[[quoteright:279:[[Webcomic/{{XKCD}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/hell_2688.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:279:Nobody has won. Nobody ever will.]]
An Unwinnable Joke Game is a game that has a clear win condition, but this condition cannot be reached, and this is intentional on the part of the designer. These are almost always meant as a joke.

Compare UnwinnableByMistake, where the game cannot be won because of a design flaw, UnwinnableByDesign which is a serious game that is designed so that certain circumstances will render it unwinnable, as well as EndlessGame and WideOpenSandbox, which don't have a win condition in the first place, and UnwinnableTrainingSimulation if it's meant as a practice run.

Certain gambling machines may fall under this trope, but most countries have laws against slot machines that never actually allow you to win the jackpot.
----
!!For example:
* ''[[http://www.beepboopbitcoin.com/ Beep Boop Bitcoin]]'' presents itself as an IdleGame where you mine as many UsefulNotes/{{Bitcoin}}s as possible and make money off them. It only presents a means to obtain Bitcoin, but not a way to change it back unto normal dollars: The trading exchange has delays sending out payments, the bitcoin investment is a {{Ponzi}}, and when you manage to get Bitcoins from your miner, it catches fire and causes your house to burn down. There is a "victory condition" after that, but...
* The infamous ''Scary Maze Game'' is an online prank where your goal is to manuever your way through a maze, but the third level is impossible to beat as, when you get to a certain point in the third level, a close-up image of Regan from ''Film/TheExorcist'' [[JumpScare pops up and screams]]. Though if you can manage to not jump like crazy, you can still make it to the end.
* In ''Videogame/SteamshovelHarry'', the Earth will be destroyed by a missile in ten minutes, and only you can stop it! [[spoiler:The tutorial is far longer than that, causing you to lose immediately afterwards.]]
* ''[[http://www.homestarrunner.com/kingio.swf Super Kingio Bros]]'' on ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'' is a version of ''VideoGame/SuperMarioBros'' with the King of Town replacing Mario. Unfortunately, he can't jump high enough to pass the first [[TheGoomba Goomba]], so it's probably just as well that you don't actually get the three lives shown.
* ''[[http://rpgmaker.net/games/3339/ Zephyr Skies: The Winter Sage]]'' starts out as a typical RPG, but then it glitches and turns into playing tetris/matching up pictures. It may actually be winnable in terms of getting perfect score, but the results don't change and the game repeats in an infinite loop.
* Most RemarGames have a highest difficulty level called "Reallyjoel's Dad" that is completely impossible. Examples include ''Videogame/HeroCore'', ''Videogame/{{Iji}}'', and ''Videogame/HyperPrincessPitch''.
** Completely impossible for anyone but [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfM3vtVlCTw Reallyjoel's Dad himself]], that is.
* The creators of ''VideoGame/TheRoomTheGame'' released what appeared to be the equivalent for ''Film/TheHungerGames''... on April 1st. It becomes a test to see how many times a player can take one of Clove's throwing knives to the head before giving up.
* Every single ''LunaGame''.
* The InteractiveFiction ''VideoGame/{{Suspended}}'' becomes this if you play on [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Impossible]] mode, where the sun goes nova in two turns.
* Likewise, ''VideoGame/PennAndTellersSmokeAndMirrors'' has its own Impossible Mode, where Lou Reed appears and kills the duo, then tells the player, "Impossible doesn't mean very difficult. Very difficult is winning the Nobel Prize; impossible is eating the Sun."
* In ''Castle Smurfenstein'', a hacked version of the original Apple II ''CastleWolfenstein'', the game was deliberately modified so that it's impossible to get past the first level.
* I-Mockery's [[http://www.i-mockery.com/minimocks/tetris-charity/ Tetris: Charity Edition]]. The intro screen promises that I-Mockery will donate money to charity for every player that clears 20 lines or more in A-Type mode (no such promises for RType [[CrowningMomentOfFunny mode]]). However, once you breach the 15-line mark, NES characters fall instead of Tetris blocks. They... can't fit together in any line-clearing fashion. Then the game's ending chastizes you for not even being able to clear twenty measly lines. Truly, one of I-Mockery's cruelest AprilFoolsDay jokes of all time.
** Its RType mode is equally unbeatable, since the AdvancingWallOfDoom eventually moves too fast for you to destroy quick enough.
** It's still possible to sneak in a Tetris after you clear line 16, if an I piece is next, clearing 20 lines total. However, you still do not advance to level 3, as the game refuses to recognize that last cleared line, and sticks the counter at 19.
* A recurring Minigame in ''TheSimpsons'' video games, "Larry The Looter", is completely unwinnable. Immediately after looting the electronics store (the only store it's possible to loot), [[ShopliftAndDie Larry is gunned down by the angry store owner.]]
* Pippin Barr's games are usually more like critical commentary than actual games, and "[[http://www.pippinbarr.com/games/zorba/Zorba.html Zorba]]" is no exception; you can't win, because the computer-controlled character will never make a mistake.
* A non-game version appears in this [[UsefulNotes/AmericanPoliticalSystem Democratic Party]] [[http://www.romneytaxplan.com/ web ad]], which presents a {{big red button}} to "GET THE DETAILS" about Republican candidate Mitt Romney's tax plan. The button dodges away whenever the cursor approaches it, as a visual metaphor for the ad's accusation of evasiveness.
** It's actually possible to press the button by using the keyboard, but it doesn't do anything anyway.
* ''PumpItUp'' has a few charts that are not meant to be possible. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56OH01szz-I Bee (Another) (Nightmare)]] is one such example, in addition to using the arrows to spell out developer names. Ditto [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKh2jmTcaLI RAW]].
** Similarly, some ''VideoGame/{{Stepmania}}'' charts that were clearly made as jokes are so insane, '''[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4C2FhJ2sBA even the autoplay fails.]]'''
* There exist several [[GameMaker Danmakufu]] troll scripts. These troll scripts usually combine Unwinnable Joke Game with StylisticSuck because the patterns wouldn't be very good even if the difficulty were reasonable. [[http://www.bulletforge.org/u/aienbear123/p/miserable-illusion/v/2 This]] is a nice example.
* On AprilFoolsDay 2011, the Trophy Maker in ''KingdomOfLoathing'' sold a [[CosmeticAward trophy]] to players for having less than 10,000 meat in their inventory. The trophy was only available to players who ''currently'' fulfilled the condition. Trophies cost 10,000 meat to purchase, and the meat can only come from the player's inventory.
* ''Segway of the Dead'', a game by the creators of ''RoadOfTheDead'', was presented as the latter game's sequel. Just one problem: no matter how fast you get the segway going, you cannot possibly break through the crowd of zombies. Never trust a game that comes out on April Fool's Day. ([[TrollingCreator The creators later put out a video of]] [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQJ3L88i05Y the angriest reviews Segway of the Dead got.]])
* ''VideoGame/{{Warcraft}} II'' includes a joke custom map in which the player only controls a single peasant surrounded by dozens of AI enemy controlled units. Predictedly, it ends with a defeat after a couple of seconds. The unwinnable status of the mission is even lampshaded in its file name ("Suicide") and ingame description ("If you win, you're ''Warcraft'' god" or something like that).
** It is possible to win it if you can enter the invincibility cheat quickly enough.

!!Fictional Examples
* ''Webcomic/{{xkcd}}'' has [[http://xkcd.com/724/ a strip]] about ''VideoGame/{{Tetris}}''. Predictably, someone on the internet [[http://www.kongregate.com/games/banthar/hell-tetris made a game]] like that. And some managed [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reFPscApObs to score lines in it]].
* An in-universe example appears in the BritCom ''Mr. Don and Mr. George''. The two title characters are shown playing a board game, which George is winning by declaring a series of increasingly bizarre moves. It is then revealed that Don never gets ''any'' moves, and the game is called "George, You're Simply the Best."
* In ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' there's a board game called Snakes and Foxes, which is usually played by children who haven't realized that it's impossible to win without cheating. In-universe the game is a reference to [[TheFairFolk the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn]] if you enter their land through the Tower of Ghenjei you cannot escape without violating the treaty against using [[KillItWithFire fire]], [[ColdIron iron]] or [[MagicMusic music]], and even then it's very hard. [[spoiler:Olver somehow wins the game when Mat, Thom and Noal rescue Moiraine from the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn.]]
** The game is never described in much detail, just that it's a circular board with a web of lines across it, some of which restrict movement to one direction. There are ten Snakes and ten Foxes, represented by small discs with wavy lines or triangles, respectively. The player, represented by a black disc, begins in the center of the web, and the objective is to have the player reach the outside of the web and then return to the center. Each disc moves in turn, based on a roll of a (presumably six-sided) die, and the Snakes and Foxes may only move by the shortest possible route toward the nearest player. Unless there's some quirk to the board design or rules that is never explained to the reader, it doesn't sound 'impossible' to win, just [[MillionToOneChance obscenely unlikely]]. [[spoiler:In essence, you have to have [[BornLucky Mat's luck]] to pull it off.]]
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Rugrats}}'', Stu, Drew, and company go to a minature golf course, and are promised free games if they get a hole-in-one on the final hole, the Ice Cream Mountain. However, this is impossible, as unintentionally revealed by the kids, who sneak into the inside of Ice Cream Mountain (under the impression that actual ice cream to find exists in it) and remove the paper cover that blocks balls going into the mountain from exiting through the chute that results in a hole-in-one. As a result, they end up accidentally [[ForegoneVictory inverting this trope]], causing every player's ball to go into the hole for holes-in-one, much to the dismay of the course owner.
----