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Shared Life-Meter

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Two bosses, one life bar.

Whenever a video game has a boss fight against multiple characters, the game can either have each boss with their own life meter, or it can have all the characters sharing a single life meter, with every enemy, regardless of how much they've been personally damaged, inexplicably keeling over once it's been emptied. In some games, the game will balance out the fact that the player can control more than one character by having them share a life bar.

An alternative to this is when multiple enemies technically have their own life meter, but for the sake of avoiding Multiple Life Bars they've all been combined into one giant life meter, and emptying it involves defeating any individual enemy (or it might involve one giant enemy with multiple destructible parts that have to be taken out.)

Often overlaps with Dual Boss and Wolf Pack Boss. Sometimes a subtrope of Synchronization or Shared Life Energy.

Examples of characters all getting their health from the same life bar:

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    Video Game Examples 
  • The World Ends with You has Neku and his partner sharing one life meter that stretches across both screens of the DS. It even empties at both ends depending on who's getting hurt, with one character displaying their injured idle animation if his or her half of the life bar is completely empty.
    • Any Dual Boss fights in the game (like Kariya and Uzuki, Kitaniji and Shiki, or Optional Boss Hanekoma's simultaneous dual forms) have this rule applying for the bosses as well
  • Larry Jr. in The Binding of Isaac, as well as the various challenges in Rebirth's Boss Rush.
  • Forever Kingdom features three playable characters who are cursed with the Soul Bind, which causes them to share the same life force, giving them all one life meter. Unfortunately, this feature was highly criticized.
  • Julius, Yoko and Alucard all share the same HP and MP meters in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow's Julius Mode.
  • The Noob-Smoke tag team from Mortal Kombat: Deception.
  • The Sisters from Cave Story are of the first variety.
  • Mega Man
    • Mega Man (Classic)
      • The Twin Devil in Mega Man 9, justified by being two entities controlled by a single core.
      • Gemini Man from Mega Man 3.
    • Mega Man Zero
    • Mega Man ZX: Whenever the two are fought together, Prometheus and Pandora share a life bar. Whereas each of them alone has 2 layers of life bars, them combined has just 3. In the first game they just attack alternately, while in the second they get Combination Attacks. Justified in that the player never properly defeats them; draining their life meter simply causes them to decide that they're done fighting for one reason or another. This also applies to the Shisharoids from Advent.
    • Mega Man Star Force series: In the second game, Gemini Spark Black and White have separate health bars and the other will keep going when the other is defeated (a contrast from the first game, where only Black is vulnerable).
  • Rebel Inc.: In online co-op, both players share the reputation meter. To compensate, the reputation meter's size is doubled and players can send help to and from each other's regions.
  • The Superman Returns video game has a health bar shared by the entire city, which goes down whenever enemies hurt civilians or cause property damage.
  • Both Joe and Silvia share life and VFX meters in Viewtiful Joe 2.
  • In the Drakan series, the Player Character Rynn and her Bound dragon Arokh share a single life meter, though this seems to only work one way (if Arokh dies, so does Rynn, but if Rynn dies, Arokh seems to survive). This is justified in-story by the nature of their Bond, which magically links the lives of the dragon and his rider, and Arokh has already survived the death of his previous rider in the backstory.
  • The Komodo Bros in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back share a life bar. Moe is invulnerable, but Joe isn't - and to damage them you have to smack Joe, which will spin towards Moe, hurting them both.
  • Some of World of Warcraft's bosses have this, typically with the added mechanic that only one of them is either more vulnerable than the rest or the only one vulnerable. Examples include:
    • In Vanilla, the Twin Emperors share damage between them.
    • In Burning Crusade, The Illidari Council is often called Maulgar 2.0, and they share damage between the 4 of them while defying Shoot the Medic First. This was one of the most chaotic fight of the time.
    • The Blood Prince Council in Wrath of the Lich King's Icecrown Citadel.
    • Mogu'shan Vaults in Mists of Pandaria has two examples of this in its first and last bosses:
      • The Stone Guard at the beginning will occasionally become invulnerable, requiring players to change targets.
      • The two main bosses of the Will of the Emperor encounter are both vulnerable to damage throughout the fight. But the encounter throws so much cannon fodder at you it's only possible to really focus on them at a few particular points.
    • The Trial of the Yaungol in the Mists dungeon Temple of the Jade Serpent. Both start out vulnerable, but as they take more damage they eventually develop into a buff that makes them temporarily invulnerable, requiring the party to alternate targets.
  • Monster Eye has the rhino beetle and stag beetle monster bosses who shares the same life meter. They initially attack one at a time (rhino first, then stag), misleading the players into believing they're facing a single boss with one health bar, but then the boss fight leads into the open with both monsters onscreen, still sharing the same life meter.
  • The three main characters of Gobliiins all share a life meter, though this was removed for future games in the series.
  • Variant in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time: Bebop and Rocksteady show separate health bars, but the fight's over when either one empties. The two start attacking each other and defeat themselves.
  • Scramble Mode in Street Fighter X Tekken is 2-on-2 with all 4 fighters active at once. Each side shares one life bar between both teammates.
  • Drakengard: Caim and his dragon share a life bar both when he's riding and on the ground, though Caim has the opportunity to replenish it (by killing enemies such as archers, who can take out them very quickly when airborne).
  • Warcraft III has the Spirit Link ability, which spreads damage across multiple units.
