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Blamed For Being Railroaded

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Game: "You pulled the trigger. You are holding the gun."
You: "You gave me the gun. You ordered me to pull the trigger."
Andrew Vanden Bossche, author of Video Game Morality Play

Put simply, this trope refers to any kind of situation where the only option you are given to advance the plot is doing something that results in the game's NPCs hating your character's guts.

There are games where you are given a wide variety of choices to make, and there are games where you are being led through a linear, strictly defined path. But even in the latter case, even as you are being railroaded into making specific choices and completing specific objectives, you are usually still given some limited level of freedom in approaching the obstacles and events set before you.


Sometimes, however, this can lead to a certain problem: let's say that the linear storyline assumes that you do some kind of action that the game's NPCs consider heinous. What usually follows is them not letting you hear the end of it, constantly nagging you about it and chewing you out over it. The issue here is that you couldn't change the course of actions even if you wanted to - the game specifically assumes that this is what you're going to do and there's no going around it. You can be looking over the entire location, trying various different items, attempting to talk to various different people, but in the end, the only thing the game allows you to do is playing out that one horrible action, and everyone will hate you for it. What usually follows is the player exclaiming in frustration, "Don't blame me; the developers made me do it!" Of course, there may be an alternative option in the form of quitting the game and never coming back, but if the player character is on a quest to Save the World or otherwise do something good that outweighs the negative impact of their actions, that wouldn't be the best thing to do.


It is worth noting that in many of these cases, you aren't playing as yourself or a blank self insert character. Often you are playing as a character with their own motivations and flaws. However, since you are the one controlling the character, and often you have to manually carry out the questionable actions, this trope occurs. Good examples will help remind you that you the player aren't necessarily responsible for the choices that the character they are controlling makes. Bad examples may intentionally guilt you even though you had no control over your character's choices.

A subtrope of But Thou Must!. Often overlaps with Stupidity Is the Only Option and Cruelty Is the Only Option. Related to Video Games and Fate. May occur because of a Treacherous Quest Giver - you'd never know that the guy who gives you the quest has a malicious plan involving you until it's too late.


Not to be confused with Guilt-Based Gaming - that trope is when the player is guilted for not playing the game, or not playing it the way the creators desire.

See also Railroading; No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom; What the Hell, Hero?; You Bastard!; Failure Is the Only Option, and Violence Is the Only Option.

Unmarked spoilers ahead!


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    Action Adventure 
  • In the Web Game Seedling, there are boss fights throughout the game with the Creatures of Relic, which the player character is later called out for killing them all. However, the game also goes out of its way to prevent Sequence Breaking that could prevent you from encountering some of them in the first place, so fighting them all is the only way to progress through the game.
  • In Infamous 2, following the evil path to the end will result in your companion Nyx pulling a Heel–Face Turn, arguing that in spite of the fact she's encouraged you to be evil throughout the game, deliberately spreading the rayfield plague to kill every non-Conduit is going too far - and even denying her superiority complex, since when only Conduits are left, she won't be superior anymore. Even if you think that she has a point, there's no option to stop at that point; you can only continue to kill Nyx and Zeke and become the Beast.
  • In the first Another Century's Episode, Char Aznable (unable to pull off his original Colony Drop plan from Char's Counterattack), instead hides an extinction-level bomb amongst a fleet of refugee shuttles headed to Earth. Forced into an epic-level Sadistic Choice, the heroes end up attacking the refugee fleet to stop the bomb, which destroys all the other shuttles when it goes off. This results in the heroes being labeled mass murderers (since most of the world didn't know about the bomb) and the game ends with them forced into hiding. The player has absolutely no say in the matter: the decision is reached in a cutscene, then the player is dropped into the mission and told to just start blowing up shuttles, and absolutely no reason is given as to why the heroes can't Take a Third Option like enacting a blockade, explaining the situation, and searching the shuttles.

  • In File 06 of Astral Chain, Hal declares he's going to sneak into Zone 09, which is off-limits to the police, yourself included, and invites you to assist him, but only if you really want to. "Really want to," as in "if you want the game to progress any further": Talk to him again and the only dialogue options in response to his invitation are "Yes" and "Of course." One illegal mission later, you're arrested and charged with insubordination and locked up in spite of the well-intentioned nature of the mission and the fact that the game, not Hal (who, again, said to only join him if you wanted to), forced you to undertake it.

