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Stalked by the Bell

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We told you to hurry up! Now perish!

"Attention, all personnel. The Light Containment Zone decontamination process will occur in T-15 minutes. All biological substances must be removed in order to avoid destruction."
C.A.S.S.I.E, SCP: Secret Laboratory

If you dawdle too long, the game deploys an overpowered monster or Advancing Wall of Doom to end the stage quickly — one way or another.

This is most prevalent in Arcade Games for two purposes: as a deterrent to discourage one player from hogging the machine if others are waiting in line behind them; and to reset the cabinet back to Attract Mode in case players decide to abandon it during gameplay.

It may also appear on console and PC video games as a means of Gameplay and Story Integration, even if only to give a valid reason for the mission being timed; it makes more sense for there to be a time limit because something within the game is chasing the player character than for the character to simply die upon the time limit being reached. This trope also works to give the player a chance to successfully complete the level, even if the time limit had already been reached.

For the narrative equivalent to this trope, see The Call Knows Where You Live, in which The Protagonist is similarly pressured into beginning their journey by some personal threat. If the game punishes you for literally doing nothing instead of just staying in the same area too long, see Anti Idling. When the game doesn't punish you for dawdling, but just tells you off instead, see Continue Your Mission, Dammit! and Time Keeps On Ticking.

Deadly Creatures as Time-out Penalties:

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    Action Adventure 
  • In the original Rygar, time running out would cause the entire background to go black and a huge, invincible wraithlike monster to fly at you from the left. Interestingly enough, it not only was possible to evade this monster, but repeatedly — and it would go faster every time you dodged it until it became impossible to evade. The real danger was not getting killed by it or the monsters that were normally a part of the level.
  • In Terraria, most Night-based bosses leave at dawn. The ones that don't gain infinite attack power and can kill you in one hit.
    • The Wall Of Flesh cannot be infinitely kited; once you reach the edge of the map, your only options are to fight or lose.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, most of the game is governed by an In-Universe Game Clock that counts up to 72 in-universe hours*, and unlike its predecessor, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, time does not stop while you're indoors except for a few rare locations. While you can pause the game for as long as you like, the rule of thumb is that whenever the clock is showing, it's running, and you only have those 72 hours to complete whatever it is you need to during this three-day cycle before resetting it with the Song of Time (or letting time run out, which gets you a Non-Standard Game Over).
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, you must enter "Silent Realms" to collect tears at a few points, in order to progress. These tears also extend a timer, and when that timer runs out, you get chased by the realm's guardians — who can kill you in one hit. With some pretty badass/terrifying music too.

    Action Game 
  • In the arcade version of Super Contra, if the player stays too long in the same spot to milk points from enemy grunts, a fireball will materialize from out of nowhere and instantly kill the player.
  • Take too long to kill the enemies in a level of Joust, and an "unbeatable?" pterodactyl will appear and try to kill you. It's not completely invincible, but the window to kill it is so small as to be nearly non-existent.note  Early versions of this game even had a bug where the path it took let the player stand on a ledge and kill a continuous stream of them.
  • The Tower of Druaga was especially sadistic. When the timer ran out, invincible Will-O-Wisps traced the walls in varying speeds, bypassing any magic ring protection the player may have. Slow ones appear first; fast ones appear later. Also, the timer resets to 60 seconds. If Gil is still alive and in the maze when the timer hits 0, Gil dies instantly. This is just one aspect of this game that makes it hair-tearingly difficult.
  • Wolverine: Adamantium Rage for the SNES released Elsie Dee (an android filled with plastique and modeled after a child) if you took too long. She crawled all over the level to chase you down. If she managed to touch you, you'd get a Non-Standard Game Over as she, Wolvie, and the stage you were in exploded.
  • Qix sent out two extra sparks which were able to travel up partly completed lines, unlike the normal sparks. And if you stay in place too long, a fuse starts burning up the line.
  • In Berzerk, staying too long in a level means an invincible smiling head called Evil Otto started bouncing towards the player. ("Intruder alert! Intruder alert!") Naturally, Evil Otto's touch is lethal. The sequel Frenzy allowed you to stop one Evil Otto with three hits. Only thing is, a faster one immediately appears afterward.
  • In Dubbelmoral!, if the Student's mom finds that he isn't in his room doing his homework, she will hunt him down with her Frying Pan of Doom and concrete "Swedish meatballs"(which you can find the recipe to as an Easter Egg), served tennis-style.
  • In Mappy, the first warning to hurry up adds more and faster Meowkies to the stage, and some time after that, the invincible Gosenzo appears to chase Mappy.
  • In Shamus, if you don't clear out a room fast enough, a creepy sound would occur, then the Shadow would jump in after you from the corner of the screen. The Shadow can go through walls, can't be killed (only stunned), and is faster than the player. Good luck.
  • In Smash TV, if you loitered in a cleared room for too long after killing all the enemies in it, spinning disks of death would enter the room and kill you if you didn't make a hasty exit.
  • In the [adult swim] game Super House of Dead Ninjas, running out of time causes the Grim Reaper to appear and kill you. It is possible to outrun him, though, and if you pick up a timer reset power-up before he catches you, he disappears. You actually unlock an item by outrunning him for thirty seconds.
  • Combat Tanks sends the Death Chopper to kill you once the hidden timer on an unregistered copy expires.
  • Battle Zone 1980 summons an unavoidable homing missile to kill those who remain passive too long.
  • Stay alive for too long in a level in the original Dig Dug Arrangement, and a cloud enemy with a Pooka's face note  will appear to start attacking you. Thankfully, the enemy stops every few seconds, and its attacks are in the form of slow lunges at you, meaning you can easily dodge it and continue with the level, as long as you can keep dodging it.
  • Everspace has multiple interceptor ships start jumping in and hunting you in large numbers if the player stays for too long in one sector without moving on. These ships are beatable and a savvy (or desperate) player can obtain fuel and resources from them. However, should you ignore this warning and not leave ASAP, after a few waves of minor ships, a gigantic Colonial Warship will jump in without warning and start pummeling your ship to oblivion with very powerful and accurate strikes. This ship is invincible and even if you manage to destroy their turrets, they will keep spawning ships and drones from their hangars to kill you. Destroying the Warship at the end of the story prevents it from spawning in future playthroughs.
  • Crossy Road has an eagle that will snatch away the player character as punishment should they either remain idle too long or backtrack too far.

    Adventure Game 
  • In the Flash browser game Lucky Tower, shortly after discovering an adorable tame fox and deciding to take him home with you, a bizarre impish creature first eats your adorable familiar, then begins to chase after you. If you dawdle too much with trying to figure out how to get rid of him, he eats you too.
  • Borrowed Time: You always have to be on the move, because if you stay in one room too long, the thugs will get you (and no, shooting them doesn't work).

    Beat 'em Up 
  • Death also shows up in Grabbed by the Ghoulies by Rareware. If you fail a challenge (say, run out of time), The Grim Reaper will show up and chase Cooper or Amber around, destroying everything in his path. You can outrun him, though, and in fact you HAVE to summon him to clear a Scrappy Level of a room.

    Driving Game 
  • In Zone Raiders, a massive flying battleship would attack if the timer reached zero. The timer would freeze whenever the player was out of detection range; which meant no live enemies or stationary detectors in the area.

