->''"If you're playing this game to win you're doing it wrong."''

A video game that is impossible to "win". You just keep going and going until you are killed. The best you can hope for is a place on the HighScores screen. This was actually the standard before completable games were developed and migrated from [=PCs=] to home consoles.

In arcade games, this is a fairly obvious design choice. Once someone "beats" the game, they'll stop putting quarters into it, won't they?

Some of these are technically winnable, but when you win, you are then returned to the start, whereupon you continue playing. Many have an unintentional KillScreen, which are often a mark of honor to get to, but still ultimately result in death.

If there are enemies to destroy, [[MooksButNoBosses don't expect any boss fight]], since there can only be a limited number of bosses, and these games never end.

Contrast {{Unwinnable}}, where the game is supposed to be winnable in the first place (but is not, either because of [[UnwinnableByMistake bugs]] or because [[UnwinnableByDesign the player made an irreversible mistake]]).

If the game "loops," but does have an ending or some sort of closure, it's a case of HardModeFiller. If the gameplay gradually gets faster and faster to keep the player on their toes, that's DifficultyByAcceleration.

Compare certain WideOpenSandbox games, where there are simply no winning conditions and the player can continue as long as he or she likes.

Note that this trope applies to most [[UsefulNotes/TheGoldenAgeOfVideoGames golden age]] arcade games because of the need for the game to be over in order for other people to play. However, specific examples follow:

* EndlessRunningGame has its own page.


[[folder:Action Adventure]]
* ''[[VideoGame/CriticalMass1995 Critical Mass]]''. The four factions are locked in an unwinnable war, so your character keeps doing missions until he is killed.
* Both ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamCity'' and ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamKnight'' have endless combat challenges. Your goal is to get certain score by beating up mooks, who keep becoming harder, but if you have enough skill, you can potentially play them indefinitely.

[[folder:Action Games]]
* ''VideoGame/BubbleTrouble'', a 1990s game for the Mac. If you pass level 50, it constantly presents random levels as levels 51+ until you run out of lives. And if you get past 99, it just keeps presenting more Level 99s.
* Survival mode (arguably the "proper" game mode) in the PC game ''VideoGame/{{Crimsonland}}'' has the player character being endlessly assaulted from all sides by zombies, aliens, giant spiders, and more. There literally is no way to win.
* In the arcade game based on the movie ''VideoGame/IndianaJonesAndTheTempleOfDoom'', after crossing the rope bridge, you end up in the "Challenge Round," a kind of eternal bonus room where you have to find the sacred statue. When you finally lay hand on the golden statue, you only get a lump of bonus points and the statue continuously reappears at another random location for some more bonus points. You just go around the level like this ad infinitum.
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfKage''. You've saved the princess, only to have her captured again, and you get booted back to the start, where the season has changed and the difficulty has increased. Repeat until the machine inevitably wins. It's unlikely you'll even finish one loop of the game, as TheComputerIsACheatingBastard.
** The NES version, however, has an ending, as there are about 3 to 4 bosses to face after each time you saved the princess, and then it's REALLY over. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1zlmer_0ZY However...]]
* The North Pole and Moon levels in ''VideoGame/MrDriller W'' (easy and hard, respectively).
* ''VideoGame/PacMan'' and its sequels, though once you've seen all the cut-scenes, you've seen all the "story" has to offer. You might count a "win" as reaching level 256, where the game [[KillScreen barfs all over the place]] and overwrites half the stage with garbage data, destroying the dots over there and making the level impossible to clear. You're still only getting out by losing all your lives, however.
** [[http://www.i-mockery.com/minimocks/pacman/ I'M GONNA BEAT PACMAN!]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Qix}}''.
* ''VideoGame/SolomonsKeep'' will allow the player to go through "Gauntlet" mode if they finish the game on [[HarderThanHard Demigod]] difficulty without using [[NoFairCheating Kid Mode]]. Gauntlet difficulty is similar to Demigod, except that [[PermaDeath death is now permanent]], and if you beat it, you go through it again and again until you die.
** The prequel, ''Solomon's Boneyard'', is always this -- the intent is for the player to collect gold for power-ups in order to last longer and earn a higher score in the next play.
* ''VideoGame/BurgerTime'' just keeps looping through the same stages, and the enemies eventually get ridiculously fast. Averted in ''Super [=BurgerTime=]'', which ends after World 5.
* ''VideoGame/TheSentinel'' has ten thousand levels, and after beating them all, the player is given the first level again, without fanfare. The director of the sequel ''Sentinel Returns'' called up the developer of the original to complain and got a "classic Crammond" response:
-->'''Geoff Crammond''': "You finished it? I never thought anyone would be so stupid..."
* ''[[http://disney.go.com/wreck-it-ralph/#/fixitfelix Fix-It Felix Jr.]]'', the {{defictionaliz|ation}}ed video game from ''Disney/WreckItRalph'', has a cutscene that plays after a set number of floors are cleared in which Felix is awarded with a medal and Ralph is thrown off the building. Then the next level begins and Ralph starts wrecking the building again.
* Creator/{{Sega}}'s UsefulNotes/ArcadeGame ''Quartet'' anticlimactically loops back to the starting level after Stage 32. The UsefulNotes/SegaMasterSystem version, by contrast, has a FinalBoss and an ending.
* ''VideoGame/DevilWorld'' keeps repeating the same stages over and over again. Eventually the level counter overflows and begins again from zero.
* ''VideoGame/HeiankyoAlien'', like most early arcade games, contains nothing resembling an ending, with the arcade version looping after the ninth level. The GameBoy remake, however, has an ending sequence after its twelfth level.
* ''VideoGame/CarriesOrderUp'' normally has a finite end, but you can unlock Endless Mode, which turns the game into this.
* ''VideoGame/MiniMixMayhem'' is an infinite MobilePhoneGame where your score is based off of the time you last without losing all your lives.

[[folder:Adventure Games]]
* The hard mode of ''[[http://www.bradthegame.com Brad the Game]]'', unlockable by finishing the regular game.
* ''VideoGame/TheStanleyParable'', although it may be quite different from other endless games, since there '''are''' about 19 endings you can achieve. However, it won't be hard for you to realize that the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end...

[[folder:Beat 'Em Ups]]
* ''VideoGame/KungFuMaster'' for the arcade and NES ends the fifth level with Thomas and Sylvia reunited, only to be told that "their happiness does not continue long," implying that Sylvia just gets kidnapped again. The game then restarts.
* While the arcade version of ''VideoGame/{{Renegade}}'' plays this straight, the NES version averts it. Oddly enough, the arcade version actually has something resembling an ending, with Mr. K reuniting with his girlfriend after the fourth stage, while the NES version simply skips to the end credits (the Japanese version of both games had endings).

[[folder:Driving Games]]
* ''BumpNJump'' (arcade): after level 8, levels 4-8 loop indefinitely.
* The original arcade ''VideoGame/SpyHunter'' and its ports.
* Zone races in the ''VideoGame/{{Wipeout}}'' series. [[DifficultyByAcceleration Your speed increases slowly and gradually]], and the only way out is to crash.
* Subverted with the arcade driving game ''S.T.U.N. Runner's Ultimate Challenge''. [[UnwinnableByDesign It is supposed to be completely unwinnable]], mainly because it serves as one of the high-score boards, but it is possible to make it past all 132793 feet of track. The factory default best distance? 65184 feet - less than half the distance of the course. The game actually has a handler for this exceedingly rare possibility to prevent a crash, which includes a specific sample not heard anywhere else in the game.
* Atari's ''APB'' deserves a special mention because virtually nobody ever ''knew'' that it was endless. The ultimate objective was to arrest 15 dangerous criminals, each of which looked different and drove a different vehicle. The levels got harder as you went, and you could continue for as long as your tokens held out. It looked for all the world that if you played long enough, there would eventually be a triumphant victory screen, or at least an acknowledgement of your prowess before the game looped. Nope and nope.
* In ''VideoGame/AntarcticAdventure'', it's no surprise that the game repeats after 10 stages, since the game's between-stage display shows how the path loops around Antarctica. However, the sequel ''Penguin Adventure'' had MultipleEndings.
* What's your reward when you beat Level 5 on the original ''VideoGame/RoadRash'' game on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis? You get to play Level 5 again! And again... and again... forever. The same goes for ''Road Rash III: Tour de Force''. ''Road Rash II'' actually has an ending after level 5, which is [[spoiler: [[KillScreen the game crashing]]]].

[[folder:Edutainment Games]]
* ''Word Munchers'', ''VideoGame/NumberMunchers'', and ''Fraction Munchers''. On Level 19, the troggles move faster. Nobody has lasted long enough to see if the same thing happens on Level 37. UrbanLegendOfZelda goes that people have lasted past level 100.

[[folder:Fighting Games]]
* [[MultiMookMelee Endless Melee/Brawl]] from ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros.''
** Same with Cruel Melee/Brawl, [[NintendoHard in freakin Spades!]]
* ''VideoGame/YieArKungFu'' repeats its ten stages endlessly, with no discernible shift in difficulty unless player fatigue counts.
* Survival Mode in the ''VideoGame/{{Tekken}}'' games. Each time you win a fight, you gain a little bit of your health back and move on to the next round, which is a little bit harder than the last. Lather, rinse, repeat, until you are inevitably defeated.
** By extension, most fighters include a Survival Mode.
* ''VideoGame/SoulCalibur 2'''s Conquest Mode in the arcade version. You pick one of four armies, you help them conquer the world, 8 rounds at a time. Once all the enemies are out of the way, the world is yours! And then what happens? [[ViciousCycle A civil war breaks out and splits the victorious army into four factions!]] [[ForegoneConclusion Always.]]
* ''[[VideoGame/BlazBlueContinuumShift BlazBlue Continuum Shift: Extend]]'' has the level 4 Abyss dungeon, which goes on for 99,999 floors. Even getting to floor 2,000 is a challenge with the right abilities, for comparison.

[[folder:First Person Shooter]]
* ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty: World at War'''s VideoGame/NaziZombies mode. If you manage to get past ten waves, the bloody tally in the corner switches to a number in a simple sans-serif font. It's rumored that the game does eventually end (in a crash!) once you hit an [[{{Cap}} overflow number]] for rounds e.g. 128, 256, 65536, and so on.
** {{Averted}} with ''Mob of the dead'' and ''Origins'' where completing the EasterEgg end the game.
** ''Call of Duty: VideoGame/ModernWarfare 3'' adds a Survival mode that plays much like Nazi Zombies, but with live, bullet-shooting Russians instead of zombies. Like the above, it goes on forever until a player dies.
* The April 2009 update for ''VideoGame/Left4Dead'' added Survival Mode, which is [[SuperFunHappyThingOfDoom Exactly What It Doesn't Say On The Tin]].
* ''VideoGame/HaloReach'''s PlayableEpilogue. The objective is to "survive"(as long as possible). As Noble Six takes damage, his/her visor is progressively cracked and dinged, and the HUD indicators start to fail. When damaged enough, the game switches to a cutscene where s/he discards the helmet and a squad of Elites delivers the coup de grace, shown from the helmet cam's perspective.
* ''VideoGame/TowerOfGuns''' [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Endless mode]] which restarts at the first floor with increased difficulty everytime you finish the final level.

[[folder:Four X]]
* ''VideoGame/SwordOfTheStars'' has Progression Wars, in which you keep on jumping galaxies trying to survive an enemy that gets more and more difficult.
* ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}}'' has victory conditions, but continues on endlessly if you decide to play just ... one ... more ... turn ...
** ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}} Revolution'' avoids this by giving specific winning conditions that, even if you feel the need to specifically avoid them, some one will eventually accomplish, no matter how long it takes.
** Technically, most versions of Civilization have an ending year, with the game ending (and victory awarded to the highest-scoring civilization) if nobody has beaten the game by that point. You'll still be given an option to keep playing; the game just stops tracking score and / or victory conditions.
*** And to make it truly Endless, some versions allow you to turn the victory conditions off completely.

[[folder:Miscellaneous Games]]
* Many of the games on ''VideoGame/Action52'' loop around to the first level upon "completion" while keeping track of your score. Most of the others, infamously, crash a few levels in. Only a few have a clearly-defined ending.
** ''Ooze'' crashes on level 3 of the more common version of the cartridge, but does have an actual ending on the rarer second version (wonder if anyone actually entered this contest).
** ''Non Human'' resets itself at a certain point in level 1 which does not look anything like the end.
** ''Spread Fire'' seems to be the only game that does this intentionally, presenting every level after the 19th as Level 1.
* ''VideoGame/MarioPaint'''s fly-swatter game.
* The third ''VideoGame/LunaGame'' does this, after a fashion. After a certain point, the only way to progress forward is to allow yourself to fall into a pit [[spoiler: and die]]. If you avoid the pits, the forest just goes on forever, simply offering pit after pit to fall into.
* ''VideoGame/{{Tutankham}}'' loops after 16 stages, most of which are HardModeFiller.
* ''JezzBall'' continues for as long as you don't die, but after level 49 (50 balls), all the rest have just 50 balls.
* Type [[{{VideoGame/Starcraft}} "Zerg Rush"]] in Website/{{Google}} and you'll get to play a game where you must defend your search results against a bunch of O's. There's too many of them, and they'll eventually defeat you.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Drol}}'', after finishing three missions, you get a victory screen accompanied by a message saying something like: [[TheEndOrIsIt "You did it! But is it really over?"]] This repeats every round until the level counter eventually rolls over.
* The Interactive Fiction game ''Endless, Nameless'' has a past InUniverse example. In this game, there are two worlds-inside the game, and outside the game-and the inside game used to called Endless Quest before the creator of it added an ending and renamed it Nameless Quest.
* ''VideoGame/WreckingCrew'' loops back to the first level after the BonusStage following the hundredth level.
* Puzzle platformer ''Steak 'n' Jake'' has thirty challenge levels, thirty "milk races" and three randomly-generated levels per named stage (a regular level, a boss level and a "balloon break" level). After it runs out of named levels, it repeats unnamed regular and boss levels, balloon breaks and two of the challenge levels for as long as you care to play.
* ''VideoGame/DuckHunt'' keeps on going until you either reach the KillScreen at Level 100, or you miss enough ducks for a GameOver and have to endure [[TheScrappy the dog]] laughing at you. Again.

* Most [=MMORPGs=] could be said to fall into the trope, but especially the greatest MMO of all time, ''VideoGame/ProgressQuest''!
** ''VideoGame/{{Runescape}}'' plays with this trope. When all skill levels are maxed out and released quests are completed (which takes years), [[http://www.webcitation.org/5krwN5Aiv a message appears]]: "You have completed the game! GO OUTSIDE! ~Love, Jagex"
* A number of flash games on {{Website/Neopets}} follow this, but scoring well on the high-score tables nets you a [[CosmeticAward permanent trophy]]. One game, called ''[[HopelessBossFight Neverending Boss Battle]]'', somewhat {{Lampshades}} this fact by stating outright that you have no chance to actually win.

[[folder:Platform Games]]
* [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] by a UsefulNotes/PlayStation3 commercial featuring a "completionist" asking Advertising/KevinButler about what to do when finished playing ''VideoGame/LittleBigPlanet''. As advertised, due to the absurdly vast stream of user-created levels, you are physically incapable of finishing the game.
** In the story mode, there are also Survival Challenges that end when you die, playing this more traditionally.
* ''VideoGame/DonkeyKong'', for the most part, though it's notable as being the first game with a true storyline with an ending, even if viewing it doesn't end the game. There appears to be an ending when you manage to save Pauline from the titular ape, but when that's done the game just restarts at a higher difficulty level (and in the American arcade version, with extra levels) so that you can further increase your score until you run out of lives. At iteration 22 (which very very few people have reached), an overflow occurs which causes the time bonus, which is also a [[TimedMission death timer]], to start at a mere 400[[note]]that's its effective value; its displayed value is just all over the place[[/note]], which is far from enough to complete the level. This is the so-called "kill screen".
* The Arcade mode of ''[[http://colourfire.nfshost.com ColourFire]]'', in the vein of classic arcade games, only ends when the player dies; enemies just get stronger and spawn more quickly as time goes on. The latter has a limit, but the former doesn't.
* ''VideoGame/LodeRunner'' originally had 150 levels; level 151 was level 1 with faster enemies, and so on. Particularly Hang On mode in the 25th Anniversary UsefulNotes/XboxLiveArcade release.
* ''VideoGame/MegaMan9'' and ''VideoGame/MegaMan10''[='=]s Endless Attack.
** {{Game Mod}}s have made similar stages for ''VideoGame/MegaMan2'', ''VideoGame/MegaMan3'', ''VideoGame/MegaMan4'', and ''VideoGame/MegaMan5''.
* In ''VideoGame/WarioWare'', the first time you play a character's stage, you win once you beat the first boss microgame. After that, it just continues on endlessly, getting faster and more difficult, until you lose all your lives, so all you can do is aim for the high score. Of course, there are rewards for getting a high enough score...
* Every game in Nintendo's UsefulNotes/GameAndWatch line of LCD handhelds from the 80s falls into this. While some later games like ''VideoGame/DonkeyKong'' and ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZelda Zelda]]'' have definite endings, [[HardModeFiller they just repeat a little faster]] until you run out of lives.
* ''VideoGame/DoorDoor'', at least the Famicom version, loops back to level 1 upon clearing level 50.
* ''Cliffed'', an iOS game where you footrace down a bottomless cliff [[AutoScrollingLevel that autoscrolls]] [[RatchetScrolling and scrolls down freely when you get to that point, but prevents you from scrolling up.]] [[OneHitKill The invisible ceiling also kills you,]] with the GameOver message saying "You got [[TitleDrop Cliffed!]]" You also can't jump.
* ''VideoGame/SmurfRescueInGargamelsCastle'' for the UsefulNotes/{{Atari 2600}} and the UsefulNotes/ColecoVision: Each time you reach Smurfette, you get sent right back to the Smurf Village to start over.
* ''VideoGame/{{Ponpoko}}'' only has 20 "patterns," and the 20th one just repeats after you beat it.
* ''VideoGame/EverybodyEdits'' has as many levels as the players make. Even if one somehow beats every level made, it may as well have doubled in the time taken.
* In ''VideoGame/WoahDave'', the only way to end a game is running out of lives, and the primary goal is collecting as many pennies as possible.
* ''VideoGame/{{Germination}}'': One of the game modes

