who leave for an extended period leave their equipment and orbs behind.
However, they keep their stuff if they're only gone for a little bit, and the game isn't very nice about warning you. One character, for example, gets booted in the cutscene preceding a boss fight — and this happens twice in a row with no warning.
Finally, when playing as the alternate party, you can unequip them if you'd like, but they don't share the same item pool as your party... so there's no point.
Krobelus in Summoner 2. Luckily he's not allowed any armour in the first place, but he has other equipment. Make sure you have a wooden staff in the inventory that you can replace his rod with, because you aren't allowed to just take his weapon.
Can be done in Pokémon games, although it generally has to be on purpose; by releasing a Pokémon holding an item. However, accidents are possible if, say, you actually raised that Shuckle in GSC and gave it a held item before returning it. Or traded that Spearow you were raising in FRLG for Farfetch'd on an impulse trade. Still not very likely, as useful items like the Master Ball or one-of-a-kind TMs have no reason to be given to your Pokémon in the first place, unless you're abusing the Pokémon/item duplication glitch, in which case this is a moot point. Alternately, though, people do sometimes trade items like Master Balls to friends by giving them to mons to hold during trade, and you can be screwed if you forget to remove said item before trading the mon yourself or trade it by mistake.
Can rarely occur in SaGa Frontier, although most of the time, the character can be re-recruited.
In Grandia II one member of your party dies, which appears to be this trope when it comes to the coins spent on his abilities. However, the designers were nice enough to plan ahead, as there's an item that gives you all his Skill coins back.
The same thing happens in the first Grandia. Whenever a character permanently leaves the group, the player can find items in the storage area containing that character's weapon and magic experience. Also in the game, a different party member will leave and then return with a whole new set of equipment. The entire original set of equipment and accessories will be missing.
Happens due to a programming oversight in Inazuma Eleven 3. In previous games, story characters only leave for brief periods and come back with everything intact. (In fact, you can still view their equipment and stats in the menu while they're absent - they're merely locked in inactive slots.) And if you dismiss an optional party member, their equipment is returned to your Bag of Sharing, but their EXP, stats, and hissatsu techniques are reset (if you recruit them back later), and any techs you taught them are gone. But in the third game, when Midorikawa, Fubuki, and later Kurimatsu get Put on a Bus, the game treats these as dismissals and their techs are still reset if/when you get them back. Thankfully, this was fixed for the Updated Re-release.
Played completely straight with one character in Eye of the Beholder II. A halfling you meet early in the game is locked up, and you have the option to free him. However, the first time you camp with him in the party, he runs off and takes, not the equipment he's carrying specifically, but some of the gear of the sleeping party members. Well, you should have expected it; he's a Thief (the Character Class). He even leaves a note basically invoking this trope by name.
At the end of Beyond Divinity, the Death Knight who has been your unwilling companion through the whole game turns out to be Damien himself and fights you. If he's got all of your good stuff, he can be nearly impossible to beat. If you remove all of his stuff just before the final boss fight right before the big reveal and manage to keep him alive, he's incredibly easy to beat.
In Eternal Sonata, there are numerous instances where you switch between different groups of party members. Whenever you do, the party members that are left behind keep whatever equipment they have for the time being and you don't get it back until they rejoin. Not a problem with weapons, since each character has their own unique type, but definitely potentially troublesome with accessories and armor. Particularly egregious if you choose to Crescendo and Serenade for the final boss battle of Lament Mirror in the PS3 version, since you don't get them back for two chapters. And don't even think about equipping anything good to Claves, who dies at the end of Chapter 3, though she can rejoin, and eventually fully resurrected, if you visit Mysterious Unison in Chapter 7, at which point you can finally get back anything that was equipped.
Averted in both Silva Saga games. Before a character leaves the party, he/she passes off both current equipment and approximate stats to the character who's about to join you. Plot relevance aside, the next character is identical to the one you used to have.
Defied in Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark — the "Pool of Lost Souls" contains the equipment of henchmen who have left your party. You can retrieve any items you need for a nominal fee.
Toyed with and reversed somewhat in X2: The Threat. During one early mission you are loaned a personnel transport ship armed with some decent equipment — including some expensive shields. After the mission is finished you are given an old cargo transport, but its hull integrity will be greatly reduced if you decided to sell off the shields in the other ship for personnel gain.
Subverted in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, when Nagase crashes her plane in a late-game mission (ejecting safely): you expect having to buy her plane all over again, but in the debriefing, your commander tells you that the air force will pay for the replacement—the perks of being the country's most famous fighter squadron. Averted again, when Chopper fatally crashes a few missions later: his plane is presumably replaced by the military, too, but it's never mentioned in dialogue.
Stealth Based Game
Happens about two thirds of the way through Metal Gear Solid 3, wherein Snake recovers all of his equipment after a No-Gear Level sequence, except for all of his previously captured animals and collected food (including the pricelessly valuable Tsuchinoko, if you were lucky enough to find it - fortunately you can catch it again just after getting your gear back). Humorously, you can call EVA about this, and she will confess that she rifled through your pack for instant noodles, but the rest of Snake's pack was emptied by Ocelot because "he wanted to eat the same things Snake did".
The Thing does this practically every level. This game isn't an RPG but is filled with Guest Star Party Members. It's a Survival Horror game, so ammunition and weaponry are limited. Your party members seem to desert you after each load screen for a new level and take the weapons with them. They apparently think that they have a better chance without the guy who gave them their guns.
Fridge Brilliance here: Anyone could be The Thing, and if it turns out to be 'the guy who gave them their guns', the giving of the guns could be some sort of elaborate setup. The Player knows this isn't true, but the Guest Star Party Members don't and would therefore feel that they'd be safer away from him... and by extension away from each other as well. Paranoia does weird things to people.
Resident Evil Outbreak would give you AI partners if you were playing alone, who were notorious for occasionally taking extremely valuable items or ammo and running off to die. You could take the items off the bodies, but generally the same monsters which killed them would kill you.
This could happen online as well, if someone took an important item and then went AFK for a long time, thus never able to respond to any requests for that item. If this happens in a safe area, one of the other players would have to get killed elsewhere and come back as a zombie to kill the idle player, but that wouldn't work for a two-player run or an area completely devoid of remaining enemies and hazards. By the time the idler's virus gauge is maxed out naturally, everyone else is likely also dead or close to it.
Amusingly, in Outbreak, you could loot a dead character's body if you were in the same room, even if they were totally inaccessible because they happened to be inside a zombie shark at the time.
In Code Veronica, any items carried by Claire near the end of the game will be Lost Forever when you switch back to Chris for the last time.
Players may be severely hampered later on if they equipped Claire with the more powerful weapons like the grenade launcher for the battle with Nosferatu. Which you're supposed to use the sniper rifle for.
It's also possible to invert this with the 'invite' skill. You can recruit nearly anyone into your group, strip them of their gear, and then dump them.
Subverted in Final Fantasy Tactics A2. When Adelle leaves the clan, she doesn't take with her any of the items you had equipped to her. Eventually she re-joins the clan, so it doesn't matter anyway.
Fire Emblem has an odd example of this. Certain chapters have NPC allies, who are hated by players as occasionally they will kill an enemy that can drop a valuable or useful item, and if an NPC does this then that item is lost to you.
In Radiant Dawn, you play chapters where some characters might not be with you, causing some items to be temporarily lost as you switch between one party to another. In addition, you'll sometimes fight characters you used to control (and will again in the future), and the CPU loves to break your rare weapons during these periods.
This can potentially happen with any character not required to complete the chapter if you let them die, but most players tend to restart the chapter instead of losing a valuable item or character (or pawn).
The above is averted as of the DS remakes of Marth's games - if someone dies, all their stuff is magically transferred back to the supply convoy. Presumably they're looted by your own army, which in a roundabout way makes letting them die even more heartbreaking than usual.
Can happen in Sacred Stones with Orson's Face-Heel Turn, but easily can be averted, and once you know that it's coming, he becomes a useful meat shield since he's a one-chapter onlyCrutch Character anyway.
Cecille from Luminous Arc manages to pull this without leaving the party. She has a particularly unusual class change, which ends up changing all of her equipment except accessories, removing whatever she had equipped before from the game. If, as is quite likely, you had her equipped with the Tiara — a special headgear that prevents all status effects, equippable only by a very limited number of characters — you're out of luck, as there's only one per playthrough.
When you start a New Game+, all of the equipment you had on the characters you had acquired through the story are lost until you get them back in their respective storylines, justified in that you technically haven't met them yet.
Then there's the part in one of the later chapters where Jennifer leaves the team (and gets subsequently brainwashed by Kurtis) — you lose any equipment you had on her until Kurtis does a Heel-Face Turnand commits hisHeroic Sacrifice, bringing her back to the team (equipment intact, thankfully).
Additionally, Flonneis taken out of commission for the final boss fight via getting turned into a flower. She'll come back with her stuff on a New Game+, of course, but the stuff on her, which is likely to be good stuff, since she's one of the best story characters in the game, is locked away from you until then.
After beating the aforementioned final boss, if you choose to start in Etna Mode instead of a traditional New Game+, Laharl will die in the opening cutscene, leaving you without his equipment, as well. Etna Mode is significantly more difficult than the normal story, and you probably needed him fully equipped to handle the final boss without access to Flonne, making it nothing short of annoying.
Every single team member in Odium, since they all leave without warning. Especially ridiculous when one of your teammates departs through dying an unavoidable death on the street. You'd think you could just collect the stuff off the teammate's corpse, but no dice.
Averted quite nicely in the Jagged Alliance series: mercs whose contract is up will leave behind their equipment. In fact, one of the strategies in Jagged Alliance 2 involves creating an IMP merc (widely considered to be your chance to make an Author Avatar, and will stay on the party permanently), hiring one of the super-expensive mercs for one day with their equipment, taking the first two towns, and then—when the AIM merc's contract is up—equipping his assault rifle and expensive gear on your IMP merc.
The Warhammer 40,000 turn-based game Chaos Gate has this on one level. Enemies will teleport in, grab a random team member and then whisk him away, never to be seen again. Hope you didn't have any rare/unique wargear on him
The Super Robot Wars series tends to do this, especially with storyline deaths. A very early one occurs in Super Robot Wars 3 where Reccoa disappears to go spy on the bad guys and takes the Mobile Suit you put her in with you. Here's hoping you shoved her into a mook unit before hand and not one of your special Gundams.
Mostly averted in most modern games though. If a unit is lost permanently any money you spent upgrading it will be refunded. However pilot points aren't, so if you gave one of the few pilots to leave forever lots of kills to gain pilot points....well you just wasted your time and deprived pilots who you keep permanently of them. Not to mention you don't get refunded for units that are simply inaccesible for awhile but eventually come back, even if "awhile" is upwards of 20 stages and they only return shortly before the finale. Woe to the player who invested heavily in Akito in W, only for the Prince of Darkness plot to kick in and make him unavailable for almost the second half of the game, or one who upgraded units in the first Z game that wouldn't be with them for the middle route where the teams are split up for 20 stages. Hope you can make due without them.
Can happen in World of Warcraft or any other MMORPG which uses guild vaults. Griefers will get themselves invited to a guild, convince their new guildmates to allow them to grab some gear out of the vault, and then leave the guild with their newfound stuff. Fortunately this activity is usually against the game's EULA and GMs can often help you recover your goods.
This was a much more prevalent problem shortly after guild vault introduction to the game due to a coding glitch: whatever banking access privileges a character had with his previous guild were the defaults given back upon joining a new guild, meaning that a vault ransacking group could give maximum withdrawal permission to an accomplice who would then join other guilds and clean out their vaults and quit the guild within 5 minutes of joining. Needless to say this was rapidly patched.
If members of a raiding guild can be considered party members, a not necessarily malicious case of this that resembles the traditional version of this trope can happen. Guilds might spend time gearing up a certain person who's crucial to progression, only for them to lose issue, encounter a real life issue, or go to a guild that's further along, taking all the gear they've looted with them. It can be frustrating to be passed over for a piece of gear in favor of someone who needs it more, only for them to leave soon after they they acquire it, which doesn't benefit you or your guild.
The above kind of behavior is NOT against the rules in EVE Online, and is a particularly infamous and widespread profession, making vetting new members and restricting access a lot more of a big deal. If your corporation gets swindled out of your items, tough luck, you should have been more careful about placing your trust in people. Your only option is to swear revenge.
Though less severe than the others, players who choose to head up to Haven at an elevator in Spiral Knights will take with them their vitapods, potions, remedies, and health capsules if they don't drop them before getting on. If they leave mid-level, however, all of those items will drop where they stood and be up for grab.
Happened in the short-lived The Sims Online. When starting out, your Sim cannot afford a place on his/her own. So, you need to get a roommate. But, you have no idea who is trustworthy. This trope could certainly ensue.
This can happen in most role playing games. Whether you're buying the NPC decker some new gear to help you in Shadowrun, giving a magical sword to a companion in Dungeons & Dragons, or working your money and black market ties to get your trusty ghoul bodyguard an SMG and some shooting classes in Vampire: The Masquerade, there's a chance that character will leave the game. They may die with the gear beyond salvage, be bought out or turned by your enemies, become a Distressed Damsel, have been The Mole all along, or just decide they've had it with you being a Jerkass (as so many players are.) When that NPC was entrusted with essential equipment, this can become a great complication for a fun night of gaming (either saving the NPC, winning them back, or at least getting back the goods) or a reason to grumble at the player who angered the party's allies until they just stormed off.
And if you're going to leave a gaming group, have the decency to have your last player character killed off within looting distance of the other adventurers.
Typically if a player leaves the group while the character is still alive, that character naturally leaves with whatever they were carrying, especially if the player doesn't hand over their character sheet. All the worse if they were tracking group loot.