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A rule in sports games, Game Shows and Video Games where an end-of-match tie is broken by playing a special round. As Sudden Death is intended to bring a swift conclusion to the contest, the victory conditions for this final round are usually highly abbreviated - scoring just one or two points is often enough to achieve victory.

For an actual sudden death of a character, see Dropped a Bridge on Him.

Examples of Sudden Death include:


Live Action TV

  • In one Numberwang sketch on That Mitchell and Webb Look, after three days with nobody getting Numberwang, they go to Sudden Death, in which the first person to die from the deadly Numbergas wins.
  • In more recent versions of Family Feud, in the rare event that neither team reaches 300 points by the end of the triple-score round, a Sudden Death round is played. Triple score is active, and only the #1 answer is on the board, for a question for which typically about 90 or more of the 100 surveyed gave the #1 answer; thus, the first to ring in and give said answer gets the 270+ points and will win the game.
  • Sudden Death is active in every round of Card Sharks should the round reach the last question and no one has finished their cards. The contestant who wins the question can choose to play (with the option of changing his/her card) or pass (the opponent must play and cannot change cards); whoever plays must complete their row and one mis-guess means the opponent automatically wins.
    • In the later part of the Eubanks era if both contestants won one game each, the "tiebreaker round" went from 3 questions to just 1 Sudden Death one; both contestants then got to see their base card but only the one who won the question got to determine who would play. The same above rules applied.
  • Until the introduction of Toss-Ups on Wheel of Fortune in 2000, ties (rare as they were) were broken by a Speed-Up round between the tied players. Since then, they just play another Toss-Up.
  • "Whew!" also had this with the "Longshot!" If a Charger thought he or she couldn't reach Level 6 of the board before time was up, he/she could yell "LONGSHOT!" This stopped the clock and brought the action to Level 6. The Blocker then got to place a "Secret Block" on Level 6 with one of three secret buttons (host Tom Kennedy reminded the Charger a previously placed Block might be up on Level 6 too). The Charger got one final chance to solve a blooper from Level 6--if he/she could find one AND solve it, the Charger won. If a Block was found or the blooper wasn't solved, the Blocker won.
  • Jeopardy!: During the show's various tournaments, if there is a tie after Final Jeopardy!, a single tiebreaker clue is played. The first player to buzz in with the correct response wins. If no one answers correctly, additional tiebreakers are used until someone does.
  • Double Dare: If round 2 ends with a tie score, they will go to the "Tie Breaker Challenge". The first team to complete the challenge will advance to the Bonus Round.
  • Legends of the Hidden Temple: If the third and final Temple Game ends with a tie score, they would bring in the "Tie Breaker Podium". Olmec would ask the two teams the final question. The first team to hit the gong and answer the question correctly will advance to the Bonus Round. But if they answer it incorrectly, their opponent automatically wins.


  • More examples of "sudden death" in sports can be found in The Other Wiki article here.
  • In Association Football, if the game is tied at the end of regulation time and there must be a winner (e.g. during a tournament), either the game goes to penalty kicks or there are overtime periods first. The rules may state that the first team to score a goal during the overtime wins the game: this is called sudden death, or (to be more politically correct) "sudden victory" or "Golden goal".
    • It should be noted that FIFA has abolished the Golden Goal rule in all sponsored competitions. No major tournaments anywhere decide tie games in this fashion anymore.
  • In American professional football (the NFL), if the teams are tied at the end of the game they go into overtime, where the first team to score points wins.
    • Effective for the 2010-11 playoffs (but not the regular season), if a team gets the opening kickoff and only scores a field goal, the game doesn't end until after the ensuring drive. Any other result on the first possession ends the game, as does any result other than a field goal on the second possession. If the game is still tied after the first two possessions (either due to no scoring or matched field goals), the game reverts to sudden death. This rule was first used in the 2012 playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos, in which Denver scored on an 80-yard touchdown pass-and-run on the first play in overtime, meaning it took longer to announce the new overtime rules than to play it.

Tabletop Games

Video Games

  • In Team Fortress 2, if a round ends with neither side winning, servers have the option of then going to Sudden Death, where all health packs are removed from the level and respawning is disabled. Teams can win either by accomplishing the objective or eliminating the other team.
  • In Super Smash Bros.., in the event of a tie, rankings are decided by a round in which everybody has 300% damage. Last one to get knocked off the stage wins. If a Sudden Death match goes on for too long, Bob-ombs start raining from the sky.
  • Worms has this, which can manifest in a few ways, depending on the selected options. Poison, set Hit Points to 1, no change to hit points. Usually including the water rising.
  • In the Swordplay duels of Wii Sports Resort, if neither combatant wins best of three, it goes to "Sudden Death" where the arena is reduced to the center circle, and one good hit can easily knock the opponent off. Interestingly, even this can be tied, awarding the player with an Achievement ("Stamp") for the round.
  • Boss battles in Guitar Hero used to initiate a "death drain" that would sap your Rock Meter if both combatants made it to the last part of the song. This was later replaced and now the song just repeats, but on Hyperspeed. And it gets faster each time both players make it to the end.
  • In Halo games, Sudden Death only started from the second game onwards. It typically only occurs in objective gametypes like CTF or Assault. In Halo 2, when the time would run out, if a player was still holding the flag or bomb, the game would continue endlessly until a player scored or if no one was holding the flag or bomb for a set amount of time. After some time, Bungie released an update that removed Sudden Death from certain gametypes on Matchmaking because players were holding up games by hiding during Sudden Death. In Halo 3 and onwards, Sudden Death usually has a time-limit (typically from 30 seconds to one minute), but the game still ends if the flag/bomb isn't being held.

Real Life

  • Many, many courses in university have partial exams, tests, and/or projects. Failing in just one of them can make you flunk the entire course, being less of a Sudden Death and more of an inversion of Golden Snitch.