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Cutting Off the Branches

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"I recommend sealing off this branch."
Accord, Branch C Ending, Drakengard 3

Some Video Games (from adventure games to dating sims) like to feature Multiple Endings as a way to increase replay value, by changing various elements and branches of the plot to reflect whatever choices the player made during the game.

This creates a problem when attempting to make a sequel (or adaptation) based on such a game: Which branch (and ending) of the plot gets to form the Canon backstory of the new work? The production team must make a decision, and make one fast, declaring one to be the Canon Ending and cutting the other ones off. They're still canon in their original game, but not with regard to the new work. Sometimes they don't even bother waiting until the sequel, instead labeling one particular ending as the True Ending.

In short, cutting off the branches is when one of the multiple possible endings in a game is considered the canon one in a future adaptation.

One reason for this is simple: game developers will often not know that there's going to be a sequel when a game is originally developed, which creates a relatively large amount of narrative freedom, but also a general requirement to wrap up a story in a satisfying way. In an RPG, this often means showcasing the impact your character's actions have had, and what better way than to lead to wildly different outcomes? Sure, these might be problematic and incompatible with a sequel that may never happen, but it makes for a fun game right now.

Another reason is that as per The Law of Conservation of Detail, adding stuff into a game isn't free. Story plots and character dialogue have to be written, levels have to be designed, tested, and debugged, voice actors have to be cast and recorded. Unique music may well be composed, and so on. Because game developers aren't given infinite time, money, and manpower, certain things get prioritised. Do you to split resources to account for very different game worlds due to endings A, B, and C? Do you want to spend a lot of resources developing content that many players will not have a chance to see? Or do you want to spend time and money where it will have the most impact?

Even when the branches aren't cut off altogether, use of tropes like Suspiciously Similar Substitute mean different branches can end up largely in parallel, allowing a lot of work to be reused due to the story following similar paths. Where Old Save Bonus is in effect, the outcomes might be very minor and occur offscreen; having a character write a letter or email which reflects a choice you made is pretty cheap, compared to writing huge amounts of unique dialogue, which is itself cheap compared to having to develop brand new levels and characters. Obviously this isn't always going to be the case, but you'll usually see this trope to at least some degree.

Related to Story Branch Favoritism, Game-Favored Gender, and Developers' Desired Date. Contrast with Third-Option Adaptation, which ignores all the various plotlines and picks an outside choice. When the next work is also a video game instead of an extended universe entry, this can sometimes be averted with Old Save Bonus or Schrödinger's Question. If the branches were selected immediately from character selection, you're using Schrödinger's Player Character. See also Canon Name, where a character who didn't have a given name at all in the first game, is given one in the next. Merging the Branches is a specific form of this where events from several mutually exclusive story branches are declared canon, rather than a single specific branch. See also No Canon for the Wicked, where the hero path is exclusively canon in a franchise with a morality system.


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  • At the end of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, the player has the option of making a Heroic Sacrifice for peace, or to rule over a broken land. Alas, peace doesn't make for good sequels... His choice turns the world into a blasted wasteland. And it was the better choice for the world in the long run. It's complicated.
  • In Deus Ex, you had three endings: you destroy all communication, you join the Illuminati or you merge with the AI Helios to become a benevolent god. In the sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War, all three happened: JC merges with Helios and destroys Area 51, destroying the world's communications and leaving a void for the Illuminati to rise to power. Additionally, it was possible for the protagonist's brother to die in the first game, but in the sequel he canonically lives.
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided effectively turned the tree into one big trunk, because none of the endings from Human Revolution are canon to it.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • While you can get Epona in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, you aren't required to get her to beat the game. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has Link riding Epona in the intro cutscene and rescues her later, thus making the horse from the previous game a canon character. Of course, the same game also ended up inverting the trope with regards to the major plot points, as its single full ending (Link defeats Ganon in the future, then goes back to the past and warns the kingdom of what will happen) and its implicit Bad Ending from dying during the final boss were turned into three equally-canon divergent timelines: one where Ganondorf was sealed away before he could cause any harm (the "Child Link" timeline, leading to Majora's Mask, Twilight Princess and Four Swords Adventures), one where Ganon's return after being thwarted forced the gods to flood Hyrule (the "Adult Link" timeline, leading to The Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks), and one where Link's death let Ganon ravage Hyrule (the "Fallen Hero" timeline, leading to the original two games, Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, etc.).
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a very open-ended game, to the point that the player could skip everything after the tutorial and head straight for the final boss if they wanted to. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity however, confirms that Link at the very least freed all four of the Divine Beasts, due to the fact that the New Champions from the future all recognize him. It's also the first game where, with the addition of voice acting, you cannot customize the protagonist's name, thus making "Link" his canon name. By then the series had been moving away from making him an audience-insert, and since Twilight Princess "Link" had been given as the default name.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, as a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild, also assumes that the player went for 100% Completion, as Link starts off with the maximum possible number of hearts and stamina, wields the Master Sword, all the Sheikah Shrines are gone, the Koroks are hiding in different locations, and the four New Champions from the previous game are already well acquainted with him.
  • Zig-Zagged with Luigi's Mansion due to the historic loose continuity of the series. Luigi gets a new non-haunted mansion at the end of the game. The new mansion's look depends on how much money Luigi has earned throughout the game, the rank A being a huge one and the rank H being a tent. The rank A mansion appears in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! but in Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Luigi lives in the rank D mansion. And all the RPG games have Luigi living in the same house as Mario (who himself downgraded to a smaller house in the past).
  • While left somewhat unclear, Overlord II suggests that the previous Evil Overlord was something of a Noble Demon who at the very least saved the Elves from extinction. The game also goes on to say that Rose was the canonical choice for Mistress. Though the debris from the Tower are in Velvet's style.
  • Prince of Persia: Warrior Within has two possible endings - one where Kaileena is defeated, and the other where The Prince manages to kill the Dahaka, saving himself and Kaileena. The latter is acknowledged as canon in the opening narration for the Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones.
  • Examples from the Blaster Master series...
    • Blaster Master Zero can end with Eve simply saying goodbye to Jason before leaving to fight the Mutant Core alone, but the sequel assumes you've collected every upgrade, in which case Eve knocked Jason out instead, resulting in Jason following her to Area 9 in another Metal Attacker and defeating the Mutant Core himself.
    • Blaster Master Zero II ends in default with the Party Scattering after Area G, with Eve wishing they should have spent more time interacting with the other MA pilots and strengthening the bond between her and Jason before resigning herself to her imminent corruption. Meanwhile, Leibniz receives a distress signal from Earth meant for Jason and reacts by mockingly laughing over Jason's apparent failure as a hero. Blaster Master Zero III follows the ending you get when you collect all the trinkets from the other MA pilots, in which case Eve had enough resolve to explore Area Ω, save Jason, cure her condition, and make it to the planet Sophia the 3rd (the setting of not just Blaster Master Zero 3, but the original Metafight as well). As for Leibniz, he instead decides that if Jason isn't around to save his own homeworld, then he'll do it himself (at least for Jason's reaction).
  • Super Metroid: During the final escape sequence, you can take some time to go down a side path and rescue the Dachora and Etecoons, nonviolent creatures that teach you how to Shinespark and wall jump earlier in the game, or you can skip them entirely to save some time. Rescuing them is the canon ending, as they reappear in Metroid Fusion.

    Action Games 
  • Star Fox:
    • Averted with Star Fox Command. Despite the game having 9 different endings, including two good ones (one where the status quo is more or less restored with some newcomers to the team, and one where Fox and Krystal have a son named Marcus who creates a new, younger team), Miyamoto and Nintendo decided to "plant a new tree" and reboot the franchise once again with Star Fox Zero, leaving the end of the old timeline undefined.
    • And even then, an interview with the developers state that should a game that considers Command canon gets made, they'd rather use the middle as the starting point.
    • Played straight with the original Star Fox and Star Fox 64, where the Golden Endings are unsurprisingly the ones used in the sequels.

    Action RPGs 
  • Dark Souls:
    • Averted in Dark Souls II, where any of the first game's endings or other events could be canon, it does not matter. Such a long time has passed since then that it has faded into obscurity, and the ages shift in a neverending cycle. If the player chose the "Link the Fire" ending, eventually, they would have died and another undead would have replaced them or left the bonfire to die, starting an Age of Dark. If the player chose the "Dark Lord" ending, another undead would eventually throw his soul on the fire, starting a new Age of Fire anyway. The cycle will keep rolling.
    • Dark Souls III does much the same with the events of II, but canonizes one major decision from I. The Chosen Undead did not kill Gwyndolin, who lives on and continues ruling Anor Londo until he's overthrown by Aldrich and Sulyvahn...although the nature of Lothric as both a "transitory land, where the lands of the Lords of Cinder converge" and a Timey-Wimey Ball leaves some ambiguity as to which events are actually part of the original timeline of Lordran and which are related to the rebirth of the Lords of Cinder. In the DLC, it also does to its own ending the same thing it had done to II, showing the utter end of time where it no longer matters what you did or why, everything has been ground down to dust anyway by the passage of uncounted aeons. Dark Souls is not a particularly optimistic franchise.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
  • Fable II dodges this by occurring centuries after the original Fable and, during the rare moments when the Fable II hero's predecessor is mentioned, having contradictory accounts as to what specifically occurred. Theresa's survival is about as close to canon as they get about it, and even then it's never specifically stated that the old blind seer of the second and third games is actually the Hero of Oakvale's sister from Fable either. Fable III occurs mere decades after Fable II, makes use of the Old Save Bonus method but only uses that to mention the Hero of Bowerstone's gender, and like II also rarely mentions the Hero of Bowerstone and is very vague as to what kind of person they were, other than buying up all the real estate in the game and becoming the monarch.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout 2 avoids many specifics by taking place in the area just north of the one where Fallout did, and the Vault Dweller's diary that serves as the intro story to the Fallout 2 manual is somewhat vague at certain key plot points (i.e. whether you sided with Killian or Gizmo, saved Necropolis, or shot the overseer), but from what you do learn it seems that canonically the Vault Dweller was a generally heroic figure (e.g. wiping out the Khan raiders and saving Tandi and Shady Sands, which would eventually become the New California Republic). The diary also mentions that party members Dogmeat and Ian died during the course of the adventure, although this is quite likely Lampshade Hanging of first game's sub-par companion A.I. - Dogmeat specifically is mentioned to have been incinerated by a force field in the Mariposa military base, which is guaranteed to happen assuming you have him in the party by then and can't pass numerous skill checks to disable the fields for good. For the final confrontation, the Vault Dweller took out the Master and the Cathedral (though the diary doesn't say how they did it) before confronting the Lieutenant at the Marisopa military base (and it is mentioned how he did that: going in guns-blazing). Finally, from the appearance of the massive statue of the Vault Dweller in the NCR square, as well as the pronouns in the Book of Elders item in Fallout 2, it shows that the vault dweller was male. The narrator also explicitly refers to the Vault Dweller with male pronouns in the opening movie.
    • Similarly, Fallout: New Vegas avoids references to Fallout 3 by setting it on the other side of the country. New Vegas does have a few references to events in Fallout 2, however: the Chosen One helped Vault 15 integrate with the New California Republic (hence why they're expanding into Arizona), helped wiped out the second incarnation of the Khans (hence why their remnants are in the Mojave), made Vault City join the NCR, and left Tandi alive. The Chosen One also recruited at least Marcus, and brought him with the party when they stormed the Oil Rig, seemingly decanonizing the Pacifist Run and Stealth Run methods of finishing the game (as the Enclave soldiers on the Rig shoot your party on sight if you don't come alone). References to a very wasteland-accustomed "Mr. Bishop" also indicates that the Chosen One was male and slept with one of the Bishops, but the ending that usually comes from that scenario is averted since the Wright family is apparently in control of New Reno, having out-competed the Mordinos and Salvatores, which they could only do with the Chosen One's intervention. The game also establishes that the Followers of the Apocalypse expanded from their base of operations in the Los Angeles Boneyard, seemingly making their good ending from the first game canon even though it cannot be obtained since the quest required to get it is Dummied Out (the game's ending always says the Super Mutants wiped out the Followers). One thing that is confirmed about Fallout 3's story is that Moira Brown completed the "Wasteland Survival Guide" with a fair amount of success, since it's available as an item that boosts the Survival skill in New Vegas.
    • In Fallout 4, several terminal logs in the Prydwen note that Sarah Lyons was killed in battle sometime in the ten years between 3 and 4, meaning that she didn't activate the Purifier at the end of 3. Additionally, the Brotherhood of Steel is in control of the Capital Wasteland and has purged the remnants of the Enclave and the Super Mutants; this means the Lone Wanderer helped them out and didn't take any of the Omnicidal Maniac endings (nuking the Citadel in Broken Steel or poisoning the region's water supply in the base game). It’s also hinted that the Wanderer did kill everyone at Fort Barrister (in turn destroying the Talon Company) and Evergreen Mills (presumably also including the captive Super Mutant Behemoth).
  • God of War Ragnarök treats it as canon that Kratos defeated Sigrun, the Queen of the Valkyries, which was an optional boss fight in the first game.
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 does this to some of the optional missions in the first game. While Jean Grey being present and the X-Men still being together leaves it ambiguous as to whether Nightcrawler was supposed to be the canonical sacrifice or if Jean was talked down after coming back as the Dark Phoenix, the paths of other missions seems to be canon, including rescuing Lilandra and Senator Kelly as the West Coast of the United States of America appears to still be intact and the latter isn't among those who support registration.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Mass Effect 2 goes with the Old Save Bonus approach. Unfortunately, if you don't have a save to import, the game gives you default choices that are not only mostly Renegade such as killing the Rachni and the Council, but also some of the worst ones that very few players ever choose, such as killing Wrex on Virmire and electing Udina to the council. Some fans speculate this is a sneaky way of encouraging players to play the first game instead of jumping into the sequel blind. The first game wasn't initially released for the PlayStation 3, so that system includes an interactive comic book that allows the players to make decisions about major events. This feature was later released as DLC for the Xbox 360 and PC versions. And even if you did use the interactive comic, it still automatically assumed that you either killed or didn't meet with most NPCs who weren't part of the main plot, like Conrad Verner and the various NPCs you had the choice of killing or freeing as part of the story. This had the unfortunate effect of preventing Playstation 3 players from getting a lot of side missions until the first game was finally ported over two years later.
    • Mass Effect 3 requires that Shepard survived the suicide mission of Mass Effect 2 (you can't import a save game where Shepard died). This should be fairly obvious, as BioWare said when the second game was released that the trilogy is less about the universe and more about Shepard's story and how it affects the galaxy. The Stinger of the third game drives the point home.
    • The Council in 3 is always either the original one from Mass Effect 1, or a new, but still mixed-species one. There is no all-human Council, even for playthroughs in which Udina proposed making one at the end of the first game. Udina is also always the human councilperson - Anderson always resigns before the events of the third game.
    • The Mass Effect: Homeworlds comic has Tali at Rannoch in a flashforward at the end of her issue, showing she survived until that point. Meanwhile, at the end of his issue, Garrus clearly recognizes Shepard and refers to them as a friend, meaning he was recruited in the first game.
    • The presence of quarians and geth in multiplayer regardless of any installed DLC or player choices implies the ending where Shepard brokers peace, which requires Legion survive to this point and Tali to both survive to the ending of 3 and to not have been exiled in her companion quest in 2, is the canon outcome. The presence of Awakened Collector Adepts also show the optional Leviathan DLC was completed. The use of In-Universe blurbs (on both Bioware's websites and the MP character descriptions) confirms this isn't Gameplay and Story Segregation either.
    • The Genesis comic shows that Tali and Garrus were Shepard's squad during the Battle of the Citadel, the final level of the first game.
    • Averted with Mass Effect: Andromeda: the game takes place 600 years in the future in an entirely different galaxy, with all of the refugees only referring to general events up until Mass Effect 2, which is when they left. The only acknowledgement of player choices is a binary decision at character creation of which set of pronouns to use in rare references to Commander Shepard. Any references to the events of Mass Effect 3 and the galaxy-wide ramifications of the decision made at the end of that game are treated incredibly vaguely, where it's broadly stated that "communication with the Milky Way has been lost" and nothing more.
  • Tales of Symphonia brought Relationship Values to the series. It also made it into the Massive Multiplayer Crossover tactical-RPG Tales of the World: Narikiri Dungeon 3, which lets the player set up custom parties of Tales characters and awards parties bonus titles for certain team-ups. One of these titles is "Love-Love?", which goes to canon couples, such as Cless/Mint and Chester/Arche from Tales of Phantasia, Reid/Farah and Keele/Meredy from Tales of Eternia, and Lloyd/Colette from Tales of Symphonia. Ironically, the sequel actually allows you to avert this particular cone, with an optional cutscene that the player can choose to follow whichever relationship choice they want.
    • The sequel to Symphonia also averts this by letting the player choose which relationship was "canon" in the previous game, in a bonus cutscene — with one exception playing the trope straight: the Kratos alternate storyline for Symphonia cannot be made canon in Dawn of the New World since Zelos is alive in the sequel and choosing Kratos in Symphonia required you to kill him.
      • Generally, the cone related to who Lloyd’s closest ally was gets avoided wherever possible nowadays, but Colette’s ending was used as the basis for everything in some earlier side material involving the game, and she still gets some special treatment now. For example, if one of the girls is picked for the aforementioned scenes in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, all of their respective scenes are very shippy, but Colette is the only one that Lloyd explicitly says “I love you” to. Additionally, prior to the confession in Colette’s scene, Emil pretty much goes full Shipper on Deck for the two, outright telling him that Colette likes him and rooting for them to get together.

