Follow TV Tropes


Black Comedy / Video Games

Go To

  • Portal antagonist GLaDOS has a strong streak of black comedy. In fact, the entire world in which the game takes place is constructed of this. Portal 2 and its promotional material ups the ante by showing a behind the scenes look at the insanity that is Aperture Science — along with the inevitable tragic results which are themselves Played for Laughs.
  • Eggman's P.A. announcments from Sonic Colors sound like they could have easily been lifted from Portal:
    "We seem to be losing pressure on level seventeen. Please hold your breath against the harsh vacuum of space until you pass out from oxygen starvation. After that, you won't care. Enjoy the ride!"
    "Next stop, the Tropical Resort. Here, you will find: breath-taking views from our giant Ferris wheel, amazing deals from our shopping mall, and constant risk of bodily harm."
  • Advertisement:
  • Psychonauts is a black comedy in cartoony clothing — it looks bright and G-rated, but every now and then something incredibly dark happens, like a suicide-bombing Girl Scout
  • The cartoony, comically exaggerated bloodshed of Team Fortress 2 brings it to the edge of black comedy. The Meet the Cast videos push it over, and Meet the Pyro turns it Up to Eleven.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, when not relying on reference comedy, revels in this trope. The ending where the Big Bad discovers the contents of the MacGuffin he's been trying to get his hands on have been replaced with explosives by Smiling Jack is a particularly amusing example.
  • The Fallout series depend heavily on this trope. The intro to the first game is a stellar example. Given that one of the games' major influences is Dr. Strangelove, this is hardly surprising.
    • Fallout 3: Most notably anything written on the terminals in the Nuka Cola Factory Mostly involving the testing of their Products which resulted in some deaths. Nuka Cola Quantum was finally cleared for release once the number of t=deaths was at acceptable levels. Said product includes radioactive isotopes.
      • Much of the humor does come from anything written on the terminals
    • Advertisement:
    • Fallout: New Vegas DLC Old World Blues is so dripping with Black Comedy you'll forget that the Think Tank kinda forgot where they left your brain.
      • Like Portal, however, Old World Blues' humor becomes very subdued when you come across a bona-fide Death Camp.
    • Fallout 4 comes with a number of promotional short films explaining the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system.. It also says a lot about Vault-Tec's sociopathic tendencies that they could pass off cannibalism as a peachy survival tip.
  • In a case of the radar ops being asleep at the switch, the E-rated Banjo-Tooie is loaded with this. No less than three characters continue to inundate you with British humo(u)r despite varying stages of horrific undeath.
  • The Worms computer game series. The more outlandish weapons involve exploding sheep, exploding cows, exploding old ladies......
  • Advertisement:
  • Monday Night Combat has armies of clones dying for entertainment. There are also references to a population-control lottery, assigned dwellings, government-mandated curfews, a section of the stands being under full coyote alert....
  • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn plunges into this trope wholeheartedly during the Grave Eclipse over Belinsk. We have horrible monsters invading the city and slaughtering the locals... and then we have the ability to read the bemused thoughts of the freshly-dead (most of whom are Deadpan Snarkers), an old man obliviously flirting with death, and last but not least, said monsters invading an opera house and raiding the orchestra pit to play horror music for their next victims. There's a bit of dark humor in other parts of the game, but this is where it's strongest.
  • Planescape: Torment revels in black comedy, much of it based around the protagonist and his immortality. You can win an argument with a man espousing the glories of the afterlife by snapping your own neck, dropping dead, then standing up minutes later and saying, "All right, now it's your turn." Or hit on a female zombie and then bicker with your Lancer about which of the pair of you she was most into.
    • You can also order an NPC to crack open your skull to look if there is anything inside. You then write into your journal "there wasn't".
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day: The Boss Battle takes place inside a mountain of excrement, the Great Mighty Poo. Warning, link swears.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum has The Riddler provide a black comedy example of the riddle of the Sphinx:
    Riddle: What walks on four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon and three in the night?
    Answer: A baby. Cut off its legs and it'll still have its arms. Give it a crutch and it will hobble on three.
    Followed by this line
    Therapist: How can you even joke about that?
    Riddler: Easy, doctor: It's not my baby.
  • Batman: Arkham City tops it right after the final boss battle, with the Joker's last words.
    Batman: Want to hear something funny? Even after everything you've done, I still would've saved you.
    Joker: Heh, that's actually... pretty funny! *cackles*
  • While the mutated fetus enemy in Dead Space isn't played for laughs, it's hard to think anything but humour was going through the heads of the animators when animating your grapple kill against them: Isaac yanks the baby from his head, and kicks it across the room. One has to wonder why they didn't go the whole hog and add a crowd cheering.
    • To wit, there is an achievement/trophy for doing said grapple kill ten times. The achievement's title? Kickin' It
  • Visceral games apparently has a thing for this trope; there's an achievement in Dante's Inferno for killing enough undead babies.
  • Penumbra: Black Plague features Clarence - a disembodied voice in your head from a virus that runs on this trope.
  • Dwarf Fortress : The whole game, really. Mixed with a lot of Slapstick, if you are similarly inclined.
    • Babies make excellent ablative armor. In a pinch, they make decent bludgeons, too.
    • Toady's dev logs can be a gold mine for this kind of stuff.
      ... then his guts popped out and another guy came along and severed his exposed guts, so that's all working.
    • The community thrives on this sort of schadenfreude.
      My fort became successful to the point of boredom, so I armed my favorite death trap, put on the Macarena in my music player, and began cycling through my units list in time with the music, and threw someone in the death trap every time the guys went "eey, Macarena!".
  • This mod for The Sims 2. Several of the comments on the video count as well.
  • A bit of overheard dialogue during the City Elf origin in Dragon Age: Origins, when a guard is grumbling about having to have killed a pretty elf woman while she was trying to escape, which is followed with "She's still warm. How picky are you?".
  • The Duke Nukem Forever level "The Hive". As Duke progresses through the level (an alien hive located underneath the Duke Dome), he comes across several cocooned women tearfully moaning and crying as Octoroid babies graphically burst from their rapidly-expanding stomachs - the next-gen elements make the visuals and their anguished cries plain disturbing. Duke attempts to make light of the situation after he comes across the Holsom Twins, who have also been impregnated. Duke replies, "Looks like you're... fucked" and soon after, their stomachs burst open (this happens after he expressed audible rage when they're kidnapped from his high-rise condo) in an earlier level. Some online reviews noted that this was an attempt to push the Mature rating for all it was worth, but made Duke look like a cold, callous psychopath instead.
  • Heroic Armies Marching likes this trope, allowing you to send goblin babies into battle. The lore describes them as being so weak, their skin peels off like wet paper.
    • A less harsh example: Shit Golems.
  • Tropico 4. The entire game. You see, it's a Cold War. You're the dictator of a Banana Republic, and you're ultimately a pawn in a much larger game between the US and the USSR. Your people aren't exactly cooperative, nor they are very bright. You can't stay in power (for long) lest you Kick the Dog on regular basis. This culminates when you sell your island to the US to test nuclear bombs: your Announcer Chatter will say that "according to the scientists, the big shiny mushroom is harmless, and it's good for the skin tone", your history involves the worst in people (Being the only true graduate of every Harvard Grad in your class, where you have to be a pathetic banana republic dictator, your buddies go on to be POTUS).
  • Tales of the Abyss towards Guy's fear of women. During a good portion of the game, whenever a girl comes very close to him (especially if they touch him) he recoils in fear and starts screaming. Hilarious, and becomes a Running Gag But then we learn why he's so afraid of contact with women... When he was young, his home, Hod, was being attacked by Duke fon Fabre's men. Guy was hidden inside a (thankfully extinguished) fireplace by his older sister and the house maids, and then the soldiers came in. In order to protect him, Guy's sister and the maids threw themselves onto Guy as the soldiers killed them all. He passed out, but when he came to, he was smothered in a pile of dead women. Suffice to say, nobody was laughing after that.
  • Fruit Mystery is all about feeding zoo animals human foods and reading about the often fatal consequences.
  • AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity particularly likes this style of humor.
  • In early-1990s classic Lemmings, it was possible- and in fact intentional- for the player to blow up all their own lemmings in order to abort a level for whatever reason. After the timers above their head ran out, each lemming would go "Oh no!" in a cartoonish voice, shake a bit, and then go "pop!" in a firework-like explosion.
  • In Five Nights at Freddy's you are a security guard in a building full of murderous animatronics and all you have to defend yourself with is security cameras, two doors and limited electricity to power the cameras and the doors... And it begins with a bored sounding security guard reading out legal information to you, telling you some odds and ends, and basically ends the conversation with an offhand mention about how someone in the past had their frontal lobe torn out by the animatronics, which is why they aren't allowed to walk around during the day anymore, how the animatronics are likely to kill you by forcing you into an animatronic suit and how there are blind spots all around your office. It's hard not to chuckle, in a twisted way.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV has a GTA Radio talk show called Integrity 2.0 that's almost based around this.
  • From DUST 514:
    "Suicide in public areas is strictly prohibited."
  • WildStar pretty much runs on this trope. A few examples include:
    • The official "Paths" flick, where pretty much everyone but Agent Voxine is killed, injured, or horribly traumatized in some way, shape, or form.
    • The "Mammodin of Mass Destruction" mission in Deradune, where you strap high-explosives into mind-controlled rhinos then direct them into poacher camps. Failure comes in two ways: angering other Mammodins, or attracting other Mammodins who want to mate with yours, thus causing an explosion of Ludicrous Gibs.
    • A Mechari explaining that they do have a sense of humour—it's just hard to laugh along when your head's in a sack.
  • Borderlands had a fair bit of this. Borderlands 2 absolutely revels in it, to the point where it qualifies for both Denser and Wackier and Darker and Edgier.
    • There's a mission where a man makes constant sexist remarks against the female leader of his town. You then use a mortar to bomb his house, knocking it off a cliff, and send him screaming to his death at the bottom of a chasm.
    • Midway through the game, Handsome Jack kills Bloodwing and then starts complaining that he was going to play a violin "all sarcastically" over the corpse. A few minutes later he finds a violin and actually starts playing a terrible off-key song on it just to rub the salt in the wounds. And it manages to still somehow be hilarious, perhaps because of how over the top it is.
  • The Nintendo DS game Mizuiro Blood has this, when the main character gets sliced horizontally.
  • The joke endings for the Silent Hill series, after Silent Hill 4 anyway, fall nicely into this. That said the joke ending for Silent Hill: Book of Memories is by far the darkest as it takes shots at every single convention, and character, in the series. I.e., one character accidentally sneezes on Mary Sunderland, she says it's cool, but James remarks she has to be more careful or else she might catch something. Also Alex Shepard teaching his brother how to swim.
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth, much like the show, runs on this. At one point you fight a giant aborted Nazi zombie fetus.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle has Josuke from Part 4 heal his opponent back to full health when he uses his Great Heat Attack. Johnny from Part 7 is handicapped; specifically, his legs are paralyzed. When Josuke uses his GHA on Johnny, he stands up, his legs working again... and then Josuke beats him back into paraplegia. ("If I heal you first, it's not cheating, right? DORADORADORADORADORAAA!")
  • Mishap: An Accidental Haunting and Mishap 2: An Intentional Haunting have their fair share of this trope, from the animated background items in the cluttered hidden object scenes to the cartoonish drawings and utterly ludicrous deathsnote  of the minor ghosts you can capture using a special monocle to the fact that the quit button for the second game is an electric outlet and clicking on it produces a pained-sounding scream.
  • The Witch's House: The many, many deaths you can suffer throughout the game - while horrific - can elicit a chuckle or two, due to how creative or suddenly they happen; especially after you know the Awful Truth behind the game, and just who it is you're playing as.
  • Crusader Kings tends to run into this. You spend most of the game attempting to murder people, steal titles, start wars and maneuvering your favored heir into a position of power, while entirely disregarding anything resembling anything resembling modern morality if you expect to survive . Except every other character in the game is trying to do the exact same thing. The resulting Gambit Pileup usually ends in comedy. Then you catch tuberculosis and die, leaving your inbred son in charge.
  • The indie game 60 Seconds!, much like Fallout, milks a lot of dark humor out of the fear of nuclear war in The ’50s. You play Ted, a typical family man who has sixty seconds to scour his randomly-generated house for supplies and get as many family members as he can to the fallout shelter before the bombs hit. After that, it's a matter of keeping your family alive on a diet of water and tomato soup for as long as possible, with occasional expeditions to the irradiated wasteland that is the world above.
  • Surgeon Simulator 2013 involves you trying to do organ transplants to save a patient's life and you can screw up to the point of killing them. You perform the surgery with just one hand, grip and grab tools in the most awkward ways, and cut and poke things out in a way that would have gotten you jailed if done in real life. You can cause the patient to lose so much blood that he should have died, but as long as he has just that one milliliter of blood left, he'll live! To make things even more dark and comedic, you can inject yourself with a syringe that makes you hallucinate and perform the surgery in that state.
  • Dr. Mal: Practice of Horror involves playing solitaire in order to "diagnose" your patients' various wacky complaints. The "doctor" himself is a wild-haired chainsaw-wielding cross between a Mad Scientist and an Evil Clown, the patients are similar caricatures and the card illustrations and icons for "bone," "blood" &etc. examinations are often ludicrously gruesome.
  • Mortal Kombat, whenever there's humor, there's high chance it will be Bloody Hilarious. Characters like Johnny Cage are particularily known for being humorous even during the Fatalities (for example, using his hands to open a rip in his opponent's torso just to peek through it and yell "Heeeeere's Johnny!"
  • Steam game Who's Your Daddy? has dark humor in the form of killing a baby. One player plays as the father trying to protect his son from the dangers of the house (electrical outlets, sharp objects, chemicals, etc.) while the other player plays as the baby trying to get themselves killed. The baby "wins" if it dies, but the father wins if he can keep the baby alive for a few minutes. The idea of playing as a baby trying to get killed Crosses the Line Twice.
  • Legacy of Kain, being a series that could very well be one of the best examples of Black and Gray Morality, pretty much runs away with this whenever humorous and snarky components come up in dialogue. Some of Kain's descriptions of the various items he comes across in Blood Omen are just rife with dark, snarky observations.
    Kain: (describing the Heart of Darkness) "Reputed to have been ripped from the chest of the greatest vampire to have ever existed, Janos Audron, the Heart of Darkness restores vampiric unlife. Life is precious, Janos discovered - as it was torn throbbing and bleeding from his own body."
  • Most Adult Swim online games, which frequently cross the line. Examples include:
    • HRmaggedon
    • Floater
    • Meowcenaries
    • Amateur Surgeon
    • Candy Mountain Massacre
    • Five Minutes To Kill Yourself
    • Gigolo Assassin
    • Schizo-phrenzy
    • Viva Caligula
    • Orphan Feast
    • Kill Thy Neighbor
    • Sausage Factory
  • The Jackbox Party Pack gives us Bomb Corp and Trivia Murder Party, where death is treated by the games' hosts as a bit of a joke. The former game because its host is used to seeing his coworkers get blown up, and in the latter the host is a trivia-obsessed murderer.
  • In The Sexy Brutale, this is primarily provided by the staff, who carry out their murders with the phlegmatic, casual attitude they might have towards washing dishes. Mood Whiplash is also used to full effect.
  • Randal's Monday: The game is full with it. From Matt's increasingly bloody and unlikely deaths to Randal's past self getting the Wolverine treatment, there is a lot of black comedy to be had.
  • Graveyard Keeper positively thrives on this, as its tutorial guide cheerfully advises you to carve flesh from a corpse and sell it to the innkeeper in order to buy said guide a beer.
  • Theme Hospital is a darkly comical look at healthcare. The diseases are very silly, but patients can still drop dead if not treated in time (or treated incorrectly). The game in particular skewers the notion of healthcare as a profit-making industry, with the intro movie showing a doctor halting an operation (which he is performing with a chainsaw) and dropping the patient into a Bottomless Pit when he fails to pass a credit check.
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has a surprising amount of this, both in the trailers and the game itself:
    • Ridley's reveal trailer has him impale Mega Man with his tail and snap Mario's neck, then gleefully twirl Mario's cap on his finger.
    • Simon Belmont's reveal trailer has Luigi getting violently killed by death and turning into a ghost. At the end of the trailer, he's about to get back into his body before getting interrupted by Camilla.
    • Some of the deaths in the World of Light opening cutscene are played for laughs: Snake tries hiding in a cardboard box, Villager runs around in a panic, and the Wii Fit Trainer just does exercises until the beams hit her.
    • The spirit for Paz Ortega Andrade gives the special ability to start with a Bomb-Omb equipped. This is likely a reference to Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, where she dies by having a bomb detonate inside what is implied to be her vagina.
    • The spirit for Ness's Dad is represented by a telephone, and requires fighting an invisible Snake. In addition, the ability for it is "Running Start".
    • One unlock picture references Aerith's infamous death pose.
    • The Palutena's Guidance conversation for the Pokémon Trainer has Viridi wonder about all the weak Pokémon that get left in their balls and forgotten. Pit then suddenly worries about "PikaPit" before Palutena assures him that "I'm sure all those abandoned Pokémon are all playing in a farm upstate."

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: