Follow TV Tropes


Kangaroo Court / Video Games

Go To

  • In the Ace Attorney franchise, you can debunk every piece of evidence pointing towards your client (which is considered sufficient in real life, as the defense has nothing to prove), but they're still not off the hook until you can actually prove their innocence by catching the real killer.note  The incompetence of the games' current court system becomes more apparent as the series goes on and reaches a head in the third case of the fourth game, and Phoenix actually is so frustrated with this — especially since it cost him his career — that he begins a quiet crusade to reinstate the jury system and succeeds in getting a test run in the same game's fourth case. When Ron Delite confesses he was the thief when Phoenix already proved him innocent, the judge outright says, "What kind of a kangaroo court do you think this is?"note 
    • Taken Up to Eleven in Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, where the Judge is not biased towards the prosecution - he is impatiently looking forward to calling your client guilty as soon as you make one wrong turn, so he can gladly condemn them to burn in the fire alive and watch them reduced into ashes. Meanwhile, the audience cheers for the prosecution even while you are destroying their arguments and the witnesses will change their testimony a hundred times and make up any lies necessary to prove that the defendant is an evil despicable witch who deserves to be burnt alive. Witch Trial, indeed.
    • Advertisement:
    • It gets even worse in Spirit of Justice. In Khura'in, defense attorneys are culturally considered to be evil, lying demons, the decisions are almost entirely based on the word of a 14-year old and her powers to summon dead spirits, and the accused actually contesting the charges is considered blasphemy. At least in Labyrinthia, you're still guaranteed counsel and Magic A Is Magic A.
  • The Sheriff of Nottingham takes a "hang 'em all" attitude towards trials in The Adventures of Robin Hood.
  • Advertisement:
  • The trial of the Auditore family at the beginning of Assassin's Creed II is rather obviously one. The fact that the trial is held on the gallows with the accused already having nooses tied around their necks is the first clue to this.
  • In Aviary Attorney, which is essentially Ace Attorney set in France in 1848 (with anthropomorphic animals), features several flavours of those, including one held by a corrupt judge with an agenda, a mob of republican revolutionaries, and one set up to convict none other than the King of France of various crimes against the people before the aforementioned mob can get their paws on him - the last one of which the defence attorney protagonist helps organise himself.
  • Baldur's Gate
    • In the original game, Sarevok tries to manipulate you to kill Rieltar and the leaders of the Iron Throne to get them out of the way his own plans. What you do at this point doesn't matter because he'll have you framed for it anyway. When you face trial for this later in Baldur's Gate, it basically just consists of his crony Angelo pronouncing you guilty of this crime and a bunch of entirely made-up ones and sentencing you to death. The only way you can affect the proceedings is to anger him enough to make him kill one of your companions right away.
    • Advertisement:
    • In BG 2: Shadows of Amn, your character is subjected to one of these by an ambitious Harper. You're not actually being legally accused, but he's holding a hearing to determine whether you are a danger and must be regarded as a monster and magically imprisoned — and he's only out to get the prestige for doing it, no matter what you say. Granted, he may be right about you if you are playing an evil character, but that would be entirely coincidental. No matter how you answer his questions, he will find a way to twist them against you. This literally includes asking for your favourite colour and interpreting any possible answer negatively. (Green, is it? INTERESTING. You can imagine what he makes of red or black.) Jaheira calls him out on this arbitrariness and hypocrisy repeatedly. At least you have the option of being a Deadpan Snarker throughout the whole interrogation.
  • Subverted for laughs in a cutscene in Beneath a Steel Sky. Howard Hobbins, the maintenance man you met at the beginning of the game is put on trial as a consequence of some of the puzzles you solved while in the city, which caused some damage in the process, and he has you defend him. The presiding judge Chutney is eager to pass his sentence, and talks as if the whole scenario is a game show to him rather than a trial. No matter what sort of statements you make, including calling your ally Mrs. Piermont as a witness, though, Chutney will always say this line.
    Judge Chutney: "Howard Hobbins, you have won tonight's star prize," *Security logo flashes colors with game show music* "LIFE IMPRISONMENT!" *beat* "However, in view of your service to the city, I'm going to reduce your sentence. Two hours community service."
