Super Smash Bros. series

Sudden Death

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For the Special Mode, see Super Sudden Death.
A Sudden Death match in Ultimate between Little Mac and Marth, with flames surrounding them.

Sudden Death (サドンデス, Sudden Death) occurs when any VS. mode match ends in a tie. A tie happens when at least two characters or teams have the same final score at the end of a Time match, the same amount of stocks at the end of a timed Stock match, the same amount of coins at the end of a Coin Battle, or the same total score at the end of a Bonus match. In an untimed Stock match, Sudden Death is possible if all remaining characters lose their last stock on the same frame.

In matches with three or more players, Sudden Death will only occur with the players who are tied for first, excluding the other players.


When Sudden Death occurs, the words "Sudden Death" will appear onscreen with the announcer calling it before the "GO!" signal and the match will restart with only the players involved in the tie, all of whom are given one stock and 300% damage, making them very easy to KO in a single hit. In effect, this makes it so the first player to land a hit on their opponent(s) wins Sudden Death and therefore the match. With the exception of the original Super Smash Bros. and certain stages in various games, items will not spawn at this time even if they are turned on.

From Melee to Smash 4, if nobody wins after roughly 20 seconds, Bob-ombs begin to fall from the sky to speed up the match. Unlike the Bob-omb items, these immediately explode on contact with any surface or player. In Melee, the Bob-ombs act a little differently than in other games - they have no animation for appearing and can explode in mid-air without touching anything. As all players have 300% damage, getting hit by a Bob-omb is essentially an instant KO; however, with precise timing, players can grab Bob-ombs in midair with air dodges or tech on any walls. Prior to Smash 4, it is possible for a falling Bob-omb to instantly KO a player by launching them toward a side blast line while the other player is currently being sent flying by a Screen KO or Star KO, causing the latter player to win the match in the middle of their KO animation; in Smash 4, Star and Screen KOs normally no longer occur during Sudden Death.

In Ultimate, the camera will start at a fixed position and gradually zoom in from the center of the stage from the start of Sudden Death, with the blast zone shrinking alongside it until the camera itself is zoomed in very closely. After a few seconds, Bob-ombs will drop down in an attempt to eliminate players lingering in it too long. This is presumably to balance the gameplay speed of Sudden Death across all stages, especially with larger stages (such as Temple, New Pork City, 75m, Palutena's Temple), autoscrolling stages (such as Mushroomy Kingdom and 3D Land), or with Stage Builder stages. The screen also now has flames around it from corner to corner, surrounding the center. If the battle is in Stamina Mode, all players will have 1 HP instead of 300 percent.

Should a tie occur within Sudden Death itself, which can only happen if all remaining characters are KO'd on the same frame, the match will end and a random player is selected to be the winner. In the first two Super Smash Bros. games, placement is based on port priority: in the original Super Smash Bros., the winner is the player with the highest port number (whose controller is closest to P4), while in Melee, the winner is the player with the lowest port number (whose controller is closest to P1). As multiple players must be KO'd on the same frame for this to occur and the games run at 60 frames per second, the chances of this occurring are slim and any advantage given to certain player numbers compared to others is decidedly negligible, especially since Sudden Death is never used in competitive play. In Brawl, tests have shown that the winner of the match is decided at random. In SSB4, the winner is whoever dealt the most damage, with the placement of the other players following suit.

In SSB4's Tourney mode, Sudden Death did not occur in Regular Tourneys and could be disabled in player-made Tourneys as well. If a tie occurred when Sudden Death was disabled, victory was awarded to the player who dealt the most damage throughout the match.

In competitive play[edit]

If a Sudden Death occurs in a tournament, it is usually ignored and the winner is decided by other factors. Using Sudden Death as a tiebreaker brings with it a number of complications:

  1. As a Sudden Death match is always untimed, and with the raining Bob-ombs, camping and planking become dominant strategies. This results in the match going on for an indefinite length of time, as each player simply stalls and waits for their opponent to make a mistake. (Ultimate's shrinking blast zones alleviates this, but does nothing about the other two reasons.)
  2. Character balance is significantly skewed. In an environment where almost any attack can KO, frail characters with fast attacks and projectiles have a massive advantage over characters whose main advantage is normally in power or survivability. For example, Sonic or Pit may be able to quickly strike their opponent before they can react, whereas Bowser or Ganondorf could have major problems trying to hit their opponent before they themselves are hit.
  3. As Sudden Death in (timed) Stock matches are based solely on the flat number of stocks remaining, it becomes a viable strategy for a player who is tied in stocks with their opponent but far behind in damage to intentionally stall out the clock until Sudden Death occurs, thus eliminating the percentage difference and giving themselves a chance to win within seconds. Players generally agree this is an unfair way to stage a comeback, allowing someone who is being clearly outplayed to win a match with a single weak blow. An infamous example of this occurring was in the grand finals set between ZeRo and Hungrybox at the Super Smash Bros. Invitational; the Invitational, while having standard competitive rules for its grand finals match, used Sudden Death to resolve a stock tie. ZeRo, being aware of this, intentionally camped out and avoided confrontation at the end of the match when Hungrybox took a significant percent lead on their last stock. With Hungrybox playing Kirby against ZeRo's much more agile Zero Suit Samus, he was unable to land a finishing blow before time ran out despite his significant percent lead, leading to Sudden Death where ZeRo then won by just being able to land a quick hit despite clearly losing the match beforehand.

Should Sudden Death occur in a tournament, the winner is declared by some other criteria depending on context. In the most common cause of the clock expiring while both players are tied in remaining stocks, the player with the lower damage percentage wins. In the rare event of both players having equal stock and damage, or if both players are simultaneously KO'd (on the same frame) on their last stock, the winner is determined through a one-stock rematch with the same characters on the same stage. Though this is such a rare occurrence that it sometimes never crosses the mind of tournament directors, which leads to panic when there is no rule in place when it inevitably does happen. If both players are KO'd at the same time due to a sacrificial KO, tournaments sometimes have a rule that declares the initiator the winner, instead of holding a one-stock rematch, though this ruling is rarely used by any tournaments in the post-Brawl era.



  • The crowd is silent during Sudden Death in all games (with the exception of SSB4).
  • Players can trigger Sudden Death in untimed stock matches by using sacrificial KOs with two players remaining (though in Smash 4 and Ultimate, attackers are KO'd first for most sacrificial KOs), or by having players stand on a falling horizontal platform that surpasses the lower blast line. In Smash 64, the player who has the highest controller port (closest to port 4) always wins, without matches even going to Sudden Death.
  • Oddly, ties will not result in Sudden Death in Melee if the game is run in debug mode. The game simply returns to the debug menu after the match.
  • In the original Super Smash Bros., if a player uses hacks to play as Master Hand and Sudden Death occurs, he will start with 0 HP instead of 300 HP and won't be able to attack.
  • The Bob-ombs that appear in Sudden Death will always appear over the stage from random points below the ceiling. Thus if a character(s) can suspend themselves above the upper blast line (for example, by using a ladder) or certain[citation needed] platforms, then they can avoid the Bob-ombs indefinitely.
  • In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, in a timed match with no score display, the player can actually determine if the match will go into Sudden Death or not. If it is, the damage meters for the fighters going in Sudden Death stay on the bottom screen; if not, they fade away. In addition, if a match is going to go into Sudden Death, the stereoscopic 3D will stay at full strength as the announcer calls "TIME!" If the match isn't going to Sudden Death, the 3D effect will dissipate, the background and foreground merging into a flat image before the screen breaks into the results section.
    • A similar thing can be done for the Wii U version: if going into Sudden Death, the match will still keep going at normal speed when the announcer calls "TIME!".
  • In early builds of Super Smash Bros. 4, Star KOs and Screen KOs still occurred during Sudden Death.
  • In Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Ultimate, if Sudden Death occurs in the Boxing Ring, then the scrolling LED panel and jumbotron will say "SUDDEN DEATH".
  • Rarely, a Bob-omb will not explode upon hitting a platform. This seems to happen when the bomb spawns a very short distance above the platform. The Bob-omb will sit there as usual, but then as soon as it gets up it will explode. However this was not the case in Brawl.
  • Melee, and the Spanish and German versions of Ultimate are the only game where the "Sudden Death" text is not displayed in all capital letters.
    • Similarly, the original Super Smash Bros. is the only game where the letters are not displayed in the flaming red letters; instead, the letters are a metallic gray.
  • In Ultimate, some songs (such as "MEGALOVANIA") will skip part of the intro if they are not upbeat. This is likely a stylistic choice to keep the music intense during Sudden Death. Additionally, the same thing occurs after a Stage Morph.