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"Any situation that would reduce a character's head to the consistency of chunky salsa dip is fatal, regardless of other rules."

An exception to the Hit Points system common to virtually all role-playing games, in that massive head trauma is automatically lethal to characters regardless of the number of hit points they have. This is a fairly common house rule in many Tabletop Games groups, but a few systems have it explicitly built in, particularly those favoring realism. Games that feature a Combat Resuscitation mechanic may make it so characters downed by a headshot don't get put in the incapacitated state, instead being killed outright without giving teammates a chance to revive them.

The Chunky Salsa Rule may also refer to rules specifically describing the effects of taking much more damage than is required to kill a character, which is to say reducing the entire character to the consistency of chunky salsa. In addition to the grotesque visual, this may also negatively impact attempts to bring the character Back from the Dead. This variation also tends to apply to anything that inflicts such extreme bodily trauma that assigning a damage value to it at all feels like a moot point. For instance, a character who is crushed beneath an object which is several dozen times larger than they are or gets forcibly compressed into a space that is wildly insufficient to contain the mass of their body is practically guaranteed not to survive, no matter how Made of Iron they arenote .

The Chunky Salsa Rule exists specifically to avoid Critical Existence Failure. Compare Boom, Headshot!. Contrast From a Single Cell. Please note that this is specifically a gaming trope; non-gaming examples only count if the trope is explicitly referenced or if the work is set in an RPG Mechanics 'Verse. For situations that sound like this in other genres, see Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain or Decapitation Required.


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  • The Trope Namer is Shadowrun, which has a rule called "the chunky salsa effect". Although it deals with the effect of explosives rather than head trauma, the end results are similar: if you take so much damage that your body turns into the consistency of chunky salsa, you die. Doesn't matter what any other rule says; turn into chunky salsa, and you're dead. Period. Note that the "chunky salsa effect" is named after a WWI/WWII tactic in which fragmentation or concussive grenades would be thrown into a tank. The armor of the tank causes the force or shrapnel to "rebound" within the chamber, drastically increasing the effectiveness of the grenade. What was left inside the tank afterward resembled chunky salsa.
    • This leads to the Chunky Salsa Grenade, which exploits this effect by combining an ordinary frag grenade with a powerful (but short-duration) Force Wall spell. This creates a closet-sized, contained explosion, to hideously lethal effect. It is specifically noted that the top of the cylinder is open, leading to a rain of gore.
      • There's a grenade that uses the force wave mechanic classified as a nonlethal weapon, it releases a force wave that does stun damage that reflects off of a surface ten feet away or less with diminishing returns reducing the distance of the next reflection but not damage. One going off in a small space 5ft or less space is so high-powered that nothing that fits in those spaces can reasonably survive. They renamed this grenade a flashbang. Yes, really.
    • Shadowrun's actual Chunky Salsa Rule is a little more forgiving than most. Noting that a typical troll PC who sticks his head in a tank's main gun barrel will die around 100 rounds after it fires, the rule allows the process of dying from wounds to start further along if the attack had a Power greater than 1.5 times the victim's Body. In the given example this rule would most likely result in near-instant death.
  • The Arms Law combat system used by Role Master, Space Master, and Middle-Earth Role Playing had an elaborate critical hit/miss system that included numerous automatically lethal injuries. One of the more humorous entries was for a piercing injury — "Strike through ear destroys brain. The unfortunate lummox dies instantly, and any ear wax is removed."
    • Another hilarious, though wince-inducing result from a crushing injury (don't remember exactly where it was) was "Blow to foe's groin pulverizes the pelvis and any squishy bits. Foe is immobilized and unable to do anything except writhe in pain for THIRTY rounds, then dies as a relief."
  • Dungeons & Dragons has the "Massive Damage" rule. While the rule changes a bit depending on the edition, the effect can always be boiled down to some version of the following: if you take a massive amount of damage (usually well beyond your maximum HP), you instantly die.
    • In 3rd Edition, it forces a Fortitude save if a character suffers massive damage, which is any single attack or other source of damage (such as a long fall) that does fifty or more Hit Points of damage to a character. Failing the save kills the character regardless of hit points. Of course, by the time any character reaches the point where 50 Hit Points of damage isn't sufficient to kill them, they're likely to have a fairly decent fortitude save. (It should also be mentioned that the threshold for "massive damage" can be adjusted by ten points per size category below or above Medium — the larger a creature is, the more force is required to utterly pulverize them.)
      • Constructs, plants, undead, and other creatures without discernible anatomies are exempt from the rule, along with them being immune to sneak attacks and critical hits.
      • There's also the Coup De Grace rule, which states that attacks against a helpless target are instantly lethal, no ifs, and, or buts (or at the very least are guaranteed to be a Critical Hit, which often leads to the invocation of the aforementioned massive damage rule). As the rulebook puts it, it doesn't matter how powerful or well-equipped you are, "a dagger through the eye is still a dagger through the eye".
    • 1st Edition apparently did not have this rule. Second Edition did have an "Inescapable Death" clause (if "50-ton ceiling descending to crush him") and similar rule which forced any character who suffered more than 50 HP damage in a single attack to make a System Shock roll.
    • 2nd Edition's Player's Options Combat & Tactics book included elaborate critical hit rules that allowed a small chance (for each hit, regardless of hit points) for immediate crippling damage to several parts of the body, including severing or pulverizing limbs, torsos, and heads.
      • Amusing and partly on-topic, it was also possible to deal triple damage even after slaying them instantly by obliterating their head or ribcage (not completely nonsensical, with special magic effects, hydras, and so on (and because you could save to avoid the crippling, but not the double or triple damage)):
        1-12: Torso crushed, victim killed
        13+ : As 12 above with tripled damage dice
      • Spells & Magic did the same for spell effects, uber-Severity also affected how much of body was left:
        1-12: Abdomen incinerated, immediate death
        13+ : As 12 above with additional torso or leg hit (50% chance of each)
    • Certain editions have the Plane of Positive Energy. Without protection, it heals you every round, even if you're at maximum hit points. Once you hit double your maximum hit points, you explode because your body cannot handle that much life energy (too much of a "good" thing).
    • In d20 Modern, which uses many rules from D&D, the Massive Damage Threshold is much lower, equal to the character's Constitution, though it can be increased by the feat Improved Damage Threshold. A failed save, however, only drops a creature to -1 hit points. This rule is there to make gunshot wounds dangerous regardless of level.
    • Assassins were a character class in 1E, with a chance of achieving an instant kill if they attack with surprise. In 3E, they were a prestige class with a "death attack", which could either paralyze or kill, whichever the character preferred. Other editions' assassins could inflict greater damage with their specialized attacks, but not an instant-kill.
    • The game also has Vorpal Blades, which state that a Critical Hit cuts off the target's head. Regardless of how many hit points you have, removing your head will kill you. If the target doesn't have a head or can survive without one, they still take a large amount of slashing damage.
    • There are also Illithids, who can extract the brain of an enemy when grappling (assuming it has one, and actually uses it — Zombies, Golems, and such are excluded again) as an instant-kill and a snack between meals.
    • Fifth Edition's massive damage rule says that if a player character's hit points are reduced to 0, and the remaining damage from an attack is at least equal to their maximum HP, the character instantly dies without making death saving throws. There's also a few spells like Disintegrate which prevent normal resurrection spells from working by completely reducing the target's body to ashes, preventing Raise Dead from working.
      • 5th Edition's Dungeon Master's Guide has an optional "System Shock" rule, stating that if a creature takes at least as much damage as half their hit point total, it must make a Constitution save, and if it fails, a roll on a table gives an additional effect.
    • In effectively all editions, there's one particular rule: if the body is gibbed, burned beyond recognition, or otherwise destroyed, Raise Dead won't work. You need more powerful magic (like Resurrection or True Resurrection) to revive the deceased (for instance, in the 3E period, Raise Dead only brought you back to life and did some minimal hit point restoration. Any actual damage to bodily parts remained... meaning that while you could raise someone missing their arms or legs and they'd be alive if maimed, if you tried doing it with someone missing their head or torso, they'd just die again from lacking their head or torso). Gibbing someone helps make sure their trip back from the afterlife is a lot more costly.
  • Arduin, one of D&D's oldest competitors, had a rather infamous critical hit table, which contained possibly the earliest example of this trope. While there were several rolls that would give your target a lethal head wound, rolling a perfect 100 would result with: "Entire head pulped and spattered over a wide area, irrevocable death ensues."
  • While most models in any given Warhammer or Warhammer 40,000 are One-Hit-Point-Wonders from the outset (although GW calls them 'wounds'), there was a rule (in former editions — 8th has done away with it) that if any attack with a Strength stat twice or more that of the defender's Toughness stat scores a wound, that model is killed outright, no matter how many wounds it had left. The example given in the rule books is an average Super Soldier (trust us, it makes sense in the setting) taking a Krak (aka "Tank Buster") missile to the head — it doesn't matter what kind of armor he's in (although there are exceptions), a missile to the face is going to kill him. The prior existence of said rule is problematic to some veteran gamers now, since even a lowly human with no armor could survive a point-blank hit from a high-powered laser on a bad roll... and a multiwound model (such as a commander, or certain tougher units) can survive hits meant to destroy titans, if they don't do multiple wounds.
    • The above is only 40K. In WFB many high-strength attacks did a random (usually D3 or D6) amount of damage instead. Which means yes, a level 1 mage with 2 wounds can survive being hit with a cannonball. Chariot bodies, on the other hand, go pop when hit with one. There's also an Instant Death rule — Killing Blow — in FB, but that is a special rule, not a general one.
    • Warhammer Fantasy's sequel, Age of Sigmar, has swung the other way entirely. The stripped-down system is dependent upon weapon profiles, not standardized rules, and as such rules like the insta-kill double strength would not fit in the style of the game. The multi-wound weapons are still a thing, they they too can be different depending on who is using them — but they are much more common. Models also have more wounds than they did before. The former cap was 10 wounds, but now some large figures have over 30. Having originally (or so the rumors go) been designed as a skirmish game to run in tandem with a new edition of WHF, it makes sense that the models would be less disposable and that larger models would be more resilient. When the rumored skirmish game was axed in favor of a full sequel, the salsa rule remained out in favor of more prevalent multi-wound weapons and instant kills are more specific.
      • One battle report in the White Dwarf magazine had the orc general survive two hits from cannonballs. After some discussion, the players decided that they had hit the orc in the head.
    • Taken to ridiculous extremes with the Apocalypse Rules in 40k, where many weapons forgo the normal "to wound" and "Armor Save" rolls, because they atomize whatever they hit! Appropriately, these weapons also have a huge blast radius. This can even turn the most heavily armored vehicles and Star-Gods into (metal)chunky salsa in one blast.
      • Even without Apocalypse rounds, some weapons like the shokk attack gun can randomly kill any infantry in the blast radius (though it may just as randomly have said blast radius around the shooter), or a particularly angry Ogryn can one-shot a Commissar who executed the wrong guy.
    • Hilariously inverted with the Shokk Attack Gun if your dice aren't cooperating. One of the randomly-selected firing modes is specifically described as turning the gobbo ammunition into...chunky salsa. Said salsa (bones and all) is then launched through the warp portal at the enemy. It's about as effective as you'd expect.
    • The Horus Heresy variant ruleset has far less protection against Instant Death and far more expensive melee characters around. Watch what you equip your best fighters with, because most will still be turned into paste half the time if some random squad leader catches him with a Power Fist.
    • Averted entirely in 8th edition Warhammer. Instead, they simply introduce Mortal Wounds, which cannot be saved against by Armor or Invulnerable saves, but explicitly CAN be saved against by certain effects. (Generally, that the person is so inhumanely resilient, they ignore it.) No more Chunky Salsa.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and Dark Heresy has a few instant-kill conditions (mostly involving magic or psychic powers), but they are rare: Because most characters in both settings are very fragile, there is little point to an instant-kill caveat because any attack with a reasonable strength will kill anyway. What they do have, however, are effects on massive damage on the player characters' bodies. Especially Dark Heresy (WHFRP's are more random), where any attack in excess of your wounds +10 kills you in a way that ensures at least one exploding body part. A Fate Point will save you from any fate no matter how gruesome and cruelly unusual, however.
    • Although much of the time, if you want to get out of situations where logically you would end up the consistency of chunky salsa, you need to burn fate (a mechanic where you permanently lose one fate point to in some way help you out of an otherwise impossible situation).
    • There was some confusion as to the rules involving ship-to-ship weapons introduced in Rogue Trader, namely the fact that a broadside of macrocannons (whose individual shells are larger than most people) did the same damage as a good-quality lasgun, 1d10+3. The joke was that someone could "lean out an airlock with a heavy bolter" and out-shoot the capital ships. This was actually explained in the core book and expanded on in supplementary materials as simply being relative, and that individual shells hit with the force of hundreds of tons of TNT, with the lance strikes putting modern tactical nukes to the test, so anyone caught directly in the blast (rather than behind several dozen layers of bulkheads) would simply cease to exist, not even an attempt to roll in any way, and burning a fate point basically resulted in literal divine intervention. If the GM was feeling kind.
  • The 40K tabletop RPG Inquisitor used Subsystem Damage, and "crippling" any body part usually rendered it unusable (or, in the case of the chest or groin, unconscious). Crippling the head is instant death.
  • The Serenity role-playing game has a rule: if you take damage equal to twice your Wound Points, the character's dead without even a prayer. Also, getting Thrown Out the Airlock is certain death, the assumption being the victim isn't going to get picked up. The book jokes that if a player insists on damage measurement for being spaced, the GM should pick up every die on the table, roll them, and count the results as wounds.
    • This also becomes frighteningly easy if you've cheesed off the Villain/GM of your current game session enough to start firing vehicle or starship-grade weapons at you. Each grade of difference between the weapon and the target multiplies the damage by a factor of 10. Your character might survive a low-caliber auto-cannon round if they're lucky. Being hit by a gorram Anti-Ship Missile? Start praying the GM is willing to let you burn your Hero points to be left merely crippled for the rest of your character's life, or fetch a clean character sheet.
  • The Call of Cthulhu RPG:
    • If Cthulhu himself appears and there are humans within arms' reach, he eats 1D3 of them each round, with no saving throw of any kind. Yes, that's listed under his combat attributes. You get a roll to survive so long as there are 1D3+1 in the party. Technically, Cthulhu does have a damage roll, but he rolls more dice than humans can get hit points.
    • The Dhole (the impossibly huge Lovecraftian worm monster, not the wild dog) has an attack where it just crawls over the character. If they are actually hit by this, the only roll they're entitled to is a Luck roll to see if there's enough of them left to fit in a matchbox — or the less colorful "enough to bury", depending on edition.
    • Yig the snake god has a bite attack causing "1d8 damage + Instant Death". Which is more sensible than it sounds, as if you block his bite with a weapon then the weapon will take 1d8 damage. If he bites you somewhere armoured then 1d8 may not be enough to actually bite into your skin. Once you take 1hp from his bite, however, it's time to make a new character.
    • In 7e Call of Cthulhu, taking 6d10 to 7d10 worth of damage is referred to in the manual as a "Fatal" amount of damage, and is like being hit by a car or falling off a tall building. Taking 8d10 or more points of damage is like being hit by a speeding train, and is aptly referred to in the manual as "Splat".
    • In the d20 variation of Call of Cthulhu, if your character ever takes ten or more damage from any one attack you must make a fortitude save against instant death.
  • In GURPS, if a character hits -10 times their maximum HP, their body is destroyed utterly if at all plausible for the damage source, and if not they're not just dead, but in terrible shape — they're reduced to ash, riddled with arrows to the point of being barely recognizable, chopped into tiny pieces, turned to monatomic vapor, etc. Meaning, no resurrection without divine intervention. note 
    • Worth noting is that this is one of extremely few rules that has no workarounds: there is no ability that lets you ignore this rule save Unkillable 2 and 3, but even then those are iffy since they just bring you back after some time.
    • GURPS also mentions the example of being held down and suffocated — you're dead, regardless of hit points. But you have to be rendered helpless first.
    • Amusingly, creatures with Supernatural Durability can pretty much only die this way.
    • Beheading is also instant death unless you have no head to begin with or have extras.
      • Note that called shots are a significant part of the GURPS combat system; a strike to the head loses two points of damage (that pesky skull gets in the way) but after that, damage is multiplied by four. Makes it much easier to reach that -10xHP.
  • In another Steve Jackson game, Car Wars, the "confetti" rule specifically exists describing the effects of a car being hit for massive damage: the car is removed from the map, a quantity of debris counters proportional to the car's weight are selected, and the counters are dropped from a given height over the former position of the car.
    • What's fun about that rule is that the confetti is treated as obstacles for the remaining vehicles. So while it can be quite satisfying to completely shred an opponent's vehicle, the end result is that you've made things harder on yourself.
    • Then there's steamrolling, where a large vehicle just drives over a small one. Going by the rules, say an 80,000 lb semi hits a motorcycle with a roll of 3 damage. With a ram bar, that turns into 3 x 20 x 2 x 2. 240 damage. Now, evenly distribute this over all the armor and the player... which has up to 9 hit points. Yeah. Now note that this level of damage is likely to happen during say, a 15 mph crash (1d6-1). A 50 mph crash requires 5d6.
  • In the classic Cyberpunk 2020, taking more than 8 points of damage to any extremity would cause its loss, and losing one's head in this way was instantly fatal, no save. Another rule said that any damage to a character's head was doubled, and most weapons did about 20-30 points of damage per average hit. Suffice to say, a helmet was a smart investment.
    • Even the punches of any reasonably skilled martial artist (skill 4 or above) are enough to invoke this rule and kill you automatically on any hit to the head.
  • No matter how much armor a 'Mech carries elsewhere in BattleTech, it cannot carry more than 9 points in the head. That plus the 3 points of internal structure means that it takes only 12 damage to destroy the head. And the head is where the cockpit is. Where the pilot sits. Do the math. There are a number of weapons that are capable of delivering rather more than 12 damage to a single location. Fortunately, you only hit the head on a 2d6 roll of 12, but any attack has that 1:36 chance of hitting the head.
    • Three hits to the engine is also guaranteed death: the fusion engine shuts itself down to prevent a catastrophic explosion. Standard engines take up 6 slots, but they were all in the center torso (behind the heaviest armor, unless you get hit from behind). Extra-Light engines take up half the weight of standard engines but add an additional 6 slots (four if it's Clan-tech). And these slots are in the side torsos, which are more vulnerable.
      • There is an optional rule (The "Stackpole Rule") that, if you get three engine hits, there is a chance that the engine will fail to shut down in time. This totals the 'Mech, as well as doing terrible, terrible Splash Damage. The writers admit in the description of this rule that the kind of fusion engines used in the setting would most likely never actually explode from being punctured, but said that to have a 'Mech not have its nuclear engine Go Critical from catastrophic engine failure would just not be cool.
    • A critical hit to ammunition holds will cause the remaining ammo to cook off. For weapons that get very few shots of ammo, it's possible to deplete the ammo under normal conditions. And then there's the machine gun. A single ton of MG ammo holds 200 shots worth of ammunition. It's unlikely, unless you have multiple MG's pulling from the same ammo bin, that you will run out in a single engagement. Or even get down to less than 100. And since each shot is worth 2 damage, when it gets hit... well, 'Mechs aren't designed to take 400 points of damage, especially directly to their internal structure. Damage in Battletech also propagates "inward": excess damage travels to the next location closest to the center torso, or the center torso itself, which is then typically also destroyed, and then propagating inward again until basically the 'mech dies. To make things even worse, a non-instantly fatal ammo explosion can cause critical hits to other ammo bins, causing them to cook off and add to the carnage.
    • This problem still exists with non-MG ammo bins. Lower caliber Auto-cannons, which might only do 2 or 5 damage each shot, still carry plenty of ammo per ton in most cases to last most of a battle or two, unless you're "gunboating" with multiple autocannons, or using the Ultra or Rotary Versions. The same applies to any of the Missile Launchers. AC/10s and 20s, you really don't even want one or two rounds of ammo of those cooking off, as anything short of an Assault class 'mech can't take more than 2 rounds hitting their internal structure (and any Assault class 'mech will still be decisively crippled if it manages to survive). Gauss Rifles are no exclusion to this rule: the ammo itself is inert (as the Gauss Rifle is a railgun, the ammunition is just ferrous slugs and can't explode), but if the gun itself is critically hit, the capacitors discharge explosively, dealing a 20 point hit on the location they are mounted on, which is enough to destroy the location on most 'mechsnote .
    • The only protection from an ammunition explosion is C.A.S.E. — Cellular Ammunition Storage Equipment. The benefit of C.A.S.E. is that it prevents the damage propagation effect (though only for ammunition explosion) by "blowing out" the C.A.S.E.-mounted location completely. While it means that a 'mech can actually survive an ammunition explosion, it also means the location absolutely won't. Ammunition on most 'mechs is stored in the left or right torso locations, which, if they explode, take out the associated arm as well, meaning that 'mechs with a C.A.S.E. explosion are highly advised to retreat and live to fight another day. Complicating matters even further, C.A.S.E. also takes up tonnage and space in the 'mech, which means either less armor, less weaponry, or less ammunition overall, and C.A.S.E. can, itself, suffer critical damage rendering it ineffective. And if that's not enough, C.A.S.E. is lostech, which means it's so rare prior to 3050 that it basically doesn't exist.
    • BT also has a rule of this kind with regard to repairing. While head destruction and 3 engine hits will render the 'Mech tactically inert for the rest of that battle, the 'Mech is not truly destroyed. It is not totaled; it can be dragged off the battlefield and repaired. The only things that can render a 'Mech truly destroyed is the destruction of the center torso as a result of damage from:
      • an ammo explosion (see above).
      • an engine explosion (see above).
      • an artillery strike.
      • an orbital bombardment.
      • a nuke.
    • There are a number of mechs designed to take advantage of the head kill weakness. The Thunderhawk carries 3 15 point weapons, making its (assuming all hit) head kill chance 3x 1:36 every turn. Since punches hit on the punch table, where head hit is 1:6 instead of 1:36, and any mech 55 tons or heavier with TSM can do 12+ damage punches, there are several mechs designed such that they can get 2x 1:6 instant kill in melee. Needless to say, such mechs tend to draw More Dakka. Also TSM mechs have to control their heat curve very carefully leading many to simply Kill It with Fire.
    • Quite apart from damage to the mech. It's possible to damage the pilot (non-killing headshots, falling damage, etc) without severely damaging the mech. Once a pilot takes enough damage, they're killed and generally considered to be splashed around the cockpit via inertial force. This, too, was initially referred to as The Chunky Salsa Rule.
    • Similarly, the Chunky Salsa rule is in play whenever infantry is brought to the battlefield (using the Total War rules); since combat in Battletech is calibrated to 'mech-size combatants, infantry-scale weapons like assault rifles simply do not exist within the ruleset: Any weapon that hits an infantry squadron will kill one soldier, instantly, no questions asked. Weapons classified as 'Anti-Infantry' are capable of a Herd-Hitting Attack, like flamethrowers and machine guns.
    • Battletech's roleplaying game spinoff, Mechwarrior, has had numerous variations on the rule, due to their use of varying concepts like "Hits To Kill," "Condition," and "Wound Value." In spite of all the differences to the rules involved, one thing has remained fairly consistent; any trooper not wearing Power Armor that is hit by a 'Mech-scale weapon is pretty much dead beyond the hope of medical attention, and will likely have to be recovered from the battlefield with a squeegee and a bucket. Optional rules were included in some sourcebooks to offer a chance of survival for player characters facing 'Mech-scale weapons, but the odds are so ridiculously stacked against mere humans that most of the time they're just written off as dead anyway. Since the Battletech universe is science fiction with the barest minimum of fantasy and thus has no concepts like resurrection, revivification, or zombies, this is about as dead as the setting can manage.
  • Unknown Armies states that if any character takes more than fifty points of damage from one hit and lives, they still have to deal with some kind of permanent aftereffect, such as stat penalties or the loss of limbs.
    • And playing this trope completely straight is the Point Blanking rules. Getting successfully hit while rendered sufficiently helpless kills you, barring some extreme factor in your favour (like magick), as does being choked for long enough.
  • Though not explicitly built-in to the system, this is often the result when a PC in Scion with the right stats hits any normal human. Once you get into Ultimate Strength or the Avatar-level Boons, however, the game states that you can forgo using dice — if the target has no powers on the same level, it dies. End of story.
  • If a player of Vampire: The Masquerade faces Caine in combat, there's only one rule: You Lose. Even if you win, You Lose.note 
    • Later elaborated thusly: Caine has: A) All the Disciplines of every vampire line all at their max abilities and he cannot be damaged by any other vampire's Discipline, B) Generation 1, giving him a blood pool and blood expenditure per round that is unmatched, and C) If everything else fails, he has the Mark of God promising sevenfold vengeance on anyone who should slay him.
    • Vampire also specifically says that completely destroying a vampire's body is enough to cause Final Death, don't bother messing with health levels.
  • Paranoia doesn't have hitpoints as such, but instead has a system of wound levels, ranging from 'OK' through 'Wounded', 'Maimed', and 'Killed'. The level beyond 'killed' is known as 'Vaporized'. To quote the rulebook: "The target permanently and irrevocably Goes Away, reduced to a thick red spray, component body cells or subatomic particles. Being Vaporized is a significant accomplishment generally recognized by a brief but heartfelt round of applause."
  • The sourcebook Armory for the New World of Darkness has a sidebar explaining that being caught in the immediate blast radius of a successful nuclear warhead attack insta-kills you.
    • Another Reality Is Unrealistic because there were people who survived the initial immediate blast from the two nuclear attacks on Japan. They didn't live long afterwards, and there's a bigger instance of there being nothing left of a person but their silhouette on a wall behind them, but a nuclear attack is survivable.
    • Then, there was Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the man who survived both nuclear blasts in Japan and lived to age 93.note 
  • In contrast to the above, it's quite possible for a beginner-level Tammuz Promethean to be optimised to the point it can survive a nuke. Being that all Prometheans are made of dead flesh (or even inanimate matter) animated by the raw, unrefined energy of life, they're extremely difficult to kill, as they can keep functioning unimpaired by wounds that would be debilitating (or fatal) for humans.
    • Specifically on the nukes front, a type of Promethean known as a Zeka actually eats radiation and so is pretty much immune to nuclear explosions.
  • In the 2nd edition versions of Vampire: The Requiem and Werewolf: The Forsaken, both of the titular species are immune to this effect because of their Healing Factor and, for vampires, the fact that their consciousness is tied more to their blood than to their body. Vampires downgrade all kinds of damage by one step, except for fire, sunlight, and supernaturally potent effects — and there are ways to work around both the fire and the sunlight vulnerabilities. Werewolves heal so fast that they are outright immune to Aggravated damage, meaning that things like blowing them up, running them over, or sniping them in the sniper's sweet spot will, at most, stagger them for a few moments before they heal up.
  • The Chunky Salsa Rule was the Phoenix Command system's selling point... From their original literature:
    Are you tired of your current small arms combat system? Tired of inconsistencies and rules that simply don't work? If so, we invite you to conduct a short test: Using your current small arms combat system, place the muzzle of a large caliber pistol between your character's eyes. Squeeze the trigger. Continue squeezing the trigger until he falls unconscious. Then have a friend put a band-aid over that nasty .45 caliber dent in his skull, and try not to get him shot too often in the week or two it takes to heal. Now, using Phoenix Command, place the same pistol in the same place. Squeeze the trigger. You now have a choice: you can either roll up a new character or rush the body to a very sophisticated medical facility and discover the joys of role-playing a vegetable.
  • The slew of damage charts in The Riddle of Steel contain a number of ways for characters to instantly perish, especially in regards to trauma to the head.
  • Western RPG Aces & Eights also contains a myriad of damage charts detailing how a character can bite the big one instantaneously.
  • Conspicuously absent in Spirit of the Century where the GM is advised not to do these kinds of things in the first place because "Roll or die!" isn't very fun. Still, long falls into spikes or lava are assumed to do this, you're just expected not to fall in the first place. (Or at least be smart enough to do it out of sight of the other PCs; the Death Defiance stunt even guarantees survival in this case as long as the character has at least one fate point left.)
  • Rifts uses a system called "Mega Damage" to account for the huge power of supernatural and super-technological weaponry. A single point of Mega Damage is enough to blow a car or small building into smithereens. Many starting characters can do several dice of Mega Damage per attack. The rules take time to explain what happens when that sort of thing hits an unarmored human; about the best you can hope for is that it just winged you and severed a limb instead of killing you outright.
    • The rule is averted in two cases. Mega-Damage creatures (and special cases like vampires) are immune to any kind of chunky-salsafication; since they can expressly shrug off jumping on an antitank grenade, their MDC have to be reduced to zero (and if they can regenerate, they're not dead until they are shot into red mist — chunky salsa is too likely to get back up — after being zeroed). Secondly, there are cases when an "ordinary human" or similar being has enough SDC to take a point or two of Mega-Damage without being reduced to zero. This situation is a corner case, and the rules for dealing with it are a bit inconsistent between books (and often suffer from Writers Cannot Do Math).
    • Other games by Palladium that don't use the Mega-Damage rules have another form of massive damage. All characters have Hit Points, and SDC (Structural Damage Capacity). SDC is considered to be minor damage that can be easily healed, cuts and scrapes. Hit Point damage is considered life-threatening. Any character getting shot in the head or heart takes double damage direct to hit points. On the off chance the character survives the attack, a chart is provided to assign penalties to the character for the massive trauma he just suffered.
  • The Starship Troopers RPG (based on the books, not the movie) features player-usable nuclear weaponry. In the event your character is caught within the blast radius of a nuke and has enough movement to get to a safe distance, you can make a Reflex save to do exactly that. If they don't, it's time to roll up a new character.
  • Ars Magica, at least in some editions, has this in its Combat Botch Results table, for the more disastrous rolls, each describing death in a wide variety of instant and horrible manners. As an example, one extreme result ends with "Your weapon glances harmlessly off your opponent, rebounding back into your face. Fragments of bone shatter backward into your brain! You die horribly. Your friends mourn."
  • A Highlander card game had these various attack methods alongside dodge and parry mechanics. Failure to block or dodge resulted in damage. Accrue enough damage and you die (presumably, the pain knocks you out and your opponent decapitates you at his leisure). However, if your opponent manages to pull a decapitation strike card and you can't properly defend, then they win.
  • Deadlands tracks damage by location; 5 damage points to the head or guts is fatal, 5 damage points to a limb means it's chopped off or crushed or otherwise busted-and-will-not-heal. There's also a "gizzards" result, which counts as worse damage to the guts (the attack hits a vital organ, not just muscle or bone).
  • Inverted in World Tree (RPG), Life Points are God: an arrow through your eye into your brain won't kill you instantly (usually), but will hurt like hell and cost you the use of that eye (until you get it magically repaired).
  • In the d20 Stargate setting, there are ways to bring characters Back from the Dead, such as the sarcophagus, but the system has a rule that states that anybody brought to -25 Hit Points or lower is considered to have been so obliterated that a sarcophagus has nothing to work with. The "Kawoosh" of an activating gate is explicitly stated to annihilate anything caught in it, effectively reducing a character to -25 instantly.
  • Extras in Exalted instantly die if hit with an attack that has seven dice after soak is removed. (Technically, this is because of their lack of narrative importance and resultant fragility, but the effect is the same.) UnExalted characters may also be targeted by a number of powers and abilities that automatically kill as a free action.
    • Seven levels of post-soak damage is enough to incapacitate heroic mortals and Exalts who don't have increased numbers of health levels. This takes about 18 dice of damage, which is laughably easy to get. Luckily, Exalts have many ways of defending themselves, but if a big attack gets through, they go splat.
  • The 3rd party parody product Fire And Brimstone: a Guide to Lava, Magma, and Superheated Rock promises to have rule sets that take into account the full complexity of lava and magma in all its forms. The rules promise they are completely compatible with all gaming systems. After a few pages of background information on lava and magma, you can find this gem. "If you fall into lava, you die. No save." There is a sidebar: "If you fall into lava and you are immune to fire, you don't die." The rest of the guide consists of charts and diagrams for those too thick to get it.
  • New Horizon has wound levels that effect the rolls of characters. The highest wound level is Severe; anything beyond that is Critical, which either takes off a limb or kills you.
  • The 1980s FASA Doctor Who roleplaying game included the rule "Disintegrated characters cannot regenerate". However this is normally not needed as Time Lords, despite being physically superior to humans in nearly every way, can still be permanently killed by the ol' double tap.
  • In Mekton, the rules for nukes are heavy on this sort of thing; if you're in the hex where it goes off, you're dead. The same applies to supernovae, except that every hex within about 100 AU of the star is treated as 'where it goes off'.
    Quit worrying. The impending destruction of an entire star system is going to make anything else seem meaningless by comparison. Luckily, supernovae are not a common game hazard... but you never know.
  • In Ironclaw scoring an Overkill is so gruesome that allies of the victim became Afraid. And Necromancy doesn't work on Overkilled remains, and the one spell in the setting that can resurrect the dead (already a crapshoot) can at most bring them back with severe disfigurements that reduce their stats.
  • Myriad Song uses the same rule system as Ironclaw, but adds the detail "cannot loot the body" to the Overkilled status as in a sci-fi setting it usually means the character was vaporized.
  • Averted in Urban Jungle despite using a version of the same rules system, as it tends more toward Film Noir and Two-Fisted Tales, where major characters usually have a bit more plot armor than in the styles of Fantasy and Science Fiction the above two emulate. There is still an overkill rule, but it just says that when a minor character takes damage equal or greater to their Overkill value (often listed, and with guidelines for calculating it if not) they're instantly incapacitated with no chance for recovery. (And, not having the same plot armor, this usually means death)
  • The Dark Eye uses Wounds — hits that cause damage beyond a certain threshold, depending mainly on the character's constitution. Take three of these to an arm or leg, and it becomes useless (in the case of a leg, you also are out of the fight). Three to the torso, upper or lower, renders you unconscious and bleeding to death. Three to the head? As torso, plus an additional 2d6 points of damage (in a game where even a tough fighter will rarely go beyond 40 hit points).
  • HC SVNT DRACONES has this as a recurring mechanic, due to the general rule that it's a lot easier to make a big gun than it is to make armor that can withstand it, especially in a Sci-fi setting. It is also an explicit rule in the case of some particularly powerful devices.
    • One of the thus-far shared mechanics for a physics manipulation device, when pushed to its limits, turns the user into a veritable freight train of kinetic force, demolishing anything they come into contact with. If, however, the device misfires under the strain (rolled on every impact with an object), the user is completely disintegrated by the feedback, and it is explicitly noted that it is completely, utterly impossible to recover in any meaningful way from this.
  • Reign, Wild Talents, and other One Roll Engine games use location-based damage. The head has fewer hit boxes than any other location, and obviously filling the hit boxes up with Killing damage will kill anyone instantly. Fortunately, hitting the head also requires getting a 10 (out of 10) on your success, making it the hardest hit location to consistently reach... in Reign. It's trivially easy in Wild Talents to make someone who can perform perfect headshots every attack.
  • Planet Mercenary has the "meat salad" rule where any attack whose damage meets or exceeds twice your maximum health results in instant death instead of unconsciousness and being killed by the next hit.
  • Turnip 28: The game's artillery pieces - the Stump Gun, Grand Bombard and St Alamei's Rocket Batteries - all have the option to bypass Vulnerability rolls, which are the game's equivalent of saving throws. The Grand Bombard, a cannon large enough that it can be loaded with spare officers in a pinch, is particularly impressive at it; a direct hit from the Bombard will inflict six automatic wounds to the target unit, which is enough to outright remove the majority of enemy units. Unfortunately, these guns are also prone to suffering this themselves, what with having a rule that can cause them to explode, and are often Powerful, but Inaccurate.

    Video Games 
  • Gears of War 2 is notable in that the Chunky Salsa Rule comes into effect during matches using Execution rules. In Execution, if an enemy is downed, all further damage inflicted from beyond a certain distance away is negated; you HAVE to get close to them in order to finish them off. There are some exceptions, however: aside from the typical explosives, shooting the victim's head with a pistol or sniping weapon will make their head asplode, finishing them off from any distance.
  • In Perfect Dark's story missions, headshots to unshielded enemies (and friendly NPCs) are always instantly fatal, even if the player has used the game's customizable "Perfect Dark" difficulty setting to increase enemies' health to 1000%.
  • The Halo series has several weapons which have the property of instantly killing an unshielded enemy regardless of health with a headshot (Halo: Reach refers to these as "AM rated"). Even with 1000% health set in the gametype, a headshot is always lethal. While there is no locational damage to energy shields, any precision weapon capable of depleting shields in one shot will kill even a 100% shielded target with one headshot (unless they're using an overshield or playing a gametype where the "standard" shields are set to stronger than normal).
    • In some of the campaigns, a few enemy types wear helmets that you have to shoot off first before you can headshot them.
    • Assassinations (melee attacks in the back that snap the neck) are instantly lethal regardless of health or shields. They are so powerful that even a player designated invincible by the gametype will still die.
  • In the Baldur's Gate series, characters who take amount of damage significantly higher than their current hit point total, or suffer a one-hit kill due to obscene damage or a vorpal weapon, will often be "chunked" (i.e., explode messily). While this is simply a cooler death animation for your enemies, allied characters who get chunked on harder difficulty levels can't be resurrected and force a reload - and better tactics the next time around - if you want to keep them in your party.
    • Ditto for characters who fail their saving throw against the spell 'Disintegrate'; no matter how much health you had left, if you blow that roll, you (and your equipment) are dust in the wind.
  • Several bosses in the Silent Hill series have insta-kill attacks; for example, the Split Headed Lizard in part 1 and the Split Worm in part 3 can swallow the protagonist whole, and Pyramid Head in part two has both an instant-death headbutt attack and an instant-death overhead knife slash, which just has to barely miss you to register a hit. (Poor hit detection programming?)
  • Many platformers with a hitpoint system (or a powerup system where you lose a powerup when hit) will have situations that instantly kill you regardless of circumstances. Apart from Bottomless Pits, these situations usually involve getting crushed between solid objects thanks to Malevolent Architecture.
    • In the old Prince of Persia games, falling damage was always fatal when the fall was three stories or more. Falling onto Spikes of Doom also meant instant death, and so did taking a hit from a mook when your sword was sheathed.
    • In Iji, most weapons and attacks only do armor damage, and a few attacks can bypass the armor for health damage. The only guaranteed instant death attack is General Tor's Phantom Hammer, which fills half the screen with a massive laser and is more than a mere One-Hit Kill— it also reduces all of your stats to zero. (Luckily, you can dodge it, but it's not easy.) In a logbook before the final battle, it's mentioned that the Phantom Hammer is capable of completely obliterating a nanofield, which is presumably why it's so effective.
      • If you die normally, you scream and then collapse. If you get hit by the Phantom Hammer, your entire body instantly turns to dust and is blown away.
    • In the Mega Man games, lightly brushing up against a spike will kill you instantly, no matter how many HPs you have left. In the original Mega Man, they disregard Mercy Invincibility as well.
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic 3 & Knuckles, where it's possible to achieve Super Mode in the normal stages, the otherwise invincible Super Sonic can still be killed by crushing or drowning (or Bottomless Pits). (Hyper Sonic in S3&K is immune to drowning at least.)
      • In Sonic CD's Stardust Speedway zone, the boss battle is a race against Metal Sonic, with Dr. Robotnik using a laser as a pacemaker. If you touch the laser, you die, even if you have rings left.
    • Spelunky:
      • Spikes will kill any dumb spelunker in a gruesome way even if he has 99 Hit Points. Shopkeepers and other mooks fortunately obey this as well.
      • There's also one enemy, the Mantrap, that can instantly kill regardless of health.
    • Averted in Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, where anything can be survived with enough points and fast hands. Even the classic "smashed between two walls" can be pushed apart, since the challenge comes from a getting high score, rather than survival.
    • In Ori and the Blind Forest, crushers, lasers, lava, Kuro, and certain kinds of spikes all spell instant death for the titular hero.
  • Role-Playing Games and Survival Horror games also feature this more or less frequently, though in RPGs it's usually the player who gets to use instakill technique, while in survival horror it's usually enemies. For example, in Resident Evil 4 (and 5, for that matter) a chainsaw-wielding enemy can decapitate you in one swing independent of your health bar.
    • Technically, having a lot of health makes a difference in Resident Evil 4 when hit with a chainsaw: low health is instant decapitation, while high health means that the guy has to work the chainsaw to take off your head. Either way results in death, of course. There's also the second and third stage Plagas, and most of the cutscene-based Action Commands.
    • Getting caught by a Reaper (giant roach) in Resident Evil 5 is an instant kill, as it will proceed to shove its other legs into your abdomen frantically. Wesker can reduce your heart to chunky salsa. Getting knocked into lava? Dead. Chainsaws have an alternate attack in this one that reduces your health to Dying, too, from one hit.
    • There's also the hunters in previous games, which can decapitate the player; they're far more likely to do it if your health is at "Caution", but they can do it even from full health if you're unlucky.
    • The plant monsters in RE2 can also bite/dissolve your head off.
    • Dynamite-wielding Ganados and Zealots in 4 will blow you up along with themselves if they grab you and you don't shake them off.
    • In the remake of the original Resident Evil, exploding zombies' heads are one of the only ways to keep it from resurrecting as a more powerful monster, the only other ways being to cremate it or blow its knee-caps off (other monsters can be decapitated, but it makes no gameplay difference). The enemies in 4 and 5 avert this: blowing up enemies' heads (which can happen with anything, like your elbow) will generally kill them, but occasionally they'll have a parasite burst out of the stump, or briefly continue fighting without it. Regenerators and Iron Maidens avert this completely: blow off their heads and limbs all you want - they'll simply grow back in a few seconds.
  • In Left 4 Dead, Witches can knock down a survivor in one hit, leaving them bleeding out or dead. On the other hand, zombies are extremely vulnerable to having their limbs blown off, though the lethality of this depends on the limb in question: an arm leaves them able to continue. Headshots will kill anything but the Tank or Witch though.
  • Lost Souls (MUD) basically has this built in by way of each limb, including the head, having its own separate hit points.
  • Although there are many ways to die in NetHack irrespective of how much HP you have, most involve poison, disease, magic, or oxygen deprivation. Some purely physical deaths that come to mind involve being decapitated by one artifact sword, bisected by another, crushed by an opening or closing drawbridge, or pulped by an exploding one. The castle drawbridge is so dangerous, in fact, that many players destroy it with a force bolt and take their chances with the moat. If a mindflayer eats your brains, you will be unable to do anything but quit, even if you're playing in Wizard mode. One of the more literal examples is "sliming"—a green slime can dissolve you into a green slime, which technically doesn't kill you, but ends the game because there's no way to un-dissolve or to complete the game as a living puddle of goo.
  • Bad Girl from No More Heroes has an attack where she feigns crying; if you get close to her during this time, she'll trip you, crawl on top of you, and beat you repeatedly about the head with a baseball bat until you have a fountain of High-Pressure Blood coming out of your nose and mouth. This is an automatic kill. Sometimes, however, she really is crying and thus open to attack. Watch her hands - if both are on her face, go for it, while if one is still holding her bat, she's faking.
  • In ICO getting punched around by shadows or falling off medium-height ledges only stuns the player. Falls higher than three stories and certain magical effects are an instant game over.
  • In Starsiege, the Cybrids get a weapon that does no damage to HERCs; the weapon shoots radiation that can kill a human pilot if the HERC doesn't have the right upgrade installed. As Cybrids are AIs, the weapons don't affect them (at least, not in single-player; the manual clearly states that for gameplay reasons, Cybrid players are just as vulnerable to that weapon as humans in multiplayer matches, assuming that the target doesn't equip that upgrade).
    • Cyberstorm 2 also has this radiation gun, as you fight primarily against other HERCs. Also, an (excessively rare) direct hit to the life support of a HERC with a normal weapon can kill the pilot outright or expose them to the potentially-hazardous atmosphere of the planet.
  • Cortex Command has a physics engine that dictates that if a dropship engine lands on your head, you gib. Little itty bitty pixel gibs. Also, clones can survive numerous gunshot wounds to the body. One correctly applied sniper rifle shot to the head? SPLURCKRCH.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has several cannons lying around Snowpeak Ruins, activated by loading a cannonball to act as projectile and then a bomb to act as ammunition. If Link happens to be in front of the barrel when the fuse on your bomb runs out, Link will die instantly. Unless he's wearing the Magic Armor, in which case he'll lose all his Rupees.
  • Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast uses a cleaner version of this trope when you activate the "realistic saber combat" cheat. Suddenly, any touch of a lightsaber against an unshielded enemy results in limbs, heads, or torsos being severed wherever it touches them. It didn't matter if you were just walking around with it on, or if the dude's already dead. While this makes Kyle Katarn a god against mooks, it also means that one mistake in a saber duel will be game over. Not only does this make said duels feel more epic, but it also results in some supremely awesome death scenes. For example, when you kill a Sith with a combination and keep cutting parts off while he's dying, all in Matrix-y bullet-time.
  • People Playground: You can easily revive dead people by injecting them with a Life Syringe, even when nothing is left except the head. However, if you destroy the head, it becomes impossible to revive them, as the syringe can't regrow missing limbs.
  • In Team Fortress 2, environmental kills (which include huge-ass sawblades and freight trains) and telefrags can kill someone even if they have an Ubercharge active. Nothing short of hacking can help a player survive this.
  • In Dwarf Fortress, proper use of the Chunky Salsa Rule is the only way to kill your enemies. There's no Hit Point system, so slaying your foe requires you hack off limbs and leave wounds until they bleed to death, or smash their heads in, or cleave them in two, or destroy a vital organ, or smash them into pieces with a hammer.
    • Bronze colossi in particular are immune to everything but this rule. You can pound on them for a game week, fracture every part of their body, but they'll still keep ticking until a single hit that can decapitate or bisect them, or The Last Straw finally causes a vital body part to collapse. Beasts made of metals or minerals are similarly implacable.
    • Additionally, drawbridges (aka "Dwarven Atom Smashers") can be used to obliterate almost anything; if it's opened on top of something that isn't too large, it will erase every trace of whatever got crushed by it from existence. Cave-ins are even stronger; nothing in the game will survive if a single piece of roof is dropped on it.
  • Rimworld takes inspiration from Dwarf Fortress above, in its detailed subsystem damage, but each individual body part still has HP. While general whittling down will kill, pulping the torso with a strong enough shot, piercing the heart and damage to the brain (including excess Skull and Head damage) is generally instantly lethal; even if the brain isn't destroyed, that colonist will never wake up again.
  • While it is quite possible and legitimate to win in PVP through traditional Hit Point depletion, in the Iron Realms MUD game Aetolia: The Midnight Age, it is far more fun and effective to use one of the various Chunky Salsa-esque attacks, of which each character class has at least one. The more visceral examples include Incineration, Disembowelment, Backbreaking, Vivisection, Beheading, and Quartering (in which a pack of werewolves gang up to literally tear the enemy limb from limb). However, for the sake of Competitive Balance, all of these instakill techniques require the opponent to be incapacitated in some way, either by direct game mechanics or simply to keep the foe from taking the (usually quite simple) steps necessary to prevent their impending doom.
  • Syphon Filter:
    • Enemies can take headshots at you too, resulting in One-Hit Kill, needless to say.
    • Being anywhere in a grenade's blast radius or touching fire is always lethal, no matter how much health you have.
  • All AT weapons in the Battlefield series are considered to be a Chunky Salsa Type weapon, which means getting hit by it causes you to be "killed" rather than critically wounded and able to be revived with a medic's Magical Defibrillator.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine
    • There are four instant-kill possibilities: a meltagun at point-blank range, a Lascannon headshot (unless you're a Devastator with an Iron Halo), a charged plasma cannon shot, and an upgraded Thunder Hammer.
    • In the campaign, the Execution mechanic lets you finish off a wounded enemy in a spectacular rain of blood and gore. Two enemies can have the Execute command used directly on them without wounding: Gretchin and Guardsmen.
  • In the first Star Wars: Battlefront game, Jedi were invincible to common soldiers, no matter how much firepower you poured into them (it didn't let you play as them, though). The only way to kill a Jedi is to land a starfighter on top of them (which kills anything), or force them into some other area of a stage that is instant death, like throwing them off the platforms of Cloud City with an explosion or pushing them into the water in Theed. Also, when riding a speeder bike at full throttle any time you hit an enemy infantryman he dies, whenever you hit anything else you die, and whenever you hit a Destroyer Droid with its shields up you both die.
  • In Quake and II both the player and enemies gib if they take enough fatal damage. This is the only way to kill Zombies in the first game. In the second game, enemies can be gibbed after they are killed (even before they hit the ground).
  • In Quake II and Quake IV, there's a Strogg called the Medic who can revive any corpse he finds, from a grunt to a dog to a miniboss (or worse, another medic). The only way to counter this is to go around with the pistol or shotgun, gibbing every corpse.
    • In 4, if you're standing in the wrong place when the ship lands, it crushes you.
  • In Doom³, if you get caught in any running exposed machinery, you're chunky salsa.
  • Tabula Rasa had a fun game mechanic where the Bane would stagger in place after losing all of their life, opening themselves up to a decapitating roundhouse kick that had the added bonus of giving additional experience points.
  • Half-Life 2: Presumably the result of being caught underneath a moving Combine Smart Barrier (gigantic siege walls that slowly expand outward by raising columns up, inching them forward, and slamming them down with building-shattering force). Understandably this is a One-Hit Kill regardless of Gordon's hit points.
  • In the first two Soldier of Fortune games, any shot that destroys the head or severs a limb (or spills the enemy's guts) is a One-Hit Kill. In Payback, enemies can still fight back for a bit after losing a limb.
  • In Grim Fandango, everybody is already dead, so there's no way to kill anyone, right? Wrong. The conventional means of "death" in the Land of the Dead is by getting "sprouted": shot with special bullets that make flowers grow rapidly in the victim's bones, condemning him or her to what amounts to an eternity of painful immobility. However, at one point in the game, Manny defeats his rival Domino by knocking him into the grinders of a large steamship and reducing him to bone meal.
  • Sacrifice has a gibbing mechanism, where if an enemy is just killed, their body remains until its soul is collected and the soul itself has to be converted by the opposing side to get it. Hitting an enemy with an attack that does enough damage, and the enemy explodes in a shower of Ludicrous Gibs, leaving behind a blue soul that anyone can snag, with no hope of revival without use of the Animate Dead spell.
  • Jazzpunk showcases in its trailers the ability to reduce the game's minimalist NPCs to nothing but chunks of meat.
  • In Warcraft 3, organic enemies killed by siege units are turned into a bloody goop and leave no corpses. This is notable seeing as the Undead faction uses corpses for various abilities, so this can be used to deny them corpses from their own dead units.
  • In Lost Planet, the Rifle, the Plasma Gun, and the Revolver is an instant kill if one gets a headshot, regardless of remaining health.
  • In Dead Island, a point-blank shotgun blast tears extremities off zombies and humans alike, even if it deals proportionally small amounts of damage. This means that one 420-damage shot to the face can kill a 2000hp Walker zombie by turning his head into brain salad. Ordinary weapons can cut off or smash the head, but usually only if the attack drops the victim to zero hitpoints. Arms can be broken, skewered or severed with any weapon, but this won't kill your enemies.
  • The medics in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas can revive dead people, unless their heads have been blown off.
  • In addition to gibbing by explosives and the Evaporating Particle Beam, the Shotgun in First Encounter Assault Recon can completely disintegrate Replica soldiers at close range.
  • In Max Payne 3, Max will instantly be chunkified if caught in a grenade's radius. Enemies can also One-Hit Kill via headshot, preventing him from going into Last Man Standing.
    • In Multiplayer, the gangs can take protective measures to prevent chunky salsa (bomb defusal suits and hard helmets), but if the player is too hurt to survive an armored explosion or armored headshot they're as good as dead.
  • Red Faction examples:
    • The Rail Driver kills you instantly, and enemies using it will only miss once. Luckily, it's every bit as deadly in your hands.
    • In Guerrilla, being in a vehicle when it explodes is an instant kill, regardless of your health or the vehicle's size.
  • In the Metroid series, Samus Aran can very rarely get her hands on an instant-death weapon or two:
    • In Metroid Prime Hunters, the Imperialist is a sniper rifle that can instantly kill any Hunter with a headshot regardless of health. This even extends to the single-player campaign, where Hunters can usually take large amounts of damage but are still killed with one headshot with this weapon.
    • In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, the Nova Beam can bypass enemies' defenses and go straight for the brain. It takes careful aim with the X-Ray Visor, and not every enemy is vulnerable, but those that are will die instantly — including minibosses like Metroid Hatchers and Berserker Lords.
    • In Metroid Dread, the Metroid Beam instantly kills anything it comes in contact with. Though this is rendered somewhat moot that since it comes packaged with Metroid Suit at the very, very end of the game, at which point you're doing the traditional Race Against the Clock following the defeat of the Final Boss. Plus, enemies die upon contact with you anyway in this state.
  • In Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, all named Uruks you kill have a chance of somehow surviving and returning for revenge later. The exception is Uruks who lose their heads, either through decapitation or Talion's Your Head Asplode powers, they're gone for good. Usually.
  • Bloodborne: Invoked in-game by Executioner Alfred, if you end up leading him to Annalise. Given that she's known to have Complete Immortality, it was likely the only way to be sure. That or a simple Fate Worse than Death.
    I've done it, I've done it! I smashed and pounded and grounded this rotten siren into fleshy pink pulp! There, you filthy monstrosity! What good's your immortality now?! Try stirring up trouble in this sorry state! All mangled and twisted, with every inside on the outside, for all the world to see!
  • Splatoon: No matter what gear your character is wearing or what abilities they have, certain attacks (Inkzooka blasts, fully charged sniper shots or Splatana hits, and melee attacks from rollers) will instantly splat you if they connect.
  • Call of Duty:
    • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, which introduced the "Last Stand" perk to let you survive what would have been a fatal hit for up to ten seconds, had this as a caveat. Last Stand will be overridden in cases where the fatal hit would instantly kill someone in reality - including headshots, sufficiently-close-range shotgun blasts, direct-impact hits from a 40mm grenade, or any explosion.
    • Mentioned in-story in Call of Duty: Black Ops III. No matter how much more powerful your new cyborg body is, a bullet to the head is still just as fatal to you as to an unaugmented soldier. This later comes up in the last Singapore level, where your character kills Goh Xiulan in a cutscene by bringing her head close enough to a fire to start melting her face off.
    • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II adds the Drill Charge, a throwable explosive which embeds itself into whatever surface it hits and drills through it to punt out an explosive charge on the other side, allowing for easy kills through walls. This gives it a long time between deploying and detonating, but directly hitting an enemy with it will still be an instant kill when it goes off (which in particular makes it a great counter to riot shields). Attaching one to an enemy vehicle will also kill any of its occupants if they don't get out before the charge detonates, while still leaving the vehicle itself more or less intact.
  • In the MechWarrior series, if your Humongous Mecha's cockpit is destroyed, you're dead, regardless of how much armor you still had across the rest of the mech's various subsystems. In Mechwarrior Living Legends, cockpit destruction results in a high-pressure stream of Ludicrous Gibs out of the canopy.
  • Unfortunately invoked with Doyle in Brothers In Arms: Earned In Blood. After taking a direct hit from an enemy tank's cannon, all that is left is a puddle of blood on the ground, a fine red mist hanging in the air, and his 82nd Airborne patch.
    • Also invoked in Road To Hill 30 with Desola after a Stuka's bomb lands right next to him while trying to cross a bridge. While not as thoroughly destroyed as Doyle was, there's still not much left of the poor guy that can be recognized as human.
    • And again in Hell's Highway, but this time as a gameplay mechanic; no matter how high their cover is, a headshot will blow the back of an enemy soldier's skull off and put them on the ground, and a grenade landing in their midst can wipe out entire squads at a time. Likewise, enemy grenades will do the same to you if they land behind your cover, no matter how high your luck is.
  • Fallout:
    • The 3D games have a variant. Since the game calculates damage before actually showing you the effect, if something will kill a target, it will occasionally (especially if it's in excess of the damage required to actually kill the target) blow up the head or blow off a body part. Laser and plasma weapons can disintegrate or gooify targets, respectively. This can lead to a mistake in Fallout: New Vegas when a con artist pretends to kill some thugs to make himself look good. A sufficient Medical check will tell you that the thugs are just faking, even if their heads are detached.
    • Fallout 4 has two console commands to make it impossible for the player character to die. One of them (god mode) works by preventing the PC from taking damage; the other (immortal mode) simply keeps the player's health from dropping to zero. However, a PC in immortal mode still takes the damage in the first place, so it's possible for an attack to obliterate a player's head/limb. This permanently reduces their perception (head) or agility (limb) to zero, prevents them from equipping any gear for that body part, and (in the case of the head) renders them mute for the remainder of the game, so it's generally necessary to reload from a previous save, just as if they had died outright.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Conjuration spells that reanimate corpses will only work if the corpse is intact: if they are missing any part of their bodies, the spell will not work on them. Ditto if they have been reduced to a pile of dust. In addition, for each corpse, reanimation spells only work once: if the reanimated corpse runs out of HP, they automatically disintegrate into a pile of dust, preventing any further reanimation.
  • Bushido Blade: Uncharacteristically for a Fighting Game there is no health bar, as every strike that would be fatal in real life is fatal in the game as well. It is also possible to cripple your opponent with a blow to a limb or land a critical strike that will cause them to bleed out if they can't finish the fight quickly.
  • In Bloody Battle, even when you still have some lives left, as soon as you are downed by an "execution" weapon, you will die instantly, getting a special gruesome death depending on the weapon such as being vaporized by the brimstone.
  • Doom has a variation. Its God Mode cheat doesn't quite make you impervious to damage, so much as it simply prevents you from taking damage from anything that deals less than 1,000 points. This means, in the base game, it is possible to survive anything the game can possibly throw at you - except a Tele-Frag, which is coded to do 10,000 points of damage.note 

Fictional Examples:

    Live-Action Films 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Although it's never been stated in so many words, several different incidents in Doctor Who have strongly indicated that Time Lords' Resurrective Immortality does not allow them to come back from things that don't leave the corpse substantially intact. Most notably, "vaporisation" is used as the standard method of irrevocable capital punishment. Under certain circumstances, a Time Lord can regrow limbs, but they cannot regrow their entire body.
    • Brought up with, but ultimately defied by, a certain Captain Jack Harkness. Basically existing as a walking fixed point in time, there cannot not be a Jack Harkness. This normally takes the form of Resurrective Immortality; after taking any fatal blow, he sits up and gasps, healed. However, in his own show, the Darker and Edgier Torchwood, a bomb is planted inside him. The entire building is completely destroyed, and what small scraps of Jack his team can find are put in a body bag. The team is ready to consider the Rule, to accept that being blown to small smithereens might be too much for what they think of as the Healing Factor that lets him withstand bullets. Turns out they're wrong - the body bag starts to look like it has something in it... and that 'something' has filled out into a more humanoid shape when next seen... unfortunately, he regains consciousness before being fully restored. There's screaming. LOTS of screaming.
  • In Stargate SG-1, beings reanimated by the supercharged Ancient healing device can ignore pretty much any injury, so the only way to stop them is heavy explosives that reduce the body to paste.
  • One episode of Supernatural involves Bobby going up against an okami, which can only be killed by being stabbed seven times with a bamboo dagger blessed by a Shinto priest. Bobby, lacking a bamboo dagger, goes for the next best thing and puts it through a wood chipper. As it turns out, being reduced to Ludicrous Gibs is enough to bypass the normal rules involved in killing it. Rufus later lampshades this trope when he learns it worked.
    Rufus: Oh, okie-dokie. Wood chipper. That pretty much trumps...everything.

  • Referenced in Last Res0rt by a medic when explaining that she can't help someone who had a Djinn shot through their eye and half their brain scattered across the arena through the hole in the back of their head.
    Sally's broken every other rule in the book. But even she can't break the Salsa Rule.
  • Characters in Homestuck have Health Vials, which amount to health bars. Characters are capable of taking large amounts of abuse, from John surviving inside of a Basilisk's mouth and being able to take abuse from two Ogres. When John gets stabbed through the heart from behind by a psychopathic teleporting dog/god, however, it proves that the Health Vial does not apply in situations where death is instant.
  • xkcd: One of the "What If?" articles references something like this:
    Max Schäfer: What if all of the sun's output of visible light were bundled up into a laser-like beam that had a diameter of around 1m once it reaches Earth?
    Randall Munroe: If you were standing in the path of the beam, you would obviously die pretty quickly. You wouldn't really die of anything, in the traditional sense. You would just stop being biology and start being physics.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation:
    • Brought up and defied in the article on SCP-138, a 4000-year-old man who suffers from Complete Immortality. The article states that although 138 has suffered all kinds of wounds, burns, and other trauma from failed Mercy Kill attempts, he is somehow resistant to any injury that would completely destroy his body.
    • Done literally with SCP-3794, a sledgehammer that turns anything organic it hits hard enough into pico de gallo salsa.

    Western Animation 
  • One skit on Robot Chicken addressed the consequences of lacking a Chunky Salsa Rule: It starts with a werewolf confronted by a man who shoots it, and the werewolf declares that only a silver bullet can kill him. The man breaks out a minigun and reduces the werewolf's body to chunky salsa, and then subjects the resulting mess to various other abuses.note  It cuts to some kids playing a table-top game, with the Rules Lawyer dungeon master saying "he's still not dead, it has to be a silver bullet", to which one of the players protests "that's a bunch of crap!"

Alternative Title(s): Chunky Salsa Effect, Chunky Salsa, Crunchy Salsa Rule