    Edutainment Game 
  • Think Quick! uses a dragon to enforce the time limit; this dragon is actually the game's Big Bad.
  • The Lost Tribe has a countdown to winter. If you don't reach the fertile volcano that is the game's goal by the time it hits zero, food will start to become more scarce until it is impossible to keep the tribe's needs met by hunting and gathering. This forces you to keep pressing forward instead of remaining in areas with good hunting to build up your resources and experience.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • In the final mission of Halo: Combat Evolved, you can find an armory that is fully stocked with Shotguns and Rocket Launchers, without any enemies in sight. If you take too long looking around this room however, a group of cloaked Flood will swarm into the room to keep the player on their toes. Notably, these enemies are the only cloaked Flood in the game.
  • Resident Evil Survivor 2 sends Nemesis in to chase and kill you once the timer runs out. Since he's invulnerable to your weapons and can kill you in one hit, this is a good sign that it's time to leave.

    Maze Game 
  • Bomberman: Pontans, the enemies the timeout spawns, aren't invincible, but until you gather up the right power-ups, they're still far too numerous and fast for you to defeat or evade. They're deadly at low levels, but by level 30, they're an annoyance at worst.
  • Monster Hunter (PC): Each stage has a timer that throws a "HURRY!" onscreen when reaching two minutes. If you haven't cleared the stage when the time's up, the level dispenses an invincible, indestructible giant centipede monster that relentlessly pursues you until you finish the level.

  • In the Fight Pits minigame in RuneScape, if people spend too much time fighting each other, eventually some monsters from the other Tzhaar minigame start appearing in packs. First some weak ones, but if the players kill them, then eventually more and more higher leveled monsters will appear until they kill all the players.
  • Graveyards in Spiral Knights spawn Phantoms a few minutes after entering the level. They're fast, tough, annoying, and can only be temporarily killed.

    Platform Game 
  • Bubble Bobble:
    • The video games have (up to two) Baron von Blubba/Skel-Monsta, an invincible whale skull which chases the protagonists when they cannot defeat all of the enemies in a level. (The unauthorized Apple Macintosh version Bub & Bob heralds his appearance with the Dragnet theme.) The secret rooms also have their own version, Rascal/Rubblen.
    • Up to 4, if you are playing Bubble Bobble Plus on WiiWare.
  • Sue the Ghost Monster darts into Pac-Man in the platformer Pac-Land if he doesn't reach the goal in time.
  • Donkey Kong 64: Inside some buildings, there's a disembodied voice that growls "Get Out!", followed by a crosshair (seemingly aimed by Kroc from Dixie Kong's Double Trouble) appearing over the player. When this happens, a timer appears, indicating how long they have to leave before Kroc blasts them for all of their health. Sometimes, the crosshair appears because the player stepped into a spotlight or did something else wrong; in those instances, the timer has one second on it. Better hope you're right next to the door.
  • In NiGHTS into Dreams…, running out of time causes the character to lose the ability to turn into NiGHTS and revert to a kid. After which they are literally stalked by a bell in the form of a malevolent moving alarm clock in an egg which, if it catches the kid, results in a game over. The sequel features ghostly creatures called "Awakers" who are a little more lenient: you don't lose until three latch onto you, and you can shake them off by turning into NiGHTS.
  • In Magician Lord, a demon would appear and proceed to kill you if you fooled around and let the time run out. It would home in on you, passing through walls if necessary, and would remain there until the level ended — meaning that when you died, you would likely respawn on top of it and die again, only able to make it a few steps each life until you found the exit.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog CD, falling too far behind Metal Sonic in a race results in Dr. Robotnik killing Sonic instantly with a powerful laser, even if you have Rings on you.
    • In Sandopolis Zone Act 2, from Sonic 3 & Knuckles, if you let the lights go out (rather than keeping them on by periodically pulling switches scattered around the level), ghosts will appear one by one at set intervals. If three appear, they grow horns and start flying at you.
    • In Oil Ocean Zone Act 2, from Sonic Mania, the same switches from Sandopolis Zone are used to periodically flush toxic fumes out of the whole zone, which will sap your rings one by one if you let them build up for too long.
    • In Press Factory Zone Act 2, from Sonic Superstars, an Eggman drone lurks in the background throughout the act and slowly charges up. The charging can be reset by pressing green Eggman switches periodically, but if it charges fully, it will blow up the entire zone.
    • In Knuckles Chaotix, Metal Sonic will appear and attack you if you waste too much time just standing there.
    • An Ordinary Sonic ROM Hack is a hack based on the actually ordinary Sonic.exe creepypasta. During the game, you are constantly warped into a Dark World and Sonic.exe soon follows, causing instant death if he touches you. The only way out is to break item boxes.
  • The Game Boy platformer Sneaky Snakes will have a flying axe appear when time runs out, which will stalk you until it manages to kill you.
  • The NewZealand Story had an invisible timer in levels; if you took too long, the music changed to a frantic piece, giving you about 20 more seconds to finish the level before the music turned even more desperate, and a reaper (a "Hello Kitty" type of reaper) floated onscreen, haunting you through the level and chasing you down, killing you instantly when it caught up to you.
  • Spend too much time on a screen in Montezuma's Revenge, and a bat will swoop down and grab you.
  • Cadash had an invincible floating skull (Taito had a thing for these, it seems) that did a massive amount of damage per hit. Interestingly enough, it was possible to buy more time, which would make it go away, although if the game ever reached that point, it was pretty much just delaying the inevitable.
  • Athena actually has two different types of Invincible Minor Minion that will send powerful attacks in Athena's direction if she lingers too long on one screen.
  • Spending too long on one screen in Hard Head causes the sun to come out and try to instantly kill you, even if you still have time. You can still die from running out of time, and if you manage to escape, the sun goes away.
  • In The Fairyland Story, a pitchfork-wielding Big Red Devil would chase Ptolemy around the screen if she took too long to kill enemies. However, if there was only one enemy left, the enemy would disappear and Ptolemy would win the stage by default. The devil would later appear as the boss of the Fairyland Story level in Rainbow Islands.
  • Hunchback had a French soldier climbing up the ramparts on the left side of each screen, eventually reaching the top and advancing on Quasimodo from behind.
  • Downland for the Color Computer had a bat that would fly rapidly around the screen when the timer ran out.
  • In Pop'n Magic, taking too long to clear a stage would result in an invincible Ninja spawning.
  • Ninja-kun: Ashura no Shou sends spinning wheels after you once the timer reaches 30 seconds.
  • In Nightmare In The Dark, if the timer runs out, an invincible spinning purple pumpkin appears and slowly moves around the screen.
  • If you linger in one position in Wibble Wobble for a few seconds, a floating ball with a deadly pulsing red aura will close in on you.
  • Once Pillar John at the end of each level in Pizza Tower is defeated, a timer appears, within which you must race back to the exit gate at the beginning of the level. If this timer runs out, Pizzaface will awaken and chase you down, killing you instantly on contact.
  • In Mystik Belle, exploring without the Hall Pass will summon the Grim Reaper after a few seconds in a room.
  • Taking too long in TumblePop, the scary imp creature will arrive, start chasing the tumble poppers and making instant zero of lives. He's indestructable because it just the imp.
  • Take too long in Snow Bros and a Jack O'Lantern creature will arrive, start chasing you as well as spitting out deadly ghosts. He's indestructable but you can force him to teleport to another part of the screen.

    Puzzle Game 
  • In Chew-Man-Fu for the TurboGrafx-16, when the timer runs out, enemies will turn into invincible fireballs that can pass through walls.
  • Fruity Frank: The enemy is only almost invincible: the dreaded Strawberry, that moves extremely fast and isn't slowed down by undug terrain the slightest bit.
  • In the Godzilla title for the Game Boy, failing to clear a level fast enough will make an invincible King Ghidorah appear and chase Godzilla around.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Pikmin:
    • In every game in the series, you have a limited amount of time in any given day. Any active Pikmin that isn’t currently in your squad or in radius of the base camp by sunset are shown to be killed by the planet's nocturnal creatures during the "end of day" cutscene.
    • Pikmin 2: While most caves in this entry give you unlimited time for traversal, the Submerged Castle has a creature called the Waterwraith show up to start patrolling the area if the player takes too long on any given sublevel. It can only be harmed with Purple Pikmin, which aren't available until the final floor.
    • The Waterwraith makes its return in Pikmin 4, and the same strategy for the Engulfed Castle's floors before the bottom remains to Run or Die.

