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Downer Ending / Visual Novels

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WARNING: Nearly every example is a spoiler. Read at your own risk! Also, many of these cases involve games with Multiple Endings, where a few of them are bad, but others are good.

  • The Ace Attorney series has several:
    • In the fourth case of Justice For All, if you fail to present the correct evidence to the correct person in the final parts of the case, you get a bad ending in which your client and murderer Matt Engarde goes free, the innocent Adrian Andrews is found guilty, Maya is never seen again, and Phoenix runs away from the courtroom. Unfortunately, the mood of this ending is ruined by a typo: "The miracle never happen."
    • The fourth case of Trials and Tribulations ends with your client, who you just got off the hook, deciding to kill himself rather than let his girlfriend, who is the real murderer, get convicted. Fortunately, it's mitigated by the knowledge that the guilty party was finally nailed a year later, as played out in the game's first case.
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    • The verdict of the fourth case of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is left entirely up to you. If you choose "Not Guilty," you get the normal, happy (and canonical) ending to the game, but if for whatever reason you choose "Guilty," the verdict is postponed until tomorrow, but in the meantime your client, who is in the hospital from being poisoned, dies, and the verdict is "postponed for eternity."
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies has three in the fifth case, and one in the DLC case. Getting a game over in one of the two forced questions has Aura kidnap Athena. Getting a game over on Simon's testimony results in him being found guilty in Athena's place and executed. Aura vanishes with the hostages (including Trucy), Athena leaves the agency, Apollo is completely broken by the events, and Phoenix gives up being a lawyer. Lastly, getting a game over on Fulbright's final testimony results in Athena and Simon getting off the hook, but the phantom getting away clean and the failure to bring him to justice causing public opinion towards the law to sink even lower. In the DLC case, getting a game over during Rimes' Mood Matrix segment results in Orla being found guilty and put down (Sasha does get acquitted, but as a result of something she hired Phoenix to prevent from happening).
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    • Continuing the tradition, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice adds a few more. If Apollo fails to keep the Founder's Orb out of Paul Atishon's hands, Dhurke's dream of ending the Ga'ran regime is never realized and Apollo's friendship with Phoenix becomes strained. Getting a game over while guessing who was channeling Dhurke results in Dhurke being posthumously declared guilty and the cast never realizing who Inga's true killer was. Getting a game over after Amara's False Confession ends similarly to the previous ending, but with Amara going to trial as well. Getting a game over after accusing Queen Ga'ran results in Apollo and Nahyuta being forced into hiding and becoming the new leaders of the Defiant Dragons.
    • In the fan-made case The Empty Turnabout, you lose the trial altogether after fighting for three chapters. Your client is found guilty even though he didn't do it, but he's okay with it. Furthermore, Athena is never punished for killing Blackquill, although it is revealed that she did so because Blackquill had killed her mother and got away with it thanks to her testimony... when she thought he was innocent. There's something positive, though: Apollo has figured out who really killed Arts and has called the police.
  • Every ending but the true ending in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors ends with everyone dying, killing each other or having one character go Ax-Crazy. The Coffin ending is the worst, just a cockblock to the true ending if you forgot to get the Safe ending. Even the true ending can be seen as bittersweet, since June and Santa played a role in the deaths of three people. Granted, Ace killed two of them, but the 9th man was killed by his bomb, which could be connected back to "Zero." Thus, two characters are fugitives and Junpei may never get a chance to spend a happy life with June because she is on the run with her accomplice. Also, per Word of God, it's heavily suggested that Junpei never does find June, and spends the rest of his life pursuing her. At least, until the events of Virtue's Last Reward, when both of them are old.
    • Also, in its sequel Virtue's Last Reward, nearly every ending. The game includes a number of outright bad endings that give you a game over screen. It also includes at least 10 "locks" that have a role similar to the Coffin Ending of the first game... these endings force you to come back after learning something in a different timeline. Even the non game-over endings tend to have things like the entire complex exploding, people dying of the Radical-6 virus, bracelets injecting you with chemicals that kill you, escaping out into a blank, featureless desert.... However, the final few endings are even bigger downer endings, as you discover that nearly the entire population of Earth was killed off by the Radical-6 virus and the detonation of the anti-matter reactors. However, Phi's ending includes a Sequel Hook that implies you may be able to fix things in the next game.
  • The Grim Fate in Cinders, though it's nearly impossible to get if you aren't trying for it.
  • Most of the Normal (aka bad) Endings in Code:Realize are more bittersweet, but Saint-Germain's is particularly grim. Saint-Germain is lethally wounded during his battle with Guinevere and dies in Cardia's arms; afterward, Cardia joins the Ancient Conspiracy and never contacts Lupin or her other friends again, instead allowing them to believe that she's dead. The only positive note amidst the tragedy is that Cardia makes it clear she doesn't plan to follow Omnibus's orders without question and will try to save people if she can, but even so, she will never be able to form connections with anyone outside of the order, and the final lines of the ending describe her entering London on a mission for Idea with a "mask-like smile" on her face. Some of the Game Overs also go the extra mile to twist the knife, especially the ones which occur late in the game.
  • Corpse Party has anywhere from two to seven bad endings per chapter, in which one or more scared teenagers die in increasingly terrifying and gruesome ways in a haunted school possessed by evil spirits. And even the true end isn't particularly happy: out of all the people who started out in Heavenly Host, only five of them can make it out, all of whom are horribly scarred from their experiences, while the Big Bad is still out there.
    • The sequel, Book of Shadows, manages to make it even more of a downer: the game is made up mostly of alternate timelines from the main game, or of side characters having expanded storylines. And they all die. The sections that do take place in the present involve the main characters taking actions that make their lives even worse.
  • In the Death Room, it's only possible for one person to get out alive. So, your options are either to die or let someone else escape.
  • In Ever17, some of the GOOD endings are Downer Endings! The worst being Tsugumi's Good Ending: Tsugumi and the protagonist, Takeshi, are able to get out of Lemu before it implodes upon itself, thanks to a tiny submarine that will propel itself to the surface, where rescuers are waiting. Partway through the journey, it breaks and begins to sink again...breaking underneath fifty feet of water. Takeshi manages to lock Tsugumi into one section of the sub, and disconnects the part that he's in so that the lighter weight will carry her to the surface. Takeshi sinks to the bottom of the ocean and drowns, while Tsugumi floats to safety, pounding on the glass window, screaming and crying to Takeshi that she doesn't want him to die. Sora's ending is even worse: Takeshi drowns when Lemu collapses because he refuses to leave Sora behind, who cannot leave. Tsugumi escapes but she's mentally scarred from the experience, not least of which because of how her relationship with Takeshi turned out. The rest of the cast probably die of the disease that killed the staff because Tsugumi's blood was apparently never used to synthesize an antidote. It's notable that of all the endings this is the only one that plays no real role in the true ending.
  • Whilst most of the (actual) endings to the game are bittersweet, the Normal End of the Heaven's Feel route in Fate/stay night is truly heartbreaking and tragic. Shirou sacrifices the ideal he'd been living for to protect his girlfriend Sakura halfway through the story and ends up with progressively worse brain damage in his attempts to keep her safe and get her back. At the end, it finally kills him. That's bad, but then it switches to the perspective of Sakura, who never moves on and never accepts that he's dead.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend: Some of the birds' true endings are this. Most notably, Nageki, who turns out to be a ghost and disappears because your love enabled his spirit to move on, and Dr. Shuu, who dismembers you and flees St. Pidgeonation's with your severed head in a jar...but that's okay, because you really loved him. Additionally, if you fail to romance a bird, you are executed by the Hawk Party.
  • Most endings in the Visual Novel Kana: Little Sister can be seen as Downer Endings, since in all but one of them the protagonist's beloved sister dies, often in some of the most tragically depicted death scenes in gaming ever. The fact that the makers tried to give most endings a bittersweet lining doesn't lessen the sad fact that the protagonist fails to save the most important person in his life, even after offering one of his kidneys for transplantation, as happens in some scenarios. The one ending in which she doesn't die results in her leaving him after a while. The guy just can't win.
  • Makoto's route in Kanon. The only bright spot to Yuuichi feeling terribly heartbroken is that he has a new friend who understands what he just went through and that he will get better. Eventually. It's bad enough that it almost seems nicer to Makoto if she's just allowed to vanish and presumably die of exposure like in the other routes.
  • Most of the endings in Kara no Shoujo are pretty terrible, especially if you count the Bad Ends, which have extensive stories. There are only two endings that really qualify as bittersweet.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, if Hisao fails to befriend one of the girls enough to seek out their company for the school festival(or makes the wrong choice at a critical point), he'll resign himself to giving his paranoid hallmate Kenji his company. While on his way to meet with Kenji on the roof of the school, he finds himself annoyed by the festivities. Once he meets up with Kenji, the two spend the entire day eating pretzles and drinking whiskey. After spilling his guts to Hisao, Kenji starts invading his personal space. Hisao, heavily inebriated, tries to back away, only to end off slipping and falling off the roof. His last thoughts were of how this was a fitting way to end such a crappy day. Cue red flash, fade to black, roll credits.
    • Every single route has at least one and possibly two Downer Endings. Emi breaks up with Hisao after their argument, telling him that while she knows he's a good guy, they just cannot last together and he's not the kind of boy that can handle her. Hanako lashes out at Hisao (and by proxy, Lilly) for pitying her and breaks up their buddying relationship. Lilly goes to Scotland permanently, leaving behind her boyfriend Hisao and her best friend Hanako. Rin either has a fall-out with Hisao in her atelier and their bonds are explosively severed, or leaves Hisao and everyone else she's close to behind to study art in Tokyo, even if it means changing herself (which could potentially result in her suicide). Shizune ends up alone, believing that she pushed Hisao and Misha away with her competitive personality, since they drifted apart from her. (And unbeknownst to Shizune, Hisao cheated on her wirh Misha, as a result of Misha having an emotional breakdown over her Unrequited Love for Shizune.)
  • Long Live the Queen: In a game where most of the people you meet want you either helping with their plots or dead so that they can take your throne, this is a given. Even if you make it to your coronation without being killed, you might still be forced to watch your father die (or become physically and mentally handicapped if he does survive), lose your fertility to your aunt's poison, unintentionally spark a rise in prejudice against Lumen, cause Merva to secede from Nova after you alienate them by executing your aunt's entire family...And the list goes on.
  • For one whopper of a Downer Ending, look no further than Planetarian, which ends with Robot Girl Yumemi getting gunned down by a big mecha, after the protagonist hauled her out of the planetarium she still felt obliged to work for and where she had been waiting for her co-workers to return for thirty years. The worst part is that she had a fair chance of surviving where she was - if the protagonist wouldn't have blown her power supply by letting her run all that heavy equipment for that one last show. Leave it to Key/Visual Arts to make as depressing an ending as possible.
  • The "Nightmare" endings of Queen's Gambit are pretty much relentlessly horrible, involving the deaths of a lot of the main cast and the loss of everything the protagonist values. The "Rookie" endings can also be pretty grim, though they usually provide at least some spark of hope.
  • In Rewrite most of the endings are downers, though some of them don't seem that way at first. Shizuru and Akane's routes end with the apocalypse, Lucia's route has the entire town destroyed and will also result in the apocalypse, except even worse this time. Kotori and Chihaya's routes seem to end well, but these routes will also result in the apocalypse, though at least the main characters will live out their lives before that. It's not until Moon and Terra that you get an ending that doesn't result in the world ending.
  • Save the Date is a short game in which you attempt to go on a date with a girl, but the date is always cut short by her death. Literally every single time. No matter what you do to avoid the previous deaths, new ones will pop out of the woodwork. And the true ending, obtainable after you exhaust all other options? You don't go on the date. The girl finds love with someone else. You are left alone. The only exception is the secret ending that requires you to edit the game.
  • All three endings of the visual novel Saya no Uta can be considered downers. One has Fuminori's brain returned to normal, only for him to be locked up and separated from Saya forever. In the next, Saya "blooms" and begins to transform the entire world into her own nightmarish species. Finally, the last ending kills off all but one major character, who's gone half-insane and will very likely commit suicide one day soon.
  • School Days is rather infamous for its bad endings, all of which involve gruesome and bloody murder (or suicide, in one case). The PS2 "all-ages" port added several more bad endings and extended the existing ones. The game's sequels, Summer Days and Cross Days, have bad endings of their own, though most aren't nearly as horrifying as the ones in the original.
  • In Strawberry Vinegar, if you refuse to let Licia stay in your house, her older sister will come, prove she was indeed a demon, and reap your soul to Hell as punishment. Ouch.
  • The first chapter of Suika ends with Itsuki realizing she's dead, disappearing and leaving Akira all alone. His personality is completely broken and when he finally meets Sayo again, the girl they both thought was really dead, he refuses to introduce himself and runs away. Both the endings of the third chapter are also disturbing. Yoshikazu either ends up with the extremely controlling, manipulative Touko or gets stabbed to death by Akane, who hooks up with Touko instead after apparently hypnotizing her.
  • sweet pool is well-known for having no happy ending whatsoever, no matter what decisions you make. Only one among the six possible endings can be considered a Bittersweet Ending at best, but nevertheless, the protagonist either dies, will die soon, or suffers from a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Syrup And The Ultimate Sweet has several.
    • The Candibal End has Syrup eat Gumdrop. Pastille is so disgusted he leaves and never returns, and due to dwindling sales Syrup has to close down her shop.
    • The Frozen End has Syrup tell Butterscotch she hates her which leaves Butterscotch unable to get them out of the icy cave they're in. They end up freezing to death in there.
    • Bad End 1 has Syrup give Gumdrop over to Butterscotch and refuses to help Pastille get her back, and he leaves her. The candy store goes into decline and Syrup's left with nothing and nobody.
    • Bad End 2, similar to Bad End 1 has Syrup give Gumdrop over and Pastille leaves her, but in this ending she hires Toffee to help out around the store. They and Butterscotch take it over and Syrup quits, resolving to never get close to anyone again so nobody can betray her like Pastille did.
    • And the Worst End has similar events to the Frozen End, except Pastille and Treat rescue Syrup and Butterscotch before they freeze to death. However Syrup tells Butterscotch she still hates her, and the own coldness in Syrup's heart ends up killing her.
  • In War: 13th Day, the True End reveals that the entire game is Wildfire's Dying Dream.
  • Yandere Chan has a whole host of bad endings that all conclude with your untimely death, usually via scissors. The only ending that could be considered good is the one where the titular yandere gets sent to a mental institution.
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc can end with one such ending if you choose to pursue Kyoko's lie in the fifth trial, by pointing out that she could have used her special key to unlock the door to her room, resulting in her being convicted and executed. The remaining survivors remain trapped in the school for the rest of their (and their children's) lives, with the strong implication that Toko died at some point.
  • Spirit Hunter series:
    • The bad ending of Death Mark, where at least one Mark Bearer dies. The protagonist fails to properly seal the Big Bad and she comes for him at the end.
    • Spirit Hunter: NG:
      • The Bad End, predictably. All of Akira's companions are dead. The grief overwhelms him, as does his Bloodmetry power, until a mysterious voice offers her help. However, his Bloodmetry is too powerful even for her, and he's turned into a murderous Spirit that kills the last few survivors that he cared for.
      • The 'Normal' End is actually pretty dismal- because one or more of Akira's companions were killed, their grudge manifests as them preventing the Nagoshi no Gi ritual from working. This leads to Kakuya (rather gruesomely) possessing Seiji or Kaoru and having them drag Akira into Kakuriyo, where it's implied that Kakuya kills him (hopefully, because the alternative isn't much better). And since the ritual was imperfect, it's only a matter of time before Kakuya escapes again.

Alternative Title(s): Visual Novel


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