    Adventure Games 
  • AI: The Somnium Files has two endings where everything gets resolved — the ending of Mizuki's route and the Golden Ending. In the sequel, AI: The Somnium Files - nirvanA Initiative, it quickly becomes apparent that the latter is canon, even in spite of Date's physical appearance indicating it could be the former. This is explained early on as Latex Perfection — Date received a facial prosthesis that allowed him to keep Saito's face, as it is what most people recognize him as.
  • Another Code: In the original Nintendo DS version of Two Memories, it was possible to end the game without having succeeded in helping D get his memories back and move on to the afterlife. In the second game, Journey into Lost Memories, Ashley has a late-game conversation with Matt where she talks about D, making it clear that she did help him move on.
  • Henry Stickmin: Mission allows the player to determine which endings from Airship and Complex the game should treat as canon. However, some combinations are not compatible; Henry is unable to be rescued by Charles if he didn't help the government, and cannot pick "The Betrayed" as an ending unless he has become the leader of the Toppat Clan.
  • Life Is Strange 2 notably averts this. Upon starting a new game, it'll ask the player if they played the original Life Is Strange, and if they did, it'll ask which ending they chose, and alter certain aspects of the story to fit that choice. If they did not play the original game, it will randomize one of the two endings.
    • Life Is Strange: True Colors both averts this trope and plays it straight in a minor example. Upon starting the "Wavelengths" DLC bonus chapter, you'll be presented with the same choice from Life Is Strange 2 mentioned above, and Steph's memories will be different depending on which ending you got in Season 1. However, the chapter notably treats Chloe and Rachel as an Official Couple, while in Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, the romantic aspect to their relationship was optional. It's a minor case, however, since it's always been heavily implied that the two were dating at some point between the prequel and first game no matter what the player chose (though exact details were fuzzy Depending on the Writer); this just marks the first canon confirmation.
  • The original Twilight Syndrome duology features Multiple Endings for each case depending on your choices, but only the best outcomes are considered canon and will get you a "good ending" stamp on your file for that case.
  • The second season of The Walking Dead has four very different endings for Clementine (she's either with Kenny, with Jane, at Wellington, or on her own). The next season not only simplifies things by switching to a new protagonist, but also provides a short flashback for Clementine that reveals how things quickly went south for whichever character she was stuck with, explaining why she is always alone when she runs into the new cast.
    • The Walking Dead: Season Four simplifies it further. In the "build your Clementine" segment that opens the game, you are given only three choices about your season two ending, not four. The Wellington ending got cut and became merged with the go with Kenny ending. If the player uploads a previous season file with the Wellington ending picked, it defaults to going with Kenny. The only major difference is that Clem won't have the bullet-graze scar on her cheek like in season three, and instead will sport a scar on her forehead. It likely got cut due to season four having a Troubled Production and being made on a much smaller budget and by a much smaller team, and the Wellington ending was by far the least popular one.

    Beat 'em Up 
  • In the original Final Fight, any of the three heroes (Guy, Cody, or Haggar) could throw Belger off his building at the end of the game. In Final Fight 2, it is Cody who is shown delivering the finishing blow to Belger in the opening intro and this actually becomes an important plot point in Final Fight: Streetwise (in which Father Bella is seeking revenge on Cody for killing Belger).

    Fighting Game 
  • Any fighting game series with multiple character endings will fit this. Examples include Mortal Kombat and Guilty Gear.
    • On the other hand, there has been a recent trend to avert this. Examples include the recent equivalents of both games listed above (the new Mortal Kombat has a "story mode" that tells a single, unified version of events through the eyes of a series of protagonists, while BlazBlue builds its entire premise around deconstructing this).
    • Mortal Kombat actually deserves special mention via the main villain of Mortal Kombat 11, Kronika. While cutting the branches is to be expected, the game outright points out that she's holding the shears and we get to see her in the act of pruning them. Kronika's desire for a balanced universe has seen many iterations via the various Arcade stories; when those particular iterations fail to live up to her expectations, she erases that timeline and starts anew. This is particularly true of the rebooted timeline, but given how she was behind everything in the series, it could arguably extend to the pre-reboot timeline as well. The trailer for the next installment, Mortal Kombat 1, also confirms that Fire God Liu Kang defeated Shang Tsung at the end of the Aftermath storyline in 11, rendering the latter's ending first, only to reveal that the real Big Bad is the Titan Shang Tsung from his own Aftermath ending where he beat his Fire God Liu Kang, who now seeks to become a Multiversal Conqueror.
  • In Dragon Ball Xenoverse, your character avatar is Future Trunks' partner in the Time Patrol. When you begin Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, you have the option to transfer that character over as Trunks' continuing partner while you play a new hero. However, if you don't have a Xenoverse save file or you don't want to transfer your character over, they are replaced with Ace, the Saiyan character used in promotional material.
  • Downplayed in the case of Eternal Champions; the cast are Dead to Begin With, and are fighting amongst themselves to see just who will receive the honor of a second chance at life. The existence of the spin-offs X-Perts and Chicago Syndicate suggest that the canonical victor was either Shadow or Larcen.
  • Soul Series: Every character's ending inevitably has them doing something with Soul Edge and/or Soul Calibur.
    • The setup for Soulcalibur (and by extension Soulcalibur VI) assumes multiple elements from characters' endings. Li Long tried to challenge Cervantes and lost, staggering away with grave wounds which saw him leave the series. Sophitia fought Cervantes afterwards and managed to destroy one of the swords, though Taki needed to step in to finish Cervantes off and carry the wounded Sophitia away. After the fight, Siegfried appeared and took the remaining sword, becoming Nightmare. Also, Mitsurugi lost his duel against the Tanegashima rifleman, leaving him a renewed desire to find Soul Edge.
    • II assumes elements of Xianghua's, Kilik's and Siegfried's endings. Xianghua and Kilik confront Nightmare, Kilik's mirror breaks, and Siegfried regains his sanity and control of his body after facing his dad in a dream and making peace with his spirit.
    • III takes the basic setup from Nightmare's ending (Siegfried recovers his mind and seals Soul Edge using Soul Calibur instead of throwing it into a chasm) and also includes elements of Raphael's ending (Raphael fought and defeated Nightmare by piercing Soul Edge's eye with his rapier).
    • Soulcalibur VI has two story modes. One, Libra of Soul, has you with a custom character traveling around Eurasia. At the end of the story, it has you choose between killing newcomer Grøh after he's been completely malfested, or spare him and have him regain control of himself. The other story mode, Soul Chronicle, is a retelling of the events of Soulcalibur with some changes. Hwang's chapter reveals that the Aval Organization is looking for a cure for Grøh's malfestation, making the good ending where he is spared the canon ending.
  • Tekken is a very notable example, with each of its mainline games allowing you to clear the arcade/story mode with anyone on the playable roster, but a canonical winner for each tournament being established in the sequel, at least as far as the first five games are concerned:
    • Tekken: Kazuya wins the tournament and throws his father Heihachi off the same cliff he was thrown from as a child, exacting revenge and claiming the Mishima Zaibatsu for himself.
    • Tekken 2: Heihachi wins and wrests control of the Zaibatsu back from his son, throwing him into an active volcano afterwards.
    • Tekken 3: Jin wins the tournament, but he is killed by his grandfather. His Devil Gene awakens and attacks Heihachi before flying off into the night, keeping the status quo but setting up an important plot point for the future games.
    • Tekken 4: Jin again wins the tournament and ends up confronting both a revived Kazuya and Heihachi. Once again, his Devil Gene awakens, but either a hallucination or spiritual intervention from his mother prevents him from killing either of them before he flies away. The next game begins moments later.
    • Tekken 5: Jin wins the tournament for a third time, at last taking control of the Zaibatsu and setting the stage for the more linear story modes of the following games.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Arma 2: Private Military Company could end with the player character either honoring the original contract with the UN weapons inspectors or gunning them down under the guise of a guerrilla ambush, with the circumstances of Take On Helicopters with the former player character now a minor NPC antagonist to the new player characters strongly suggesting the latter.
  • Subverted in Atomic Heart. The first DLC expansion, Annihilation Instinct, continues the story from one of the two endings in which P-3 flees from Facility 3826 and allows Sechenov to proceed with the launch of Kollectiv 2.0 unheeded. The subsequent DLC, however, is instead set in the aftermath of the ending where P-3 confronts Sechenov, purporting that neither ending is definitively canon.
  • BioShock 2: Because Dr. Tenembaum appears in this game and has an audio diary talking about how the Little Sisters rescued in the first game are doing well, it's safe to say that BioShock's Bad Ending where Jack becomes a Splicer, murders all the Little Sisters, and declares war on the surface didn't happen.
  • In Borderlands 2, it is stated that Mordecai was the canonical champion of the Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot DLC of the first game.
    • The Clan Wars quest line in Borderlands 2 has the Vault Hunters help one of two families, the Hodunks and the Zafords, in their path to becoming the stronger family. In Tales from the Borderlands, both Tector and Jimbo Hodunk are shown on-screen, making it clear that they're the family that "wins" the clan wars. One hopes the Vault Hunters weren't kicking themselves too much when they attempted Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode without a Slagga.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II had several endings based on certain characters living or dying, with the fates of Chloe and Menendez influencing events the most. Menendez's death becomes the canon basis for Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Amusingly, it has elements of Take a Third Option as well - as presented in Black Ops II, an ending where Menendez died resulted in Cordis Die rising up in worldwide rebellion, but as it happened in Black Ops III, Cordis Die instead looked at the circumstances of his death - disguised as the enemy in an attempt to evade capture, and only giving in when that failed - and, now viewing him as a Dirty Coward, instead broke apart entirely arguing over whether his ideals were still worth following.
  • Condemned: Criminal Origins has a Last-Second Ending Choice, with Serial Killer X tied up in the trunk of a car and Ethan holding a gun to him. Both choices are more or less the same — either Ethan shoots SKX, or he decides not to, at which point SKX breaks free from his restraints, pulls his own gun, then shoots himself. Ethan himself is coy about it in Condemned 2: Bloodshot, only noting that "half his face lined the inside of a trunk" rather than how that happened when the subject comes up. When SKX returns late in the game, he makes comments indicating that, at the very least, he blames Ethan for what happened to him, but going by the specifics of how he does so - bringing up Ethan's missing finger, which SKX himself cut off during the last level, and asking if Ethan thinks of him every time he looks at it before saying he thinks of Ethan every time he looks in the mirror - it's likely that Ethan did indeed shoot him.
  • Both parts of Doom Eternal's The Ancient Gods DLC duology both assume that the Slayer completed the main campaign having obtained all weapons (including the optional Unmakyr) and weapon mods, in addition to all mod upgrades (including those locked behind Mastery Challenges), Praetor Suit upgrades and Sentinel Crystal upgrades. The only weapon that isn't available in the DLC is the Crucible, since the Slayer broke its blade off inside the Icon of Sin at the end of the main game.
  • Far Cry: New Dawn confirmed that the Resist ending from Far Cry 5 is the canonical one, by being set 17 years After the End of the previous title in the same region with some recurring characters that survived the nuclear holocaust. Even the main villain, the priest Joseph Seed, is still around to oppose the new protagonist.
    • This gets inverted in Far Cry 6, where several factors reveal that the Resist ending never happened at all, chief among them the survival of Boomer the dog and the secret ending revealing that America is still perfectly fine. It’s therefore assumed that the real ending was somehow different, with Joseph instead being arrested without any nuclear bombs going off or the National Guard arresting him and his Heralds at the start of the game after the Deputy called off the initial arrest. For what it's worth, the DLC where you play as Joseph suggests that the Resist ending was just hallucinations he was having after being arrested, though it's contradicted by another DLC.
  • Half-Life ends with Gordon Freeman being allowed to choose between rejecting the G-Man's offer for "employment" and accepting it. Since choosing the former option results in near-certain death, Half-Life 2 continues from the latter.
  • Left 4 Dead has the campaign "The Sacrifice", which ends with one of the original Survivors dying in a Heroic Sacrifice to allow the others to get to safety. In the game, any of the four characters can make the sacrifice, but the tie-in comic, the Left 4 Dead 2 campaign "The Passing" that this one is a prequel to, and the fact that there is an achievement specifically for Bill sacrificing himself, shows that Bill is officially the one.
  • Metro: Last Light follows from the "bad" ending of Metro 2033, as this was the version of the ending that occurred in the original novel. From background dialogue, it's suggested that Arytom went Renegade rather than Paragon at least a few times (i.e. One-Man Army killing his way through the Reds and Nazis soldiers on the Bridge rather than sneaking his way past on a Pacifist Run), though there's no indication he was purely a bloodthirsty asshole either, and his thoughtful and introspective narrative throughout the game tends to suggest against it.
  • Postal 4: No Regerts follows the "Escape" ending in Postal 2: Paradise Lostnote , where the Postal Dude evacuated Paradise almost immediately after rescuing Champ and nuked the Arizonan town a second time (the first time was in the ending of Apocalypse Weekend).
    • Before that, Paradise Lost (curiously enough) assumes that the Postal Dude (and the player, by extension) didn't kill most of Paradise's inhabitants in the vanilla game. However, given that there were characters that were confirmed dead in Postal 2, Apocalypse Weekend, and even earlier on in Paradise Lost - in some cases, like Gary Coleman, being able to die at least once per game/expansion - that come back without rhyme or reason, it's just as likely that the previously dead characters made an Unexplained Recovery.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl has not one, not two, but five possible endings. Two of them are secret, only one ending is good to any real degree, and it still leaves things ambiguous as to whether you did the right thing. The "good" ending is the one that is picked up in Call of Pripyat, at which point you find out that, yeah, things got worse somehow.
  • Unreal Tournament generally allows you to play the single-player mode as whatever character you want to, but for sequels they obviously had to decide on one winner - Malcolm won 2293's tournament in the original game, and remained Champion for the next eight years until Gorge dethroned him in 2302's Tournament in UT2003. Strangely, no winner has been explicitly declared for the 2303 tournament from UT2004, despite Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict taking place in the next Tournament and Unreal Tournament III taking place in the off-season between them, both featuring characters who competed in it. The free-to-play Unreal Tournament 4 also takes place an indeterminate amount of time later but made no definitive statements on who won in 2303 (or 2304, for that matter), and with its dev team shifted to focus on Fortnite it's unlikely we'll get learn.
  • Vermintide II: While not outright confirmed, in-game dialogue and lore tidbits from Lohner suggest that the DLC Careers represent the "canonical" vocations of the Ubersreik Five after the events of the Drachenfels and Chaos Wastes DLCs. However the trailers and Lohner's Chronicle posts on social media released chronologically after the Premium Careers dropped sometimes depict the heroes as different classes - for example the Warrior Priest trailer shows Kerillian back as a Waystalker. Then again, there's a Lohner post that offhand notes Kruber is a "mercenary, poacher and occasonal knight" - it's quite possible that the career system operates like Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and the tabletop strategy game, where characters go through all the careers at different points and can return back by selecting different equipment. And it could possibly be that Olesya and/or the Chaos God Tzeentch is screwing around with reality every week, letting them canonically be all of their classes all at once. There's also keep dialogue between Kruber and Bardin where the latter claims to have been an Ironbreaker and a Ranger at different points of his life, giving an excuse as to how he could easily change careers and be both.
  • In-universe, the Hypnospace Outlaw spinoff Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance of the Slayer is supposed to be made by Zane a couple decades after the events of Hypnospace. This would require Zane to have survived the Mindcrash.