  • Dead Estate: Taking too long on a stage will cause Chunks to spawn in and hunt you down. Downplayed in that Chunks actually can be knocked out and permanently incapacitated for that floor, but it's decently hard.
  • Multiple Grim Reapers hunt you down if you take too long in a level of Chocobo's Dungeon. They're stronger than the boss of the game, and if you somehow "kill" one, another takes his place.
  • In Let It Die, if you stay on one floor for too long, the Jackals will appear and start looking for you. They are outfitted with high-tech gear and weaponry that you can take for yourself if you beat them, but that is a very big "if": they are so powerful and resilient that escape is often the wiser choice of action.
  • Spend too much time on a floor in one of the Coolers in WASTED, and you will receive the message "something is coming to get you..." That something is the S.O.B. Purifier, a minigun-wielding Boss in Mook Clothing who prowls the floor, pinning all non-S.O.B. personnel to the wall with bullets as it makes a beeline towards you. It can be defeated, but only with serious firepower that you aren't likely to have at the start of the game, and the minigun and power armor you obtain from it are outclassed fairly quickly by midgame equipment.
  • Omega Labyrinth Life features an invisible timer each floor of the randomly generated dungeons, counting down the number of turns you take. If it runs out, "a lukewarm wind blows" and a power monster capable of one-hit KO'ing the characters starts to hunt you down, until you are either killed or escape to the next floor.
  • In Spelunky, spend too much time in one stage (2:30 in 1, 3:00 in 2), and the music starts getting spooky and the Ghost appears and start chasing after you. The Ghost is completely invincible (you can temporarily stop its movement with a Camera), can pass through terrain, and touching it is a One-Hit Kill. However, any gems that the Ghost passes through will turn into diamonds, the highest value gem being worth $5000. "Ghostrunning" is a scoring strategy where players will intentionally wait for the Ghost to spawn to farm diamonds from gem piles. The sequel makes it more dangerous by having the Ghost split into two smaller, faster Ghosts if you continue to take your time exiting the stage, and again if you wait even longer.
  • In Barony, the Minotaur fills a somewhat-similar role to the above-mentioned Ghost from Spelunky. It packs more HP than the Final Boss, breaks down any wall it touches, floats over Bottomless Pits, and homes in on the player at all times. However, he can only spawn on levels with an active Minotaur Warning; these become increasingly likely if the player is slow to clear floors, and are guaranteed if you linger long enough.
  • Final Fantasy X-2: Last Mission is a roguelike included as an extra with the International and HD Remaster versions of the game. If you take too long on a floor, eventually you receive a message that an eerie laughter has sounded and then that it is coming closer. Continue after this and it will say there is an intense aura on the floor and you will eventually be faced with The Founder, who is modeled after Trema of New Yevon from the original game. He is extremely powerful, though you can steal some great items if you can withstand him.
  • In Inscryption, both your main deck and your squirrel deck contain finite amounts of cards. If you are unable to defeat the opponent in an encounter before you run out of cards to draw from both decks, 'Starvation' begins to settle in, represented as a series of creature cards that your opponent plays every following turn in any available slot. With every new Starvation card put in play, both its damage output and hit points increase by one, eventually doing enough damage to One-Hit Kill any card you can put down until they attack you directly, usually resulting in an instant round loss.
  • Enforced in Vampire Survivors. Once you successfully Hold the Line for 15 or 30 minutes, Red Death spawns to end your run. It's impossible to outrun and any damage it deals is guaranteed to be lethal, and even if you somehow manage to avoid it, multiple Red Deaths will spawn eventually, at the rate of one per minute. Players might not notice dying at this point is considered a victory. It is possible to kill Red Death with certain Evolved weapons or if you can get it stuck on terrain, but that won't save you from White Hand, who is designed to be completely invincible and undodgeable no matter how broken your build is - and unlike Red Death, who merely deals damage, White Hand reduces your maximum HP to zero, so there's no way to survive. Killing Red Death is actually required for a number of unlocks, including playing as it (under the name Mask of Red Death).

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Baldur's Gate II: One of the early ideas for the maze in Spellhold was that if you took too time wandering around the first level, Bodhi and a squad of vampires would eventually spawn and battle you, as she promised. This was cut out as it was deemed to stressful for novice players, and instead Bodhi was put in a specific location at the end of the second level but you don't fight her. Certain mods such as Unfinished Business restore the encounter, although she gives plenty of time.
  • While there is no on-screen timer, if you spend too long in a given room in level 2-4 of Super Paper Mario, you will be attacked by the invincible Mimi in her spider form.
  • Looking for gold Shadows or treasures in Persona 3? Beware of Death himself if you take too long...
    • Doubles if the Voice with an Internet Connection Mission Control states that the floor has no enemies, more enemies, or rarely still, all enemies as gold Shadows. The time limit is invisible, but in those cases, it will take a quarter of the usual time limit until Death spawns. Also, drawing a cursed card in a Shuffle Time(said cards can become much more common on certain floors) will reduce the timer faster.
    • Luckily, Death is easily escapable, and for higher-leveled parties, beatable. Because Atlus loves to make you suffer, in fact, one of Elizabeth's requests requires you to kill the Reaper. (If you know how to use Armageddon or how to cheese the battle system, this can be done without too much grief; otherwise, watch out.)
    • In Persona 5, once again, if you take too long to explore Mementos, the Reaper will come for you. And just like in Persona 3, not only is he beatable at higher levels, there's yet another way to cheese through him: the Common Cold, as seen here. Sadly, it doesn't work in Royal.
  • Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale has powerful enemies which spawn if you linger on one floor of a dungeon for too long. The enemies are in fact killable (just very hard) and must be farmed for post-endgame 100% completion objectives. They still serve the same purpose of driving you out if you take too long, though, as they don't stop spawning.
  • In Final Fantasy XII, your time at the Barheim Passage can become really nasty if you don't keep the lights on. However, the monsters that roam in the dark aren't invincible, but "merely" loads more powerful. Deliberately leaving the lights off as a Self-Imposed Challenge can be a good source of experience and items if you can handle the stronger monsters...
  • Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World have enemy parties get incrementally stronger the longer you take with beating them. Enemies can have a power boost up to 300% stronger than they initially were. Also, spending too long fighting will reduce how much MP everyone gains after defeating everyone.
  • In Moonlighter, a sinister-looking eye will pop up on the bottom of your screen if you spend too much time on a dungeon floor. After about 30 seconds, a large slime monster called the Wanderer will appear and chase you until either you escape the floor or it catches you for a One-Hit KO.
  • In Haven (2020), the Superboss Beruberu appears if Yu and Kay spend more than a couple days away from the Nest. If you aren't sufficiently leveled up, it is best to avoid it.
  • Trinity Universe: In certain dungeons, if the player sticks around too long, a being called a Lurker will appear to chase the player. Catch is, the monster itself is invisible, and the only hint as to its location is the billowing black shadow on the screen's edge. The closer it gets, the larger the shadow. It is possible to outrun it, which will make it go away for a while.

    Shoot 'em Up 
  • In Darius and Darius II, if you take too long on a boss, cube-like "Yazuka" enemies will appear to harass your ship. Sufficiently skilled and patient players can exploit them for points, however.
  • In Exolon, if you spend too much time on a screen, an indestructible missile will be fired on you. It can be dodged by teleporting or jumping downward, but another one is launched afterward.
  • If you progress a certain amount without dying in in Gradius II and up, the game summons an invincible Option Hunter to steal your attack drones.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Star Resistance Take too long to fight a boss and one of Dark Force's hands appears on screen and homes in on the player to disrupt their defensive pattern.
  • Sega's 1986 space shooter Quartet had, of all things, The Grim Reaper appear and slash you if you took too long on a level (thankfully doing the same damage as any other hit).
  • In the arcade version of Rush'n Attack (aka Green Beret), a bomber will fly by and drop a bomb on the player if he stays too long in the same place.
  • Sega's Spider-Man arcade game has two such menaces, a black-clad flunky in the fighting stages and a revolving spark thrower in the shooting stages, both of which did incredible damage and went away after killing you or after someone else joined in. Curiously, like Quartet, the player's vitality continuously drops no matter what, so this seems like overkill.
  • Star Control II gives you until the end of 2159 to defeat the Kohr-Ah, although you can extend this time limit by getting other species to attack them. If you fail, their unbeatable war fleet will mobilize and start exterminating all life in the sector, ending with you. Ironically, it's actually easier to win once this happens, as picking the plot coupons off of a torched planet is a lot easier than going on a quest for the world's former inhabitants.
  • In the arcade version of Sunset Riders, if you stay still at the same area for a long period, a vulture will fly down to attack your character.
  • Venture has Hallmonsters patrolling the dungeons, with more unique (and killable) monsters guarding the treasure rooms littered around the floor plans. Dawdle too long inside a treasure room, and a Hallmonster will phase into the room and home in on you, accompanied by an unnerving siren.

    Sports Game 
  • The Atari arcade game 720 Degrees had a persistent swarm of bees (which come from an earlier Atari game, Paperboy) that would show up if you took too long in getting into a skate park, and get faster the longer you evade them, thus they will eventually catch you unless you enter a park. "SKATE OR DIE!"
  • Thrasher Presents Skate and Destroy sends a fast enemy after you if you run out of time; either a cop with a taser, a homeless man with a bat, or a dog. The camera also switches to their perspective. You get triple points while being chased by an assailant, giving you a chance to hit the target score and escape if you missed the time limit, with the risk that you lose everything if you fail.
  • Go! Go! Hypergrind: Appeal Champ rounds don't end if there's still an active link in progress when the timer runs out, so the round can theoretically go on indefinitely as long as the player keeps extending the link and racking up points. As a countermeasure, Kevin enters the level shortly after the timer runs out to chase the contestant to knock them off their board. He can be avoided, but one blunder ends the link, ends the round, and all the points associated with the last link are lost.

    Survival Horror 
  • In the final mission of Alien: Isolation, if you wait too long before releasing the Torrens at the end of the spacewalk, the xenomorph will spawn and kill you.
  • In Alone in the Dark (1992), if you wait around in the attic at the beginning of the game too long without barricading the window and the trapdoor, a Toothy Bird monster will make a Dynamic Entry through the former, followed by a zombie emerging from the latter. Both enemies will likely lay waste to first-time players.
  • Leaving your base in Chernobylite automatically puts the Black Stalker on your tail, basically turning every mission into a timed one. You generally don't need to rush and can take your time exploring each area, but taking it too slow will eventually allow the Black Stalker to track you down, teleport in and force you into a dangerous, avoidable Boss Battle.
  • If you go too long without picking up an item crucial to advance the game in Clock Tower, the unstoppable Scissorman appears.
  • Fatal Frame:
    • If you stand around too long in any room in the first game, a ghost will appear which, like any other ghost in the game, has a lethal touch. Only likely to occur if you leave the game unpaused, though.
    • In Fatal Frame III, the miasma mechanic that arrives in the last part of the game kicks it up a notch: if your purifying candle burns out before you can find a new one, then Reika will appear.
  • Lethal Company: A unique example is found in the Jester. The Jester will spawn in and begin to roam around the map until it spots a player, and begins following them. After a few seconds, it uses its handcrank to wind itself up. Once the time has run out, it will become aggressive, know where every player is in the building, and gather speed to chase and kill any player it comes across until all of them are either dead or left.
  • In Spooky's Jump Scare Mansion, if you idle in a single room for a couple of minutes, Specimen 9, essentially a floating red skull, will spawn and rush to your position, killing you instantly.

    Tower Defense 
  • The Battle Cats has a few levels that spawn extremely powerful enemies if the player takes too long to win. Usually, these enemies are Assassin Bears — ridiculously fast enemies that attack nearly four times a second, have very long range, and are usually buffed enough to kill most cats in one or two hits, almost guaranteeing a loss whenever they show up. Curiously, Assassin Bears aren't always this, as they're meant to be killed in some levels where they appear.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Escape Velocity has a weird example where if you don't pay for and register your copy within the 30-Day Free Trial, it spawns the invincible Captain Hector to kill you.

    Board Games 
  • The Dungeons & Dragons board game Dragon Strike had a ridiculously powerful dragon who would show up if the players a) took too long or b) protected themselves.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Run For Money: Tousouchuu (the original Japanese version of Cha$e (2008)) often closes off a section of the play field midway through the game. Sometimes, instead of immediate disqualification for not vacating the area in time, the penalty is getting locked in the closed area while they release a bunch of Hunters (depends on area size, varies from ten to hundred) into it. Thus far there is only one outcome if one or more players is trapped inside — surrounded by a bunch of hunters within a minute, and tagged out by one of them.

Malevolent Architectures as Time-out Penalties:

    Beat 'em Up 
  • In Express Raider, if you stay on a train car too long, a Cartoon Bomb is planted on the coupling and explodes after a few seconds, disconnecting you from the rest of the train.

  • Star Wars: The Old Republic uses this in some flashpoints (5-player raids) and operations (8- and 16-player raids). For example, the last stage of "Depths of Manaan" has a timer on it because the underwater lab you infiltrated is now flooding, while one boss battle in the operation "Gods from the Machine" has an Unrealistic Black Hole get loose and slowly start expanding across the arena in one stage, forcing the players to complete that stage before it encompasses and kills them.

    Platform Game 
  • In Kirby's Adventure, the first Nightmare battle features Kirby and Nightmare's Power Orb falling to some surface. If the player takes too long, the Power Orb will fly off, and Kirby will crash into the ground and die. More accurately, gets crushed between the ground and upper part of the screen.
  • The boss of Spring Yard Zone in the original Sonic the Hedgehog will periodically swoop down to grab a block from the bridge that Sonic is standing on. If the player takes too long, he will have nowhere to stand. Similarly, the Sandopolis Zone boss from the aforementioned Sonic & Knuckles slowly walks towards a wall on the side of the arena, squishing the player if he doesn't destroy the machine quickly enough.
  • If you take too long during the final boss battle in Yoshi's Island, the floor underneath you will cease to exist.
  • The Stage of Gobi's Valley in the Pyramid Maze of King Sandybuts Tomb in Banjo-Kazooie requires a player to make it to the end in a time limit. If you fail, the pyramid ceiling will come and crush you.
  • Both the "Puzzle Plank" and "Rolling Masterpiece" Galaxies from Super Mario Galaxy 2 feature planets that actually get cut apart by circular saws, causing you to fall to your death if you stay on them too long.
  • In Qwak, take too long on any level (whether or not there is a visible timer), and the music will become ominous as a constant rain of Spikeballs Of Doom begins (replacing the constant rain of fruits in Bonus Stages).
  • WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$: In Pyoro, the beans you are supposed to eat will destroy a piece of the floor if they touch it. If you continue to let the beans fall and not eat them, you will get trapped on a single block, and then eventually get killed.
  • The Adventure of Little Ralph punishes players for leaving Ralph idling too long by making stars fall from the top of the screen, inevitably hitting and killing Ralph.
  • Rainbow Islands has a rapidly rising flood chase you to the exit if you don't finish the stage fast.

    Puzzle Game 
  • In Gussun Oyoyo, water will begin to slowly rise after a while. There is a powerup that causes the water to go away, but only temporarily.

    Shoot 'em Up 
  • While most of the Touhou Project series is shmups (and the fighting games do not have time), the first game, Touhou Reiiden ~ Highly Responsive to Prayers, is more a Breakout-type game with time. Failing to destroy all the cards on the level within the time limit will send waves of random bullets. Later games in the series behave differently: see the Miscellaneous section for more info.

    Turn-Based Tactics 
  • Worms has its "sudden death". Depending on the game and the mutually agreed upon options, it has several different effects, one of which is that the entire map slowly sinks into the water (which wouldn't work if the Worms didn't have Super Drowning Skills).

    Live-Action TV 
  • In DERO! (as well as its Spiritual Successor TORE!), the Key Box Challenge portion of the Wall Room round is played in a corridor with padded walls. When time runs out, the walls close together to trap the player in between the pads. The player only fails the game if he/she gets stuck between the pads; if they complete the challenge a split second after time expires and still manage to reach the Safety Zone at the end of the corridor without getting trapped, their attempt is still ruled a success. However, they cannot just push the walls(pads) while they are closing - this was a banned move. Even they managed to Safety Zone by such way they would still ruled as a failure.

Miscellaneous Time-out Penalties:

    Action Adventure 

    Action Game 
  • In the arcade version of Super Contra, if the player stays too long in the same spot to milk points from enemy grunts, a fireball will materialize from out of nowhere and instantly kill the player.
  • In Scurge: Hive, once your "infection level" time limit runs out, you start losing health. If you die this way, the camera sticks around long enough to see the character metamorphose into a grotesque Scurge monster before breaking down.
  • If you don't defeat all of the enemies in a room in Mendel Palace, those that are still alive turn red and attack you more tenaciously, getting progressively faster the more time you waste. For instance, the "swimmer" dolls will stop swimming and walk upright toward you, while the "copycat" dolls are no longer bound by mimicking your actions, and will fight you on their own. A few levels, such as the Sumo level and the aforementioned Enemy Mime level, give you Musical Spoilers.
  • In Demon Sword for the NES, if you hang around to farm enemies too long, packs of skeletal wolves will start spawning and hound you to death.
  • The Devil May Cry games have a "Must Die" difficulty mode featuring battles where you are encouraged to kill all the mooks and bosses within a hidden time limit. Otherwise, those who are still alive will activate their Devil Trigger state where they deal more damage and are harder to take down.

    Beat 'em Up 
  • It was discovered in a Let's Play that if you spend five minutes on a level of the arcade version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles without dying, an insta-kill bomb would drop on your head. (The Commodore 64 port would throw attacks at the player's character if he lingered too long in a completed level.)
  • In The Simpsons arcade game, when Homer, Marge, Bart, and Lisa have cleared a screen, a giant hand will show up to point forwards and tell them to hurry on. If they stay too long, said hand will lose patience and flick them forward, causing actual damage.
  • In the Genesis version of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, the game starts draining your character's health once the clock reaches zero.
  • The Kamen Rider game for SNES does something different: the stages aren't timed, but at the bottom of the screen, the boss's HP meter will slowly fill as time goes on, giving the player incentive to reach the boss as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • Similar to the TMNT games, if you dawdle for too long on a stage in X-Men (1992), an explosive falls from the top of the screen and kills your character instantly. This appears to just be Konami's favorite way to handle this trope.

    Driving Game 
  • In the Road Rash series, a police officer on a motorcycle will start chasing the player about a minute into a race. If they manage to catch up to them and force them to stop, the player will be busted and forced to pay a fine (or if they can't afford the fine, go to jail).

    Fighting Game 
  • In the Super Smash Bros. series, if a Sudden Death fight drags on for too long, Bob-ombs begin to rain from the sky.
    • In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Sudden Death fights are accompanied by the screen slowly closing in on the center of the arena, shrinking the blast zones all the while and making it easier for someone to be KO'd in so doing. The rain of Bob-ombs still comes into play if it takes too long for someone to be eliminated.
  • In Power Stone 2, if a match takes too long, giant meteors rain from the sky and crash into the players, reducing their health to just a mere silver. This makes one hit, even the weakest punch, become an instant kill. However, if players take too long to kill each other in this sudden death, more meteors fall from the sky and kills all the remaining players simultaneously, ending the match in a draw. Likewise, taking too long to kill one of the two bosses in adventure mode causes the boss to unleash a super attack that kills the player instantly.
  • In the Game Boy Advance Rave Master fighting game Special Attack Force, all fights are on a timer and can likely drag due to the tug-of-war-style lifebar system. If you don't beat your opponent before it expires, the Jiggle Butt Gang blasts the whole area with their farts and no one wins.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Team Fortress 2 either calls a stalemate if the timer runs out or has a sudden death mode where respawn (and class change) is disabled, and either team can win by killing all enemies. The timer is slightly more flexible in this game though, as "Overtime" kicks in if the timer runs out but any point is currently contested or one of the intels isn't at its point.
  • Fortnite Battle Royale, like most games in the genre, features a "safe zone" mechanic, where an Advancing Wall of Doom titled The Storm closes in on players. If a player fails to reach the safe area in the given time limit, they're caught in The Storm and dealt an increasing amount of damage until they either die outside the safe area, or reach it before their health runs out.

    Maze Game 
  • In most entries in the Bomberman series, the standard-issue multiplayer modes would eventually start dropping killer blocks from the sky in a spiral pattern once the timer runs down to one minute. These instantly squash any Bomberman unfortunate to be under their drop zone, and also quickly reduce the size of the stage to make remaining players more likely to get killed by bombs. Bomberman Act:Zero's "First-Person Bomber" mode also starts sapping your health on top of this to make it easier to kill other players in one shot.
  • Pac-Man Arrangement features a wildly elaborate timer mechanism. Unlike in the original Pac-Man, where Blinky immediately went into his Cruise Elroy phase after you ate a certain amount of dots, Arrangement sets it at a timer. When this timer runs out, Blinky enters Cruise Elroy, while a second timer activates. When THAT timer runs out, all of the ghosts on the screen enter a version of Cruise Elroy that increases their speed to inescapable levels based on the time you've taken after the second timer. The second timer, along with the change in how the ghosts act, reset after you die, however.
  • The fuel meter in Rally-X acts as a timer, but it's not an Exact Time to Failure: instead, once you run out of fuel, you lose your smoke screen and slow to a crawl, at which point the red cars (which, mind you, are already faster than you even at normal speed) will zero in on your position and run you down in a matter of seconds, basically making you a dead car driving at that point.
  • Targ: Not finishing a level quickly enough makes the Targs move much faster.

