You: "You gave me the gun. You ordered me to pull the trigger."
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. For that matter, don't you want a full game for the money you paid?
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.
Unmarked spoilers ahead!
- Ghost of Tsushima does this at two levels. A key point is your uncle becoming angry at you breaching the Samurai code by completing missions in dishonourable (ie, stealthy) ways. No matter how honourably you fight throughout the game, though, Act 2's mission structure forces you to conduct a mass poisoning to capture Castle Shimura, and a cutscene then forces you to defy your uncle about it.
- In Infamous 2, following the evil path to the end will result in your companion Nyx pulling a HeelFace 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.
- Medievil has you dropped into a pit partway through "The Enchanted Forest". To escape, you have to solve a puzzle... the solving of which, since you're carrying the Shadow Artifact (which you must acquire to get far enough in the level to be dropped into the pit), breaks the Shadow Demons out of their prison. You are promptly chewed out for doing so, even though there is literally no other path to take.
- Notably subverted in Metroid Fusion. At the beginning of the game, the X Parasites are closed off. However, the game makes you open the various security gates that are holding them back, and sure enough, the X Parasites spread throughout the station as you do. What makes it a subversion is that Adam, the AI running the mission, explicitly doesn't blame you for it - the briefings leading to you opening the gates are more along the lines of "This is going to make things worse, but if we don't do it, we're not going to get any further".
- Similarly subverted when Samus is forced to open Level 4 security doors to escape Sector 4. While Adam does scold Samus for it, it's very brief and professional with him simply pointing out he didn't approve of it and to use more discretion from here on out before dropping the point entirely and giving her her next mission.
- Played straight in the same game, however. Near the end of the game, Samus has the door behind her closed off, and has to enter a restricted part of the station, where she learns about the station's top-secret Metroid cloning program. Metroid games are known for their vulnerability to Sequence Breaking, but this sequence is constructed so that you have no means by which to get out of the room except to enter the restricted area. This time, Adam's not so forgiving, coldly pointing out that Samus is in deep shit with The Federation for that and ordering her to make contact with them as soon as possible; although this isn't really about Samus doing something wrong, but rather her finding out something that the Federation really didn't want her to know about.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- In The 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 Spider And Web, when you turn away from the sealed lab entrance, the Interrogator will point out that you could have used your explosive "blast tab" to break through the door. If you actually use the blast tab, though, it's considered a failure as the Interrogator forces a replay of the scene because you made too much noise.
- 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 if and 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 (after having ventured down this path and not taking the left door when prompted at least once) 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.
- 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.
- 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 youre 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, whos convinced himself that hes the good guy and that anyone who opposes him is just a bandit.
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019):
- One level tries to give you a massive guilt trip for shooting a civilian woman who was just trying to protect her baby, but it falls flat because the game goes to almost cartoonish lengths to actively rig the situation to prevent any other outcome. The woman appears in front of you suddenly in a blatant attempt to make you shoot on reflex. Any injury - no matter how minor - somehow instantly kills her so you can't just neutralize her non-lethally. None of your allies will even try to detain her like they'd be expected to (nor are you given the option). You are inexplicably unable to leave the room until you shoot her, and if you refuse long enough, she'll randomly pull a gun out of Hammerspace and start shooting for no other reason but to force you to kill her. Despite all this, the game still tries to make it out like you, personally, are responsible with a lengthy, somber sequence of your comrade trying to comfort the now orphaned baby while tragic music plays.
- Similarly, you at one point encounter a Hostage Situation where the villains will execute a man and his son in front of you if you refuse to follow their commands, complete with corresponding What the Hell, Player? moment... but if you actually try to prevent the senseless deaths by negotiating with the bad guys, the game just has them kill you and sends you back to the last checkpoint, refusing to let you progress until you let two civilians die so it can make you feel bad.
- 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.
- 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.
- Guild Wars 2 has a pretty nasty case of this during the player's Personal Story. During the Level 60 step, "A Light in the Darkness", the Pale Tree asks what your greatest fear is, which determines what quest they get handed for their Level 70 missions. If you choose "letting an innocent die" as your greatest fear, you end up losing an Asuran engineer named Tonn due to a faulty bomb fuse. The game then forces you to deliver the bad news to his wife, Ceera, and she puts the blame entirely on your shoulders. When the Heart of Thorns expac rolls around, you can find her in Auric Basin, regardless of what story step you picked... and she still hates your guts if your character was "responsible" for losing Tonn.
