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"If you leave your game, stay safe, stay alert! And whatever you do, don't die. Because if you die outside of your own game, you don't regenerate... ever! GAME OVER!"
Sonic the Hedgehog explaining the dangers of dying for good in Wreck-It Ralph

Beyond Non-Lethal K.O., beyond Only Mostly Dead. This is a relatively rare case in Video Games where a character dying in battle is gone forever, and now the rest have to go on without him or her. No resurrections, no revivals, this is All Deaths Final enforced as a rule of gameplay. Alternatively, in games without protagonist parties this can apply to the Player Character where if they are killed, the player must the start the entire game over again.

Usually only happens in games where it's possible to get a fairly steady stream of replacements, so that if you manage to dwindle your party down so much that your next fight is pretty much Unwinnable, you deserve to be screwed. Said replacements may not be as good, however.

Note, this is usually separate from Plotline Death via cutscene, which are predestined affairs from the outset (that you usually don't know about beforehand). No; you the player were simply not good enough or not lucky enough to keep them alive and breathing. Hope you have a saved game to go back to! (Unless the game doesn't let you do that.)

Roguelikes tend to have this as their standard — and in many cases only — option.

This trope is specific to gameplay; the equivalent of this in other fiction is Deader than Dead. The inverse of this is Death Is a Slap on the Wrist. See also Killed Off for Real. Compare Out of Continues and the Point of No Continues. If it's completely optional, that's a Final Death Mode if the game enforces it, or No Death Run if it's an entirely Self-Imposed Challenge.

If it's like real life where you've only got one shot, and can't play the game ever again, that's Single-Attempt Game.


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    Action Adventure 
  • In The Wizard of Oz, if the Lion, Scarecrow, or Tin Man die, they're gone for the rest of the game and no longer even appear in cutscenes. Though you can pick up lives for all three of them, they're pretty rare in comparison to Dorothy's. By comparison, if Dorothy herself runs out of lives, the game itself ends.
  • The unlockable "I Am The Night" mode for Batman: Arkham Origins is this. Basically, you have to go through New Game Plus on one life. Dying even once will erase your save file for that mode, though there is nothing stopping you from simply Save Scumming if you're close to dying.
  • Friday the 13th has your six camp counselors. Each time one perishes, they're gone forever. When all six have been killed? "YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS ARE DEAD. GAME OVER".
  • The Buffy Xbox game and Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds work like this. The health bar for Buffy and enemies is really just a guide to show when they can be killed. On the one hand vampires need to be staked, zombies need their head removed, ect. On the other hand, Buffy dies for good if fed on, bitten, or is dealt one of the special killing moves with no health.
  • Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization spins this trope on its head: as compared to the original SAO, players in Sword Art: Origin do not die in real life if their avatars die. On the other hand, NPCs that die remain dead. This applies in-game as well: party members who are NPCs in Origin become Permanently Missable Content if they die.
  • In the NES game KingsKnight, if any of your characters die during the game, they're dead for good and they won't appear in the final stage.

    Adventure Game 
  • The Quantic Dream studio is well-known for their extremely story-driven games, almost all of which make heavy use of this trope one way or another.
    • Heavy Rain is a defining example. At several points throughout its plot, any one of the four playable characters can get themselves into a situation during which they can die. It's possible to survive the encounter every time it happens, but if they don't, though, they stay dead, and the game keeps on going. Two of them can't die until the final showdown, though. It's even possible to kill all of the central characters during one playthrough.
    • Beyond: Two Souls has multiple supporting characters that can die permanently. The story also adapts accordingly, but the impact is much less severe because there's just one Player Character, Jodie, who can only die for real at one point very late in the narrative.
    • Detroit: Become Human returns to the Heavy Rain formula with multiple playable characters, numerous opportunities for them to die, and their deaths' more or less noticeable impact on the overarching story.
  • Maniac Mansion operates on this principle, but since the only ways to actually die (being spotted just gets you stuck in a Cardboard Dungeon) are either so convoluted as to be nearly impossible to accomplish by accident or require such a lapse of thought on the part of the player, one might not even realize it until after a couple of plays through.
  • Zak Mckracken And The Alien Mindbenders has a few ways, such as deliberately running out of oxygen on Mars (or stepping outside without a proper space suit) or walking into the Sphinx' guardian room three times. All are easily avoidable. They will also make the game unwinnable, as both Zak and Annie are needed to trigger the final action needed to complete the game.
  • Fallen London: Whatever you do, DON'T LOOK FOR MISTER EATEN. The developers have explicitly stated that any character who completes the Mr. Eaten storyline is (A) an insane idiot/addict and (B) permanently enthralled to an Eldritch Abomination that WILL. NEVER. STOP. DEVOURING. The account is as good as permadead, regardless of how much real-world money you invested. Note that other "Game Over" situations such as insanity, social suicide, imprisonment, and actual death are only temporary due to the strange nature of the underworld. Which makes Seeking Mr. Eaten an exceptional Have a Nice Death that has required extensive tinkering and an option to stop killing your character. To be a bit more specific, once you reach the very end, you are given a choice to knock or turn away. If you turn away, you can never do the story again, but are given a powerful item. If you knock, you see what's on the other side... and then are sent to your menu screen. And can never leave it again.
  • Until Dawn has multiple points where a character can die. If they die, the story keeps going without them. It is entirely possible for everyone to die, although two of the characters will make it to the last set of choices regardless of other outcomes.
  • One Shot: In the original 2014 release, you're warned not to quit the game before you find a save point. If you quit before that... the protagonist is permanently dead: "You killed Niko." And you cannot replay the game ever again. However, v1.003 of the game is more merciful, and "only" erases your save data.

    Beat Em Up 
  • In the NES version of Double Dragon III, the player starts off as Billy Lee (and Jimmy if a second player is present) and gains two additional fighters (Chin Seimei and Yagyu Ranzou) after the second and third stages. The player can change characters once they gain the other fighters, but each of them has exactly one life. This can be problematic since a death during the first two stages means an instant Game Over, and with all four characters shared by both players in co-op mode, an unskilled player will become a handicap if he wastes the other characters before his partner can use them. There's only one continue in the whole game and it's only usable after Mission 3.
  • In Peace Keepers (aka Rushing Beat Syura), Prokop (one of the four default fighters) will suffer a Plotline Death if the player takes the wrong path in a certain stage, eliminating him from the character roster for the rest of the game.
  • The Puella Magi Madoka Magica Fangame Grief Syndrome starts with all five of the main cast, but if any of them die they're gone for good. And if Sayaka dies before the final boss you're forced to fight her witch form.
  • The NES video game adaptation of Choujin Sentai Jetman starts with five sentais available from the start, but if any of them die they're gone for good. Which means you have to restart the level with one less sentai. The game will be over in a bad note if all five sentais die and if the sentais lose the mecha fight against boss characters.
  • In the 1988 NES game The Uncanny X-Men, you have six X-Men at the beginning of the game, and if any of your X-Men die, they're dead for good. If all of your X-Men are dead, then it's game over.

    Driving Game 
  • If all of your cars are impounded in Need for Speed: Most Wanted or Carbon, you must start your career from the beginning.
  • The "Deaths" option in San Francisco Rush makes crashing an immediate Game Over for both you and the opponents.
  • In Xpand Rally, in case of a really disastrous crash the pilot can die and the career must, obviously, be restarted from scratch with a new one.
  • In the two Street Legal games, damaging or destroying a car's chassis usually puts it out of commission for good: the chassis cannot be repaired in Street Legal 1 without dropping it to the floor and damaging it again, and any part damaged to zero percent in Street Legal Racing Redline cannot be repaired. Autosave in SLRR guarantees that any mistakes are permanent, and if you're left with no cash and no usable cars, you must restart.

    Edutainment Game 
  • In The Oregon Trail, members of your wagon's party remain dead if they perish. If you die, the game ends. Your final score in the game is determined, in part, by how many of your party members survive the journey.
  • This is the entire point of Jesse Venbrux's ultra-short freeware game Execution. You start the game looking at a man tied to a pole through your scope. Shooting him yields the message: 'You Lose'. Attempting to play a second time starts the game with 'Your actions have consequences, it is already too late'. If you try to play, the man will still be dead.

    Environmental Narrative Game 

    Fighting Game 
  • In some deathmatch-style games, there may be options to give each player only one life per round, or use a communal batch of "tickets" that can only decrease in number. Neutralizing all the respawn points in "control point" matches can also cause enemy deaths to be final.
  • In the Fighting Game Weapon Lord, you can continue after losing a match normally, like almost all fighting games. However, if the opponent defeats you with a Finishing Move, you will not be given this chance, and you'll have to start all over.
  • The manikins in Dissidia Final Fantasy. While in the original game they were just Mooks, in the prequel Duodecim it's revealed that anyone defeated by a manikin may not be revived for the next cycle in the "Groundhog Day" Loop, as the manikins generally don't stop attacking, unlike the actual players on the side of Chaos and Cosmos. Being defeated by a manikin can therefore result in being beaten to death so badly that you're unable to be revived. This is why Lightning, Kain, Yuna, Laguna, Tifa, and Vaan weren't in the original. They got overwhelmed by manikins after closing the rift that they were spawning out of.
  • The Virtual Boy game Teleroboxer has a "Title Defense" mode in which you must fight all eight of your robot opponents at random (This mode can only be played if you defeat all of your opponents without losing once). If you lose a single match in this mode, that's it; you're no longer the champion, and you'll have no choice but to retire. The next time you go to the File Select screen, it will say "CHAMPION RETIRED" on whatever save file you played on, which means you cannot replay the game again on that same file and must erase the data in order to start a new game.
  • Punch-Out!! for the Wii unlocks a mode called "Mac's Last Stand" after beating Title Defense mode that works similarly to the above Teleroboxer example. However, in this case it's endless (so it's not a matter of if you succumb but when) and you have three opportunities to fall, not just once. When that third loss does occur, Little Mac retires, which marks the last time you'll be able to play Career mode for that save. There are also unlockables associated with Mac's Last Standnote  so if you fail to accomplish the necessary requirements before your third loss, it becomes Permanently Missable Content.

    First Person Shooter 
  • Call of Duty series: Sometimes fallen Red Shirt Army characters can be healed with medkits, but if their name turns red, they are dead for real. Major characters are invincible except for Plotline Death.
  • In the Rainbow Six game series, at least the PC games up to Raven Shield, if any of the named characters are "KIA"'ed during a campaign, they are dead for good, and you have to make do with the reserve agents.
    • In later games, NPCs can only normally be Non-Lethal K.O.-ed, but if the player character or an NPC actually dies, it's game over. Ghost Recon has gone this way as well.
  • Left 4 Dead and its sequel has this for the finales. If a survivor dies in the final map, they are dead for good and get an honorable mention in the credits. The sequel does avert this if someone is carrying a Magical Defibrillator.
  • Doom (2016) and Doom Eternal have Ultra-Nightmare mode. In that mode, you only have one chance to beat the campaign. Failure to do so results in having to retry the entire campaign all over again.
  • Upon beating Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, you'll unlock the Mein Leiben difficulty. If you start a game in Mein Leiben difficulty, you only have one chance to beat the game with autosaves and difficulty changes disabled. If you die or quit, you'll have to try again from the beginning.
  • This trope is part and parcel of battle royale games, such as Player Unknowns Battlegrounds and Fortnite: Battle Royale, since the goal of the game is to be the last person or team standing. Any player that runs out of health, and has no allies who can revive him/her in a short notice, is dead and out for the rest of the match. No second chances, no resurrections, no respawns. You better play carefully if you want to be number one.

    Hack And Slash 
  • The Diablo series:
    • Diablo II, already quite similar to roguelikes, offers a "hardcore" setting to players who have beaten the game, in which their character file is locked after a single death, and can no longer be played. (It's still there, though, and you can see a record of all your Hardcore deaths if you feel like keeping them. And cheaters can edit the dead character's save to restore them to life, good as new. But that's cheating. Cheater.) Quoth the game manual:
      Note: Blizzard Entertainment is in no way responsible for your hardcore character. If you choose to create and play a hardcore character, you do so at your own risk. Blizzard is not responsible for the death and loss of your hardcore characters for any reason including Internet lag, bugs, Acts of God, your little sister, or any other reason whatsoever. Consult the End User License Agreement for more details. Blizzard will not, and does not have the capability to restore any deceased Hardcore characters. Don't even ask. La-la-la-la-la, we can't hear you.
    • Diablo III continues the Hardcore tradition, only the setting is available after making Level 10 with your first character. While you can use the Auction House to gear up your Hardcore character, the Real Money Auction House is not available for them. And it makes sense — when your character has only one life and all your character's items are lost on death (which can happen in any number of ways as described above) do you really want to waste real-world money on your gear?
  • So, too, does independently-designed Diablo clone Torchlight, but this setting is readily available upon character creation.
  • In Path of Exile, Hardcore is an extra modifier set for certain leagues. If you die in a league with Hardcore on, your character is kicked out to Standard, so while you don't completely lose your character, you will have to start over with a fresh character if you want to try that league again.
  • Darksiders II offers you Nightmare Mode upon beating the game at hard (Apocalyptic) difficulty, where if you get killed by enemies even once, the game resets you back to the beginning. Dying in Bottomless Pits won't impose such a penalty, thankfully.
  • Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes has a "Classic" mode setting that plays similarly to the mainline series. Whereas in the previous Fire Emblem Warriors you could revive fallen characters by spending rare resources, Three Hopes offers no such protection. Any character who loses all their HP in battle after the prologue (save for a handful of plot-important characters) is considered "dead" and cannot be used for further battles or gain support points with any other characters.

  • There's a longstanding debate over permadeath in MUDs and MMOs. Most of these games have no permadeath and the trend has been in the opposite direction by increasingly making it so that Death Is a Slap on the Wrist. However there have been exceptions, sometimes with very limited scope.
  • In Star Wars: Galaxies, the original, highly exclusive Jedi characters had a form of permadeath. This was soon changed after the first Jedi characters in the game were predictably hunted down and ganked repeatedly.
  • In ThunderDome MUDS, death from loss of Constitution below 4 resulted in permanent Condeath. The mechanics associated with aging made this inevitable, no matter how much Con could be bought back.
  • Many roleplay-intensive MUSHes have a permanent policy on character death; one life, one death. This is more often determined by player agreements and/or moderator judgment than by game mechanics.
  • Ultimate Mode in Shaiya allows you the most character points in the game, use of all the skills, and use of the best items. But if you die and are not resurrected within three minutes, your character is deleted.
  • In Realm of the Mad God, once you die, you lose all of your items and levels, then restart.
  • Some players of DDO do this as a Self-Imposed Challenge. If your character dies and nobody is around to resurrect them, delete and roll a new character.
  • In Armageddon (MUD), player characters who die are resurrected only in cases of extreme bug abuse/server issues.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Spoofed with the April Fools Day announcement of Wisps as a new player race. They would have the ability to explode, permanently sacrificing the character in exchange for draining 50 mana from all units nearby (the ability wisps had in Warcraft III). This ability would not be even remotely useful if it caused a normal WoW death, and there is naturally no ability in the game worth destroying your character in order to use.
    • Played absolutely straight with World of Warcraft: Classic - Hardcore, released in August 2023. Any death is permanent, which can be particularly frustrating if the player managed to get to level 60 or close (even moresore if well geared) and if it happened because of an Internet outage. One month after launch, two million character players had died.
  • Wizardry Online features permadeath as a core mechanic. After dying, you have to make a run to a previously-touched statue through the spirit world with 10 orbs around your character. These orbs represent a 10% chance of successful resurrection, and there are monsters that can take one and send you back to your corpse to start the run over again. However, you can also sacrifice gold and/or items for a higher success rate if that happens.
  • In Face of Mankind, characters respawn using clones, which cost money. If you are killed and have no clones or money left, your character is officially dead.