    Adventure Games 
  • At the end of Infidel, the Villain Protagonist suffers a major reverse of fortune and is left thinking about the things he should have done differently with his life. Because of the text adventure's second-person narration format, these are all expressed in the form of "If only you'd done X". All of them are decisions the protagonist made in the backstory before the game began, so they're not things 'you' the player did or had any choice about doing.
  • The Stanley Parable:
    • Parodied: The "Video Games" ending leads to a minigame where the player must press a button repeatedly to stop a cardboard cutout of a baby from approaching a fire. As the only way to win the game is to press the button for four hours, it's likely the player will get bored and leave. Doing so has the Narrator berate Stanley, asking him why he hates babies.
    • During the "Real Person" ending, Stanley heads to his boss's office to put in the password and continue the story. However, the keypad has been replaced with a voice box requiring Stanley to speak the password. Problem is, Stanley can't speak and the game has no way of receiving audio from the player. This being the latest in a series of disruptions by your actions, the Narrator grows absolutely furious at the player even though you can't do anything to fix the problem. The Narrator then responds by kicking the player out of Stanley, only to find that without the player, Stanley can't do anything.
    • In the "Pawn" ending, the Narrator leads Stanley into a room and berates them for pressing the button prompts that appear onscreen, supposedly proving that the player is too stupid to do anything but follow orders. Pressing anything but the prompted button gives no response, however, and there is no way out of the room. But in this case it's deliberate; the Narrator is fed up with the player screwing up his story and railroaded them into a scenario where you can do nothing but fail.
  • In the Toy Story Interactive Story Book, the player (as Woody) has to use the other toys to "dispose of" Buzz. As per the movie, they give Woody shit for this despite being just as responsible as he/the player is.
  • In Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist, interacting with a ringing phone causes your character to pick it up... and then instantly put it down, hanging up. You are later chewed out by the narrator on this, even though you cannot interact with phones in any other way.
  • In Mystery of the Druids, an infamous Moon Logic Puzzle requires your detective character to drug a homeless man with medical alcohol in order to steal change from him. Later on, the Chief of Police understandably chews him out for this, even though there's no other way to proceed at that point (and many logical alternative ways of obtaining change are blocked by the game's failure to support them)
  • In Else Heart Break, if you follow Pixie to find out where she works, she'll point out that's a really creepy thing to do. But without doing it, you'll either never find the Lodge or never be allowed to join, and the main part of the game cannot start.
  • Choice of the Vampire blames the Morton's Forked Player Character: in St. Charles, you are starved for blood and hear a child crying in pain. If you try to help, you lose control of your Horror Hunger and kill them; if not, you abandon the injured child. Either way, you get run out of town by a mob.

    First Person Shooters 
  • Bioshock Infinite:
    • During the game, your character will betray Elizabeth by trying to take her to New York rather than Paris. She starts crying and ends up hitting you and knocking you out, then flees from you repeatedly. When you finally catch up to her she says she doesn't trust you and only reluctantly agrees to join you again. This is all despite the fact that you had no choice in what happened - it occurred in a Cut Scene.
    • Burial at Sea Episode 1 ends with the player being blamed for the events that took place in a flashback (accidentally killing an alternate Elizabeth), and which weren't even entirely the character's fault (as it wouldn't have happened if the Elizabeth in this game hadn't distracted you).
  • The original Bioshock 1 has this as well: there's a mid-game revelation that the villain has been mind controlling you and using you as a tool to take over the complex. But it's impossible to disregard the villain's requests before that, not because you're forced to follow them, but because the architecture won't allow any other path.
  • Comes to an especially weird case in Half-Life 2, where Gordon Freeman is even a Railroaded Main Character In-Universe; all of his decisions and choices are made for him by the G-Man, who monitors his every act. Dr. Breen nonetheless insults and vilifies Gordon in all his broadcasts, even though Breen actually knows Gordon is just a pawn for the G-Man and has no control over his actions. Funnily enough, once face-to-face with Gordon, Breen changes plans to Recruit The Railroaded Main Character, and attempts to hire him to his own side.
  • Parodied in Borderlands 2 with an unlockable gun that does nothing but bitch at you whenever you fight enemies (who are trying to kill you), accusing you of being a psychopath and insisting the monsters and criminals you’re fighting are actually oppressed victims having a bad day. This reflects the Holier Than Thou attitude of the guy who gives it to you, Handsome Jack, who’s convinced himself that he’s the good guy and that anyone who opposes him is just a “bandit”.

    Hack 'n' Slash 
  • Path of Exile:
    • In the process of exploring the Vaal Ruins, you accidentally break a seal and release the Vaal Oversoul, which in turn ushers in The Night That Never Ends. Several characters in that act's town call you out for it, saying that you've destroyed the world with your thoughtless actions. That seal is blocking the only path through the ruins, which you have to get through in order to stop Piety and continue the plot.
    • One character also calls you out for magically poisoning the giant tree whose roots were blocking the ruins' entrance, when simply chopping your way through is not an option (somehow, despite the many and varied bladed weapons you as an exile have access to).
    • Subverted in the second half of the game, where you learn that destroying The Beast has caused all of the gods to be awoken from their slumber. Sin is the only one who really blames you for anything, and he's patient enough to help you fix things.

  • In the now-deleted and much-hated Star Trek Online mission "Divide et Impera", the player leads an attack on what is said to be a Romulan weapons lab, but quickly turns out to be a medical research facility. Unfortunately, despite it rapidly becoming apparent that you're slaughtering helpless researchers, you're unable to stop until you reach the base commander, who gives you a What the Hell, Hero? speech, calling you out for "Federation hypocrisy". (According to the devs this was meant to be My Greatest Failure for the Starfleet PC and lead into a three-mission Story Arc, but the other two missions were never completed due to Cryptic's rush to finish. The Foundry community eventually stepped in and wrote a couple of sequels, including "Divide ut Regnes".)
  • In Runescape this is discussed in the Fourth Wall-breaking non-canon Gower Quest. After you've finally reassembled the pieces of the Life Altar, a graphical rework of the Black Knight Titan will show up and reveal that he broke the Life Altar in order to get you to come there so he could steal your Disc of Returning and get into Runescape proper. He'll ask if the player character feels stupid about being tricked, to which they respond that they don't since the quest was so linear and they didn't really have any other options.

    Puzzle Games 
  • In Nihilumbra, you are a sentient piece of the Void. You want to become an individual, independent being. The Void does not like it though, and as you make your way through various different worlds, at the end of each one the Void catches up with you, forcing you to flee and let the Void consume the world you just traversed through. The narration will NOT let you hear the end of it, talking about your guilt and how you don't create anything, only destroy everything. This is despite the fact that the game is a linear puzzle platformer, with no possible choices to make except pushing forward (and furthermore, the Void is what's destroying everything, not you).
  • Portal 2 has a couple of examples that are played more for comedy than drama, as neither GLaDOS or Wheatley are particularly sympathetic and it's clear they are being unreasonable.
    • GLaDOS is constantly upset over you "killing" her in the previous game, spending a good half of the game flinging passive-aggressive remarks about it at you. This is despite the fact that in the previous game, your "escape" was set up in such a manner that you just couldn't go anywhere but straight to GLaDOS' room, with the only way to advance the plot being throwing her cores into fire. This is made all the more egregious by the fact that even if you deliberately attempt NOT to throw them into fire, GLaDOS will keep nagging you to do it with (unintentional?) reverse psychology.
    • At one point, Wheatley wants to detach himself from his rail (while being about twenty feet off the ground) and asks you to catch him before he hits the ground. Try as you might, you will simply NOT be allowed to catch him. You can even abuse the game's physics to make Wheatley land on your head, but even then it will not count as catching him, and you will be forced to just let him fall on the ground. Later, at the end of the game, Wheatley chews you out on it, reminding you about how you didn't catch him as if it was your fault and you deliberately let him hit the ground.
    • Also parodied in the first game. It required you to euthanize your Companion Cube as GLaDOS will not open the door to the next chamber until you've done so. Even though the Companion Cube in this game is (apparently) just a non-sentient box with hearts on the side, GLaDOS still only refers to this as "euthanizing" and if you hesitate will list off reasons why killing it is for the best. After you've done so, she'll passive-aggressively mock you for it, even stating that the Companion Cube was your only friend and can't come to a party she was planning for you since you murdered it. Just another painful dose of psychological mind-games from GLaDOS.
  • In Quantum Conundrum, there are multiple situations where you are forced to break glass in order to proceed, yet Professor Quadwrangle chews you out over it every time. Amusingly enough, there is one singular area in the game where the Professor specifically says that breaking the glass is a necessary evil due to there being no other option, yet it's one of the few areas where you actually CAN avoid breaking the glass.