[[folder:Puzzle Games]]
* ''VideoGame/DrMario''. Depending, of course, on the mode.
* ''VideoGame/PipeDream''. Although, sometimes a level would be impossible to win, because the start was surrounded by blocks.
* ''VideoGame/{{Tetris}}'' (certain modes).
** [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetris#Possibility_of_indefinite_gameplay It has actually been shown]] that, assuming the version of Tetris in question has a (reasonably) unbiased RNG, the endless mode of the game cannot be played "forever." The right sequence of S- and Z-shaped blocks forces the player to leave a hole in one corner, then the opposite corner, and so on; this is an infinite sequence, so if the probability distribution is truly uniform, the probability of hitting it eventually is 1. Official Tetris games' random number generators thus follow [[http://tetris.wikia.com/wiki/Random_Generator a specific algorithm]] that prevents such unlikely events from ever occurring.
*** The odds of your next piece being the first in the so-called "kill sequence" are about one in "more than the number of atoms in the universe" against. So while it is eventually going to kill you, the universe's heat death is more likely to occur.
** Completing B-Type mode of ''Tetris'' for Game Boy at level 9 and height 5 would show various Nintendo characters dancing to "Trepak" from ''The Nutcracker'', followed by a Buran shuttle launch.
** In Justin Taylor's short story "Tetris" (in the collection ''Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever'', the answer is the end of the universe. (Or at least the world.)
** "Kill sequence" aside, the original NES ''Tetris'' becomes impossible without slow motion at Level 29, due to the increased speed making it impossible to get a piece to the extreme left or right of the column and the comparatively slow auto-repeat for the left and right keys common in ''Tetris'' games of the day. But people playing in extreme slow-mo can continue: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76DAwK3cL9w
** Averted with the ''VideoGame/TetrisTheGrandMaster'' series, which end in all modes after reaching a level[[note]]in ''TGM'', levels are handled differently from other ''Tetris'' games; it goes up by 1 for each piece dropped, and every line cleared also adds levels. To prevent the player from simply dropping pieces to victory, advancing to the next section of 100 levels requires clearing a line to advance the level counter to the next section.[[/note]] target (usually 999) or, if playing Sakura mode in ''TGM 3'', clearing all stages and whatever [[BrutalBonusLevel EX stages]] the player earned.
** Versions with [[http://harddrop.com/wiki/Infinity "infinite spin"]] (which prevents a piece from locking into place when the rotate buttons are hit quickly) can be played nigh-infinitely assuming the player has the focus to keep using the technique.
*** And with the right version of ''Tetris'', and no increase in drop speed, it's possible to [[http://harddrop.com/wiki/Playing_forever play forever]].
** ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWTFG3J1CP8 A Complete History Of The Soviet Union Through The Eyes Of A Humble Worker, Arranged To The Melody Of Tetris]]'', by Music/PigWithTheFaceOfABoy, uses this as a metaphor for how [[FullCircleRevolution even through a hundred years and two revolutions]], [[RussianGuySuffersMost things never seems to get any better for the Russians]].
** In Tetris DS, it's technically possible to keep playing forever in endless mode... but after level 99/999 lines, it stops increasing counting your lines or increasing your score, making continuing to play pretty pointless.
* ''VideoGame/{{Meteos}}'' becomes this if no opponents are added to a game. It also has a mode called "Deluge" that is this exactly, complete with a high-score screen.
* ''VideoGame/{{Columns}}'', much like the aforementioned ''Tetris''.
* The survival mode of ''[[VideoGame/CriticalMass2011 Critical Mass]]''.
* ''VideoGame/{{Slydris}}'', in both the Survival and Infinite modes. You keep going until you hit the top of the screen and die.
* ''VideoGame/SuperHexagon'' credits you with completing a level if you survive for 60 seconds, but your high score is always simply how long you last.
* ''Cubis'' and ''Cubis 2'' each have 50 levels per level pack, but once you complete level 50, the levels repeat; level 51 is identical to level 1, but with less time on the [[TimedMission timer]], level 52 is identical to level 2, etc.
* ''Dynomite'' had this for two of its game modes. The Fossil Challenge had a defined end, and Time Trial mode gave you one level intended to be completed in the shortest time possible (and, in fact, was impossible to ''lose''), but [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Endless Mode]] kept spawning more eggs from the top of the screen until you lost, either by carelessness, bad luck, or the game becoming essentially {{Unwinnable}} due to there being too many egg colors moving at too great a speed, and Stomped mode was like the Cubis example above: there were 30 levels, but after that, level 31 was identical to level 1 except that it would take one less egg to make the level shift down, and so on.

[[folder:Real Time Strategy]]
* This is the final Protoss level of ''VideoGame/StarCraftII: Wings of Liberty'' in a nutshell. To get the bonus achievement you have to hold on long enough against Hybrid-led Zerg for the Protoss archive building to finish recording the sum knowledge of Protoss civilization, after which it buries itself in the ground and becomes indestructible. After that, your objective is simply to fight until every last warrior at your disposal is dead.
* The alien fleets in ''Videogame/{{Rymdkapsel}}'' keep coming faster and getting bigger, but your defenses are capped by the amount of minerals on the field to mine. By about round 30 you're just trying to hold out as long as possible.

* Most Roguelikes, by design, will continually produce new floors every time you go down a level. The original ''VideoGame/{{Rogue}}'', in fact, could get to a ridiculously high floor count as long as your defense was high enough - [[GoodBadBugs wielding your food as a weapon could one-shot most enemies well past the intended "limit" of the game]].
* ''VideoGame/DwarfFortress'' has absolutely no win parameters; you simply play until your fortress dies out for whatever reason, or the action grinds to a standstill because your computer's processing power can't keep up with the ever-increasing number of dwarfs/cats/water/magma/etc, or you get bored.
** Same for adventure. You have no way to win, so the best you can hope for is to get a character that will be firmly placed in history as the slaughterer of many figures. Aside from that you really cannot do much to "win".
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfMajEyal'' brings in an unlockable Infinite Dungeon campaign, which is [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin just that]] - a dungeon consisting of an infinite number of levels, with tougher and higher-leveled monsters on each subsequent floor. The player is not subject to the level cap as well (contrary to the standard campaign, where player level caps at 50).
* ''VideoGame/TheBindingOfIsaac'':
** Entering BASEMENT as a seed in ''Rebirth'' will cause the Basement to loop over and over, forever. Playing it long enough will cause the player to become ''very'' powerful. ''Afterbirth'' inadvertently made the game beatable in this mode, however, as using the Sacrifice Rooms enough will warp the player to the Dark Room, which is one of the final levels
** ''Afterbirth+'' introduces the ability to perform a Victory Lap after beating The Lamb, which restarts the game with almost all of items obtained in the previous run. This can be done indefinitely, the difficulty increasing each time. Doing a Victory Lap 3 times in a row unlocks a NewGamePlus mode.

[[folder:Role-Playing Games]]
* ''[=ShadowKeep=]'' for the PC was an interesting variation: you ''could'' win the game and defeat the Shadow King. However, once you did, the game wouldn't end. You had to actually ''quit the game'' to end it--and get chided for being a coward and a knave.
* The appropriately named Eternal Corridor from ''VideoGame/JadeCocoon'' just keeps going and steadily increasing the level and number of enemies and bosses. According to the manual there ''is'' an end to the corridor, but that was just the developers [[TrollingCreator being dicks]].
** Some players report the game crashing at corridor 1000. (And you cannot save in the corridor). Others report corridor 1000 repeating itself. Maybe it varies depending on region of the game.
* ''VideoGame/AntiIdleTheGame'':
** In the Arcade: ''Pong Survival'' and ''Ultimate Avoidance'' last until you miss twice. ''Triangle Count'' lasts until you are off by more than one on a wave. ''Balance 3'' runs until any of the three pillars hits the bottom of the screen or you top out any of them.
** The Spooky Crypt raid in ''Battle Arena'' runs until you get killed, unlike the rest of the raids, which have "fulfill this condition within a [[TimedMission time limit]]" and "do as much of this thing as you can until time runs out" as victory conditions. It's one of the few areas [[AntiFrustrationFeatures not to take away your rings or EXP if you die without a means of nullifying the death penalty]].
---> "Defeat monsters until [[LastSecondWordSwap th]]--[[FailureIsTheOnlyOption YOU]] die!"

[[folder:Shoot 'Em Ups]]
* A great many vertical scrolling {{Shoot Em Up}}s do this, including ''VideoGame/TigerHeli'', ''VideoGame/{{Truxton}}'', ''VideoGame/TerraCresta'', ''VideoGame/FireShark'' etc.
** Even moreso if you count shooters that loop back to the first stage with increased difficulty, such as the ''VideoGame/{{Gradius}}'' series.
* The arcade version of ''VideoGame/{{Commando}}'', while having more unique levels than the NES version, infinitely repeats after level eight, while the NES version, with only 4 unique stages, ends after the fourth loop, with a BlindIdiotTranslation AWinnerIsYou screen.
* ''VideoGame/CrystalQuest'' theoretically has an ending after level 256, at which point it asks for your name and then sends you back to wave 1 with no points. However, the game is so NintendoHard that ''no one has actually beaten the original game''.
* ''VideoGame/GeometryWars'', in all its forms. Running ''Grid Wars'' without a graphics card (which means slower performance, which means an easier game) is only good for buying a couple of minutes.
* ''VideoGame/MissileCommand''. The only way to avoid [[ItsAWonderfulFailure THE END]] is not to play.
* The old, good, addictive game ''{{Prohibition}}'' used the "return to start" variant, with your [[TimedMission death timer]] going faster. If anybody ever managed to survive the second run, please say so.
** The good part is, some versions stored the HighScores on the game floppy, rather than just in RAM.
* ''VideoGame/SpaceInvaders''.
* ''VideoGame/{{Xevious}}''. Absurdly, the tagline for this game (at least in Nintendo's VC description) is, "Are you devious enough to beat Xevious?" Later Xevious games, such as ''Xevious: Fardraut Saga'', ''Xevious: Fardraut Densetsu'', ''Xevious Arrangement'', ''Solvalou'', ''Xevious 3D/G'', ''Super Xevious: GAMP no Nazo'', and ''Xevious Resurrection'', do have endings.
* ''VideoGame/{{Tempest}}'' (arcade): if you get past level 98 (which is actually a repeat of level 82), you're stuck on "level 99" until you lose all your lives. (However, if you re-enter the level - whether by clearing it, or by losing a life - the shape changes to a random choice from the 16 shapes available.)
* ''VideoGame/TwinCobra'' arcade version: After level 10 (which is nearly impossible to get to without credit-feeding, and levels 6-10 are mainly HardModeFiller), the game loops back to level 1 with faster bullets and enemies. Averted with the NES and Genesis versions.
* ''VideoGame/{{Tyrian}}'' has several arcade modes (most of them hidden) which use the "loop back to the beginning" approach to making the game endless.
** Two of the bonus games available in story mode are endless. One occurs at the end of episode 1 and the other is one of the two that can show up at the end of episode 4.
** The bonus EasterEgg game, ''Destruct'' (which is a homage to ''VideoGame/ScorchedEarth'', but played in real-time), pits you against the computer on an endless series of random landscapes. The game ends when you decide to quit.
* The BulletHell shooter ''VideoGame/WarningForever'' consists of [[BossRush boss fight after boss fight]], with each new boss adapting to what defeated it in the last round, until you run out of lives.
** It seems like they have a set progression right up until that weak spot you hit last time now has shields and extra turrets on it...
* ''Warblade'' is very definitely this.
** Levels are arranged into sets of four: The first two are normal, the third one has {{Giant Mook}}s in adition to the normal enemies, and the fourth is either a bonus level (get all the enemies before they leave the screen to get an increasing bonus) or a kamikaze level (enemies fly into the level and then fly out. They fire even more than normal, and give small bonuses).
** After six of these sets of levels, there will be a boss level. Levels [=XX25=], [=XX50=], [=XX75=], and [=XX00=] are like this.
** After four of these 25-level blocks, level 101-200 are the same as levels 1-100 but with the enemy formations flipped horizontally.
** 201-300 are the same as 1-100 but with a small but noticeable speed increase. 301-400 are the same as 201-300 but flipped horizontally, 401-500 is a bit faster again, and so on and so forth forever. The games at the top of the highscore list have levels in the thousands [[PinballScoring and scores in the tens of billions]]. Nobody has gotten anywhere near to 10000 levels, though, so it's unknown what happens when the 4-digit level counter breaks.
* The NES version of ''VideoGame/LegendaryWings'' loops back to the first level with a higher difficulty on completion, but the arcade version displays the standard GameOver screen after the [[AWinnerIsYou ending text]].
* Survival Mode in ''VideoGame/HeavyWeapon'' is like this. The PC version's survival mode ends when you lose a life, while the UsefulNotes/XBox360 remake gives you three lives.
** The remake also has multiplayer modes Arms Race and War Party, the first of which gives each player three lives, while War Party gives you infinite lives and a respawn timer- the game ends when there are no surviving players on the screen.
* ''VideoGame/{{Eschatos}}'' has Endless difficulty, in which every time you clear the game, you start over at a higher difficulty level.

[[folder:Simulation Games]]
* There are two schools of thought about ''VideoGame/AnimalCrossing'' series. One side thinks ''AC'' is a typical WideOpenSandbox example: the player can never win but can't lose either. The other side claims aversion, citing hints from the shopkeeper in the opening cut scenes that the player "wins" with a fully paid-off mortgage and a perfect town, and the rest of the game is a PlayableEpilogue.
* Will Wright's ''VideoGame/SimSeries'' games.
** Essentially any game with Will Wright's name attached to it is endless. There are two notable exceptions: in ''VideoGame/SimCity 2000'', covering the entire city with Launch Arcologies would make them, well, ''launch'' into space, thus effectively ending the game (no population left). In ''VideoGame/{{Spore}}'', the Space Age has a number of different goals, including collecting various medals, finding the treasure at the center of the galaxy, and controlling the entire galaxy. Although all the goals will take an ''extremely'' long time to complete, once they are completed, the Space game is essentially over.
** And ''VideoGame/SimAnt'', if you manage to wipe out all opposition in the yard and the house. The homeowners give up and sell the house, abandoning it to the ants.
*** However, experimental mode is endless, but also has no objective.
** The lack of win conditions in ''VideoGame/SimCity'' is why Will Wright referred to the program as a "software toy" rather than as a "game". But there is "scenario" mode, in which the player is provided with a city that has a problem, and a time limit after which the city is either fits the "win" condition for the scenario or not.
*** Realistically there was a period of 5ish years where all the various Sim games (and there were an unbelievable amount) had win conditions. Games before and after were all sandboxes though.
*** In ''VideoGame/SimCity 2000'' at least, accomplishing the "win condition" only means that you don't get thrown out of office and can continue playing indefintely. You don't even get AWinnerIsYou.
** In ''VideoGame/SimEarth'', getting your intelligent species to achieve Exodus (all the world's cities take off in giant city-spaceships, returning your planet to the Evolution phase) counts as a "win", although you can still keep playing and try to raise another species through the Evolution, Civilization, Technology and Exodus stages.
*** Eventually though, the sun will expand into a red giant and then you're really done.
** ''SimFarm'' also had a win condition, though you could continue to play afterward.
** ''SimIsle'' had numerous victory conditions, even in the sandbox maps, though figuring out how to achieve them was a headache.
** The Portable versions of ''VideoGame/TheSimsBustinOut'' and ''VideoGame/TheUrbz: Sims in the City'' have their own stories composed of objectives within missions within chapters, but like always, you can keep playing after you've finished them all.
** ''VideoGame/SimTower'' has reaching TOWER status (i.e., the one above five stars) as a victory condition of sorts, although again, you can keep playing. At least TOWER status gives you a nice wedding at the cathedral (on the ''100th floor'') that you can use as a convenient "the game is now over" point.
** ''VideoGame/TheSimsMedieval'' has Kingdom Ambitions, but once you beat them you can keep playing in the kingdom, and a free-play mode opens up once you beat the first ambition. It does a better job of pretending ''not'' to be an Endless Game than [[VideoGame/TheSims the original]], though.
* [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] in the UsefulNotes/{{Intellivision}} game ''Space Spartans'', in which it's actually part of the plot: "In 480 B.C. a small Spartan force held off Xerxes and the entire Persian army, in the famous Battle of Thermopylae. The Spartans chose to die defending the pass into Greece, to give their allies time to prepare for attack. SPACE SPARTANS reenacts this battle in space, in a heroic adventure that pits you against overwhelming alien odds. You are the elite force. Stop the first alien onslaught and a new alien force appears. Hold the aliens back as long as you can and give your home galaxy time to prepare for attack!"
* ''VideoGame/TransportTycoon'', being a simulation game in the ''VideoGame/SimCity'' vein, does have an "ending" wherein 100 years after the game begins, your company is given a rating and possibly posted on the high score list. You do get to keep playing after this. In the earlier versions, once you reach the year 2070, the year would repeat; ''VideoGame/OpenTTD'' doesn't have this limit.
* ''VideoGame/TraumaCenter'':
** A certain mission in ''Trauma Center: Under The Knife 2'' goes on forever unless you use a special move to end it. Otherwise, you're just racking up points until the patient dies.
** All the missions in ''Trauma Center'' are timed. The ones that aren't don't have patients that die.
* A staple of the ''VideoGame/AnnoDomini'' games. There are also scenarios and a campaign.
* Currently it's impossible win in survival mode in ''VideoGame/DinoSystem'', one can only play until either dying or quitting. Although it's also impossible to "win" in god mode, one can't lost either so the trope doesn't apply to it.
* ''VideoGame/{{Reigns}}'' uses this as an ending in and of itself. While you have plenty of years to figure out how to achieve your main goal, it's entirely possible to run out of time, and the Spirit of the Fallen informs you of this. However, you can choose to ignore this and continue playing as long as you like, until you're ready to try it again from the top.
* ''VideoGame/MiniMetro'' keeps running until any station in your subway network stays over capacity for too long. Endless mode removes this sole defeat condition, allowing you to play as long as you want no matter your skill level, instead scoring you based on how efficiently you complete passengers' rides.

[[folder:Sports Games]]
* ''VideoGame/SkiFree'' never ends. You just keep skiing until a hyper yeti charges in and swallows you whole. It's possible to evade it by entering Fast Mode with the F key, in which case the course will just loop around. The yeti know neither fear nor defeat, however, and will hound you for the rest of your days.
* The ''VideoGame/PunchOut'' remake for Wii. It doesn't matter how good you are at the game; you WILL lose eventually, resulting in the game's DownerEnding. It's possible to beat "Mac's Last Stand"; but after that, it goes into "Champion" mode, in which any fighter (including Glass Joe) can knock you down with just one punch (a reference to the NES game's "Dream Fight" mode where you fight Mike Tyson/Mr. Dream). It keeps going this way until you mess up. There is no "good" ending. To add injury to insult, the file you were using is listed as "retired" afterwards. You can still access it, but you can only play the game's exhibition mode. The game's career mode can never be played again with that file. You have several save slots, but still.
* ''VideoGame/FootballManager'': The player character manager will never die. So you can play until you get bored or you die in real life.

[[folder:Survival Horror]]
* ''{{VideoGame/Lasting}}'', There is no end to the game, you are tasked with collecting the disks and avoiding the sinister force, only when you are caught does the game end.
* ''VideoGame/SevenDaysToDie'' is currently in this state, due to lack of any story and no FinalDeath.
* In ''VideoGame/TheDarkMeadow'', if you manage to defeat the final boss, you get a choice of three cool ending sequences and the ability to reawaken. You can repeat this sequence of events as long as you want.
* ''VideoGame/SpookysHouseOfJumpScares'' has this mode as DownloadableContent.
* Each movie in ''VideoGame/LakeviewCabinCollection'' features an alternate title you unlock after beating that episode for the first time. III's alternate, [[TitleOfTheDead Lake of the Dead]], is a LastStand against endless waves of zombies, while IV's ''Treasure of the Redneck Vampires'' is about trying to steal as much gold as possible before your party's wiped out.

[[folder:Third Person Shooter]]
* The "Dead Man Walking" mode in ''VideoGame/MaxPayne2TheFallOfMaxPayne''.

[[folder:Tower Defense]]
* Many TowerDefense games are designed that they are in the beginning cakewalks, towards the middle challenges, later-on challenges that required foresight to handle, and in conclusion impossible. Usually, games such as these possess a fixed growth rate for the enemy's health per level, and/or towers that stop getting stronger or become too costly to upgrade. Some games avert this loss by having fixed missions or a certain number of levels.
* ''VideoGame/MondayNightCombat'' (a TowerDefense game at its core) features two Endless Blitzes (Blitz being the solo/cooperative mode of the game). Sudden Death Blitz literally had endless waves of robots trying to attack your Money Ball, and you and / or your friends simply held out for as long as you could. But when players displayed strategies that allowed them to hold out for hours (until either boredom or the bad luck of a string of boss waves got you), the creators added a ''Super'' Sudden Death Blitz on a specialized map. The rules were the same, but the enemy robots came in much stronger numbers and more strategic patterns and the map was less in your favor.
* ''VideoGame/PlantsVsZombies'': Vasebreaker and I, Zombie have Endless modes, but Survival Endless is the best known due to its ''sheer relentlessness''. The point isn't to win, it's to hold off losing long enough to earn bragging rights.

[[folder:Turn-Based Strategy]]
* The classic computer game ''VideoGame/CrushCrumbleAndChomp''. The only way to end the game is to (eventually) get killed by the humans.
* Some campaigns in ''VideoGame/BattleForWesnoth'' has scenarios where your only objective is stated to be surviving for as long as possible... which technically isn't this trope. Then we have the scenarios with unlimited enemy reinforcements and turns. The only "official" (meaning that it comes with the game) campaign that does this, [[spoiler:Descent Into Darkness]], even hangs a lampshade on it:
-->[[spoiler:Mal Keshar]]: Is there an endless supply of foolish heroes with death wishes? Honestly, where do you all come from?

[[folder:Wide Open Sandbox]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Minecraft}}'' is this, although a [[http://www.minecraftforum.net/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=43677&sid=a4427aa4ada1868bf8a25a2b28edf68e certain thread]] on the Minecraft forum would [[CalvinBall suggest otherwise]].
** As of 1.0, Minecraft has an end! As of the official release, it has a new area known as "The End," home of the Enderman and the Enderdragon. If you manage to [[NintendoHard defeat the]] [[ThatOneBoss Enderdragon]], then you get TheEnd credits! You still get to keep playing after that, but it is the canon ending at this point. Granted, the end doesn't do anything besides giving the credits and access to End stone and an easy source of obsidian.
* On a very similar vein, ''VideoGame/DontStarve''. The game keeps on going until you die or use the Wooden Thing, which [[NewGamePlus takes you to a freshly-generated world with your inventory items intact.]] An official ending is currently in the works through Adventure Mode, though.
* In ''VideoGame/TheLongDark'', there is no ending. You just keep playing until your character starves. Or freezes. Or dies of sickness. Or runs out of water. Or gets torn to shreds by a [[SavageWolves wolf]] or a [[BearsAreBadNews bear]]. You ''will'' die, and ''[[FinalDeath all deaths are final]]''. You get achievements for surviving certain lengths of in-game time. How long can you fight off [[TitleDrop the long dark]]?


[[folder:Other Games]]
* The browser game ''VideoGame/CookieClicker'' has no defined end condition; one can continue playing virtually indefinitely, building more and more buildings to increase the scope of one's cookie empire. In version 1.036, there was a KillScreen when one reached 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 cookies, and said condition was effectively unreachable without hacking. Of course, as of fall 2015, the game barely starts at that point.
* Various gambling/casino video games have no end and you just keep playing until you lose all of your money or turn the game off once you got bored.

!!Non-video game examples:

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'': Most editions of the game allow the characters to continue playing, if not endlessly at least far longer than any group could ever hope to maintain. In 3rd edition, the rules scaled infinitely (though balance becomes an issue, combats take longer, and adventures are harder and harder to prepare so in practice most [=DMs=] draw the game to a close and start over.) The point of the game is the experience and working your way through a shared adventure.
** While all editions encouraged a beginning, middle, and end to their games, 4th edition is the first to have actual rules for ending the game. When the characters reach 30th level, they achieve their "Epic Destiny." This could be anything from ascending to minor god status, to fading into the shadows becoming a mover and shaker unseen. But the point is you won, you pick up a new sheet and start again.
** The old "colored box" games also had a definitive ending -- characters who become immortal, rise to become rulers of the universe, give it up to become mortal again, become immortal ''again'' and rise to become rulers of the universe ''again'' are recruited into the [[EldritchAbomination Old Ones]]. Um, yay?
* Some games, like ''Dread'' and ''Polaris'', have an ending built into the rules that will happen sooner rather than later. Most do not, and a campaign can go on for as long as the GM and players remain able and interested.

* Referenced in [[http://www.ernestcline.com/spokenword/ Ernest Cline's]] monologue "When I Was A Kid": "...and there were no multiple levels, there was just one screen... forever. And it just kept getting faster and harder until you died. Just like ''life''."

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', the game Strategema could turn into one if neither side can gain a winning advantage. Data uses this fact in order to defeat a person who beat him in a normal version of the game.[[note]]Data did so by deliberately not seeking to win, but to prolong the game until his opponent [[RageQuit resigned in frustration]].[[/note]]
--> Data: In the strictest sense, I did not win...I busted him up.
* ''Series/{{Jeopardy}}'': Until 2003, Jeopardy! champions could win up to 5 games before being retired. Starting in the 2003-04 season, the producers instituted a "sky's the limit" rule, where champions could go on and on winning until being defeated, perfectly exemplified by Ken Jennings' [[GoneHorriblyRight 74-game winning streak that lasted into the next season]].

[[folder: Webcomics]]
* In ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'', this is what happens in SBURB when you get a Void session. If [[OffTheRails nobody puts anything into the kernelsprites]], then the battlefield doesn't completely form and there's no endgame. That said, it's possible for a Void session to break out of this if another session interferes with it, causing things to get really weird.

* The UrExample may be {{pinball}}. You keep going till you run out of balls (lives) and the only reward for playing well is [[BraggingRightsReward bragging rights]]... not unlike VideoGames, really. But there have been a few exceptions:
** ''Pinball/FlipperFootball'' simulated a soccer game and ended when the clock ran out of time.
** ''Pinball/SafeCracker'' ends when the player reaches the vault and gets a collectible token.
** The unreleased ''Pinball/GoldenCue'' was an attempt to be a goal-based game, ending when the player met all of its objectives.
** ''VideoGame/GoldenLogres'' end when all quests have been completed.