Follow TV Tropes


We Cannot Go On Without You

Go To

Nasty Crime Boy is pretty charming. In fact, he's so charismatic that whenever he falls in battle, the other party members all instantly die of sadness.

It is obvious that the game is naturally over in RPGs when the party is defeated in battle and the story wouldn't go as planned.

However, in some games, the game simply ends if the main character themselves are killed off, even if the rest of the party is healthy enough to continue fighting. RPGs where you have to protect a key character also end if the said character gets killed, which is similar to an escort mission. It's an Instant-Win Condition for your enemies' benefit... Even if some of the characters still standing have White Magic or suitable Phlebotinum that would otherwise permit them to resurrect the fallen character.


More intuitively logical if the game is entirely from the main character's viewpoint. If so, then the game logically ends if the main character is killed, because their viewpoint dies with them. Likewise, the escort version can be justified if the main character's plans are riding on them, as their death would leave the heroes without a prayer. Also, many RPGs have a late game or final boss that is only vulnerable to a weapon or technique that only the main character can use, making the game unwinnable if they die.

This trope probably originates from chess on some level, if the King is in a position where he will be captured on the next turn and without any means of escape, the game is automatically over regardless of how many other pieces are in play.

For the military commander version of this trope, see Decapitated Army. For non-Video Game equivalent, see We Were Your Team. If the others literally cannot continue without a crucial character, see Keystone Army.


<Hero> Must Survive is a gentler version, primarily in strategy games, that doesn't force you to risk the hero all the time.

Escort Mission is a sister trope where important NPCs dying will end the game. Compare Lazy Backup, where the game ends when the entire active party is defeated, even if other party members are healthy. It’s also often a form of Fake Difficulty.

This should probably go without saying, but don't throw everything in here that ends a game if a character dies. The most important elements: there are others that are nearby and should be able to revive the character, and that the death or defeat in question is impermanent.



    open/close all folders 

  • The Matrix: Path of Neo during the first escort mission, if Neo dies it doesn't matter if Trinity, Apoc or Switch still have full health, it's over and you have to reload either the game or level before continuing.

    Beat Em Up 
  • Certain Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games feature this; if the turtle you are controlling is defeated, you get a Game Over, even if the other three are with you. Particularly annoying since somehow the turtles tend to share the same life bar between them, or even with the Turtle Van.
  • In The Warriors, when your character is killed, your allies will attempt to revive you if you have any flash in your pockets. However, you will still get a game over if your allies are too far away or they take too long to save you. In co-op mode the game won't end unless both players are dead for good, but if the surviving player cannot find flash to revive his partner with and gets to an area where all Warriors are needed to advance the level, the game becomes Unwinnable and forces the players to restart the level.

    Fighting Game 
  • Super Smash Bros Brawl also rides on this trope in the Subspace Emissary during co-op play. Both players share the same stock and characters and the game will go on if player 2 is out for the count, but god forbid that player 1 gets taken down, the game automatically ends, even if player 2 is alive and kicking.
    • When a player selects the Ice Climbers, he or she will control Popo as Nana trails behind. It's possible to kill them individually. Nana can get killed without it counting as a KO, but if Popo dies, Nana will also vanish into thin air. This applies to Melee as well.
    • Some of the Ice Climbers alternate colors swap Nana for Popo, inverting it. Basically, if the Ice Climber the player is directly controlling gets KOed, it counts for both of them.
    • Olimar also functions similarly, starting in Brawl. If he hits any of the boundaries, his Pikmin automatically die.
  • In Dragon Ball Z: Hyper Dimension for the Super Famicom, this was incredibly prevalent in the story mode; when fighting with "secondary" heroes like Vegeta or Piccolo, those battles literally didn't matter. If Piccolo beats Freeza, the following cutscene has Piccolo complaining that he can't hurt Freeza; if Vegeta beats Cell, Cell simply "regenerates" in the following scene. And if either of them lost, the story mode simply continued. But if Goku loses? Time to continue!note 
    • Although winning those "meaningless" battles does unlock some bonus battles after beating Buu in the story mode.
  • One (techinically two) of the playable characters in Ragnagard are twins Chichi and Nene. If the player-controlled sister is KO'd, the other will give up on the spot.