    Real Time Strategy Games 
  • In Colobot, there is a mission where you land on a new planet, with no bots or supplies at your disposal, and you are ordered to retrieve a TNT box lost by the previous expedition. That TNT box is guarded by hostile giant ants that shoot acidic projectiles at you, and there's literally nothing you can do to retrieve the box without dying, which is something that has to happen in order for you to be able to proceed to the next mission. And even if the ants weren't there, retrieving the box still wouldn't be possible, since there's quite a few ponds you have to fly over, and you can't fly nor walk underwater while carrying objects. After the whole ordeal, the Houston base expresses concern over you "walking around disturbingly carelessly" that has led to this failure. Probably the best part of this is the fact that the level is literally called "The Trap".

    Role Playing Games 
  • In 7th Dragon III: Code VFD's first chapter, a dragon strikes the Nodens plaza and you go out to rescue Mio, who happened to be outside, with your asshole of a Mission Control Nagamimi protesting against it. This results in a battle with said dragon, and you succeed in killing it. Then a far more powerful dragon appears, and Nagamimi strongly urges you to retreat. Neither dialogue choice allows you to wisely do so (they're both some variant of "I have to save people from these dragons!"), so you engage this new dragon in battle and your party proceeds to get their asses kicked, needing to be bailed out by some folks from the ISDF. Nagamimi then scolds the shit out of you for trying to play hero even though there was no option to do otherwise.
  • In the first Gothic, you are a prisoner stuck inside a mining colony covered with the Barrier - an impenetrable, magical force-field that got out of control during its creation and became bigger than intended. At one point, you are tasked with finding a necromancer named Xardas. He's supposed to help the Water Mages in carrying out their plan to destroy the Barrier by blowing up the big pile of magic ore they collected over the years. However, Xardas tells you that blowing up the pile won't destroy the Barrier, and the answer must lie elsewhere. When you return to the Archmage of Water, your character inexplicably just can't bear to tell him the news, and instead decides to keep this to himself, with no other option available. Later on, you finally figure out the real way to destroy the Barrier - finding and defeating a powerful demon that lives deep inside an underground temple underneath an orc village. As you attempt to go further into the temple, you find an old, very powerful sword. Xardas tells you that this sword might be the only way to reach and defeat the demon, but only after it is powered up. As luck would have it, the pile of ore appears to be the only way the sword can be powered up. But inexplicably, your character once again refuses to tell the Mages the full story, and instead attempts to hijack the energy of the pile while keeping this a secret. But he gets caught, which results in the Mages being so furious that they attack him on sight, forcing him to run away from the village. After that, their disposition towards him doesn't change until the sequel.
  • Mass Effect 2 does this in a big way. Most of the characters who knew Shepard in the previous game greet him or her with a vehement "What the Hell, Hero?" upon learning that he or she has joined Cerberus, a notoriously xenophobic human organization with no qualms about atrocious human rights violations and unethical experiments, even on humans. However, most of those characters eventually come around. Not so with the human squadmate (Ashley or Kaiden), who remains adamantly against the idea and refuses to have a civil conversation with Shepard for the entire game. Never mind the fact that the player is forced to work for Cerberus for the entirety of the game, no matter what choices are made in this game or the previous one. You're also not given the option to say that you're just using Cerberus to accomplish a task (stopping the Collectors) and intend to drop them like a hot potato once it's accomplished, an option you are given with other returning characters and which Shepard in fact does between games.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
    • A minor example happens the first time you try to go to West Rogueport. Zess T. tells you to stop moving because she lost a contact lens. Stand still as long as you want; she'll never find it. Move at all, in any direction, even slightly, and it will crunch under your boot (or hammer, if you chose to swing that.) There simply is no way to avoid smashing the darned thing. Even after you replace it, Zess T. will call you by insulting nicknames for the rest of the game.
    • In Chapter 2, you find the majority of the Punies (except for Punio and a few others who evaded capture) locked in two cages- the elder is in one cage, and everyone else is in the other. The elder insists that you free the rest of the tribe first, but the first key you find is for the elder's cage. When you open the elder's cage, she gives you a tongue lashing for not listening to her.
  • The beginning of Secret of Mana has the hero falling into a waterfall. The only way to get out and to get back to his village is to pull the Sword of Mana from the rock that lies near the base of said waterfall. Said act leads to his, and your, banishment from the village.
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion:
    • Late in the Dark Brotherhood quests, you are given assassination contracts by dead drop, which a traitor intercepts to trick you into killing Dark Brotherhood members instead. Even though the change in the letters' tone is obvious and several targets have Dark Brotherhood gear in their homes, Stupidity Is the Only Option: you have to kill most of your superiors, get caught by your boss, and weather his What the Hell, Hero? speech.
    • In the Wizards storyline, you are sent as an envoy to the reclusive Count Hassildor, whose obvious Mole of a steward tells you he'll only meet you at a remote mine shortly after midnight. To progress, you have to walk into the steward's ambush, then let the Count "rescue you" — even if you beat your assailants yourself — and repeatedly insult you for your foolishness.
  • In both the Good and Evil alignment city quest arcs in Neverwinter Nights 2, you are ordered by your superior in the Docks District to go to some rather extreme methods in the pursuit of their goals. When you get to the next higher ups in the Market District, you get chewed out for your reckless disregard for the political balance that exists between both sides.
  • Luke, the protagonist of Tales of the Abyss, spends a good portion of the game being a whiny, self-absorbed burden on the party (even if he does hold his own in battle). When his actions result in what amounts to an entire town being massacred, he's uniformly blamed by his party members, and continues to insist that it wasn't his fault. To be fair, it kind of is his fault. But to be fairer, there's no other way things could have possibly gone for the player. Or Luke himself; the one behind the whole situation is his Parental Substitute and no one in the party gave him an actual good reason to distrust him outside of "they say so", and had themselves been actively antagonizing him at every opportunity. Later it's revealed that every single one of them had been withholding information that could have prevented the entire debacle. The fact Luke is seven years old on account of being a replica of the original just makes this worse.
  • Terranigma: in order to kick off the game's events, you are railroaded into opening a box that ends up freeing a demon and subsequently turning everyone into crystal. Everyone except for the Elder, who promptly chastises you and forces you to fix this. Anyone who's played the game knows the player character, Ark, is an even more tragic pawn case.
  • Happens in Wasteland 2 - early in the game, two locations are being attacked simultaneously and you have to choose which one of them to assist (and no, you can't save both no matter what you do). The other location is overrun and the few survivors berate you when you go there after saving the first.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines: The player character appears to see Nines Rodriguez outside the house of a Malkavian elder who is later found dead. Dialogue options force them to report this to their Bad Boss LaCroix — even though Nines is transparently Not Himself, a Vampire Hunter is there to frame, and the PC might be working with Nines to undermine LaCroix — leading LaCroix to put a bounty on Nines' head; Nines' allies tear a strip off the PC for this forced betrayal.
  • Undertale is a game that features several branching story paths and blurs the line between the player and their character, so it takes pains to avert this trope. Going for the worst ending requires the player to kill every single encounter including ones who won't fight back, but the option to spare any enemy and go back to the neutral path remains until one too many lines have been crossed. The game does, however, try to manipulate the player into accidentally killing the first boss as a way to get them to reset and replay the fight the right way — revealing that resetting is actually an in-universe ability as the main antagonist taunts you for what you did anyway. This twist wouldn't work nearly as well if the game railroaded you, so it doesn't, but it can and will bury you in Red Herrings and hope for the best.
  • Fallout 3 contains an infamous inversion of this trope: Blaming the Player Who Refuses to be Railroaded. At the end of the game the player is expected to activate Project Purity, a machine that will provide clean drinking water to the Capital Wasteland, but the control room is flooded with lethal levels of radiation. The game fully expects the player to sacrifice their life for the Greater Good, and if you ask a human companion to activate the machine instead, you get an ending where Ron Perlman calls you a coward for refusing to accept your "destiny". What makes this infuriating is that the game contains three companions who are completely immune to radiation (a robot, a Super Mutant, and a Ghoul), but all three of them will refuse to activate the machine in your place, with the former two insisting that it's your destiny and the latter simply saying that he's saved your ass more than enough and this time it's all on younote .
    • The DLC Broken Steel, written in response to fan complaints, changes the ending so that your character falls comatose but ultimately survives the irradiated control room, waking up some weeks later so you can play the post-game content. It also makes it so that the three radiation-immune companions can be ordered to activate Project Purity, but you still get the exact same ending voiceover (apparently because Bethesda didn't want to hire Perlman to record a few new lines of dialog).

    Simulation Games 
  • In one of the Wing Commander games, you shoot down a traitor pilot who ejects. You get a cutscene where you could shoot him in his survival pod, but you don't shoot him before your squadron leader swoops in and takes him into custody. The traitor later escapes and a fellow pilot berates you for not shooting him when you had the chance. Except, of course, you didn't - there's no way to affect the way the cutscene and the subsequent plot plays out.
  • In Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, Mission 4 ends with former President Harling's Osprey helicopter getting shot down and exploding in midair. The squadron blames player character Trigger for firing the missile that destroyed the chopper, and Trigger is convicted of assassination and sent to a penal squadron. It is revealed much later in the game the deadly missile was fired by an Erusean spoofing an IFF signal. And this still happens even if you do not fire missiles at allnote .

    Stealth Games 
  • The first mission of Assassin's Creed I begins with you breaking the assassins' three tenets. You have your rank and cool weapons stripped, and spend the rest of the game re-earning them. Justified by the Framing Story: you're reliving your ancestor's memories, so you can't act differently.
  • In Batman: Arkham Knight, at one point, Tim Drake (the current Robin) discovers Batman is infected with an incurable toxin that will transform him into a clone of the Joker and urges him to voluntarily be incarcerated while he deals with the situation. Choosing this causes a flashback to Jason Todd being tortured and murdered by the Joker, followed by being presented with the choice again. You have to lock Tim in the cell and be cursed out by him to continue — there's no option to take him with you, like Alfred has repeatedly urged you to do. Barbara reams you out for it later.
  • In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, most of the player character's allies are too understanding to call him out when he has to make a tough call, but the Ambiguously Evil Huey Emmerich will always make sure to vilify the protagonist, even in situations like Episode 43 where the player character has only one option: kill every single one of his soldiers stationed on the Quarantine platform. Since the whole thing turns out to be Huey's fault, his criticism of you comes across rather flatly. Even as you exile him from the station, he still blames you for everything even though he was lucky you didn't let everyone else kill him.
  • In one mission of Thief: Deadly Shadows, you can meet a blind, delusional widow who owns the mansion you've broken into in search of a MacGuffin. You also find a note from her late husband explaining that the large bag of money in a nearby chest should allow her to live well without him. If you don't steal the money, a few levels later she sends you a letter and a gift. Unfortunately, on expert difficulty, you have to take the money to meet the 90% loot requirement... which causes her to send an assassin after you instead.

    Third Person Shooters 
  • Spec Ops: The Line:
    • Walker encounters a heavily defended chokepoint that he and his squad need to get past. Luckily, they gain access to white phosphorous artillery and proceed to bomb their way through. They soon discover, to their horror, that in doing so they murdered innocent civilians, and this is a critical turning point for the character. But in fact there is no alternative for the player; if you attempt to fight the defenders normally, the game will respawn them forever until you are killed. If you use the phosphorous but deliberately aim the bombs to avoid hitting the civilians, the game will place a military vehicle in the trench with them, which must be destroyed for the sequence to end. This was quite a point of contention among the press since the game calls you out for completing the only objective available to you in the only available way. The game, using both characters and the loading screens, mocks the player for not stopping playing. Word of God later stated in an interview that he knew that players would consider this unfair, because they're right to do so. Earlier builds actually did give players the option of fighting their way through (among other options, such as reportedly being able to simply leave when ordered to do so early on), but because a majority of playtesters chose to do it that way, it was removed, otherwise it'd ruin the narrative.
    • In a similar case later in the game, a chase to stop a tanker from stealing a city's water supply to give to invading soldiers results in the destruction of the tanker, meaning that the water is lost and the city is doomed to dehydration. But no matter how carefully you shoot during the chase, the tanker will be destroyed in the final cut scene.
  • The original Saints Row ends with the player character being supposedly killed by a bomb planted on a boat. A hidden mission in Saints Row 2 allows the player to reunite with Julius, the former leader of the Saints, who claims that he did it because the Saints were becoming just another gang terrorizing the city rather than helping clean up the city and protect the Row as he'd intended. Yet Julius did not attack any of the other Saints - not even Johnny Gat, who is by far the most bloodthirsty of the Saints, and only ends up out of the picture between the games because he gets arrested from trying to kill Troy - and for most of the original game, you had no particular influence over the direction of the gang as a whole, except in the loosest sense of propelling the Saints upward by tearing down the other three more obviously villainous gangs. Moreover, although you are named Julius' right-hand man towards the end, everything you do after that is forced upon you by the need to rescue Julius. At that point, it looks less like Julius doing what needed to be done to put down a psychopath before he destroyed the city, and more like Julius having a predetermined notion of what you're like without his influence and then, when you prove to still care about people other than yourself, blowing you up for not following his script.

  • Mocked in Video Game Morality Play, which was largely a response to Spec Ops and video games that indulge in this trope. Eventually, the "game" forces you to kill innocents, and you have to go through with it to proceed. After the deed, the game calls you a monster and asks if you enjoy this. If you respond that you don't enjoy shooting civilians in real life, the game forces you to either say you're a soulless person for trying to escape your droll, boring, worthless life (as declared by the game makers) by wasting your time via saccharine "fun" that just forced you to shoot civilians in the face (which is completely your fault, the game tries to convince you so), or say you're an evil materialistic shit for buying corporate entertainment that lines the pockets of evil fat cats. You have to "admit" you are an evil bastard, and you're awarded with "We deserve every bullet we make". Picking FUCK YEAH OBVIOUSLY has you go on about your life after rating the game a 6 or 7 out of 10 (it's an okay shooter), and you go do some volunteer work, where you decidedly don't appreciate killing civilians.
  • You Were Hallucinating the Whole Time mocks both this and Shocking Swerve, by having both happen with classic 8-bit games - where it turns out you keeping the ball away from the opposing paddle in Pong was you making a small child cry, the dots in Pac-Man are firefighters you just ate, and the enemy ships in Space Invaders are orphan children.
  • Telltale Games' output loves to do this by giving the player a no-win Sadistic Choice where, no matter what they choose, it will cause things to go to hell in a half-minute, people to suffer, or even the death of someone, and then have characters chew you out for making that choice. Typically it's done quite well, as it adds real gravity and consequences to your choices and keeps decisions from just being a meta "choose the obvious right or wrong option for the sake of being good or evil" kind of thing.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward, the path to the Golden Ending is disrupted when Phi abruptly screws over the Player Character (and the entire rest of the group) by voting Betray, making a speech about how this is vengeance for Sigma betraying her. Sigma (and the player too, most likely) are dumbfounded, as they haven't betrayed Phi. This is the fault of the game's Anachronic Order. The two time travelers are encountering the game's events in two different orders. Phi is referring to a betrayal that already happened from her perspective but hasn't yet happened from Sigma's. In order to advance past this point, the player must go back to a previous decision point and betray Phi, completely pointlessly, just to complete the time loop. While the reasoning is clear to the player, Sigma is utterly baffled and meekly submits to being berated by the entire cast.
  • The immediate sequel, Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma takes this Up to Eleven. You don't just have to pick a few vile options to complete the story; you have to pick damn near all of them, since the game is constructed to only be winnable by constant hopping between alternate timelines, you can't hop to a timeline that hasn't happened yet, and the villain has low-level mind control. Whenever you force a character to make a truly evil decision, you'll hear not only the shocked reactions of those around them, you'll hear the character's own miserable confusion about why they made that choice.
  • A variant happens in Plumbers Don't Wear Ties, when the player is forced to decide the outcome of Jane's job interview- either she gets hired, she doesn't get hired, or the boss tries to make sexual advances on her. If you take the former two choices, you will get a bad ending, and the narrator will scold you. The third choice results in the narrator scolding you, penalizing you so much you get a negative score, and continuing to scold you for the rest of the game. It might be the worst outcome, but it's also the only choice that allows the story to progress, so the player has no real choice in this situation.

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    Live-Action TV 
  • Several times on Star Trek: The Next Generation Riker is upbraided for not seeking his own command, with various character flaws being cited resulting from this choice. However, the writers had no plans to get rid of Riker or promote him out, so what they are in effect criticizing is their own direction for the character.
  • A close variant the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Rules of Engagement". While trying to get Worf extradited to the Klingon Empire for accidentally destroying a passenger ship while defending a convoy against Klingon raiders, Klingon prosecutor Ch'pok brings up a holodeck program Worf was playing prior to the mission where, in the role of an ancient Klingon hero, the player is required to execute prisoners-of-war to advance the scenario, which Worf did. Ch'pok accuses the game of having influenced Worf's judgement and cuts off Jadzia when she tries to point out that the game doesn't give any other options.

"What the Hell, Hero? We told you not to go to the unabridged version!"


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