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Bolivian Army Ending

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"For a moment there, I thought we were in trouble."
Butch Cassidy's last words, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

A Bolivian Army Ending is an Ending Trope that occurs when the main characters face seemingly insurmountable odds which, for once, they actually seem unable to surmount. The trope is named for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid — based on both the end of the movie, and the title characters' real-life ending.

This trope usually leaves out the actual demise of the protagonists, ending just as they face the fire. Thus, while previous circumstances and/or antagonists indicate their unseen yet inevitable destruction, the actual fate(s) of the hero(es) hide(s) behind the horizon evermore, unless the fiction continues this/these character(s) in an upcoming/additional body of work.

A variation, the Bolivian Army Cliffhanger, can be used in TV shows and other serial media to raise the audience's tension over which characters survive to the next season or installment. See Uncertain Doom for scenarios in which a character's fate is left hanging in the middle of a work, season or installment rather than at the end.

Can be considered a variation of a Downer Ending, although it's ambiguous enough to give the viewer/reader some hope. When the camera cuts to a different scene unrelated to the battle right before the work ends, this overlaps with Charge-into-Combat Cut. Arguably scarier is an Offscreen Inertia ending.

As some shows/films have ended on an unresolved Cliffhanger, it's worth noting the difference between the two. A cliffhanger is designed to create suspense and maintain the audience's attention so that they come back to continue the story. An unresolved cliffhanger, therefore, is an unintentionally suspenseful ending; the producers intended for the cliffhanger to be resolved, but outside events prevented this. The Bolivian Army Ending, however, is an intentional ending, and needs to work satisfactorily as such; while the exact details of what happened might be slightly ambiguous, it is often heavily implied what the outcome will be, and either way the audience is left under no illusions that the character's story is not over. The Trope Namer, for example, doesn't show the viewer the outcome of the two main characters confronting the Bolivian Army, but it is framed in such a way that the audience is left in little doubt what it will be regardless.

As this is an Ending Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Aldnoah.Zero's Grand Finale, the last that is seen of Sir Harklight, Count Barouhcruz and the remainder of the Stygis Squadron is them flying their damaged Kataphrakts in a final assault against the Deucalion.
  • The 1985 Area 88 OVA ends with Shin about to engage against the mercenary planes that have already annihilated the rest of the Area 88 pilots.
  • The manga ending to Bamboo Blade has Tamaki finally having her first match with fated rival Ura Sakaki. The story ends right in the middle of the match, without revealing who won. It's more hopeful than most examples, because what matters isn't who won the match, but that Tamaki and Sakaki finally have proper rivals to test their skills against.
  • In Captain Earth, it is unknown if Daichi and Hana escaped the destruction of the Blume or both died in it.
  • Chimamire Sukeban Chainsaw ends with one of these for the villain. The Big Bad, Ax-Crazy Mad Scientist Nero, has turned herself into the police to escape the hero's vengeance. However, she gets put in the same prison where most of her surviving experiments ended up, and the last we see of her is her cowering in the corner of her cell as they start to beat down the door.
  • Cowboy Bebop ends with Spike, being wounded, staggering down the stairs and reaching his hand out to the remaining Red Dragon members like a gun, says "Bang", and collapses. Whether Spike died or not is unknown to this day.
  • Dangaioh ends with Gil Berg being defeated but not killed, the war still going on, and Team Dangaioh unconscious and adrift in space inside their mecha compartments.
  • Devilman Lady: The manga ends with Akira and Ryou remembering their former lives and teaming up to prevent God and his angels from destroying the world. The end result of this conflict is not seen, but it's more optimistic than the Devilman series' usual blatant Downer Endings.
  • The anime for Durarara!! leaves Izaya's fate up in the air. A lot. At the end of the second season, he's last seen being stabbed and falling unconscious in the middle of the street. However, we later find out he survived and is recovering in a hospital. At the end of the third season he is knocked unconscious by a possessed Sloan and captured. Then at the beginning of the final season he gets rescued. In the finale, Izaya is beaten and shot by Shizuo and Vorona, though Simon intervenes and the scene changes. His final appearance is in a car with Kine and Manami, having survived thanks to Celty temporarily patching his wound with her shadows. Kine tells him he only has a fifty-fifty percent chance of living and that they are going to see an underground doctor. Izaya replies that it's fine as long as they aren't in Ikebukuro, as he doesn't want Shizuo anywhere near his deathbed.
    • In the light novels, he gets his own series as it is confirmed that he survived, though not unscathed. In Durarara!!SH, no one ever references him as being alive and he is more of a ghost in terms of plot relevance.
  • A series of shorts referred to as Dynamic Super Robot Wars ends with this as Shin Getter Robo and UFO Robo Grendizer facing down Hades when Kouji Kabuto returns with Mazinkaiser...where the shorts end.
  • Elfen Lied (well, sort of): after Lucy is shot by an entire squad of badass soldiers, one of her horns can be seen flying up into the air. Though after sitting through the ending theme, one comes across the real ending, which shows a shadow that looks like Lucy/Nyu, arriving at the inn gate some time after the chances are it was just a Disney Death. The manga on the other hand quite clearly shows her melting while fending off multiple battleships with her vectors.
  • Gakuen Taikutsu Otoko ends with the main characters surrounded by the students of Chimidoro and as Mondo orders his troops to fight, the manga ends.
  • Getter Robo Āḥ: As the original manga was Cut Short due to the magazine hosting it shutting down and Ken Ishikawa's passing, its 2021 anime decides to use this trope for its ending, having the Getter Arc team leaping at the rising Proto-Getter Emperor (implied to be the Shin Getter Robo evolved) to prevent humanity's destruction.
  • Highschool of the Dead:
    • This is the fate of Saya's parents. They're last seen telling the kids to escape while they defend their property against a massive horde. Not to worry, as her parents are shown to be pretty badass and could probably make it.
    • The anime ends with the protagonists, armed and confident, dramatically walking toward a zombie-infested highway, hoping to eliminate them all and escape on their vehicle.
  • Iczelion ends with the remaining Big Bad sending all his Robeasts after the heroines. A possible subversion, in that the tone of the scene is actually fairly upbeat. Supporting this is the fact that the OAV's trailer features a scene not found in the episodes themselves of what is apparently the heroines beating the ever loving crap out of the entire force.
    • Watch through the credits, and you'll see them doing just that. Of course, since Chaos clearly isn't cutting his losses, the implication is that the fight for Earth is still just getting started ...
  • Isabelle Of Paris begins with the loss at the Battle of Sedan during the 1870 Franco-Prussian war and ends with Bloody Week, a year later. By this point, Victor is shot, Jean is shot, Irma commits suicide, Andréa dies attempting (and failing) to kill Thiers, Jules is executed, Geneviève is shot and her baby dies with her, Jeanne dies avenging Geneviève and Gaston is crushed to death. The remaining Parisians are massacred by the French army for being apart of the Paris Commune. Only the titular Isabelle survives, and starts a new life in another country (implied to be London).
  • Kite ends this way. Sawa waits for Oburi to comeback from the store with snacks for her and food for the cats, but he is shot and killed by a girl he pissed off earlier in the film. The door where Sawa is staying opens. She looks towards the door and the film ends without her fate being unknown. This was eventually answered in the follow-up film, Kite Liberator. Sawa, now older and with dyed hair, is a waitress at a diner and is a single mother. She figures out that the young girl she works with is the assassin vigilante going around killing criminals.
  • This is how Megazone 23 Part II ends for B.D. He flies off with the last of the Humongous Mecha to engage the aliens in seemingly hopeless circumstances after A.D.A.M. begins to destroy the Megazone.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi has had some personal Bolivian Army endings for several chapters. Starting with the end of chapter 311. Mauve shirt Johnny and Kaede took on far more than they could handle in 312. 313 took Kotarou, Asakura, Yue, and Makie out in similar fashion. Makie and Yue's being very much like the trope namer in that the pair talk politely on getting together with friends back home before the next page and they have been defeated.
  • The anime Noir ends with Action Girl Mirelle and Emotionless Girl Kirika renouncing Noir and the Soldats and literally just walking away. They always survive whatever's thrown at them, but by this point they're badly beat up, sick of fighting, resigning...and then the screen goes blank and two shots are heard. What actually happened is highly debated in the fandom.
  • One Piece:
    • This happens twice to Mr. 2/Bon Clay. First, at the end of the Alabasta arc, he distracts the Marines as a decoy ship, and is left facing a Marine captain and several ships, but he survives, ending up captured and sent to the high-security prison of Impel Down. Later, he faces Warden Magellan, a man made from poison, in hand-to-hand combat in an effort to buy Luffy enough time to reach Ace before Ace's execution. Bon Clay's final words as he faces down certain death are "I have no regrets" with his make-up smeared and a grin on his face, while a whole battleship of pirates weep for his sacrifice. It's revealed he did survive and is the new Queen of the Okama underground. It's implied he survived long enough for Blackbeard and his group to arrive and beat Magellan.
    • The end of the Whole Cake Island arc ended with the Straw Hats allies, the Sun Pirates and the Germa 66, fighting about some of Big Mom's pirates to give the Straw Hats time to escape Big Mom's territory. After getting confirmation they're out of the area, the groups about to retreat themselves... only for Big Mom to show up and ready to do battle. While we're not shown immediately what happened after that, it's revealed later in the Wano arc that the Sun Pirates did survive Big Mom with Jinbe managing to reunite with the Straw Hats in Wano. And as revealed in the "Germa 66's Ahh... An Emotionless Excursion" Cover Story Germa 66 was not so lucky having to save Niji and Yonji from Big Mom's Crew. They even took Cesar Clown with them who's fate was also unknown
  • The 8th episode of Pokémon Generations ends with Kyogre about to eat Archie and Shelly's submarine.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica ends with Homura engaging a group of gigantic Grief Demons. Her Witch corruption has begun forming an incomplete barrier, trailing behind her in the shape of wings. She hears Madoka's voice, which is more of a sign that she's reached her end. The apocalyptic landscape suggests this may even be humanity as a whole's Bolivian army ending. Which is about as bittersweet as you can expect from the series.
    • The interpretation that this is the end of humanity is contradicted by Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion. The manga, however, explicitly shows Homura reaching heaven and reuniting with Madoka...Only for the Rebellion manga to show it was a dream.
  • Shaman King's original run ended in a manner similar to this. Hao earned the title of Shaman King, and was about to begin a ritual to earn the power of the Great Spirit. Yoh and co. are still far, far too weak to beat him. Before that, they have to fight seven more Patch Officiants in eleven hours. Everyone goes to sleep on the eve of the final battle, Hao says, "Goodbye"..And..That's where the series ends. Some might have considered this a Downer Ending before the series was Uncanceled.
  • Side:Future of Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School ends with a wounded Asahina being captured by brainwashed soldiers while Munakata fights off the brainwashed soldiers. Side:Hope reveals that both of them ultimately survived.
  • At the end of Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, Bison comes out of nowhere driving a truck toward Ryu, and Ryu jumps toward the truck with a punch as the credits roll.
  • Transformers: Operation Combination ends with a battle between the Autobots and Decepticons, but ends in the middle with no end resolution.

    Comic Books 
  • 300: played straight, with the Persian army standing in for the Bolivians. Followed by a short denouement of the one surviving messenger telling the story of Leonidas and the 300's BAE to the Greeks about to fight the Battle of Plataea. The sequel features Themistocles and Gorgo charging into battle aboard the decks of the ships at Salamis against their Persian enemies. Once again, historically, the Greeks win that battle.
  • Subverted in The Boys at the end of the G-Men arc. After learning about the lengths they go to, Hughie and the others prepare to march into certain death only to be interrupted by Red River showing up with More Dakka and doing their job for them.
  • Crossed: This is the fate of Thomas and Kelly in the finale, trapped between the Crossed and a cliff. It's implied they choose the cliff, but the conclusion is never seen.
  • Democracy ends by showing the Athenians charging towards an inclusive battle in Marathon. Historically, the battle was a greek victory. Word of God stated that the novel was concluded this way was not only to create suspense, but to show that the "battle for Democracy" never ends.
    Leander: If we stand for anything, it's the fact that it doesn't end. It never ends!
  • The Three storyline of Fantastic Four, with the Human Torch trapping himself in the Negative Zone with an enormous army getting ready to attack. He was initially implied to be dead, but was later revealed to have survived because this is a comic book, after all.
  • Halo: Blood Line ends with Spartan Team Black battling over a hundred Covenant in hopes of stealing one of their ships and flying home. Four years passed before the team was confirmed to have survived the battle...only to be abruptly killed off in Halo: Escalation a month later.
  • The DC comic Hitman ends with Tommy, having escaped an overwhelming horde of badguys with the girl goes back to make a final last stand with his wounded and trapped friend Nat.
    Tommy: I think it might be time for a Butch and Sundance.
  • New X-Men has suffered from this twice during alternate timelines. In House of M everyone was killed fighting off Mutant oppressors for how they treat humanity. In the timeline where David's mental block is removed, giving him access to all the skills of everyone he's ever met and ever will meet he slowly turns evil and kills everyone in a BAE.
  • The final Occupy Avengers installment of Secret Empire has Red Wolf, a new Nighthawk and a bunch of citizens preparing to rise up against HYDRA. The last page shows Red Wolf and Nighthawk kiss before they run off. So far, only Red Wolf has been confirmed to survive as he shows up in Avengers: No Surrender.
  • In The Thanos Imperative, Nova and Star-Lord stayed behind in the collapsing Cancerverse to prevent Thanos from escaping. A memorial service for the two heroes was held, but their fates were never made explicit. Both Thanos and Star-Lord were revealed to have survived two years later, while the existence of a new Nova seems to suggest that his predecessor didn't make it. A few years afterwards, that Nova ultimately did come back.
  • The Warhammer comic Forge of War has the remnants of the defeated Empire army rally at a narrow mountain pass to hold off a massive Chaos army to buy time for the rest of the Empire to regroup and send reinforcements. The comic ends with barely a dozen men, a dwarf, and a mage on a gryphon mount charging thousands of Chaos warriors. The comic "Condemned by Fire" shows they won (reinforcements came)
  • Watchmen ends with something similar, with a worker at the New Frontiersman trying to decide on an item from the "Crank Pile" to run as a back-up story, and uncovering Rorschach's journal. If he makes it into a story, and it's taken seriously, it will expose Ozymandias' crimes — although the consequence of this might be global nuclear war. If he chooses something else, or it's not taken seriously, Ozymandias gets away with everything. This is the very last panel of the comic, so we never actually see which of these outcomes happens. The subtext (including the ending of the Black Freighter story-within-a-story and Dr. Manhattan's prophetic warning) suggests quite clearly that no victory will ever be complete or eternal...which means that either Rorschach's story will undermine Ozymandias' plan, or a nuclear war will start within a few years anyway. The implied tragedy being that Ozymandias essentially sacrificed millions of lives to achieve a peace that won't even last a single decade. Doomsday Clock ultimately reveals that the former is what happened.
  • The Marvel What... Huh? story "Mutant Beach Party" ends with the Muties finally being confronted with the mysterious consortium of their fiercest and deadliest enemies they've been warned about repeatedly. The story ends with Rimshot standing down the stampeding horde as the others run off to prepare for the fight, and we see those enemies: All of Marvel's other heroes, fed up of the X-Men hogging the limelight.
    Rimshot: ... help?
  • In a Marvel What If? issue, Nova arrived on Earth to warn various superheroes about the impending Annihilation Wave, only to run smack-dab into the middle of the Superhero Civil War. The issue ends with Captain America and Iron Man putting aside their political differences and joining Nova in an attack on the forces of Annihilus, from which it's implied they didn't survive.
  • The final issue of X-Statix ends with Orpahn and Anarchist rushing out to fight the terrorists who have just killed their entire team, with implication that the two heroes are about to go out in one final blaze of glory. They were confirmed dead in a later mini-series that dealt with the spirits of the team trying to stop a group of dead Marvel villains. Humorously, Doop, who was among those killed in the finale, later turned up alive.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Animal Farm (1954) does this to the villains. Whereas the book ends with the animals of Animal Farm watching helplessly through the window as the now-corrupt pigs and the evil farmers gloat over their new alliance, the film ends with Benjamin the donkey rallying his fellows in a second rebellion. Thus, the film ends with the pigs cornered, trapped and cowering, their literal guard-dogs too drunk to lift a paw to come and help, as an army of other animals begins breaking through the windows and door and, it's heavily implied, trample and gore them all to death.
  • Batman: Soul of the Dragon: The film ends with Batman, Richard Dragon, Lady Shiva and Bronze Tiger stuck in the Naga's realm preparing to fight his demon horde with no plan of escape.
  • The short animated film Flight of the Kiwi is basically just one long Bolivian Army Ending
  • At the end of the fourth Futurama movie, Into the Wild Green Yonder, the main characters are escaping with their spaceship, and see a wormhole. The Professor says that it could take them trillions of light-years away and there's no knowing if they'll ever return. They all decide to go in, and the movie ends here. However, Futurama was later Un-Cancelled, and it turned out that they came out right next to Earth.
  • The ending of the animated film version of The Plague Dogs has the two protagonists swimming out into the ocean, trying to reach an island. While it at first seemed that there was likely no island at all, the film gives just a tiny bit of ambiguity to their fates by having the fog clear during the credits to reveal that there was in fact an island, albeit a distant one.
  • Porco Rosso ends with Porco and Curtis going against the whole Italian Air Force. It's implied that they did it, though. Curtis is seen on a poster, and writes a letter to the narrating Fio, while Marco's plane is seen parked outside Gina's restaurant.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • One of the alternate endings (or rather, the 'original' ending) for 28 Days Later was intended to imply the survival of Hannah and Selena even after the death of Jim, by showing them walking away from it all, but came across as a rather bleak Bolivian Army Ending that didn't give a particular answer in favour of ambivalence.
  • 300 ends in the same manner as the comic book on which it was based, showing the Greek army charging towards an inconclusive battle at Platea. Historically, the battle was a Greek victory, and this outcome is heavily implied by the narrator.
  • Alatriste ends with the main characters fighting in the Spanish side in the battle of Rocroi. They are given the choice of surrender, but the Spanish Tercio cannot accept it. The Other Wiki says Spanish defeat with 7,000 dead and wounded plus 8,000 captured of the original 27,000 Spanish soldiers. Final freeze frame, although Word of God says that the main character is killed with his squire escaping to tell the story; nothing is said of sidekick Copóns.
  • Alien 2: On Earth: After finally beating the creature to death in the bowling alley, Thelma runs through the empty city streets, calling for help but getting no answer. She finally stops yelling and sits down at an intersection, despondent, as text on screen warns the audience, "...You may be next!"
  • The Anderson Tapes has one for Duke Anderson, who ends the film in critical condition after being shot. It is unknown what happens to him afterwards.
  • Assassination Nation invokes this and subverts it. The last shot of the four protagonists are them together, facing the rioters who want them dead, guns drawn on both sides. The scene ends in a standoff, but there's about a hundred rioters against four girls. The last scene of the film depicts an FBI agent talking to Lily's father, saying that the person they're holding is likely to face imprisonment for the rest of their life for their crimes. Turns out, they're talking about her brother Donny, outed as the hacker who instigated the violence - and Lily's father yells at him that people died from his actions - but that his sister (Lily) almost died - so she, at least, managed to survive.
  • Axeman ends with the titular Serial Killer bearing down on the sole survivors of his rampage.
  • The German film Bandits, an entertaining prisoners-on-the-run story, ends with the three remaining band members about to board a ship when the police finally catch up with them. Cut to the sound of gunfire and a shot of their hands reaching for the hand of their friend who died earlier. Damn!
  • The WWII movie Bataan had this ending. After the last member of his squad is killed, Sergeant Bill Dane (Robert Taylor) digs his own grave and continues firing his machine gun until the credits roll.
  • Beverly Hills Cop contains the Discussed Trope version of this, Played for Laughs during the final shootout at the Big Bad's mansion when the supporting cast detectives are pinned down by machine gun fire from some goons.
    Rosewood: You know what I keep thinking about? You know the end of Butch Cassidy? Redford and Newman are almost out of ammunition, and the whole Bolivian army is out- out in front of this little hut?
    Taggart: Billy, I'm gonna make you pay for this.
  • Apart from the theatrical releases, Blade Runner had this as Deckard runs away with Rachael, knowing he will be pursued. Granted, a sequel proved at least he survived.
  • Boiler Room:
    • At the end, Seth manages to get out from under criminal prosecution by cooperating with the Feds, but the movie ends just as Federal agents storm J.T. Marlin after Seth walks out, leaving it ambiguous exactly what happened to Chris and the rest of the company, or if any of them got away.
    • There's an alternate take on this in the unused ending: Seth makes the same deal with the Feds and leaves the building when a customer whose money he stole pulls up in his car with and walks in with a concealed gun. He misses Seth himself, but it's not clear if he went on a shooting spree at J.T Marlin after their brief run-in.
  • In Bone Tomahawk, Sheriff Hunt is last seen dying of a gunshot wound to the stomach, preparing to make a Last Stand. In the last scene of the movie, Chicory and the O'Dwyers hear three gunshots, and assume that Hunt got the last of the Troglodytes. It can be inferred that Hunt finally died after doing so, it just happens offscreen.
  • The trope is named for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which ends with the two heroes apparently surrounded by the entire Bolivian army. They could surrender, but instead they choose to come out all guns blazing. The film ends just as they do so, and we never see them die. note 
  • Braveheart ends with Robert the Bruce leading his ragtag Scottish army against the superior English army. The trope is then subverted when Wallace (narrating the epilogue), explains that the Scots manage to eventually win their freedom.
  • Exaggerated in The Cabin in the Woods. The movie ends with not just the main characters presumably killed by the Ancient Ones, but the entire world itself about to be destroyed.
  • At the end of the 2022 South Korean movie Carter, following an epic Traintop Battle resulting in Kim Jong-hyuk perishing in a Hellish Copter, the group manage to escape on the train... but unknown to the group, an explosion a span ahead dooms the train to a fall. Roll credits.
  • Cloverfield ends with the two surviving protagonists huddled under a bridge as the U.S. Army executes the HAMMER-DOWN Protocol-i.e. carpet bombing and possibly even nuking Manhattan. It is implied that neither the monster nor the protagonists survived, but the viewer is not allowed to know for certain. "It's still alive," can be heard after the credits. Word of God says it's dead. With a sequel now in development, this could easily go either way.
  • In Cooties, the alternative ending makes the teachers stop in the middle of nowhere due for not having gasoline (Instead of having the same fate in the middle of an abandoned city). They find a scouts camp, and the counselor, hanging on a noose. Then, the characters hear a bunch of zombie kids behind them laughing, one of them being Shelley, the first infected kid. After that, the movie goes to credits, not knowing exactly if they live or not. It ended this way due for not having enough budged to cover this scene, so they went for the movie ending.
  • In the penultimate scene of Cross of Iron, when Soviet troops overrun a German-held train station on the Kuban peninsula, Colonel Brandt rallies some soldiers around him to advance. The scene freezes as Brandt walks forward, similar to the ambiguous end to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, heavily implying it is a suicidal last stand.
  • Dark Was the Night: Paul finally manages to kill the monster that's been terrorizing the town, but when examining its body, Donny notices that the shotgun wound he put in its shoulder isn't there. The two look at each other in a moment of realization, and it cuts to the outside of the church, where we see dozens of the monsters are stalking towards the huddled survivors.
  • The original Dawn of the Dead (1978) has the surviving characters take off in a helicopter to an uncertain fate. The ending as it was originally planned would see all characters get killed; the last shot of the film, under the end credits, would've shown their helicopter sitting empty with the rotor turning — for a few minutes, at least, before the engine ran out of fuel and the rotor spun down to a halt.
  • In the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004) the movie ends with the survivors of the zombie plague escaping to an island, only to immediately learn it's infested with zombies. The video camera recording the scene gets dropped, and it's unknown if they make it back to their boat...which has run out of gas. Of course, you only get this ending if you stay through the credits. If you leave when the credits begin to roll, the film has a Bittersweet Ending; this was the director's original intention, until test-audiences complained.
  • The Disney film Davy Crockett King Of The Wild Frontier ends with the Alamo being overrun and the last shot is of Crockett swinging his rifle as a club. Of course, everyone knows that they all die.
  • Dead Man's Letters ends with Prof. Larsen's students leaving the bunker to go search for life elsewhere, their ultimate fates unknown.
  • The 2017 Netflix adaptation of Death Note ends with L (who's been Spared by the Adaptation so far but Watari, his guardian, wasn't) contemplating writing Light's name into the Death Note.
  • At the end of Death Sentence, at least in the uncut version, Nick presumably bleeds to death while watching his home videos.
  • Deep Rising: The ending features the heroes now stranded on an island that seems to have more monstrous creatures they have to deal with. We cut to credits right before they come face to face with something that sounds like Godzilla.
  • At the end of Deranged, the townspeople find Grave Robbing Serial Killer Ezra laughing over the corpse of his latest victim. Simms then states that said townspeople showed up the following day armed with Torches and Pitchforks and burned down his house, though whether or not they actually succeeded in killing him is left somewhat ambiguous.
  • Subverted in Desperado. In the final showdown, El Mariachi confronts Bucho and his heavily armed gang. When Bucho threatens to kill Carolina, Marichi produces his pistols and opens fire on Bucho and his gang as the scene fades to white. Cut to Mariachi and Carolina checking on a wounded kid in a local hospital as if nothing happened. Word of God says that the battle was actually filmed, but had to be taken out in order to keep the film from being rated NC 17 for violence—the kiss of death for a mainstream action movie.
  • The Devil's Rejects ends in a subversion of this: The protagonists are driving toward a police roadblock, guns blazing. It's subverted in that, while it cuts out before they actually die, we see them being pumped with so many bullets that their survival is anything but ambiguous and they were presumably killed before they made it through.
  • Diary of the Dead ends with the survivors uploading the film onto the internet from a sealed video editing room (surrounded by zombies, naturally). It is unclear that they ever emerge.
  • Fast & Furious ended just as Dom was about to be rescued.
  • The page image, from the Bruce Lee film Fist of Fury (also known as The Chinese Connection), very famously ends with Bruce Lee's character walking outside to be met with a line of Japanese policemen armed with rifles and pistols, trained on him. Realizing he's going to die, he lets out a final cry and performs a running jump kick at them, the final frame catching him in mid-air as a crescendo of rifle fire sounds. Though being Bruce Lee, it's entirely possible that instead of him dying for the ending, it was instead he horribly slaughtered all of the policemen and the whole scene was cut out for being just too violent for televisionnote . Although for his dojo, there was a satisfactory ending.
  • Subverted in the action-comedy Fifty. The two main characters are surrounded by the dictator's army and the two characters joke about what to do (a possible homage to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). They decide on a full frontal assault and after hurling some grenades they come out guns blazing (one of them in Guns Akimbo mode) and (with the help of the beloved ruler who was overthrown by said dictator and the CIA guy who hired them) win (they do get seriously wounded by the dictator though).
  • Final Destination 3 ends with the last remaining characters boarding a train which crashes and gruesomely kills all three of them in various ways...before Wendy snaps from the premonition, looks around horrified, and then the lights flicker out with the sound of a train crashing. The film doesn't specify if they live or die, with the alternative ending suggesting that they don't make it out alive.
  • While the ending to Friends (1971) is not particularly violent, things look very bleak for the romance and common-law marriage of the happy young couple. Ever since Paul ran off with Michelle, his father has been out looking for him. Just before the end, we see that he's found his son's employer and is waiting for Paul to show up for work the next day. The end has Paul waving farewell to his wife and child and them waving back; then the frame freezes and the credits roll. The sequel Paul and Michelle indicates a Downtime Downgrade, though the Offscreen Breakup never goes onscreen. Also, the two are shown to be determined to get back together again.
  • Gamera 3: Awakening of Irys does this with the titular turtle missing an arm in the midst of a burning city on the verge of being descended upon by a swarm of Gyaos. Though there's also the implication this time he actually has an army also on his side with mankind finally joining forces against the Gyaos, and unusually for a Kaiju film, the Gyaos are not Immune to Bullets so they can actually be of assistance.
  • Good Manners ends with Clara and her adopted werewolf son Joel about to fight off an angry mob at their door, then a Smash to Black, leaving up to the viewers to decide whether they win or not.
  • Played ambiguously in The Grey, where Liam Neeson's up till then Badass character confronts a Final Boss wolf armed with only a knife and broken bottle. Then, Smash to Black! And The Stinger is still uncertain.
  • The Irish black comedy The Guard ends with its main character – a misanthropic sergeant (Brendan Gleeson) – confronting a drug baron on a burning boat. The morning after, the FBI agent who was aiding him (Don Cheadle) presumes he's dead, though a few locals note that since they Never Found the Body, he may have survived somehow.
  • It Follows: The Big Bad It is a nameless, backstory-less entity that follows Its victims at a walking pace. It never goes faster than walking, but It also never stops until It catches up. Once It catches up, It kills them. You can throw It off by having sex and passing the curse on to someone else, but once the person you passed It onto dies, It's back to you. The film ends with two people in the chain of victims walking slowly down the street, while someone else walks about forty meters behind them, at about the same speed. Since It can shapeshift, it's unclear if the person we see is It, or just a random passerby. Cue credits!
  • In Bruges ends with the main character losing consciousness on a stretcher being loaded into an ambulance, after getting filled with bullets. He decides that he doesn't want to die and wonder if hell is like Bruges. We don't find out whether he survives.
  • The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love ends with Randy and Evie, the film's main characters, hugging and kissing in front of an group of people who are arguing at the two, which all started with them running away from Evie's mom, who got mad at them for ruining the kitchen by making a huge meal the preceding night. What happens to Randy and Evie is never shown.
  • The original ending to Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) has the main character escape but leads us to believe that no one will believe his warnings about the aliens until it's too late. Executive Meddling changed this to a less fatalistic, though still decidedly ambiguous ending. The 70s remake ups the bar to an even more frightening and depressing twist ending, which dances along the line between Bolivian Army and just flatout The Bad Guy Wins.
  • The final shot of The Iron Bodyguard is the titular bodyguard, having killed all the main villains, being surrounded by enemy riflemen. Refusing to surrender, he raises his sword, gets shot, and Died Standing Up. Roll credits.
  • The Italian Job (1969) (the original British classic, not the American remake) has a variation on this, with the thieves stuck in a bus balancing precariously over a cliff—and all their stolen gold is in the half of the bus that's dangling in the air. Charlie Croker reassures his gang that he has a "really good idea," but the movie ends before we can see what it is, let alone whether it works or not.
    The ending was supposed to be a Sequel Hook for a sequel that was never made: the gold goes over the cliff, the French Mafia pick it up, and Charlie Croker's crew spend the rest of the film getting it back. Having been released only a year after the end of the Hays Code, which forbade criminal characters from profiting from their crimes, the ending is also a product of its time.
  • Jimmy Hollywood has a good of this trope at the end - surrounded by cops after his vigilante spree and with things looking bleak, Jimmy - determined to make a big exit - decides to go out fighting; loading his guns with blanks, he aims to pull a Suicide by Cop. So he bursts out of the building, guns blazing...and nothing happens. Turns out his girlfriend told the cops his guns weren't loaded with real ammo (and they took her at her word).
  • Juan of the Dead: The gang (plus a kid Juan saved at the last minute) is ready to escape zombie-infested Cuba in a jury-rigged watercraft. But Juan decides to stay behind and fight back ("I am a survivor. I'll be fine.") The animated credits, set to a punk cover of Frank Sinatra's "My Way", show the others also staying behind and fighting along with Juan. No idea what happens to the kid.
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ends with a montage of dinosaurs being introduced to the mainland and slowly intruding on human grounds.
    Dr. Ian Malcolm: Humans and dinosaurs are now gonna be forced to coexist. These creatures were here before us. And if we're not careful, they're gonna be here after. We're gonna have to adjust to new threats that we can't imagine. We've entered a new era. Welcome to Jurassic World.
  • The King and the Clown ends with Gong-gil and Jaeng-sang having a conversation about reincarnation before jumping off of the tightrope as Jaeng-sang throws his fan. Simultaneously, troops invade the palace but neither the King or Nok-su are seen to be captured/killed before the film ends. The viewer would have to be pretty far into denial though to think any of them lived.
  • Subverted in King of New York. The film ends with drug kingpin Frank White having just gone on a revengeous cop-killing rampage, bleeding to death in the back of a cab as hordes of alerted policemen descend on his location. The last shot of the film is Frank dying of his wounds and dropping his gun right before the inevitable shoot-out.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service ends with Eggsy about to fight his mother's abusive boyfriend and his gang but it likely went in his favour after his spy training.
  • The Lady Assassin ends with the titular heroine, heavily injured and all her allies dead, killing both main villains, then the film just ends with a freeze-frame of her killing her last enemy (via vertical separation). The film ends abruptly afterwards.
  • La Haine ends with a standoff between a main character and a villain, each pointing a gun at someone's head. The camera pans away, there's a gunshot, and the film ends.
  • Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds ends with our protagonists up on Mt. Fuji while it erupts catastrophically, leaving the female lead dangling from a branch over a huge crevice filling with lava. A song with lyrics about accepting death plays on the soundtrack and the titular monsters succumb to the eruption. The male lead reaches out to try and grab the woman's hand. The movie cuts to credits just as he successfully grabs her hand - but he hasn't actually pulled her out from over the crevice, and even if he does, they're already surrounded by fire and lava and geysers of poison gas, with the ground falling apart all around them, making their survival highly unlikely.
  • Lolly-Madonna XXX ends a few minutes into the final shootout, after the first few deaths. Sepia-toned photographs of the characters are shown, with the implication that they all died.
  • The ending of Mortal Kombat: The Movie is a more hopeful example of this; Liu Kang defeats Shang Tsung and releases the souls in his possession, including his brother's, and returns home with Raiden, Sonya, Johnny, and Kitana to celebrate. Then Shao Kahn appears and proclaims he's there for their souls. Cue Raiden quipping "I don't think so" and the heroes assuming an Ass Kicking Pose. Cut to credits. …And then the sequel happened.
  • Ardeth's fate in The Mummy (1999) subverts the trope. He goes to battle a horde of skeletal warriors in order to allow Rick and Evy to escape...and emerges unscathed! The director changed the character's fate so he could appear in the sequel.
  • The Night They Knocked: At the end, Derrick and Dom are cornered in the garage with all the killers outside, banging against the doors, and their vehicle unable to start. They decide to grab a weapon and take all the killers on in one Last Stand. The film cuts to black just as they're about to open the garage door.
  • Pet Sematary (2019), in contrast to both the novel and its 1989 film adaptation, ends with Gage as the last surviving human member of his family. His parents, sister, and cat have all been killed and resurrected one by one, and are seen approaching the car where Gage sits in the driveway. The last sound before credits roll is the beep of a car door unlocking.
  • The 2022 horror film Prey For The Devil ends with Ann in a cab that stops in the middle of the street, confronted by a sinister-looking woman who was released from the institute. She arms herself with a crucifix as the driver, revealed to be possessed, lunges towards her.
  • All of the Pusher films end this way. Amusingly, the films in the Danish series never reveal what became of the main characters from the previous films.
    • In the first Danish film, Frank's spurned girlfriend steals the money that he needs to make a token payment to the druglord Milo, who is actually planning to kill him when Frank arrives to make the payment. Frank is left alone to face the many enemies he's made in the past week. The film ends with Frank catching his breath and grimly considering his options.
    • In the English version of the first film, Frank chases after his girlfriend and manages to catch up to her cab. They hold each other's tearful gaze through the window of the car, and the film ends. We don't find out whether she forgives him and returns the money, and if so whether he survives the meeting with Milo.
    • In the second Danish film, Tonny impulsively kills his crimelord father, steals his son, and boards the first bus out of town. He has no plan and has made quite a few enemies. We don't find out what happens to him.
    • In the third Danish film, Milo has declared war with the much more powerful Albanian mob. He returns home and quietly smokes a cigarette beside his empty pool, seemingly resigned to his fate. We don't find out what happens next.
  • A Quiet Place is a rare hopeful case. Evelyn sees through the surveillance monitors a bunch of the creatures are coming. However, she just learned the beasts can be killed, so her daughter gets ready to play the sound that weakens them, and the movie ends just as Evelyn does a Dramatic Gun Cock. The existence of a sequel implies things went well.
  • Akira Kurosawa's Ran has an archetypal example as Jiro and his castle is stormed. It is up to viewer's imagination whether Jiro will make it, get killed in action or commit seppuku off-screen.
  • Reservoir Dogs doesn't show Mr. Pink and Mr. White getting shot, but the shots heard in the credits imply it. Word of God (and a bit of buried audio that can be heard if you listen closely) have Mr. Pink living. In the background at one point you can barely hear him screaming that he was shot in the leg. This is actually brought up in the video game adaptation, with three possible endings, based on the Karma Meter. The neutral one is most likely Canon. Mr. Pink either dies, gets arrested, or manages to get away with most of the diamonds.
  • Sabotage (2014) ends with Breacher, wounded after a shootout, sitting down and having a last drink and cigar as he presumably bleeds to death, but it cuts to the credits before he does so.
  • At the end of Sands of the Kalahari, O'Brien, aware he will be prosecuted for murder if he returns to civilization, chooses to remain behind when the others are rescued. With O'Brien the sole human in their domain, the baboons become more belligerent. At first he is able to keep them at bay with his rifle. When he runs out of ammunition, O'Brien brazenly challenges the alpha male to a fight and succeeds in killing him with his bare hands. In the film's final shot the remaining baboons encircle the lone hunter and ominously amble towards him.
  • A Serious Man: After enduring all kinds of torture at the hands of his family, his employers, his neighbours, and just about everyone and everything else in his life, Larry gets an ominous phone call from his doctor implying he's got something seriously wrong with him, while at the same time a tornado descends on his town.
  • See You Yesterday Claudette is seen running with her time machine on her back trying yet again to save her brother from getting murdered by cops without anyone else dying. Whether she succeeds this time or another isn't shown.
  • Subverted and parodied at the end of Shanghai Noon, where having defeated the main villains in a showdown inside a church, the heroes discover that Roy's old friends, a gang of bandits, are waiting just outside for them. With no apparent way out, and only a recently-established precedent for the grace of God to go on, they steel one another for the task, say their goodbyes, and charge out the front door...where they find that the bandits have surrendered without a fight to an Indian tribe from earlier in the movie.
  • Shaolin Mantis ends with the hero getting poisoned by his own father, and realizing his entire mission to be a scam. He's then surrounded by Manchurian soldiers, and prepares to fight his way out, cue a Freeze-frame on the hero, and credits.
  • At the end of Sorcerer, Jackie Scanlon (Roy Scheider) has delivered the explosives to the drilling site, and goes to drink at a bar, where he finally achieves a measure of peace for the first time. Unbeknownst to him, his former friend leads a group of mobsters (who he double-crossed early on in the film) to the bar in Ecuador where he is drinking. The mobsters surround the bar, and two of them walk inside, as the end credits begin, leaving it unclear if Scanlon will die or not.
  • A direct homage to Butch and Sundance at the end of Stand Up Guys as Doc, in defiance of Claphands' orders to murder his old friend Val, instead decides to siege his compound with Val guns blazing. The camera pans up to the sunset which transitions into a painting that Doc had made earlier without resolving if he and Val defeated Claphands or if they went out together in a blaze of glory.
  • In The Streetfighter, Shinichi Chiba's character emerges victorious but grievously wounded from his final battle. After staggering to his feet, he begins to lose his balance and the film ends in freeze-frame. Of course, the fact that the character appears in sequels makes his fate a tad less ambiguous.
  • The Sword of Doom uses a slight variation: during an epic battle in which the main character has killed dozens of other members of his assassins' guild in a burning geisha house (but with many more remaining), he is clearly starting to feel the effects of his wounds. The film ends with a freeze-frame as he lunges into yet another swordfight. Supposedly this movie was to be the first in a trilogy that was never made, and further installments would have resolved his fate more conclusively.
  • While Thelma & Louise aren't trying to mow down the state police who have finally cornered them, the movie ends with a freeze frame of their car flying into the Grand Canyon. The original cut featured the Vanishing Point ending, where the car goes flipping end-over-end as it descends into the canyon, and Slocumb walking back in disbelief - before cutting back to a static shot of the car driving towards another canyon - apparently meant to symbolize that the pair will continue traveling, even after death. At the Academy Awards, Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon joked about how to get their characters to survive for a sequel.
  • Comical example: During the 1986 movie Tough Guys, Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster have shown a teamwork move that begins with one of them kicking the current foe in the groin. At the end of the movie, after they have plowed the hijacked train across the Mexican border, and are surrounded by the Mexican authorities, Kirk Douglas kicks one in the groin...and the credits roll.
  • The famous car chase film Vanishing Point ends with the protagonist, Kowalski, crashing into the roadblock set up with two bulldozers. His fate is unknown.
  • The Void: Daniel and Allison are both trapped in the Void staring at an Eldritch Abomination floating high above them, but we don't see what happens next.
  • War, Inc.. has a bizarre ending, in which the main characters escape on a private plane, but in a blink-and-you-miss-it final moment, a missile can be spotted flying toward them. The scene ends before we can see what becomes of them.
  • The Way of the Gun ends with the two Villain Protagonists lying in the middle of a courtyard somewhere in Mexico, bleeding, and quite likely dying.
  • Wayne's World 2 references the trope when Wayne suggests a "Thelma and Louise ending," which parodies the ending of that film.
  • The ending of When Trumpets Fade: is Manning dead? Unconscious? Just resting to conserve his strength? If he is still alive, will Sanderson get him to an aid station in time?
  • The World According to Garp ends with Garp being shot and carried away in a helicopter. We don't actually find out for certain if he dies, or he's gotten to a hospital in time.
  • World on a Wire: At the end of the film, after successfully evading IKZ, police, and catastrophic bad luck, Stiller is forced by his simulation's Technical Director to waltz into a police ambush, resulting in him being shot to death atop a car in front of IKZ's office building.
  • The World's End ends with Gary and four blanks getting into a Bar Brawl. It's played optimistically as if Gary finally has a purpose but they probably wouldn't have lasted long in a bar full of armed men.
  • The Wrestler ends in a fade out before the audience finds out whether Randy died performing his signature move or survived another heart attack like he did earlier in the movie. Many interpreted the fade-out to literally be Randy's death.
  • Played with in Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold. The movie ends with Yellow hair and Pecos taking shelter behind a door that is immediately riddled with bullets by the Mexican army. However, this is intended to represent the Cliffhanger for a Film Serial, and The Teaser for the next 'chapter' shows the duo alive and well.
  • In Yannick the titular character has taken everyone in a theatre room hostages, threatening them with a gun and forcing the actors to play a new play that he wrote. The film ends as the French antigang brigade is about to enter the room.

  • In the Lone Wolf bonus adventure "Aboard the Intrepid", if you make some truly terrible decisions, you can end up fighting your first mate and entire surviving crew, a total of 21 consecutive combats (and none of your opponents is a pushover). The book doesn't say what happens if by some unfathomable miracle you actually win, which is theoretically possible; presumably you drift aimlessly until your food runs out, you fall to a pirate attack or some other calamity you no longer have the manpower to prevent, or you decide not to put off the inevitable and take your own life. This doesn't count as a successful completion for the adventure, which is really too bad, as it's by far the hardest ending to get in the entire series!

  • "Record of a Defection", the first story in the North Korean anthology The Accusation, ends with the narrator telling his friend (via letter) about his plans to escape from North Korea with his wife, risking death or worse. Whether they succeeded in fleeing is left wholly unanswered.
  • The Adventures of Tom Rynosseros: The cycle ends on Rynosseros and the other six Coloured charvolants going into battle against a thousand tribal ships.
  • While the author has yet to actually write the sequence, Alatriste will, according to him, conclude with a French Army Ending at the Battle of Rocroi. The film adaptation replicates this in a fashion quite reminiscent of the trope namer, with the camera stopping as a wounded Alatriste charges into an incoming French assault.
  • Animorphs ended with Rachel dead, and Cassie pursuing a life of normality. Jake, Marco, and Tobias end up on a ship out in space, having just learned that Ax had been assimilated by The One, a new Big Bad. The final book ends with Jake giving the command to ram The One's ship, and whether they survive or not is left to the reader.
  • Simon Darcourt, the erudite terrorist villain/anti-hero of Christopher Brookmyre's novels A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away and A Snowball in Hell, has fates fitting this trope in both novels. In the first, he is sucked into a cataclysmic whirlpool in a power station, in the second he's shot in the spine, one of his eyes is gouged out and he's handed over to a gang of international criminals who've been after him throughout the book. One of the protagonists comments on how it's highly unlikely that he'll get out of this alive, although if anyone can, then it's probably Darcourt...
  • The non-ending of Daphne du Maurier's short story, "The Birds", from which Alfred Hitchcock's similarly-titled film was loosely adapted, can be seen this way. After several days of reports of bird attacks of increasing severity around England, the BBC announces in the evening it is going off the air until morning to conserve resources, but when that morning comes it does not resume broadcasting, suggesting the situation has become dire, and the story ends that night with the protagonist still inside his house.
  • Richard K. Morgan's Black Man (published as Thirteen in the United States) ends with the protagonist surrounded and outnumbered twelve to one. Given that he's a genetically engineered badass, his chances are pretty good.
  • The Butter Battle Book, Dr. Seuss's Cold War parable, combines this with No Ending. The Yooks and the Zooks are in a Space Cold War over which side of the bread to put butter on, and the Yook agent and Zook agent keep getting sent to the border wall and trying to one-up each other with increasingly powerful (but still cartoonish and Seussian) weapons. At the end, the Yook agent is equipped with a "Bitsy Big-Boy Boomeroo" to annihilate the Zooks. With the Yook civilians sent into underground bomb shelters, the Yook agent marches with his grandson up to the wall...but surprise, surprise, the Zook agent has his own Bitsy Big-Boy Boomeroo! The book ends in a Mexican Standoff, accompanied by the following exchange between the Yook agent and his grandson:
    "Grandpa!" I shouted. "Be careful! Oh, gee!
    Who's going to drop it!
    Will you...? Or will he...?"
    "Be patient," said Grandpa. "We'll see.
    We will see..."
  • Cat Chaser: After Jiggs makes it clear he'll kill Moran and Mary whether or not they give him the money, Moran shoots him dead in cold blood. The book ends with the police drawing closer to the motel as Moran half-jokingly asks if he needs a lawyer.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's The Cat Who Walks Through Walls seems to end this way, although a careful reading reveals their survival even before the follow-up novels. The mission they're on is successful, and they rescue the damaged computer, but they get ambushed on the way back. The main character, his wife, and their kitten are all dead or very close to it. It's possible the good guys could arrive at any moment and rescue them, but it's equally possible the bad guys will do it first. The main character uses his last breaths to break the fourth wall and chastise the author for writing the sort of story where kittens die. The drama of the scene is tempered slightly by Gretchen's claim that another character impregnated her in her past/his future according to the jumbled timeline of the story.
    • In a later novel in that 'multiverse' it is explained that both happened. It is the only extant known occurrence of a timeline splitting where the protagonists could see it. The actual split? Whether or not the kitten would make a noise.
  • Clive Egleton did a trilogy in the early '70s about the British Resistance after a Soviet invasion. In the final book, the Soviets pull their combat troops out, but Britain is still a Warsaw Pact satellite — and, thanks to a high-ranking traitor from the Resistance, the security forces at last manage to corner main character David Garnett. His lover Valerie Dane was wounded and evacuated aboard an American sub a while before, and the last words of the trilogy are "he had had a feeling for a long time that it would end this way, in a small back room, without Dane and alone."
  • The Robin Cook book Coma ends with the villain in the operating room, with the police waiting for him outside (they cannot enter because of the sterile environment). He is already aware that his attempts to kill the heroine on the OR table have failed (she had discovered that he was poisoning his patients with carbon monoxide so as to sell their organs on the black market and so he had planned the same fate for her) and knows it's only a matter of time before he's arrested. But the book ends with him in the operating room and the reader is left to wonder if he'll surrender or go out in a blaze of glory.
  • The Dinotopia spinoff novel Dinotopia Lost. The three most ruthless pirates, cornered by the mother and father of the young Tyrannosaurus rex they had kidnapped.
  • The Doctor Who Missing Adventures series ends with a sequence set between Season 17 and 18, where the Doctor has been caught up to by the Black Guardian who has given him the choice between remaining in his TARDIS all his life or leaving and suffering a Fate Worse than Death. He finds the TARDIS emergency switch but from Romana's comment pulling it might make them 'fictional characters', a potential fate which (in addition to erasing the entire series after the point the writer stopped liking it) worries the Doctor enough that he finally goes in for that kiss. The book ends as he pulls the switch.
    • The Doctor Who New Adventures novel So Vile a Sin features the Doctor's companion Roz Forrester returning to her ancestral seat as a senior member of one of the Great Houses ruling the Earth Empire in the 30th century. The Doctor knows her House is going to get involved in a war and warns her repeatedly that if she becomes involved he will not be able to save her. The book ends with Roz making up her mind to join her family in the fighting and she ends up leading a charge "up the hill into history".
  • The Dresden Files: Peace Talks ends with Harry, Murphy, Lara, the Winter Fae, the Council and the rest of the Accords signers facing probable annihilation by Last Titan and the entire court of the Fomor. Unlike many of these examples the cliffhanger is resolved in Battle Ground where quite a few of those left imperiled at the end of the previous book die in the fight for survival.
  • Dying of the Light, for Dirk at least.
  • Robert Harris' Fatherland ends with Xavier March standing in the midst of what once was the Auschwitz death camp. Now knowing the truth about what his titular fatherland really did to the Jews, he pulls out his pistol as the pursuing authorities continue to close in on him.
  • The First Law ends almost exactly how it began, with Logen falling into a river from a huge height, his death implied but hardly confirmed. He survived and was one of main characters in next book.
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway ends with the protagonist, Robert Jordan, severely wounded and lying in wait for the enemy.
    • Though the author did include the first chapter of the sequel in the appendix.
  • The novel From Russia with Love ends with James Bond having just been poisoned and passing out from the toxin. The next book reveals that the friend he was talking with, French agent René Mathis, managed to keep him alive with artificial respiration until doctors could get something into Bond to counteract the poison.
  • Discussed in Full Metal Panic! when Sousuke, Kaname, and Kurz are cornered by the enemy, outnumbered and outgunned: Kaname recalls seeing a movie that ended this way, and she and Kurz briefly discuss what is obviously Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, resolving to go out the same way. Of course, it's only the sixth episode of a series with twenty-four. Kaname also expresses a dislike of this trope, preferring movies with a Happy Ending. Unfortunately she says the last bit too loud, and nearly brings about the trope when a firefight breaks out then and there.
  • Stephen King's short story "Gray Matter" is about a group of old men who learn the town tosspot became ill from a sour can of beer he'd bought at the local corner grocery store, and over the course of some weeks has become reclusive and started acting bizarrely. When when they go to visit him, they find he's mutated into a grey, amorphous blob. The story ends with the old men, minus one who stayed behind to confront the creature and was last seen firing at it with a handgun, sitting about the stove waiting to see who comes back—their friend or the grey blob (who may be dividing and multiplying like an amoeba, spawning untold millions of horrors like itself upon the earth.)
  • The Island of Doctor Moreau never reveals the final fate of its beast-men, after the protagonist's escape. Reverting back to normal animals is about the least Downer Ending one could expect for these pitiful creatures.
  • The book L.A. Confidential features a Bolivian Army beginning: the plots of the book and its prequel The Big Nowhere are bridged in a prologue where the one surviving protagonist of the earlier book goes out in a blaze of glory in a shootout akin to a one man Battle of the Alamo.
  • The last Montmorency book (Montmorency's Revenge) ends with a freaking' gun to the back of the titular character's head. But hopefully this slight problem will be resolved in the fifth book.
  • At the end of Stephen King's "The Moving Finger," poor Howard Mitla has dispatched the finger that was poking out of the bathroom sink's drain, but he made such a commotion doing it that his fellow tenants called the police. As Officer O'Bannion is trying to figure out just what the hell went on in Howard's bathroom (there's blood, vomit and drain-cleaner all over the place), he and Howard hear a loud splash inside the closed toilet. Howard notes that a hand has probably got more than one finger on it, and warns the officer that it's not a good idea to lift that lid. Officer O'Bannion grasps the toilet seat lid....and the story ends.
  • The Princess Bride ends with the heroes nearly dead and on the run from the kingdom's army. The movie ends before that. note 
  • The short story "Roller Ball Murder", less well-known than the film (Rollerball) it inspired, ends with Jonathan E's team heading onto the playing field for the world championship, well aware that the latest rule revisions virtually guarantee that both teams will suffer a Total Party Kill.
  • The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea ends with Ryuji drinking the tea that Noboru's friends gave him to knock him out before killing him; we never get to see them actually killing him, but they've lured him far from any other people and he doesn't seem to have much hope of escaping.
  • George R. R. Martin uses this trope frequently in his A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels. For example, in the fourth novel, A Feast for Crows, Brienne of Tarth is sentenced to hang for refusing to kill Jaime Lannister. The last the reader knows of Brienne's fate, the noose was tightening around her neck. It would seem likely that Brienne is dead, but given GRRM's tendency to thwart expectations about who lives and who dies, that's far from a sure bet.
  • At the end of Snow Crash, Enzo fights Raven to buy time for other characters. When last seen, Enzo has the upper hand, but the fight never concludes.
  • Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina: Het Nkik, a Jawa who's sick of his species being everyone's Chew Toy, buys a blaster and goes after an Imperial patrol after they kill his brother (one of the Jawas who sold R2-D2 and C-3PO to the Larses). His story, written by Kevin J. Anderson, ends with him jumping out of hiding and repeatedly firing at the stormtroopers. The next story, written by Anderson's wife Rebecca Moesta, makes it into a "Shaggy Dog" Story with The Reveal that a fellow trader stole his blaster's power pack. And then the story after that goes straight into Shoot the Shaggy Dog when one of the stormtroopers kills Het Nkik for, essentially, being annoying. But at least that's the last straw for Davin Felth, who decides to defect soon after.
  • Tales for the Midnight Hour: Multiple stories end with the protagonist alive but still in danger.
    • "The Ten Claws": The brothers wound the mysterious creature that killed the town drunk and barely escape with their lives. However, neither of them know that the creature is the grandmother who stays in their house, and it's uncertain whether she'll decide to attack again.
    • "The Jigsaw Puzzle": A young lady puts together the self-proclaimed "World's Strangest Jigsaw Puzzle", which begins to bear an unsettling resemblance to her house. When she puts the last pieces in, it reveals half of a non-human face in the window. Turning to look, she sees the face in her window too.
  • The Thief has the main character pulling a fast one on the mob boss who’s blackmailing him and getting stabbed and left to die in an alley. He does have one more trick up his sleeve, throwing a coin to get the attention of a passerby, but the novel ends before the reader can find out if it worked.
  • Villette: Lucy tells the reader that M. Paul's ship back to Villette was caught in a storm, and then basically tells the reader to pretend that their love had a happy ending. Word of God had it that Paul did indeed die. Charlotte Bronte reputedly considered it a kinder fate than life with Lucy Snowe.
  • In the tenth book of The Wheel of Time Egwene tries to sabotage the Tar Valon port defenses when she's captured by someone channeling Saidar. Of course, this being only the tenth novel in a series of thirteen we find out later that she's actually okay, and her captors are not gonna kill her.
  • In Colson Whitehead's zombie novel Zone One the main character, Mark Spitz, has survived untold horrors and countless encounters with the zombie hordes that have overtaken America. The frame narrative has Mark working in a newly cleared area of New York City that they plan to clean up and open to re-occupation - aka Zone 1. Things seem to be going great, however by the end, zombies are overrunning the city and when a close friend dies, Mark exits the building they were hiding in, and wades out into the mass of zombies now swarming the streets. And that is where the novel ends. When the author was asked if Mark survives in the end as he had so many times before, he just shrugged.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel ended its long run with the death or abandonment of several long-running characters. In "Not Fade Away", an entire army of demons is sent against the remaining characters who have reunited in an rainy alley. The series ends just as the eponymous character delivers the first blow of the final battle. It was later stated that was intended to symbolize one of the show's themes, that being that the fight never ends. The Angel: After the Fall comics continued the story and are Canon according to the Word of God. For the curious; all the alive characters at the end of the show are still moving. Then some died and came back.
  • ALF had this ending, with him being surrounded by the Alien Detection Squad of the USA. Of course, this one actually had a planned sequel, which NBC screwed them out of. Ironic, though, since ALF mentioned the Trope Namer itself in an earlier episode when police trapped him inside the neighbors' house. It wasn't until the Project ALF movie came in 1996 when Alf was shown alive and well, though not without new problems.
  • The Alias season 4 finale. Agent Vaughn is just about to tell Sydney his real name and secret past, when a car smashes into the side of their vehicle. Then we had to wait a year to find out what happened: neither of them die, and they go on to get married and have kids.
  • The final episode of All My Children during its run on ABC ended with the entirety of Pine Valley gathering at the Chandler Mansion to welcome home Back from the Dead Stuart, only for a drunken JR, who had ostracized himself from everyone, to sneak between the walls of the currently being remodeled parlor. After Erica pushes Jack to far he storms off, with her determined to win him back. JR aims, as the likes of Erica, David, Marissa and others come into view. Erica defiantly recants Opal's comment that she's never getting Jack back. "Just watch me!" JR continues to aim the gun, BANG, cut to black.
    • This was Subverted as the show was meant to be picked up by new online network, Prospect Park, alongside One Life To Live, and the show would continue from where it left off, however plans fell through, leaving fans in anger on the question "Who did JR shoot?"
    • Later partially averted, as thankfully, in 2013, The Online Network revived Prospect Parks plan, however as the Revival of All My Children began, five years had passed, and the reveal that Marissa had taken the bullet and David had shot JR in retaliation for his daughters death. Though too many the final episode on ABC remains the Soaps Series Finale.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?: The Tale of the Dangerous Soup ends with our heroes Locked in a Freezer again with the demon / Eldritch Abomination / whatever.
  • In the Banshee finale, an army of well-armed hitmen marches on Kai Proctor's home. He calmly meets them head-on, guns blazing, but the outcome is not shown.
  • In the series finale of Battle Creek the father of a boy who blames the boy's death on FBI agent Milt Chamberlain shoots Milt right in the heart. Milt falls to the ground, his partner presses down on his wound and says "you'll be OK, you'll be OK" as a large blood stain spreads on the shirt; Milt laughs and it's unclear if he laughs because he knows he's dying, or because he's relieved he'll be OK.
  • This was a recurring theme in the Blackadder series: The first series ends with everyone but Percy and Baldrick getting killed, the second series ends with everyone, including the Queen, getting killed. The third series is the exception, as it ends with only one of the main characters the Prince Regent getting killed, and Blackadder himself presumably taking his place as the future King George IV. Finally, Blackadder Goes Forth, the fourth in the Blackadder series, ends with Captain Blackadder and the rest of the characters about to make the "final push" on the Germans, although the audience knows full well that the war still has a year left to run. The series ends with shellfire and a fade to a field of poppies, and an implication that they all died. However, some versions released on video show the characters dying bravely but uselessly, making a comment on the obsolescence of individual heroism in a new age of industrialized warfare. Many viewers found it one of the most touching endings to a comedy program ever written. It was first aired in the UK 10 days before Remembrance Sunday, without a single complaint.note 
  • Blake's 7: The final episode ends with Avon surrounded by Federation soldiers and everyone else on his side apparently dead (with Blake, at Gareth Thomas' specific request, killed off). The sound of a firefight is played over the closing credits. This was done deliberately with the intention that, if the series was renewed, they could easily kill off any character whose actor did not re-sign their contract while having the characters of returning actors survive the shoot-out. The fact that the series was not renewed for another season means that the fate of every character is intentionally ambiguous - and never resolved.
  • Bottom habitually goes one step further — the punch is thrown, connects, freeze frame, roll credits. In the finale of the TV series, the pair are surrounded by an SAS squad, speak on the phone to the negotiators, repeat the line once quizzically, then again more confidently - and A Squad burst in, start firing, bullets connect...roll credits.
  • The USA Network series Burn Notice uses this trope frequently as part of its season finales, for example the season four summer finale that left Michael shot and bleeding out, with seemingly no one around to save him.
  • The HBO series Carnivàle ended its last season with a climactic showdown in which protagonist Ben and Big Bad Brother Justin each stab the other in the chest. It's implied that Ben survives due to his Healing Factor, but Sofie makes a Face–Heel Turn once she finds out that she has avataric powers and heals Brother Justin after apparently killing Jonesy.
  • One of the episodes of The Comic Strip Presents ends this way. It's the episode "Fistful of Traveller's Cheques" where the ending is a homage/parody of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. There is a wonderful pause before the ending where the viewer wonders whether it's really going to happen...
  • The final episode of Cybill ends with Cybill and Maryanne being arrested for the apparent murder of Maryanne's husband, Doctor Dick.
  • In the classic British comedy Dad's Army, set during WWII, the final episode sees the Walmington-on-Sea platoon called up to stand watch over the local coastline during an alert. The main characters, at this point a band of old men and one soppy youth, watching and waiting in the cold night and facing the threat of imminent Nazi invasion across the English Channel, nevertheless stand together, resolute, and think of their comrades all over Britain doing the same. They then toast the Home Guard - who faced the same hardships and threats with the same reaction, in real life - and the credits roll.
  • The prematurely canceled Dead at 21 ends with the lead's time-bomb brain-chip seemingly killing him - at 20 - followed by his girlfriend facing a firing squad.
  • Dead Man's Gun: "Death Warrant" ends with John Pike riding through the mountains, being chased by half-a-dozen men with their guns blazing.
  • In the finale of Dead Set Kelly, after becoming the last remaining survivor of the group alongside an infected Space, makes an attempt to fight her way through the zombie horde outside the door in front of her...It fails.
  • Dinosaurs: Believe it or not, this ABC series pulls this ending in the final episode, implying that a self-inflicted ecological disaster wipes out the dinosaur civilization, including all of our main characters.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The War Games" ends with the Time Lords capturing the Second Doctor, retrieving the TARDIS, sending the Doctor's companions back to the time and place he picked them up from with their memories of their adventures wiped (which, for Jamie, was an almost guaranteed death in battle) and then exiling the Doctor to Earth after asking him to pick a new face, which we don't see thanks to Jon Pertwee having not been cast yet.
    • "Orphan 55": Estranged mother and daughter Kane and Bella are last seen facing down a horde of Dregs as the Thirteenth Doctor and her companions are teleported away, with their survival looking unlikely.
  • Farscape loved ending season finales with some or all of the main characters in some kind of mortal danger.
    • Lampshaded in The Peacekeeper Wars.
      Crichton: I hear Bolivia is nice for a honeymoon.
  • Golden Boy, enforced due to the series being cancelled at the end of its first season. The finale ends on a cliffhanger of a cut to credits at the sound of the fugitive ex-deputy mayor shooting either Walter, the protagonist, or his girlfriend (also the deputy mayor's ex-wife).
  • The Trope Namer is parodied in the House, M.D. episode "Bombshells", along with everything from revue musicals to zombie movies.
  • Invasion: Earth ends with a Fade to White as humanity decides to nuke itself in a last-ditch effort to deter the invading aliens.
  • Prior to the point when it was uncancelled, the final episode of Season One of Jericho (2006) ended with one of these - Jake ordered the men and women of Jericho to open fire on the invading New Bern soldiers, and the credits rolled over sounds of gunfire. The cliffhanger was one of the chief factors in spurring the save the show campaign that brought it back for an abridged second season. This trope was actively averted in the second season. The finale was originally going to end with Jake going on a suicide mission to rescue Hawkins, who had been captured during the escape from the Allied States of America, but at the behest of CBS, a second ending was also written and shot in the event the series was cancelled; it was, so the series ended with Jake and Hawkins both safely escaping into the Republic of Texas. However, both versions of the finale also ended with America entering into a civil war.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • "Episode Final", the alternative reality movie of the TV series Kamen Rider Ryuki, ends with Yui dead and Knight and Ryuki as the last remaining Riders facing down an army of Hydragoons intent on wiping out all of humanity. The TV special 13 Riders (set in another timeline) finishes with Shinji as Knight Survive preparing to fight the remaining seven Riders at once. (As a footnote, the ending of the TV series proves that both of these go on to be Reset Button Endings.) As for the likely outcome, the Episode Final version is survivable, as mass-produced monsters tend to not be that tough, though this was the biggest crowd of them we'd seen. As for 13 Riders...all the Riders were setting up their "final vent" attacks, so even with Survive Mode, Shinji was pretty much screwed.
    • In Kamen Rider Kiva, Wataru's Kid from the Future Masao interrupts Nago and Megumi's wedding to warn everyone of the Neo Fangire. The series ends with Wataru, Masao, Nago, Taiga and the Arms Monsters transforming and flying off to face the threat. Since this was the final episode, there was no apparent conclusion, but it was widely speculated that the Neo Fangire are members of Great Shocker, enemies of Kiva's successor Decade.
    • Kamen Rider Decade "ends" with eight of the original Heisei Kamen Riders, plus the alternate Kuuga (brainwashed, crazy and in Ultimate Form) trying to kill Decade because his actions have apparently doomed the multiverse. In the middle of the fight, Diend runs in and sticks his gun right in Decade's face. Cut to Natsumi screaming out for him as a gunshot is heard. And then cut to a teaser for a second movie in December that will be the Grand Finale; Tsukasa's clearly shown having survived the skirmish. Thus, a subversion with the true question being why everyone's out for his blood. This initial airing also showed a movie trailer that has nothing in common with the eventually released movie (to the point where it seems like a spoof trailer). In repeats the ending was (for reasons unknown) altered to become an inversion/subversion: the battle between all the riders and Decade plays out exactly as shown in the dreams Natsumi has been having since the first episode, not just the nine from the first version of the episode. Decade suddenly uses powers he had not so far shown (glowing with power and being able to float in the air) and destroys all the riders, fulfilling the evil destiny he spent the entire series trying to avoid. It's implied that by killing the riders he has also caused the realities they come from to be destroyed. So either way, Decade will not leave you on a happy note.
  • Law & Order: UK: The final episode "Repeat to Fade" ends with a cliffhanger. Will Ronnie accept the new position he's been offered, despite being fully aware of and offended by its Kicked Upstairs status? Or will he resign/retire outright? The episode ends with neither question answered, but with Bradley Walsh leaving the show, it would have had to be one or the other...except that the show has ended as well, meaning that we'll never know.
  • The French and Saunders series Let Them Eat Cake. It was about French aristocracy just before the French revolution. You can guess how it ends.
  • The Longest Day in Chang'an has a villainous version that isn't actually the end of the series. Long Bo dies when he charges into the soldiers gathered to kill him.
  • The Mortal Kombat: Conquest series has such an ending. Throngs of extra-dimensional shadow priests march to conquer Earthrealm and kill all the heroes, Raiden is defeated by Shao Kahn, and Kung Lao's championship medallion is shown strewn on the floor. The plan for the 2nd season was a literal Deus ex Machina, with the Elder Gods pushing the Reset Button, as Shao broke rules by using the shadow priests.
  • Season 4 of Person of Interest ends with Samaritan taking complete control over the city with the Machine out of the picture, Control herself getting kidnapped, and Reese, Harold, and Root fighting their way through waves of Samaritan's followers while carrying the Machine in a storage container.
  • Sea Monsters ends with a pack of Tylosaurus surrounding the ship while the crew is asleep.
  • The first season of BBC Sherlock ended with Sherlock, John and Moriarty at a swimming pool, surrounded by Moriarty's snipers, with Sherlock's gun aimed at a bomb. The cliffhanger was resolved in the subsequent season.
  • The final episode of Soap showed Jessica seemingly executed by a Central American firing squad and Burt walking into a drug dealer ambush. And Chester preparing to shoot Danny (Chester had a pistols duel with El Puerco the next morning that would probably see Chester in the ground as well).
  • The Son of the Beach finale ended with the whole cast being blown up by a stray missile.
  • The famous ending of The Sopranos finale "Made in America" uses this somewhat. Fans have long debated whether the cut-to-black means somebody shot Tony, or if a deeper symbolism is in play.
  • In Stargate Universe:
    • The film is referenced in the episode "Time", where an Apocalyptic Log from another timeline shows Rush flippantly uttering Butch's famous last words before jumping through a malfunctioning gate to his death, seeing it as a better alternative than being killed by the illness that the team is suffering from or the nocturnal bugs native to the planet. Later in the same episode, Rush utters this phrase once again, after they discover that the real cause of the illness is a parasite in the drinking water and that the nocturnal bugs might hold the cure, forcing them to go to the planet again. The episode finally ends with the team being wiped out again except for Scott, who decides to send a second Kino with their own Apocalyptic Log back in time, so both Kinos will provide enough clues to save themselves the next time around.
    • The final episode after its cancellation. After being hounded repeatedly by a force of hostile robotic drones, the Destiny crew decides to go into a long term hyperspace jump and flee to another galaxy. However, to conserve power, they must put themselves into hibernation pods and shut down life support. Unfortunately, one of the pods malfunctions and Eli volunteers to try and fix it while the rest of the crew go into hibernation. The series closes leaving it uncertain whether Eli manages to fix his pod in time or not, much less whether the Destiny is able to escape the galaxy and its robotic pursuers.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: "Once More Unto the Breach" ends this way, as Kor fights the Dominion fleet. We never see his ship destroyed; we only get a play-by-play until the Rotarran gets too far away for the sensors to pick up what's happening. Earlier in the episode, Worf discusses the trope from his romantic perspective when discussing Davy Crockett at the Alamo: If you believe in the legend then you can simply accept he died a hero's death. If you don't then he was just a man, and it doesn't matter how he died.
    • In Star Trek: Voyager episode "Think Tank", this is done to the villains. Voyager takes off to find a whole new Monster of the Week, leaving the villains stuck having to fend off numerous Hazari ships. Too bad, so sad.
    • In the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "E Squared", the last we see of the alternate timeline Enterprise is the vessel charging into a fleet of hostile alien ships while the "real" Enterprise escapes through a wormhole. Archer and T'Pol discuss this later, speculating on whether or not they could have survived or even if they were erased from history.
  • Teen Wolf uses it in the Season 2 finale, with the already-weakened werewolves, Erica and Boyd surrounded by the Alpha pack, who appear to be itching for a fight.
  • Parodied in That '70s Show, when Eric and Donna rush out of a fancy restaurant after all their friends ditched them with the bill, right down to the freeze frame fade to sepia tone.
  • The Wire episode "Bad Dreams" ends with Frank Sobotka walking to a meeting with the Greeks, not knowing that they plan to kill him.
  • The Wrong Mans features the two main characters surrounded by several armed men, plus a few vehicles and helicopters. Since this is the fifth episode and there's one more to go, Sam and Phil manage to escape.
  • Z Nation: The end of the first season was clearly written with this in mind in case the show was cancelled. Thankfully, it was renewed.

  • R. Dean Taylor's 1970 hit "Indiana Wants Me" ends with the narrator, who's on the run for a murder he committed, being surrounded by the police and then engaging in a shootout with them.

    Music Videos 
  • The music video for the L'arc-en-Ciel song "Driver's High" ends with the band driving off a cliff while evading the police, Thelma & Louise style.
  • The music video for Fall Out Boy's "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light 'Em Up)" by Fall Out Boy ends with the band being tied up in the back of a van and about to be set on fire.
  • The music video for "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Party in the CIA" ends with the protagonist captured and tied to a chair by one of the targets he'd been sent to kill, who flashes him a malicious grin and points a gun at him, at which point it's implied but not quite shown that he's shot in the head.
  • The music video for "The Wolf" by SIAMÉS ends with one of the three protagonists charging head first into a pack of demonic wolves.
  • The music video for Karma Police by Radiohead ends with the running man exhausted and the car on fire. The driver could easily kill the running man, but even still, he would die himself. And Nigel is gone, so there's even less of a chance for him.

  • The Ballad of Edgardo
    • The story ends in an inversion, as the roleplay itself freezes in the exact instant when Edgardo is about to punch Xer0, the Big Bad and generally biggest dick in the forum, in the face with literally infinite power. Everything after that was the forumgoers going completely berserk on the out of character side of the board. The next day, the entire board was shut down due to "popular opinion".
    • On a smaller scale, there is the fate of Goldnharl. After he betrays Xer0 and promises to help Edgardo on his quest, a huge horde of angry players catches up to the heroes. Goldnharl stays behind to fight the players alone while Edgardo and Squid make their escape. Edgardo never found out whether Goldnharl survived that battle or not.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In chess, this trope is exemplified in checkmate. The game ends when one player places an inescapable threat upon the opponent's king, even though it would take one more move to actually capture the king.

  • Black Friday ends with the cast waiting as a Russian nuke drops.
  • While we never actually see them die, Finale ends with the cast singing about how they accept the fact that the world is going to end tomorrow.
  • The second play in Tsukipro's SQS series ends with Shiki, an oni leader, sacrificing himself as an angry mob of humans rushes against him.
  • Urinetown ends with the townsfolk presumably dehydrating to death after their water runs out.

    Video Games 
  • XIII. It was supposed to be a Sequel Hook, but due to poor sales, the series was canceled.
  • The arcade light-gun version of Alien 3 features a Weyland-Yutani enforcer as the final boss, sent to kill the space marines (the players) after they destroyed all of their "samples". After his death, a group of Weyland-Yutani soldiers greet the players. With a final "Let's go!", the soldiers charge forward as the screen fades to white. The text epilogue states that the marines' names were stricken from the USCM's records, and that no one knows if they are alive or dead.
  • In Armored Core: Nexus, the last mission ends with the player in his Armored Core fighting off suicidal machines that are crashing into the planet. Any good pilot probably won't blow up, but the screen fades to black as you're fighting the machines.
  • The ending of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance could be described as a Bolivian Army ending, although in the sequel it is revealed that the protagonists were just taken prisoner.
  • The ending of Battlefield V’s segment The Last Tiger ends with Panzer commander Peter Muller surrendering to the Americans while Schroder, the youngest member of the tank crew and who believes in the Nazi resolve, turns his MP-40 on him. We cut to black and hear the gunfire. So it’s unknown if Schroder killed him or if the Americans killed Schroder.
  • At the end of Bionic Commando 2009, Spencer falls from an unknown height after headbutting Super Joe's Humongous Mecha cockpit, with no confirmation of his death. GRIN went out of business following its poor sales, making a sequel (not counting the midquel Rearmed 2) unlikely.
  • Strike's ending from Bust a Groove. He walks out of a building and is confronted by police. He pulls out his guns and starts firing. Fade to black.
  • Crysis 3 subverts this. In the ending, Prophet is flung into orbit by the Alpha Ceph's wormhole and is floating helplessly as he watches the Ceph warship coming through the portal while wondering if there was anything he could have done differently. The screen then goes black...but the loading screen tip indicates that the Nanosuit can maintain functionality in a low-oxygen environment for a while as long as it's on low power. Sure enough, immediately after, Prophet snaps out of his funk, sees the Archangel laser satellite, and uses it to destroy the warship.
  • At the end of Cyber-Lip, after destroying the titular supercomputer, you find that your CO was using you to clear the way for an Alien Invasion. Cue credits.
  • Cyberpunk 2077: In "The Sun" ending, Johnny temporarily takes control of V's body to enlist the help of Rogue, raids Arasaka alongside her and ultimately completes his quest for revenge by killing Adam Smasher, though at the cost of Rogue herself. Following the splitting of V and Johnny, Johnny chooses to let V keep their body. V spends the following months managing the Afterlife and living the high life, having left their mark on Night City as a legend, but ultimately, with only weeks left to live before the effects of the Relic catch up to them, V takes on one last job: robbing an Arasaka casino on a space station resort. Whether or not V comes out of it alive, they don't care; after all, their number was called a long time ago.
  • Dawn of War: In Dark Crusade, the ending cinematic for each faction's stronghold features their base getting swamped by the player's army. For the Eldar, it shows Taldeer telling the surviving Eldar to run and hide, while she goes down the ramp to face the invaders. Then the camera tilts up into the sky... The drama is occasionally ruined when a Knock Back attack sends her flying back into camera range.
  • Dead Space 3: Awakened concludes with the awakened Brethren Moons beginning to consume Earth, and Isaac and Carver apparently going insane, possibly crashing into one of the moons.
  • Detroit: Become Human can end on such a note in one of two ways. Either Markus leads a violent assault to liberate the android recall centers and succeeds, or, with his back against the wall, he detonates a dirty bomb and forces the military to retreat and Detroit to be evacuated. In the former case, Markus declares their offensive as the beginning of a war unless they can negotiate for all the other androids held in recall centers country-wide to be freed. In the latter case, the story concludes with the President declaring war against the deviant androids and vowing to put a stop to their uprising at all costs.
  • In Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening, the last cutscene featuring Vergil has him falling into Hell, severely weakened by the battle he just had with his brother, and right in front of the demon king Mundus. He then declares that if his father beat Mundus, he could as well. The scene cuts right as Vergil charges towards Mundus and the fight is never shown. This is a subversion however, since the events of Devil May Cry 3 happened before the first installment where he's been transformed into Mundus' slave; he obviously lost.
  • Devil Survivor 2: in the updated rerelease Record Breaker, if you choose to go through with Ronaldo's plan and fight all of the Administrators, after destroying Canopus the ending depitcts more Swords coming down to Earth, and Nicea 2.1 being installed onto the protagonists' phones. whether or not they succeed in their lofty goal is left ambiguous.
  • Let Valvatorez curb-stomp the endgame too well in Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten and you'll get the God ending. Why is it called the God ending? Because Valvatorez manages to piss God off so much that He destroys both Earth and the Netherworld, declares total war on Val and his party, and sends eight million lesser gods to kill them. The party's defeated a tenth of them so far.
  • Doom: At the end of the first episode, the protagonist winds up in a room filled with acid and surrounded by quite a number of demons. As his health quickly drains away, the game ends. For the Shareware version, this was a cliffhanger of sorts.
  • The third ending of Drakengard sees Caim charging out to face a massive horde of dragons bent on destroying mankind while grinning like crazy and clearly looking forward to it. The second ending also ends before the looming disaster — this time, a horde of monstrous clones of his sister — ultimately strikes, but is less open-ended about it, as Caim seems devastated and simply waiting for death.
  • Dream Web: At the end of the game Ryan walks out of a subway entrance, just to be greeted by about four cop cars and a bunch of police officers, all with their guns pointed at Ryan, telling Ryan to put down the gun. For whatever reason Ryan does not drop the gun, the police promptly shoot Ryan numerous times, blowing him into the subway entrance where his soul enters the Dreamweb for one last time.
  • Einhänder ends with the player flying off to destroy the fleet-and maybe the entire moon nation- of Selena, which has been revealed to be The Empire all along. And judging by those huge explosions and the things the player had to go through to get this far, you seem to be winning. And you actually do, as seen in a short cutscene of your intact ship after the end credits.
  • The non-canon monster victory ending in Evolve features the hunters hopelessly outmatched by a horde of monsters that advances on them, picking off a few of them, before ending in a Gory Discretion Shot.
  • In Fallout 3, the in-game radio show "The Adventures of Herbert "Daring" Dashwood and his Stalwart Ghoul Manservant, Argyle" ends on a literal cliffhanger, with Dashwood dangling from a cliff edge, the citizens of Rockopolis trying to kill them, and the cave about to be overrun by slavers. Later on you meet Dashwood himself, but you don't find out what happens to Argyle unless you come upon a fairly hidden area that's not marked on the map. Turns out he never made it out of Rockopolis, he got killed in a cave-in.
  • FEAR: Extraction Point (not canon) pretty much ends this way, with both of the Pointman's teammates dead, the Pointman himself possibly near death, his extraction chopper blown up, and The End of the World as We Know It apparently looming, according to Fettel: "A war is coming. I've seen it in my dreams. Fires sweeping the Earth, bodies in the streets, cities turned to dust. Retaliation."
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core has you play through Zack's final stand, Retconned so he faces off against seemingly the entire Shinra army. It has all the hallmarks of a Bolivian Army Ending except that you get to see the inevitable conclusion. The two alternate timelines of the VII universe diverge significantly on the outcome of this battle. In the original timeline, Zack is killed. In Final Fantasy VII Remake, he survives this specific battle.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics's ending comes close to this. After defeating the Big Bad, the last thing you see from the hero's perspective is the battlefield exploding. Delita survives a similar explosion at the end of the first chapter, it should be noted...and Olan sees Ramza and his sister, apparently alive, some time after the battle. However, they don't seem to see Olan, implying that they may be visions or ghosts. Olan is also a classic Unreliable Narrator, as the entire story is told from notes he made as interpreted by a descendant.
    • Dissidia Final Fantasy 012 lets you play as several really cool new heroes. You get to see them fight a literally endless horde of Manikins. The game is a prequel.
  • Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War has one just after the main character finally manages to fight his way back to his homeland, seemingly pardoned for the false accusations against him and his family. The whole army, meaning, in Fire Emblem terms, the 20-odd named characters with emotions, custom relationships and children are seemingly all captured and executed on the spot. Then the second half of the game picks up with the next generation. Some of the first generation characters are implied or stated to have survived, but the fate of most is ambiguous.
  • In the Dark Side ending of The Force Unleashed II, after Starkiller's Diabolus ex Machina clone kills him, his allies, and the Skywalkers & THEIR allies, Sidious intends to have him killed to uphold the Rule of Two and the game ends with him sensing a fleet of Star Destroyers closing in on his location.
  • Alex's fate at the end of Golden Sun: The Lost Age was this, stranded on a collapsing volcano after being beaten half-to-death by The Wise One, who outright states that he may or may not survive. Then the sequel came out...he did. He's now allied (maybe) with the new bad guys.
  • Half-Life:
    • Half-Life has two endings. The canon (and "good") one ends with the player accepting the G-Man's offer of employment which eventually leads to the second game. His other choice is "a battle you have no chance of winning...rather an anticlimax after what you've just survived." If the player chooses not to accept the offer of employment, they suddenly appear in the middle of Xen with no weapons and many, many, many Alien Grunts. "No regrets, Mr. Freeman..." Fade to Black.
    • The Half-Life: Uplink demo ends with Gordon being cornered by a Gargantua, and the screen fading to black followed by the message "Current evaluation: uplink completed. Require further data."
  • Halo:
    • A Halo 2 demo sort of invoked this, ending with Cortana and Chief treating the multiple Spec-Ops Elites opposing them at the end as a mere chance to make a bet. Though you already knew that he was going to be just fine.
    • In Halo 3: ODST's Firefight, this is the only possible outcome, although Halo: Reach's Firefight subverts this by making it possible to survive to the end unless you select a certain setting.
    • At the end of Reach's campaign, before the credits, Noble Six is left stranded on the titular planet as the Covenant finally completely overrun it. Then he/she bites it in "Lone Wolf".
  • House of the Dead 4 Special, an Expansion Pack to HOTD 4 with multiple screens and a spinning seat and other assorted jazz, features this as its bad ending. If you fail to hit the Magician's box with a grenade, he clones himself multiple times, and the game ends with G and Kate probably about to go down fighting.
  • At the end of Killzone 2, you're sitting on the stairs of the Big Bad's Palace, as a huge Helghast Fleet comes flying in.
  • Subverted in Kingdom Hearts II where after defeating Xemnas, Sora and Riku are stuck fighting an uncountable number of Nobodies. Subverted when a time lapse shows them coming out okay, aside from Riku's broken foot.
  • In The Legendary Axe II, you have defeated your evil brother and reclaimed your throne, and as your brother's minions bows before you, you savour your victory only for an assassin to suddenly show up and take a swing at you. Cue Smash to Black.
  • Loser Reborn: In the second ending, the protagonist and the Cultist defeat Nya, allowing the protagonist to go back to the real world. However, Nya send Gla'aki, the goddess of the undead, to the real world in order to start a zombie apocalypse. The endings cuts off right after the protagonist grabs a gun in an attempt to fight off Gla'aki and her zombie army.
  • The demo of Mafia II ends with Vito Scaletta and Joe Barbaro driving Henry Tomasino who got shot during a hit right in front of a police blockade on a bridge with the screen fading to black and saying you can find out in the full game. In the full game the bridge is free of cars and the blockade never happened. Even the full game ended in a cliffhanger - Joe's fate was left to the player's imagination, although references further supporting his death can be found in the game's asset files.
    • Mafia III reveals their fates. Vito was Reassigned to Antarctica, where he was forced to work for the Marcano family in New Bordeaux far away from the big families. Joe ended up as Leo Galante's chauffeur.
  • Marvel vs. Capcom 3:
    • Phoenix's ending has her Superpowered Evil Side, Dark Phoenix, waking up as a side effect of defeating Galactus. This time, the heroes of both worlds have to band together to fight her.
    • Frank West's ending, where Mr. Fantastic appears, asking him for help in exterminating certain zombies. They jump through a portal into the Marvel Zombies universe.
  • Mass Effect 2: The non-canon Bad Ending; Shepard brings down the Collectors, but loses the entire crew (except Joker) and dies. Joker gives his data on the Reapers to the Illusive Man, and the game ends with a shot of the Reapers bearing down on the galaxy.
  • The original Mass Effect 3 ending had the Crucible's beam encroaching on the escaping Normandy and apparently destroying or disabling it, but the Extended Cut ending shows it escaping unscathed if you have a high enough EMS.
  • Meatgrinder ends with you finding your heart after a lengthy airplane chase. And then you realize you're inside a container that is still falling. You then let out a weak "Uh, crud!" before the game suddenly ends.
  • Mega Man
    • Mega Man Zero:
      • Mega Man Zero ends with Zero confronting a swarm of enemy soldiers. While his fate is not directly stated before or after the credits, he quickly slices one of the robots and a short variation of his theme plays, indicating he still has the odds in his favor. Subverted by Mega Man Zero 2, which reveals that he (obviously) survived as he has been wandering for an entire year afterwards.
      • In Mega Man Zero 4, Zero stays onboard the falling Ragnarok space station while fighting the Big Bad. The last shot of the game (and therefore the series) is just of his helmet amidst the charred ruins of the station. Atypical of the trope, this was left completely ambiguous (especially since that's how most fans want to think). The Mega Man Zero official complete works, which is canon, mentions that his fate is unknown.
    • At the end of Mega Man ZX Advent, Model Z stays behind Ouroboros (History Repeats, essentially, since Model Z is based on Zero, and Ouroboros is a reassembled Ragnarok) to hold off the enemy Mega Men so Vent/Aile can rescue Grey/Ashe. The ambiguity of Model Z's fate is further enforced in the secret ending: when Master Mikhail learns that Master Thomas is Evil All Along, the still-alive enemy Mega Men teleport into the room, apparently in cahoots with Master Thomas. Like Model Z, Master Mikhail's fate from then on is unknown.
  • Modern Warfare 2:
    • The level "Of Their Own Accord" ends with the player character, Private James Ramirez trapped in the wreckage of a crashed Blackhawk (Ramirez's squad was protecting a civilian evacuation, and got hit by a SAM). As Russian troops approach the crashed Blackhawk, Ramirez's M4 runs out of ammo, Corporal Dunn gets shot, and an enemy helicopter hovers over, shining its searchlight straight at the player as the screen fades to white. The next level putting you in the shoes of a soldier half the world away. The level "Second Sun" returns to Ramirez, letting them replay everything mentioned above, but then revealing how the actions of Captain Price in the last level end up saving him and his squad.
    • The end of "Down the Rabbit Hole". Price, Yuri, and the Russian President get into a helicopter as Team Metal stays behind to hold off the Ultranationalist army. While you could argue Team Metal is enough of a Badass Crew to survive that, the entire mine they're fighting in collapses on them (after the helicopter escapes- and is in fact why it needed to leave), making the chances of their survival slim.
    • A similar event in the World At War mission "Eviction". As Reznov is trying to force open a door in a subway, a torrent of water floods the entire tunnel. The game then cuts away to a mission in the American campaign. In the next Russian mission, "Heart of the Reich", the player character is shown to be just fine.
  • Mother 3. The protagonist is forced to awaken a dragon that will certainly destroy the world, but who may or may not rebuild it as a utopia. The world is ripped to pieces, then the screen fades to black. Disembodied voices of all the characters you have met throughout the game congratulate you and remark that they're happy and doing just fine now. It's left up to the player to decide whether they're happily living in a new world or happily living in the afterlife.
  • Not Dying Today ends with a cutscene of your player protagonist, Aiden, killing the Final Boss. But just then, the boss reveals the set of rigged explosives under him, and presses a detonator switch. Then the screen goes black, credits roll, and what happens next is unknown.
  • FPS title Painkiller ends with protagonist Daniel Garner fighting off a massive swarm of demons. It isn't the true, more confusing ending, though. Expansion pack Battle Out Of Hell reveals that he survived. Even more confusing is the "good" ending obtained through the replaying at the hardest setting where the True Big Bad is NOT faced because...well, he's already dead on the easier settings. The Bolivian Army Ending is averted as he doesn't go to hell and goes to heaven instead.
  • Phantasy Star II, which ends with the heroes taking on hundreds of Earthlings in mélee.
  • In the "true" ending of Portal Reloaded, the protagonist escapes the death trap placed by the unnamed AI through a time portal, which lets her exit the facility twenty years in the future. As soon as she steps outside into a wooded area, her portal device deactivates...and several headcrab zombies shamble out of the brush toward her.
  • Red Dead Redemption: With the protagonist John Marston having outlived his usefulness to Edgar Ross, the man assaults Beecher's Hope with the aid of the US army to wipe out the last remaining member of the Van Der Linde outlaws. Knowing his family would never have a chance at a peaceful life as a wanted man, John confronts the duplicitous Pinkerton outside his barn and despite his valiant, futile effort to take as many men with him as he can, is gunned down by a figurative firing squad.
  • Yukimura Sanada in the Samurai Warriors series usually does this during the Osaka Campaign as he did according to popular legend. Of note is his ending in the third game where he rushes the Tokugawa forces between himself and Ieyasu despite being tired out from the battle and the pleading of Ina.
  • In the sequel of Samurai: Way of the Warrior, you defeat the main villain, Orochi, aboard his airborne base, but Orochi pulls a Taking You with Me by grabbing you as he falls down a chasm to his death. You fall as well, and the credits suddenly roll; whether you survive or not is unknown.
  • A Small Talk at the Back of Beyond: After The Reveal that you are trapped in a malfunctioning spaceship that is drifting towards a sun, the Benevolent A.I. LDAC gives you two options. If you stay on the ship, you and LDAC will die together. If you take the escape pod, LDAC will die alone and you will remain adrift in space. Whether someone finds you and rescues you, or whether you run out of food and die alone in space, the game does not reveal.
  • Shadow's story mode in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) ends like this. Mephiles the Dark, after managing to escape and destroy the Scepter of Darkness that originally sealed him up (thanks to inheriting Shadow's chaos energy) attempts to finish off Team Dark once and for all by summoning an armada of Mephiles clones, continuing to taunt Shadow for siding with the humans despite knowing they will eventually turn on him. Shadow's response? He takes off his Inhibitor Rings and simply tells Mephiles this, before plowing through and destroying his entire entourage:
    Shadow: If the world chooses to become my enemy, I will fight like I always have.
  • A possible ending in Spec Ops: The Line has Walker call for Dubai to be evacuated, only for him to open fire on the squad of soldiers sent to bring him home, killing them all. He picks a radio up from one of their corpses to deliver a warm welcome to their commander, then retreats further into the city to prepare for whatever counterattack the United States military might throw at him.
  • StarCraft: Brood War: the opening video ends with zerglings massing around entrenched infantry, freshly abandoned by a passing battlecruiser. At the end of the game the UED fleet are fleeing from the sector and the Zerg catches up to them before the scene fades.
  • This is basically Rand's Bad Ending in Super Robot Wars Z. If you made a bad choice earlier on, you aren't able to locate the true Big Bad in time and Space Time starts falling apart while your team is dueling the Disc-One Final Boss. It ends with a good portion of your team erased from existance including all your leaders and captains, Kei and Orson (who were needed to personally correct the space time problem) and Rand's sidekick which depresses him and causes him to fully embrace his Blood Knight nature. It ends with infinite copies of bosses showing up and the world continuing to fall apart, and the only people you've got left that haven't poofed into nonexistence, are all warriors like the Mazinger brothers, Getter team, Kira and Shinn, and of course Rand, none of whom have the slightest clue of how to fix space time. They opt to go down fighting and the game fades to silent, CGI less credits.
  • Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow ends with Logan shooting Trinidad but taking bullets from him as well, and the story ending with Lian attempting to revive him. Word of God says the series is over as that managed to kill him.
  • Team Fortress 2: in the Mann Vs Machine trailer, this trope happens to the Heavy, Scout, Engineer, Medic, Soldier, and Demoman as they face down an army of their robotic lookalikes. Subverted when they effortlessly crush the bots. Double Subverted when a giant Soldier shows up...
  • Played for Laughs in one of the endings to Tekken 5. Paul Phoenix, inexplicably in some sort of space station, practices his technique on a crude alien drawing pasted to a brick wall, and believes he's ready when he demolished it, declaring "BRING IT ON, YA ALIENS!" just as a hundred UFOs surround the space station.
  • Twin Caliber ends it's final cutscene with Fortman and Valdez, having defeated the High Priestess in her One W Inged Angel form, realizing hundreds and hundreds of armed cultists are outside waiting for them. Fortman and Valdez then makes a Self-Destructive Charge, guns firing all the way, and then the screen goes black.
  • The single-player campaign in Unreal Tournament III ends this way, with the protagonist launching into battle against the horde of Necris assassins that just killed the rest of his squad. Of course, being set in the Unreal universe, Reaper is probably enough of a badass that a few dozen heavily armed, genetically engineered undead assassins in their own capital city are just a minor threat...
  • At the ending of Vexx, the titular character has defeated the Big Bad in his home dimension, and is preparing to retreat back to the portal leading out. However, the aftermath of the battle ends up destroying the path leading to said portal, leaving Vexx stranded. The final scene is of Vexx preparing to face off against ever increasing numbers of the dimension's lesser denizens as they surround him. This game was actually supposed to have a sequel, but the developing company broke apart before that could happen.
  • In Wanted: Dead, the last we see of Stone is that she is cornered by what remains of Engels security troops, as Stone, after speaking out her last words toward the orphaned kid that was part of one of her case before, cocks her handgun. Her survival is most likely guaranteed though considering what remains of Engles security troops shown are just the armed trooper ones.
  • In one of the endings in Way of the Samurai 3 you join or take over the Ouka Clan of Bandits, and end up being the one in charge of them when the Fujimori Clan leads a massive army against you. Despite managing to fight your way out, you and several of your comrades find yourselves completely surrounded. You and your companions ultimately decide to give them all the fight you have left and charge into the fray. The game ends with a note about an "unknown samurai disappearing into history."
  • In one of the bad endings in Way of the Samurai 4 you join the xenophobic Prajna movement in an attack against the British embassy, which the British treat as an act of war. Akagi, the leader of the Prajna's, is mortally wounded and gives the leadership of his movement to your character. The game ends with the much more modern British army invading Japan, while your character is seen leading the charge against them.
  • Wild ARMs 3 ends like this, with the heroes getting framed for Lamius' murder and fleeing. Watching past the credits reveals the final scene of the game, where they ultimately escaped safely to Little Twister and are intent on visiting their families, but their reward for saving the planet is having a bounty placed on their heads for a crime they didn't commit.
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order ends with Blazkowicz being wounded by Deathshead's grenade. As Blazkowicz tells the Resistance to drop the bomb on Deathshead's fortress, the game cuts to the credits. The sequel reveals that he survived, but was left very badly wounded.
    • Wolfenstein: Youngblood has Jessica, Sophia, and Abby deciding to stay behind in Paris to fend off an inevitable Fourth Reich counterattack and buy time for their parents to rally the rest of the world to put an end to the Nazis once and for all.
  • In the Soviet Assault expansion for World in Conflict, Malashenko succumbs to Revenge Before Reason and disobeys an order to retreat back to Russia. Instead, he goes off to Seattle in order to help defend the city against the inevitable American counterattack. Players who have completed the first game should know that the battle doesn't end well for the Soviets.
  • Unusually for such a lighthearted game, Nessiah's ending in Yggdra Unison. After conquering the continent, he gathers everyone together into one army, and they leave to make war on Asgard. All we learn about how that went is that no one ever returned.

    Visual Novels 
  • Sparks Liner High, a bad end of Fate/stay night's Heaven's Feel route, couples this with an Exact Time to Failure. Shirou has defeated Saber Alter, but became braindead in the process due to overusing Archer's arm. Meanwhile, Saber Alter isn't dead, but needs ten minutes to regenerate from her injuries, at which point Sakura will summon her to defeat Rin, so Rin needs to defeat Sakura before that happens. The last scene is Saber Alter quietly reflecting that Shirou's fate will make this a Pyrrhic Victory for the winner. The Tiger Dojo session afterwards can't bring itself to chastise Shirou too much because he did his best.
    Taiga: This end is peaceful in a way.
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors: The "Coffin" ending ends with Junpei wondering about the code to the coffin.
  • EP7 of Umineko: When They Cry ends this way, with Will and Lion facing an army of Bernkastel's demonic cats about to tear them apart.

    Web Animation 
  • In 1 Minute Melee, after the fight between Link and Sora, Dark Link shows up and summons an army of Heartless that Sora, Donald, Goofy, and Link proceed to fight.
  • In the Madness Combat canon side episode DedmosRebuilt.fla when Deimos is brought back alive by 2BDamned they are faced by some giants agents and ATP soldats coming out from hell to attack them, 2BDamned complain "God damn it Deimos," and the episode end here with a cut to black.
  • The last episode of Xionic Madness ends with Xero and his disciple Enid being cornered by an army of soldiers that they subsequently decide to engage with — despite Xero knowing that he will most likely die and thus leave his cause in Enid's hands.
  • Zatanna Trial Of The Crystal Wand: Zatanna is seen defeating playing cards while Damon and Klarion are trapped.

  • Fite! originally ended with the start of Lucco and Ricci's rematch, but the author eventually added one more comic showing that Lucco wins.
  • Homestuck has one in the form of Nepeta vs. Gamzee, which switches the narrative as Nepeta is knocked to the ground by Gamzee. This means that the cat was neither alive nor dead. Ultimately subverted, as Nepeta turns out to have been killed.

    Web Videos 
  • The final episode of Carmilla reveals that the eldritch abomination under the university was not slain but is apparently waking up, possibly from having eaten Carmilla's century old vampire mother. The episode ends with Carmilla, Laura and LaFontaine looking at the camera as the town meeting alarm sounds out ominously...
  • The short film Hit It ends with John ordering Matt under the table and engaging in a giant Mexican Standoff with the "resources" sent to hunt him down.
  • This Minecraft video ends with the hero surrounded by ghasts in a field of flames. Ironically, he actually ended up dying ten minutes after filming to a Zerg Rush by some Pigmen.
  • Solid jj's "Gangster SpongeBob" ends with the police storming in while SpongeBob and Patrick are ready for them with their guns cocked.

    Western Animation 
  • In the American Dad! episode "Escape From Pearl Bayley," Steve and his friends are trapped in a bus with an angry mob that wants to beat them up. Steve, who had been having problems with his friends thoughout the episode, offers to make up with them. They accept, and they decide to go out in a blaze of glory, jumping out of the bus and trying to take a few of the mob with them. The image freeze-frames when they make the leap, but the trope is ultimately subverted because the sound continues and you can clearly hear Steve and his friends getting pounded and bemoaning that they are NOT taking anybody with them at all.
  • Ben 10: The non-canon "Goodbye and Good Riddance" ends with Ben and Gwen running off to fight Dr. Animo and his army of mutants before they reach the school. Given that the two of them had just defeated Vilgax the previous night, they're more worried about having to miss class than the imminent villain attack.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: Operation T.R.I.P. is a Villain Episode about oneshot villains Interesting Twins from Beneath the Mountain tailing Numbuh 3 across Japan, thinking she will lead them to the Japanese KND branch. At the end of the episode, the trail is a dead end (Numbuh 3 was visiting her grandmother, actually her fellow Sector V agents) and the twins have a Villainous Breakdown that ended with them falling from the top of a mountain. They just had to say that things can't get any worse until they are greeted by the four "extras" they ran into earlier in the episode, who then reveal themselves to be the actual Japanese KND. The episode ends with the Japanese KND surrounding the Twins (who look like they are too injured to move) ominously...
  • El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera: The Evil Ending to "The Good, The Bad, and El Tigre" ends with the now elderly Manny saving his now obscenely old father and grandfather from the death trap he left them in for sixty years, just in time for Sartana and Django to return to Earth with an army of Moon Men. Manny, Frida, Rodolfo, and Granpapi gear up to fight them, even though all of them are Feeling Their Age, and the episode ends as the clash begins.
  • Futurama: Parodied in the episode The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz; at the end of the episode, two penguins are seen picking up the hunting rifles of their late hunters (don't ask). They glare daggers at each other as they take aim and cock their guns. Cue Smash to Black and Last Note Nightmare before any firing takes place.
  • At the climax of the Looney Tunes cartoon "Hare-Way to the Stars", Bugs escapes Mars after stealing one of Marvin's spaceships, but accidentally takes the container of dehydrated "Instant Martians" with him, splash-landing into a sewer in a large city. The Martians begin to grow as Bugs climbs out of the sewer, frantically replaces cover and warns the audience to "Run for the hills folks, or you'll be up to your armpits in Martians!" before taking his own advice as the ground shakes with the aliens underneath.
  • ReBoot: The series ends with Megabyte, who has been the main antagonist for the first four fifths of the show, suddenly reappearing and taking over Mainframe. This cliffhanger was resolved years later in an official webcomic. The good guys escape and flee to the supercomputer, and Megabyte ends up becoming The Dragon to a new villain.
  • Found in the Post-Credits Scene of Rick and Morty's "Get Schwifty" as Ice T goes to "crunch the numbers."
  • Stroker and Hoop ended its only season with both title characters, Doublewide, and C.A.R.R. being dropped into a ravine. However, the creators did have the courtesy to explain how the cliffhanger would have resolved itself in the planned, yet aborted, second season premiere.
  • The Transformers: At the end of the season 3 episode "Ghost in the Machine", Starscream, in his new body, is catapulted through space by the explosion that gets Unicron's head away from Cybertron, which Unicron wanted for his own new body. He passes by the Decepticons, and Galvatron immediately starts firing at him.
    Galvatron: It's STARSCREAM! BLAST HIM!
    Cyclonus: But he's a ghost!
    Galvatron: DIE YOU WORTHLESS-! fires and lands at least one hit on Starscream
    Cyclonus: Wait a minute. Since when do ghosts tumble uncontrolled through space?
  • In the Taz-Mania episode "Dr. Wendal and Mr. Taz", Wendal gets exposed to Gamma Rays that turn him into a monster whenever he gets angry. By the end of the episode, Mr. Thickley gets tired of constantly trying to appease Wendal and finally says, "Oh, go ahead and hit me!" The camera freezes as Wendal turns into a monster and grabs Taz to do just that! All we hear is the sound of Taz screaming and whacking noises.
  • Teen Titans pulls this on a villain. Dr. Light bows out of the final battle of the Brotherhood of Evil versus all the teenage heroes. He tries to pull off a heist on his own, but there's a massive team of Titans (and all their honorary members) waiting to pounce on him. The outcome is not shown, but obviously the odds are not in Light's favor.
  • TRON: Uprising - Despite some heavy losses and struggle, it's looking like Beck might just be getting a rebellion underway, but then Clu himself is seen leading an army of Recognizers, Light Jets, and tanks and closing in on Argon City. There has been no mention of Argon outside of this series and in January 2016 the third movie was canceled. Thus the Bolivian army ending to the storyline is a Bolivian army ending to the franchise.
  • The Xiaolin Showdown finale, where the entire Rogues Gallery appear at the outskirts of the Shaolin Temple, ready to begin a mass assault.


Video Example(s):


Butch Cassidy and Sundance

[Trope Namer] Cornered by the Bolivian army with little to no chance of escape, both Butch Cassidy and Sundance decided to take their chances and go out in a blaze of glory. The film then ends with a freeze-frame of the two outlaws as they engage with the soldiers.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / BolivianArmyEnding

Media sources: