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Unwinnable
"Ethel, I think we’re fighting a losing game!"
Lucy, I Love Lucy

'Unwinnable' is a gameplay state in which, while the game has not yet ended, it is completely impossible for the player to finish the game. Players who have reached this point have only two options: reload a previous save—in the fortunate situations where this is possible, or start the game anew—for the much more unfortunate situations where it is not.

Unwinnable comes in four flavors:

Examples go on the subtropes above.

Compare Luck-Based Mission and Controllable Helplessness, as well as Endless Game. See also Wake-Up Call Boss. Contrast the Lord British Postulate, when a game that's Unwinnable by Design may be winnable by mistake.


Sequence BreakingError IndexUnwinnable by Mistake
Thriving Ghost TownIdiot Programming IndexUnwinnable by Mistake
Violation of Common SenseFake DifficultyUnwinnable by Design
Unintentional Period PieceIndex FailureUnwinnable by Design

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