    First Person Shooter 
  • Several squad-based first person shooters follow this trope as well. Oh sure, when your teammates catch a few too many bullets, they just get incapacitated, and you have to go save them. For you, however, it's straight to the morgue.
    • In Star Wars: Republic Commando, if you go down your squad mates will keep fighting or will attempt to revive you.
    • Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault handles this in a fairly believable fashion. Getting shot too many times will leave you on the ground bleeding, and your medic will have to come and treat you. If he can't get to you in time, various things happen to seal your fate...ranging from a Japanese soldier finishing the job and clubbing you in the head, to the voice of your drill instructor ranting at you for not being a good soldier before you finally expire. It has a surprisingly profound effect.
    • Kane & Lynch handles it in a mildly believable fashion — if a character is wounded badly enough to be knocked down and dying, they will have to be revived by one of the other members of the crew via an adrenaline shot before they bleed out. However, overdosing on adrenaline (too many shots in too short a period) ends the game as well. Voiceovers and flashbacks often occur during this period.
    • Army of Two allows the players to drag each other to safety and bandage each other up if they are wounded to the point of being nearly-dead. Usually accompanied by the wounded partner complaining about how incompetent the other is at medical work.
    • Killzone 2 plays this trope straight. In Killzone 3 your AI allies can revive you if your health runs out, but only three times. If you die a fourth time, your partner will say that your injuries are too great, and you get booted back to the last checkpoint.
    • In Gears of War 2 the computer has the ability to revive you once you are incapacitated, so single-player doesn't end if you are downed (very helpful in multiplayer as well, which now contains bots). However, in the sections of the story mode where the human players are separated, going Down but Not Out results in instant death, regardless of the fact that there's an NPC right there who could help you; that issue is also fixed in Gears of War 3.
    • Left 4 Dead uses this. If there are computer players in the game, the game ends when all human players are dead, regardless if the AI characters are alive and despite the player respawning later in the level. VS mode makes this trope extremely annoying if there any survivor bots on the team. If all human-controlled survivors are killed, the round ends, despite any survivor bots being alive. Infected players who know of this exploit will focus their attacks only on the human controlled survivors. Thankfully, as with pretty much any Valve game, Game Mods can fix this, in this case by overriding the condition and have the bots finish the level if you and your friends are dead, possibly respawning in a closet if the bots can make it that far...and surprisingly, when they are by themselves, they usually manage.
    • If you're killed in Operation Flashpoint, you simply die and the camera slowly pans across the battlefield as the NPCs continue on with the mission. In some cases, you can be killed in the opening shots of a battle and watch your remaining NPC squadmates successfully finish the mission without you.
    • Teammates in Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri have a handy-dandy "evac" button which jump-jets them out of the combat if they take too much damage. Since you are walking around in Power Armor, it's still possible to finish the mission (albeit more difficult with the reduction in firepower, and you better hope it wasn't the mission-critical guy who just bugged out.) You, however, explode in a pretty fireball.
  • The Rainbow Six Vegas games also subscribe to this trope. If one of your colleagues goes down, they can be healed within a few seconds; if you die, it's game over. That's why the vast majority of players send their subordinates in first.
    • In the PC versions of all the Rainbow Six games BEFORE the Vegas series, and even the GBA version of Rogue Spear, if the character you're controlling is downed, you'll automatically jump into another member of your team.
  • In Killer7, one of the eponymous 7 is Garcian Smith. If one of the other Smiths dies, he can recover their bodies by reaching their last location, allowing the player to revive them. But if he dies, the game's over. Justified later on, as the other playable characters are actually Garcian's split personalities. If Garcian dies, he takes all six of the others with him.
  • In the S.W.A.T. series, it's a mission failure if the squad leader (a.k.a. the player) is downed. If any of the other squad members are downed, you just lose points. In SWAT 4 and potentially others, you lose the same amount of points for getting slightly wounded as your allies getting severely wounded.
  • Halo: Friendly NPCs sometimes reference this trope by name whenever the Chief dies during gameplay.

    Hack And Slash 
  • Even though you often have multiple characters to switch between in Drakengard 2, each with their own health bar, if any are defeated, the game ends.
  • Dynasty Warriors: Gundam games: As the battle gauge (basically a measure of how many spare mobile suits remain) empties, your operator becomes increasingly worried about the dwindling resources and chances of victory. If the player is destroyed while the gauge is empty, that's taken as the sign to cut losses and evacuate.
  • You can actually abuse this trope to your advantage in some Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors games. The designated leader of the clan is the lynchpin for both you and the enemy, and most of the time you're saddled with phenomenally stupid AI, so sometimes it's more beneficial to play as said clan head and be in control of your destiny. (Later games in the series, including the crossover Warriors Orochi, would just put clan control in the hands of a different NPC if you tried that trick.)
    • In Samurai Warriors: Chronicles, the series' first game to feature multiple playable characters for each battle, on top of any other conditions specific to the current mission, it's an automatic loss no matter what if the protagonist is defeated.
  • In the Probending mode of The Legend of Korra, you automatically lose if Korra is thrown off the field.note  This happens despite the fact that by the canonical rules, a team only loses by knock-out if every team member is thrown off. It becomes especially ridiculous if Mako and Bolin are still playing and almost winning but decide to give up when Korra falls off.

    Mecha Game 
  • In Super Robot Wars, any robot destroyed in battle, from the ones cobbled together out of the junk in someone's backyard to the greatest machines ever made by mankind plus at least one Sufficiently Advanced Aliens civilization, can be repaired after battle, for a price. Unless it happens to be a battle against their particular arch-nemesis, or they have to do something in a plot sequence during or after the battle. And of course, you need a place to repair them, so the destruction of any mothership is game over.
    • In general, depending of the plot relevance to the current stage, one or more of the units may have to hold tight to this trope, due to the Crossover nature of the series involved. It's often a sign of an incoming Cutscene Power to the Max midmission... For either side of the conflict.
    • If you allow the Ideon to get to full power and then lose all its hit points, the game ends — not because you can't proceed without it, but because destroying a full-power Ideon has the unpleasant side effect of blowing up the universe.
    • In some recent games, there's no repair cost. In Z, if you have Roger Smith deployed, his "Negotiator" ability means you don't need to pay for any destroyed robots. In K, there's no cost for scrapped mechs, regardless. This includes such No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup mechs as The Big O, Dann of Thursday, and more.
    • In the very first SRW, units were handled like in Fire Emblem; if they get destroyed, they're gone for good, unless, of course, you're lucky and you can get your leader to roll up a revival spell, and if your leader dies, you lose instantly, since your leader is the only one who can use spirit commands and is, well, the leader.
    • In the 'J' installment, any mission featuring the main antagonists — a race of hyperadvanced Crystal Robots And Latex Spacesuit Human Aliens who have slumbered in the heart of the moon — will end in an instant Game Over if your protagonist dies. Not because he/she cannot be recovered or repaired — that's no problem in the OTHER stages — but because the enemies possess a Time Stands Still superweapon, and the only thing capable of blocking it is your unique Humongous Mecha. So if you go down, they'll just stop time and wipe out the rest of your friends without breaking a sweat.
  • Front Mission doesn't seem to care what happens to characters critical to the plot of each mission, so long as Royd doesn't get blown up.
    • In Front Mission 1, if Roid/Lloyd/Whatever's wanzer goes down during a battle he is killed and it's an instant Game Over. Ironically, every single other member of his unit is able to eject before it is destroyed and survive the battle, with some of them even making casual comments about it such as Alder passively saying he's headed to the bar for a drink and that he'll meet them there. Either the rest of Canyon Crow are total wizards at getting out of an exploding mech unscathed, or Roid and Karen just really suck at it.
    • Front Mission 3 obeyed the "Don't let the protagonist die" rule, while Front Mission 4 required the field be clear of friendlies.
  • Custom Robo has battle modes where you and an ally can fight an enemy. If you go down, your partner will automatically give up. Even if the enemy's health is almost gone, and your partner's health is almost full. It's even worse in the final battle against Rahu, when you have both Harry and Marcia as your allies in a 3 vs. 1 fight. If either of them are knocked out, you're still forced to fight, but if you're knocked out it's an automatic loss, even if your partners aren't. Especially bad if one of them is at near full health.