    Platform Game 
  • You Only Live Once:
    • The true extreme is the original game, a flash platformer which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. No extra lives, no continues, you only live once. Oh, and you can't play again, as it will remember that you died. Well, you can if you clear your Flash history.
    • In its sequel, The Execution, the player commands a firing squad aiming at whichever between Pink Lizard or the hero had been arrested, depending on the ending gotten in the first game. Execute them or leave them be. Execute them, leave and come back gives you a bloody background. Leaving the game without executing them, leaving and returning, will leave them scot-free.
  • The Mega Man X series:
    • Mega Man X3 is notable for that. If you play as Zero and Zero dies, that's it, he's permanently badly damaged for the rest of the game and he can't be used in any stages any longer. But you can bring him back pretty easily: Get your new password, enter it in, then keep adding 1 to the last digit and pressing start. Eventually you'll get one that works where Zero's back. It should be noted that the spoilered information is "cheating."
    • Mega Man X6 had rescuable Reploids that could be infected by a specific type of enemy and turned hostile. If you killed them they were listed as "killed", and if you didn't they merely became "missing", but either way they were gone for good. Some of them carried items that were otherwise unobtainable, meaning Permanently Missable Content for folks who didn't manage to save them all.
    • In Mega Man X7, Reploid civilians that take damage die, and stay dead. This can be a hassle since certain Reploids provide chips that can be used to power up your characters. Rescuing 64 Reploids is also a prerequisite for unlocking X early.
  • In the NES Star Wars game, Luke can collect up to 7 extra lives (as well as having 10 continues), but if either Han or Leia dies they're gone for good unless you have Obi-Wan in your party, since he can use the Force to revive them, but only about 7 times total.
  • In Super Mario Bros. 35, when Mario (or Luigi) die once, that's it. You lost that particular battle royale round. Now you can watch others play, or leave and find a new one.
  • X-Men (1993): Any X-Man that runs out of health is taken out of action and cannot be used again until the final level, then all incapacitated characters are made available again. If any of them get KO'd afterwards, however, that's it: they're out for the rest of the game.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • Age of Empires II could have special named units die and simply be lost, although this only happens to minor, one time characters (except during some campaigns, which require characters such as Joan of Arc, Attila the Hun and El Cid to stay alive during the scenario).
  • The Total War series, while turn based, has your family members, which can die in battle, assassination, naval battle, plague, riots, disasters, and simply old age. Of course, new family members are born every few turns, but if you lose them all, you lose the game.
  • Lords Of The Realm 3 is also notable, and along those lines. Aside from a few infinite Red Shirts, all of your knights are actually drawn from a finite pool specific to the scenario you're playing. Knights are often able to retreat safely, rarely die even if felled, and high-tier or Hero Unit knights have a "luck" attribute that makes them even less likely to die in battle. However, if the knights are killed, or are captured and deliberately executed (as opposed to being honorably ransomed), they're dead for good. Killing certain knights is a victory condition in some scenarios.
  • In Real-Time Strategy game Sacrifice, souls are essential for monster-summoning and, for certain sides, resurrection. Unfortunately the battlegrounds are giant floating islands, and if a monster falls off the edge, its soul(s) are lost forever. One particularly nasty spell cuts the ground out from under their feet. Conversely, one side's monsters can use friendly souls to fuel powerful attacks and upgrades.
  • In the multi-platform game Cannon Fodder, all of your troops only had one life. The more you killed, the more populated your graveyard would be with gravestones. Although the basic idea was that you'd be sending a few hundred troops to their deaths, it still stung when your current Lt. or General "Witty Name" got taken out by a spear trap.
  • In Warhammer: Dark Omen, you are given a set number of regiments at certain points: Have one wiped out (as opposed to routed) and it's gone for good. (especially annoying with your Squishy Wizards) even worse, regiments that have suffered casualties will have to buy replacements, and cash is VERY scarce.
  • Warlords Battlecry 2 has an "Ironman" mode which deletes the save profile if the players hero dies. (Essentially the same as the Diablo example above)
  • Some bosses in Patapon can perma-kill your soldiers.
  • Every playthrough of Produce begins with you having command of 30 monsters that you can sic on the trio venturing through your abode to spook them into going where you want them to. If, on the other hand, any of them decide to fight back and destroy a monster instead, then you cannot summon that unit again for the rest of the game.
  • Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon utilizes this. In the campaign, if any of your ships other than your command ship is sunk, then that ship is gone for the entire campaign.
  • In Dungeon Keeper 2, vampires normally lose a Character Level and reconstitute in their Graveyard when "killed", only meeting final death if they die at Level 1. However, a vampire killed by a Monk is gone for good — hence why your first mission after recruiting vampires is to massacre the underworld's largest monastery.
  • In Ogre Battle 64, sometimes, if a human dies, they permanently change class into an angel or a zombie. The angel's nice, but only happens to female characters who were extremely lawful in life. The zombie class can happen to any human, and is exceptionally spoony. (However, they could upgrade to a passable skeleton, only to turn into an even spoonier ghost.) In some games, there was a zombie dragon for dragons.

  • Roguelike games in general have this as one of the core features of the genre, to the point of deleting your save after death (and usually only letting you save when you leave the game). Some games try to detect — and reject — copies of the deleted save file, but most simply put in finger-wagging messages.
  • Some roguelikes like Dungeons of Dredmor, Transcendence, and Triangle Wizard, however, have options to disable permadeath if one so choose. Elona didn't even have permadeath until rather recently.
  • Risk of Rain being a Roguelike action platformer, naturally, does this often with hilarious death messages. In fact, this can become a form of progress as dying fifty times unlocks an item that lets you survive ONE death should you find it on future playthroughs (with additional 'lives' if you find more than one, which is unlikely). This can become very painful when you suffer a game-ending run from a too-big stack of monsters.
  • In Rogue Legacy, when you die, you start a new character who is a descendant of the prior one.
  • In Darkest Dungeon, when a hero dies, that's it. All that's left to remember them by is a marker in the Hamlet's cemetery (unless you're lucky enough to get the "From Beyond" event). Fortunately, you're never in want of fresh recruits to throw into the meat-grinder. Unfortunately, you're going to need to keep some of them alive long enough to be able to face the Darkest Dungeon itself and barring some extremely specific setup and some luck, two of the heroes you send to face the final boss will die. And you have to choose which ones.
  • Hades is unique in that whenever the player dies, Zagreus does too. However, since he's a god of the Underworld this means he'll just be revived in a pool of blood cursing the name of his most recent murderer before starting the run over again.
  • Abomi Nation uses it as Gameplay and Story Integration. If an Abomi's HP hits 0, they die... but only if the battle was with the Big Bad's goons, that is. Normal Abomis don't fight to the death. You hold yourself to this standard too, so Abomis you defeat are only subject to a Non-Lethal K.O.. There is also an option to turn off permadeath in the difficulty settings.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Wizardry
  • In most Suikoden games, someone's squad falling in a war can randomly result in either Non-Lethal K.O. or this.
    • Suikoden has a seemingly Hopeless Boss Fight with one of your 108 Stars pitted against someone he cannot possibly beat. Losing results in his death, and the loss of a Star. If you really leveled him up (as in, kept him with you throughout the entire game thus far), then he can win the duel and stay just barely alive, which lets you keep him.
    • Choosing to defend the castle in Suikoden V instead of evacuate it results in one of the Stars dying for good. Their star falls off the list, and you can no longer get the best ending. Which is rather unfortunate, as anyone who's seen that choice generally feels it's a lot better than evacuating.
  • Fallout series:
    • Dead is dead when it comes to your companions (though as a player you can reload if you die). In this first game, this was baad news, thanks to your companions having no survival instinct whatsoever and they couldn't equip any armour. It's possible, but extremely difficult, to beat the game with companions — most can be left outside dangerous areas but keeping Dogmeat alive is very challenging.
    • The 'Ironman' mode in Fallout Tactics makes reloading even more costly, as you can only save while in a BoS bunker. If a companion dies you have to make a hard choice whether to accept it as Final or roll back all progress before even setting out on the trip. If your main character dies, you don't even have that option.
    • New Vegas has ally permadeath only in "Hardcore" mode.
    • In Fallout 4, companions are designated as "essential" NPCs, and thus unkillable (though they can still get knocked out in combat and will be forced to return to a settlement if not revived in Survival mode) so long as they consider you a friend. If your standing with a companion is reduced to the point of them wanting nothing more to do with you (and you either fail a speech check or succeed but piss them off again later), their "essential" flag will be removed and they can be killed.
  • Wasteland would erase itself if you got a Game Over, and the developers recommended you back-up your bought copy and only play the game using those back-ups.
  • In Wasteland 2, when a party member runs out of health, they go into a "mending" state where they fall unconscious. They can be revived by a party member with an adequate "Surgeon" score and a trauma kit, but if their health drops below a certain threshold while mending, they will die and remain dead. Certain attacks may kill party members outright, however, in which case the end result is the same: a permanently deceased party member.
  • In Baldur's Gate & 2,
    • Whether or not party members can die the final death is configured by difficulty. On the "easy" and "normal" settings, dead characters can always be resurrected; on "core" and "hard" it's possible for them to be permanently killed if enough damage is done to them in one turn, or if an instant death spell is cast on them. As an exception to this, being the target of a successful disintegration effect or being petrified and then having the statue damaged will always kill a character completely dead, but petrification is at least reversible by applying a Stone to Flesh effect on the statue.
    • And as an exception to all of this, having the protagonist killed or Imprisoned is an instant game over, even if you could have technically "gotten better" at the hands of your party members if it had been a tabletop game. Your own un-resurrectability is justified: Children of Bhaal instantly turn to dust upon death, their essence going towards fueling the resurrection of the dead god, as seen in BG 1's final cinematic with Sarevok.
    • The first game has a particularly nasty variant towards the end. If you get captured by Angelo (one of Sarevok's henchmen), there is a random chance that he will murder one of your party members. That character is then considered Killed Off for Real.
  • In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, if you die you're Dead For Real (unless you have a companion with a resurrection scroll handy). And you get to see your own grave.
  • LISA: The Painful RPG combines this with realism: Like in real life, your party members can recover from things like being knocked unconscious, beaten to a pulp, or bleeding out (albeit through more bizarre and faster ways than can real people.) Also like real life, being hit with a move named "Fatal Chomp", "Neck Break", or "Decapitate" will kill your party members instantly with no way to bring them back. The only character that doesn't suffer a permanent death after those moves is Brad, because he is the protagonist and the plot needs him to move on.
  • Anyone, save Welkin, Alicia, Rosie and Largo (who are all main characters and therefore have Plot Armor) in Valkyria Chronicles will die for good if you don't get a medic to help them within three turns of losing the most important HP (or if the enemy gets to them first). Even during skirmish missions and side-story battles, they can still be killed permanently if you're not careful (the side-stories in particular can cause some weirdness, since some of them are flashbacks, so if a character dies there after you used them in missions that chronologically take place later, but are unlocked earlier, it would mean a dead person participated in that battle). The next games in the series doesn't have this. Game 4 averts this in any mock battles or fights between fellow squads as any ammunition for these fights will be non-lethal.
  • In Sweet Home (1989), you have five party members at the start of the game, and the ones that die stay dead. There is no way to revive anyone who dies, and the "healer" of your group can only undo status effects and cannot recover HP. The ending you get depends on how many of them are still alive at the end of the game.
  • Unusually for what's essentially a Mons series, Geneforge does this with any and all slain party members in games 1, 2, 4 and 5. 3 has your sidekicks "run off screaming" when badly wounded, allowing you to recruit them again, but still has your creations die permanently.
  • Final Fantasy IV: The After Years has this for only a handful of characters. During Edge's Tale, you get four mini-missions with his Ninja in training, with each ninja going solo. Whereas in the rest of the game you get a Game Over if the party's wiped out, in this case, if a ninja dies on his or her mission, the game just moves onto the next one, and you never get that dead ninja back.
  • In Mass Effect, if Wrex, Kaidan, or Ashley dies in Virmire, they stay dead - they don't come back as a burn victim, they don't come back as a badass, they stay dead. And anyone who dies during the Suicide Mission of Mass Effect 2 stays dead, and won't come back in Mass Effect 3. One of the endings even has Shepard dying, and if Shepard dies, you can't import that save for ME3. All of the above fall somewhere between this trope and Plotline Death, since all deaths take place in cutscenes integral to the plot, but you can still affect some of them thanks to the non-linear story (though either Ashley or Kaidan must die on Virmire).
  • Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume is partly merciful: just letting an ally fall in combat won't finish them off. Sacrificing their life through dark magic to increase your power? That means this. (Naturally, you get the best ending through refusing to kill off any of them.)
  • In Unlimited Adventures (based on Dungeons & Dragons above), a character destroyed with the Destruction spell will simply cease to exist - he cannot be resurrected, since there's no corpse to resurrect. Same happens if a character falls in battle and the other characters flee; all those left behind will disappear from the party. There are also other ways. Death of old age is also fatal... to the game itself; it makes it crash.
  • Pokémon has the Nuzlocke Challenge. By far the most well-known Self-Imposed Challenge among players of these games, the main rule is that any Pokémon that faints is considered dead and can't be used for the rest of the run, with there being additional rules that limit how many Pokémon you can acquire and how. The run is lost when a Total Party Kill occurs in battle, regardless if you have another Mon or two sitting in the PC. The "Nuzlocke" moniker has seen use in similar Permadeath runs among the fan communities around other games (usually other Nintendo titles) where the structure allows the player to acquire more units or fighters than can be used in a single fight, such as the story modes of the Super Smash Bros. games.
  • The Flying Men in EarthBound Beginnings and EarthBound (1994) are powerful allies that assist you during the Magicant sections of the games that permanently die if they fall in battle. You have seven of them, and as you allow more of them to die, the remaining ones will go from being excited and honored to help you to angry and disgusted at how uncaring you are for their lives. The main character's apparent attitude is even reflected in their gravestones: the first two Flying Men will lovingly detailed epithets commending them for their brave sacrifices, while the sixth and seventh will only have a word or two that barely acknowledge that someone even got buried there.
  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings has this for you on insane difficulty. If Geralt dies, all your saves from that playthrough are rendered inaccessible and you must start over.
  • In Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance], if your Spirits fall to 0 HP, a timer starts. If the timer runs out, they revert to their component parts. The timer is extremely generous, and it's easy enough to keep them from being knocked out in the first place that you're unlikely to see it very often anyway (Unless you're trying to harvest dream pieces from them intentionally).
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • The series has seemingly every type of magic available except for true resurrection magic. Necromancy exists, but that's not quite the same thing... In the few in-universe cases where someone has had some success with it, the person that is resurrected is typically either deranged in some way or suffers from some other issue. Also, though not quite resurrection, the various series' deities do seem to reserve the right to reincarnate someone if they see it fit.
    • In terms of gameplay, anyone who dies (whether you kill them or something else does), they will stay dead. After subscribing to the Anyone Can Die philosophy early in the series, Oblivion and Skyrim have plot relevant characters marked as essential. They cannot be killed, only knocked out. Anyone who isn't essential can still die and will stay dead.
  • Devil Survivor 2 has several moments where one of your friends is in danger and out of your party, necessitating your intervention via battle so you can rescue them. The alternative is to skimp out on the rescue mission, which the game will freely let you do...before forcing you into an event consisting of you witnessing the victim's final moments. The only way to get the character back is to start a new playthrough.
  • In the Dragon Ball Z game Legend of the Super Saiyajin for the SNES, this is in effect. If somebody dies in battle, that's it. If it's Goku or Gohan, immediate game over. That's right, you don't get to use the Dragonballs to restore anyone killed in battle, apart from at one fixed point in the plot.
  • In Overfall a dead character is gone forever, with no resurrection possible.
  • Normally, dying in NieR: Automata simply dumps you back at the last checkpoint you visited, minus the chips you had equipped (which can be retrieved and re-equipped if you find your previous body.) However, after the Bunker is destroyed in Route C, and with it the ability to back up 2B and 9S' memories, death becomes permanent, and saving the game as frequently as possible (the game even hammers it into your from the beginning that there is no auto-save) becomes important.
  • As stated in the description, this is a world where the familiars' lives are precious, so once their HP reaches 0 they're gone forever.
  • Undertale:
    • This applies to all enemies, but it's most obvious for the bosses. The reason it applies for all enemies is that if enough enemies are killed in a region, then encounters will no longer occur. This stands out for one enemy in particular, Snowdrake, as he's replaced by a different enemy if he is killed.
    • If you don't spare Flowey, he won't appear when the game is reset. This turns out to be a subversion though, as he's not actually dead, but merely hiding.
    • An extreme version of this occurs if you complete the Genocide run. While none of the characters stay permanently dead after you sell your soul to reset the world, the save file will become permanently mark, which modifies the ending of the True Pacifist run to imply that the characters are as good as gone.
  • If your character dies in the 1974 dnd game, they're dead forever and all their equipment and gold is lost. You have to try the game again from the very beginning with a new character.
  • Coromon's Hard & Insane difficulties are inspired by Pokémon's Nuzlocke challenge, in that fainted Coromon return to the wild and cannot be used again. It's also a setting in the Custom difficulty that can be freely toggled.
  • SaGa:
    • In The Final Fantasy Legend, any character that gets KO'd loses one of their hearts. Although up to five more can be purchased at the store, if they lose all of their hearts, they die permanently and can't be revived. They must then be replaced at a guild. Thanks to We Cannot Go On Without You, this cannot affect your main character.
    • Romancing SaGa 2 and later games have a more unique system. Each unit has a certain amount of Life Points or LP. They lose LP every time they get KO'd, are targeted by LP-draining attacks, or are attacked while they are KO'd. If all of the unit's LP is gone and they're not one of the main protagonists, they are considered permanently dead and cannot ever be resurrected or used again. Should this happen to one of the eight characters chosen to be the main protagonist, it's an instant game over.
  • In Fuga: Melodies of Steel, Any child sacrificed to the Soul Cannon is rendered dead for the rest of the game. Any cutscene still featuring the sacrificed child is Removed from the Picture, and any story-related dialogue they might've had is either removed entirely, or has its place taken by someone else.
  • Fallen London manages this in a game where it's a major plot point that Death Is Cheap. If you carry out Seeking Mr. Eaten's Name all the way to the end, your account is forever bricked. You can only adjust your mantle and flip through your stats - you can never actually play the game with that account ever again. Naturally, many players make a separate account entirely to Seek the Name with if they're forewarned.

    Shoot Em Up 
  • The Escape Velocity series has a checkbox marked "Strict" for character creation that will delete your character file if you die ingame. While you can eject from a blasted ship if you bought pods, you'll lose your current identity and fail all of your missions.
  • In the original Star Fox and Star Fox 2, if any of your wingmen get shot down, that's it; they're brown bread, toast, worm food, and thou must continue the game without them. From Star Fox 64 onwards, they just get a Non-Lethal K.O. and are temporarily grounded for repairs.
  • In BLOODCRUSHER II, you cannot restart the game from previous checkpoints. If you die, you have to restart the game in its entirety.
  • In the doujin game Sispri Gauntlet, you can choose one sister at the beginning to control. But then, you can find the rest of the cast as an "extended sister", aka. another sister to control. But as bloody bullet hell as this game is, if a sister dies you can't use her again for the remainder of the game.
  • Dying to the Final Boss in Burning Force is an instant game over regardless of how many continues you have.
  • Exaggerated in the 1986 game Sub Mission: There's a practice mode available where you can practice the game with robot, but if you attempt a mission for real and fail, a hostage dies and is erased from the disk forever. You could resurrect a dead hostage once, but if both hostages died and you had no more chances, the game would become unplayable — your only choice would be to mail the publisher a few dollars for a replacement disc. Unsurprisingly, sales were virtually nil.
  • In the arcade game Dangerous Seed, if one of your three ships gets destroyed during any of the first four stages, it's gone for good, which means you have to continue on with one less ship. If all three ships are destroyed, then it's game over.

    Simulation Game 
  • The Sims: In the original game, without any expansion packs, once a Sim died, that was it.
    • In The Sims 3, the only way for a Sim to be truly dead is if they were made a playable ghost, age normally, and then "die" of old age.
    • Later in The Sims 4, a dead Sim can hang around as a ghost. You get the option to release their spirit to the Netherworld, which takes them out of the game. This also happens after a certain amount of time for an unplayed ghost (due to the game automatically culling them), though you do get warned about this so you have a chance to bring them back.
  • In one of the most expensive home games ever made, Steel Battalion, your character will be killed and your profile erased if your Vertical Tank (Mecha) is destroyed and you fail to use the eject button on the massive controller included.
  • The Wing Commander series has flip-flopped on this a bit. In WC1, all wingmen could be killed with relative ease, meaning that you had to fly the rest of the system's missions solo. In WC2, all wingmen played a bigger role in the plot, and would automatically eject if their ship took lethal damage. Starting with WC3, wingmen would start out automatically ejecting, but after a certain point (depending on the wingman in question), each would start to be flagged as "at risk", and would no longer eject in time
  • In the Monster Rancher games, your monsters will eventually die of old age if you don't freeze or combine them.
  • Creatures series embodies this - a creature, be it Norn, Grendel or Ettin, that dies, dies for good. There are ways to stall death indefinitely but once a creature dies, there is no way to reverse it. The game uses a save system that prevents simply reloading the game and injecting a ton of various chemicals in the creature's system to stall death.
  • In Shadow President, depending on the actions that you take throughout the game, your advisors may resign due to policy disagreements, be assassinated, or be caught up in a scandal. These advisors do not come back, making your job as President very difficult, as they're able to provide many of the facts behind other countries including military capabilities, population statistics, and financial standings.
  • The Steam versions of X3: Terran Conflict and X3: Albion Prelude have the Dead-Is-Dead game start, wherein if you die the game deletes your save. Both games feature special achievements for completing plots in Dead-Is-Dead. Unfortunately the implementation is a little glitchy; a poor Internet connection can cause premature deletion.
  • In the original Air Combat game that launched the Ace Combat series, if you crashed a plane or were shot down, you would lose that plane for good. If you lost all your planes, then it was game over.
  • Your packmates in Wolf (DOS) will remain dead if something happens to them, as will any animals that you kill for food.
  • Uplink
    • The game ends with a black screen if you failed to cover your tracks. Some company will have tracked your hack to the source, right up to the Gateway you were connected to, and from that point, the Uplink corporation you worked for has to disavow all knowledge of your connections to them, and destroy that gateway. And you can't restart the game unless you backed up the user directory, or deleted your profile to start with a new one.
    • In the demo there was only one way to get arrested: refuse to pay your fines and you'll get convicted. This is somewhat humorous since hacking into your ultimate employers computers (the titular Uplink corporation) would only get you disavowed. This is probably why it got taken out, along with the clash with the new identity never culpable theme.
  • In the second MechWarrior Mercenaries, any of your lancemates whose 'mechs are destroyed will usually eject safely, however this trope is occasionally invoked, forcing you to hire a replacement pilot.
  • In the Super NES game Wings 2: Aces High (aka Blazing Skies), if a pilot crashes his plane or gets shot down, then that pilot is gone for the rest of the game. If you lose all of your pilots, it's game over for you.
  • In Sierra Ops, your squadron's escort ships are gone for good if they get destroyed. Thankfully, this does not apply to the Sierra itself or to the Lapis.

    Sports Game 
  • In a non-death example, the Wii Punch-Out!! revamp has a "Mac's Last Stand" mode. Basically, lose three matches, and Mac quits. Which means you can never play Career Mode again from your profile. The good news is that this only opens after you've beaten the entire opponent roster twice, so you're just trying to see how much further you can go before hanging up the gloves. Even after the Career is locked, Exhibition Mode remains available. The main goals players seek during Last Stand are the Secret Character who can appear randomly in a fight (once you fight him, win or lose, you can fight him anytime), and the Nintendo Hard "Champion Mode" (where all your opponents can One-Hit KO you) which turns on after 10 wins and becomes an in-game option from then on.
  • What happens to the main character is unclear, but the player only gets one shot to beat the final level of Prop Cycle. The other three levels the player could retry with more quarters, but if the player can't finish the final level, which can only be reached if the first three levels are beat, the player has to start from the beginning.

    Stealth Based Game 
  • The PSP game Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops allows you to recruit your own allies and send them into battle. If these allies die, they cannot be brought back. Amusingly enough, while random allies can end up gone for good if they end up on the wrong end of too many bullets, any character who can't be renamed simply passes out and you get him/her back later. This obviously applies to the main character, Naked Snake, but extremely minor side character Jonathan is also invincible, even though he gets one Cut Scene and then stops being in the plot until his meaningless and accidental Plotline Death, three quarters of the game later....
    • This is made more annoying by the fact that soldiers can die for good even with full LIFE - if they run too hard for too long without eating anything, their Stamina empties and they pass out - forever.
  • Metal Gear Solid includes the infamous torture scene, where Ocelot goes out of his way to warn Snake that there are no continues, and if Snake can't stand the torture and kicks the bucket, the game is over. Of course, this is all there to give players an incentive to submit to Ocelot's torture if they can't keep up (And don't even think about using auto-fire, or he'll know!), when the ending of the game depends on how well the player does at the torture scene. There is, however, nothing stopping the player quitting and loading a save from before the torture scene and trying again if they fail (the player even gets an Ominous Save Prompt just beforehand).
  • In Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, novice Assassins that die are gone for good and you need to recruit a replacement.

    Survival Horror 
  • Hardcore Mode in Dead Space 3 makes it so dying erases your save (as opposed to the previous installments, which let you die as much as you wanted but saving was limited to three saves for the whole campaign).
  • Fear & Hunger: Once a party member's health hits zero, they die and are permanently removed from the party. Nas'Hrah is an exception, as he's a disembodied head fueled by his own magic.
  • Fear & Hunger: Termina: Any character who dies or falls in battle is dead, permanently. Every time the player sleeps, they are given a list of which of the fourteen contestants have died so far. Endings B and C can only be accessed if everyone other than the player character is dead.
  • Hell Night had you fleeing through an Absurdly Spacious Sewer with a partner. If the monster caught up with you, your partner would die permanently and instantly. You'd be on your own until you found the next one.
  • Downplayed in Insanity. Most of the time, getting killed simply results in a game over, but there a few occasions where certain characters can be permanently killed unless the player makes choices to avoid it.
  • ObsCure gives your five characters (two of whom, Stan and Kenny, are discovered over the course of the game) to play as. If any of them dies, the game continues on without them, until everyone has been killed. This is the only way that a character can die; there are no Plotline Deaths within the main cast, and you can theoretically finish the game with everybody still alive (indeed, this is the only way to get the good ending), or with only one survivor. The sequel removes this system, instead opting for Plotline Deaths.
  • Peret em Heru: For the Prisoners: You start off with nine playable characters (one main and eight potential teammates), with a pair of non-playable characters accompanying them, and if you make the wrong choices, the others can and will begin dropping like flies, rendering them unusable and having other characters react to their demise. The absolute worst ending you can get has only two leave with their lives.
  • In the original Resident Evil
    • The two heroes you can pick from each get a partner. If they die during the game, they don't come back. Chris' partner Rebecca can be killed by a Hunter after the death of Richard if you don't get to her in time. Jill's partner Barry can die during the final part of the game if you agree to split up with him in the underground passage instead of letting him go with her or having him wait at the entrance (this happens if you answer "no" to his two questions; answering any other way ensures his survival). Note that Rebecca and Barry both survive in canon.
    • The Nintendo GameCube remake changes Barry's case; if Jill doesn't give Barry his gun back during a particular boss fight, said boss will launch him into an abyss.
  • In Song of Horror, if a Player Character dies, the story continues from another character's perspective. You only have 13 characters, though.
  • SSTR: Every time you die, SSTR will awaken a new crew member from cryosleep for you to play as.
  • The main twist of ZombiU. If you die, the player character becomes a zombie, and you take control of a new survivor. You lose all your items, but you can get them back by killing the zombified previous player character.
  • Outlast has a difficulty level completely dedicated to this idea. The idea is if you die, that's it. You have to start all over again. Which is annoying, because a few enemies can perform OneHitKills on you. This difficulty level is appropriately named Insane.
  • Losing a party member in Sweet Home (1989) had them gone for good with their personal item going along with them. There are other items in the mansion that act as replacements, but they take up a spot in your very limited inventory. Depending on who died, when they died and where, you could wind up in an Unwinnable game. The ending also changes depending on how many characters died.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • Max Payne 3 has "New York Minute Hardcore" mode, which forces you to complete stages within a single minute, gaining time extensions for kills, but die once and you have to restart the whole game.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • Tactics Ogre:
    • Deaths are permanent, unless the character is resurrected during the battle in which they died. Note that the resurrection spell is not found until late-game and is very expensive MP-wise. Few alternatives exist, and those are found even later.
    • The remake softens this. Resurrections are easier to get and units don't die permanently until they've been incapacitated and not recovered three times.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy Tactics has characters reduced to 0 HP have Non-Lethal K.O. only for a limited time within the battle. If they are not healed and the battle isn't finished within a certain number of rounds, they're gone for good. Should that happen to Ramza, the game ends on the spot.
    • Various games in the series have stages called "Jagds," which always lack some vital mechanic of the game. In Final Fantasy Tactics Advance the mechanic in question is the magical law system that governs combat and keeps people from dying of their injuries. Any allies who have 0 HP at the end of a fight in a Jagd will die. Should that happen to Marche, the game ends.
  • In the Fire Emblem series, a unit that falls in battle in the missions is generally gone for the remainder of the campaign. Plot-important characters are considered to have sustained a crippling injury so that they can never fight again (allowing them to interact with other characters during cutscenes), whereas less important characters simply perish. If a main character is killed, it is game over. There is, however, nothing to prevent players from reloading the mission every time a character dies. Starting with New Mystery of the Emblem, the series includes a "Casual Mode" where this can be disabled, allowing defeated characters to be usable again in the next mission (or even the next turn, in the case of Fire Emblem Fates' "Phoenix Mode"). Some games also have items that can resurrect allies who have died, but these items tend to be difficult to find, few in number, and limited to one use.
  • Critical Mass, a game originally created in the mid-'90s, would delete your file if you died without ejecting, or your pod was destroyed. And, given the nature of your AI allies to shoot you as much as the enemy, it has become the main competition on the forum to see how many missions you can survive. (Don't worry about finishing; it's an Endless Game.)
  • Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate- once a Marine is dead, he's dead. You only have limited Terminators too and can't move them over.
  • Unlike every other game in the series, the original Super Robot Wars on the Game Boy has permadeath. It can get away with it because it has the bare minimum of plot, compared to the series' modern trend of mixing tons of plots together.
  • In Operation Darkness, any fallen unit that remains dead at the end of the stage stays dead. Luckily, you've got Herbert West, who can revive anyone before end of stage.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Monster Capsule GB, losing a monster means it's gone forever, though this doesn't apply to Yugi's friends.
  • This is the case for normal mode in Telepath Tactics. In casual mode, characters return in the next battle with a slight nerf to their max health.
  • In Wildermyth, heroes defeated in battle have the option to retreat less a limb or go out in a blaze of glory. If they're defeated a second time in the same chapter, they die. Once a hero dies, they're gone for good for the rest of the campaign, though they can be added to your Legacy and recruited into a new story with some of their skills and all of their story hooks.
  • All deaths in Crystal Warriors are permanent. This also applies to any Monster Allies your characters may have recruited.

    Turn Based Tactics 
  • In Jagged Alliance 2, ALL deaths are final. This ranges from a bullet, to a knife in the gut, to, in one frustrating example, an unlucky swimming skill check. Down to Davy Jones' locker, Ira!
  • In the XCOM series you can hire recruits cheaply and easily. Usually most of them will suffer perma deaths before they're experienced enough to stop being One Hit Point Wonders who graduated at the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy. Maybe if your troops are lucky, they might just get an incapacitating wound instead of flat-out dying, but even that comes with long-term consequences.
  • In Valkyria Chronicles, friendly units become incapacitated upon running out of HP. If you can reach your unconscious squad member with one of your friendly units or use a certain command, a medic will escort them from the battlefield, allowing them to redeploy in future missions. Conversely, if they are not rescued in three turns or an enemy unit reaches them, they will die, removing them from play permanently (save for plot-critical characters). Of course, this is averted in any mock battles or fights between fellow squads and any ammunition for these fights will be non-lethal.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Survival Crisis Z
    • Hardcore mode, where player death is usually final. There's an item that will let you take over someone else's body when you die, but you lose your entire inventory except your money. If you get a high enough score in Arcade Mode, though, you'll get a cheat that will let you revive as many times as you want, without any item loss.
    • Your allies will die permanently if they run out of health or remain infected for too long, regardless of whether you're playing Hardcore mode or not. Unlike the above, there is no way to reverse it, though another ally will usually replace them sooner or later.
  • In Dead Rising, all characters suffer from this. (Of course, if Frank dies, you get game over.)
  • Minecraft has Hardcore mode where you are stuck on Hard difficulty and dying means you are unable to respawn to your world and are forced to create a new save. Before 1.9, if you die, your save for your Hardcore world gets erased from your computer! Not recommended for players who want to build and/or explore. Hardcore mode extends to multiplayer as well should the server admin allow it on. Anyone that dies on the server automatically gets kicked out and banned.
  • In My Summer Car, the player can either play the game with permadeath mode on or off. If the player dies, the save game will be deleted and gives with an Achievement Mockery for dying in permadeath mode.
  • Terraria has hardcore difficulty. If you die, the character you made is gone. Unlike the Minecraft example, dying doesn't force you to delete the world, only the character; this means you can start another character to attempt to continue the game. As multiple characters can go through your worlds, it's not a total loss if you stored items regularly. You still lose that inventory and HP/MP gained on the character.
  • Starbound features a hardcore difficulty setting: dying would not result in your character respawning on their ship, and would lock out the character's save file, rendering it unplayable.
  • State of Decay has this for all potential player-controlled survivors. Whether you are controlling them or not, if a survivor dies, they're done in for the rest of the playthrough, and all their built-up stats and skills go straight with them. Non-playable and plot-critical NPCs such as the Mission Control Lily Ritter and Doc Hanson are immune to this, and many survivors such as Pastor Will are scripted to die at certain points and cannot be killed before then, but even some characters with significant relevance to the story, such as Lily's brother Jacob and the initial player character Marcus, are all fair game.
  • Don't Starve is always on permadeath, unless you activate a Touch Stone, build a Meat Effigy, or wear a Life Giving Amulet. Touch Stones are rare and inconvenient, Meat Effigies are made from middle to endgame materials, and Life Giving Amulets are only accessible in the very late game. The multiplayer mode, Don't Starve Together, is a lot better about permadeath, allowing dead players to remain as ghosts - but there are a lot of penalties for resurrection to both the resurrector and resurrectee, and ghosts that have not yet been revived will continuously drain sanity for all players. Additionally, when all players have died at once, the entire server resets itself after a few minutes.
  • Very unforgiving example in The Long Dark. You can't manually save, the game maintains a single Autosave which it automatically deletes if you die, forcing you to start all over. A single dumb decision in game can cost you dearly. Just like real life, of course.
  • A slight variation in the Desolation of Mordor DLC in Middle-earth: Shadow of War; due to the fact that Baranor is a normal human without the Resurrective Immortality of Talion or Eltariel, upon death everything save for story progress and certain skill upgrades resets, meaning you lose any accumulated loot and any outposts you control.
  • In Star Traders: Frontiers, playing on hard difficulty or above activates permadeath, meaning if your captain dies at any point in the game, the campaign is over.
  • In Watch Dogs: Legion, the player can decide to play in Permadeath mode or not. If one of the player's characters die, it will stay that forever and cannot longer be used, and if all characters die, the game ends with credits roll.

Non-video game examples:

    Anime & Manga 
  • In YuYu Hakusho, Yusuke and his friends are forced to play in an actualized version of a video game titled "Goblin City" against a Creepy Child named Amanuma and nicknamed "Game Master". Amanuma takes the role of the game's final boss the Goblin King, not realizing that the Goblin King is killed off after the player completes the game, whereas the player can revive as many times as he wants since the game has unlimited continues. As a result, Amanuma dies for real when Kurama completes the final stage, horrified as he does realize that he will undoubtly perish, and pretty much saying "I Don't Want to Die"; as a result, when Kurama faces the next enemy, he is INCREDIBLY angry after being forced to kill the kid. Koenma manages to revive him.
  • Log Horizon, on the other hand, applies this trope on NPCs instead of players.
  • In Dragon Ball, Shenron has the power to restore life to someone who has died, but only once: if they die again afterwards, he cannot revive them again. He also cannot revive anyone who had died of natural causes.

    Fan Works 
  • Pokémon:
    • The Pokémon Black creepypasta ends with Ghost killing the player character, erasing the save file afterwards.
    • This is the underlying point of the Self-Imposed Challenge known as the "Nuzlocke challenge" in Pokémon games. The base rules are simple: one can only attempt to capture the first Pokémon they encounter in any given route, and anyone that faints is considered dead and must be released or placed in a PC box indefintely at the next opportunity to do so.note  As this makes any Pokémon captured very difficult to replace, it becomes surprisingly heartbreaking whenever one of them do faint, whether as a result of a random Critical Hit or, worse, because of your own mistakes. I believe this is all happening for a reason.

    Film - Animated 
  • In Coco, the skeleton inhabitants of the Land of the Dead vanish if no one among the living remembers them anymore.
  • One of the rules in the Wreck-It Ralph universe is that if a character dies inside their game, they'll respawn, but if they die outside their game, they're dead for good. Turbo gets around this by modifying the data of an in-Universe game "Sugar Rush", getting rid of Vanellope's data and then replacing her with himself as King Candy.

    Film - Live-Action 

  • The Avatar Chronicles: Epic: Epic is Nintendo Hard. once your character is dead, all their stuff is gone as well, and you have to start all over again, implying that there's only one character per person.
  • Used in Otherland in a fictional MMORPG, where character death is permanent. After losing his high-level character due to the interference of the titular network, Orlando's driving goal is to find out why.
  • Takeshi Kovacs: Thanks to "Cortical Stack" implants that preserve the consciousness and can be transferred to new bodies, death of the body is only considered "Organic Damage", albeit still devastating for those without the resources to arrange a suitable replacement. "Real Death" is when the Stack and any extant backups are destroyed, and is the only form of death that's considered murder.
  • In the Greg Egan novel Incandescence, Brain Uploading is so ubiquitous and the galaxy-spanning Alternet so advanced that "dying" only costs the victim their memories since their last backup. Truly murdering someone is nigh-impossible and is described as the stuff of especially lurid media epics.
  • The Cosmere: When someone dies, they first turn into a Cognitive Shadow, their mind becoming the new focus point for their existence now that they no longer have a body. This is an unstable state of being however, requiring a steady stream of Investiture to keep going, which is nearly impossible to get unless a Shard is involved. So most people end up going to the Beyond in less than a minute, from which there is no return.
  • Zig-zagged in "Heir Apparent". Dying in the game merely functions as a total-reset of the game, which while it may be considered this trope for many modern games is a subversion for this subgenre of virtual reality fiction. However, due to a bug triggered by damaged equipment the protagonist is unable to safely leave the game without winning it, and prolonged exposure to the technology will fry her brain. As a result, it's not dying that leads to permadeath, but failure to win.
  • The Wheel of Time has balefire. It doesn't just kill you; it burns you out of the fabric of reality itself! There's also death within the Dream Land; dying there removes you from the Pattern, meaning you can't reincarnate.

    Live Action Television 
  • In Doctor Who, a Time Lord is very Long-Lived, and can regenerate into a new body to avoid most brands of death. The rule is 12 regenerations for a total of 13 lives. As such, a Time Lord would enjoy a lifespan in at least five digits if s/he were to live a full life in each body. Even then, regeneration energy can be granted or stolen. However, Time Lords can be and are Killed Off for Real sometimes, either by taking so much damage that what's left can't trigger a regeneration (River Song says stopping both hearts at once would do it, the Master says that and the Chunky Salsa Rule are a sure method), or certain poisons, or certain brands of punishment in the early, unstable days of a new body, or Time Lord weaponry. Trying to regenerate when Out of Continues is a good way to evaporate on the spot, too (though the one time we see that comes from an unfinished episode whose finished portions have been released, so the canonicity of this is debatable.)
  • In Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, the members of the evil Deboss Legion end up in the Darkness of the Land/Deboss Hell when they're slain, and can be brought back to life by retrieving them (something that happens several times over the course of the series). In the final arc, the team's mentor Torin allows himself to be killed so he can destroy Deboss Hell from the inside, preventing the members from ever coming back.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, this happens by old age. Any sentient creature, even if Deader than Dead, can be brought back by a true resurrection spell, unless dead of old age. Certain spells such as trap the soul can prevent resurrection at the GM's discretion, but using a wish to bring someone back to life can trump even that. Just make sure the wish isn't being granted by a Jackass Genie...
    • There are ways around even that. An Elan has no maximum age. The Green Star Adept Prestige Class confers agelessness, although it otherwise isn't that good. And depending on the DM, "Reincarnate" might be interpreted as a loophole, as it explicitly creates a young body.
    • Inversely, there are also ways of making sure someone stays out of the way forever, too. Certain spell effects or monster special attacks have a 50% chance of essentially destroying the soul of the victim as well, meaning that there's nothing to resurrect. Also, the spells for resurrection require the soul being brought back is willing so if they're happy being dead, then dead they shall stay, and finally, there are alternate rules for the DM who wants death to be a wee bit more enduring then a nap in the dirt.
    • Also, starting in the 3rd Edition, it is stated that someone cannot be brought back to life against their will. (Why would a soul object to this? A variety of reasons, mostly spiritual and religious in nature; possibly, the cleric trying to raise them from the dead is an enemy who would make the risen hero a prisoner or slave). In such a case, resurrecting an unwilling soul is impossible.
    • In the splatbook Tyrants of Nine Hells states that Lawful Evil souls end up as sickly, pathetic soul-maggots in the eponymous place. The devils can then legally torture those soul-maggots to extract some evil divine-energy from them. And after nothing is left, the maggot can be crushed for a last drip of power, this act remove said soul from the multiverse, forever.
    • However, this can happen to any fiend, no matter how powerful. If they are summoned from their home plane, they are reborn back there if killed, but if they physically leave or are killed on their home plane, they risk True Death, and are not reborn. No-one knows what becomes of their souls, but many believe - and hope - they face only oblivion. (This is one of the few things that even devils are afraid of, mostly because they are control freaks to the extreme and really don't know what happens to them when they truly die.)
    • In 4th Edition, resurrection is handled as the person in question having an "unfinished destiny" and being able to come back. Thus, if the Game Master deems an NPC's death as "important to the plot", then he won't be able to be brought back. PCs can always be brought back by resurrection spells, though(unless the GM is a dick).
  • In GURPS this occurs when the body is completely destroyed; for a normal (HP 10) person this requires taking 110 points of damage. Any other sort of death can be fixed by sufficiently powerful magic while only a god can fix that much destruction.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem, vampires have two stages of death: Torpor, basically a lengthy but recuperative hibernation (up to centuries, in a few cases), and Final Death, which can only be caused by what the game terms "Aggravated Damage". This means the type of damage that a vampire cannot automatically heal: sunlight, fire, magic, another supernatural creature, decapitation, or completely destroying the body.
  • Beast: The Primordial has a variant. Normal people (including most species of supernatural) can only enter the Primordial Dream via a kind of Astral Projection, and if they die in this form they wake up in their own bed (albeit with some nasty psychic shock). A Beast's Horror, however, exists wholly within the Primordial Dream. While this does give it a very powerful dream form, it also means if it dies in the Dream it dies for good, and its human host dies with it.
  • You get three tries to bring someone back with the only resurrection spell in Rifts. It's very high-level. If you fail all three times (you have a 45% chance to succeed), one other mage may make three attempts. If the other mage fails thrice, the dead person is gone.
  • In Eclipse Phase characters get cortical stacks and off-site backups, allowing players to keep playing the same character even if they get vaporized. However it is possible for a persistent enough enemy to steal or destroy the stack, and delete all backups. In addition, if a character is infected with a strain of the Exsurgent virus that stays dormant long enough their backups may be overwritten with infected versions.
  • In Paranoia, the Computer creates clone backups of all citizens, but you only get six. Or you may be able to buy more, but your credit limit only stretches so far (especially after cleaning up genetic drift). Or the Computer may discover that you have Machine Empathy and immediately wipe your template.
  • Defied in one specific instance in Geist: The Sin-Eaters. Polydegmon, the Kerberos of Mictlan, is known as 'The Welcomer of Many' and 'The Collector of Souls'. But see, if you can somehow entreat his favor (indeed the rulebook says that while the path to his graces may be long and arduous, eventually he will concede to your request), you can request the soul of anyone who has ever died, from him. It doesn't matter if the person in question experienced Deader than Dead or even Cessation of Existence, he can easily summon the soul just the same. This power, combined with his perfect stats, Geognosis and the ability to change the rules of his realm at a whim seem to confirm that he is one of the mythical Deathlords.
  • Arkham Horror: In 2nd Edition, falling to zero Stamina or Sanity merely costs the investigator part of their inventory and a stop at the Trauma Inn. If their Stamina and Sanity simultaneously reach zero, or if an effect specifies it, they're "Devoured" forever. 3rd Edition makes permadeath the default if either stat is exhausted.

  • A Tamagotchi's lifespan ends with it dying forever.

  • Captain SNES: The Game Masta: Normally, characters don't die, and if they do, it's a plot-related death, which can be reversed. There are two cases of potential "true" death however.
    • Firstly, the main character is not a video game character. He has the power to make use of save points and such to avoid death, but if, for example, he travels to a new video game world and dies before saving again, he will not revert to the last save, and die.
    • Second, the main villain of the comic uses an energy foreign to Videoland called "Omega Energy", which is capable of ignoring the usual rules and killing someone outright. It's all but stated to come from the real world, via Kevin Keene.
  • In Homestuck, each of the kids/trolls/ alpha kids has a "dream self" that acts as a second life if they are killed and serve as a way to ascend to God Tier later down the line. If these dream selves are killed, than characters will STILL appear as ghosts wandering through physical memory bubbles deep in the furthest reaches of space. But should these ghosts be caught in Lord English's blasts, which have the power to shatter reality itself, then they are irrevocably dead. Game over, indeed.
    • Players who ascend to God Tier gain Resurrective Immortality. However, it only works if the player was not given a Heroic or Just death. Though Aranea's powers can nudge the judgement.
  • Schlock Mercenary introduces a "Laz Scale" for severity of death after the public release of personal Nanomachines that back up the user's memories throughout their bodies. Laz-5 is "Really, Actually Dead", where the brain is destroyed and the backups are too compromised to be meaningfully recovered.

    Web Original 
  • The form without an option to even restart the entire campaign, seen in You Only Live Once or Sub Mission above, is parodied in a Cracked Photoplasty. It's called the #22 terrible idea that would have ruined Super Mario Bros..
  • Fire Emblem on Forums: Characters who are left on the battlefield for too long without being revived are permanently killed off. So long as they remain on the battlefield, they can be revived, rescued or otherwise protected. Only a few games do not apply this aspect of the ruleset, and they tend towards the Lighter and Softer side.
  • This is the point behind PBG Hardcore games. If one of the players dies in the game, they are gone for the rest of the season.
  • Normally on NoPixel, characters can survive things that would kill a normal human, meaning that Death Is a Slap on the Wrist. But from time to time a character will "perma," meaning that they permanently die in the narrative. These characters are completely deleted from the server and can never be remade.

    Western Animation 
  • TV example, sort of: Captain N: The Game Master could survive death in the video game world a few times, but if his "extra lives" ran out, he'd "go to the big game-over in the sky".
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Avatar spirit itself would suffer this if the current incarnation of the Avatar is ever killed while in the Avatar state. Otherwise it would just reincarnate into the next part of the cycle after his/her death.
  • Drawn Together: Xandir, being a pastiche of videogame heroes, has Videogame Lives. When he was suicidal he killed himself 98 times. Building up to this trope with #99. He was talked out of it.
  • On Code Lyoko, "dying" on Lyoko usually just meant being forced back to the real world (as the virtualization process transformed the heroes' bodies into computer avatars) but there were exceptions. Aelita was the biggest exception; she had no human body until season two, and until season three (her body in season two was virtual; in the season finale she regained her real one), she was at risk of ceasing to exist if her life points ever fell to zero, forcing the other heroes to act as a Hero Secret Service for her much of the time. Also, XANA would frequently try to block off their means of access to the devirtualization process, hoping to trap them so that dying on Lyoko would mean actual death. (Fortunately, he never succeeded.) There was also the matter of falling into the Digital Sea, basically a representation of raw network data. Falling bodily into it was assumed to result in the virtual avatar being scrambled beyond recovery (there was one time when three of them were about to fall in, so they all DV'd each other to prevent it). When they developed a way to traverse this sea in order to locate XANA's replica worlds, the craft served as a link back to the Supercomputer. DV'd characters were held within, so the craft had to be protected to prevent a Final Death.
  • The characters in Aqua Teen Hunger Force die multiple times, but always come back thanks to a mix of Snap Backs and Negative Continuity. In the Grand Finale, however, both Frylock and Shake die, and their deaths stick. The final few minutes of the episode are a Distant Finale showing what happened to Meatwad after the deaths of his friends.
  • Steven Universe: Gems are beings of Hard Light, so if their bodies get too badly damaged they can retreat into their Heart Drive and regenerate. However, if the Gem is directly damaged they can "shatter", killing them off for good. Making it worse is that sometimes a shattered Gem's shards will still try to regenerate, coming back as disembodied limbs desperately trying to find their missing pieces. However, Future reveals Yellow Diamond can restore shattered gems with her powers, and Steven was able to revive Jasper by combining all four Diamonds' powers.
  • Rick and Morty: Roy: A Life Well-Lived is an immersive VR game about living a normal human life. If Roy dies and can't be resuscitated, the game ends.