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Earn Your Bad Ending
"Many might go to heaven with half the labor they go to hell."
Ben Jonson

Many video games have Multiple Endings, and among those endings are often at least one where things go...less than favorably compared to the others. The general rule, though, is that these bad endings are a sign that the player screwed up somewhere down the line. Maybe they picked the wrong dialogue option at a crucial moment, or got to the end of the game without collecting enough MacGuffins. Either way, the game usually lets you know right then and there that you did it all wrong and it's time to try again.

Then there's the bad endings you have to put an extra amount of effort into getting, often separate from what you have to do to avoid it. In the most extreme cases they can actually be harder to get than any of the good endings. It might involve beating a boss you're not supposed to beat, or making counter-intuitive decisions. Whatever the case is, many of these types of endings won't be found by the average player unless they're actively trying to get them.

Compare Do Well, But Not Perfect and Unwinnable by Insanity. See also Earn Your Fun and Non-Standard Game Over. This trope is often an inversion of Path of Most Resistance.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Action Games 
  • In the first House of the Dead, getting the bad ending where Sophie returns as a zombie is even harder than getting the good ending where she's miraculously alive. This is doubly true on the PC version. The bad ending only occurs if your number of continues used ends in a 0 (for most people, this means they can't die at all to get the bad ending), while you get the good ending for scoring more than 62,000 points by the end of the game (which is fairly easy to do). What really makes the bad ending fall into this is that the good ending overrides the bad ending; thus, to see the bad ending, you need less than 62,000 points and to have a number of continues ending in 0.
  • In The Hunt rewards a well done one credit playthrough with such an ending — your submarine fails to escape the exploding base and perishes along with it. Finishing the game in multiplayer also results in disaster. The good ending is achieved if you saw the continue screen at least once AND end the game on single player.
  • While none of the endings in Spec Ops: The Line could be considered good, three of them come from the game's epilogue. The best ending happens if you surrender to the rescue squad, while the other two happen if you try to kill them instead. One happens if you die, and the ending in question happens if you manage to kill them all.
  • The endings in Necrovision get progressively darker as you play on higher difficulties. On easy difficulty, Simon actually escapes back to the real world. On medium difficulty, he allows himself to be turned into a demon general in exchange for 100 years of peace to give mankind time to prepare for the apocalypse. On hard difficulty, he kills the Big Bad and becomes the new King of Hell, ultimately deciding he no longer has anything in common with mere mortals and looking forward to taking over the world.
  • In Call of Juarez: The Cartel, the good ending is the default ending. To even have the option to pick the bad ending where you choose to kill your partners, thinking it's a necessary Shoot the Dog sacrifice but which turns out to be playing into the hands of the main villains, you need to score a certain level of character points by completing optional sub-objectives. Each playable character has a separate bad ending, and you need to unlock each one separately.

    Action-Adventure Games 
  • Collect all the hidden memories in Aquaria, and you get to see Naija taken away from her happy family life by her mother, who comes out of absolutely nowhere to Mind Rape and kidnap her daughter.
  • Though the bad ending of Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow is pretty easy to get, it unlocks Julius Mode, which is basically an extension of the bad ending revolving around Julius, Yoko, and Alucard teaming up to kill Soma after he becomes Dracula. Julius Mode is tough as nuts to complete.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fangame Super Filly Adventure, getting the worst ending requires you to see all possible dialogues for every character and have your computer clock set to a time between 11 pm and 6 am when you play the game.
  • In Luigi's Mansion, the mansion Luigi obtains at the end depends on how much money you obtained during the game; the more money you have, the better the mansion. The worst possible one is a mere tent, but it is even harder to obtain than the best mansion, as you deliberately have to avoid collecting any kind of money to get it.
  • A literal example in MediEvil 2 in which collecting all of the chalices results in the bleak Cliff Hanger ending where Sir Dan and his love interest are seemingly devoured by a monster.
  • In Deus Ex: Invisible War, all four endings have various shades of grey, but it's pretty clear that the Denton and Illuminati endings are the on the lighter side, while the Templar and Kill Em All endings are very dark indeed. The Denton and Illuminati endings are the easiest to achieve, with a minimum of violence/combat required (in fact, the Denton ending is the fastest one to obtain and the only one that can be done as a 100% Pacifist Run), while the Kill Em All ending is the darkest and requires the most effort to obtain, as you have to wipe out all 3 factions in combat.

    Adventure Games 
  • In Heavy Rain, you get the ultimate Achievement "Perfect Crime" for bringing about the situation where the good guys all perish and The Bad Guy Wins — which is accordingly hard.
  • the white chamber: Getting the worst ending requires your Karma Meter to be at zero when you complete the game. Since you start the game with one free karma point and there's only one specific action that will take away that point from you and five other actions that give you more karma points instead, this is trickier than it might sound. The good news is that you can always look at the chalkboard to check if you're on the right track.
    • Slightly less tricky is the joke ending that ends with everyone that Sarah killed revealing that they were just playing a prank on her. And then everyone dies anyway, which requires a maxed out Karma Meter.
  • The evil ending of A Tale Of Two Kingdoms is rather obvious if you think about it: rather than confront the princess with the murder evidence, confront the murderer and offer to join forces. However, he won't believe you unless your Honor score is zero, and doing that is rather difficult, requiring you to kill an NPC in a small timeframe in a hard-to-reach optional sidequest.
  • The darkest ending in the online game Where We Remain can only be achieved on the highest difficulty setting, and you need to continue to explore the caves even after you've found the girl you're looking for to get the power you need for it.

    Fighting Games 
  • Failing to save the chief in Streets of Rage 3 has the player deviate from the main storyline to stop the imposter chief, culminating in an extra boss fight against Shiva and the main characters arriving at a dead end as to Mr. X's whereabouts. This wouldn't be an example, except that Shiva is even harder than the final boss for the good ending!
  • In the story mode of BlazBlue, several of the "Bad Endings" (not that the canon endings, or even the gag reels, are always full of rainbows and sunshine) require the player to do some very specific or unintuitive things (for example, to get Tsubaki's, you have to finish off Carl, Jin, and Noel with either her Limit Break or her Finishing Move, causing her to go blind from overusing her weapon).

    Hack and Slash 
  • The first ending of Drakengard is bittersweet, but all the rest go from depressing to horrifying to worse-than-the-end-of-the-world. Each is progressively more difficult to unlock, too.
    • Its Spiritual Successor NieR is like this too. The first ending is bittersweet and the final ending requires you to delete your save file, symbolically erasing your character from the memory of everyone in the game.

    Platform Games 
  • In Braid, if you take the time to collect the eight secret stars, which are extremely difficult to get — one requires you to wait in a particular spot for two hours, another becomes Lost Forever if you don't obtain it before you complete a certain puzzle, and still another relies on near-perfect timing and reflexes — you get to see the ending where instead of merely having the princess run away from you, you make her explode. There's probably a message of the dangers of obsession somewhere in there.
  • In DuckTales, there's a bad ending that you will see by having exactly zero dollars' worth of treasure at the end of the game, which requires you to spend everything you get just by playing, and there are only so many ways to spend it (and obviously you can't spend money if you don't have enough, so you have to collect exactly the right amount).
  • In the Famicom version of Kid Icarus, you can have the end where Palutena turns Pit into a monster if you defeat Medusa without any life or arrow upgrades, no special weapons, and with a minimalist score. This, however, has been cut in the NES version.
  • The reward for finishing Deadlight on Nightmare difficulty is the alternative Downer Ending instead of the normal Bittersweet Ending.
  • Collecting all the secret items in Pause Ahead unlocks a Brutal Bonus Level you can access instead of fighting the final boss. Completing this area gives an ending that's far more depressing that the regular one, as it leads to a computerized screen were you learn that you've done exactly what you were supposed to do and were terminated, as opposed to escaping when you beat the final boss.
  • Ancient Powers plays this trope unusually. What may be the best ending of the game is the easiest to get; just leave after talking to Kalish, avoiding the first boss battle and accepting her death. The next ending is a bit ambiguous, as you get the soul key so you can sacrifice yourself to bring back the girl, but in the process you unleashed the evil demon Harold. If you defeat Harold, it is too late to bring the girl back, so you might have well not done anything at all.

    Puzzle Games 
  • Some Grow games have a secret "wrong" ending only available by doing everything in a unintuitive manner.
    • Galves Adventure, made by the same Grow creator, has a "devil" ending so obscure that many players don't even realize it exists. To get this ending, you have to notice that one inconspicious pebble is clickable and deliberately pick two specific "wrong" choice sequences for the red ball in a row to be able to hit the lion with it. If you do all of this right, you can then make a choice near the end of the game that would otherwise kill you.
  • Puzzle Quest: You have to release the necromancer at the beginning of the game, then at the end, follow the path the sword directs. At every turn in the path, you'll lose one of your good-aligned allies if you choose to go forwardnote . The ending implies that you (the player) will eventually become just as much of a threat as Lord Bane.note 
  • In Meteos, the only way to get the worst ending in Multi-Path is to allow an incredibly easy opponent to survive for a certain amount of time before defeat. This is complicated by the fact that the opponent can die without you doing anything to it.

    Role Playing Games 
  • In Mass Effect 2, you have to put at least as much effort into getting Shepard and the rest of the crew killed during the Suicide Mission as into getting the Golden Ending where Everybody Lives. As long as you bring two loyal squadmates with you to the final battle, they and Shepard will survive even if every other squadmate dies in action.
    • Mass Effect 3 escalates in this regard. Getting the lowest possible War Asset score requires planning and precision to make sure there are no loose ends. And then there's the "N7 Special Ops Team" asset, obtained through promoting characters in multiplayer (75 per promotion). Unless you're on the PC version of the game, there is no way to remove the asset, giving you a permanent boost in the war effort for better or worse.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica Portable there are ways of turning the main characters into witches in certain routes. Most notable is Homura's witch Homulilly, who you have to beat Walpurgisnacht under very specific conditions in order to see a screenshot of her.
  • In Final Fantasy X-2, it is possible to get the horrible ending of Shuyin winning and destroying Spira — you just have to wait half an hour to let Vegnagun fire.
  • Planescape: Torment handles death in an... unusual fashion; every time your player character dies, he comes back to life (both in-story and in terms of gameplay). There are, however, a few ways to get a Game Over, but most require doing something stupid. Some Torment fans make a point of finding every one. Some of the possible ways to lose the game for real:
    • Anger the Lady of Pain twice. (The first time, she just sends you to an extradimensional maze.) This one can also cause an Unwinnable by Mistake situation, depending on playstyle.
    • Agree to become king of the Dead Nations, which is extraordinarily unwise as the appointment is, well, for life. It is implied that the binding is magical as well.
    • Threaten Lothar, a magical priest of godlike power.
    • Get Marissa the medusa to remove the veil that prevents her from petrifying you.
    • Get Coaxmetal the iron golem to build you a weapon that will kill even an immortal, then use it on yourself in the final dungeon. (It won't work anywhere else.)
    • Fail to prevent one of your other incarnations from forcing you to merge with it.
    • Kill someone who has information that is essential to your quest (there are several such characters).
  • The Conquest ending of Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 requires going out of your way to triggernote , but involves brutally difficult boss fights against nearly all of your party members as Nepgear kills them to power up the Magic Sword. None of the death scenes are pleasant, either. After all this heartache, you face down the Big Bad, but don't actually fight them, as Nepgear has just achieved their goals for them and irreparably damaged the world in the process; see Cruel Twist Ending. While considered painful to play through on every level, getting this ending does reward you with a Game Breaker weapon for the main character on New Game+.
  • Some of the endings in Chrono Trigger qualify, given that most of them are nearly impossible to get without a New Game+.
  • The Seeking Mr. Eaten's Name quest in Fallen London requires the player to utterly destroy and ruin their character repeatedly, even as the game itself is telling them to stop.
  • The Accomplice Ending in Persona 4: Golden requires you to not only rise Adachi's Social Link to as high as possible before a specific date, but also choose a specific set of answers where even the villain doesn't believe how stupid you are for actually doing that.
  • The bad ending of Tales of Xillia 2 requires you to defeat the rest of the party in a battle using only Ludger. Anyone who knows how much of a pain fighting just one party member can be from playing the previous Tales series games will likely be horrified.
  • Getting the "Nobody" title (which is essentially the closest thing the game has to the bad ending) in Book Of Mages The Dark Times requires you to finish the game while never earning any other title along the way. This is harder than it sounds, as titles are awarded for extremely trivial achievements, including picking dialogue options at some points. It's basically impossible to stumble onto by chance; you basically have to be deliberately trying to earn it. To earn the title... 

    Simulation Games 
  • In the original Harvest Moon, you could get kicked off the farm at the one-year mark if you haven't developed it to a satisfactory degree. You pretty much have to do absolutely nothing on the farm for (in-game) weeks to let things deteriorate to that degree; basically waking up in the morning and either running around and wasting time or going right back to bed.
    • In Harvest Moon DS, marrying the Witch Princess can fall under this (depending on what what you call an "ending", given the game's Playable Epilogue nature), since you pretty much have to have Took a Level in Jerkass, In-Universe, to woo her: You have to litter, let animals sicken, let crops wilt, work yourself into a faint — all multiple times — to raise her Heart Level. Doing so will pretty much lower the affection levels of every other character in the game outside of the Witch Princess down to zero.
    • Also in HMDS, there's dropping a level 100 poison mushroom into the stew at the Harvest Festival. The Non-Standard Game Over implies you poisoned the entire town. Growing a level 100 ANYTHING takes a concerted effort, combined here with the farm expansions needed to get the mushroom grow set-up.
    • The "Divorce" endings from A Wonderful Life takes the same "effort" as the above examples, with the addition of being mean to your wife. She'll eventually leave and take your child with her. It was initially thought that Celia wouldn't divorce you, but determined players have found out it just takes a doubled effort — including shipping or buying NOTHING and plying her with gifts she despises.

    Stealth-Based Games 
  • In Oddworld games where saving creatures is part of the gameplay (Mudoken slaves in Abe's Oddysee and Exoddus, Fuzzles in Munch's Oddysee), there is a 'Black' ending in addition to the regular bad ending, which requires you to kill every creature except those whose survival is necessary to completing a puzzle.

    Strategy Games 
  • Although many of the endings in the Ogre Battle series can hardly be said to be "good" endings, it's safe to say that some bad endings are much harder to find than others. Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis is particularly infamous, as it takes a speed run to receive the secret ending, showing you set Golyat ablaze in the opening of the original Tactics Ogre.
  • Nippon Ichi games like the Disgaea series love to reward the player for winning Hopeless Boss Fights, though sometimes the reward comes in the form of a bad ending.
    • Disgaea 2 is the most extreme in this regard: to see the worst possible ending, you need to have at least 99 felonies on your main character, he needs to have at least 99 ally kills, and one of them needs to be the main heroine. You also need to defeat a level 2000 boss (the normal final boss is below level 100, by comparison). Unlock at your own risk, You Have Been Warned. Adell kills Rozalin (as Zenon), gets possessed, then brutally kills and devours Taro and Hanako.
    • The main storyline of Makai Kingdom won't throw anything higher than level 100 at you, assuming you head for the Good Ending. There are, however, three bad endings (defeat Salome in the past, resulting in death by paradox; let Salome die in her fight against Alex; and kill 60+ of your allies, resulting in Pram and Trenia deciding that you don't deserve to regain your true form. Either of these necessitate a significantly tougher than normal boss fight and gives you a New Game+. On the upside, the boss joins your army in the new game.
  • Super Robot Wars Alpha 3 had a hidden ending that could only be accessed on a New Game+. Said hidden ending... was Kill 'em All from Space Runaway Ideon and involved the Big Bad eventually corrupting Messiah. It's worth seeing at least once, but you have to go out of your way to get it.

    Survival Horror 
  • The Silent Hill games are famous for this. You have to go through a lot of trouble to get the extra endings, which vary from Downer Endings to the outright bizarre.
  • Haunting Ground has one bad ending (Fiona is captured and kept in the castle indefinitely by Riccardo). To trigger it, one must have the worst possible relationship level with Hewie (i.e. he utterly hates Fiona and attacks her on sight) immediately before you enter Chaos Forest. However, because Hewie is required for the area's main puzzle (the start of it anyway), you have to finish the puzzle with at least a neutral relationship with him (so he'll actually do the puzzle for you); then you have to halt your progress and attack or poison Hewie until his relationship hits rock bottom. Video Game Cruelty Potential indeed.
  • The Witch's House is unusual in that the major events remain the same no matter which ending you get. The difference is that the player becomes more aware of what is actually going on in the harder-to-get ending that reveals the events to be a lot more depressing than they appeared to be in the normal ending.
    • The newest version (1.07) includes a hidden third ending. To get it, you have to avoid entering the titular witch's house and instead wait for a real-life hour on the opening screen until the roses blocking your path disappear. So how can this be considered a 'bad' ending? Because if you read Ellen's diary after getting the true ending, you'll realize that this particular ending is basically Ellen biding her sweet time until Viola dies inside the house from the severe injuries Ellen inflicted on her swapped body and can no longer prevent Ellen from taking her place forever...although at least she doesn't get shot by her own father in this ending.
  • Corpse Party Zero has an unlockable scenario which is called 'the final nightmare'. In order to access it, the player must first see all the other Bad Endings. Once that's done, you discover that this last scenario involves Shiho teaming up with Kaori and actually fighting the evil spirit responsible for all the horror, followed by a desperate race to escape in time. Unusual in that not only does it require far more effort, but it looks like a Golden Ending up until the final shot reveals none of it was real.
  • Ib has "Welcome to the World of Guertena" and "A Painting's Demise", the two bad endings added with update 1.04, are probably the hardest to get. To get either one of them, you have to raise Garry's doom counter by damaging artworks in the gallery, have a low friendship count with Garry, and fail the doll room event. Doing this alone gets you "A Painting's Demise", which features Mary trying to escape the gallery on her own and getting killed by the other paintings. To get "Welcome to the World of Guertena", you have to do all of the previous things and also have a high friendship count with Mary. For all this work, you get Mary deciding to stay with Ib, the first friend she's ever had, and throwing a party to celebrate Ib and Garry staying with her. Oh yeah, and Ib and Garry both look kind of insane and/or dead.
  • Resident Evil has multiple endings, ranging from the best ending, an OK ending, and a bad ending. Getting the bad ending is more tricky than it sounds since you have to beat the game without any of your partners surviving. It's quite easy to not rescue the other Player Character (they are captured and are in a jail cell in the laboratory) since you can just ignore them and continue as normal, but your tag-along partner can't be killed by you directly; you have to cause their death indirectly. In Jill's scenario, when she meets Barry in the underground passage, you have to answer Barry's questions in a certain way in order to set up his death later on where he succumbs to his wounds from off screen injuries. In Chris' scenario, Rebecca can be killed by a Hunter, but you have to go to a specific room in the return trip to the mansion in order to trigger the scene and then let the Hunter kill her. Getting the bad ending shows that only you survived the ordeal and Umbrella's mansion still stands while the Tyrant's shadow is seen on the ground.
    • The remake still keeps Chris' situation with Rebecca the same, but getting Barry killed in order to set up for the bad ending is easier. When Jill steals Barry's gun and questions his motives, Lisa appears and Barry will demand his gun back. Answer no and you get to watch Lisa smack Barry off the edge and into the abyss below.
      • Barry can still get smacked off the edge during the boss fight, even if you give him the gun back. (The same can happen to Wesker if you're playing as Chris, but he shrugs it off and still shows up in the finale.)
  • The normal ending of Slender: The Arrival is abrupt and ambiguous. Finishing the game on hardcore adds an extra scene which seems to make it very clear your character does not survive. The Steam version of the game has an altogether different extended ending, although it's equally as dark.

    Visual Novels 
  • One of the bad endings of Fate/stay night requires you to make a number of deliberate bad choices. Lampshaded in the Tiger Dojo for that ending, where it's pointed out that you must have been looking for this ending. If You're Wondering... 
  • Tsukihime also has an ending that's less "triggered" and more "the game falls back on it when you evade the triggers for everything else". Even the devs needed a flowchart to find it.
  • Katawa Shoujo: Emi's Bad End requires at least two wrong choices out of the three plot-relevant ones, and most of the time you'll only see two of these choices. Shizune's bad ending only requires one wrong choice, but it's also the only choice in the entire path and the "bad" option is fairly obvious, so most people only get this ending (or the good ending) intentionally.
  • The Divorce and Walking in Darkness endings from Magical Diary. Walking in Darkness requires you to complete almost all of Damien's route and then make two specific choices near the end. Divorce requires you to marry Grabiner (which can be hard enough on its own), make him angry at you, and then get detentions on two specific days.
  • To get the "Grim Fate" ending of Cinders, you need to make such a huge number of bad choices that you'll most likely only get this ending by screwing up deliberately. To be precise 
  • Danganronpa has one of these in the fifth trial. Naegi catches on that, for once, Kirigiri is lying during the trial, and has the option to either call her out on it and prove that she's lying, or keep quiet, in which case Naegi ends up taking the fall for the murder and is sent off to be executed. Despite what the obvious choice seems to be, proving that Kirigiri is lying instead sends the player to the bad ending, where Kirigiri is executed and everyone stays in the Academy forever.
  • School Days is so infamous for its bloody, over-the-top Bad Ends that the Anime of the Game based its ending on them. However, you won't see them unless you go out of your way to make the protagonist act like a two-timing jerk to both of his main Love Interests.
  • All bad endings in DRAMAtical Murder require you to choose certain wrong answers to get the bad endings. Some of the answers are fairly vague in which ending they'll lead to, but a couple you very obviously have to try and get wrong. Particularly Ren'snote .
  • In Fantasia: Realm of Thanos, you need to do very careful manipulation of the boys' Relationship Values to get the worst ending in which the protagonist completely fails to make any boy interested in her. To get into specifics, the game is coded so that you get the worst ending only if exactly three boys have the same number of relationship points (the game prompts you to choose between them if it's just two of them and gives you the harem ending if it's all four of them, no matter how high/low their relationship values actually are), which means that you can keep Leon and Ian's affection for you at the absolute minimum and still fail to get the worst ending because you caused Gil and Oswald's affection to become even lower than theirs and triggered the "choose between two boys" scenario instead. Hell, you probably won't realize that there even is a "Worst Ending" unless you cheat and look at the game code.
  • In CLANNAD, one particular bad joke end where you end up with Sunohara can only be achieved by getting to know and then eventually rejecting every one of the main girls, as it ends with Tomoyo angrily claiming that you must be gay to have treated all these beautiful girls like that. This, naturally, takes way more effort than just not getting to know any of the girls or romancing just one.
  • In Aoi Shiro, the bad endings aren't particularly difficult to get - in fact, due to Trial-and-Error Gameplay, you're almost certain to get a few before you reach a good end by finishing a route - but it fits here simply because there are so many bad endings. In all, there are fifty-six possible endings, of which only a handful are actually good endings. Combined with the fact that the endings are often rather long and plotty, and that some even contain information you wouldn't learn just from playing the good endings, and it shouldn't be surprising that there are walkthroughs that show how to get certain bad ends.

Dialogue TreeVisual Novel TropesEvent Flag
Dump Them AllEnding TropesEarn Your Happy Ending
Dynamic LoadingVideogame TropesElaborate Equals Effective

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