Deletion As Punishment

You know what the best thing about video games is? The freedom to do whatever you want. You're not necessarily bound to perform the task the game gives you; nothing's stopping you from repeatedly playing that particular minigame over and over again, spending hours fighting irrelevant monsters or even getting yourself into some mischief. While most games attempt to deter you from committing heinous acts by punishing your character in various ways, for some players, it isn't enough. So what if the punishment ends up being that you lost some money, disbarred from a particular location, or even the game straight up killing you? You can regain that money, wait out your sentence, and just restart your game—really, it's no big deal. Even if the punishment were to go further than that, it's nothing a little Save Scumming can't fix, right?

Well, what if the game had the ability to take that away as well?

Here is the last resort of a video game to set you straight: Threaten to delete your save data. It's most likely to catch even the most unaffected player's attention, as this particular punishment violates the secure barrier between game and player. Sure, it seems like a cardinal sin a game designer would put upon a player to actually go that far, but still—the player brought it upon himself.

This trope specifically applies to games that actually have (or fakes) the capacity to erase its own save data (save actually going through the game options and deleting the data through there) as a result of the player's in-game actions.

A lot of games likely won't follow through with it, but would you, the player, actually take that chance?

Compare Final Death Mode, where any death deletes your file, instead of a specific condition.


  • In Nier, to get the final ending where Kaine is saved, Nier must choose to have his existence erased, including everyone's memories of him. If you do choose this, the game erases all of your save data, and doesn't even allow you to choose the same name if you start a new game. It does give you three or four "Are You Sure You Want to Do That?" warnings, first and asks you to input the name you gave him in the beginning, though.
  • The Alf game has a trap item that shows the game's backstory and then resets your game if you use it, although it's not sure if this is intentional or just major Idiot Programming in action; the judging from the quality of the rest of the game suggests the latter option, but the taunting message you get after using said item suggests the former.
  • An NPC in Oracle Of Seasons really hates people who destroy signposts. This being a Zelda game, by the time you talk to him you've probably slaughtered signposts by the dozen, and he responds by sending the game back to the start screen (possibly giving the player a heart attack)... then it goes back to normal and you get a ring for it.
  • The Resettis from Animal Crossing will show up to lecture you if you don't save your game properly before quitting and even threaten to delete your save file. They can't actually do it.
  • One Sanity Effect in Eternal Darkness makes it look like you've just accidentally deleted all your saves.
  • Early versions of An Untitled Story would delete save files whose data didn't correspond to their checksum. This was basically meant to prevent players from tampering with the save files.
  • In Banjo-Kazooie, Bottles threatens to delete your save file if you talk to him too many times after claiming to know all of the game's basic moves. Gruntilda actually does erase your save if you overuse certain cheat codes.
  • In The Stinger of Kid Icarus: Uprising, Hades pretends to erase your save file after telling you that the game is over.
  • Fail to eject in time during a mission in Steel Battalion? Kiss your save file goodbye!
  • Present in Earthbound as the final routine in the game's well-known Copy Protection. If you make it to the final boss, the game hangs. Resetting the game reveals that your saves are erased.
  • Shows up in Gunstar Heroes as the consequence to failing a certain Advancing Wall of Doom section, but only in the Japanese version. It's a bluff, however.
  • Joke programming language Vigil deletes parts of "misbehaving" source code.
  • The website Write or Die has a mode that deletes your work if you don't write quickly enough.
  • LHX Attack Chopper has one save file. If you die your savegame is deleted. Even when you abort the mission in enemy territory, there's a chance that you can be killed trying to escape or just plain wind up missing in action.
  • In Undertale:
    • After defeating Asgore for the first time, a major plot twist happens and you're forced to restart the game. When you do, the first thing you see is a save point... and interacting with it causes Flowey, now hopped up on the six human SOULs to erase it right in front of your eyes, saying: "Oh, and forget about escaping to your old SAVE FILE. It's gone FOREVER." He gives it back when you defeat him, though.
    • At the end of a Genocide run, the first human shows up and destroys the game. Starting it back up yields a blank screen. After you wait several minutes, the first human shows up and lets you back in, but at a price.