  • In MMORPGs in general, this is referred to as a DPS Check: a boss is going to go crazy after a certain amount of time, or after taking a certain amount of damage, so you need to keep your Damage Per Second high enough to kill the boss before it goes crazy or unleashes an ultimate attack or whatever the mechanics of the battle are. It's entirely possible for a group of skilled players with underpowered equipment to be overwhelmed by their own lack of damage output, to the point that they can't meet the requirement for the battle. Conversely, unskilled players that perhaps don't understand the mechanics of the boss battle (or their own class/job within the battle) can fail to meet the requirements despite having sufficiently powerful gear. The intent behind a DPS Check is to make sure that a player both understands the mechanic role of their class and how to apply it to party mechanicsnote , and also making sure that the player is keeping their equipment up to date: yes, that weapon 10 levels below your current level is fine, if slow, to kill random monsters, but it's just not going to cut it anymore in dungeons.
  • In World of Warcraft, many raid bosses go into an Unstoppable Rage if you don't defeat them within a set time limit, pretty much guaranteeing a Party Wipe. It's sometimes possible to kill them anyway in the few seconds left before you get demolished. Some bosses use infinitely spawning hordes of Mooks or stacking damage increases to achieve the same effect — sooner or later you get overwhelmed.
    • One particularly interesting way to achieve this effect is to have the boss use a superpowerful or instant kill attack on a regular timer, but give players Applied Phlebotinum with a certain number of charges that will reduce or prevent the damage. When the charges run out, the next attack will wipe the raid. Most notably used by Kil'jaeden.
    • Atramedes uses a similar mechanic in Blackwing Descent. Both his Searing Flame roomwide attack and his player-tracking beam of fire from the air MUST be interrupted otherwise a raid wipe is guaranteed. Only ringing one of the shields spread around the room will do so but you only get ten of those for the entire fight. When you run out of shields, you're out of time and out of luck.
    • One boss that used to do something even worse was Algalon The Observer. Not only did he have the standard Instant Kill after 8 Minutes version of this trope, he also had one far more dreaded by players. If he wasn't defeated within one real-time hour of first being engaged, he would abruptly kill everyone in the raid, and then leave the area. What makes this utterly obscene is that the raid party would have to wait an entire week to try to fight him again. Thankfully, however, this restriction has been removed, giving the players as many tries and as much time as they need. However, to completely hammer the point home, he would gravely intone their failure to do it quick enough, just to rub it in and feed on the raiders' tears.
      Algalon: Farewell, mortals. Your bravery is admirable, for such flawed creatures. You are... out of time. (disappears)
    • The Brawler's Guild pits players against powerful enemies in a small arena. If the player takes too long then the spectators grow restless. After a warning, fire will shoot across the arena floor, instantly killing the player
  • In Final Fantasy XI, certain world-spawned (only one to a world) High Notorious Monsters (HNMs) will go into an Unstoppable Rage with attack and defense stats sky-high if not killed within a certain amount of time after the fight started. Pretty much certain death. In this case, the dev team put in rage mode as a countermeasure to players attempting to manipulate the spawn timers to keep it in their time zone; players from all time zones (and all around the world) are supposed to have a shot at it.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has Primal fights (referred to in-game as Trials) where the boss will, without exception, unleash some kind of powerful, unavoidable attack. The goal isn't to prevent the boss from using the attack, but finding out how to prevent it from doing full damage; for example, Ifrit, the first Trial boss, will summon an Infernal Nail. If you destroy it, then the subsequent Hellfire attack will still hurt, but you'll survive it. Fail to destroy it in time, and Hellfire will wipe the party. Each additional Primal fight gets more complicated in terms of their actions and how to survive themnote , but the real challenge is in Extreme/Savage Trials, where the requirements for survival are increased (Ifrit Extreme has three Infernal Nails) and the time limits for meeting the requirements are much shorter.
    • Elder Primal Odin is perhaps the most extreme version of this, where there is no method for reducing the damage from his ultimate attack, Shin-Zantetsuken. If he unleashes the attack, everyone in the battle will die without exception, and it can hit through invulnerability, meaning you can't survive it at all. Instead the battle is a race (AKA a DPS Check), where the goal is to do a lot of damage to him, force him into the phase where he starts charging Shin-Zentetsuken, and then blitzing to do as much damage as you can as quickly as possible before he finishes charging. Succeed, and the battle is won. Fail, and you die. Ultima Weapon works the same way, though the charging time for Ultima is a bit more generous.
    • It's a standard feature in any Extreme/Savage raid or trial that, after a certain amount of time has elapsed in the fight, the boss will use an "enrage" attack. These come in the form of either a "hard enrage": an instant-kill attack that will deal more damage than the amount of HP you can possibly have to the entire party, or a "soft enrage": using a powerful party-wide attack over and over again at such a rate that healers could not heal through the damage for long. These "enrage" attacks serve the purpose of putting a time limit on the fight, and with it, a DPS Check, as mentioned above.
  • City of Heroes features a number of situations like this in newer missions, where there is a few minutes before the enemy will call for reinforcements. You have to call them off by activating something before the timer expires. Other missions, similarly, will have a response triggered by something you do in the mission, giving you a few minutes to finish up and get out before you get swarmed.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online has a boss somewhere which periodically gives itself a stacking damage bonus and also periodically uses a single insanely powerful attack dealing thousands of damage. This turns the boss into a game of "kill it before it oneshots the tank".
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 has certain varieties of this.
    • The Mothership Emergency Trial in Riding Quest gives you a fixed timer to destroy it. If it is not defeated in time, it fires a Wave-Motion Gun that inflicts a Total Party Kill on the entire map.
    • The Profound Darkness, during the Duel Boss phase with Persona, gives you roughly a minute or so to beat it. If it isn't defeated in time, it initiates a field-wide attack that hits for 999,999 damage. It can still be avoided with certain invulnerability effects, and the fight still proceeds like normal afterwards, but be prepared to eat dirt if you didn't have a live Photon Blast or Katana Combat prepped.
    • Deus ESC-A Zephyros (and its 4-player counterpart, Deus ESC-A Gracia). During the final phase, dealing enough damage during the DPS check will cause it to fall over and enter a 30-second stun phase. If it isn't killed by then, Deus gets up and uses an arena-wide sword sweep that inflicts a One-Hit Kill on hit (but can still be avoided with proper dodging or various invulnerability effects). Although seeing this attack in action is extremely rare anyways, since it's very uncommon to have a party that can inflict enough DPS to enter the stun phase but is unable to kill it given what little HP it has left.
  • Old School RuneScape has some mechanically-introduced time limits in two of the "Forgotten Four" bosses fought during "Desert Treasure II":
    • The Whisperer boss fight gives the player a Sanity Meter: it drains slowly while you are in the Shadow Realm, and you lose a chunk of it every time you get hit by a dodgeable attack. If you run out of sanity, your hp starts draining rapidly. For the final portion of the fight, you are dragged into the Shadow Realm and barraged by her dodgeable shadow tentacles, and have to beat her before your sanity reaches 0.
    • The Leviathan boss fight has an interesting one: it will periodically attack you with a sequence of differently-colored orbs, requiring you to use the correct protection prayers to completely mitigate damage. Every time it uses this attack, it gets faster and faster until the orbs start coming as fast as the game server can process your inputs. Fortunately, using shadow magic will stun the boss and reset the orb attack speed.

    Platform Game 
  • In Wario Land 4, after hitting the switch that opens the portal out of the level, you have a time limit within which you have to get to the portal. If time runs out, you start losing coins — when your coins hit zero, you die and lose all the other treasures you got in the level.
    • Wario Land: Shake It! continues the trend, except when time starts to get low, you hear the final boss theme, and when it actually runs out, cue Wario in some kind of nightmare place, who gets suddenly picked up by the final boss, shaken until his treasure gets flung everywhere and thrown into the distance.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog CD, waiting for three minutes completely motionless will bore Sonic to the point where he waggles his finger, yells "I'm outta here!" and jumps out of the screen. Cue Non-Standard Game Over, regardless of Rings or Lives. Obviously this isn't something you'd do by mistake.
    • In Sonic Colors, each stage has a hidden time limit; reaching that limit causes "TIME'S UP" in red-colored text to appear under your score and you won't be able to score any more points, not even end-of-stage bonuses. This doesn't matter if you just want to complete the stage, but if you were going for an S-rank, you're not getting it anymore.
  • Wonder Boy series:
  • Taking too long to clear a screen in Hard Head 2 causes flying bugs to attack you. Unlike the first game, you can actually kill them, and being hit by them is just normal damage. Like in the first game, you die if the timer runs out, and the bugs stop swarming if you actually progress.

    Puzzle Game 
  • In Tetris: The Grand Master 2 and 3, if the clock reaches 15 minutes, the game will go into instant-drop speed and the delays for piece lock, appearance, and the line clear animation will minimize. However, a round of TGM2 or 3 usually doesn't last more than 10 minutes, so you'd have to try to get the clock to reach 15 minutes before you die. It is not a Kill Screen; you can still reach Level 999, but you'll probably have a lousy grade from taking so long.
    • TGM3's Sakura mode has a time limit for both the whole game and the current stage. Run the stage timer out and you move on to the next (but your stage clear percentage will go down); run the game timer out and it's Game Over. However, if you get stuck on a stage, you can hold down Start to skip it (at the cost of 30 seconds from your total timer). This feature is disabled during the Extra stages, where only the total timer is present and you cannot bypass a stage either by timeout or skipping.
  • As a Puyo Puyo battle drags on, the amount of Garbage Puyo sent with each chain is increased at an approximately exponential rate. If the battle drags on long enough, every Puyo cleared will send a bare minimum of ten Garbage Puyo.
    • In the higher stages of Kirby's Avalanche, a computer will, despite all of your disruption tactics, somehow always manage to pull off an Avalanche (a chain of 9 or greater) if you don't beat them in under two minutes.
  • Penguin Land for the Sega Master System sent out a bird to drop a brick on the egg if it spent too long on one level. Its predecessor Doki Doki Penguin Land had a mole pop out of a platform instead. The penguin can defeat these easily, but it's the egg that's in peril.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • Outpost 2 will have the Blight approach or volcanoes erupt if you take too long, either way leaving you with only minutes to finish your objectives. There are several variations: sometimes the Blight appears early, but doesn't begin to spread until daylight; sometimes a volcano erupts first, then the Blight appears to finish you off. On one mission where you have no base, the Blight infects your units and they will turn on you if you take too long.

    Rhythm Game 
  • The Boss Battle mode of Guitar Hero III would initiate a sudden-death-esque "death drain" on both players if they got far enough without anyone failing. It would deplete your "Rock Meter" steadily, and could only be staved off with points gained from hitting notes. Later games in the series changed this: if both players survived through the whole song, it would repeat, only with the chart on hyperspeed. With each successive repetition, the chart scrolls faster, making it harder to read the notes.
    • Additionally, in Guitar Hero 3's career battles, only the player is effected by death drain (which also means that The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard); at this point the player gets no notes to play - and thus no way to restore your Rock Meter - so his opponent can execute his "killing solo". If you don't have any power-ups saved to make your opponent start missing notes, your health will drop to nothing inside about 15 seconds.

  • In the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games, when the player spends too much time in a dungeon, eventually some messages about a "mysterious wind" start appearing. If the player takes too long to find the exit, the Pokemon are blown out of the level and it counts as a loss.
    • The creepy thing about this is that when these warnings come up everything on-screen freezes, the music cuts out, leafs blow across the screen as wind blows through the speakers and a warning is given that 'Something's stirring...' As you dawdle longer and longer the warnings get more urgent that this thing is approaching until it's right nearby and the wind blows you out of the dungeon. The freaky image it produces is that if you weren't blown away then some extremely powerful and very scary monster would appear and decimate your team.
    • This is the default mechanic for any game based off the Shiren: Mysterious Wanderer formula. (Chocobo Mystery Dungeon deviates from it as mentioned earlier.)
  • The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth has the "Speed!" challenge, which speeds up the entire game and gives the player a 16-minute time limit to beat it (which, in this game, borders on Speedrun territory). If the timer runs out, the player will start periodically taking damage until they die.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • In Sundown Kid's dungeon in the final chapter of Live A Live you must find the character's Infinity +1 Sword (a 44 magnum) and get the hell out of there before eight bells strike, each fading out the visibility in the dungeon. If the player can't make it, four dangerous monsters will pop out and attack you. Through some Level Grinding, though, you can get powerful enough to defeat them and get a very useful piece of equipment.
  • Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land. Stay too long on a level, and the Grim Reaper pops out and starts chasing you around. He's as fast as you and can move through solid objects. If he catches you, a random party member gets possessed. If that party member then dies, it is Permadeath. The only way to cure that status is in town. The Reaper also appears in certain areas regardless of time.
  • In the Bonus Dungeon of Mega Man Battle Network 2, attempting to access certain areas will result in a battle with 1-3 Protecto viruses. You must kill all of the viruses in one shot within 10 seconds (as they instantly heal any non-lethal damage done to them and revive themselves if at least one is still standing). If the timer runs out, you're hit with an unblockable explosion for massive damage... and the timer starts over.
  • Super Paper Mario
    • Flying skulls called Megabites will spawn if you dawdle in certain areas for too long. Downplayed in that they aren't much of a hassle (while they take only one point of damage per hit, they only have 4 HP and deal only one point of damage per hit), and the items they drop can actually be fairly beneficial, though the sounds they make are surprisingly unnerving.
    • In both the Flipside and Flopside Pits of 100 Trials you have to go through one hundred rooms, each one having enemies that the player must kill in order to find the one that has the key to open the door to the next room. If you fail to get the key from the enemies in under five minutes, you will receive an instant Game Over.
  • Major boss battles in Final Fantasy XIII have an invisible time limit that prevents the player from taking too long to defeat the boss. When the timer reaches zero the boss casts Doom, which puts the protagonist on a visible clock and instantly kills them when it ends.
    • In addition, all Eidolon battles (Odin, Shiva, etc) start with the main character at the time being hit with a Doom spell. If you fail to understand and defeat the boss's gimmick in time, you automatically die and fail.
  • In Persona 3 and its PSP remake, Elizabeth, her brother Theodore, and their older sister Margaret have — in addition to quite a few other special rules they won't tell you about — invisible time limits for their Superboss fights, after which they fully heal themselves and proceed to nuke the Player Character into oblivion. For Margaret, the time limit is fifty turns (twenty-five in Golden, because she uses two turns each time she acts). Elizabeth and Theo are less generous.
  • During the fight with the Demi-Fiend in Digital Devil Saga, you have thirty turns to kill each of the boss's summons. If you don't, they cast Recarmdra, which kills them instantly and fully heals the boss. It zigzags this since after you kill a certain number of his summoned demons, he'll counterattack with Gaea Rage, which, unless you exploit certain abilities, is an instant kill. The battle thus becomes a balance of depleting his monsters HP to the point one attack will kill them before they use Recarmdra, while at the same time dragging things out to prolong each use of Gaea Rage.

    Shoot 'em Up 
  • Can't beat a boss within the time limit in Zanac? The game will increase the AI's rank. Thanks, Compile. In area 11, if the fortress isn't defeated in the time limit, player goes back to the beginning of the stage.
  • Capcom Shoot 'Em Up 1943, not to be outdone by Compile, forced players to redo battleship stages if the player could not destroy 70% of the boss battleship. More often than not, the player restarted the level with low fuel and the default weapon. But if the player couldn't complete the mission with special weapons and a full fuel tank, then how...?
  • Some Shoot em Ups, such as Gradius, Ikaruga and Giga Wing, have timed bosses which, if not destroyed in time, will simply let you advance to the next level, but you miss out on bonuses that would've been earned from killing the boss.
    • Gradius V has one midboss that is guaranteed to take out a life if you don't kill it, because it's taller than the screen's height and, upon timeout, goes from the right-hand side of the screen to off the left-hand side in a straight line.
      • The Spider Tank boss has a Wave-Motion Gun that can only be avoided by hiding behind one of the blocks, and it will eventually fire it in a place where there's no cover.
    • Of course, if you're going for a Pacifist Run, the timer running out is your victory condition (see also Touhou Project).
    • Some of the Gradius bosses, such as Big Eye in II, and Bubble Eye in III (arcade) will crush you against the edge of the screen if you take too long.
    • This is especially problematic in Radiant Silvergun, as destroying bosses is the best way to power up your weapons. If you don't level up your weapons consistently, you will probably find yourself in an Unwinnable game in the later stages, and the only way to see the ending will be to have all bosses self-destruct. Even if you manage to survive until then, don't expect a good score without those destruction bonuses.
    • Touhou Project has this also in that timing out bullet patterns (spellcards) prevents you from gaining points from them. However, certain boss patterns can become harder as time passes. The biggest example is how several bosses (generally Extra Stage bosses) have a pattern that becomes more difficult as the boss takes damage. This would normally mean in Pacifist Run the boss would stay in its easiest pattern, meaning it is easier to beat the boss without damaging it. Therefore, these patterns, in the last thirty seconds or so before they are timed out, enter a super-difficult mode that is more difficult than the pattern would ever be normally.
    • In Border Down, the maximum boss time bonus is 3,000,000 points. You get it by beating the boss when the timer is at 0:00. Every positive second from zero lowers the bonus by 60,000 points and every negative second from zero lowers the bonus by 300,000 points. When the boss timer reaches -30 sec, the level ends and you lose 6,000,000 points.
  • Star Fox Command 's battles are timed; the timer is Hand Waved as being your fuel meter; if time runs out, your character just retreats as you lose one ship. The remaining time at the end will carry over to the next battle, even if the next battle is fought by a different character.
    • The boss Mechbeth in Star Fox 64 will instantly kill you if you take too long. However, this takes so long that it's probably harder to get that far without dying than it is to just defeat the boss. Other levels will trigger something bad to happen (a building blows up in Fortuna or Katina). This still finishes the level, but you miss out on a secret path.
    • Star Fox 64 gives you a 10-point bonus for killing a boss, on top of the one point you get (as the score counter represents enemies shot down). Take too long and the bonus will start to decrease, all the way down to 0.
  • Take too long to defeat a boss in the original Darius, and cube-like enemies will spawn at the top and bottom of the screen to make navigating the boss's attacks harder. Some players, however, take advantage of the cubes to get extra points.
  • Certain bosses in the R-Type series crush you against the screen edges if you don't defeat them in time.
  • Defender summons Goddamned Baiters to harass you if you take too long.
  • In DoDonPachi Daifukkatsu Black Label, if you take so long to take down a single phase of a boss that its attacks start repeating, the bullet patterns get denser and more intense with each repetition. If you somehow survive that for a set number of repetitions, the boss just skips to the next phase, or self-destructs if that was its last phase.
  • In DoDonPachi Saidaioujou, midbosses simply fly away if you take too long to defeat them. But on the stage 4 midboss, just before it flies away, it'll spray you with a massive, ridiculously undodgeable (even by CAVE standards) cloud of bullets.
  • DoDonPachi DaiOuJOu Black Label Extra has an X Mode where your Hyper can cancel bullets, which leads to players doing all sorts of "boss milking" where they intentionally avoid damaging the boss to keep it alive as long as possible so they can cancel as many bullets as they can for score. But players who attempt to do that against Hibachi are in for a nasty surprise, since after 2 minutes Hibachi will start firing inverted-color bullets which are immune to being canceled by Hypers. In its infamously hard "washing machine" pattern, no less.
  • Event Horizon subverts Mook Chivalry with this trope. If you take too long to defeat the enemies currently present on the battlefield, the game will spawn additional mooks every 40 seconds, until you get swarmed.

    Simulation Game 
  • Unlike all other games in the Ace Combat series, Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere (at least, the original Japanese version) didn't give you a hard time limit. The time limit in the briefing instead indicated how fast you have to destroy the initial enemies to get a mission update and more enemies (with whom you could totally Take Your Time unless you were going for A-rank completion) and a better mission ending. Said endings mainly differed in dialogue but some resulted in story branching: completing "Ghosts of the Past" on time, for example, lets you play a hidden mission revealing more of Rena's Back Story, while taking too long gives you the default counter-terrorism assignment next.
  • Pilotwings 64 puts most missions on a timer. To get the full Time Points, you need to fulfill the mission's objective and then land (or touch the Goal ring, in the case of one mission). If you go over the time limit, you start losing Time Points.

    Survival Horror 
  • Binky Show: Once the game starts, you will have one minute to prepare before Binky starts to show up on the map.
  • SCP: Secret Laboratory: 11 minutes and 45 seconds after the round starts, the Decontamination Process will lock down and gas the Light Containment Zone, killing all players inside and rendering it inaccessible for the rest of the round. C.A.S.S.I.E. will announce the Decontamination Process and its progress during a round, and monitors in Light Containment will display a timer showing how (roughly) long you have left (as they display a 15-minute timer which is slightly sped up)

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Oaken:
    • Once all enemies have been deployed on a stage, it starts spewing "Silent Fog" that gives all your deployed characters 1 Fatigue a turn. Fatigue lowers a character's maximum health (even past 0) and is very hard to get rid of, so it's a good incentive for players to finish the battle quickly. It also prevents them from cheesing the system to achieve bonus objectives more easily than intended.
    • Much of the final battle's difficulty comes from this trope. Every turn, Shama's left arm creates a damage-absorbing crystal that must be destroyed, but makes the next character who steps on that tile gain 6 fatigue. The amount of tiles is limited, so if that arm isn't defeated ASAP, your party will be exhausted to death before even making a dent in Shama.
  • In Super Robot Wars Compact 3, the Omega Missile from Mechander Robo frequently shows up after 3 turns from Stage 10 until Stage 16. It has a post movement MAPW with a range of 1-6 around itself that hits for about 4k damage and NEVER misses.
  • In The XCOM Files after you discover a way to defeat a particular organization, you may decide to Take Your Time. Maybe rob their HQ once or twice more. Maybe wait for that special mission that unlocks the next stage much earlier. Maybe try to get that useful artefact. Well, be careful. Not dealing with them swiftly leaves your reputation vulnerable. Starting next month you may get "slander" missions, when you have 2-3 hours to reach the site or face a 500 score penalty (for comparison: each dead civilian is 30 and ignoring a terror site is 1000).
  • X Com Long War: Once the Gollop Chamber is activated and the final objective becomes available, the game spawns 16 battleships, one on each of the council nations, to bring them down. This is due to the youtuber Beaglerush figuring out that he could activate the final mission, then sending the troop carrier there and recalling it back to base to pass time and play the clock so all his equipment could finish to be build/repaired, and all of his soldiers could be healed, without incidents. This Obvious Rule Patch ensured that when the final mission is activated, players have to undertake it right now instead of cheesing an easy comeback.

  • Spectrum was an unusual game that combined Pinball with Mastermind. If a player takes too long trying to guess the code, the game says "You're taking too long!" and autolaunches the next ball.
  • Just like the video game, if players take too long to destroy the Landers in Defender pinball, Baiters will appear to interfere.

"Light Containment Zone is locked down and ready for decontamination. The removal of organic substances has now begun."
"SCP-4445-J lost in Decontamination Sequence."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Stalked By The Clock, Soft Time Limit



In Pizza Tower, running out of time during the escape sequence in almost every level doesn't result in immediate failure, but it will cause Pizzaface to start to chase Peppino down. One hit, and it's game over.

How well does it match the trope?

4.93 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / StalkedByTheBell

Media sources: