King Arthur: Your arm's off!
Important non-player characters are, well, important.
So, when one of these characters enters combat, there's a number of possible ways that they can be treated during battle. Sometimes, a character's survival is plot dependent
; in this case, the dreaded Escort Mission
takes place when it becomes the player's goal to safeguard Important Character X from harm. In other cases, such as real time strategy games, Important Character X is a combat unit that can fight, but needs to survive the mission
, such as in Starcraft
and Age of Empires
. This effectively means the character needs to be both utilized as a resource and protected at the same time.
However, backlash from Escort Missions in general has led to a new variation on the usage of Important Characters in combat. When battle is joined, one doesn't need to concern themselves with the survival of Important Character X, because either they're unable to be seriously injured, they respawn if killed, or, in RTS games, can simply be replaced, usually at considerable cost. Getting shot, stabbed, decapitated, eaten alive, blown up in an Earth-Shattering Kaboom
, it doesn't matter; these guys keep on going, laughing off what would kill anyone else, demanding to know if, in reality, wimps like You Call That A Wound
This trope's name comes from General Sturnn's build-completion quote in Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War: Winter Assault
, which in the single-player campaign would only be spoken if he was killed in battle and rebuilt. The implication being that he was only wounded, brought back to base to be tended to, and stormed right back onto the battlefield as soon as he was conscious again
. This quote was likely inspired by Arthur's fight with the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail
where the gradually dismembered Black Knight claims the loss of both arms is, "Just a flesh wound."
- In most stages of Lego Adaptation Game, you are forced to have a partner. This partner can die, but they'll just respawn in a couple of seconds. They also can't inflict any damage to anything.
- Halo went both ways with this; in Halo: Combat Evolved, Captain Keyes could be killed during a very brief escort mission in Truth and Reconciliation. Halo 2 and Halo 3 went the opposite way, with invincible, unkillable allies accompanying the player for brief periods. The Arbiter himself in Halo 3 could be temporarily killed or lost off the side of cliffs or the like, but he would simply respawn shortly afterward, getting back up or reappearing via active camouflage.
- In Halo 1 you fought beside Sergeant Johnson in almost every mission. He wasn't any stronger than a standard marine though, so he pretty much always died a few minutes in with all the other Red Shirt marines, only to reappear at the beginning of the next mission.
- At the end of the game, the eponymous Halo detonates with the Sergeant on it (on regular difficulties he is overrun by the Flood and never heard from again; on Legendary there is a joke scene where he hugs an Elite right before the Halo explodes). He still turns up for Halo 2. A marine asks him how he does it, though the Sergeant claims that information to be "classified".
- In Halo: First Strike this is explained. He and others got on a pelican and flew into space, and met up with Master Chief's Longsword fighter. They then managed to board and take over a Covvie ship.
- The named characters of the Call of Duty series can pretty much stand there all day, firing bullets and getting hosed by machine guns, grenades, and missiles. However, their tendency to stay behind cover and potshot at opponents rather than advance tended to balance out their invincibility.
- Call of Duty 1 & 2 had respawning NPCs (each with different names) as well as Respawning Enemies. Only certain main character NPCs in Call of Duty 4 were completely invincible, unless you consider the ending spoilers.
- This trope plays out oddly in Modern Warfare. Your AI companion, Captain MacMillan, has Gameplay Ally Immortality. However, he is hit by a crashing helicopter and injures his legs. You then have to carry him to safety. He is completely invulnerable when you're carrying him, but can be killed if you set him down in a bad spot. During the exfil assault, his excellent marksmanship and position keeps him from being an easy target, unlucky for you.
- If you screw up the various obstacles during the stealth section, MacMillan ceases to be invincible. It is (usually) possible to kill whatever you spawned before MacMillan bites it, in which case he'll make a snark about how lucky you are and continue as normal.
- Just before the finale of BioShock you're required to escort some Little Sisters through a gauntlet swarming with powerful enemies. However, even if one of them dies, another is spawned right away.
- One of the unused comments in the Meet The Sandvich video of Team Fortress 2 has The Soldier using this statement, only to refute his statement soon afterwards (for what he does say, check the page quote).
- Certain NPCs in Golden Eye 1997 and Perfect Dark may or may not be killed. Killing them usually results in mission failure. When they can't be killed, they'll just shrug off bullets, literally. Even if they're bloody.
- For your final escort mission, there's Natalya. Despite not being invincible, she can take a lot of damage, about four bullets to the head.
- In Half-Life 2, important NPC allies (Alyx, Barney, and Father Grigori) are all reasonably well armed, and although they have only slightly more hit points than standard enemy Mooks, their health regenerates incredibly rapidly, so much so that you almost never have to worry about them being killed, unless you do absolutely nothing and let them be mobbed by several enemies at once.
- Similarly, Dog has an absurd amount of health instead of regenerating health, allowing him to among other things crush squads of Combine soliders, hurl APCs, and tear apart a goddamn Strider with no chance of dying. It helps that all of Dog's fight sequences are scripted animations: he literally cannot lose, as there is nothing in the game that can stop these animations once they start.
