Follow TV Tropes


Cutting Off the Branches

Go To

"I recommend sealing off this branch."

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.


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.

Related to Story Branch Favoritism: the plot branch that receives the most focus is more likely to be chosen as canon in a sequel. 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.



    open/close all folders 

  • 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, is supposed to go into further details about just how you ended up in the situation that the second game says you did. It won't change the outcome, but seems to be aiming to at least provide a figleaf for the branch-cutting.
    • And then there's the novels, which cut all manner of branches. The fandom was so unanimous in their condemnation that the novels were declared non-canon.
  • When you start a post-Origins installment of the Dragon Age series, you generally have two options: Old Save Bonus or this trope:
    • If you don't import your Warden from 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.
    • 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 "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, establish that First Enchanter Irving is alive in BW canon, Shale was canonically freed and has discovered her origins, and both Wynne and Shale have been 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, 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.
    • 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.
    • 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, implying that the Leliana you knew in Inquisition was really just a Fade spirit who imitated her form and personality.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords allows the player to choose the gender and alignment of Revan from the first game. In either event, the changes are largely cosmetic, gender pretty much only affecting the gender Revan is referred to as (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 not. In either case, the canon situation is that Revan was a light-side male, 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).
    • Generally averted in the MMO sequel, Star Wars: The Old Republic—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 enters and seals off, and the Inquisitor's race is implied to be human in the book Annihilation. The game also defaults to "Darth Imperius" if a level 60 Inquisitor is rolled for the expansion, although their gender is still unconfirmed.
    • The novel Revan has the eponymous character be male, choose the Light Side, and marry Bastila. The Exile is female, has a name, and also chose the Light Side. The Exile ends up dying and Revan gets captured by the Sith Emperor, both of which are canonic events, especially since Satele Shan (in The Old Republic) is descended from Revan and Bastila.
  • 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.
    • 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 spin-off novel Retribution cuts off the branches for players who appointed Anderson to the Council, and in Mass Effect 3, Udina is the human councilor no matter what (if Anderson was on the Council, he resigns between the games). Also, 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.
  • 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.

  • 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 two other girls. (Well, technically six other girls, but since only Erinys, Silvia and Tailtiu's sons can use Forseti, there's no point in the other four.)
      • On the other hand, they averted this with Lachesis by implying BOTH her predistined pairings were canon: Nanna's father is Finn and Diarmuid's father is Beowolf.
    • 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 Kill 'em All 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.
    • 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 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 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.
  • 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 and its implicit Bad Ending from a Game Over were turned into three equally-canon divergent timelines: one where Ganondorf was sealed away before he could cause any harm, one where Ganon's return after being thwarted forced the gods to flood Hyrule, and one where Link's death let Ganon ravage Hyrule.
  • Zig-Zagged with Luigi's Mansion due to the series historic Negative Continuity. 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. Not to mention that all the RPG games have Luigi living in the same house as Mario (who himself downgraded to a smaller house in the past).
  • 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 spoken of.
      • The Gen II games also have a number of 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), and the absence of certain NPCs and locations from Yellow (such as the Summer Beach House). 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) 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.
    • Pokémon Ranger also 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 a Bonus 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 the first Splatoon, you play through the game's campaign using your customizable avatar, joining the Squidbeak Splatoon as Agent 3. In the second game, it's revealed through one of the Sunken Scrolls scattered throughout the game's campaign that Agent 3 is canonically female, with the "Octo Expansion" revealing that green-tentacled Inkling shown in the first game's promotional material is her canonical appearance. However, you can customize the appearance of Agent 3, who later shows up.
  • Star Fox:
    • Averted with Star Fox Command. Despite the game having 9 different endings, including two arguably 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 to reboot once again the franchise with Star Fox Zero, leaving the end of the old timeline undefined. This decision was somewhat of a base-breaker (Command itself being one) and fans are split between those who hated the game and its plot are are glad that it was discontinued and those who would have liked to see more of Dash and Amanda, or even of Marcus' team.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • In every Mario Party, any playable character(s) can become the Superstar in the end (by winning the game). The introduction to the second game, however, has the 6 playable characters debating who deserves to have a theme park named for them, and Wario tries to earn that privilege by reminding everyone that he was the Superstar at the end of the first game. We're never told if this is true or not.
  • Rescuing the Dachora and the Etecoons from Super Metroid is the canon ending as they reappeared in Metroid: Fusion.

    Super Robot Wars 
  • Most of the Super Robot Wars games allows players to pick and choose between a variety of main character combinations (usually a male and female) and a choice between a Real Robot or Super Robot (Super Robot Wars 4 being the first of the lot), but the games that play this trope straight are the Super Robot Wars Alpha series. In the first installment, players have two sets of four male and female portraits, with four distinct personalities to choose from. This is somewhat resolved in Alpha 2 by making default character Kusuha Mizuha (and Brooklyn "Bullet" Luckfield, by extension) the canon protagonist(s) of the Alpha series, giving her the female super robot route. Naturally, only the male super and male/female real robot routes are open, and given fresh faces. In Alpha 3, Kusuha retains the super robot route and the other three routes have entirely new characters, with the bonus that the protagonists of the other non-Kusuha Alpha 2 routes reappear in the Alpha 3 routes. For example, male real robot protagonist Cobray Gordon of Alpha 3 retains Arado Balanga, the male real pilot from Alpha 2, and his version of the Alpha 2 story; however, Arado is exclusive only to Cobray. All's well and good, right? Unfortunately, male super protagonist Sanger Zonvolt from Alpha 2 appears in all four routes in Alpha 3, which caused some heads to turn since not every character in the party has met him.
    • Developer Banpresto handled this cleverly: in Alpha 2, Sanger's story begins with him waking up when the Earth Cradle is destroyed. In Alpha 3, if players didn't choose male super protagonist Touma Kanou, the Earth Cradle is never destroyed, thus Sanger has just woken up in Alpha 3. Since selecting Touma guarantees Sanger's side of the Alpha 2 story, all characters have already met him in the previous game (which also explains why Sanger's adept at using the DyGenGuard in contrast to the non-Touma Alpha 3 routes).
    • Alpha also has a complex Secret Character system where characters who should be Killed Off for Real in their respective canons, but are made recruitable in the games, still remain dead in the sequels. In the first game, Quess Paraya, Elpeo Puru and Puru Two are recruitable characters who reappear alive and well in the sequels. Sara Zabiarov is not, nor is the Evangelion Unit-03 salvaged for future use. Alpha Gaiden secrets are made irrelevant due to its events being considered Alternate Continuity via a Bad Future. In Alpha 2, the likes of Musashi Tomoe wouldn't make it to Alpha 3 since his death is what moves the Getter Robo plot, nor is Haman Karn alive because all Neo Zeon forces are wiped out in the climax of the game to make way for ZAFT in Alpha 3. Radora and Takeru cannot reappear in Alpha 3 by proxy of being exclusive only to Kusuha and Sanger's routes in Alpha 2, which would complicate things in Alpha 3.
    • Played with regarding Super Robot Wars Z: it seems to have averted this by having its protagonists Rand Travis and Setsuko Ohara reappear in the two-part Second Z sequel Hakai-hen/Saisei-hen and be as vague as to which of the two was with the collective heroes of ZEUTH. If players are to assume Z: Special Disc is truly an Interquel between Z and the Second Z, then Rand and Setsuko were indeed part of ZEUTH, which wouldn't cause continuity conflicts from the first game since both characters' routes in Z occurred at the same time. Unfortunately, because the Second Z explicitly states they ARE a part of ZEUTH, this becomes impossible, as the one not selected to be the Z protagonist turns into a Non-Player Character assisting from behind-the-scenes, nor does the plot guarantee their respective Sphere and partner(s) are alive. Also, characters from one route wouldn't know them if players didn't select them to be the protagonist (ie Xabungle, ∀ Gundam and Overman King Gainer characters cannot know Rand fully if he isn't the protagonist). The fact the Second Z carries the friendships Rand and Setsuko formed from the first game in their individual routes shouldn't be possible if one of them is considered a stranger to ZEUTH.
      • Given the nature of the Z series regarding the merging of multiple dimensions into one (think Super Robot Wars meets Crisis on Infinite Earths), it's possible this trope isn't meant to be played thoroughly for Z and its sequels.
    • Super Robot Wars Original Generation tends to run into this when the original characters and storylines from the various games in the SRW franchise appear. Sometimes, Banpresto chooses one over the other, but more often than not, they Take a Third Option:
      • The first game, which came out between Alpha and Alpha 2, established Kusuha and Bullet's personalities and portraits for the rest of the Alpha series, as well as for the other six of the eight possible Alpha default characters via Divergent Character Evolution. Naturally, Kusuha/Bullet occupy the Alpha super robot route (as a Foreshadowing of their canon Alpha plot for Original Generation), while another pair (Ryoto Hikawa/Rio Mei Long) are given the real robot Alpha route (which negated the super robot route in Alpha if it was chosen). The third pair (Tasuku Shinguji/Leona Garstein) are given Original Generation-exclusive robots never seen in SRW before, while the fourth and final pair (Yuuki Jaggar/Ricarla Borgnine) are introduced in Original Generation 2 using pre-existing machines from Super Robot Wars Advance. The first installment also possessed a minor example: the choice to play as Kyosuke Nanbu or Ryusei Date as the protagonist. Although their respective first halves of the story are separate, the game treats both as canon (since they're fighting the same war, but on different fronts). The second half is shared, with slight differences, but Original Generation 2 states Ryusei's version of the second half occurred, making Kyosuke's latter half Canon Discontinuity.note 
      • Back in Advance, players had the choice of Axel Almer or Lamia Loveless; whoever isn't selected as the protagonist becomes The Rival for the game, minus a quirk they suffer when chosen (Laser-Guided Amnesia and Speech Impediment, respectively). In Original Generation 2, Lamia's chosen and much demand for the return of an amnesiac Axel ensued, due to Flanderization by turning him into a bigger Jerkass than he was in Lamia's Advance route. The Video Game Remake of Original Generation 2 not only lightens his character considerably, turning him into a Noble Demon, but ensures he survives in the Original Generation sequels with a proper Heel–Face Turn. Endless Frontier finishes the job with Axel getting hit with a bout of amnesia and taking up the personality he gets if he's selected as the Advance protagonist.
      • Super Robot Wars Reversal and Super Robot Wars GC (and to an extent, Super Hero Sakusen) gave players an option between a male and female version of the same character. Banpresto performed another Divergent Character Evolution, bringing Ingram Plisken/Viletta Vadim from Super Hero Sakusen into Alpha as Opposite Sex Clones, while Original Generation made Raul Gureden/Fiona Gureden from Reversal and Akemi from GC into Half-Identical Twins.

    Action Adventure 
  • Played with in Dark Souls 2. It is revealed that any of the first game's endings 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 3 plays with this as well with its Final Boss. The Soul of Cinder can backflip in is Scimitar form, which in Dark Souls 1 required the Dark Wood Grain Ring, and also has spells only used by the player in either of the earlier games. That said, it doesn't specifically preclude the player starting an Age of Dark in neither, either, or both. So much time has passed that countless Ages of Fire and Dark have passed.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Neverhood has two endings- one in which Klaymen takes Klogg's offer and turns into a freak like him, and another, better ending in which he restores Hoborg to being king, and Hoborg then revives both Willie Trombone and Big Robot Bil- while Klogg is shot off of the Neverhood by his own cannon. There exists a sequel, Skullmonkeys, that reveals that the latter ending is canonical, as Klogg ends up on another planet and Willie is still alive.

    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 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).
  • Persona 4: Arena has several instances of this:
    • In Persona 4, acquiring the Ultimate Persona for the members of the Investigation Team is optional, and Updated Re-release Persona 4 Golden gives the party brand new third-tier Persona; subsequently, Arena features the Investigation Team with their default Persona.
      • This one is actually a little odd, because the game makes numerous references to events that happened at the end of their Social Links, implying they were canonical. note  For example, Yu's note  win quote against Yosuke (Versus Mode only) alludes to the fistfight they had at the end of the Magician Social Link. Even more confusingly, Persona 4: Dancing All Night has Yu using his default Persona, Izanagi, for most of the game, then switching to its ultimate evolution Izanagi-no-Okami for the final boss for no reason other than the fact it's cooler. Presumably the rest of the team's Personas operate under the same principle? In addition, Teddie's Social Link is a mandatory one and his Ultimate Persona is not optional.
    • Despite Persona 4 having four different endings, the game renders all but the True Ending non-canon.
      • Ultimax makes Golden's Golden Ending canon, by showing Marie to be alive. The individual character endings lead the Investigation Team to their characterizations during the above mentioned ending.
    • The protagonists in Persona 3 and Persona 4 are able to date a number of different girls over the course of the game; Arena makes no explicit reference to any of the possible pairings, but does hint at Naoto's romantic Social Link.
    • Persona 3 Portable added an optional female protagonist in place of the male protagonist in the initial game; Arena explicitly refers to the male protagonist. On the other hand, Ultimax goes the opposite direction by canonizing Theodore, the Velvet Room attendant exclusive to Portable who could replace his sister Elizabeth in the female protagonist's route.
  • Similarly to the Splatoon example above, 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.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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 the specifics of how he does so - bringing up Ethan's missing finger, which SKX himself cut off during the last level - it's likely that Ethan did indeed shoot him.
  • 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.
  • 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 after he fails to save her, and the other one that can be obtained in "Dead on Arrival" mode, in which she survives being shot. Sadly, however, the former one turns out to be canon and carries over to Max Payne 3, in which Max still feels grieved at the loss of Mona, who had been killed nine years ago; and he has since been dismissed from the NYPD trying to nurse his alcoholism and addiction to painkillers.
  • 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 stealthing 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.
  • 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 in UT2003. Strangely, no winner has been explicitly declared for the 2303 tournament from Unreal Tournament 2004, despite Unreal Tournament III taking place in the off-season immediately after that tournament and still featuring a character who competed in it, as well as Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict taking place in the next Tournament and the free-to-play Unreal Tournament 4 taking place an indeterminate amount of time later.
  • 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 - dressed as the enemy and attempting to evade capture, 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.

    Hack and Slash 
  • It was pretty obvious which ending of Drakengard was going to be used for the sequel: the only one that could be remotely considered good. Interestingly, however, the most Mind Screw-y ending leads to NieR. Then it's played with as it turns out that the Mind Screw 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.

  • 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.

    Platform Game 
  • 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, 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.
  • 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.

    Point and Click Game 
  • Maniac Mansion encourages replays by giving each of the six possible partners different skills to defeat the purple meteor mind-controlling Dr. Fred, then making you start the game by picking just two of them. Day of the Tentacle stars one of these partners, Bernard, and not only confirms he canonically was one of the three in Dave's rescue party, but includes several references to optional events that only Syd or Razor could have completed.note 
  • 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 the fourth game in the series, 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 a either a Genre Savvy Deadpan Snarker or a lovable Genius Ditz, but the third game in the series prefers the latter characterization.
    • The second game assumes the Voodoo Lady helped you in the first game. 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 campaignsnote  so that, while the good guys still usually end up winning, there are no non-canon storylines.
  • Relic does this to Dawn of War a lot, given the series' penchant for Sequelitis.
    • Winter Assault presumably ended in an Eldar victory, given how Dark Crusade mentions that the Eldar betrayed the IG and Gorgutz both survived and killed Crull.
    • 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.
    • Soulstorm, likely due to how unpopular Soulstorm itself was, confirmed that the Blood Ravens lost horribly, and 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, 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.
  • The Diablo series contains a minor example of this. The first game allows you to choose one of three characters to play, a male Warrior aka Prince Aidan, a female Rogue aka Moreina, and a male Sorcerer aka Jazreth. After defeating Diablo, this character embeds his 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. Although never explicitly stated, it is pretty clear that the Warrior is canonically the one who did so, as the character is male (unlike the rogue) and white (so not the sorcerer). 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... if "possessed by Satan" can be considering doing well. It is implied that the rogue and sorcerer go on to become minor bosses for earlier quests (Blood Raven and The Summoner respectively).
    • Diablo III mentions the role of "heroes" in the events of the second game, but The Book of Cain specifies that all five of the original character classes were involved in defeating Diablo the second time.
  • 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 War Craft 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 whether to help an ally or not. In both cases, the canonical storyline has you helping your ally—Ariel Hanson and Gabriel Tosh. A third mission, late in the game, requires a decision that affects how the final battle is fought, but is deliberately vague in terms of canonicity.
    • StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm leaves the first vague, implies the second ended one way, and picks the third for why a mission in the same location has to be dealt with the way it is.
  • Word of God about XCOM 2 essentially canonized XCOM: Enemy Unknown's "Game Over" ending. 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).
  • A variation in a simulation game's multiple endings are clarified in a later, mostly unrelated real-time tactical game's sequel. The Battle Tech 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 Mech Commander. 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.

    Role Playing Game 
  • 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.
  • 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 only if 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.
  • 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+ 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.
  • Nippon Ichi has a history of throwing their game leads as cameos and Bonus 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.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
  • Fable II dodges this by occurring centuries after the original Fable and when during the rare moments when Fable 2'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 he/she was. However, the Hero of Bowerstone did end up becoming King/Queen, meaning that s/he ended up buying up all the real estate in the game.
  • 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 (i.e. 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 be incinerated by a force field in the Mariposa military base, which is guaranteed to happen assuming you have him at the party by then and can't pass numerous skill checks to disable the fields for good. Finally, from the appearance of the massive statue of the Vault Dweller in the NCR square, it shows that the vault dweller was male.
    • 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 NCR (hence why they're expanding into Arizona) and left Tandi alive. 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. 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.
  • 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 dialogs 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 occurs 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.
  • 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.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Persona:
    • Persona 4 operates as if (obviously) The Fall had been prevented in Persona 3.
    • Similar to Persona 4: Arena and its sequel, Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth establishes that the female protagonist route of Persona 3 Portable didn't happen, as only the male protagonist is present. However, both Velvet Room attendants appear and the male protagonist seems to already be acquainted with Theodore (despite Theo apparently having been in one of the Velvet Room's backrooms for the entirety of P3), suggesting Elizabeth and Theo served as Igor's assistants during that time — something that cannot happen in either the original game or Portable.
  • 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 on 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.
  • 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, Rid/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.
  • 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.
  • 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, Inaho 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.
  • 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 on if 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Shoot'em Up 
  • Colony Wars was a Space Sim that had 5 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.
  • Touhou: 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. Additionally, there's 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.

    Simulation Games 
  • Harvest Moon:
  • In one mission of Mechwarrior 4, Ian Dresari, you, 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 no only did Ian fail to save his sister, but 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).

    Sport 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, now it's been recently announced that the fourth game, Inazuma Eleven GO, will have two versions but with gigantic differences in the story, even different Official Couples. So far, it looks like the anime's following the Shine version.

    Stealth Game 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dishonored 2 assumes for the most part that Corvo was for the most part Low-Chaos, though the intro shows that Corvo canonically killed a few guards. Meanwhile, Daud (who is canonically spared) is implied 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 Meaghan after she reveals herself as Billie Lurk to Corvo/Emily and admits to being complicit in Jessamine Kaldwin's death. It also establishes that Emily was the canonical player character of 2 and ended the game on Low Chaos.

    Survival Horror Game 
  • 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 features an unlockable Custom Night, which one can play and, upon completion, get fired for (since you can modify the difficulty for the individual animatronics, which is taken as tampering with them). The main character, Mike Schmidt, is said to be working the day shift in the Greenlight page for the sequel, suggesting that the Custom Night never happened. Subverted when it's revealed that the second game is actually a prequel taking place in 1987.
  • 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.
    • Resident Evil 7: biohazard: The End of Zoe DLC takes place after the ending in which Ethan chose to use the cure on Mia rather than Zoe.
  • Silent Hill:
    • 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Early the First Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 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's Adventure Paths often take place thousands of miles apart, so the effect 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, 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.
    • Probably the biggest example 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.
    • 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.

    Visual Novels 
  • 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 the upcoming second movie, extra material in Fate/hollow ataraxia and lots of doujin works.
  • 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.
  • 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 Axis Powers Hetalia 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.
  • SHUFFLE! has an interesting subversion 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.

    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:
  • 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.

    Non Video Game Examples 
  • The film Clue 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.
  • Being an online series, Red vs. Blue : The Bloodgulch Chronicles 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 6 endings would work in a sequel. In 4 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).

Alternative Title(s): Road Cone, Canon Ending