    Hack and Slash 
  • The Diablo series contains a variation of this despite not really having Multiple Endings, since the very choice of character(s) at the beginning determines who wins the game and therefore who drives the story in the end.
    • Diablo (1997) allows you to choose one of three characters to play: a male Warrior, a female Rogue, and a male Sorcerer. After defeating Diablo, this character - aka Prince Aidan, Moreina, or Jazreth, respectively - embeds Diablo's soulstone into his or her forehead in an attempt to contain Diablo forever. It doesn't work, and in the sequel the hero is possessed by Diablo, becoming the game's villain. The introductory cinematic of Diablo II makes it pretty clear that the Warrior is canonically the one who did so, as the character is male (unlike the rogue), white (unlike the sorcerer), and carries a sword. The Act II cinematic confirms "he was once a great warrior". If you look very carefully you can find hints about what happened to the Rogue and Sorcerer, but they clearly didn't do as "well" as their meat shield buddy... It is implied that the rogue and sorcerer go on to become minor bosses - Blood Raven and The Summoner respectively - for earlier quests in the sequel.
    • Diablo II cinematics do not feature the Player Character, and thus Diablo III only mentions the role of unspecified "heroes" in the events of the second game. The Book of Cain specifies that all five of the original character classes were involved in defeating Diablo the second time. However, this means the Assassin and Druid from the expansion are not canon.
    • Diablo III once again features the individual player character in cinematics and story developments. It remains to be seen if Diablo IV will repeat this trope and simply "pick one" as with the first game, or follow a different path.
  • The entire Drakengard franchise is one huge subversion of this trope:
    • It was pretty obvious which ending of Drakengard was going to be used for the sequel: Ending A, the only one that could be remotely considered good. note  Interestingly, however, Ending E (where Caim and Angelus teleport to a monochrome version of modern-day Tokyo, have a rhythm-based battle with the Final Boss, and then get shot down by a fighter jet immediately after killing it) leads to the spinoff/alternate sequel, NieR. Then it's played with as it turns out that the ending that lead to NieR was actually the future of the Drakengard universe rather than an Alternate Universe, so technically both of those endings happen... eventually.
    • Despite ostensibly being a prequel, none of the four endings to Drakengard 3 leads to the original Drakengard; instead, the novelization does, which combines elements of all four and is considered a sort of "Ending E". However, Ending A starts its own timeline which eventually leads to Drakengard 1.3, another novel detailing how the events of Drakengard play out in a timeline where the pact system was never invented.
    • NieR itself joins in the fun as well. Technically speaking, most of the endings are simply continuations of the previous one, showing more events set immediately afterwards: Ending B shows the event of Ending A from the Shadowlord's point of view and is continued in the short story Around the World in 80 Days, published in the lore guide Grimoire NieR, where Emil survives his Heroic Sacrifice, albeit reduced to just his head, crash-lands in a far off desert and immediately starts the trek to make it back to Nier, Weiss and Kainé; Endings C and D are instead set immediately after Ending A and are mutually non-canon to one another, being based on the same setup but branching off from the choice to either slay or save Kainé after she goes berserk. One particular oddity, though, is that the chain of events which leads to NieR: Automata don't actually come from any endings in the original release: rather, they follow from an "Ending E", which is Ending D from the game (where Nier sacrifices his existence to save Kainé) combined with the short story The Lost World (where Kainé starts to remember that Nier existed three years later and fights to bring him back), originally published in Grimoire NieR and ultimately made playable with slight differences in the 2021 Updated Re-release.
  • Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number reveals the few examples of choosing to kill someone in the first game ended with them being allowed to live. Richter is a playable character and his final level sees him escape from prison, revealing Jacket did not strangle him to death. Also, he is visited in jail by the two Janitors from the final level of the first game, confirming that Biker did not kill them. Whether Biker discovered the Janitors' plans via hacking their computer is never revealed.

  • RuneScape:
    • The quest "Temple of Ikov" quest has you choose whether to protect the Staff of Armadyl or steal it and give it to the bad guy. When the developers made the sequel quest, "While Guthix Sleeps", they realized the plot sort of hinged on the bad guy having the staff, so everyone who chose to protect it received a note from the guardians that it had been stolen by somebody else.
    • In the quest "Hazeel Cult" the player may chose to help the cult revive Hazeel. Hazeel does appear in later quests if he is revived, but he has no impact on the events of those quests and barely any dialogue. If the player didn't revive Hazeel, he eventually is revived by Zamorak.

    Party Games 
  • Mario Party: In every game, any playable character(s) can become the Superstar in the end by winning the game, and it's heavily implied that everyone became the Superstar in the first game. The introduction to the second game, however, has the six playable characters debating who deserves to have a theme park named for them, and Wario tries to earn that privilege; some interpret his wording as him reminding the others that he specifically was the Superstar at the end of the first game. We're never told if this is true or not.

    Platform Games 
  • Crash Bandicoot (1996) has the standard ending where Crash defeats Dr. Cortex, and the 100% Completion ending where Crash and Tawna escape the castle, but Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back makes it apparent that the former is canon by having the game start immediately after Crash caused Cortex's hoverboard to malfunction and send him plummeting to the island below. Meanwhile, Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, Crash Twinsanity, and Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time do the opposite and assume that you got the secret endings in Crash 2, Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex, and Warped, respectively.
  • Fresh Minty Adventure cuts off all endings of Minty Fresh Adventure! that don't involve the rescue of Minty, as otherwise, she can't be Promoted to Playable and the series can't have its Changing of the Guard.
  • Mega Man X4 has similar but irreconcilable plots for X and Zero. Mega Man X5 can easily blend elements from both plotlines since players can choose either character before a stage, causing confusion. X can use with the previous game's armor and weapons if he's the penultimate boss fight, and is confirmed as the one who fought General by one of the bosses, which means that X killed General. Zero can be confirmed by the same boss as the one who fought Colonel, but not General, and he remembers Iris, who he killed in self-defense after she tried to avenge Colonel's death at Zero's hands.
    • Similarly, X5's intro video has some brief images of the enemies X and Zero faced in the previous games. There's one showing Zero fighting a copy of himself with Sigma looming behind, which confirms that in Mega Man X2, X retrieved all of Zero's parts and they did not fight each other.
  • The Mega Man ZX series may be digging itself a hole of this sort. The first game has two possible player characters, Vent and Aile, whose stories are similar but irreconcilable. The second has two new player characters, Grey and Ashe — Ashe coexists with Vent, and Grey with Aile. There is a manga based on Mega Man ZX, and the main character they chose to follow is Vent. However, the ZX Advent manga takes the Merging the Branches approach with Grey and Ashe appearing though Grey is the one with Model A and Aile appears in a bonus chapter, and issue #55 of the Archie Comics series rather blatantly indicates that Ian Flynn intended to take the same approach with the entire ZX storyline.
  • The opening of Skullmonkeys picks up where the good ending of The Neverhood left off, showing Klogg finally landing on a planet after getting stuck in space.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • This seems to be happening concerning the Metal Sonic race on Stardust Speedway in Sonic the Hedgehog CD. Originally, the race could have taken place in either the Good Future or Bad Future, but Sonic Generations and Sonic the Hedgehog 4 make it clear that the race canonically took place in the Bad Future.
    • Shadow the Hedgehog has many different endings, three of which even involve Shadow's implied breaking of Dr. Eggman's neck and thus ending his Joker Immunity. Nearly all endings in the game are subject to this trope, as only the full Hero ending and Last Story are considered canon by Sega.
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the good ending is only achieved if Sonic collected all the Chaos Emeralds. As he begins Sonic 3 & Knuckles as Super Sonic, this means that the good ending of Sonic 2 is the canon one.
    • In Sonic Unleashed, an optional dialogue choice with Amy gives Sonic the choice of either asking her out on a date or rejecting her outright. Amy's comments about missing their date in the ending of Sonic and the Black Knight heavily implies Sonic asked her out.
  • The original Wario Land ended with Wario asking a genie for a castle. Depending on how many coins the player collected, he ends up with anything from a birdhouse to an entire planet. Despite the insistence of the game to try again, he apparently got the castle (the penultimate reward) according to Wario Land II.

    Point-and-Click Games 
  • Day of the Tentacle is a sequel to the point-and-click Maniac Mansion. It confirms certain events to be canon.
    • The original game had you choose two out of five party members to rescue Dave's girlfriend, Sandy. Day of the Tentacle confirms that Bernard was one of the party members chosen to rescue Sandy.
    • The "hamster in a microwave" incident is revealed to be canon... and it took years for Weird Ed to get over the trauma.
  • Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers has two possible endings: one where Gabriel lives, one where he dies. The game gives equal weight to both, with Mosley taking Gabriel's place in the final cut-scene if he died. However, the two sequels (naturally) follow on from the ending where the titular protagonist is alive.
  • Henry Stickmin Series:
    • Played with in Infiltrating the Airship, in which Captain Galeforce lists Henry's past crimes from the previous games: Sneaking into a bank, breaking out of prison, and stealing the Tunisian Diamond. However, the actual files shown can differ depending on the endings that are possible. Rather than being arrested, the Breaking the Bank file can show Henry Tele Fragged in a wall. The Escaping the Prison file can show the bars Henry files through, his lawyer's business card, or the hole he drilled in his cell floor, which all reflect possible escape avenues. And the Stealing the Diamond file can be a blurred photo of Henry busting in, a business card from the Center for Chaos Containment, or a penny used to slip past a guard. In The Henry Stickmin Collection, which remasters the previous five games into one title, which file seen can be affected by which ending you played through most recently.
    • Completing the Mission, the sixth game in the series, doesn't cut off any more branches than it absolutely has to. Instead, it offers sixteen different ending paths, which are achieved by combining the four endings of Infiltrating the Airship and the five of Fleeing the Complex. Each combination can drastically affect the plot, sending Henry on a run to rob the Toppat Clan of all its riches, helping the Government take the Clan down, or helping the Clan ward off the Government. Only endings between the two games that are mutually exclusive do not have a path; Airsip's "Rapidly Promoted Executive" ending, where Henry takes over the Toppats, is the only ending that can be combined with "The Betrayed" finale of Complex, where the Toppat Clan's former leader betrays Henry to reclaim his title, and only the "Government Supported Private Investigator" or "Relentless Bounty Hunter" endings of Airship (where you directly helped out the government) can be combined with Complex's "International Rescue Operative" ending (where you call in Charles, who rescues you from the Wall).
  • Pico's School:
    • You as Pico decide whether or not to gun Nene down upon her request. She reappears in Pico vs. Uberkids, confirming that Pico canonically spared her life.
    • Spritework for a zombified Cyclops for the unreleased Pico's School 2 confirms Pico chose to kill Cyclops rather than letting him run away.
  • Though the adventures in the 5 installments of Quest for Glory take place in different lands, and hardly any characters travel with the protagonist between settings, the fourth game assumes that you've gotten the Golden Ending in the first one, and drove Baba Yaga from the land. Because she is not happy to see you.
  • Originally, The Secret of Monkey Island had two slightly different end paths, neither of which had a practical effect on the actual endgame: Either you sail back home from Monkey Island with your ship and crew, or you "accidentally" sink their ship and ride home with Herman Toothrot, the local hermit. Even though sinking your ship was an obscure action to begin with, that ending was made canon in Escape from Monkey Island, where Guybrush's former crewmates, now back home on Mêlée island, go out of their way to avoid him because he left them stranded on Monkey Island.
    • More subtly, dialogue choices in the first and second game make it possible to play Guybrush as either a Deadpan Snarker or a lovable Genius Ditz, but The Curse of Monkey Island prefers the latter characterization.
    • The second game assumes the Voodoo Lady helped you in the first game, when it's possible to complete the first game without ever talking to her.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Most sequels in the oldest Command & Conquer games assume the good guys won the previous installment. But starting with the Firestorm expansion for Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, Westwood started writing stories with more tightly-woven, complementary campaigns so that, while the good guys still usually end up winning, there are no non-canon storylines.
    • In earlier games, while there are few direct contradictions between early- to mid-game missions from either faction, there are next to no direct references to them happening if you're not playing as that faction either, such as the original game having nothing the GDI player does in Europe affecting the Nod player in Africa or vice-versa; Tiberian Sun went on to hit several of the same plot beats regardless of side, with your choice only affecting how they played out, e.g. whether Hammerfest Base is reclaimed after Nod invades it, and in Firestorm, they went as far as to have both factions have the same ending mission, just from different sides of the same larger map as whichever faction you're playing as handles one part of a joint operation.
    • Uprising has the Allies established as the victors of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, and its mini-campaigns happen independently of each other (the Soviets fight against FutureTech rather than the Allies as a whole, the Empire is fighting back against the Soviets, the Allies are fighting rebels in the Empire). However, some characters reference events that only happened in their (non-canon) campaign, specifically Moskvin having a panic attack at the sight of the Shogun Executioner (which ravaged Odessa in the Empire's campaign).
  • Relic does this to Dawn of War a lot, given the series' penchant for Sequelitis. Dawn of War and Dawn of War 3 have linear, preset endings, but as for the rest:
    • Winter Assault presumably ended in an Eldar victory, given how Dark Crusade mentions that the Eldar betrayed the Imperial Guard, that Taldeer survived and kept her command position, and that Gorgutz both survived and killed Crull. FFG's Only War outright confirms [[spoiler:an Eldar victory on Lorn V.
    • Dark Crusade's endings were pruned by Dawn of War II (and its novelizations) mentioning that the Blood Ravens beat, at the very least, the Necrons, the Chaos Marines, the Imperial Guard, and as of Retribution, definitely the Eldar.
    • Dawn of War II, likely due to how unpopular Soulstorm was, confirmed that the Blood Ravens lost horribly, and III stated that the true victory went to Gorgutz.
      • Surprisingly, after Winter Assault, Gorgutz managed to avert this with most of his appearances, with a cutscene showing him deliberately escaping the conflict if he's defeated. This opens him up to appearing in any sequel should he be needed, and he's fairly popular.
    • The traitor in Chaos Rising was confirmed by Retribution through process of elimination: the traitor had to have fought on Kronus (rules out Thaddeus and the Force Commander), while Tarkus, Cyrus and Martellus appear as playable characters, which means it must have been Avitus.
    • An odd case is the return of Eliphas the Inheritor. His side lost in Dark Crusade and the character is quite messily killed in his faction's defeat cutscene, but he's back for Dawn of War II, and working for a different side. Apparently his new patron got the gods to resurrect him for the job.
    • Retribution ended, predictably enough, with a Blood Ravens victory, which is confirmed in Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine when Titus encounters a handful of Blood Ravens marines who reference the "Aurelia Campaign". However, Dawn of War III implies it's actually a composite ending of a Blood Raven and Eldar victory, as Farseer Taldeer returns as a Wraithknight piloted by her twin brother Rohann, and her soulstone was only retrieved by him in the Eldar ending.
  • A variation in a simulation game's multiple endings are clarified in a later, mostly unrelated real-time tactical game's sequel. The BattleTech based real-time-tactical/RPG game The Crescent Hawk's Inception received a more true-to-the-tabletop sequel, The Crescent Hawk's Revenge. Revenge reveals how the original MechWarrior game ended: Gideon Braver Vanderburg successfully defeated the Dark Wing to reclaim his family's heritage as rulers of Ander's Moon (had he failed, he would have become a wandering vagabond warrior for the rest of his life). However, he also continued on as a mercenary, and his unit, the Blazing Aces, lasted until at least 3051 where they were destroyed to a man during the Clan invasion. It also clarifies that he was canonically a Phoenix Hawk pilot, out of the 8 available 'Mechs in the first game.
  • Another variation for MechCommander. This is a game where permanent pilot death is a possibility and that Anyone Can Die. It also presumes that you trained up some of your pilots as well as having most of them survive, as your rookie Southern-Fried Private of all people becomes an elite pilot who survives to return to the Inner Sphere in the true 3D sequel.
  • Supreme Commander's expansion Forged Alliance doesn't explain which ending is actually canon, but simply, after a little expositionary cut scene, dumps the player directly into "1 year later", as the Big Bad overruns the galaxy. It can be deduced it's the Aeon one, because the other sides were wiped out in the UEF ending and space travel was prevented for years in the Cybran one. However, it is implied that whichever side you choose you are the same commander as you would have been in the first game for that faction.
  • Blizzard's early Warcraft games were like this. In order to have a sequel worth mentioning, they decided that the Humans (the "good guys" of the first game) had been defeated and sent packing, as refugees, to nations on the northern half of the continent. Then, five years later, the Orcs (the "bad guys") decide to follow them, lusting for more conquest. In WarCraft II, the Alliance victory is considered canonical, as is their "successful" campaign in its expansion, Beyond the Dark Portal. However, it should be noted that missions in both campaigns are considered canon, and the only missions that aren't are the ones that end the campaign and don't allow for the canonical ending of the story.
    • Blizzard mostly abandoned this method with StarCraft and all following Real-Time Strategy games, instead constructing the story so that one campaign flowed into the next... but StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty does have two missions where a player must make a decision about which ally to help. Since two of these characters can potentially die if not allied with, its sequels, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, do not feature either Ariel Hanson or Gabriel Tosh. However, the epilogue missions feature armies from all three games, and Raynor's Terran forces include Spectres, a unit which was only available as a reward for allying with Tosh, implying that Raynor canonically sided with Tosh rather than Nova.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • In The Avadon series, each game follows from the ending of the previous where the character remained loyal to the titular organization, rather than rebelling.
  • Baldur's Gate:
    • Done to a depressing extreme in Baldur's Gate II. The game dialogue and set-up tells you exactly who you travelled with by the end of the first game (Khalid, Jaheira, Minsc, Dynaheir and Imoen) and tells you exactly how you behaved (heroically). Needless to say, rationalizing what you are shown and told in the intro level was very difficult if you're getting the Old Save Bonus from a Chaotic Evil Priest of Talos.
    • More than a decade later, an Interquel expansion, Siege of Dragonspear, goes into further details about just how you ended up in the situation that the second game says you did. It doesn't change the outcome, but it does provide an explanations for what happened to a different party (they left on various tasks) and how the player, regardless of alignment, ended up imprisoned with those five members.
    • In supplementary material it's established that Gorion's Ward was canonically the preset Fighter Abdel Adrian. Baldur's Gate III never refers to him by name in conversation out of respect to the players' headcanons, but the in-game novel The Mortal View: Eyewitness Accounts of the Bhaalspawn Crisis alludes to his death in Murder In Baldur's Gate and you can obtain "Abdel's Trusted Shield" in Act 3.
    • Baldur's Gate III also establishes some canon outcomes for the tie-in module, Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus, namely that the city of Elturel was rescued from Avernus and Zariel was neither killed nor redeemed as she still rules that layer of the Nine Hells. It also establishes that one of the origin characters, Wyll, was among the heroes of Tyranny of Dragons as presumably one of the player characters.
  • Konami's PC-playable adaptation of Batman Returns is an inversion: a case of grafting on new branches. In addition to featuring a subplot that wasn't in the movie (an attempt to blackmail Mayor Jenkins with a phony, incriminating videotape), there are four possible endings. The first is the same as that of the movie: The Penguin and Max Shreck both die, and Catwoman mysteriously vanishes. Two other possible endings are downer ones: either the Penguin defeats Jenkins in the recall election and Batman sits forlornly in the Batcave, hanging his head; or the Penguin succeeds in blowing up Gotham City with his army of missile-launching penguins, and Batman likewise sits forlornly in the Batcave and hangs his head. The fourth possible ending is the same as the movie ending, but with a twist: as the game is structured around Random Encounters, Catwoman will disappear at the game's conclusion unless you never meet up with her in your travels around the city. If you don't manage to encounter her, then you finally meet her at the end of the game, she gets a saucy grin on her face, you take her home with you to Wayne Manor, and... well, you can probably guess the rest.
  • Caravaneer 2 establishes that Martin Milloshi is the main character of Caravaneer 1 note , and sided with Desert Patrol.
  • Case 02: Paranormal Evil: This game continues from the second ending of Loser Reborn, where Marty wakes up from his coma, only to find himself in a zombie apocalypse.
  • Chrono Trigger has over twelve endings, some of them quite silly. Chrono Cross presumably follows one of the standard good endings (since there's no mention of everyone in Guardia being part-frog), but the most it says about its predecessor is that Guardia fell to an invasion by Porre five years after Trigger, the Masamune became tainted by evil, and the Power Trio from Trigger "no longer exist in this timeline." Interestingly, the Chrono Trigger endings that set all this up come from an animated cutscene in its Updated Re-release for the PlayStation, which came out after Chrono Cross. And then a later Chrono Trigger rerelease for the Nintendo DS added an epilogue that confirmed Dalton was the one who made all this possible.
  • The Code Geass RPG for the Nintendo DS is an interesting example; the "One True Path" is the anime canon, which you're forced to follow on your first playthrough. The New Game Plus allows one to explore better (or worse) paths, all of which involve Original Generation villains Castor and Pollux. Interestingly, from the fourth playthrough onward, you can force yourself back onto the plot railroad by performing a certain action during a sequence where you control Castor that gets him killed and reasserts the anime plotline.
  • Dragon Age:
    • If you don't import your Warden from Dragon Age: Origins to Awakening, you have to play as an original Orlesian Warden-Commander and the expansion automatically sets certain story flags, such as Alistair being King of Ferelden. Rather bizarrely, you still play as your Warden even if they sacrifice themselves to kill the Archdemon.
    • Dragon Age II offers not one but three possible pre-built histories comprising of both Origins and Awakening story flags if you don't import an older save file. If you import just the Origins save without Awakening flags, those will be preset for you.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition has replaced importing old saves with the Dragon Age Keep, a website where players are able to determine decisions made in the previous games as they see fit. Approximately 300 different choices can be made in the Keep. This adds replay value as it allows to start a new playthrough with a completely different world state. There is also a default world state, for players who did not play the previous games or do not wish to bother with the Keep. The default world state assumes a female Dalish Elf warrior Warden who died killing the Archdemon in Origins and a male mage Hawke who sided with the mages in Dragon Age II.
    • Then, there is the matter of the so-called "BioWare canon", a unified timeline where all official non-interactive installments set after Origins take place. According to the Word of God, these are meant to be read with a disclaimer that "If these events contradict your game canon, then they never happened in it (or maybe something similar happened)":
      • Asunder, a novel bridging parts two and three, establishes that First Enchanter Irving is alive in BW canon, Shale was canonically freed and has discovered her origins, and both Wynne and Shale were taken to fight the Archdemon. This, in turn, implies that the Warden did not defile the Sacred Ashes, otherwise s/he would have to kill Wynne.
      • According to The Silent Grove miniseries and its sequels, Alistair is King, though it's unclear if he's married to the Warden, married to Anora, or ruling alone. Isabela made it to the end of II, instead of leaving or coming back only to be sold out to the Arishok. Speaking of whom, he's dead and Sten (alive and returned home) has taken his position.
      • In Knight Errant, Sebastian and Varric are shown to still be in communication and on good terms. This pretty much confirms that Anders is dead, as Sebastian would otherwise be on his vengeance-driven warpath against Kirkwall.
      • In Blue Wraith and Dark Fortress, Fenris is killing slavers and freeing slaves in Tevinter. This confirms that not only did Hawke not kill him, but they didn't sell him back to Danarius either.
      • Dragon Age: Absolution confirms that the Inquisition disbanded after the events of Trespasser and that Leliana is not a Fade spirit (as mentioned under Inquisition).
    • Inquisition has an odd case of branch-cutting during the game. If Morrigan performed the Dark Ritual in Origins, she has a young son with the untainted soul of the Old God Urthemiel, which has major implications for the future of the world... or would if Flemeth didn't show up and summarily extract it. Morrigan could alternately have a human son born conceived without magic, but Flemeth's intervention now means that that particular branch has been closed.
    • Leliana can die in Origins. However, after becoming a key character in Inquisition, this is unceremoniously undone, with a vague Unexplained Recovery offered as the only explanation. The post-game Trespasser DLC finally addresses this in its epilogue, which, if your world state involved Leliana's death and she does not become Divine over the course of Inquisition, implies that the Leliana you knew in Inquisition was really just a Fade spirit who imitated her form and personality.
    • Anders can die in Awakening. However, he becomes a main companion in II and his potential death is hand waved away as a case of mistaken identity despite the fact that the credits of Awakening clearly state Anders died.
  • Played partially straight in the EXA_PICO series. The first game has seven endings and two possible route splits which depend on the Reyvateil the players choose during Phase 2: Aurica or Misha. According to a light novel that was published after the first game was released, to Flash-based visual novels made by the developers, and dialogue present in the second game, the canon route is Aurica's. However, the "partially" is because it has never been stated if either her ending or the third heroine's one is canon.
    • Averted for the other two games in the series: they and their additional material go out of their way to not establish any canon endings or routes.
  • The Final Fantasy VII sequels (most strikingly Dirge of Cerberus, due to its Character Focus) all assume Vincent and Yuffie joined the party, even though they don't have to in order to beat the game.
    • Teased in Lateral Biography TURKS: The Kids Are Alright. Evan, discovering Tifa had been to the Gold Saucer, asks her if she's ever been on a date there. Instead of answering, Tifa is offended and tells him that asking her things like that at work is inappropriate. Tifa was one of Cloud's Romance Sidequest options to date in the Gold Saucer in the original game, but not the game's first preference for a partner.
  • Finding Light: Although the previous game, Mari and the Black Tower, allowed multiple outcomes for story and gameplay choices, this game canonizes certain outcomes.
    • Abbie's chosen gender is female and she's a heavily armored fighter, indicating that Scitech canonically picked the knight class for her.
    • Vera survives the events of the previous game, even though doing so required an optional sidequest as well as the player to choose to spare her.
    • Ruth's party is confirmed to have fought the Superboss Lilith in Knight Bewitched.
  • In Geneforge, no ending is ever quite canonical and there's a bit of Merging the Branches, but there's usually a Broad Strokes canonical ending.
    • 1 and 2 end in Shaper victories, but events afterward make the victories hollow and set up the conflict for the next game.
    • 3 ends in a rebel victory.
    • 4 ends in a stalemate, with the Unbound ravaging the Shapers but the machinery that created them being destroyed.
  • Gothic handles the choices of the previous game by having almost everyone that would care dead (or outside the area in Gothic 3's case), or only talking about events common to all three paths. There are, however, a few dialogues that reference specific minor choices. One early conversation in Gothic 2 establishes that The Nameless Hero did not pay Bloodwyn protection money (as he will reference the consequence of not doing so). One interesting bit in the expansion for 2 suggests he killed Bloodwyn (never required or recommended, but deserved), which is mentioned during a conversation with Bloodwyn (he notes he survived).
  • In I Miss the Sunrise there are two possible endings, but only the optimist ending allows the events of The Reconstruction to happen, meaning that the pessimist ending cannot be canon.
  • Knights of the Old Republic:
    • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords:
      • The game allows the player to choose the gender and alignment of Revan from the first game during dialogue with Atton Rand. In either event, the changes are largely cosmetic, gender pretty much only affecting the pronouns used to refer to Revan (with several mistakes in the script referring to him as a male regardless of your choice) and alignment affecting whether the Republic admiral appearing in certain cutscenes and aiding you in a near-end-game event is Carth or a generic NPC. However, according to KOTOR2, Bastila Shan canonically survived the first game regardless of these choices, whereas in KOTOR1's actual gameplay, Revan may end up killing her in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
      • According to Star Wars Legends canon (expressed in Star Wars: The Old Republic and its Tie-In Novel Revan), Revan was a light-side male (and married and had a child with Bastila), while the Jedi Exile played as in The Sith Lords was a light-side female named Meetra Surik. However, the second game has hints of Take a Third Option, as the canon scenario also includes Handmaiden, who is only an option for a male Exile, as one of Surik's companions. If the game had been finished, Handmaiden was supposed to have joined you if you were on the light side (then Visas Marr if you were on the dark side, who in the finished game joins you no matter what; presumably too the Disciple, who only joins with a female Exile in the finished game, would have joined regardless of gender or alignment).
    • Star Wars: The Old Republic:
      • Generally averted externally: the character classes are only ever vaguely referred to in outside material in such a way that you can imagine they were whatever gender or alignment you'd like. There are a few exceptions, though—the Consular is stated to have been canonically male, as it's his tomb that the protagonist of Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy (fittingly, another game where you can choose your character's gender and race) enters and seals off.
      • Internally, when beginning the Knights of the Fallen Empire and later major expansions to SWTOR, the player gets a rather blunt warning that any unfinished story content up to that point will be completed using default choices. This mostly concerns which companions you've recruited and which NPCs have died. Republic characters default to light side choices and Sith characters default to dark side choices, though Sith Inquisitors inexplicably default to the light-side title Darth Imperius if the player rolls a new level 60 character to jump straight to Knights of the Fallen Empire: dark side Inquisitors who played the class story are normally named Darth Nox, and neutral Inquisitors are named Darth Occlus. The minimum content to complete to avoid default settings in KOTFE and Knights of the Eternal Throne are the class story, Forged Alliances, Shadow of Revan, and Rise of the Emperor.
  • The second Mana Khemia game hints that the canon ending from the first game was Flay becoming a criminal mastermind and Vayne playing hero. Strangely, it also implies that the canon ending was Pamela being freed from the school and traveling with Vayne, as she does not appear or get referenced to in the entire sequel, and she would still be at Al Revis under any other ending.
  • Mega Man Battle Network 6: Cybeast Gregar and Cybeast Falzar cuts off the branch for the Team ProtoMan side of Mega Man Battle Network 5: Team Colonel and Team ProtoMan, with the majority of events in 6 tracing back to Team Colonel.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2 and its two expansion packs allow for quite a few possibilities between them, but ultimately hints towards one set of events for the Knight-Captain. The main character canonically has to have gotten the good ending for the original campaign in order for references Ammon Jerro made in Mask of the Betrayer to make any sense. Storms of Zehir muddles what happened, though: the presence of One of Many would imply that the Knight-Captain then succumbed to evil and rampaged across Faerun, if Khelgar didn't talk about how they had returned to Crossroad Keep, which only happens if they were good. The best guess is that they got far enough on the evil route to recruit One of Many, then backed out, causing it to abandon them.
  • Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous takes place in the same continuity as Owlcat's previous CRPG Pathfinder: Kingmaker. Though its events are only addressed in vague terms and there's no Old Save Bonus, it's made reasonably clear that the Baron(ess) was successful in settling the Stolen Lands. Furthermore, Kingmaker companion Jubilost Narthropple has a cameo appearance in Chapter 5, meaning the Baron(ess) canonically didn't murder him (a Stupid Evil option at his first appearance) and that he survived the endgame.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon Gold and Silver:
      • In an aversion, Red has all three starters (four if you include Yellow's Pikachu) and Blue doesn't use his (having Arcanine, Gyarados, and Exeggutor on his team all at once, where in Red and Blue his starter would replace whichever one shared the same type), implying that neither one has a canon starter. However, HeartGold and SoulSilver still features Red as the one that took down Team Rocket, while the female Player Character from Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen is never seen or mentioned. The almost-universally-agreed-upon Fanon is that the characters chose the starters matching their names - Red chose Charmander, causing Blue to choose Squirtle, with Leaf/Green receiving the leftover Bulbasaur at some unknown point.
      • The Gen II games also have a number details implying that Red, Green and Blue (which have the same story) are the canon predecessors, rather than Yellow, such as Blue's team being based on his team from those games (minus his starter), the absence any NPCs and locations exclusive to Yellow (such as the Summer Beach House), and the inclusion of RGB-exclusive NPCs. The issue of what Pokémon Red caught regardless of version was avoided by rounding out his team with a Snorlax (a forced encounter, as two of them were blocking the routes to Fuchsia City — also confirming he caught one of them instead of simply defeating them) and either an Espeon (evolved from the Eevee found at Celadon City — although this does confirm Red never used an evolutionary stone on that Eevee) in the original games or a Lapras (a gift from one of the Silph Co. employees during Team Rocket's takeover) in the remakes and in later appearances.
    • Played straight in Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! which marks the first time Red is fought with only one starter, that being Venusaur. Subsequently, this results in Blue and Green, the latter of whom makes her first official NPC appearance in this game, also being given their own starters, those being Charizard and Blastoise, respectively.
    • Pokémon Ranger cuts off the branch for Kate in the third game.
    • Cynthia's dialogue in Pokémon Black and White confirms Platinum's version of events to be the canon plotline for Generation IV, as she mentions the incident with Giratina and the Distortion World.
    • Subverted with the protagonist of GSC/HGSS. The ending to Pokémon Stadium 2 shows Kris versus Silver, which implies the female protagonist is canon. However, the Stadium games haven't been deemed canon and thus it's unknown if the canonical Johto protagonist is Ethan or Lyra (who replaced Kris in the remakes).
    • Many Legendary Pokémon make reappearances in games set after their debut games, which would (assuming they're Single Specimen Species) either infer they don't really happen, or they weren't originally caught in their original appearances/the player doesn't canonically keep them.note 
      • Mewtwo appears in Cerulean Cave in Gen I and its remakes, remains there in HeartGold and SoulSilver, then appears in Kalos in X and Y, suggesting it has never canonically been caught. This is particularly notable since Mewtwo, as a manmade creation, is unquestionably one of a kind.
      • In Pokémon Black and White you can catch Kyurem, but the plot of the sequels hinges on Team Plasma getting to it first. Since the Musketeer Trio are still around in the sequels, catching them in the first game is also non-canon. In an inversion, Liberty Garden is only accessible in the first games by event, and it serves as the place where you catch Victini. In the sequels, you can visit the island without the event, and Victini is missing (the implication is that the event is canon, and the previous protagonist caught Victini before the events of the sequel).
      • Zygarde appears in Pokémon X and Y as an Optional Boss, much like Kyurem did. However, it not only appears in Pokémon Sun and Moon (and their Ultra versions), but Dexio outright confirms it's the same Zygarde from Kalos, having traveled all the way to Alola. Naturally, it'd be hard to do so from the confines of a Poké Ball, so it's likely the encounter with it in X and Y either didn't end with the player capturing it or simply never happened in the first place.
    • In Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, depending on which game you choose, the player character goes to either Naranja Academy or Uva Academy. Pokémon Horizons: The Series ends up using the former school, with Uva Academy nowhere to be seen.
  • The Quest for Glory series generally assumes the player got the Golden Ending for every past game. Quest for Glory IV has Baba Yaga mad at the player for turning her into a frog, while Quest for Glory V reveals that Barnard von Spielberg became the Baron; defeating Baba Yaga and rescuing Barnard were optional objectives in the original game. However, it doesn't make assumptions about the player's Character Class or most of their moral choices.
  • The anime based on Star Ocean: The Second Story, Star Ocean EX, merged pretty much all the story of the first part of the game, changing it to make it all possible to happen together. For instance, they just encounter and recruit Ashton, instead of having to backtrack or miss him. Later, they meet Opera and Ernest, which doesn't happen if you recruit Ashton. The gaiden sequel, plus the third main game's manual, confirm that every possible party member was canonically recruited.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Shin Megami Tensei I had three endings. The sequel takes place under the premise of the Neutral ending having occurred.
    • Shin Megami Tensei II handled this weirdly — all three paths had similar endings, and regardless of events everyone turns against God. However, there are hints in Devil Survivor that the Neutral ending was canon (because that ending featured eternal reincarnation and suffering for Aleph).
    • According to some fans and the fanbook for Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army, there are three different main timelines to the Shin Megami Tensei multiverse, and each branch assumes you got a different ending in Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon.
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse establishes that the hero of Shin Megami Tensei IV was named Flynn, sided with Jonathan in the initial route split, ended up Neutral-aligned, and wasn't dumb enough to fall for Medusa's I Surrender, Suckers.
    • Persona:
      • All sequels assume that the good ending was achieved in their predecessors, seeing as how there wouldn't be a game if the world had been destroyed.
      • The protagonists in Persona 3 onward are able to date a number of different girls (or for the Persona 3 Portable female protagonist, boys) over the course of the game. Persona 4 implies that the Persona 3 protagonist romanced Chihiro, and Persona 4: Arena hints at the Persona 4 protagonist going through Naoto's Social Link.
      • Persona 3 allows the male protagonist to choose, among other things, which Culture Club he joins - art, music, or photography. Keisuke Hiraga, the Fortune Social Link, is portrayed as a member of whichever club he chooses. In Persona 3 Portable, when he makes a brief appearance in the female protagonist's Magician Social Link, he's a member of the photography club.
      • Arena refers to the Persona 3 protagonist as male, and Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth has only the male protagonist as a playable character, rendering the Persona 3 Portable female protagonist non-canonical to the main timeline. She does show up in Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth, but is quickly revealed to be from an alternate timeline.
      • Persona 4: Arena Ultimax canonizes the existence of Theodore, the Velvet Room attendant exclusive to Portable who could replace his sister Elizabeth in the female protagonist's route. Persona Q2 would clarify that Theodore was indeed the female protagonist's attendant.
      • Ultimax also canonizes the Golden Ending of Persona 4 Golden by showing Marie to be alive. The individual character endings lead the Investigation Team to their characterizations during the above mentioned ending.
      • Though the player was never forced to go at that point, Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth assumes the Phantom Thieves visited Mementos at least once during the 6th Palace arc in Persona 5, since it's the Framing Device that leads them into the game's world and is the only time they could've had Akechi with them before his reveal as the traitor.
      • Averted in Persona 5 Strikers, which neither confirms nor denies that the Persona 5 Royal third semester occurred, and no Royal-exclusive characters appear. Strikers and Royal were developed simultaneously.
      • Persona 5 Tactica is the first game to use Royal in canon. However, the Repaint Your Heart DLC indicates that this is set before the third semester event in Royal occoured, indicated that this is the first time that Akechi and "Kasumi" Yoshizawa had reveal to each other their Phantom Thief identities and ability to wield a Persona. It should noted that the name Kasumi is used, most likely to avoid the big reveal in Royal, where her name is actually Sumire and that Kasumi is the name of her deceased older sister. There's also the fact that she does not use her codename "Violet", mostly because her codename was decided after the aforementioned reveal.
  • Theia - The Crimson Eclipse: On the developer's Discord server, he states that Endings A and X are both canon, which means Nadia is the canon love interest and Nimrod is doomed to become Halcon's vessel. However, he also states that the Another Withered Future epilogue occurs in all the other endings too, possibly due to ending X being concurrent with all other endings except for E.
  • In Wasteland 3, it's established that Team Echo, the party in Wasteland 2, mostly got the best endings for almost every faction, but the final battle was a bloodbath that killed them and a lot of others. Specifically, at least one person in Team Echo was a cyborg, and thus taken over by the Cochise AI, at least, according to Na CI and some side evidence you can find. The biggest decision point in Wasteland 2, whether Highpool or Ag Center was destroyed, is the only one that's never explicitly said, though the focus on the necessity of food supplies for Arizona indicates pretty strongly that it was Ag Center that was destroyed.
  • The third Yo-kai Watch game doesn't include the female playable character of the previous game, Katie, as a playable character. This cements Nate as the canon protagonist of the series. Instead of Katie, Hailey Anne is playable alongside Nate. The third version Yo-Kai Watch 3: Sukiyaki made Katie playable again, and even gave her a youkai form like Nate, but only in a select portion of the game. Otherwise, Nate is still the protagonist in Sukiyaki. However, Yo-kai Watch 4 averts this by making Katie a playable character alongside Nate in the same story.

    Shoot 'em Up 
  • Colony Wars was a Space Sim that had five possible endings, the best being one where The Empire was thoroughly defeated by La Résistance and peace was made throughout the 5 systems, too bad that doesn't make for a good sequel. So instead, the canonical ending was the ending where La Résistance beat The Empire back to the solar system but were unable to take Earth and instead had to settle on destroying the only star gate our of the system so that the Empire was trapped in the Solar System with scarce resources until they could build a new star gate generations later.
  • Downplayed in Mystic Warriors: the game begins with one of the Five-Man Band becoming a kidnapping victim. The intro has two gameplay segments: one in which Brad is absent and the other in which Yuri is absent, suggesting that one of them was the "canoncial" victim.
  • Touhou Project:
    • Generally speaking, the series works on the principle that all story routes are true to some extent at least, but as events are recounted by Unreliable Narrators, Unreliable Expositors, Slaves to PR trying to uphold The Masquerade and Aya, it's almost impossible to figure out the full truth.
    • Later events have confirmed that the heroine of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil was Reimu, as well as strongly implying that the Scarlet Team went through Imperishable Night. Symposium of Post-Mysticism heavily implies if not outright states that Marisa was the heroine of Subterranean Animism (no mention on which partner she had, though), and it's implied in Gouyoku Ibun that Reimu and Marisa both went through the events of Wily Beast and Weakest Creature alongside the Eagle Spirit. Additionally, there are certain endings that obviously didn't happen, what with Kanako not being the god of the Hakurei Shrine, and the Palanquin Ship not touring Gensoukyou.
    • The fourth episode of Fantasy Kaleidoscope lampshades this when Aya credits only Reimu for thwarting the Scarlet sisters even though Marisa not only was a part of the battle, but got to the Scarlet Devil Mansion well before Reimu. Then again, Aya's always been notorious for not letting the truth get in the way of a good story.
    • 100th Black Market is a rare case of a game explicitly declaring a certain route canon. In this case, Marisa defeated Chimata at the end of Unconnected Marketeers, and this game features her cleaning up some of the mess left behind by that incident.

    Simulation Games 
  • In one mission of Mechwarrior 4, you (as Ian Dresari) can either save your sister Joanna or secure a cache of weapons for the war effort. The game ends with either Joanna or Ian ascending the throne as Duchess or Duke. The Black Knight expansion pack assumes that not only did Ian fail to save his sister, but he is now ruling as a tyrannical despot. Later material then ended up clarifying that this ending was Steiner propaganda to justify Steiner-backed intervention to overthrow him (as Ian canonically survived to see the end of the Fed-Com Civil War, this ends up making the ending of the Mission-Pack Sequel non-canon).
  • The Sims 2 takes place twenty-five years after The Sims, and establishes canon futures for a number of the pre-made characters introduced in the first game (e.g. Johnny Burb and Jennifer Pleasant get married when they grow up, Bob and Betty Newbie have a daughter sometime after the first game, etc.).
    • The Sims 3 is presented as a Prequel to the first two games; so - while the player is free to dictate the characters' fates as they choose - long-time fans of the series know whether their choices are canonical or not.
  • Story of Seasons:

    Sports Games 
  • Inazuma Eleven 2's One Game for the Price of Two gimmick only had the typical differences between the two versions (different rival teams, optional sidequests, Optional Party Members, etc.), so this was pretty easy for the anime adaptation to deal with. Then Inazuma Eleven 3 had actual story differences between its versions, although they were still mostly reconcilable, so the anime had the events of both versions occur with a bit of effortnote . However, the fourth game, Inazuma Eleven GO, had two versions with gigantic differences in the story, even different Official Couples.
  • Numan Athletics has four participants competing against each other, with the game ending with one of them becoming the champion. The sequel has Sharon be the Final Boss who your new playable character has to win the title from, confirming that she was the canonical victor.

    Stealth Game 
  • The Dishonored franchise is well-known for this:
    • The first game's two story DLCs star Daud as the playable character. It's initially a case of Another Side, Another Story, until he crosses paths with Corvo midway through the second episode. Obviously he survives, meaning that if the player chose to kill Daud when Corvo had the chance to during the "other side" of this scene in the main game, this is rendered non-canon.
    • Dishonored 2 assumes that Corvo was for the most part Low-Chaos, though the intro shows that Corvo canonically killed a few guards. Meanwhile, Daud is all but stated to have sealed Delilah away in her ritual while also sparing Billie, who shows up as Meagan Foster.
    • The standalone Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, which is a sequel to 2, assumes that players spared Meagan after she reveals herself as Billie Lurk to Corvo/Emily and admits to being complicit in Jessamine Kaldwin's death, and stopped Aramis Stilton from attending the seance, as she's shown with her right arm and eye restored at the start of the game. It also establishes that Emily was the canonical player character of 2 and ended the game on Low Chaos.
  • Metal Gear:
  • In Splinter Cell: Double Agent, Fisher goes undercover with a terrorist group and is faced with the choice between committing several murderous actions to maintain his cover or not do them at the risk of increasing suspicion. One of said choices, at the beginning of the final level, is killing his boss, Colonel Irving Lambert, who was captured by the terrorists. Splinter Cell: Conviction confirmed that Sam Fisher did in fact kill him.
    • Conviction's co-op campaign, set before the singleplayer, ends with a quick-draw duel between Archer and Kestrel when Archer is ordered to kill Kestrel over his headset and Kestrel reads those orders on his OpSat; whoever survives is then promptly killed by Andriy Kobin. Singleplayer confirms Kestrel as the "winner", as Kobin put him in a coma by shooting him in the back of the head.
  • In 1980s mode, the Prequel mode of Yandere Simulator, it's possible to eliminate the 10 rivals for Senpai's affections any way the player likes, but only one elimination method per rival is considered the 'canon' one. Getting all ten 'canon' eliminations in one playthrough is the way to get the S+ rank and the secret ending. The monologues that introduce the rival of the week hint at what those methods are: causing Senpai to reject Kaguya's confession, burning Moeko alive, crushing Honami to death under a bookcase, poisoning Sumiko's food, drowning Ritsuko, electrocuting Ai, getting Teiko expelled, bullying Komako until she withdraws from school, getting Chigusa together with someone else, and befriending Sonoko and getting her to leave Senpai alone. (Along with this, Ryoba must not leave the corpse of anyone except Ritsuko, she cannot get Teiko arrested by planting narcotics, and she must be careful not to bully Komako enough to drive her to suicide.) Likewise, despite the fact that it is possible to get a bad ending where Ryoba is convicted of murder because she just acted too suspicious, the canon ending is that she gets away with murdering Sumire and succeeds in kidnapping her Senpai.

    Survival Horror 
  • Clock Tower uses this between the first and second games; during the S Ending, it was possible to have Ann or Laura survive, but the sequel confirms that Jennifer was the Sole Survivor - meaning they join Lotte in the Doomed by Canon club. The ending of the sequel confirms that Ending C was the canon ending, as there is a scene where Jennifer shrinks back at the mere mention of Dan's name, which she only learned in Ending C.
  • The first two Fatal Frame games both have multiple endings, but the third game follows from the bad ending for both of them where Mafuyu (in 1) and Mayu (in 2) die. By extension, the fifth game, canonically following the third game, also presumes that the bad ending in the first game happened.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
  • Resident Evil:
    • Averted in the original Resident Evil. Depending on which character the player uses (Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine), only three S.T.A.R.S. members escape from the mansion together in the best possible ending. While Barry disappears after the opening intro in Chris's storyline and Rebecca is nowhere to be seen in Jill's, the sequels assume that all four characters survived the events of the Mansion Incident.
    • Resident Evil 2 has two story paths depending on the order in which the player plays through both protagonists' storylines. Resident Evil 6 follows the storyline from the Claire A/Leon B scenario, since it establishes that Sherry Birkin was injected with the G-virus vaccine, which never occurs in the Leon A/Claire B storyline. The remake timeline reverses this, as Resident Evil 4 (Remake) makes it clear that Leon met Marvin Branagh and got a knife from him, something which only happens to the 1st Run protagonist. As Sherry is infected with the G-virus on both of Claire's runs in the remake, this would not contradict Sherry in 6 (the remake amalgamates Leon and Claire's scenarios so that any of the stuff that impacts future stories now takes place in all possible outcomes).
    • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard has two endings depending on whether Ethan chooses to use the cure on Mia or Zoe. The End of Zoe DLC and Resident Evil Village take place after the ending in which Ethan cures Mia.
  • The Sakabashira Game ends with a Last-Second Ending Choice on whether Alex decides to save himself by returning back to the real world, or strands himself by letting somebody else do so instead. A House for Alesa 3, another game in Axel Vejar Dossow's Shared Universe, has Alex make a return in which he recounts his experience, confirming that he concluded that everyone else was too far gone, and therefore used the opportunity of escape on himself.
  • Silent Hill:
    • The events of Silent Hill 3 establish that the original Silent Hill ended canonically with the "good" ending, which consists of Harry surviving and leaving with the newborn, innocent reincarnation of Cheryl. Word of God vacillates back and forth as to whether the "+" ending (where Cybil also survives) is part of that, but since her survival has no bearing on future plot points, it's more or less up to the player's personal headcanon.
      • Meanwhile, Wii exclusive Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is non-canon to the main series, but takes place in an alternate universe where the first game's "bad" ending was canon, where Harry died in the car crash at the very start, and everything else was just his dying dream.
    • The only ending of Silent Hill 3 that is canon is the Good Ending, since a newspaper article in Silent Hill: Homecoming revealed that Douglas Cartland exposed the Order.
    • The only ending of Silent Hill: Origins that is canon is the Good Ending, a necessity since it's a prequel.
    • Played with in Silent Hill 4, wherein Superintendent Sunderland is overheard mentioning that he hasn't heard from his son (Silent Hill 2 protagonist James) since the latter went to Silent Hill...which narrows down precisely zero of the options James could've taken since being there.
    • The canon ending of Silent Hill: Downpour is confirmed to be Ending B - "Truth & Justice" - through the tie-in comic Anne's Story.

    Tactical RPGs 
  • Nippon Ichi has a history of throwing their game leads as cameos and Optional Bosses of later works, which inevitably cuts off certain outcomes for several of their works. Disgaea: Hour of Darkness carries on from the good ending, as does its sequel, Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories. Soul Nomad & the World Eaters uses its normal ending with a female Revya although Revya's appearance in Disgaea 3 has a nod to the Demon Path in her description. La Pucelle uses the Non-Standard Game Over, however. For the most part these choices are understandable, as the less good endings tend to involve character deaths, depression and Eldritch Abominations all around, which would make for poor cameos — with the exception apparently being made for Prier, who was apparently deemed better as an Overlord.
  • Fire Emblem has Permadeath as a gameplay mechanic. Outside of certain modes or specific plot-relevant characters, any member of your army in any game will be Killed Off for Real if they fall in battle. However, whenever a game in the series gets a direct sequel (that is, a game set in the same universe, as the series usually operates on the Non-Linear Sequel principle), the new entry generally assumes all of its predecessor's characters survived (and were recruited in the first place), so any character death in gameplay is treated as non-canon.
    • The Archanea games feature several examples:
      • In Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, the player could recruit either the paladin Arran or the hero Samson, but not both. In Mystery of the Emblem, Arran is with Marth's knights from the start and Samson isn't seen until much later in the game, where he doesn't seem to know Marth personally and doesn't hesitate to attack him, which means recruiting Arran was likely canon.
      • It was possible to complete Chapter 20 without defeating Camus, which results in alternative dialogue. Seeing as Gaiden features Camus as an amnesiac who washed up on the shore of another continent after a brutal beatdown, fighting him is canon.
      • In Shadow Dragon, the Nintendo DS remake of the first game, one character has to sacrifice themselves in the prologue to lure away the enemy, and this character never returns. If the prologue is skipped Frey isn't present, which seems to imply he was the canonical sacrifice. In New Mystery of the Emblem, all characters who could have been the sacrifice are alive and well, but Frey's Support conversations specifically mention that he was indeed the canonical sacrifice, but was merely wounded and left for dead rather than killed.
      • How New Mystery dealt with the sidequest characters is described in Merging the Branches. The only exception is Nagi, who Marth doesn't recognise in New Mystery, implying her sidequest was non-canon. (Which makes sense, seeing as it only occurs if the player misses out on getting the Falchion).
    • Thracia 776, the midquel to Genealogy of the Holy War canonizes Lewyn/Erinys, whereas in Genealogy of the Holy War you could choose between her and six other girls.
      • On the other hand, they averted this with Lachesis by implying both her predestined pairings were canon: Nanna's father is Finn and Diarmuid's father is Beowolf.
      • In Genealogy, though characters could obtain certain items and weapons through events, nearly all of those items and weapons could be given to another character (though it'd cost some money to do so). In Thracia, the items associated with a given parent seem to have found their way into the hands of their child, or been kept by them: Leif has the Light Brand Ethlyn obtains from Deirdre, Finn has the Brave Lance given to him by Quan, and Nanna has the Earth Sword handed to Lachesis by her brother Eldigan.
    • Fire Emblem: Awakening strongly implies that the entire franchise is set in an interconnected multiverse accessible through the Outrealm gates where each individual "universe" has multiple versions of it all existing at once; in fact, the time-traveling in the main plot is implied to actually be just a case of dimension hopping. Basically, while all playthroughs/universes may be equally canon, the direct sequels are only set in the ones where all of the characters dying wasn't invoked.
      • The DLC battles involving the characters from the Archanea games make vague references to New Mystery's player-created character, and canonise their name as Kris, but what pronoun is used to refer to them depends on the gender of Awakening's Avatar, meaning male and female Kris are both equally canon.
      • The "Future Past" arc gives all of the children characters canon promotions; Lucina is a Great Lord, Laurent is a Sage, Gerome is a Wyvern Lord, Severa and Inigo are Heroes, Owain is a Swordmaster, Brady is a War Monk, Yarne is a Taguel, Cynthia is a Falcon Knight, Noire is a Sniper, Nah is a Manakete and Kjelle is a General. Interestingly, the two Morgans aren't in their default class' promoted class (Grandmaster). Instead they're a Wyvern Lord (female Morgan) and Sorcerer (male Morgan).
    • Fire Emblem Fates implies that Severa, Inigo, and Owain canonically went unpaired at the end of Awakening, as their unpaired endings state that they went to other lands, with all three appearing in Fates under the Paper-Thin Disguises of Selena, Laslow and Odin. They're all even able to marry the other Fates characters! However, the existence of the Outrealms indicates that while Fates's Severa, Inigo, and Owain came from an Awakening playthrough where they remained single, the playthroughs where they ended up married are all still technically canon. Plus, some of their dialogues imply that in their particular universes, the DLC Scramble stages are canon as well.
      • Fates also implicitly sinks several ships from Awakening during the "Before Awakening" DLC. None of the Awakening trio indicate that Chrom or Frederick are their fathers, implicitly sinking Chrom/Olivia, Frederick/Lissa, Frederick/Cordelia, and Frederick/Olivia. In addition, the amiibo fight against Robin implicitly sinks his ships with Lissa, Cordelia, and Olivia since none of the three treat him like their father either.
      • Awakening and Fates have a combined example that is both an aversion and played straight at the same time. One of the amiibo characters is Robin, the player-created character of Awakening. He only appears as a male, using the default model and voice, unlike in Awakening proper where he can be either male or female, and he gets unique battle quotes if he faces Selena, Laslow, and Odin. However, those three characters imply that he is not the Robin they knew, which averts it for Awakening. So how is this played straight? Because this Robin is heavily implied to be the Robin who partook in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U where one could select between Male and Female Robin, meaning the male version of Robin is the one considered to have fought in Smash rather than the one from Awakening. Then again, Smash did allow multiple versions of the same character to fight all at once...
      • Not only are the Outrealms still in Fates, but the concept is explored again in another DLC set known as Heirs of Fate: The player gets to control the Second Generation children, each coming from Birthright or Conquest universes where Anankos not only did manage to destroy both realms and the world, but dumps them in a Revelation-gone-wrong sort-of world where Shigure and Lilith are the sole survivors. The kids must stop fighting between them, straighten up their differences and, under Shigure and Azura's soul's lead, defeat this Anankos so they can leave.
      • Nearly all unpromoted characters have two potential promotions they can choose. Picking the route that leads you to fight them as enemies or playing a couple of DLC maps canonizes one of their two promotion choices. Putting off certain paralogues also gives a few captureable bosses canon promotions. Silas, Sophie, and Siegbert are Paladins; Kaze, Saizo, Kagero, and Asugi are Master Ninjas; Laslow, Arthur, Soleil, and Zhara are Heroes; Peri is a Great Knight; Hinoka, Subaki, Shigure, and Caeldori are Falcon Knights; Azama is a Great Master; Selena is a Bow Knight; Beruka and Percy are Wyvern Lords; Setsuna, Takumi, and Kiragi are Snipers; Hinata, Hana, Shironote , and Hisame are Swordmasters; Oboro is a Spear Master; Niles, Nina, and Anna are Adventurers; Odin and Ophelia are Sorcerers; Sakura and Mitama are Priestesses; Elise and Forrest are Strategists; Effie, Benny, and Ignatius are Generals; Orochi, Hayato, and Rhajat are Onmyojis; Gazak is a Berserker; Male Kana is a Nohr Noble; Female Kana is a Hoshido Noble; Midori and Senno are Merchants; Dwyer is a Butler. Mozu, Nyx, Rinkah, and Charlotte share the distinct honor of being the only characters never to appear promoted.
      • In spinoff material such as Cipher and Warriors, Male Corrin is generally associated with Hoshido and the Birthright route while Female Corrin is generally associated with Nohr and the Conquest route.
    • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, you can customize which class paths each playable character goes through when they are in your class. If you're a bit late in recruiting them in Part I or don't recruit them and then fight them in Part II, they have predetermined canonical classes. In addition, the Cindered Shadows DLC gives Byleth and the three lords canonical classes for Part I.
    • Three Houses additionally allows you to decide upon the gender of your protagonist avatar Byleth. While the initial marketing for the original game mainly focused on Male Byleth, the trailers for the Dynasty Warriors-esque spin-off Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes exclusively depicts Byleth as female and the new protagonist Shez as male. Despite this, Three Hopes allows players to freely choose both avatar characters' genders for the game's story, unlike the previous Warriors game.
    • Fire Emblem Engage:
      • The main mechanic is summoning and fighting alongside manifestations of previous playable characters called Emblems. The Emblem versions of Corrin and Byleth depict them as female and male respectively. Robin, who appears as a DLC Emblem alongside Chrom, is also depicted as male.
      • While the Emblems are stated to not be the same people as the protagonists of past games, rather being spirits with their memories, there are still a few cases of this. Emblem Marth makes it clear that he recruited Tiki in both Shadow Dragon and Mystery of the Emblem, despite their being optional, while Emblem Celica mentions visiting the Seabound Shrine (and her Paralogue's map is based on the location) and fighting a Necrodragon there, which was optional in Gaiden/Echoes. Emblem Roy is familiar with Idunn, which makes the True Ending path of Binding Blade canon. Emblem Corrin is familiar with Anankos, despite him being a Man Behind the Man who only physically appears on Fates' Revelation route. (She even mentions how he's somehow always at the end of her path) Emblem Byleth is consistently referred to as a "professor", cutting off the Alternate Timeline of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes.
      • As for its own protagonist avatar, you once again can select whether Alear is male or female. Engage's manga adaptation depicts Alear as male.
      • The Fell Xenologue DLC story automatically raises levels and promotes your army to predetermined classes between chapters.
    • In Fire Emblem Warriors, this is actually subverted with the Fates Corrin that shows up to aid Rowan and Lianna. She only appears as a female, but it is to balance out the gender ratio of the main heroes and because female Corrin is more popular than her male counterpart. She also comes from before the route split in order to preserve the importance of the player's choice in Fates, making this Fates universe yet another extraneous path to the main games, with her bio hinting that Male Corrin is off somewhere else in Fates's Outrealm multiverse. Similiarly, the Awakening Robin that helps them out is not only the male one appearing to wield a unique tome that lets him cast various elemental spells this time around, but he still prefers Thunder Magic and carries a Levin Sword around, not to wield it, but to use it for its thunder magic, suggesting he is more of a mage than the Magic Knight he is in the series proper. The fact that the Lucina running around is still wearing her Masked Marth disguise also suggests that Robin and the other Awakening characters helping them out come from the beginning of Awakening, or even before that.
  • Super Robot Wars:
    • While most Super Robot Wars games are standalone titles, those that have sequels need to do some branch-cutting. Super Robot Wars Alpha, the first game with sequels, deals with its branches in a number of ways:
      • The first game lets the player customize their characters, choosing their name, personality, appearance, partner-slash-Love Interest's appearance and namenote , and whether they use Super Robots or Real Robots. The Gaiden Game Alpha Gaiden deliberately avoids making any mention of these characters, while Alpha 2 creates canon versions of the Alpha 1 heroes by giving them established names (Kusuha Mizuha and Brooklyn "Bullet" Luckfield), personalities (Shrinking Violet and Hot-Blooded respectively), and putting them in the Super Robot RyuKoOh.
      • Alpha also features new incarnations of several older protagonists, including the choice of male or female protagonist from Super Hero Sakusen. Both are made canon by making them each other's Opposite-Sex Clone.
      • Alpha 3 has each of its four story modes follow up on one of the story modes from Alpha 2. Since Sanger is actually from the Gaiden Game rather than having made his debut in 2, however, he gets to appear on all four routes of 3.
      • All of the games generally assume a minimal-effort playthrough of the one before, where no secret characters were unlocked. In many cases, this means the death of the character in question is what's made canon.
    • The Super Robot Wars Z series has fewer branches than Alpha, but still needs some pruning:
      • Z offers a choice between two protagonists, Setsuko or Rand. Each exists in the other's route, but only the player character joins ZEUTH. In the sequels, the branches are merged so that both joined ZEUTH on opposite sides of its civil war.
      • Z2 is split into two games, the first offering a choice between main character Crowe's robot emphasizing melee or ranged combat, with some stat differences and a different finishing move depending on the choice. The second half merges the branches so that Crowe gets the best of both choices, shortly before making him choose again between the Librasta B or R. The next game that Crowe appears in is evasive about answering which one he actually used, and instead gives him a brand-new upgrade combining some traits of both.
      • The Z games are generally more forgiving about assuming the player unlocked some of the secrets in the previous games than the Alpha games were. Most notably, the branch of Aquarion Evol's plot that's cut off is the original canon where two of its pilots died, and the player is instead assumed to have saved both of them.
    • Super Robot Wars V and Super Robot Wars X were originally standalone games that each offer the choice of a male or female protagonist, but their original characters reappear in Super Robot Wars T's Expansion Pack DLC that serves as a Post-Script Season to all three games (as well as cameos in two secret stages in the base game that set up the DLC's plot). Very unusually, the player is actually allowed to pick what V and X branches to cut, being asked questions shortly before the returning characters reappear that determine who was the chosen protagonist of each game.
      • V offers a choice between a super robot or a real robot for the main character's Mid-Season Upgrade. T establishes that Soji chose the real robot and Chitose the super robot.
    • Super Robot Wars: Original Generation, being a combined retelling of the various original stories from all of the mainline games, tends to have to establish canon selections for the games that offer player choices. That said, this hasn't stopped them from doing so creatively:
      • As mentioned earlier, Alpha let the player customize their character using a list of eight preset appearances, four personalities, and the choice of Super or Real Robots. Original Generation made canon versions of the characters by giving them established names, personalities, pairings and robot preferences and established Kusuha and Bullet as the Alpha heroes (which was subsequently carried over to Alpha 2, which came after), while the remaining pairs (Tasuku and Leona, Rio and Ryoto, and Yuuki and Carla) were slotted into other parts of the game world, Rio and Ryoto in particular being handed Alpha's Real Robot option.
      • The first game also follows through with the same method of handling Ingram and Viletta that Alpha did: both are canon as Opposite Sex Clones.
      • The second game considers only the first half of Kyosuke's storyline from the first game canon, as the first half of each story follows the same war on different fronts. Everything after the match between the ATX and SRX teams follows Ryusei's story.
      • The second game establishes the canon hero of Advance as Lamia Loveless with the Angelg as her robot, and Axel Almer with the Soulgain as her rival. The other three robot options from Advance are unlockable as secrets or given to other characters, while later games have Axel survive his apparent death and pull a Heel–Face Turn.
      • The Playstation 2 remake of the first two games and its Gaiden Game continuation establishes that both protagonists of Super Robot Wars Reversal are canon as Half-Identical Twins, and they simply built two of their shared robot instead of one.
      • The fourth game establishes that the Destiny real robots were the canon selection, with the super robot as an unlockable unit. The other story branches from Destiny are merged so that the player gets all four playable characters instead of having to pick two. The MX characters, who originally had a choice between a super and a real, instead get both.
      • The fifth game, Moon Dwellers, makes the super robot from GC the canon optionnote , and makes the male and female character options a pair of Half-Identical Twins.
      • Moon Dwellers also canonically establishes Touya as the pilot of the Granteed and Calvina as the pilot of the Bellzelute, but doesn't establish canon subpilots for either one. The third robot from Judgment, the Coustwell, is given to the Ax-Crazy villain, but can be taken for yourself and used by either protagonist.
      • Unlike the main-series games with secrets, the OG games often assume a maximum-effort playthrough where all secrets were unlocked in the game before.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • A minor example in The Last of Us. At the end of the game, you can kill the two unarmed surgeons trying to scoop out Ellie's brains at your discretion. When the scene is revisited in The Last of Us Part II, only Jerry's corpse is present at the scene, indicating that Joel canonically spared the other two in favor of getting Ellie out of their ASAP.
  • In Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, there are two endings: the first one in which Mona Sax is fatally shot by Vladimir Lem and dies in Max's arms, and the other one that can only be obtained in "Dead on Arrival" mode, in which Mona survives being shot. The former one turns out to be canon and carries over to Max Payne 3.
  • The Splatoon series downplays this in regards to the Player Characters. Most promotional material and even in-game items, such as the Sunken Scrolls or Tableturf Cards, has the canonical versions of them be female, with the developers also referring to them as such in interviews. As an extension of this, they all have definitive appearances: the original Agent 3/Captain is an Inkling with long, green tentacles; Agent 4 is an Inkling with short, yellow tentacles; Eight is an Octoling with short tentacles framing her face, etc. However, all have customizable in-game appearances, up to and including gender, even when they aren't playable (such as Agent 3's Previous Player-Character Cameo in Octo Expansion and Splatoon 3).

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • The Langrisser series, starting from Der Langrisser, utilizes Faction-Specific Endings. However, the Kalxath territory is a reoccurring element, meaning that routes in which the current heir is slain and the territory is conquered (mainly the Demon Tribe and Independent endings) will inevitably be cut off. Additionally, the protagonist of Langrisser IV is allied with the Kingdom of Caconsis in V.
  • Super Robot Wars:
    • The Z pentalogy offers branching choices in the first three titles. Games following the first one pretend that both Setsuko and Rand were the protagonists, since they each wield a separate Artifact of Death in the saga's driving set of twelve. The first part of Z2 allows Crowe to choose whether he wants to specialize his robot into close combat or long-range sniping; when he returns in the second part, he has all of the perks of both paths, and gets to choose to specialize again into either the Librasta B or R. When he returns again in Z3, he has the new Librasta T, which is mostly B with some parts from R.
    • Video Game/Super Robot Wars T features cameos of the protagonists from V and X. Rather than pick one in advance, the game gives the player thinly-veiled options just before they appear to select who was the protagonist of each game.
  • XCOM 2 essentially canonized XCOM: Enemy Unknown's "Game Over" ending, as it begins with the aliens having conquered Earth and the titular organization being reduced to a smaller resistance group. In fact, according to this timeline, XCOM apparently lost pretty quickly, without even being able to get their hands on the coolest alien toys (e.g. plasma weapons, Meld, elerium). Amusingly, it also acknowledges the player's successful runs in Enemy Unknown by implying that they were the result of the aliens experimenting with the comatose Commander's mind to gain intel on Earth's military capabilities.
  • XCOM: Chimera Squad canonizes the victorious ending of XCOM 2, taking place several years after overthrowing the Ethereal military junta in a world where now humanity and all the various alien races that were conscripted by the Ethereals need to learn how to get along.

    Visual Novel 
  • When Akatsuki no Goei got a sequel, they decided to go with one of the original game endings instead of just pretending the first game somehow didn't happen. That said, they went with the Kaoru ending, which is nothing more than a plot hook for the first half of the sequel and had no real resolution.
  • With three very different storylines that diverge early on, the Fate/stay night anime and manga both had to choose somebody. The default storyline (Fate) was the logical choice; fans of Archer and Sakura were inevitably going to be disappointed. Nonetheless, anime the producers gave those fans what they could, such as a Matou Zouken cameo, a magical outfit meant to suggest Dark Sakura, and Bait-and-Switch Credits where Shirou fights Archer. The manga also features elements from "Unlimited Blade Works" (such as Caster taking an earlier front seat as antagonist and Archer's open attempts to kill Shirou). In the end, though, fans of the "Unlimited Blade Works" scenario get the movie and second anime, and fans of "Heaven's Feel" get a movie trilogy.
    • An In-Universe example: Nasu's tendency for writing Multiple Endings and his claims that all routes are canon led to the concepts of "the Kaleidoscope" and "Quantum Time Locks". The Kaleidoscope causes human history to branch out freely like a tree, but the finite amount of 'water' (read: energy) to maintain the tree can't possibly sustain it all. Time Locks are created when the universe judges whether or not a branch still has a close-enough history as the trunk/majority of other branches. If not, then the branch would be pruned as the result of natural phenomena of the universe, and would have no future beyond the Time Lock. In Fate/Grand Order's Lostbelt saga, seven branches that should be pruned survived the Time Lock thanks to an outside interference, and they seek out to replace the main trunk as the true human history.
  • Coffee Talk: Episode 2 takes place after the first game's Golden Ending since the Barista reveals that Freya is traveling the world to write her new book, whose draft was accepted by her publisher.
  • The manga based on the Galaxy Angel video games not only rules out the ending for Forte, Vanilla and eventually Mint, it also throws out much of the Milfeulle, Ranpha, Chitose and Shiva stories, as well as the overarching story. New scenes were invented in their place, giving Shiva a bigger role, having a Love Triangle emerge between Milfeulle, Tact and one of the other girls (Ranpha in the first series, Chitose in the second) and turning Eonia into Schrödinger's Cat to facilitate a Gecko Ending.
    • The romance events in the game were fairly secondary plot-wise and did not change the main story much. Also, the sidequest in the first game where Tact finds out that Prince Shiva is actually a girl disguised as a boy, as well that Lady Shatyarn is her biological mother is rendered non-canon in the second game, as Shiva assumes the throne of the Traansbal Empire and reveals publically that she's a girl and in private to Tact her parentage.
  • The sequel to Juuzaengi continues on from Ryuubi's route only.
    • Discussed in the Otomate Party 2013 event, after the sequel game announcement, where Sousou, Chouryou and Chouun promise the heroine that even if their relationship resets, they'll find a way to be together again and Kakouen states wistfully if he gets a second chance, he'd spend it better with Kakouton and Kan'u.
  • Kaleidoscope Dating Sim 2 is a rare example in which the joke ending of the original game is made canon. You see, the joke ending of Kaleidoscope Dating Sim 1 featured the male protagonist Cero turning into a mushroom from eating too many mushrooms in the forest, and in the second game the female protagonist Soffie has a chance of finding a talking mushroom while gathering mushrooms in the same forest...
  • The original animation of Kanon leaves out large chunks of the Mai, Shiori and Makoto arcs, leaving them feeling rushed, contrived and confusing. The remake largely fixed this problem, even addressing the jilted haremettes' romantic advances toward the main character and having them get over it believably.
  • For Kira☆Kira, it's made clear in Deardrops that Kirari's good route is the canon route.
  • The Muv-Luv games not only have multiple story paths for Extra and Unlimited, but multiple universes and Groundhog Day loops too. The final game, Alternative, has a linear plot that explicitly references multiple paths from the previous games.
  • The second installment of the Hetalia: Axis Powers fan game Project NA gives four possible endings (True, Bad, Blah, and Treasure). While the third and final installment has not yet been released, Word of God says that the True ending where Matthew remembers his name as Canada and figures out how to use his powers with Alfred is naturally the ending the sequel will follow.
  • Sampaguita, the third game of the Visual Novel series Yarudora, boasts three Good Endings, five Normal Endings, and twenty Bad Endings; so, when a Trading Card Collection set was made and released, Good End 2 was chosen as the main storyline, while Good End 3, Normal End 2, Bad End 1, and Bad End 9 became Parallel Stories (and the remaining Endings not used at all).
  • School Days. The original game allows for Makoto to end up with one (or more) of several very different girls. Both the anime and manga adaptation, however, focus on the love triangle between Makoto, Kotonoha and Sekai, though they ultimately play out rather differently. The anime is an interesting case study — it's what happens when you're determined to avoid ruling out as many endings as you can. Makoto hooks up with every girl he can end up with in the game and more besides. Trouble is, this by definition makes him an utter jerkass, and more or less demands his eventual death at the hands of Sekai, followed by Kotonoha killing Sekai and taking off Makoto's head. Also of note is that All There in the Manual materials indicate that Makoto canonically impregnates both Sekai and Setsuna.
  • SHUFFLE! has an interesting aversion to this trope. Nerine got the first canon ending with the sequel Tick! Tack!. Then Asa got the canon ending in the anime. Lisianthus got the canon ending in the manga. And finally Kaede got the canon ending in Really? Really! which ignores the events in Tick! Tack! Poor Primula has so far been left out as have all the other sub-heroines that get full routes in later games.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend dodges the issue completely. The sequel Holiday Star specifically takes place on another timeline from any of the original game's routes, so no one is confirmed or denied as the heroine's boyfriend. Ryouta breaks the fourth wall to explain this directly to the audience.
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors has 6 endings, but only one of them is considered to be the "true" one. The sequel, Virtue's Last Reward, takes place following said true ending, as if the other five didn't happen. The trope is played in an unorthodox way, though, because the true ending of 999 is possible thanks to a certain event in the Safe ending. All of this is largely because the inevitable VN Save Scumming is actually Akane in the past viewing possible alternate futures in an effort to save her own life.
  • Played with in Monster Prom: Word of God states that there are four canonical couples (presumably made up of player characters Amira, Oz, Vicky, and Brian each taking one of the six main love interests to prom), but the creators have said that they will never reveal this information unless a sequel makes it necessary to do so.
  • The TV anime and movie adaptations of Hakuouki follow Hijikata's route. The anime grafts in some scenes from other routes to help fill in various character arcs, and both adaptations adapt in different resolutions for characters who died offscreen or otherwise disappeared during Hijikata's route of the original VN.
  • Corpse Party D2: Depths of Despair has two endings; Treasured Memory in which Ayumi performs a Heroic Sacrifice to revive her dead friends and Mended Soul in which Ayumi allows her dead friends to pass on to the afterlife. Both sequels, Corpse Party D2: Fatal Operation and Corpse Party D2: Zero Hope follow up from Mended Soul.
  • The second and third Purrfect Apawcalypse games treat the Everyone Lives endings from the previous game(s) as canon.

    Web Game 
  • The flash game Imaginary Realm has multiple endings which depend on how well you do in the cooking mini-game. The canon ending is the worst possible one you can get, which you "earn" by cooking any of Rosey's recipes.
  • Lucky Tower: the second game has three endings; in the first one Von Wanst becomes king, in the second one he dies and becomes a ghost, and in the third one he ends up in the tower from the first game. But since this game is a prequel to the first one, only the third ending can be considered canon.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • In the ending of Mercenaries, the Song regime is toppled and North Korea loses its nationhood. Depending on which faction you have the highest affinity with, it either gets reunited with South Korea, annexed into the People's Republic of China, or becomes a lawless backwater dominated by the Russian Mafiya. The sequel asserts that the second scenario is canonically what happened.
  • Saints Row:
    • Saints Row IV uses the Save Shaundi ending of Saints Row: The Third.
    • Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell has five different endings in total, with Agents of Mayhem following on from the one in which God resets the world and brings back everyone who died over the course of the series, though with all of their lives playing out slightly differently. Interestingly, however, the developers have stated that this doesn't necessarily mean that's the canon ending for the Saints Row franchise itself, and in the event of an actual sequel it'll likely follow on from one of the other endings.
  • Occurs in inFAMOUS: Second Son, where it continues specifically off of the Hero ending of inFAMOUS 2. Developer Sucker Punch reached this conclusion by looking at the trophy data of 2 to find that the overwhelming majority of people played as the Hero and got that ending.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • In Grand Theft Auto IV, there are two endings: "Revenge", where Niko murders Dimitri Rascalov and causes an enraged Jimmy Pegorino to kill Kate McReary at Roman's wedding, and "Deal", where Niko collaborates with Dimitri on a lucrative heroin deal only for Dimitri to send an assassin to kill Niko at the wedding who ends up accidentally killing Roman instead after deeming Niko a loose end. In Grand Theft Auto V, Niko's Lifeinvader page has him wish a happy birthday to Roman, indicating that "Revenge" is canonical.
    • In Grand Theft Auto V, there are three endings: "Something Sensible", where Franklin murders Trevor, "The Time's Come", where Franklin murders Michael, and "The Third Way", where Franklin, Michael, and Trevor murder the entire Big Bad Ensemble (Steve Haines, Harold "Stretch" Joseph, Wei Cheng, and Devin Weston). Buying the Hangar in Grand Theft Auto Online reveals that Trevor has apparently "gone Vinewood", indicating that "Something Sensible" never took place. Later in the Diamond Casino & Resort DLC in Online, Tao Cheng explicitly reappears, refusing to enter the Pacific Bluffs Country Club, as he almost died at the hands of Franklin and watched his father and their security team blow up there, confirming "The Third Way" as canon.
  • Dead Rising games usually take their respective Golden Ending as canon, supported by the following game.
    • Dead Rising 2 makes it clear that Frank West escaped Willamette with Isabela Keyes, and the zombification-suppressing drug "Zombrex" is the formula Isabela used to delay Frank's infection. Speaking of Frank and Isabela, the former meets and teams up with this game's protagonist, Chuck Greene, and reunites with the latter, who is being forced to pump out more Zombrex instead of making a permanent cure.
      • Dead Rising 2's canon ending is a curious case. The Case West epilogue DLC picks up directly after Ending A, which is achieved by refusing to give TK Zombrex after he gets bitten. However, in 2013, Capcom Vancouver has stated that Ending S, the Golden Ending achieved by giving TK Zombrex and has Chuck personally kill him in the True Final Boss, is canon. The only explanation that can be given is that Ending A/Case West is supposed to take place directly after Ending S, which notably cuts to the credits as Chuck, Katey, and Stacey leave the arena to catch their chopper, and that TK reanimated after his death.
    • Dead Rising 3 marks the return of Chuck Greene and his daughter, Katey known as "Annie" (as in "Katey Ann Greene") to the player up to that point. Katey became estranged from her father after the latter turned to a life of crime to make consistent money for her Zombrex, driving away Stacey, of whom he ended up in a romantic relationship with sometime after the events of 2.
    • Dead Rising 4 makes it apparent on numerous occasions that the current outbreak in Willamette makes no sense, as everyone in the United States has been required by law to take a vaccine created from Nick Ramos' blood.

Non-Video Game Examples

    Tabletop Games 
  • Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Early the First Edition adventure I6: Ravenloft (inspiration for the Ravenloft setting), there's a fortune-telling scene which DMs and players are encouraged to act out with real cards. Depending on the results, the Big Bad may have any of four different evil schemes, and the MacGuffin and information which the heroes are looking for may be in any of four different places. A similar gimmick based on a prophetic hypnosis session was incorporated into the sequel, Ravenloft 2: House on Gryphon Hill. When Ravenloft was reinvented as a full-fledged game setting, its designers Cut Off Branches that would have left the Big Bad destroyed or banished from his castle, while averting this trope in other respects by never stating precisely what the heroes of those adventures had encountered.
  • Pathfinder regularly releases Adventure Paths, long and complex adventures that often take place thousands of miles apart, so the effects the events of one have on another is minimal (necessary since no two playthroughs will be exactly the same). However, since a couple of them could potentially result in The End of the World as We Know It and most result in at least major political shakeups, it can generally be assumed that the adventurers won in the end. For example, if the world isn't frozen solid after Reign of Winter.
    • One of the biggest early examples of this trope is the Jade Regent path, which is based around a minor character from the beginning of Rise of the Runelords, and thus makes several assumptions about how that turned out; Ameiko is alive, her brother and father are dead, Shalelu survived, and Sandpoint has been rebuilt. If, for example, Ameiko isn't alive, the GM is encouraged to Hand Wave it by introducing her newly arrived half-sister Amaya (who is in turn assumed to have survived the events of Council of Thieves). Likewise, the presence of Shalelu in Rise of the Runelords, Second Darkness and Jade Regent comes with the assumption that she survives the events of both of the earlier Paths. Ameiko's father and brother, Lonjiku and Tsuto, are further assumed to have died early in Rise of the Runelords.
    • Shattered Star and Return of the Runelords form a trilogy of adventures starting with Rise of the Runelords and including a few minor scenarios from other publications, and thus each assumes that its predecessors' events came to specific conclusions. Thus, Karzoug is assumed to have been defeated with minimal side effects; the Runelords Krune and Zutha to have already arisen and been defeated; and the events of Shattered Star to have ended with the Sihedron being assembled, Xin rising from the sea, and the First King being defeated. The heroes of Shattered Star are also assumed to have gone on to confront Alaznist and become trapped in Crystillian.
    • Iron Gods potentially ends with one of your NPC allies ascending to godhood in place of the Big Bad. Said NPC returns as major divine player an unknown number of centuries later in Starfinder.
    • Paizo's policy of not advancing the timeline beyond the setting's established present kept this from being a significant issue beyond a certain point, as most Adventure Paths after the first few were assumed to take place more or less concurrently, but the jumps ahead in the timeline that came with the releases of Return of the Runelords and Tyrant's Grasp, together with the release of Second Edition and the official moving of the setting's present ahead by a number of years, required most of the major Paths' adventures to receive canonical endings. These are generally the ones taken to be the "default" ones, and are described in broad strokes in the aforementioned Adventure Paths and in the Lost Omens World Guide.
      • Legacy of Fire ends with the heroes stopping the mad genie Jhavhul's plans to reincarnate himself as the monster Xotani, but they are only able to stop him mid-ritual and Xotani slowly begins to resurrect beneath the Pale Mountain.
      • The events of Jade Regent concluded with Ameiko reaching Tian Xia safely, ousting the Jade Regent and being crowned Empress of Minkai.
      • For Skull & Shackles, the Chelish armada is successfully routed, Kerdak Bonefist is dethroned and Tessa Fairwind claims his crown and becomes the new Hurricane Queen.
      • The events of Reign of Winter end with Queen Elvanna being defeated and Baba Yaga being freed and convinced to enthrone her granddaughter Anastasia as the new Queen of Irrisen.
      • The heroes of Wrath of the Righteous successfully close the Worldwound and kill Deskari, although Baphomet survives.
      • Kevoth-Kul, the Black Sovereign of Numeria, survives the events of Iron Gods and begins shaking off his drug addictions and his self-serving counselors.
      • For Hell's Rebels and Hell's Vengeance, Cheliax crushes the Glorious Reclamation but the Silver Ravens are successful in their own revolt, and Ravounel secedes from Cheliax. The sea elves of the Dismal Nitch and the strix of Ravounel Forest are persuaded to join the new nation, although Vyre chooses to go its own way as an independent city-state, and Kintargo's Lord-Mayor Jilia Bainilus is cured of her vampirism and becomes the nation's first ruler.
      • The heroes of Ironfang Invasion defeat General Azaersi and her forces, preventing their conquest of the lands around Lake Encarthan, but spare Azaersi and convince her that war will only bring ruin to her people. Azaersi proceeds to fund the nation of Oprak in the Mindspin Mountains as a haven for hobgoblins and other "monster" races. In addition, the heroes defeat the corrupted dryad Arlantia and restore the fey queen Gendowyn to a precarious rule over the Fangwood.
      • Taldor's succession crisis in War for the Crown ends with Princess Eutropia succeeding her father, Grand Prince Stavian III, as Taldor's first female monarch.
      • Sorshen and Belimarius survive the events of Return of the Runelords, while Alaznist's plots are foiled, and Sorshen becomes queen of New Thassilon.

  • Blade Runner: The original movie (to various degrees, depending on which version you watch) left the question of whether Deckard was human or replicant rather open ended. The sequel Blade Runner 2049, while still not explicitely answering the question, definitely strongly suggests one possibility is more likely than the other- the story takes place 30 years after the original, and Deckard is still alive.
  • Clue: The movie is a rare example of this being done for an adaptation of a board game. They don't cover all the possible killers — and, in fact, one of the endings is utterly impossible to achieve within the game — but the multiple endings get the basic point across. The home video/televised version takes it a step further by declaring one of those three endings "what really happened" and the other two "one way it could have happened".
  • Red vs. Blue : The Bloodgulch Chronicles: Being an online series, Red vs. Blue was able to be a rare non-video game example of this trope. The final episode had three different endings (four more were added in the DVD). When the series continued into Reconstruction, one of them was deemed canon. However, it was obvious which one was the real ending, because none of the other six endings would work in a sequel. In four of them, everybody dies, and the other two reveal the series to have been All Just a Dream (while also killing off either Grif or the entire Blue team respectively).
  • Community has "Remedial Chaos Theory" covering six different timelines progressing through a dinner party. The last one, which thematically wraps up all the others when Abed talks about the overabundance of chaos in our lives, is canonical. The Tag on the episode does take place in "the darkest timeline" instead, but that can be chalked up to Rule of Funny...for the most part. There was some debate among fans about certain other timelines and inconsistencies with adjacent episodes, but Word of God confirmed that the final one was indeed the real one, and any ambiguity likely came from the episode airing slightly Out of Order. It should also be noted that the value of showing other timelines is to reveal truths about the characters, so it makes sense that themes and developments mentioned in the non-canon threads would still come into play later, even after cutting off the spare branches.
  • Choose Your Own Adventure : A couple of books in the series are sequels to earlier ones with the same Featureless Protagonist to boot, meaning the canon ending must be either the Golden Ending or one of the good endings for the sequels to exist, cutting off the branches of all the bad endings or endings where the protagonist dies. The most noticeable example, however, is Secret of the Ninja and the four sequel books. Given that said protagonist needs to be alive for the four book sequels to take place, it means this trope is in full effect for the first book and at least the first 3 sequels.
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! has an In-Universe example, with Fortune Lover 2 following off the "Friendship" route of the first game, specifically because it's the only route that doesn't conclude with Maria either hooking up with any or all of the suitors or experiencing heartbreak from losing them due to the rivals, leaving the door open for more chances at romance, both with the original suitors and whatever new ones might get introduced. It's also the only route where Catarina stays around without being ignored completely, allowing for her continued presence in the story in order to please the game fans that enjoyed having such a vile rival to hate.
  • Not the intended use (Zantetsuken Reverse): Being a post-canon multi-crossover of many games with multiple endings, the fanfic had to clarify what happened in each one. Soma got the Golden Endings in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Kazuya follows the canonical neutral ending of Shin Megami Tensei I, and Naoki chose the Freedom ending of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. This last one is also the reason why time itself got screwed up on a multiversal level within the fic, which has a number of interesting side effects like astronomical phenomena being timed wrong and people being displaced in time.
  • Total Drama: Each season finale had alternate endings aired in different countries where a different finalist won, but only the ending aired in Canada is treated as canon. Then the 2023 reboot did away with this and only had the one ending, with the second season of the reboot later confirming who the canonical winner of the original season was. That being Owen.

Alternative Title(s): Road Cone, Canon Ending