- In Star Wars: Republic Commando, if one of your 3 buddies bites the dust, you just have to use your zapping thingy and they're back up on their feet. You can also order your teammates to revive eachother. Even if you loose all your health, you're only incapacitated. Your teammates will not blindly try to revive you. But if the opportunity arises, one will run towards your body and zap you while the others give cover. You can also order them to wait until the coast is clear or you can order them to revive you against all odds.
- Civilians are apparently indestructible in City of Heroes, making one wonder why superheroes are needed in the first place.
- Even during mayhem missions in City of Villains, a villain player can punch, freeze, electrocute, immolate, and even send a civilian flying long distances with no ill effect, making one wonder why they are fleeing in such a panic to begin with.
- In Guild Wars: Eye of the North, unlike the previous three stand-alone games that required you to keep important NPCs alive, often with Leeroy consequences, important NPCs can die as much as you let them be killed. They instantly resurrect when no enemies are in aggro range. In a further twist, NPCs THAT WEREN'T EVEN FIGHTING WITH YOU show up for key cinematics.
- A few quests in zOMG! are escort missions, but the game never gives the NPC following you any health bar or other combat-related attributes; the player is the only character that needs to worry about reaching the goal without getting dazed.
- Another example takes place in a level of Mega Man Zero 2, in which Zero must defend the female scientist Ceil while she defuses a bomb...as hordes and hordes of enemies charge at her. No matter how lax you are in defending her, Ciel will not die or do much more than indulge in an occasional gasp of pain. However, the Zero series involved an "objective" in each level, and in that particular level, it was "Protect Ceil", so for every time she takes a hit, you lose points. And if you want to get the bosses abilities, you need to do it flawlessly.
- Subverted in the first Zero game, where you must escort a wounded soldier back to base. He can take so much damage you think he's immortal...until he drops dead. Mission Failed!
- In Cave Story, Curly Brace can apparently only be injured by the plot (and only off-screen, at that), because she accompanies you through part of the Labyrinth and the fight against the Core, but doesn't take any damage from enemies. If you're en route to get the game's best ending, then you'll carry her on your back through the later part of Sacred Grounds, and she'll provide supporting fire. Again, she never takes any damage.
- In Scribblenauts, Longcat, Blob, and Priest can't die. (The only way you can kill a blob is with fire) You also can't destroy a church. Tacgnol, Priestess, Nun, and God can die, however. As a result, because Priest is the only humanoid out of these three, Priest equipped with a Chainsaw with Earth Magic used on it is one of the best things to use when you want to kill something. Humorously, you can drop a Priest in lava and he'll just keep screaming forever and never die. How's that for Videogame Cruelty Potential?
- Priests, like all humanoids, can be "killed" by being turned into frogs by witches and ghouls by vampires. Strangely enough, vampires are repelled and can be killed by holy objects, such as a cross, but aren't afraid of priests.
Role Playing Games
- All of the commander units from any of the Dawn of War games can be rebuilt if killed in battle. Though they cost a lot of requisition, they are usually worth it, due to the fact that Authority Equals Asskicking.
- Strangely (because it isn't present with the other commanders), this trope is entirely justified with the Necron commander, the Necron Lord, as Necrons have the ability to be teleported back to their strongholds and repaired after receiving major damage.
- Dawn of War 2 loves this trope as well - when command units are "killed", they simply fall over and writhe around until resuscitated, either by an allied commander or by simply purchasing them again. Amusingly, this will happen even if the attack that felled them levels the building they're hiding in and liquidates the squad that accompanied them!
- In Command & Conquer: Generals, the hero units for each faction can die quite easily if cornered by things unhealthy to them (sometimes, each other), but can simply be ordered anew from the Barracks. It's implied (schizophrenically) in Zero Hour that "Black Lotus" actually designates a category of hacker rather than being a name, but Jarmen Kell and Colonel Burton get no such handwave...
- In Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, super-units like the Mammoth MK II and the Cyborg Commando can just be rebuilt if they're destroyed (though you can only have one per map, and they're expensive).
- In Warcraft 3 single-player missions, characters essential to the plot couldn't be killed permanently but could be revived. In Multi-player, Hero Units were treated the same way. A notable exception to this was the single-player dungeon crawling missions, in which a plot essential character's death is a lose condition.
- Some allied hero characters in the Spellforce expansion pack would simply lose fighting ability and limp around when their health fell too low. Of course, neither your character, nor your character's
thugs rune heroes, would benefit from this.
- Perhaps in response to complaints about killable plot-sensitive characters in Age of Empires, "hero" units in the Age of Mythology campaigns can be killed but are swiftly resurrected with a small amount of health as soon as no enemies are near them. In the standard games named heroes do not possess this ability but can repeatedly die and be purchased as long as the player has enough resources.
- This mechanic is also brought to the Hero characters in Age of Empires III, who can't die permanently. On losing all their health, they collapse to the ground and can't do anything unless the player brings another unit to rescue them or pays a small gold ransom at a town center.
- Starcraft2 has several maps where the hero dying results in auto-loss. However, the next-to-last mission (if you choose to take out the Nydus worms) allows your heroes to fall down and get back up after a while (because given the bosses on that level, it's very easy for a hero to die without your immediately realizing it).
- The expansion, Heart of the Swarm, has Kerrigan respawn some time after she dies in most missions. The same goes for most of the other heroes that you control during the campaign.
- Once you've unlocked the keep in Battle Realms, all heroes killed during a mission can be re-summoned from it for a price and losing Kenji (or Greyback in the expansion) no longer instantly fails the mission. In skirmish/multiplayer, the keep is needed to summon heroes in the first place.
- In Hegemony Series, if any of your generals go down, they'll return to their hometown and like their wounds for a time. After a while, they're ready to go again.
Shoot Em Ups
- In Buck Rogers: Matrix Cubed, a Gold Box PC game from 1992, if a plot-important scientist is lost in battle he reappears on the team's spaceship with a nonchalant "Oh, hi. Seems we got separated for a while there, huh?"
- Frustratingly common while still being unreliable in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Anyone mandatory for the major plotlines will have a crown icon appear on mouseover, which means that no matter what beats them up, a few seconds later they'll stand back up and dust themselves off. Characters with the crown tend to lose it at unpredictable intervals whenever an obvious escort quest shows up or if they no longer are mandatory for the central plotline, and characters important for other plotlines don't tend to get the crown in the first place.
- At least it's not as bad as The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, in which Anyone Can Die.
- To top it off, Sidequest-related characters often travel between cities, where they're vulnerable to monster/bandit attacks. Thus, as time progresses in the game world, some sidequests may become unfinishable, as a relevant character gets randomly killed by a monster while traveling the wilderness.
- Guest characters in Final Fantasy XII can take very good care of themselves. They can be revived as normal, are usually stronger than the rest of the party and, in the case of Larsa, have an unlimited supply of hi-potions to dole out.
- Pokémon Diamond and Pearl and Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 have some areas of the game where you are forced to team up with an NPC. Said NPC heals your team after every battle, but will sometimes attack and faint a Pokémon you want to catch. You can knock out the NPC Pokémon, but then you're left to face whatever attacks you on your own since all battles are double battles, and the NPC reappears the next battle anyway.
- In Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, superstar Ash Rivers. The player can escort him through the Hollywood sewers to save him from some vampire hunters, but even if you fire your complete weapon arsenal into him until you run out of ammo, slice him with a sword and attack him with vampiric claws, that guy just won't die. So why the hell does he need an escort? Well, at least he can be killed when he reappears later in the game.
- In the Mass Effect games, none of your party members can actually die during combat; they just pass out. (Cutscenes, however, are a whole different story.) Shepard is not quite as lucky.
- Sephiroth in the Nibelheim flashback in Final Fantasy VII. He's the one who'll revive you, he's way above the level of anything you encounter, and, just in case that wasn't enough, he's invulnerable as well.
- In any Neverwinter Nights module, any NPC with the "Plot" flag enabled cannot be killed, and that flag can be either activated or deactivated by scripting. In the scenario included with the base game, an NPC companion in the tutorial area says that he will most certainly die unless he accompanies you. The official NWN editing guide lampshades this, saying that because of the Plot flag that the opposite is in fact true.
- In Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, your companions can die, (Only on hardcore for New Vegas). But if you've spent a few level ups with them, it will take you almost forever to kill them, and even then Dogmeat will die fighting them. Dogmeat is the one exception to the rule. He dies pretty easily.
- This is no longer true if one has the Broken Steel expansion. Do to a quirk in the programming, Dogmeat now gains an absurd amount of health each time he levels, leaving him nigh unkillable barring several nukes to the face, easily outstripping any and all regular enemies.
- In Star Fox 64, temporary allies Bill and Katt are invincible. The other NPC allied units on Katina, not so much.
- In Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, anytime you have an ally in a gunfight (usually Sully or Elena), they will never die. Semi-justified, in that a) they're usually taking cover, b) your opponents are all graduates of the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy, and c) all the enemies are shooting at you anyway.
- It is possible to get Elena killed in a firefight, but doing so involves ignoring her and running as far away as possible, so it is most likely a very generous proximity trigger.
- For Freedom Fighters, any of the allies you recruit to help you fight can be temporarily killed (knocked down, with a medical cross over their bodies), but can just as easily be revived using the game's medkit items.
- Final Fantasy Tactics A2 has way more than its fair share of escort missions, but there is the occasional NPC who will, instead of dying, have his HP set to 1 after any otherwise lethal attack and stop fighting.
- Most Final Fantasy Tactics games have this in some form or another. Usually, the character will be knocked unconscious, but have stars instead of the normal "countdown to death" that regular party characters have. In the original, this leads to an odd occurrence: Teta has the stars over her head, but she's suffered Plotline Death - her job is listed as "Delita's Sis" and she cannot be revived.
- Making this even more annoying, she counts as a guest in your party, and thus takes up one of your slots to deploy characters for the (extremely difficult) battle.
- In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, one of your Crutch Characters will have more defense than attack of any enemy unit on the field, making him nigh invincible. Of course, you don't really get to keep him...
- And if you make a point of getting him killed anyways, he'll merely withdraw from the battlefield as the prince instructed him to before it started.