  • In Atlantica Online your main hero is denoted by a pair of rings, and if he dies, remaining companions flee the combat. You're considered dead (though any hired mercenaries that fled still have their HP/MP), and teleported to the nearest town after a almost always modest Death Penalty.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Online: If you have a hireling of some sort, you can have them grab your "Soulstone" (pretty much your dead body) and lug it to a resurrection shrine.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, when running dungeons with an AI party (squadrons or Trusts), the Player Character being KO'd is an instant wipe, sending you back to the entrance immediately without a prompt.
  • In Phantasy Star Online 2, anytime you only have AI allies and aren't allowed to use a self-revival item means that getting KO'd effectively forces you to either go back to the Campship or retry/fail the mission, depending on the mission's leniency, as AI allies cannot use revival items on you. Even if you're in a group as the last line of defense against whatever Eldritch Abomination is terrorizing the universe at present and where any member (especially their strongest warrior) being down is a detriment, your death spells the end of the fight. Completely averted if the mission permits you to team up with other players, however, which the majority of non-story missions do.

    Platform Game 
  • Exploitable in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Tails is controllable by the second gamepad in the "Sonic & Tails" mode, but there's no penalty for him dying. The little bugger just keeps coming back. So Sonic can hang back in boss battles and let Tails do his thing, risk-free.
  • In Kirby's Return to Dream Land, players 2 - 4 can play as Kirby, Meta Knight, King Dedede, or Waddle Dee. If anyone but player 1 dies, they just disappear, and can respawn by taking from the pool of extra lives. In fact, they can do this endlessly, even if the lives run out (if all the lives are gone, they simply spawn with a sliver of health). If player 1 (who is always Kirby) dies, though, regardless of how the other players are doing, it's back to the beginning of the level.
  • In the Beavis And Butthead Sega Genesis game, it doesn't matter who dies, whether it's Beavis or Butthead, the game ends when either one dies, no matter how much health the other has. Even more ridiculous, both of them are shown in Hell in the game over screen, even if only one died.
  • In The Berenstain Bears' Camping Adventure, in the 2-Player Co-Op Multiplayer Mode, the game ends if either one of the player characters loses the last life. It's more justified in this case, because the two players share health and lives in this mode.

    Puzzle Game 
  • In the Mental Series' first and last games, if just one of the three characters gets caught, it's game over of all three of them.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Falsebound Kingdom, you fail if all Yugi, Kaiba, or Joey's monsters are killed. If other characters are beaten, they'll eventually reappear at your main base.
  • Pikmin, where if Olimar is beaten up too badly and runs out of health, the day automatically ends, quite potentially resulting in the loss of a lot of Pikmin.
  • In Age of Empires II regicide games, if a king dies, the king's civilization is considered defeated.
  • Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon: If the command ship is sunk in the campaign, the mission fails, even if the remainder of the fleet could complete the mission without the command ship. In the skirmish mode, however, the next ship in the fleet will become the command ship if the previous command ship sinks.

  • In the first two games of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, if the protagonist, your partner, or an escort NPC is knocked out without a Reviver Seed, you're instantly tossed out of the dungeon, drop all money, and a number of your items. Once you finish the story, however, you no longer lose if your partner is KO'd (due to them not being a Required Party Member anymore), instead losing only if your current team leader is defeated, meaning you can also take advantage of the post-story ability to change leaders on the fly to avoid a loss.
    • Gates to Infinity is better about this, as you're no longer given a loss if a required party member other than your hero or partner is KO'd in the main story.
  • Should the PC in Diablo II die, his hireling and any summons also spontaneously fall over dead.