  • Diablo III: Champion packs of enemies with the Health Link modifier share a single common health pool. This makes the individual champions seem very robust, since the damage they take is shared between the entire group, effectively tripling or quadrupling the hit points of any single monster. The effect has a fun side effect though, since when the shared health pool is emptied, all of the Champions will die in rapid succession, sometimes almost simultaneously.
  • Touhou Project fangame Takkoman features this during the Boss Rush in the second-to-last stage, throwing bosses two at a time at the player but giving them a shared health bar. Strangely, this actually makes the bosses easier to beat together than if they were fought separately, especially if the player melee attacks them when they're grouped together, which does twice the damage (and Flandre lacks her Healing Factor from her own boss fight.)
  • Byteria Heroes: Crimson Gem of Order has two boss fights where two of the heroes team up and this applies to them. Essentially, damage taken by your comrade applies to you. The bad guys generally target your own character, however.
  • Phobos and Deimos from The Ninja Warriors Again, two huge combat cyborgs. Attacking any of them will deplete the health bar, and attacking both of them at the same time deals double damage. Once it's gone, they both die.
  • The first part of the fight with Mecha-Gyaos in Gamera 2000. Gyaos himself is the primary target, but he's also accompanied by a pair of respawning tentacle enemies that also chip away at his life meter if attacked.
  • The Guardians of the Graveyard in MediEvil, two wolf statues with a single life bar that, when depleted, causes them both to admit defeat and turn back into statues.
  • Touhou Project does this for the Prismriver sisters when you fight them as a group. And only for the Prismriver sisters; while Yuki and Mai look like they share a meter, their health is tracked separately, letting you finish the first phase of the fight "early".
  • In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, Master Hand and Crazy Hand share their stamina, which wasn't true in the previous games.
  • The Four Kings fight in Dark Souls is a little strange about this. There are four kings to beat, all sharing a life meter, and seemingly the player has to defeat them all to win, but they actually respawn a while after death (but without adding any more health to the life meter,) which can lead to the player having to fend off five or more kings if the fight drags on too long, and emptying the life meter causes any surviving kings to drop dead regardless.
  • In Darkest Dungeon the Formless Flesh boss uses this it's one large mass of flesh that takes up all four enemy spaces with each part of it constantly changing form but it's still one mass of flesh so all damage gets takin from one large health bar.
  • The King of Fighters 2003, in a rare example of this in a fighting game, gives one to bosses Chizuru and Maki...Or any two-fighter team, for that matter (which isn't possible for a non-CPU player to have in normal gameplay).
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • In Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, Larxene creates several copies of herself that all share one lifebar, so an attack that hits multiple clones will deal multiple times the normal damage.
    • Kingdom Hearts III:
      • The first part of the final battle is against twelve entities that all share the same health meter, and have a tendency to attack in groups making it easier to whittle down their health, or for them to take down Sora, Donald and Goofy. These twelve are the Replica Xehanorts, echoes of the fallen (or in Xion's case, turncoat) members of the True Organization XIII, each with their own main weapon (except for the Replica Xehanort acting as Ansem, which has none) and each with their own unique moves.
      • The Re:Mind DLC features another battle with the same twelve entities, with them again sharing the same health bar. As are the heroes fighting them, Riku, Mickey Mouse, Terra, Aqua, Ventus, Roxas, Lea and Xion.
  • The True Final Boss in River City Girls, Mami and Hasabe share the single life bar all other bosses used, so you can focus all your attacks on one and it'll KO the other. In an interesting twist, the one you land the final hit on will pass out like the player characters do for the final stage and you have to finish them by chasing around her ghost and whaling on it. The other remains alive but doesn't take damage during this.
  • Panzer Dragoon Orta has a boss battle against a dragonmare squadron, made up of five dragonmares. They all share the same health bar, though each dragonmare can be whittled down and killed individually.
  • Honkai Impact 3rd has a special mechanic in competitive modes called "soul link", where several mooks will occasionally be bound by a green thread and share a single life bar − they will also take more damage if you hit them all at once, meaning that the strategies in those stages focus on keeping the enemies gathered in a single spot. A variant of this mechanic is enemies having separate life bars but coming back to life if you don’t kill them simultaneously or a few seconds apart, forcing you to be clever in how you distribute the damage (since one enemy will usually have a lot more health than the others).
  • Kirby
    • Kirby Star Allies: Void Soul and Void can split during their Sprint) and Laughing Needle) attacks. However, attacking the copies counts as hitting the real deal, so there is no need to memorise where the real Void Soul or Void went.
    • Kirby Fighters 2 has Twin Woods, Duo Edge and the tag-team of King Dedede & Meta Knight, all of which share the same health bar during each of their battles.
  • The video game adaptation of Ed, Edd n Eddy has the three Ed’s sharing a health bar. The manual justifies it as a “coolness” bar.
  • Super Paper Mario has up four playable characters, but only one can be present onscreen at a time, and they will share one health pool that only grows with the player's level.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba - The Hinokami Chronicles, tag-team battles have both characters sharing a life bar between them that doesn't refill when one character tags out.
  • In the Silent Scope series, if a boss takes control of a vehicle (truck, fighter jet, helicopter, etc.), both the boss character and the vehicle will share the same lifebar. Shooting the boss takes off more health than shooting the vehicle, and a headshot will kill the boss, and however you kill the boss, their vehicle will get destroyed too.
  • In Berenstain Bears' Camping Adventure, the Bear Siblings share the same health meter in the 2-Player Co-Op Multiplayer. Not only that, but they also share the same pool of extra lives.

     Non-Video Game examples 
  • Basic Dungeons & Dragons. Sabreclaw monsters are created in "wings" of 2d10 members. Each sabreclaw contributes 25 Hit Points to a pool shared by the entire wing. For example, a wing of 10 sabreclaws would have a total of 250 Hit Points. Any damage inflicted on a sabreclaw is divided up among all of the members of its wing. Once an amount of damage equal to the wing's pool is inflicted on it, all of the sabreclaws in the wing die.
  • Life Points in Yu-Gi-Oh! work sort of like this. Monsters battling each other remove Life Points from each player, and when a player's Life Points reach zero they lose, along with all the monsters they were controlling. In a more meta way, one variant of team duels has all members of a team share a single LP score, and the entire team loses when this is reduced to 0.
  • HeroQuest: Against the Ogre Horde has a single life bar for all of the generic ogres in the dungeon you're playing. At specific points, the ogre currently being attacked dies. Even so, it is a single bar instead of several in succession as you always tick off a unit in front, even if the heroes are fighting multiple ogres at once.
  • Nick Arcade: In the Bonus Round, where the contestants go inside a video game, each teammate takes on a level individually, then, if there's time left, they fight the day's Big Bad together, sharing one life bar between them.
  • The alternate Magic: The Gathering format Two-Headed Giant works like this. Each side has two players, and instead of each of them starting with 20 life, they share a single life total starting at 30.

Examples of this trope being used as an alternative to Multiple Life Bars.

  • The first two games in the Serious Sam series will occasionally lock Sam in an arena and hurl massive amounts of enemies that have to be killed, using a boss life meter to gauge the player's progress.
  • Abobo's Big Adventure features this when Kirby absorbs Krang and commandeers his giant robot suit. The player then has to attack and destroy the robot suit's head and right arm, along with beating Kirby himself, all of which share a life meter.
  • The first Mega Man game has CWU-01P, a series of robots encased in bubbles.
    • Mega Man 2 has the Boobeam Trap and Picopico-kun in Wily's Castle, the former being a series of turrets on the walls that all have to be destroyed, the latter featuring wall panels that combine into flying robots.
    • Mega Man 4 has the Cockroach Twins, two robots fought one after the other.
    • Mega Man X has Rangda Bangda (which also reappears in X5), a giant robotic face that's defeated by destroying both its eyes and its floating robotic "nose".
  • In Mega Man ZX Advent, Argoyle and Ugoyle, when fought, initially appear to have a single health bar. However, when you activate Model H and use it to Enemy Scan them, you'll see that each of them has their own health bar.
  • Muramasa: The Demon Blade is...complicated about this. Bosses have two health bars, one large one and one small one (that keeps feeding the large bar whenever it's depleted while slowly depleting itself in the process.) Whenever multiple bosses are fought at once, they have separate large bars, but they all get health from the same small bar (although the small bar is then split up into separate bars, one for each boss, denoting their own portions of the health meter.)
  • Muramasa'a predecessor, Odin Sphere, keeps it simpler and just sticks with the single health bar divided into chunks for each character/destroyable section.
  • The second boss of the Game Boy version of Battletoads has a first form with one life bar, but requiring the player to destroy multiple turrets on it before moving on to the second form.
  • The Supernaut from Rework the Dead: Evil is a partial example, requiring the player to reduce it's health bar by shooting off it's scales one by one. However, the player doesn't need to remove them all to defeat it.
  • As of the Soulstorm expansion, the total health of squads in Dawn of War is visible (the earlier games only showed it when the squad was down to a single unit), though individual unit's lifebars are still visible.
  • In World in Conflict, an infantry unit has a single life bar, but the health of each individual soldier is tracked separately. This is clearly demonstrated by 100% accurate attacks with no splash damage only killing one soldier at a time (such as a sniper or a heavy tank's HEAT shells). Medics can heal only living infantry, and replacements can be airdropped in to replace casualties.
  • The Meta-Knights in Kirby's Adventure are a boss fight consisting of a large group of Mooks, using the life meter to gauge Kirby's progress as he defeats them. Several sections of Kirby Super Star also do the same thing with the same group of enemies as well.
  • The stage 4 boss of Joe & Mac is a quartet of ichthyosaurs with the same life bar, with the player having to beat all of them to win.
  • Yggdra Union provides a strange example: while no actual life bars are shown (as units only lose morale when battles are over) it can become clear, through testing with Save Scumming or save states on an emulator, that every single unit in a squad has a small life bar that constantly gets depleted during battle, and that its leader always has a bigger one. Yet, certain skills treat a squad's life as a single entity. So you can use Revolution (which claims to only halve your current enemy's numbers) at the start of a battle to reduce their number from 6 to 3, or use it when only the leader is standing to make him fall faster.
  • Both the stage 2 boss and the Final Boss of Gamera 2000 are giant ships with a single health bar, but require the player to destroy various subsystems and basically tear them both apart piece by piece to defeat them.
  • The fight with the Gesellschaft in Mega Man Legends. The ship itself has one life meter, but it's depleted by destroying various weakpoints on the ship.
  • The fight with the twins in Dead Rising 2 works this way. Both bosses fight you at the same time and have individual health bars, but killing one of them causes the other to commit suicide.
  • The second phase of the Hell Guard boss battle in DOOM (2016) has the health bar displaying the health total of both Hell Guards. This can get a bit confusing in telling when it's Glory Kill time for one of them.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV and Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse have "Horde"-type enemy encounters, which appear as a huge mob of enemies. All of these enemies are counted as one target (except when using all-targeting attacks, which will hit the horde three times), and as you wear down the Horde's HP, the enemies decrease in number.

Examples of both types at once:

  • The Last Remnant has this for the squads you build to fight enemies. An especially lucky enemy roll could leave five characters badly injured but alive... ,sharing all of one HP. Conversely, some enemy attacks can KO individuals without doing much damage, couple that with healing spells not automatically reviving fallen units and you can end up with a single wakeful character while the other four are KO'd.