- Heart of Thorns pulls this again with the death of Eir Stegalkin. Her son, Braham is too stricken with grief at the time it happens, but fully leans into blaming you for it throughout most of Living World Season 3 - as well as the start of Season 4 - despite the fact that said death happens in a cutscene, and there's literally nothing you can do to prevent it.
- In Lord of the Rings Online, you have taken an Orc Chieftain captive, and are given the option to kill him or use him for a hostage exchange. If you say that he must die, the Dwarf at the scene overrules you and says he's too valuable to kill. Later on, in a conversation with the elf Celeborn, you are chewed out for making such a poor decision to allow him to live given his history, despite having no real choice in the matter. To make matters worse, the events are shown out of order (making a decision on the orc's fate is done in a later flashback), meaning that you are chewed out first, and then given no option to make a different choice later, as if the developers were trolling you.
- 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.
- Played unfortunately straight in Song of the Elves, which has the player character take a more mercenary, detached approach with the conflict. After defeating the Fragment of Seren immediately upon waking her, you're told off by the (elf) villain for not even attempting to solve the problem non-violently, despite this not being possible. While the heroic characters don't blame you for this, the circumstances surrounding the boss and her in-battle dialogue implies that it may have been possible.
- 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 Dude, Stop, the narrator tells you not to touch anything while he's on the phone during the tutorial. Of course, he takes so long to make the call that the only way to progress is to ignore his instructions and deliberately fail all the puzzles. This leads to the narrator getting irrationally angry and threatening to ban you from playing the rest of the game. Though the main point of this exercise is to make it harder for you to feel sorry for the guy when you deliberately fail later puzzles. In fact, some of the packs require you to fail in order to progress, which of course still makes the narrator angry.
- 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.
- 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".
- Played with in Command & Conquer: Red Alert: In the Soviet campaign, you're blamed for failing to capture the Chronosphere in a mission where it's impossible to capture. note However Nadia shifts the blame away from you and into Intelligence. You Have Failed Me ensues.
- 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.
- Baldur's Gate: the player could find a xvart settlement while wandering in the countryside (xvarts are evil blue creatures that the game sets as enemies by default). They automatically spawn as hostile npcs and then they will attack you on sight. However, one of the inhabitants yells that they didn't nothing wrong, yet you are rampaging through their home, even before you enter the village proper. You are not given any dialogue option, you can't even offer apologies for interloping or prevent a reaction. Thus, you are mostly blamed for a case of Hardcoded Hostility. Although you can ignore them and go away, this can be done only AFTER they blame you (besides, they will stay hostile and xvarts anyway are just low level evil mooks in the world of D&D, players would have no reason at all to flee away rather than killing them).
- Divinity: Original Sin II: The playable characters who aren't chosen as Companions in Act I return in Act III as undead minions of the God-King, murderously furious that you let them die. There are six, your party has an Arbitrary Headcount Limit of four, and there's no in-game reason to believe that you're endangering them by not choosing them.
- Dragon Quest XI:
- The town of Sniflheim has been cursed, causing everyone but its queen to be frozen solid. The queen tells you that the only way to end the curse is to defeat a witch protected by a huge monster. When you reach said monster, you're forced to fight it to save Sir Hendrik. Much later, you find out that the "queen" was the witch, the monster protector was the "can" her power was sealed away in, and you killed it and released that power. Never mind that nobody, including the NPC berating you, knew any of that at the time; the only evidence of it is inside a book sealed at the center of a gigantic puzzle-lock serving as the questline's dungeon.
- It's not even another half hour before this happens a second time. The same NPC who berated you manages to bungle the spell to trap the witch, allowing her to Body Swap with the real queen. The only indication this happened is a tiny quirk of a smile from the fake queen. Whether you notice it or not, the next logical course of action is to head to the throne room, to speak with or confront the queen. Naturally, the trapped queen gives you holy hell for being so stupid regardless of what your intentions were.
- 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.
- Fallout 3 contains an infamous inversion of this trope: Being Blamed For Refusing 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 you.note
- 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).
- Final Fantasy IV: If you speak to the NPCs being held captive at the beginning of the game, they will call you out for being an evil jerk and stealing their crystal. Granted, that's all done in a cutscene. A straighter example would be a little deeper into the game when Cecil is ordered/tricked by his king to deliver a package that destroys an entire village and kills nearly everyone in it, save for a little girl whose mother you just inadvertently murdered after slaying the monster that blocks your way into said village. The player character and the game both do a good job of making you feel like a complete bastard even though the only way to progress is to deliver the package and destroy the village. Fortunately this is also when Cecil realizes he's on the wrong side and kicks off the events of the game proper. Sadly, the surviving villagers still call you a bastard and treat you like crap when you return to the rebuilt village later on in the game after reforming. Of course, nobody ever tells them Cecil didn't want to do it and was an unwitting accomplice, so it has to be expected.
- 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.
- In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, your master Kreia/Darth Traya spends the game trying to teach you to let go of your desire for revenge and show the Jedi Masters that they were wrong about you instead of killing them outright. However, if you kill a single Master over the course of the game (such as on Onderon, where siding with Master Kavar in the Civil War is very much against a Dark Side player's interests) then the rest of them will turn on you and the game acts as though killing them all was your plan all along, with Kreia telling you You Have Failed Me.
- 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. It gets even worse if you'd romanced them in the first game, at which point they'll criticize you for not contacting them for two years but the game doesn't let you point out that you'd spent most of those two years on an operating table being reassembled at nearly a cellular level and once you were awake and free again, nobody, not even Captain Anderson, was willing to tell you where the Survivor was or would let you send a message to them.
- Neverwinter Nights 2:
- In both the Good and Evil alignment city quest arcs, 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.
- If you join the Shadows of Amn, you have no choice but to betray at least one side. Worse still, if you play both sides against each other and destroy both cells. Somehow, this leads directly to the Shadows taking over Neverwinter, despite no longer having the resources in place.
- 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.
- Persona 4 Golden has a scene on Valentine's Day where, if you romance more than one girl, you have to personally reject all of the ones you didn't choose to spend the day with. Obviously this is to punish you for being a player... but here's the problem: the game also guilt-trips you if you turn down their romantic overtures during their Social Links. No matter which way you choose, you're going to break their hearts.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Guilt-tripping mostly happens when it's clear you're going out of your way to be evil, like killing Papyrus (who will never kill you, and if you've gone Genocide up to his boss fight, will explicitly spare you), and you can always go back to the Neutral run right up until the very end. If you just kill some monsters, you'll get a pass on the basis that they were trying to kill you and you were defending yourself. There is, however, one instance where the game attempts to nudge the player into a path that will get them guilt-tripped: the first boss fight & its aftermath. The boss, Toriel, will not respond to normal attempts at mercy (you need to spare her repeatedly until she finally breaks down) and will die when she's at 1/3 health, so it's very likely that first-time players will accidentally kill her and Save Scum until they figure out how to end the fight non-lethally. This will get them taunted by Flowey, though the purpose of the lecture isn't so much to actually make the player guilty (Flowey isn't the best guide on morality) as to reveal that Save Scumming is an In-Universe ability and some characters have Ripple Effect-Proof Memory. The game also does give prior hints towards sparing Toriel and it's totally possible to figure it out first try, so it's not so much a railroad as a bunch of red herrings being thrown around.
- It's debatable how or even whether, Undertale averts this trope, as the first character you meet in the game is Flowey, who first railroads you into trusting him, calls you an "idiot" for trusting him, and then gleefully informs you that, in this world, "it's kill or be killed". If you act on this notion even once — despite the fact that even Toriel introduces herself by hitting Flowey with a fireball, knocking him offscreen to a Disney Death — you are barred from the Golden Ending.
- 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.
- 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 all.note
- 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.
- The first mission of Assassin's Creed begins with you breaking the Assassins' three core tenets, and failing the mission along with causing the death of one of your brothers. You have your rank and cool weapons stripped, and spend the rest of the game re-earning them, along with every character criticizing what you did in the tutorial. Justified by the Framing Story: you're reliving the memories of your ancestor Altair, so you literally can't act differently because that's how Altair acted in the first place.
- 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 option causes a flashback to Jason Todd being tortured and murdered by the Joker, followed by being presented with the choice again, turning it into a But Thou Must! kind of choice. 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.
- Metal Gear Solid has Liquid Snake trying to guilt trip Solid Snake near the end for killing his men and saying he enjoys violence. This would hold a lot more weight if it hadn't previously been revealed that Liquid's plan to Activate Metal Gear REX relied upon Snake making it through his men (including his top lieutenants) with the PAL key. While much of the game can be played by avoiding killing and direct combat, you're locked into both boss battles and a few ambushes with no option other than to kill to survive. Liquid knows this and so his rant about Snake being kill happy comes across as being a bit hypocritical at least. Liquid's rant becomes more nonsensical in the Twin Snakes remake where due to the script not changing at all, Liquid will still berate Solid for killing his men even if you had used nothing but tranquilizers.
- Intentionally done in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Most of Snake's allies are understanding of the tough calls he has to make, but the Hate Sink Huey Emmerich will always make sure to vilify him, 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. Most of the tapes of Huey's interrogations reveal that he's almost pathologically incapable of accepting fault and impulsively tries to find ways to justify framing himself as an innocent hero and calling everyone against him evil villains. This reaches an especially disturbing conclusion when it's discovered that he murdered his wife, Strangelove, to keep using their son (the future Otacon) as a Metal Gear test pilot. As obvious as all of the evidence is, Huey continues lying himself into increasingly ridiculous contradictions and trying to find ways to blame everyone else for her death. 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.
- The Last of Us Part II has the aesop that violence isn't the answer and revenge just becomes a cycle of violence that destroys everyone you love, with an attempt to call players out on this by making the death animations very brutal and giving every character a name. However, the game gives you no choice but to kill and will continue to call you out even if you avoid violence when possible, and much of your killing/violence is done in self-defense against enemies who will try to kill you the second you're found out. To be even more unhelpful, the game occasionally has injured mooks begging to be spared who get up and attack the moment you turn your back on them, giving no incentive to be merciful.
- One moment that often gets singled out is when Ellie is attacked by a dog in a cutscene, preventing any attempt to avoid him, and she kills him in a quicktime event. After the Perspective Flip to Abby's party, it's revealed that this dog was Abby's pet, and you're given the option to pet and play with him, obviously to try to make you feel bad about killing him "earlier"... but the player was never given the choice not to kill the dog.
- In addition, the game's plot is instigated by a case of railroading in the first game: about an hour and a half into Part II, Joel gets his head beaten in with a golf club by a woman named Abby as an act of revenge for killing her dad, Jerry. Jerry was the doctor who was performing surgery on Ellie in the climax of the first game. The developers stated that this was deliberate: since every player would've been forced to kill Jerry in order to rescue Ellie and complete the game, every player also knows exactly why Abby's out for blood.
- 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, since he gets arrested in the very same cutscene and the last stretch of missions involve a corrupt mayoral candidate blackmailing you into removing his opponents in return for Julius' safety. 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.
- 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 either they overwhelm you or you give in and use the white phosphorous. 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.
- Played for Laughs in Disgaea: In the first tutorial map, Etna talks Laharl into walking into melee range of several enemies who promptly gang up on him, and then calls him an idiot for making such a foolish mistake ("An that's exactly what NOT to do."). Laharl angrily retorts that she's the one who told him to do it.
- Inverted in XCOM2's tutorial mission, where characters are railroaded into fatal tactical mistakes as you're explicitly not in charge; this highlights how badly your leadership is needed, which is why they're rescuing you in the first place.
- In Doki Doki Literature Club!, Monika gets upset that you're not trying to spend time with her and tells the player that she's not unapproachable. Eventually, she resorts to using her Reality Warper powers to severely corrupt the game in Act 2, before eventually forcing you to spend time with her in Act 3. Thing is, she's actually unapproachable, as she's not a love interest and therefore doesn't have any options that let the player spend time with her.
- Expect to get chewed out on a regular basis in Fate/stay night for making dangerously stupid decisions, even though they're often the correct one. Choosing the "safe" option very frequently leads to you getting killed.
- 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.
- At the end of Aoi's route in You and Me and Her, Miyuki, the other love interest breaks into the protagonist's house and bludgeons him and Aoi to death with a baseball bat out of jealousy. She then reveals that she's not angry at Aoi or the protagonist, but at the Player, for playing Aoi's route after hers, even though her route ended with you promising to never leave her. It's supposed to be an elaborate What the Hell, Player?-moment, but it gets undercut by one, pretty significant detail: Romancing Aoi is literally impossible until you played through Miyuki's route, because Aoi will only be available as a love interest once you romanced Miyuki. Even if you never had interest in Miyuki to begin with, the game forces you to court her, essentially making sure that you'll break her heart and turn her into a crazy Yandere once you start Aoi's route.
- 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.
- 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, though some players who've experienced enough of their games see through this deception and just choose the "evil" option to see how it plays out because you're ultimately going to the same place anyway.
- 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.
CONGRADULATIONS [sic] YOU CONTINUE TO BE A PERSON
- You Were Hallucinating the Whole Time mocks both this and Ass Pulls, 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.
YOU ARE A MONSTROUS HUMAN BEING. WHY DO YOU KEEP PLAYING... FOR ENTERTAINMENT?!?!?! YOU SICK BASTARD. YOU SHOULD THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU'VE DONE.
Non-video game examples:
- A close variant appears in 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.