    Role Playing Game 
  • Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door ends the game when Mario's HP hits zero, despite the fact that his allies could probably finish the fight. Having a Life Shroom in your inventory can help prevent Mario from falling in battle.
    • And on the side of villainy, one battle features Lord Crump and a plethora of X-Nauts. Want to win? When it's your turn, ignore the X-Nauts and target Crump. Less on the side of villainy, defeating a Gold Fuzzy causes the Fuzzy Horde it summons to disperse.
  • Parasite Eve 2 uses the protect the key character element twice. When Aya and Kyle team up and battle in a few points in the game, the game ends if Kyle's HP hits zero. There is absolutely no way of healing him, even though you could have the ultimate healing spell and best healing items at your disposal, which seem to be marked for only Aya to use on herself. Once Aya meets Eve in the Neo Ark research facility, they are ambushed by golems. The enemies fill the room with poison gas and Aya has to convince the Eve to leave with her in order to escape. If too much gas fills the room, Eve will stop moving and cough as her HP depletes, making it harder to guide her. The game ends if Eve dies.
  • The Darkspawn Chronicles expansion for Dragon Age: Origins explores what would have happened if the player character had died in the beginning of the story, in the Grey Warden initiation ceremony: Alistair would have gathered the team members in your place, but in the end, they would not have been able to defend Denerim from the darkspawn invasion. You play as a darkspawn in this expansion.
    • The Warden (Dragon Age: Origins and Awakening) and Hawke (Dragon Age II) can fall in battle, at which control simply moves to the next party member still fighting. As with all party members that fall in battle, the Warden and Hawke will automatically be revived after the battle, with the only penalty being an (easily healable) injury that lowers some of their stats.
  • Baldur's Gate uses this trope. Explained by the fact that your character is the mortal child of a dead god, and death immediately releases his/her "essence" back to its godly source; resurrection spells don't work too good when the post-death cutscene shows your body crumbling to dust. This explanation isn't consistent, however; the same should apply to Imoen for the same reason, but it doesn't, and it also works less when hit by spells like Flesh to Stone or Imprisonment, which explicitly do not kill you, so if the game would just hold on a moment, you might be able to bring the character back.
  • The PlayStation game Journey To The West has the monk Sanzo, who causes instant game over if he (or she, as you can choose gender at the start of the game) dies in battle. Annoying in three battles in the game:
    • First when you have to deal with a gourd that will suck up one character every other turn (and you will lose at least one character to this.)
    • Second is the breakaway floor fight (which can be easy if you remember to use Cavilier in the fight).
    • Third is the "Sanzo gets turned into a tiger and attacks you" fight, where you get told that even though he can attack and kill you in the fight, you can't do the same because Sanzo is Sanzo regardless of form.
  • Both Knights of the Old Republic games used a similar "just incapacitated" system for everyone, thus neatly averting the trope by letting your take control of a teammate if the main character was downed. It's played dead straight in Mass Effect and Jade Empire, though.
    • Rather odd in Jade Empire, since the main character actually does die at one part, but the party actually does go on without them. Any other time the main character is knocked out, however, results in this trope.
      • Probably because in this one particular instance your death was prepared for beforehand, with the Goddess of the Dead gathering enough power to bring you back to life and guide your party to where you are. Dying at any other time screws up her plans and leaves her unable to help you.
    • In Mass Effect, at least, it's justified by the inclusion of One Riot, One Ranger; Commander Shepard really is the only person with the right combination of skill, information, and authority to actually get the job done.
  • In pretty much every Shin Megami Tensei game, this trope applies. In most, it makes sense - the player is fighting by contracting demons, therefore when the player dies, their contracts end and they have no reason to continue doing whatever the protagonist wanted.
    • Both Persona 3, and Persona 4 play this straight at first. Both then have a lot of fun justifying it later with major plot twists as the games approach conclusion. In 3, the player is the container for the 'Appriser of Death', Nyx's herald. If he dies, Death is freed instantly, Nyx awakens, and since only the protagonist had the power to seal her again, she destroys the world. In 4, the protagonist represents 'Hope' in Izanami's test of humanity. Just like the other two 'players', Emptiness and Despair, he will be removed from the test if he's defeated... which leaves Izanami and Ameno-Sagiri free to run through the Assimilation Plot that Emptiness has convinced them the world desires. That doesn't explain why the other characters can't just throw a revival bead like you can for them, though.
      • It's possible that the other characters do throw a revival bead at you, but if they did, the game would be Unwinnable by Design with Death already being released/"Hope" being removed from the test. And no one wants to go through that.
    • Persona 5 follows this trend, as well as later justifying it: Joker is "the Trickster", the champion of humanity's ability to rebel against fate and prevent ruin. Should he die, then a similar situation to Persona 4 will result, as the Trickster has failed his rehabilitation and fallen to ruin. His soul is apparently imprisoned for eternity in the Velvet Room upon his death, meaning that a revival bead probably won't work on him. Interestingly enough, the main villain is trying to invoke this trope on the player. Yaldabaoth will try to kill what remains of Joker's soul after Joker has been Ret Goned, in order to ensure that he can't reignite the rebellious spirits of the Japanese people and stop Yaldabaoth's plans.
    • Devil Survivor does it a little different. Characters and enemies are in squads, and if the leader dies, the rest of the squad disappears. Makes sense for Human summoners, not so much for Demon squad leaders. Unless the mission specifically states a certain character must live, anyone is allowed to be defeated. Most of the time, you simply need at least one member of the Main Character's party to survive to the end of the battle. This member does not have to be the Main Character.
      • In the boss battle with Beldr, the defeat condition is specifically the death of the Main Character. This is because only the Main Character has the Devil's Fuge (and thus, the only character that can damage Beldr), so if he dies, Beldr will be left unchecked and free to tear up Tokyo. Later on, however, when you rematch with Beldr, this condition is not in place; you can be dead and the battle will keep going, but unless another live character or demon has a revival spell and uses it on you, the battle becomes Unwinnable by Design.
    • In Shin Megami Tensei I and Shin Megami Tensei II, the main character can be killed in a battle as long as at least one human character remains alive. However, when the main character is dead, all COMP functions are inaccessible, so no summoning other demons or looking at the map until you revive him.
    • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey works this way as well, with a twist: the Stone status effect counts as death for the main character. While there are items that act as insurance against instant death attacks, they don't work against Stone. Mercifully, the Redux rerelease allows you to buy a cheap app early on that removes this restriction, allowing your demons to fight to the last; however, on Impossible difficulty, you're shit out of luck.
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV: If your character dies, you can still control your demons, but you won't be able to switch them, and if they don't know the proper skills, they can't use items either. It's game over when you have an AI-controlled party member, however.
    • Curiously, the trope applies to the story but not the gameplay of the first Digital Devil Saga — Serph can get killed in a fight as long as the party in general survives. However, according to the rules of war between the tribes in the Junkyard, if a tribe's leader is killed in battle, then the tribe is absorbed into the one that did the deed. This rule eventually falls by the wayside as everyone starts developing emotions and no longer mindlessly obeys the Karma Temple's rules.
    • In Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth and Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, on Risky/Apocalypse difficulty, respectively, where the protagonist dying equals an immediate Game Over. In SMTIVA, you can also buy a very expensive App that imposes this rule upon you.
  • Soul Nomad & the World Eaters. Although the fact that the main character is borrowing the powers of the master of death might explain why all your companions can be summoned to die time and time again.
    • Also, the rest of your party is simply being summoned to the field through the powers of Gig. And if Gig's host dies, so does he.
  • In Valkyrie Profile, the other (dead) characters are kept in existence by "Divine Materialization Energy" supplied by Lenneth. Leave her down for three turns and the party explicitly is said to cease to exist.
  • Kakurenbo Battle Monster Tactics, while (at least generally) not a case where losing means being dead, has the objective in most/all battles for both sides being to defeat the enemy leader. Oh, by the way, the player actually loses if the enemy leader is finished off by an enemy's friendly fire.
  • Used in Kingdom Hearts; Donald, Goofy, or your guest party member can get KO'ed and revived freely (and often do), but Sora hitting zero means his heart's gone and he's dead. Averted slightly in the sequel, where in some boss battles, even if Sora's HP reaches zero, King Mickey comes out of nowhere to save him.
    • Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep has a few battles that require the protagonist to protect an escort character or object from harm (eg: Queen Minnie); if their damage bar fills up, it's game over.
      • The former game also has a few boss battles that require the Guest-Star Party Member to survive; Jack Sparrow against Barbossa, and Riku against Xemnas.
    • Also, in Coded, there is the Final Fantasy-esque Olympus Coliseum, where you still get a Game Over if Sora is killed (unless he's under the effect of Auto-Life), whereas Hercules and Cloud can be revived with a simple Cure spell.
  • The tanks in Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime each include a small shrine where any crewmember who dies in battle will reappear moments later... Except the main character Rocket.
  • In Secret of Evermore, you can revive your dog if he falls, but he can't revive you. You have to be under the time-limited effect of a revive-me-if-I-die item if you don't want your death to be instant Game Over.
  • In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, you lose if your main character dies, though the game provides a short time for your party members to resurrect you if they can. Unfortunately, the AI doesn't consider things like magic and tech resistance, so your party members with magic-based resurrects will pointlessly use them on a 100% magic-resistant character unless they have a tech-based redirect in their inventory (and it has to be theirs, they can't loot you for one you're carrying). You can exploit this in one sidequest where any violence results in immediate death, and in another your party has to be able to resurrect you to get the ultimate blessing of the Top God if your character is a technologist.
  • SaGa Frontier does this as well. Every character has two life meters, in the form of Hit Points and Life Points. Losing all of a character's Hit Points merely renders them unable to fight, and they will get back up and continue battle once they're healed. However, Life Points (which are lost if a character is attacked while at 0 HP, and also from a few attacks that target LP directly) are different, since if a character loses all of them, they're dead as a doornail, and will remain as such until you get them to an inn (or use one of the incredibly rare Sanctuary Stones found throughout the game). If the main character of a scenario loses all their LP, however, it's an instant game over, even if everyone else on the team is perfectly healthy.
  • Appears in one short quest in Final Fantasy VI as Bannon, the man you must protect, is the leader of the rebel movement. Also made easier than some other cases as he has a unique ability that heals the entire party without using magic points.
  • Final Fantasy IX has this trope in the beginning of disc 1. Vivi, and then Garnet are captured by a plant monster and the monster gradually sucks up their HP. Vivi can cast Fire on the monster on his own while Garnet is helpless. Should either character have their HP be reduced to 0, Game Over.
  • It's back in Final Fantasy XIII, in which it's game over if your party leader (the only character you control in battle) goes down. Anyone else can be revived with a Phoenix Down or Raised via spell, but your leader cannot — whoever your leader may be at the time.
    • Especially annoying when Hope or Vanille, the two most fragile characters, are party leader.
    • Thankfully fixed in the sequel. If the party leader gets KO'ed, then as long as the other player character's still kicking, the game just transfers the mantle of party leader. It only works for Noel and Serah, though; you can't control the Mons.
  • In Final Fantasy XV, it's game over if Noctis goes down. Since Noctis' magic is what gives Potions, Phoenix Downs, and the like healing properties and his magic dies if he does, it's justified. Mercifully, the player is given a few seconds to have Noctis revive himself with a Phoenix Down when his HP hits 0, so it's not an instant loss.
  • In Granblue Fantasy, this became a mechanic in some of the recent quests from 2017 onwards, such as the Attack On Titan Collab or Yaia's 5★ Fate Episode. Losing a specific party member will trigger an instant game over.
  • In Valkyria Chronicles, if Welkin falls in a battle, it's Game Over — even though any other character can go down from a tank shell to the face and be revived by the medic if another character touches them in time. Thankfully, Welkin drives a tank, so he doesn't usually go down easily.
    • Plus, any of the other main characters will simply retreat from that particular battle if they go down and aren't revived in time (or if an enemy gets to them first). Meaning that you can actually be LESS careful with the main characters than with the story-unimportant recruits, which have the opportunity to be perma-snuffed.
  • Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land does this, but only with perma death. Normal death you can simply revive your main character after, same as anyone else.
  • If Materia dies in the first Aretha game on the original Game Boy, you get a game over. Especially annoying once Doll gets resurrection magic, as it means that the magic is only usable if Civil dies.
  • Phantasy Star Universe: In the story mode, the defeat of hero Ethan Waber ends the game, unless your party members are able to revive him.
  • In the RPG Okage: Shadow King, if the main protagonist Ari is KO'd in battle, it results in an automatic Game Over, even if the other party members are alive and revival items/abilities are available.
  • Tales of Symphonia has one part where the main characters volunteer to rescue a woman from dying the death of an Ancient Roman in the Colosseum. To accomplish this, one party member needs to win one Colosseum battle so they can subsequently sneak into the holding cells. If her or she is defeated in that battle, the game is over. This doesn't necessarily mean the character dies (losing any other arena battle never kills the character), but presumably you can't sneak into the prison if you lose and the prisoner will be executed.
  • Resonance of Fate applies this to all three of your characters; if any of them die, it's game over. This also applies to the enemies, where one target in the encounter will be designated the "leader". Killing them will make the rest of the enemies flee instantly. You even get normal loot drops for all of them, making this even more practical.
  • Done in Mystic Ark, as that the main character is the only one who can directly control the power of the Arks, which is the only thing that makes your allies able to fight. Since dying just takes you back to the last place you saved, one can assume that either your team or the power of the Crystal warps you back.
  • In Lufia: The Legend Returns, you can have up to 9 characters in battle at a time. They will be displayed on the screen in a 3x3 grid. If the first character in each vertical row dies, the game ends, regardless of what condition the rest of the party is in, and the fact that reviving characters in this game is incredibly easy. Even more interestingly, you can get this game over even if the main character is still alive!
    • Lufia: The Ruins of Lore has a variation on this. You can have up to four characters in battle and four in reserve whom you can freely switch in (and Mons that fall are automatically replaced with the next character in line). If all human characters in battle fall, it's Game Over even if your Mons or your reserve humans (which, again, can include the main character) are perfectly fine and capable of fighting.
  • Arcana has this rule, with a twist: If any character other than an elemental spirit dies, it's automatic game over. Granted, there's no item to bring anyone back to life and all the characters will be used at the end to help you reach the Big Bad, so they do need to be kept alive for that reason.
  • In The Magic Candle, your five recruited party members are allowed to stay dead (you can always go recruit more), but if the main character dies, that's the ball game. There isn't even a Bad End screen for this — you just get booted to DOS with the message "[Hero's name] died and wasn't resurrected."
  • Fallout games instantly end when the player character dies, no matter how many NPC followers are still standing, rather like Arcanum without resurrection options.
    • Which is especially jarring in Fallout Tactics, where the PC is the sergeant of a squad, not any form of Chosen One.
  • As a Mons series where you fight alongside the monsters, Geneforge justifies this in much the same manner as Shin Megami Tensei. This does get a bit iffy in 3 and 5, though — you have the option to recruit two human allies in the former game, and an intelligent servile ally in the latter, and unlike in 2 and 4, they're immune to the Final Death that plagues all other allies in the series. Your stalwart swordsman or knife-toting mage can fall in battle a hundred times without a game over, even though you lose the game if you fall even once.
  • In Ultima VI, if the Avatar dies, while there's no Game Over, Lord British will immediately summon you and your entire party home, and bring the Avatar back from death.
    • Used partly in Ultima IV and Ultima V, in that while the party can still go on without the Avatar, the Avatar must be alive and active for certain things to happen; in Ultima IV, speaking with Lord British will revive a dead Avatar candidate.
  • In Infinite Space, you can command up to five ships in your fleet. If the flagship gets destroyed, the game is over, no matter how many ships are left. This is probably because the player character was standing on the bridge and took a laser cannon shot to the head.
  • In Xenoblade, if the party leader is KO'd, one of your allies will immediately attempt to revive them. Should that not be possible - either because the Party Gauge is empty or because of a Total Party Kill - it's an immediate trip back to the nearest landmark. Otherwise, reviving the leader works just like reviving your teammates.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles X, when the playable character gets KO'd a thirty-second timer starts counting down. Your allies can finish off the enemy themselves during that time, and if they do the battle is won; they'll also revive you if possible (though this isn't terribly likely since it requires 3000 TP, which the AI rarely conserves). If the timer runs out, everyone else falls, or you simply choose to skip it, you are, again, sent back to a nearby landmark.
  • Evil Islands: Zak is the only one who's required to survive at any time.
  • In A Witch's Tale, Liddell must be kept alive since the dolls can't move without Liddell powering them.
  • Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars: Without Wake conscious and producing Ether particles, the rest of the party's magic, weapons, and even items all cease to function. Abandoning the mission and booking it back to base is the only sensible thing to do, and normally it only results in a loss of GP and a chewing out from your superiors anyway. Certain battles will land you in a Game Over, but it's usually clear what circumstances you're heading into.
  • In Phantom Dust, most of your objectives involve killing off the enemy party without dying yourself. If your partner dies, you can bring him back at half health if you can find his corpse. However, if YOU die, it is an instant loss no matter what.
  • In Fantasy Life, one possibility for getting help in battle is taking a Non-Player Character or two with you. If any of your companions get knocked out, you can have them back to half health simply by pressing a button while in physical contact with them. If you get knocked out while your companions are still fit to fight, you'd better not be out of revive items or you'll have to terminate the battle.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Chou Saiya Densetsu on the Super Famicom featured this in tandem with Final Death. Due to their importance to the story, the game is instantly over if Goku, Gohan, or Piccolo dies outside of a cutscene. Oddly enough, this doesn't apply to Krillin, Tien Shinhan, Yamcha or Chaiotzu, who can die at any point in the game without a Game Over occurring.
  • The Arena rules in .hack//G.U.: take out the Leader of the opposing team and you win the battle.
  • Sakura Dungeon: If Yomi dies, the game ends. Similar to Shin Megami Tensei, most of the characters in your party are under contract by her, and thus would have no reason to continue fighting if she died. What makes this a unique example is the fact that Yomi is not required to be in the party, and in fact you don't get her as a playable character until after the first part of the game. Also notable is the fact that this rule does not apply to Ceri, who must be in the party at all times.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II, when Rean and Princess Alfin are escaping from the Pantagruel, Princess Alfin has no weapon, but access to a good complement of healing and offensive arts as well as your full item inventory. Despite this, if Rean falls, it's an immediate Game Over.
  • Used in Indivisible, since the other party members are Incarnations that Ajna keeps within her; if she dies, the rest of the party goes with her.
  • In Emerald Dragon when other characters are KO'd they return with 1 HP after the fight is won, but if the protagonist Atrushan hits 0 HP then it's game over regardless of the state of the rest of the party.
  • If Omori falls in battle in Omori, then it's game over. To manage this, damage that would otherwise be fatal to everyone else will instead bring Omori down to 1HP.
  • In Yakuza: Like a Dragon Ichiban getting KO'd results in a game over. It's possible to mitigate this by leveling up his unique "Hero" class, which unlocks the "Peerless Resolve" ability that allows him to survive a killing blow.

    Shoot Em Up 

    Simulation Game 
  • The original Rogue Squadron on the N64. If any of your fellow Rogues gets shot down, they do an emergency landing, and you can see their downed X-Wing safely on the ground. If you take too much damage, you explode.
    • Multiplayer in X-Wing Alliance let you take command of other vessels in your wing if you died. Singleplayer, not so much.
  • In the Lost in Blue series of survival games, the game is automatically over if any of your characters die, even if the others are healthy and well with a good supply of food and water, standing only seconds away from escape from the island.
  • The Oregon Trail: The first game avoided this, in that your main character is invincible until your party members all died off. In later games, this is mostly retained, but before that, the main character can still suffer other injuries (starvation, thirst, accidental gunshots, animal mauling), and their death immediately ends the game.
  • Organ Trail works similarly to the game that inspired it. Your main character is completely immune to zombification and the effects of rationing unless the rest of your party has already died, however, you can be hurt while out scavenging or during certain events. If the main character is killed while out scavenging, then it's game over.
  • In Wing Commander Armada, your fighter being shot down would dump you into the cockpit of one of the surviving fighters. Played straight in pretty much every other game in the series.
  • If the Evil Genius in Evil Genius is slain, the game ends instantly. Even if your minions could complete your work without you, the simple fact is that as an evil genius, you're far too self-centered to care.

    Survival Horror 
  • Resident Evil 5 ends the game if either Chris or Sheva dies. Thankfully, the computer is intelligent enough to heal/revive you most of the time when you hit Dying, and you don't need to call for them first.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • In Fur Fighters, you have six characters, they have the ability to transport all over the worlds you visit, and only one person can be deployed at once; fair enough, but if one dies, then the other 5 can't just take their place?
  • Alien Swarm does this if a level requires a Tech and the said Tech gets killed.
  • Gotcha Force is guilty of this. In particularly irritating levels, it's better to have a large force of weak Borgs than a small force of strong ones; if your force goes down before your ally's, you lose the battle, regardless of how strong your ally's force is.
  • The Godfather 2: if you die and there are Medic-trained allies nearby, they can revive you... but if there aren't, you will die even if there are other allies around.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, a character who is KO'd and is left that way for 3 turns will die off forever. This also applies to the main character, Ramza, where the game will end if he ever gets killed off, no matter how many other people in his party are left standing. Unlike some other examples, normal revival methods CAN be used to revive Ramza before the countdown reaches 0. Characters involved in an Escort Mission, however, have no such protection, as the game will end as soon as they're KO'd even if you could revive them on the next turn.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance also applies this rule to the main character, Marche, where the game will end if he dies in a Jagd. However, the game also ends if Marche gets tossed in jail during battle. Both games also feature battles where a key character must survive and ends the game if they have fallen.
  • In the Total War games, you play as the current head of the ruling dynasty of your faction or clan. Should the ruler die without heirs, the game ends. In some of the games, by the time you get about midway through the Grand Campaign, your royal family will have so many people in it - through childbirth, marriage, or straight adoption - that you could lose half of them and not be bothered at all.
    • In the Alexander expansion of Rome: Total War, losing Alexander in either the campaign or the historical battles will mean automatic defeat no matter how well the battle had been going for the Macedonians. An exception to this was the Hydaspes historical battle.
  • Played straight in Silent Storm and its sequels. The only character who is not allowed to die is the Player Character (when injured, he'll even mention that the mission is a failure if he dies) If another squad member dies, several replacements are available back at the base. In fact, on easier levels of difficulty and barring the Chunky Salsa Rule, characters are merely knocked out and can be carried back to base to heal completely... except for the Player Character, of course.
  • In most scenarios in the open-source strategy game Battle for Wesnoth, the death of your 'leader' (commander unit) will lose you the scenario. The leader is the only one who can recruit new units. There's no resurrection option for any character: Death is very, very final.
  • Most missions in both Vandal Hearts games have automatic failure conditions if the lead character is defeated. Other characters, however, can be killed with fountains of blood pouring out and are then fine the moment battle is over.
    • Vandal Hearts II ups the ludicrousness when all friendlies have a skull mark indicating death count, with one big mark indicating tens. Your allies can have 30+ deaths while the main character can't ever have any.
  • Yggdra Union. The game ends when either Yggdra or Milanor dies. There are also some characters that you can't lose for certain battlefields: Rosary or Roswell can't die on Battlefield 11, Cruz can't die on the battlefield you recruit him on, Elena can't die on Batllefields 25, 27, 36, and 37, Gordon can't die until halfway through Battlefield 32, and Kylier can't die on any battlefield before 42. There are also some battlefields where you just can't let anyone die.
  • Every Ogre Battle saga game has this, including the Tactics Ogre games. While your main character often becomes one of your strongest party members in terms of stats + abilities, he/she's a huge liability since it's Game Over after he/she goes down. This is especially troublesome as in many of the later levels, it is common to perform many resurrections.
  • Every single character in Odium. Anyone dies, you lose.
  • Lose a character in Fire Emblem and they're gone for good. If one of the viewpoint characters is taken down, the game ends. The same applies to escortees during an Escort Mission, but those are surprisingly easy to get through if you're careful.
    • In fact, in the first game, the enemy AI is actively trying to kill Marth at first priority. This, however, can be exploited by placing Marth in range of enemies to protect your frailer units, like clerics or other wounded units.
    • Radiant Dawn in particular takes this trope Up to Eleven. Unlike previous entries (with the exception of Gaiden), there's no traditional Lord class in the game, but instead there are several viewpoint characters such as Micaiah and Ike (the main character in Path of Radiance who, funnily enough, had the Lord as his promoted class). Much like the Lord, if you lose them in any chapter they're playable, you lose the game. However, since the objectives vary greatly and this game is much harder than most previous games, the game can end even by losing just one unit. Example? In the first few chapters, losing any ally means that you lose the game. Nintendo Hard indeed!
    • Fire Emblem Awakening has two lead protagonists: Chrom and the Avatar. If either of them die, the other will bemoan their passing before the game ends.
    • Fire Emblem Fates keeps the tradition where the Avatar's defeat equals game over, but only in Classic Mode. In the new Phoenix mode (where allies come back the next turn after dying) even if you lose the Avatar, he'll just come back the next turn after being defeated, and thus, the only way to lose is to lose all units in the same turn. Fates' Casual mode, unlike the ones from New Mystery of the Emblem, Awakening, and Echoes: Shadows of Valentia also lets you keep going, but unlike Phoenix mode, this isn't always the case, since some maps end if you lose the Avatar anyway, like Chapter 5 probably because they're the only major source of damage in that chapter, and clearing it without them would be impossible.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses continues this tradition with Classic Mode, in addition to some missions that require the survival of specific units regardless of which mode you're playing on. The dangers are somewhat mitigated thanks to Divine Pulse, which allows you to wind back the clock and bring back anyone who fell. If you are defeated with no Divine Pulse charges left, however, then it's Game Over.
  • In Liberty or Death, the death or capture of your chosen Commander-in-Chief will force your army into immediate surrender.
  • In the Shining Series, you lose the battle if the main character is defeated. However, there is no "Game Over" scenario, instead returning the party to the last save point, usually a church, where you can revive other fallen party members. The only downside is that you lose half of your gold when defeated.
  • One of the reasons why Second Original Generation's Gaiden Game Dark Prison is harder than the former game is because absolutely NO ONE is allowed to die. Any one of your units gets destroyed in a stage, and it's an automatic game over. This is because your team doesn't have a battleship to resupply, refuel, and repair any damage incurred to the robot.
  • Jeanne d'Arc does this on most story missions (if Jeanne dies, or some party member specific to a level's gimmick), but not on "free battle" maps (grinding) and other story missions.
  • In the Telepath RPG games, if the Player Character dies, it's game over. This is a little weird in the first few games, as Death Is a Slap on the Wrist for everyone else. Telepath Tactics doesn't have a Back from the Dead feature, so it makes more sense there.
    • In Telepath Tactics, the Deuteragonist Silithis Predat is also a vital character in Battle with Gulch and Rescuing Sarn Kamina. This makes sense in the former case since it's a Meanwhile Scene without the protagonists, but in the latter...not so much.
  • In Sunrider, if one of your mechs is defeated it can just retreat to the Sunrider for repairs, but if the Sunrider blows up your mechs have nowhere to run. The first game’s penultimate mission cranks this trope Up to Eleven: if anyone in your teamnote  gets hit by the Legion’s Wave-Motion Gun, it’s game over.
  • Justified in Super Robot Wars Alpha 3: if the Ideon is destroyed, the galaxy will be destroyed along with it.
  • In the final mission of XCOM 2, The Commander (which is to say, you) takes control of an avatar body and participates in the final assault on the aliens' base. They are instrumental to the success of this mission: if they die, the mission will automatically fail and XCOM will be subsequently crushed by ADVENT.

    Visual Novel 
  • In Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, if Edgeworth's Truth Gauge runs out, the truth will be "lost for eternity". Apparently he's the only one than can solve the cases.
    • Not only that, but most of the time there's an opposing investigator pressing their version of events; if Edgeworth is unable to disprove their theories, then that means the wrong person will be arrested. In the case of the Final Boss, he's influential enough to justifiably leave the country if Edgeworth and co. aren't able to crack his testimony. On top of that, there's one case where he's locked in a room and has to escape, and another where he's the accused to begin with, in which case things really will go south if he can't figure it out.
    • The main issue being that you never enter court in this game, Edgeworth only talks out in the open to his suspects. While winning leads to their arrest and subsequent trial, losing means that the upcoming trial will ALWAYS fail to find the true culprit (you know, basically the opposite of every single Phoenix Wright case where the wrong person is arrested and you have to uncover the truth anyway). It seems you can count the actually capable lawyers in this world on one hand.
  • This trope doesn't normally apply in Monster Girl Quest, since Luka is on his own. However, in the final series of battles, he's joined by various allies, two of which (Alice and Alma Elma) explicitly have the ability to heal others. However, you'll still lose if Luka runs out of HP.
  • In Detroit: Become Human, if one of the Player Characters, Markus, dies while leading the protest in the "Freedom March" level, his second-in-command, North, will take over as leader. This locks you into one of the bad endings, in which the android revolution fails.

Non-video game examples:

  • In episode 10 of The Ambition of Oda Nobuna, Nobuna's army is about to become trapped by two rather large enemy forces, one of whom was supposed to be an ally of hers. She considers several options, such as fighting them or surrendering, but is told that none of those would play out the way she hopes, and they would kill her rather than allow her to live and possibly stage a rebellion later on. Nobuna is then told that uniting Japan is impossible without her, likely because no one else has the charisma and dedication of ruling peaceably like she intends to. She is still hesitant on retreating, as someone would have to stay behind and delay them while she makes her escape, and likely be killed. Naturally, the Love Interest, Yoshiharu, volunteers for it.
  • Rating Games in High School Dx D. The game ends when the king is defeated, similar to chess. Granted, Rias wants in on the action instead of being the Mission Control; however, she's always called out on it by other people.
  • In Danganronpa 3, Chisa Yukizome's bracelet will pump her full of poison if her friend Kyosuke Munakata dies, making him this trope to her.

  • Mangelore mercenaries in The Fifth Element will not fight without their leader. Thus, when they take hostages and demand to negotiate, the best tactic is identifying the leader and blowing his head off.
    Korben Dallas: Anyone else wanna negotiate?

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Renaissance Man", the Doctor is prepared to give up Voyager's warp core to save Janeway because "Voyager can survive without its warp core... but not without its captain."

    Professional Wrestling 
  • This is the premise behind Relevos Australianos. There must be at least two teams competing and they each must have a minimum of three members. One team member will be designated the captain and if he is eliminated the entire team loses. The reverse, a captain who allows all his teammates to be eliminated, also results in a loss.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Chess, the lynchpin to both sides is the King. Whenever either King is threatened with capture (Check), the threatened side has no choice but to spend their next move getting the King out of danger. Oddly, the King is never captured - the game ends when the King has no way to escape impending capture (Checkmate), with the King (and his side) surrendering.
    • It's then thrown the complete opposite direction with stalemates, where none of the pieces can make a move without putting the King into check, but they themselves are also not presently in check. Since the King isn't in check, they're not presently in danger, and since every other move would move them into check, those moves are illegal, so it's a draw. In other words, your army can't go on without you, but suddenly neither can the enemy's!
  • In Sid Meiers Civilization The Board Game, the lychpin to each side is his capital city. Capturing that will immediately end the game in favour of the player who managed to do so.
  • In Warmachine and Hordes, each army is led by a powerful spellcaster — either a warcaster or warlock, depending on which game. If your warcaster/warlock is killed, you lose the game, regardless of how the rest of the battle is going.
  • Inverted with the Necrons in older editions of Warhammer40000. While the Necron Lord and/or C'tan leading the army was a powerful character, killing them would not have any notable negative effects on the army; however, wipe out 75% of the footsoldiers and the rest of the army immediately vanishes, granting the opponent an automatic win, regardless of other conditions.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: