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Kill One, Others Get Stronger

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

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


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

    Comic Books 
  • In Avengers vs. X-Men, each time one of the Phoenix Five is defeated, their portion of the Phoenix Force is divided between the others. Namor, then Colossus and Magik, then Emma Frost go down. Finally, Cyclops is left as Dark Phoenix.
  • The Five friends in The Forevers made a magical pact to gain fame. They were starting to their fame. After one of them died in an accident, the rest get more fame.
  • in Rising Stars, this is eventually discovered to be true of the Specials and is why they're being murdered. After enough die, all but one gain Flying Brick powers.
  • Lucifer is broken into six hundred and sixty-six fragments when escaping from hell in Ghost Rider. Every time one of the fragments is destroyed all the others get stronger and the John Blaze/Zarathos Ghost Rider realizes they won't have enough power to match Lucifer if they reduce the number of fragments too low, the downside being Lucifer can cause more mischief the more places he's allowed to be in at once.
    • However, how Johnny does come with a solution: He takes one of the fragments and knocks him in a coma, leaving him brain-dead, but still technically alive. When Johnny has defeated everyone but the last fragment, Lucifer is only at half power, the other half in the brain-dead fragment.

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

  • In Arcia Chronicles, the Horsemen of the Apocalypse grow individually stronger when one of them is killed, which is why Erasti is reluctant to fight them.
  • The Chronicles of Prydain. The Huntsmen of Annuvin have this quality. Prince Gwydion describes them in The Black Cauldron:
    They rove in small bands, and within those companies, the death of one man only adds to the strength of all the rest...the more you strike down, the more the others gain in strength. Even as their number dwindles, their power grows.
    • Which makes them hard enough to deal with in small numbers. In the final book of the series, as the Big Bad is mobilizing all his forces, the heroes' scouts discover that all the Huntsmen have gathered together into a small army. Engaging them directly would be a disaster due to the possibility of creating a literal One-Man Army with the strength and endurance of hundreds if not thousands. So the heroes have to come up with a way to wipe them all out at once if they want to stand a chance
  • The The Dresden Files book Battle Ground introduces creature known as Huntsmen, which come in packs of 13, with each member of the pack getting larger and stronger as their packmates die.
  • The mutated wyrsa seen in The Silver Gryphon got smarter as each pack member was killed.
  • In Shatterpoint, Mace believes this is happening in the final battle with Kar Vastor and his Akk Guards, with Vastor gaining more and more strength as the Guards are cut down. Ultimately, though, it doesn't really matter — Mace doesn't fight him strength to strength, and never planned to.
  • Mitosis of The Reckoners Trilogy can duplicate himself at-will, but the more of him there are at any one time, the more fragile each of him gets. Conversely, as you kill off his bodies, the remaining ones get stronger.
  • Tree of Aeons takes place in a world where batches of reincarnators are regularly summoned by the gods to defeat emerging demon kings. As part of that summoning, whenever a reincarnator is killed, all surviving reincarnators receive fragments of their soul, granting them faster experience gain and a host of resistance and damage bonuses against demons, so if the demon king kills most of the heroes, the survivor(s) will be greatly strengthened. And then the protagonist, rather than charging into battle, is a tree who merely sits back and watches the years pass, steadily accumulating fragments with each cycle...

    Tabletop Games 
  • Chaotic: The point of the Danian compost archetype, composed of Creatures like Makanaz and Ivelaan which can both fight decently well on their own and also provide innate buffs after being killed. While they start out on-par with other fighting creatures, losing their creatures will make the remaining ones much more powerful.
  • A borderline example in the Deadlands setting Lost Colony. You can fight the four Big Bad demons but each time you kill one, a fifth demon will absorb the power of the killed (unless you thwart his plans first) and become stronger until he absorbs all their powers combined.
  • A Dungeons & Dragons version of The Chronicles of Prydain "Huntsmen of Annuvin" appeared in Dragon magazine #40. Each time one of them was killed, his original Hit Points are divided among all of the surviving Huntsmen, making them more difficult to kill.
  • The eponymous children in the Lamentations of the Flame Princess module The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children. In their case, the power sharing is not an intentional feature but the result of a quirk in the alien machine that created them, which was never intended for mass production of identical creatures.
  • In White Wolf's Scarred Lands D&D campaign setting, there is a type of demonic outsider called the Feral. It always appears in groups of eight, and every time one of them is slain, the other Ferals gain an extra Hit Die (giving them better attacks, hit points, saving throws, etc.).
  • The eldest generation of Treemen in Warhammer exhibit this phenomenon. As manifestations of the power of the Forest of Athel Loren, when one of these Eldest of Ancients dies, its powers migrate to its surviving kin. Since the death of Ancient Adanhu centuries ago, the last two remaining Ancients are the noble but scarred Durthu and the corrupt, malign Coeddil. A confrontation between them seems inevitable.
  • Menoth's Knights Exemplar in War Machine have the "Bond of Brotherhood" rule which causes the remaining members of the unit to grow stronger for each other that has died.

    Video Games 
  • Brawlhalla's lore features the Strazci, a group of 100 elite knights who were torched by dragons, then turned into a group of 100 elite haunted armours. Every time one fell, their soul entered another knight, making them stronger. After centuries of battle, Magyar, the last – and thus all – of the Strazci fell, and reached Valhalla, bringing a 100 warriors-strong single combatant to the tournament.
  • This is how the 3 mini-bosses in the Getsu Fuuma Den level in Castlevania: Harmony of Despair work: when you kill one of them, the others gain additional attacks, which is signified by the dead miniboss' soul floating next to the alive one(s). You also need to kill all 3 to open the door to the actual boss' room, who summons the spirits of all 3 minibosses to attack you in his final form.
  • In Chrono Trigger there is a weapon you can pick up during "The Fated Hour" that might be useless to you if you didn't recruit a certain optional party member by the time you get to that point in the game. But if you did, then by equipping this weapon, this trope applies to that party member. If their other two comrades are KO'd and they're still standing, whoa, look at that damage! For those who know, or are Spoiler Hounds... 
  • City of Heroes features the Vengeance power, which provides a powerful and relatively long-lasting team wide buff when cast on a defeated ally. The version of it used by Lieutenant-level members of the Nemesis faction might be a better fit for the trope, however - they are able to unleash the power as they are defeated, described in game as the loss of a good leader enraging the team.
  • Happens in Clive Barker's Undying to the Covenant siblings, according to Word of God. Bethany, the last to be killed, certainly had created a good army of creatures prior to her death.
  • Both of Darius Twin's second zones feature the Dual Bosses Emperor Fossil and Queen Fossil, with Emperor Fossil firing large beams one at a time and Queen Fossil firing Beam Spam. If you kill one of them, the other's attacks become stronger; Emperor's beams will become larger and faster, and Queen's beams will multiply in density.
  • In Dark Souls, Ornstein and Smough are a Dual Boss version. Once you've killed one, the other will absorb him and both gain his powers and return to full health, triggering the second phase of the fight, in which you'll either have to kill a giant Ornstein or a Smough with lightning powers.
    • In Dark Souls III: The Ringed City, once you kill both the Demon in Pain and the Demon Below, the one defeated last will resurrect as the far stronger Demon Prince.
  • In Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening's higher difficulties enemies will Devil Trigger, giving them a dramatic boost in health and stun-resistance, when another enemy dies. This necessitates some tactical fighting to reduce the number that do it at a time and weakening them before they do.
    • The boss fight between Agni and Rudra is this; Kill one of them and the survivor takes his fallen brother's weapon, introducing new and more difficult combos than when Dante fights the both of them.
  • The "Avenger" ability that some Elite Mooks can have in Diablo III is basically this.
  • Digital Devil Saga has Cerberus, who has three individually-targetable heads. Nothing special happens if either the left or right head is saved for last, but if the center head is the last one remaining, Cerberus will start spamming Psycho Rage to gain four half-turns at a time and ensure a quick death for the party with his other attacks.
  • In Drakengard 3, the total power of the Intoners is constant; when one dies, her power is evenly distributed among the others. When asked why she's killing her sisters, Zero says it's to take their strength for herself.
  • In Dungeon Crawl, you might run into elven twins, Dowan the mage and Duvessa the fighter. While killing Dowan first merely results in Duvessa's berserking (a non-permanent bonus to speed and strength), killing Duvessa first makes Dowan's spellpool instantly expand to include devastating new spells for no apparent reason.
  • Don't Starve Together's Shadow Pieces are three shadow creatures that take on the appearance of the Clockwork Pieces, those being a Rook, Knight and Bishop. Killing one of them boosts the other two, and killing two of them gives a second boost to the final Shadow Piece.
  • Enter the Gungeon does with two multi-boss fights: Kill one of the Trigger Twins and the other flies into a rage, heals up to half his health if necessary, and starts firing even more bullets than before. Kill three of the four Kill Pillars, and the survival heals up to full health and begins its final phase, repeatedly flying into the air and directly over top of you and then slamming down.
  • Supervillain Red Sun in Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich has the ability to exist in several bodies at once. When you defeat one, not only do the rest become stronger but also heal.
  • Season 3 of Guild Wars 2's Living World revealed this is happening with the Elder Dragons; as a result of the Pact destroying Zhaitan and your group destroying Mordremoth, the remaining four Elder Dragons are absorbing the powers of their aspects and imbuing them into their own minions.
  • In Heiankyo Alien, when there's only one alien left, it moves faster.
  • In Heroes of Might and Magic 5, some creatures have the rage ability: they gain a attack bonus whenever an allied stack of friendly units is destroyed.
  • In Loop Hero: Goblins and Goblin Leaders gain an ability called "Rage" from Chapter II onward, where their attack power increases every time you kill one of their allies.
  • In Mega Man (Classic) arcade games The Power Battle and The Power Fighters, the first few boss fights have the enemies start relatively weak, but by the last Robot Master, you'll be facing a boss with a full health bar.
  • Nocturne: Rebirth has the Wolfpack Boss against four of Ristill's clones. At first, they only use basic attacks and spells, but gain higher level spells as you destroy them. The very last survivor will cast Red Nova as soon as the others die.
  • Onmyōji: This is precisely what makes Shishio dangerous: his attack gets stronger with every fallen teammate. It is advisable to defeat Shishio first (or all Shishios if there are more than one) before moving on to other members on the opposite team.
  • In Phantom Brave and Makai Kingdom, whenever an enemy unit is tossed out-of-bounds, any surviving enemies get an increase in level. Makai Kingdom took advantage of this with the Balloon weapon, which had fairly weak attacks, but immediately lifted the wielder out-of-bounds afterwards. Useless for the player, but a field where the enemy has half or more their number armed with them could get dangerous real fast.
  • Plague Inc.: Templar Industries bases never multiply past their initial established number, unlike Z-COM's own, but they do have the quirk that whenever one is destroyed, the survivors inevitably fly off to all the others to both reinforce them and pass on what they learned battling the vampire/shadow slaves that destroyed the complex. Inevitably, the very last Templar base takes several direct hit-and-run attacks from the vampire or a completely plague-enslaved country's assault to take down.
  • Kingambit from Pokémon Scarlet and Violet has the ability Supreme Overlord, which boosts its attack stats for each fainted member of its team. Similarly, Houndstone's Signature Move Last Respects grows in power every time one of its allies faints.
  • Prince of Persia 3D has a family of brothers who become stronger for each one you kill, gaining an extra unit of health. Several of them can be passed without killing them, making the latter battles easier. Even the final brother.
  • In the 2008 Prince of Persia, the remaining Corrupted bosses grow stronger with each Corrupted the Prince and Elika defeat for good.
  • Red Alert 3: "Defense of the Archipelago" starts with your base surrounded by five enemy bases, all of which send waves of infantry at you. Taking out one base causes the others to send out better infantry and then veteran then heroic units, fortunately the definition of "taking out" is quite generous (building anti-infantry defenses in front of the barracks in each base means they can't send troops anymore, capturing their refineries means they run out of funds quickly, and destroying the generator means they have to rebuild one).
  • The final battle of Shaundi's Loyalty Mission in Saints Row IV works this way: Your group is surrounded by a mob of initially weak enemies, but the more of them you kill, the stronger the remaining ones get—up to and including having deflector shields and superpowers.
  • Seraphic Blue has Gaia Cancers, who almost always seem to follow a Sorting Algorithm of Evil as you kill them one-by-one. This is because the total power of all Gaia Cancers is constant, which means any surviving Cancers gradually become stronger.
  • In Space Invaders, the more enemies you shoot, the faster the survivors become.
    • By extension, this applies to any game where the sheer number of enemies lags the system enough to slow all the enemies down. As you kill them, the game stops lagging, making the remaining enemies faster (up to a point).
  • Certain mobs in Star Wars: The Old Republic have an ability to grant a (semi-permanent) powerup-status to nearby allies when they are defeated, which is described as this trope—basically, they're so heroic that seeing them fall just makes their allies fight even harder. Large groups of them, while rare, can be quite hazardous...
    • This also applies to several boss fights against multiple enemies; when one of them falls, the others start hitting harder to compensate. Sometimes the surviving boss will be capable of doing more damage by themselves than the entire group did when they were all still alive. This can lead to a sort of Puzzle Boss situation: the power-ups aren't always distributed evenly among the remaining bosses, so the trick is taking them down in the proper sequence to avoid the final one being excessively powerful.
  • In Super Mario Bros. 2, there's Fryguy. Hit him enough, and he splits into four mini-Fryguys. With each mini-Fryguy you destroy, the others get a bit faster. When you're down to just one...
    • In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, during his boss battle Big Massif is surrounded by his fans. If his fans get hurt, this will piss him off and boost his attack. If you defeat too many fans with one attack, he will get enraged and boost his attack even further. However, he can summon more fans as a free action, and if you don't start defeating them, he'll do a large crowdsurf attack that'll also deal significant damage.
      • This can actually lead to a case of Hoist by His Own Petard, however, as countering some of his attacks after he's powered up will cause him to take more damage (Especially in the case of the mentioned one).
  • The Benevodons in Trials of Mana can be fought in any order (with the exception of one which is always fought last), but each time one is killed, the others and the monsters living in their lairs grow in power by a few levels. The Faerie Hand Waves this by claiming that the Benevodons are just growing more powerful with the passage of time, despite Take Your Time clearly being in effect for the whole of the game.
  • World of Warcraft features a raid boss battle against a group of three enemy generals known as the Assembly of Iron; as each one falls, they unleash a unique power called Supercharge which increases the damage that the survivors do by 25%. When only one remains, they receive a nasty new ability. Raids must choose the order careful, lest they find themselves swiftly overwhelmed by the power the last one standing possesses. Killing the strongest boss last nets the raid higher-level items.
    • Used three times in the Mists of Pandaria expansion. The Protectors of the Endless function similar to the Assembly, complete with better drops for killing the strongest boss last. The boss Horridon will enrage if the raid kills his companion mini-boss first and vastly increase the damage done to the tanks (If you defeat Horridon first, however, Jalak disappears, and you win). Additionally, in the Paragons of the Klaxxi boss encounter, every time you kill one of the three enemies out at a time, the other two receive a stack of a damage-increasing buff.
    • Some trash mobs have this principle. The trash mobs before Atramedes, the spirits of several Dark Iron dwarf rulers, attack in groups of four, each having a specific ability that they give to the survivors upon dying. The trash before Norushen consists of small Sha mobs that buff the ones nearby when they're killed; it's best to use AOE attacks to reduce their health together, then finish them off quickly as they get buffed. On a more minor case, the Boneweavers before Rattlegore in the updated Scholomance can summon skeletons quickly as you kill each Boneweaver.

    Western Animation 
  • Once-off villain group of demons in Conan the Adventurer are the "Serpent Riders of Set", essentially a lizardman version of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They start out as monstrous-looking serpent-men on giant lizards, but when one is killed, it turns into mists that the others absorb, making them mutate into even stronger versions. When only one is left, he can No-Sell starmetal attacks — it takes about five people striking with them all at the same time to banish him back into his pit.
  • In the Defenders of the Earth episode "Call of the Eternals", Ming turns three powerful robots known as the Guardians against the Defenders. When a Guardian is destroyed, its life force is absorbed by those that remain, making them more powerful. As a result, though the Defenders manage to destroy two Guardians (Flash takes out one of them by concentrating his ship's lasers on its chest panel and Mandrake later casts an illusion which tricks another into overheating) they are left with one Guardian which is so powerful that the only way they can defeat it is to lure it to its doom in a black hole.

    Real Life 
  • Because of the inherent chaos in mass melee combat, Zerg Rush tactics against very few targets can evoke this, as in this example of a trio of expert fencers almost taking out fifty attacking novices.