Player Death Is Dramatic
"Snake! What's going on?! Snake!? SNAAAAAAAKE!!!"
Otacon, Metal Gear Solid

Anytime the player character is killed in a video game, Critical Existence Failure is sure to manifest. Sometimes, the player character just flops dead like a rag-doll or jumps out of the screen. Other times, they explode (normally if they're a robot, but in chunky salsa if they're not), or the enemies start Beating A Dead Player.

We're not talking about those. We're talking about when the death of the player character is treated with some actual drama, as the player themselves would, and sees it as a tragic happening. It does so by conveying to the player that the player character is truly defeated, and that the game cannot go on without them. How this manifests itself varies, in some early video games, everything except the player would disappear and be replaced by a black void, removing all distractions from the character's corpse. In more modern games, all entities that are not the player (enemies, bosses, NPCs, etc.) would freeze in place as the player character dies. Dramatic Spotlight may be involved if the work is being showy. Due to the nature of this trope, it's very rare for The Many Deaths of You to apply, but if it does, expect all death scenes to have something in common, even if it's Yet Another Stupid Death.

It's worth mentioning that the player character doesn't necessarily need to die for this trope to come into play, any type of failure can apply, as long as it's Played for Drama. If the rest of the game world keeps going on despite the player character dying, then it's not an example.

This isn't to be confused with It's a Wonderful Failure, as that is for dramatic failure in specific circumstances, while this encompasses dying in normal circumstances during game play. Contrast Have a Nice Death.


  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Every 2D Metroid game after Super Metroid did this. When Samus takes her last hit, she freezes in place & the entire screen turns black, except for her.
  • Final Fantasy VI: If the party is defeated, the lead party member is seen disappointed in the middle of the screen against a black background.
  • Crash Bandicoot (1996): Several of Crash's death animations involve him dying against a black background. Though it's mostly Played for Laughs.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Starting with the first Solid game, Mission Control characters who you speak with on the Codec will become alarmed if Snake dies. Otacon provides the page quote.
  • Rogue Legacy: Every time you die, everything disappears into a black void except for your character, who has a Hollywood Heart Attack and collapses, their spirit departing from their body. Complete with Dramatic Spotlight.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: Non video game example: When Gideon kills Scott in their first round, he falls to the ground and collapses. Everything except for Scott fades to black, and "DEAD" is written in chalk as Gideon taunts him.
  • Undertale: During battle, the human's SOUL is visible when fighting monsters. If the human's HP hits 0, then all monsters on screen, along with the entire interface, vanish. Only the human's SOUL remains visible before cracking, and promptly shattering into pieces, signifying the human has died.
  • Yandere Simulator: Another rare 3D game doing this, if anything happens to Yan-Chan or Senpai that makes it impossible for them to be in a relationship, then a heartbroken Yan-Chan is seen against a black background as everything else disappears.
    Yandere Chan: "I can never face my Senpai again..."
  • Paper Mario 64 has Mario spin in place and collapse when his HP reaches zero, followed by showing him in a black void hunched over in exhaustion with a spotlight on him as Game Over is spelled out on the screen. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has a similar Game Over screen, only with Mario's unconscious body sprawled out on the ground as the curtains on stage come to a close.
  • Earthbound has Ness in a black void with a spotlight over him if he and his friends are defeated in battle. MOTHER 3 does the same thing, only with the lead character collapsed on the ground instead.