  • Crono gets hit one of these very early on in Chrono Trigger, accused of kidnapping Princess Nadia/Marle, despite the fact that she hung out with Crono willingly during the Millennial Fair, her disappearance was a complete accident, and Crono was the one who rescued her. On top of all that, Marle isn't allowed to even be present at the trial to speak in Crono's defense. Even if Crono is found "not guilty," the judge will still condemn him to three days in jail (before the Evil Chancellor orders Crono's execution anyway). You get a few Ethers if you get him found innocent, however. One of the sidequests has another one; this time, the present King Guardia is being framed for selling the Rainbow Shell.
  • Disgaea 2 has the Dark Court, which issues summons for arbitrary felonies (for example, one character actually gets charged with a felony for his existence, and logging 100 hours on your save file gets a felony for "playing too much") and immediately convict whichever character(s) show up even if none of them are the one to whom the summons was originally issued. But this being the Disgaea universe, the trope is actually inverted since "good" is evil and "evil" is good, so summons are actually awards for achievements and you get rewards for being convicted of a felony.
  • The trial that Ellen is subject to in Hell Realm in Folklore is full of preconceived conclusions, as it's meant to be a symbolic representation of her own guilt. She isn't even guilty in the first place.
  • Escape Velocity: Nova - Judges presiding over major Federation trials are typically Vell-Os, a race of evolved humans endowed with Telepathy. Defendants do not mount a defense or get to testify, do not get a defense attorney, and do not stand before a jury; rather, a list of charges against them is read and they enter their plea. The Vell-Os judge then reads their mind and history, and is able to determine the truth and issue a ruling in seconds. This would in itself be questionable enough, but it doesn't stop there! Unbeknownst to the general civilian population, as well as most prominent political and military leaders, the Vell-Os are enslaved via mind control chip implants by the Federation, which are in turn puppeteered by the Bureau of Internal Investigation, a shady organization that officially serves as military intelligence but in fact controls the Federation entirely. Enemies of the state, particularly those who speak out against or get in the way of the Bureau, tend to end up in court with extensive lists of unlikely charges leveled against them and are invariably found guilty.
    • Leads to a Kick the Son of a Bitch moment in the Rebellion storyline. The end goal of the Rebellion that they accomplish with the player's help is to covertly free the Vell-Os slaves and then put the head of the Bureau on trial in front of the judge, with the kangaroo court now rigged in their favor. The head of the Bureau smugly declares herself "not guilty" of the (completely honest) charges against her, only to suffer shock as the judge very animatedly stands up, loudly calling her a liar, declaring her guilty of every charge, and holding out his removed enslavement device for her to see as he delivers a quick "The Reason You Suck" Speech. The narrative text describes her expression as someone who has just been smartly slapped in the face.
  • Central in Exit Path has an automated jury that, when you're caught, immediately finds you guilty with no differing opinions, and they leave you to be shoved into a series of saw blades (but that's never stopped you, even without flow). The surprise is lost a little if you managed to glance at a sign further back that says "All citizens are guilty unless proven innocent!"
  • Zinn's trial in Guild Wars. The prosecution calls themselves the "persecution" and doesn't call any of the 32 witnesses they've gathered ("No need. Everyone knows [he's] guilty."). Talking to the various participants reveals that Oola's bribed members of the Council and witnesses for their help in exiling Zinn. Based on various comments by the present Asura, this is completely typical of Asuran justice. Zinn simply failed to realize the trial was about politics and bribes rather than fact.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Tali's trial is only a pretence for the judges to pursue their various political agendas on how to deal with the Geth. None of them really care what happens to Tali, except for Shala'Raan (who, due to her ties to the Zorah family, is forced to recuse herself from voting). They're so transparent about it that you can have Tali exonerated without evidence just by pointing this out, although you need a lot of alignment points or two important character witnesses.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Dead Cell's commander, Jackson, was arrested and found guilty for misappropriating funds and corruption. Ocelot later reveals that the trial was actually a sham, in an attempt to get Dead Cell renegade, or at least angry enough to attempt to attack the Patriots (since they apparently framed Dead Cell for terrorist attacks later on) so they could further use them for their S3 Plan.
  • Late in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain: Dr. Huey Emmerich is subjected to a drumhead trial at Mother Base after it was discovered he helped to facilitate a vocal chord parasite outbreak that killed several members of the Diamond Dogs. In addition to revealing evidence that he not only tried to make his son Hal test-pilot a new Metal Gear, but also murdered his wife Dr. Strangelove when she protested (the evidence of the murder being her recorded cries from the AI core she was trapped in), Miller hands down a summary verdict of "guilty, all counts". Big Boss rejects the cries for the death penalty, claiming that a mercenary company doesn't have the right to execute prisoners, but gives Huey a cruel and unusual punishment because he's obviously guilty of some of the murder crimes; Huey is exiled from Mother Base on an unstable raft, forcing Huey to amputate his cybernetic limbs to survive, and then the R&D team reverse-engineers Huey's blueprints and posts all counts of Huey's plagiarism to the public.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2:
    • You almost get extradited to Luskan for a crime you didn't commit, only saved by the timely intervention of your allies in Neverwinter. And Luskan justice is described as such:
      Sand: Well, at best, they will put you on trial - or what seems to be one, then execute you. At worst, they will dispense with the courtroom mockery and execute you as soon as you step within the gate. And when I say "execute," do not think it will be one clean chop of a headman's axe... Luskans have all sorts of inventive ways for executing prisoners that is not best to describe on a full stomach.
    • Their so-called "Prisoner's Carnival" really is that bad, too. They just bring out whoever is in the cells, shout at them and find some horribly twisted (and highly creative) way of executing them. This is the main entertainment in the city, thus the "Carnival" part. As an example, once they tied a prisoner down on a table, with a bottomless wooden cage on his stomach. They then put a large rat in the cage and set the cage on fire. The rat only has one way to avoid the flames, dig its way out.
  • In the finale of Robin Hood Conquest Of The Longbow, the Sheriff captures Robin Hood and immediately orders him hung. Fortunately, King Richard shows up, stops the execution, and arranges for a fair trial (though depending on how Robin conducted himself during the game, he could very well order Robin sent back to the gallows).
  • The Mantra Army Court in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. You can get thrown in here for annoying someone. It's trial by combat against Thor.
  • In side material to Star Trek Online, Sela, the deposed empress of the Romulan Star Empire, complained to her Romulan Republic jailers that she thinks a kangaroo court is beneath the Romulan Republic, which claims to have abandoned the old ways. Actually, she's guilty as sin, she's just trying to curry favor.
  • In Super Mario Sunshine, Mario stands trial in one of the worst trials in video game history. The prosecutor states the sun has stopped shining due to the graffiti and Mario looks like the criminal. Peach and Toadsworth try to object, but the judge overrules it without even hearing her out. With Peach being royal and all, this is a fail. And when you saw the tape on the plane about Isle Delfino, you could see the real person doing it. Even more facepalm-warranting, Shadow Mario/Bowser Jr. is blue, transparent, and has a magic paintbrush. The real Mario is opaque, wears red clothes with blue overalls, and just got there. He's also wearing a robotic fire extinguisher. Chuggaaconroy sums it up quite well.
    Chuggaaconroy: There was no statement by the defense, no attorney appointed to the defense, no witnesses called, no evidence presented, nobody even bothered to notice that we literally got here 4 minutes and 34 seconds ago before we were arrested, and there wasn't even a jury!?!... This is more rigged than Saddam Hussein's trial!
  • An unusual heroic example in Runescape: Players who used bots would be put on trial at Botany Bay, where the Botfinder General wouldn’t even let them have a defense before letting the public vote on how to destroy them. Of course, since this was a case of No Fair Cheating, you weren’t supposed to sympathize with the bot users.
  • Guybrush is tried by one in chapter four of Tales of Monkey Island. The judge tried to sentence him to death by keelhauling before any charges were brought up! However, the judge (and every other pirate present) is sick with the Pox of LeChuck, causing them to have violent outbursts. The only ones who are "clean" are Guybrush (who was sick in the previous episode, but it now cured); Stan (who isn't a pirate and is, thus, immune), whose new job is Guybrush's prosecutor; and one of the plaintiffs (no explanation for his immunity is given, though it's implied he might not be a real pirate).
  • Tunon's Court in Tyranny, especially when the Fatebinder themself is sent to it. Subverted: Tunon is so sincerely dedicated to Law that the Fatebinder can be found innocent with Loophole Abuse, "in defiance of all reason and expectation", even if actually guilty of the "treason" for which they stand accused.
  • Ultima VII Part II: The Serpent Isle has two of them, one in Fawn where you have the opportunity to turn the tables on your accusers, another in Moonshade where you don't. The charges are inciting rebellion (Toasting the leader of a nation the locals don't like), and entering the bedchamber of the MageLord's mistress (At her invitation), respectively.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: