Follow TV Tropes

Following

Earn Your Bad Ending

Go To

"Many might go to heaven with half the labor they go to hell."

Many video games have Multiple Endings, and among those endings is often at least one where things go... less than favorably compared to the others. The general rule, though, is that these bad endings are a sign that the player screwed up somewhere down the line. Maybe they picked the wrong dialogue option at a crucial moment, or got to the end of the game without collecting enough MacGuffins. Either way, the game usually lets you know right then and there that you did it all wrong and it's time to try again.

Advertisement:

Then there's the bad endings that you have to put an extra amount of effort into getting, often separate from what you have to do to avoid it. In the most extreme cases, they can actually be harder to get than any of the good endings. It might involve beating a boss that you're not supposed to beat, or making counter-intuitive decisions. Whatever the case is, many of these types of endings won't be found by the average player unless they're actively trying to get them. Sometimes it's a Deconstruction or Subversion of Earn Your Happy Ending, in that the developers may intend to show that just because you worked hard and killed the Bonus Boss, does not mean that you've actually made things better; in fact, you might have actually made things worse.

Compare Do Well, but Not Perfect and Unwinnable by Insanity. See also Earn Your Fun, Non Standard Game Over, It's a Wonderful Failure, and Sudden Downer Ending. This is the exact opposite of the Golden Ending. Getting one of these by accident generally qualifies as an Epic Fail. This trope is often an inversion of Path of Most Resistance.

Advertisement:


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Action Games 
  • In Call of Juarez: The Cartel, the good ending is the default ending. To even have the option to pick the bad ending where you choose to kill your partners, thinking it's a necessary Shoot the Dog sacrifice but which turns out to be playing into the hands of the main villains, you need to score a certain level of character points by completing optional sub-objectives. Each playable character has a separate bad ending, and you need to unlock each one separately.
  • In Mafia III, it is possible to achieve an I Can Rule Alone ending by having the protagonist Lincoln Clay finish the game with all of his underbosses dead by his hand and seize their power for himself, allowing him to become the uncontested king of the underworld in New Bordeaux. But ultimately it all comes to nothing, as his adoptive uncle, Father James, comes to see Lincoln's slaying of his underbosses as a sign that he is every bit as bad as the antagonist, Sal Marcano, and so he arranges to assassinate him with a car bomb. In order to get this ending, the player needs to actively have Lincoln make business decisions that piss off all of his underbosses, as he needs a legitimate reason to pick a fight with them, and then complete an extra mission where Lincoln actually kills them off for each of them.
  • The endings in Necrovision get progressively darker as you play on higher difficulties. On easy difficulty, Simon actually escapes back to the real world. On medium difficulty, he allows himself to be turned into a demon general in exchange for 100 years of peace to give mankind time to prepare for the apocalypsenote . On hard difficulty, he kills the Big Bad and becomes the new King of Hell, ultimately deciding he no longer has anything in common with mere mortals and looking forward to taking over the world.
  • Savant: Ascent added one in the void update. After beating the new Samurai boss, he would simply laugh at you, grab the Alchemist, and throw him into the tower, crashing him into the basement and presumably killing him.
  • While none of the endings in Spec Ops: The Line could be considered good, three of them come from the game's epilogue. The best ending happens if you surrender to the rescue squad, while the other two happen if you try to kill them instead. One happens if you die, and the ending in question happens if you manage to kill them all.
  • WizOrb has the worst ending, obtained by purchasing the Crown, a 10,000 gold item (when other items are only in the triple digits at the most). Buying the crown causes Cyrus to become overcome with greed and abandon his quest to form his own kingdom.

    Action-Adventure Games 
  • Collect all the hidden memories in Aquaria, and you get to see Naija taken away from her happy family life by her mother, who comes out of absolutely nowhere to Mind Rape and kidnap her daughter.
  • Though the bad ending of Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow is pretty easy to get, it unlocks Julius Mode, which is basically an extension of the bad ending revolving around Julius, Yoko, and Alucard teaming up to kill Soma after he becomes Dracula. Julius Mode is tough as nuts to complete.
  • In Castlevania 64 and its Updated Re-release Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness, it's possible to get a bad ending in Reinhardt and Carrie's scenarios if you take too many days and nights to reach Dracula's Keep (basically if you use more than twelve Sun or Moon cards). You'll have to fight a vampirized Vincent, won't unlock the true final boss, and Malus will plot to marry Carrie and get revenge. Thing is, once you know what you're doing, getting this bad ending is harder than it sounds and it actually takes more effort than just getting the standard good ending. You also fight Renon if you spend more than 30,000 gold pieces, but even this is difficult to do and doesn't affect the ending.
  • The worst ending of Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (where both the Love Interest and Rival Turned Evil die) takes a lot more effort to get than the "normal" ending, since it requires entering the final boss room in Castle B, which only opens if you have all of Dracula's body parts. (However, the same room is also the key to obtaining the Golden Ending.) The final boss room in Castle A, which leads to the Normal Ending, can be entered the moment you reach it.
  • In Deus Ex: Invisible War, all four endings have various shades of grey, but it's pretty clear that the Denton and Illuminati endings are on the lighter side, while the Templar and Omar endings are very dark indeed. The Dentons just ask for a Fetch Quest — the fastest one to obtain and the only one that can be done on a 100% Pacifist Run. The Illuminati and the Templars, however, demand that you kill both the Denton brothers — and JC Denton turns out to be the single most powerful enemy in the game. And the Omar want you to Kill 'Em All — and the Templars and Illuminati brought a lot of Elite Mooks to the party. The Illuminati create a global surveillance state, the Templars re-enact The Spanish Inquisition, and the Omar basically let all life on Earth besides themselves die.
  • In Luigi's Mansion, the mansion Luigi obtains at the end depends on how much money you obtained during the game; the more money you have, the better the mansion. The worst possible one is a mere tent, but it is even harder to obtain than the best mansion, as you deliberately have to avoid collecting any kind of money other than the one treasure Luigi automatically collects to get it. note 
  • A literal example in MediEvil 2, in which collecting all of the chalices results in the bleak Cliffhanger ending where Sir Dan and his love interest go back in time, only to arrive in the exact place and time that the Big Bad of the first game reached his final form. Cue giant clown dragon attempting to eat them both.
  • Metroid: Getting the two No Frills endings requires you to beat the game in over five hours. In a normal playthrough, Samus raises her fist in victory, but the armor stays put. Doing this with Armorless Samus will have her back toward you and her arm thrown over her face in shame.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fangame Super Filly Adventure, getting the worst ending requires you to see all possible dialogues for every character and have your computer clock set to a time between 11 pm and 6 am when you play the game.
  • There's one ending in Way of the Samurai 3 where everyone dies. To get it, you have to… kill everyone. This is a lot harder than it sounds because killing certain people before others will trigger other endings, so you have to kill everyone in a specific order to get this one.

    Adventure Games 
  • Getting the absolute worst ending in Conquests of the Longbow, where King Richard finds Robin guilty of all his crimes and has him hanged, requires a lot of effort, as getting every Character Witness to hate you enough without outright getting yourself killed is tricky, seeing as this is a Sierra game. This also involves going out of your way to avoid getting any treasure or other points, and letting Marian die at the one point where the game doesn't immediately kill you for it.
  • In Crypt Worlds, you can awaken an Eldritch Abomination called The Chaos God that destroys the world and everybody inside it. Awakening him requires you to pay an archaeologist, wait a few days for the archaeologist to finish the dig, enter the archaeological ruins, and collect just one Tear of God. Repeat 3 times; there are 3 Tears of God. Then you have to go to Hell itself and meet the cultists.
  • Detroit: Become Human: The worst possible ending requires all three Player Characters to be killed off before "Battle of Detroit", which is especially hard to do in Connor's case given his repeated use of a Body Backup Drive throughout the game; Connor essentially has to fail at finding Jericho so thoroughly that he's decommissioned by Cyberlife. This causes a Non Standard Game Over where the android uprising collapses, androids are reprogrammed with fail-safes to prevent any future deviants, and Elijah Kamski gives an interview about the dangers of his creation.
  • In The Dig, near the end, if you go grab a life crystal (after losing all that were on you) before proceeding with the natural course of events, you can use it at a certain point to eventually get the game's somewhat secret bad ending.
  • In Heavy Rain, you get the ultimate Achievement "Perfect Crime" for bringing about the situation where the good guys all perish and The Bad Guy Wins — which is accordingly hard (although the worst possible ending is even worse than the ending that gives you an achievement). To achieve the worst possible ending, you must let a robber murder an innocent man as early as Chapter 3, remove all of Manfred’s fingerprints from his store, let Lauren die in the lake, kill all of Kramer’s men as well as Kramer himself (Kramer’s son is a copycat Origami Killer that he was protecting), Ethan must be arrested and not freed, and Shaun, Madison, and Norman must die. In the end, Ethan is successfully framed for the murders of the Origami Killer (including that of his own son) and hangs himself in prison, Norman is either completely dead or has had his consciousness uploaded to his ARI glasses to torment Lt. Blake, and Madison has news reporters complaining about having to be at her grave. The Origami Killer, meanwhile, becomes a complete Karma Houdini and is free to continue his work.
  • Police Quest II concludes in a climactic shootout between Sonny Bonds and his arch-nemesis Jessie Bains, in which Sonny shoots Jessie dead. Afterwards, Sonny is temporarily suspended until the police review board rules his shooting justified as self-defense… unless you fire on Bains first, which you have a window of less than two seconds to do before Bains start shooting. In this case, Sonny shooting Bains dead is ruled as unjustified, and Sonny is arrested for murder.
  • The evil ending of A Tale of Two Kingdoms is rather obvious if you think about it: rather than confront the princess with the murder evidence, confront the murderer and offer to join forces. However, he won't believe you unless your Honor score is zero, and doing that is rather difficult, requiring you to kill an NPC in a small timeframe in a hard-to-reach optional sidequest.
  • Trail of Anguish has only one way to die (in contrast with almost every other Adventure Games Live game, which has dozens). It is sufficiently well-hidden that the game congratulates the player for finding it.
  • The darkest ending in the online game Where We Remain can only be achieved on the highest difficulty setting, and you need to continue to explore the caves even after you've found the girl you're looking for to get the power you need for it.
  • the white chamber: Getting the worst ending requires your Karma Meter to be at zero when you complete the game. Since you start the game with one free karma point and there's only one specific action that will take that point away from you and five other actions that give you more karma points instead (including one that can be gained at the starting questionnaire!), this is trickier than it might sound. The good news is that you can always look at the chalkboard to check if you're on the right track.
    • Slightly less tricky is the joke ending that ends with everyone that Sarah killed revealing that they were just playing a prank on her — and then everyone dies anyway, which requires a maxed-out Karma Meter.
  • In Zork: Grand Inquisitor, there is a game of Strip Rock-Paper-Scissors and a way to see the opponent's hand. To win takes around 3 turns. If you intentionally try to lose, it turns out that you have around 20 pieces of clothing to lose. You then get a bad ending where your character becomes a fish merchant.
Advertisement:

    Beat 'em Ups 
  • Action Doom 2: Urban Brawl has in total five regular endings, two good and three bad, with the two good endings split between two routes the player can take. One leads to the Big Bad at the Phylex corporation, who reveals that the protagonist's daughter is actually his own, conceived from an affair, but nevertheless ending with the protagonist rescuing his daughter and killing the Big Bad. The other has the protagonist get sidetracked after he's nearly killed in the subway, getting rescued by a woman whose son has also gone missing, taking on that case and confronting a pedophile cannibal, ending with the protagonist never finding his daughter and left to assume his savior's son is dead, but starting a new family with her. However, there's one ending you get by going through both paths, starting with the kidnapper, rescuing a police officer during the search, and getting a tip leading to Phylex… and it's a bad one. With just how much carnage the protagonist has wrought across the entirety of the game, his daughter doesn't see her father — she sees a violent sociopath, and she shoots him to protect her real father. The protagonist promptly commits suicide in the hospital by overdosing on painkillers, knowing that the one thing he had left in his life doesn't want him as a part of hers anymore.
  • Streets of Rage:
    • The bad ending of the first game could only be achieved through 2-player mode, and requires both of them to follow an esoteric list of steps.note  The surviving player will then take control of Mr. X's criminal enterprise, going against everything they fought for, while the game sarcastically congratulates them for it.
    • Failing to save the chief in Streets of Rage 3 has the player deviate from the main storyline to stop the imposter chief, culminating in an extra boss fight against Shiva, who is even harder than the final boss fight for the good ending, after which the main characters arrive at a dead end as to Mr. X's whereabouts.

    Fighting Games 
  • In the story mode of BlazBlue, several of the "Bad Endings" (not that the canon endings, or even the gag reels, are always full of rainbows and sunshine) require the player to do some very specific or unintuitive things (for example, to get Tsubaki's, you have to finish off Carl, Jin, and Noel with either her Limit Break or her Finishing Move, causing her to go blind from overusing her weapon).
  • In Rival Schools's sequel Project Justice, the team of Edge, Akira, and Gan must fight the Brainwashed and Crazy Daigo. By finishing said match with certain moves, you get an ending where Daigo collapses dead and the last scene has Akira crying over his body, while Edge and Gan swear revenge… Note that unlike most examples here, getting this ending is a requirement to unlock Demon Hyo (unlocking him requires completing all scenarios in story mode).

    First-Person Shooters 
  • In Call of Duty: Black Ops II, getting the worst ending needs specific choices: not saving Chloe, not killing DeFalco, losing Farid, killing Briggs, and losing all the Strike Force missions. Other choices (like not saving the G8) contribute a bit, but these are the only ones needed to net you a bad end.

    Hack and Slash 
  • The first ending of Drakengard is bittersweet, but all the rest go from depressing to horrifying to worse-than-the-end-of-the-world. Each is progressively more difficult to unlock, too, with the final one requiring the player to collect all 65 weapons (many of which have Guide Dang It!-level requirements) and then beat an exceedingly hard Unexpected Gameplay Change Final Boss battle. And while initially it is about as close to a Joke Ending as you can expect from Drakengard (with the player characters being on the ass end of the joke), it spawns Nier's canon, which has its own series of bad endings that get progressively worse.

    Platform Games 
  • Ancient Powers plays this trope unusually. What may be the best ending of the game is the easiest to get; just leave after talking to Kalish, avoiding the first boss battle and accepting her death. The next ending is a bit ambiguous, as you get the soul key so you can sacrifice yourself to bring back the girl, but in the process, you unleashed the evil demon Harold. If you defeat Harold, it is too late to bring the girl back, so you might as well not have done anything at all.
  • In Braid, if you take the time to collect the eight secret stars, which are extremely difficult to get note , you get to see the ending where instead of merely having the princess run away from you, you make her explode. Given that the most common theory about the princess is that she's a metaphor for the atomic bomb, this is likely intended to show how pursuing something obsessively is not necessarily a good thing.
  • Clarence's Big Chance's worst ending requires Clarence to go out of his way to ruin his date in every possible way, some of which requires figuring out what your date likes so you don't risk getting the answer right by accident during the final quiz segment. His date is then repulsed by Clarence and leaves him. Clarence is Driven to Suicide and jumps in a lake, but his Super Not-Drowning Skills kick in. He meets a group of people like him at the bottom of the lake and decides to spend the rest of his days with them.
  • The reward for finishing Deadlight on Nightmare difficulty is the alternative Downer Ending instead of the normal Bittersweet Ending.
  • Do It For Me: The "Blind Love" ending, where the protagonist is fully in love with the girlfriend and happily joins her in killing their classmates, requires you to collect all hearts and kill all Wooffles. Because getting certain hearts or Wooffles will cause certain platforms to disappear, this route is the most puzzle-oriented and takes the most effort to complete. By contrast, the Golden Ending "Awake" just requires you to avoid all hearts and Wooffles, which is significantly easier.
  • In DuckTales, there's a bad ending that you will see by having exactly zero dollars' worth of treasure at the end of the game, which requires you to spend everything you get just by playing, and there are only so many ways to spend it (and obviously you can't spend money if you don't have enough, so you have to collect exactly the right amount). So how do you get it? 
    • In DuckTales 2, the bad ending is again accomplished by having no money at the end of the game, but because you can purchase items, it's a bit more manageable. Still requires you to spend every last dime, though. Flintheart Glomgold ends up finding the treasure of McDuck that Scrooge was looking for.
  • In the Famicom version of Kid Icarus, you can have the end where Palutena turns Pit into a monster if you defeat Medusa without any life or arrow upgrades, no special weapons, and with a minimalist score. This, however, has been cut in the NES version.
  • Mega Man X3 has two endings, one slightly worse than the other: either Zero steps in to save X from Virus Sigma after Kaiser Sigma is defeated and stands with him in the ending shot, or the reformed Dr. Doppler sacrifices himself to destroy Virus Sigma, with X being alone in the ending. Which ending you get depends on whether or not Zero lost all of his health while playing as him throughout the game, which isn't hard to affect. However, if you follow the secret path to get the Z-Saber for X (requiring you kill Vile Mk. II with his weakness by finding him early via one of the game's hidden teleporters, then swap to Zero in the second Doppler stage to kill a new mid-boss that appears, even though Zero normally can't fight bosses), then you're unavoidably locked into the bad ending, since Zero gets injured at the last stretch of the game and hands the Z-Saber to X.
  • Collecting all the secret items in Pause Ahead unlocks a Brutal Bonus Level you can access instead of fighting the final boss. Completing this area gives an ending that's far more depressing than the regular one, as it leads to a computerized screen where you learn that you've done exactly what you were supposed to do and were terminated, as opposed to escaping when you beat the final boss.
  • Pinobee's worst ending, where the Fairy disassembles Pinobee, is among the most difficult to get as it requires you to be a jerk in every level.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants Featuring Nicktoons: Globs of Doom has a secret ending only accessible through a rather oblique method: a second controller must be connected during the first phase of the final boss fight against Globulous Maximus, which will allow a second player to control the Evil Syndicate's robot in the subsequent battle between the heroes and the Evil Syndicate. The player-controlled Evil Syndicate (losing to the CPU-controlled Syndicate merely results in the battle restarting, and the first player will always play as the heroes) must then win the battle to get an alternate ending where they succeed in capturing Globulous in a glass jar, and are implied to use him in their evil schemes. In addition, the ending can only be achieved on a save file that hasn't already been completed, as completing the battle again will not play the ending a second time.
  • In Wandersong, it's possible to sing the first three Overseer songs at their respective Spirit World entrances before the Bard is supposed to learn them, skipping the first three acts of the game entirely. However, there's a catch if you do so: skipping the chapters means that the Bard never helps anybody in the first three acts nor do they really get to know Miriam. The result is a slightly different story wherein the story grinds to a halt after Audrey Redheart slays the Nightmare King, and without enough people to help them, the game ends on a Downer Ending wherein the Bard and Miriam can do nothing but sit there helplessly as the universe ends before the game smash-cuts to silent credits. It's worth pointing out that there is no in-game indication that this ending is even possible to get in the first place, meaning the only way to achieve it is to know about its existence ahead of time and then get it on purpose.
  • Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 has an ending that varies depending on how many coins you end up with. You need to avoid collecting coins and treasures at all costs to get the worst possible house for Wario, the birdhouse.
    • In the same vein, in Wario World you have to free none of the Spritelings beyond the first one you meet to get Wario's smallest castle, a tent in a swamp.

    Puzzle Games 
  • In Disease hidden object, the endings are sequential, and the good ending is a prerequisite for the worst one. The good ending requires finding hidden dolls in each of the areas and solving an extremely simple puzzle. The worst ending however requires doing that, and also finding a different hidden object in each area and solving a significantly harder final puzzle. Your reward for doing this is the person you went to all the trouble to save sneaks away while you are asleep and goes on a murder rampage, killing anyone who is even remotely related to the people who imprisoned him, and then thanks you, the player for giving him the opportunity to do so.
  • Some Grow games have a secret "wrong" ending only available by doing everything in an unintuitive manner.
    • Galves Adventure, made by the same Grow creator, has a "devil" ending so obscure that many players don't even realize it exists. To get this ending, you have to notice that one inconspicuous pebble is clickable and deliberately pick two specific "wrong" choice sequences for the red ball in a row to be able to hit the lion with it. If you do all of this right, you can then make a choice near the end of the game that would otherwise kill you.
  • In Haunt The House, getting the worst ending where you frighten the guests so badly that all of them commit suicide is almost as difficult as getting the best ending where they all just run out of the house, because even if you get the mood up to maximum terrifying levels and scare the living bejeezus out of everyone you see, the guests can easily choose to safely dash out of the front door instead of jumping out of the nearest window if you scare them in the wrong locations, depriving you of the Kill 'Em All ending.
  • In Meteos, the only way to get the worst ending in Multi-Path is to allow an incredibly easy opponent to survive for a certain amount of time before defeat. This is complicated by several factors. Firstly, like all story mode battles, it's a Timed Mission, so your actual window in which you can defeat the enemy for this ending is a mere 30 seconds. Secondly, the game mechanics allow a hopelessly overwhelmed player to stick around for a very long time before finally succumbing. And finally, the enemy you face here might just plain die without you doing anything to it.
  • Puyo Puyo TSU features a bad ending where Arle is unceremoniously booted out of the tower she's trying to climb. To do so, you must beat all opponents in any floor except the last one, and at the same time not gain enough EXP (points) to move to the next floor. That being said, the game gives you an extra, secret opponent in each floor as a last chance to get the required EXP points, and if you still don't have enough EXP after beating the secret opponent, you get the aforementioned bad ending. Getting this ending is significantly harder in the earlier floors such as the first one, where you only need 30000 points and you have 8 opponents; if you somehow manage to not get 30000 points when even the simple act of manually dropping Puyos gives you points and the rounds where you lose give you EXP, the game "rewards" you with the True Final Boss!
  • Puzzle Quest: You have to release the necromancer at the beginning of the game, then at the end, follow the path the sword directs. At every turn in the path, you'll lose one of your good-aligned allies if you choose to go forwardnote . The ending implies that you (the player) will eventually become just as much of a threat as Lord Bane.note 
  • Riven has nine possible endings. Eight of them are bad to some degree or another, and each of them requires doing something you've been specifically warned not to do, to the point that they're nearly impossible to get by accident. To whit:
    • Three of them involve opening the Star Fissure and signalling Atrus early. At the beginning of the game, you are given the two explicit goals of capturing Gehn and rescuing Catherine before you open the Star Fissure. One of those endings requires reloading an earlier save to access (since you have to figure out the password to the Star Fissure cover before you officially learn it).
    • Four of them involve trapping yourself in the prison book, which you are explicitly told is a prison book. Two of these endings require doing so after you have already successfully tricked Gehn into trapping himself in it.
    • The eighth bad ending involves not trapping yourself in the prison book at the one time the game prompts you to do so. Even then, you have to do so three times before Gehn gets fed up and shoots you. The second time, he warns you that while he's letting you go, he won't be so forgiving in the future if you don't cooperate.
  • There Was the Moon has a sidequest that involves collecting colored cubes scattered throughout the game, significantly more difficult than the puzzles themselves due to how well-hidden some of them are and the otherwise lax difficulty of the game. Collecting them all allows you to visit a dying woman and have her reforge them into a ceremonial dagger, unlocking the option to refuse the pact offered by the alien butterfly at the end of the game. This results in a Downer Ending where (after fruitlessly throwing the dagger) the player is subjected to a Fate Worse than Death, and is informed that their action has resulted in the impending extinction of humanity.

    Rail Shooters 
  • In the first House of the Dead, getting the bad ending where Sophie returns as a zombie is even harder than getting the good ending where she's miraculously alive. This is doubly true on the PC version. The bad ending only occurs if your number of continues used ends in a 0 (for most people, this means they can't die at all to get the bad ending), while you get the good ending for scoring more than 62,000 points by the end of the game (which is fairly easy to do). What really makes the bad ending fall into this is that the good ending overrides the bad ending; thus, to see the bad ending, you need less than 62,000 points and to have a number of continues ending in 0.
  • Star Fox has a bad ending of sorts that requires you to unlock the Out of This Dimension area. Once unlocked, you then have to complete the stage and fight a slot machine boss at the end that can take anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes depending on your luck.

    Roguelike Games 
  • Playing as a Chaos Knight in ADOM is a trial in and of itself, since most of the Non Player Characters will be unfriendly or hostile to your character and not committing enough atrocities to stay Chaotic will strip your character of all their powers and constantly damage them. The "reward" for completing the main quest and closing the Chaos Gate? Since it was the source of your very essence, you immediately wink out of existence. The ending in question is dubbed "Most stupid follower of ChAoS".
    • Getting any other ending as the Chaos Knight also requires temporarily becoming Neutral or Lawful to gather the needed artifacts, and ends with you replacing the Big Bad.
  • The Binding of Isaac's standard ending isn't particularly happy (or at least it is at first, until it's revealed that it was All Just a Dream, and Mom is still hunting down Isaac), but some of the endings you get for progressing even further in the game get even worse. Some of the items you obtain after beating The Womb come with cutscenes like finding a rope in a chest and hanging yourself with it, transforming into a demon, and having Mom's hand bursting out of the chest and dragging Isaac into it. Beating Sheol, the Cathedral, or The Chest each comes with their own unique bad endings. Rebirth ups the number of bad things that happens to Isaac when he obtains an item from the chest in The Womb, and adds two more unique bad endings (both requiring the clearing of even more Bonus Dungeons and Bonus Bosses than the previous endings). Its expansion, Afterbirth, adds two more. The expansion to that, Afterbirth+, adds another two — including the Final Ending revealing that nothing in the game actually happened — it was all Isaac's Dying Dream. Repentance finally, finally averts this, with the true final ending being either a Bittersweet Ending or an outright happy ending depending on your interpretation.
  • Getting the bad ending in One Step From Eden requires you to kill every boss you've encountered. While sparing bosses rewards you with healing and has them help out in various ways (including a one-time revive), killing them only gives one artifact. But merely killing all the bosses causes you to loop the game after clearing one extra world and the final boss. The ending requires you to also kill the Shopkeeper, one of the hardest enemies in the game and makes money worthless if you do. Going for the genocide route puts you at an inherent disadvantage if you're not good at avoiding most attacks, and in the end you are rewarded with Eden's destruction.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • In The Age of Decadence, in order to get the worst ending, you have to kill all 3 lords, destroy Maadoran, and awaken Agatoth.
  • Getting the "Nobody" title (which is essentially the closest thing the game has to a bad ending) in Book of Mages: The Dark Times requires you to finish the game while never earning any other title along the way. This is harder than it sounds, as titles are awarded for extremely trivial achievements, including picking dialogue options at some points. It's basically impossible to stumble onto by chance; you basically have to be deliberately trying to earn it. To earn the title... 
  • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm has a secret ending that, in addition to being Guide Dang It!, requires you to go extremely far out of your way. First, you have to get practically right up to the True Final Boss’ doorstep, then turn around and leave the dungeon, and backtrack all the way to Bell Cave. (The only hint that something new might be there is that it previously held one of the final dungeon's "memory weeds"). Where the weed was, there’s now a pathway leading to a door, which only opens if Catie is at Level 70 or higher. (For reference, you can easily reach this point by Level 60.) Inside, you’re subjected to a trivia quiz about the game, and then you have to fight a brutally hard, deliberately unfair SNK Boss. After going through all of that, what is your reward? A Gainax Downer Ending that leaves the main party stranded on a lifeless, greyscale version of Earth.
  • Some of the endings in Chrono Trigger qualify, given that most of them are nearly impossible to get without a New Game+.
  • The "Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts" quest of Dragon Age: Inquisition requires you to find a resolution to the conflict between Orlesian Empress Celene, her cousin Gaspard who is warring against her for the throne, and her elven spymaster Briala who is trying to win some power for the oppressed elves of Orlais. Forcing all three to reconcile their differences instead of choosing one side or the other is the most difficult ending to obtain, because it requires you to collect implicating evidence against all three of them and have sufficient approval with the court. However, the epilogue to the game implies that once you have beaten the Big Bad, they just go right back to feuding, so you have solved nothing.
  • The Seeking Mr. Eaten's Name quest in Fallen London requires the player to spend a ludicrous amount of resources for no reward at all, while utterly destroying and ruining their character repeatedly, even as the game itself repeatedly tells them to stop. The final step of the quest even requires the player to make their character account unusable. Forever. Oh, and the quest has Multiple Endings, so if you want to see all of them, you'll need to either compare notes with another Seeker or create a new character.
    • When Seeking Mr. Eaten's Name, at the nightmare version of Mrs. Plenty's Carnival, you have the option to spend 50 Fatenote  for a ride ABOVE THE NEATH. The game warns (in very plain terms) that there's no interesting flavour text for you to read, your character will die, and you'll spend the Fate for nothing. And people have done it. In an aversion, it does not actually make your character unusable, but anyone doing this will be rewarded with the unique quality Scorched by the Sun.
    • Sunless Sea, set in the same universe, has the Carnelian Exile's unlockable Ambition, which involves running all over the Neath in order to unlock a special way East. Doing so doesn't render the game unplayable or delete your save file, but it does drop all your stats except Hearts to 1 at the moment of victory, take away all your money, destroy your Will, get rid of your mansion and heirlooms, and remove your Scion quality, significantly worsening your next captain's starting position to being only marginally better than that of a completely new save file. Subverted as the actual ending turns out to be not all that bad — as mentioned, it does gimp your following character terribly, but your Captain gets to meet Salt as an equal.
    • There may also have been plans for an even more self-destructive Ambition, known simply as "NORTH" and requiring at least one point of Unaccountably Peckish (implying a possible connection with Seeking Mr. Eaten's Name, or at least Mr. Eaten), but only placeholders for it appear to exist in the game's current design.
  • Fallout: New Vegas's Dead Money DLC has a well-hidden Non Standard Game Over ending where the Courier helps Elijah take over the Mojave with the Cloud and Holograms. This requires you to be Vilified with the NCR, to have thoroughly questioned Veronica about Elijah while traveling with her, and to pick a specific set of dialogue options with Elijah in the final conversation.
    • Also getting Dog's ending counts. You have to complete the DLC while interacting with the Super Mutant in ways that bond the "Dog" personality to the player, then resolve its internal conflict in Dog's favor. For this, you are rewarded with the story of a rampaging Super Mutant who kills and eats innocent people, because it's in his nature.
    • Dean Domino's survival, which requires a player submits to his massive and unreasonable ego throughout the DLC. Downplayed in that he's little more than a devious, arrogant Jerkass. But his ending makes it clear that he doesn't stop being that. He'll probably kill someone on occasion, but that's not particularly outrageous for the Fallout universe.
    • Even without going the Omnicidal Maniac route, making the Mojave the worst possible place to live requires some effort: sabotaging rockets to irradiate an area, dump some more radioactive materials on a Caesar's Legion base, leave your brain behind in Old World Blues, finish Lonesome Road by nuking everyone, kill everyone in the Zion Valley (including Memetic Badass Joshua Graham), kill everyone in Dead Money (meaning no one will assist you in the end fight), raze a town full of Super Mutants to the ground, get a pardon from the Legion, do their questline killing Caesar on the operating board pretending that it's not your fault so that Lanius gets promoted, and generally kill many minor factions. Many of these are legitimately impressive featsnote .
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Minor example in the Festival of the Hunt in Final Fantasy IX. Zidane, Freya, Vivi, and a number of irrelevant NPCs compete in a monster hunt, with points scored for each victory. Zidane (who the player controls) winning nets you a decent pile of money for that point in the game, Freya winning nets you a nice equippable accessory, and Vivi winning nets you a nearly-worthless Tetra Master card. The only way for Vivi to win is if you get into a fight with Zaghnol (which sees Freya join the fight) and both Zidane and Freya are KO'd (Freya cannot be KO'd otherwise, and she is the default victor if Zidane doesn't score enough points or is KO'd anywhere else.)
    • In Final Fantasy X-2, it is possible to get the horrible ending of Shuyin winning and destroying Spira — you just have to wait half an hour to let Vegnagun fire.
      • The Mi'ihen mystery in itself has Multiple Endings which hinges on which character is blamed for the various incidents. Rin is the hardest culprit to pin, necessitating a contrived process. This is treated as a bad ending because this doesn't give the player an Episode Complete (for 100% Completion) and Rin becomes a Karma Houdini anyway.
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2 already has a pretty depressing ending, but the unlockable "paradox endings" are even worse, ranging from Noel and Serah dying in an impossible battle against an army of Atlases, to inadvertently causing a Time Crash even worse than the one Caius was trying to pull off. And to top it off? Collecting all 160 fragments (which includes completing all 12 of the paradox endings) unlocks a bonus scene where Caius Ballad reveals that you've played right into his hands and that your actions have brought an end to all possible timelines. Oops.
  • The Conquest ending of Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 requires going out of your way to triggernote , but involves brutally difficult boss fights against nearly all of your party members as Nepgear kills them to power up the Magic Sword. None of the death scenes are pleasant, either. After all this heartache, you face down the Big Bad, but don't actually fight them, as Nepgear has just achieved their goals for them and irreparably damaged the world in the process; see Cruel Twist Ending. While considered painful to play through on every level, getting this ending does reward you with a Game-Breaker weapon for the main character on New Game+.
  • In Legend of Mana, there are 3 main story arcs you can follow, and completing one opens up the final plotline leading to the ending. There is the Jumi storyline, the Dragon storyline, and the Fairies storyline. The Jumi storyline begins when you enter the very first town. The Dragon storyline begins when you enter a certain level for the first time. The Fairy storyline requires you to beat the initial quest in one level, then go back in and do more stuff, and the same is required for subsequent quests in the line, and a few of them can be lost forever on a run. And in order of how happy the endings are, the Jumi plotline is easily the happiest ending, the Dragon storyline is bittersweet, and the Fairy storyline is mostly bitter, which can even be a Kill 'Em All ending if you make the right (wrong?) choices.
  • Mass Effect:
    • In Mass Effect 2, you have to put at least as much effort into getting Shepard and the rest of the crew killed during the Suicide Mission as into getting the Golden Ending where Everybody Lives. As long as you bring two loyal squadmates with you to the final battle, they and Shepard will survive even if every other squadmate dies in action.
      • In the same game, the Non Standard Game Over where Morinth melds with and kills you requires going quite a bit out of your way. First, you'll need a very high Paragon or Renegade score for the Last-Second Ending Choice that makes Morinth available, and then you have to choose to kill her mother Samara, who's done nothing but help you, in favor of the Serial Killer who just tried to mind-control and kill you. Then, after she survives the Suicide Mission, she'll offer sex to Shepard. Accept, despite knowing full well that Morinth is an Ardat-Yakshi and so kills her melding partners, and you will be treated to a brief cutscene of the inevitable result.
    • Mass Effect 3 escalates in this regard. Getting the lowest possible War Asset score requires planning and precision to make sure there are no loose ends. And then there's the "N7 Special Ops Team" asset, obtained through promoting characters in multiplayer (75 per promotion). Unless you're on the PC version of the game, there is no way to remove the asset, giving you a permanent boost in the war effort for better or worse.
      • There's a specific bad ending that requires work: rendering the krogan race extinct, leaving Tuchanka inhabited by rachni.
    • The trilogy as a whole requires a very specific sequence of game choices to arrive at the worst possible Pyrrhic Victory over the Reapers (where Joker is pretty much the only major character to survive), as outlined here.
  • In Monster Girl Quest, if you don't complete the quest for a particular area, that area will be destroyed during The War Sequence in the third chapter. Most quests are optional, so it's possible to complete the game with most of the major settlements destroyed and many characters dead. This is extremely difficult because the game has a finite number of battles, so skipping sidequests means being underlevelled.
  • Mother: Cognitive Dissonance:
    • There is a joke ending that isn't considered canon (relative to the rest of the series) by its creator. In the original version, the player had to find an out-of-place secret doorway and then fight an extremely hard Bonus Boss. In newer versions, this was changed; now the player must either win the Hopeless Boss Fight in Chapter 3 (believed to be impossible) or defeat the Final Boss with brute strength (which actually is impossible within canon, but is possible, although brutally difficult, in this fangame).
    • Another ending can be unlocked by using the secret Sing command during the Final Boss, which leads to a True Final Boss. Defeating this True Final Boss results in the Paradox ending, which apparently causes a Time Crash, leaving the fate of the universe and the protagonists ambiguous (every other available ending, including the joke ending, at least says that the world was definitely saved; here, you don't even get that).
  • A good chunk of the Non Standard Game Over endings of NieR: Automata require you to go out of your way to do the exact opposite of the very obvious thing you're supposed to be doing, like killing Adam to save 9S, only to turn around and walk away from the dying 9S who you came all the way down to the Copied City to rescue in the first place.
  • The Accomplice Ending in Persona 4: Golden requires you to not only rise Adachi's Social Link to as high as possible before a specific date, but also choose a specific set of answers where even the villain doesn't believe how stupid you are for actually doing that. To be specific, you have to choose Adachi as the culprit, which is the correct choice, then choose to protect him.
  • Planescape: Torment handles death in an... unusual fashion; every time your player character dies, he comes back to life (both in-story and in terms of gameplay). There are, however, a few ways to get a Game Over, but most require doing something stupid. Some Torment fans make a point of finding everyone. Some of the possible ways to lose the game for real:
    • Anger the Lady of Pain twice. (The first time, she just sends you to an extradimensional maze.) This one can also cause an Unwinnable by Mistake situation, depending on playstyle — when the main character angers her, she will execute retribution only when he leaves the current map, making it entirely possible to create a doomed savefile where you can't exit the zone you're in.
    • Agree to become king of the Dead Nations, which is extraordinarily unwise as the appointment is, well, for life. It is implied that the binding is magical as well. This route in particular requires getting enough favor from the Dead Nations' denizens to convince a certain NPC to lead you to the throne.
    • Threaten Lothar, a magical priest of godlike power.
    • Get Marissa the medusa to remove the veil that prevents her from petrifying you. And piss her off to the point she will actually want to do so.
    • Get Coaxmetal the iron golem to build you a weapon that will kill even an immortal, then use it on yourself in the final dungeon. (It won't work anywhere else.)
    • Fail to prevent one of your other incarnations from forcing you to merge with it.
    • Kill someone who has information that is essential to your quest (there are several such characters).
    • Get a specific memory from a past life where you proved that someone didn't exist, then confront the final boss in the last dungeon and will yourself out of existence.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica Portable, there are ways of turning the main characters into witches in certain routes. Most notable is Homura's witch Homulilly, as you have to beat Walpurgisnacht under very specific conditions in order to see a screenshot of her. Also serves as a little foreshadowing for a redesigned Homulilly's proper debut in The Rebellion Story.
  • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne has this in the True Demon Ending for the Maniax/International version. Your reward for finishing a Brutal Bonus Dungeon, killing off every Fiend, and beating the True Final Boss? A Class Z Apocalypse How. The designers made this even more clear when in the sequel, Shin Megami Tensei IV, they made an ending that was pretty much the exact same thing and canonically called it the bad ending.note 
  • The only way to get the bad ending in Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls is to defeat the Time Eater the first time it shows up, which results in the time getting reset again, but this time IF didn't go back to the Library, thus the After the End world she lives in never gets fixed. This is practically impossible to do on your first run due to limited grinding spots and sheer power difference, so it's limited to a New Game+ run.
  • In Sweet Home, the hardest ending to get is the 'Sole Survivor' ending. While it's easy to lose team members due to the game using Final Death rules with no resurrection, you cannot beat the game without at least two team members, as you need multiple items for the Final Boss. In order to get the worst ending, you need to use the required items during the Final Boss, then have the one member holding the used items die during the battle, hopefully after the boss changes form and you don't need their items anymore.
  • The Tales Series has a couple of these for particularly unkind completionists.
    • In Tales of Zestiria, if you manage to defeat Heldalf before Zaveid is recruited, then the party never finds out about the infected Maotelus until he becomes too powerful to be stopped, and the world is destroyed. However, to do that on your first run, you have to go through a miasma-infected area where your party is crippled, and every enemy becomes a Beef Gate. Then, you have to beat the Final Boss while still in this crippled state. It requires far more effort than just following the plotted line. However, the New Game+ run makes him available to battle for a short while after the miasma disappears.
    • The bad ending of Tales of Xillia 2 requires you to defeat the rest of the party in a battle using only Ludger. Anyone who knows how much of a pain fighting just one party member can be from playing the previous Tales series games will likely be horrified.
      • This is made even worse than in other Tales games because Xillia's token battle mechanic is based on linking your character with one of the other party members to unleash your more powerful artes. So while your opponents (four at a time, from a pool of eight) are linked up to do extra damage against you, you're stuck flying solo with only basic attacks, no Overlimit, no Linked Artes, and no Mystic Artes. Even your Chromatus is of little use because the time it takes for it to charge is more than enough to get yourself killed, and it doesn't charge while you're trying to free-run your way to safety.
    • Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, similar to Xilia 2, requires you to take on a Hopeless Boss Fight with a single character and win to claim your bad ending. In this case, Marta and Lloyd at the gates of Nibelheim, using Emil with none of the monsters you've spent the whole game befriending.
  • Getting the worst ending in Trillion: God of Destruction requires the exact same steps as getting the best ending. The hook is that one requirement of getting either ending is getting everyone's Relationship Values to 100%, but having more than 1.5 billion aggregate Affection Points gets the True Ending, and building Relationship Values gets you Affection Points, and AP are vital in actually defeating Trillion. Which ending you get the first time (assuming you stumble through the other requirements without a guide in the first place) is more or less a coin flip, getting the worst ending intentionally will probably take more planning and a tougher time with Trillion than getting the True Ending.
  • Undertale:
    • The Genocide Ending. It requires the player to kill every monster — not just bosses, but all random encounters until each area runs out because everyone's dead. This takes more effort than simply moving through each area and killing whatever's in your path; you are Level Grinding the area into exhaustion. For doing this, the game will punish you in a way only a game can: by not being fun. Instead of an exciting adventure, this path is a tedious chore. The combat is either trivially easy or frustratingly hard with no in-between, and culminates in a fight with a boss who breaks the game's rules. All the while you are reminded that you don't have to do this and encouraged to stop. The game's use of this trope serves to deconstruct 100% Completion; by performing every single possible action, even the most heinous, you make the game world worse. And if you go all the way with it, irreversibly worse. Of course, it's the only way to play two of the most challenging boss fights...
    • Among the regular endings, the "Dirty Cheater" ending plays when the game somehow can't load the correct ending for a given combination of which bosses have been killed or spared. It amounts to Sans accusing the player of either breaking the game or outright cheating.
    • To a lesser extent, there are multiple ways to peacefully deal with almost every non-boss encounter in the game. This comes into play during the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, where the description of each one's life on the surface will be one of two things depending on which way you dealt with them, and the better one will also mark their name in yellow (making an all-yellow run a literal Golden Ending). You might expect the yellow one to require a harder or less obvious technique, but it's more often the other way around. For example, keeping Doggo's name white requires hanging onto an item most players probably ditched in the first box they came across, and then using it during the battle.
  • In Valkyrie Profile, getting the worst ending isn't very difficult, but it specifically requires ignoring all of Asgard's requests — keep all of the treasure that's found when a boss is beaten (when most of it is useless to the player, and most of the useful stuff will be given back if Odin's happy with Lenneth), refuse to send any units to help with Ragnarok (when many units are pretty much useless for anything other than sending off to Asgard), and generally wasting time rather than get ready for the prophesied end of the world. Even intending to aim for that ending, it takes about 4 chapters (out of 8) of seriously grinding away at the Karma Meter for that ending to get it. While the actions to get it are very counter-intuitive, unlocking the Golden Ending is much easier.
  • The Bad Ending in Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana can only be feasibly attained if you go out of you way to be a dick to everyone by treating them poorly, refusing their side quests, refusing to defend the village during monster attacks etc, and given how the rewards for doing all of this range from handy to downright crucial, its almost impossible to get the Bad Ending unless you're actively hunting for it.

    Shoot 'em Ups 
  • The worst possible ending to Devil Engine is achieved by clearing the game on Expert. The Devil Engine sets the Earth ablaze and wipes out all of humanity.
  • In the Hunt rewards a well-done one-credit playthrough with such an ending — your submarine fails to escape the exploding base and perishes along with it. Finishing the game in multiplayer also results in disaster. The good ending is achieved if you saw the continue screen at least once before you get to the final form of the Final Boss and end the game on single player.

    Simulation Games 
  • In the Dynamix/Sierra game Alien Legacy, there are multiple bad endings present in the game, from getting assassinated to everyone dying from the plague to the entire solar system blowing up. The earliest bad ending can be had by simply doing nothing for a long enough period of time at the very beginning of the game. The easiest way to do this is to send the CALYPSO to Cronus on a Probe mission and set game speed to max... and wait for your Science Officer to call you incompetent and take over.
  • Harvest Moon:
    • In the original SNES game, you could get kicked off the farm at the one-year mark if you haven't developed it to a satisfactory degree. You pretty much have to do absolutely nothing on the farm for (in-game) weeks to let things deteriorate to that degree; basically waking up in the morning and either running around and wasting time or going right back to bed.
    • In Harvest Moon DS, marrying the Witch Princess can fall under this (depending on what you call an "ending", given the game's Playable Epilogue nature), since you pretty much have to have Took a Level in Jerkass, In-Universe, to woo her: You have to litter, let animals sicken, let crops wilt, work yourself into a faint — all multiple times — to raise her Heart Level. Doing so will pretty much lower the affection levels of every other character in the game outside of the Witch Princess down to zero.
    • Also in HMDS, there's dropping a level 100 poison mushroom into the stew at the Harvest Festival. The Non Standard Game Over implies you poisoned the entire town. Growing a level 100 ANYTHING takes a concentrated effort, combined here with the farm expansions needed to get the mushroom grow set-up.
    • The "Divorce" endings from A Wonderful Life takes the same "effort" as the above examples, with the addition of being mean to your wife. She'll eventually leave and take your child with her. It was initially thought that Celia wouldn't divorce you, but determined players have found out it just takes a doubled effort — including shipping or buying NOTHING and plying her with gifts she despises.
  • Princess Maker
    • Princess Maker: Obtaining the endings that require Reputation to be between 0 and 49, as well as 50 to 99, simply because it's difficult to not accumulate any Reputation. Maria gains some simply by doing well at jobs or completing entrance exams for higher-tiered classes.
    • Princess Maker 2 (Refine): Many of the Sin-based endings, particularly the Queen of the Underworld one, require the player to balance Olive's parameters immensely, while keeping her Sin high.
    • Princess Maker 3/Princess Maker 4: Getting the Fairy and Return to Darkness ending of the game, respectively. It requires the player to do absolutely nothing for the majority of the game, with the latter game at least requiring the player to unlock access to the Demon World.

    Stealth-Based Games 
  • If you opt for open combat rather than stealth in Dishonored, then the High Chaos ending will be this, as there will be significant more enemies and a more hostile environment along the way. High Chaos stealth, however, is the opposite, as cutting a guard's throat is much faster than knocking him out, and there are a ton of very useful weapons and powers (guns, grenades, incendiary missiles, springwire traps, Devouring Swarm, Shadow Kill, etcetera) that are invariably lethal to your enemies.
  • In Oddworld games where saving creatures is part of the gameplay (Mudoken slaves in Abe's Oddysee and Exoddus, Fuzzles in Munch's Oddysee), there is a 'Black' ending in addition to the regular bad ending, which requires you to kill every creature except those whose survival is necessary to completing a puzzle. Oddysee actually gives you the best reward for earning the worst ending: infinite grenades along with a liberal dose of What the Hell, Player?.

    Strategy Games 
  • In Black Closet, the achievement "Minimalism" requires you to beat the game with only two of the five council members you started out with. Not only can this be done only under very specific circumstances (e.g. the traitor must be Althea or Thais, you must expel her, and you must also make Vonne your Queen), but you also need to drive Vonne mad enough with jealousy that she becomes a Yandere who expels Mallory and Rowan on her own and then win an extremely tough fight against the final boss with just two members on your side.
  • The first Soviet mission in Command & Conquer: Red Alert is actually impossible to lose under normal circumstances (your objective is to massacre a town of civilians and token resistance who escaped nerve gas tests), as the bridge that connects your base with the rest of the map gets destroyed at the start of the mission. Seeing as how this is before the usual mission failure condition is losing all the buildings in your base and is instead the extermination of all your units, this becomes a problem when selling your structures nets you infantry as compensation (in addition to a cash refund). However, it is possible to lose this mission through careful planning, as shown in this video. All missions in this era of the franchise have an opening, victory, and defeat cutscene, including this one. You'd have to be crazy prepared to see the failure cutscene of this mission.
  • Dawn Of War II: Chaos Rising has different endings depending on how much corruption you rank up during game-play, with the worst (or best, depending on your point of view, since you join the Black Legion) being awarded for achieving full corruption. While some corruption is easy to get though, achieving full corruption requires you to do many dangerous side objectives, most of which serve no purpose other than ranking up corruption and cause squad members to eventually start leaving you out of disgust, making them unavailable for the later parts of the game.
  • Nippon Ichi games like the Disgaea series love to reward the player for winning Hopeless Boss Fights, though sometimes the reward comes in the form of a bad ending.
    • Disgaea 2 is the most extreme in this regard: to see the worst possible ending, you need to have at least 99 felonies on your main character, he needs to have at least 99 ally kills, and one of them needs to be the main heroine. You also need to defeat a level 2000 boss (the normal final boss is below level 100, by comparison). Unlock at your own risk, You Have Been Warned. Adell kills Rozalin (as Zenon), gets possessed, then brutally kills and devours Taro and Hanako.
    • In Disgaea 3, one of the endings involves Mao and Almaz being trapped in their hero and demon roles respectively. They're unhappy and have the sense that something is very wrong, on top of which the real bad guy gets to continue operating behind the scenes. Getting it requires replaying a stage early in the game which spawns a boss monster with levels in the hundreds, making it practically impossible except in New Game+
    • The main storyline of Makai Kingdom won't throw anything higher than level 100 at you, assuming you head for the Good Ending. There are, however, three bad endings (defeat Salome in the past, resulting in death by paradox; let Salome die in her fight against Alex; and kill 60+ of your allies, resulting in Pram and Trenia deciding that you don't deserve to regain your true form). Either of these necessitate a significantly tougher than normal boss fight and gives you a New Game+. On the upside, the boss joins your army in the new game.
    • Zettai Hero Project: Unlosing Ranger Vs. DarkDeath EvilMan: After each chapter, the protagonist faces off against DarkDeath EvilMan in a one-on-one battle and gets his butt kicked. Beating him before getting the Eleventh Hour Super Power (something that can only be done through ridiculous grinding or New Game+ abuse) will cause a character from Disgaea to appear and destroy the Earth themselves in a cutscene. A different one appears for each chapter.
    • Soul Nomad & the World Eaters has the Demon Path, a full alternate Villain Protagonist storyline available on a New Game+ that pits you against much stronger enemies as you use Gig's powers to terrorise the world, and should you win the final battle, ends with you causing the apocalypse for your own amusement. However, it has an even more apt example in the Median ending, accessible only through buying a ludicrously expensive item on at least your third playthrough. This allows you to travel back in time to fight the legendary king Median and his armies at the peak of their power, all of whom are easily thousands of levels above any enemy found in either storyline, including the Hopeless Boss Fights. If you do manage to come out on top, you'll learn that you're now trapped in the past with no way of returning to your own time, and to twist the knife further, both you and Gig die of illness shortly after.
  • In The New Order Last Days Of Europe, the most morally evil factions have a much harder time succeeding in their goals than those who are merely bad, morally gray, or mostly good.
    • Before the Cutting Room Floor patch changed things around, Reinhard Heydrich's SS had the hardest time of the four German Civil War factions and was deliberately designed to lose when AI-controlled. Not only did they start with the smallest forces, they were also surrounded by three hostile and well-equipped armies. If Heydrich somehow won the four-way fight, he then had to deal with Hans Speidel's Wehrmacht forces in Berlin, who decide they will not let Heydrich rule over Germany. Only after this can Heydrich claim victory. All of this was because pre-CRF, a Heydrich victory was a one-way track to a Non-Standard Game Over. In three months, he would hand over Germany's nuclear arsenal to Heinrich Himmler in Ordenstaat-Burgund, who then used it to trigger thermonuclear war and The End of the World as We Know It.
    • Albert Speer's Fascist ending requires him to politically outmaneuver both the Gang of Four and Oberländer's hardliners, lest he wind up as the Puppet King for both cliques. It takes considerable effort, but it is possible for him to emerge as the unquestioned ruler of Nazi Germany, free to conduct his greatest engineering "project" of all, and ensure that fascism stays a viable ideology.
    • The Aryan Brotherhood in West Russia start out with no armor or air tech, are often disastrously short of manpower depending on the path taken, and require a very long time to core states. If they do actually reunify Russia, however, they create a horrific dystopian regime and commit genocide on non-"Aryan" Russians. The Hyperborea path is even worse, as Velimir's insane Slavo-pagan theocracy of Hyperborea has plans of world conquest that put the world down the path of nuclear conflict.
    • Dmitry Yazov's apocalyptic quest for vengeance is usually stomped into the earth before it gets anywhere. While the Black League of Omsk is well-armed, their political power gain rate is poor and Yazov has to simultaneously fight on two fronts: on the regional level, he has to contend with disgruntled officers wanting to assassinate him and the other two warlord states; while at super-regionals he has to fend off Pavel Batov's insurgency and the other unified regions.
    • Sergey Taboritsky has an uphill battle to unify Russia. He first has to gain power in the Komi Republic's Passionaryy party and have it outmaneuver every other faction in the Republic, then fend off the other unifiers while contending with the horrific debuffs his focus tree imposes on him. If Taboritsky succeeds, his regime is the failstate of Russia as a whole: the Burgundian System theocratic monarchy he creates shatters upon his death and leads to the end of Russia as a unified country.
    • Reaching the US's fail-states — Yockey's National Socialist presidency and Gus Hall imploding the nation in an attempt to purge it of reactionaries — is an ordeal that requires deliberately screwing up, as either of them can only come to power if the American electoral base is desperate enough.
  • Although many of the endings in the Ogre Battle series can hardly be said to be "good" endings, it's safe to say that some bad endings are much harder to find than others. Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis is particularly infamous, as it takes a speed run to receive the secret ending, showing you set Golyat ablaze in the opening of the original Tactics Ogre.
    • In the first game, getting your Karma Meter and Reputation low enough to make the Deal with the Devil needed for the Devil Ending requires a lot of effort.
  • Super Robot Wars:
    • Super Robot Wars Alpha 3 has a hidden ending that can only be accessed on a New Game+. Said hidden ending was the Kill 'Em All scene from Space Runaway Ideon and involved the Big Bad eventually corrupting Messiah. It's worth seeing at least once, but you have to go out of your way to get it.
    • Super Robot Wars F Final has a hidden ending with some very specific requirements, such as failing to recruit any of the Mobile Suit Gundam Wing cast, and letting a certain unit be destroyed multiple times before taking a particular route split. If you're successful in messing things up badly enough, you get to play through episodes 23 and 24 of Neon Genesis Evangelion. After this, Shinji is trapped in Terminal Dogma, falls into a deep despair, and declares that the world isn't worth saving if everybody considers him to be worthless; and SEELE declares that Instrumentality is about to occur.
  • Yggdra Union is an example. The good ending: On the final stage, agree to the angels' request and seal the sword. The bad ending: fight and kill the angel in a rather difficult battle. The gods were wrong for being lazy and must be punished! (This gives you the same goal as the mass-man-slaughtering war criminal you just beat with a somehow even shallower motive, by the way.) This is expanded upon in the PSP Updated Re-release, where you fight and kill a Grim Angel and quite possibly prevent entire games from happening by killing the antagonist before he starts.

    Survival Horror 

  • Bevel's Painting has "And I'm Gone" and "Dead Inside." In order to have access to those endings, you must drop the mirror shard into the toy box, but you would likely have wasted it by then. After that comes several choices that can make the difference between a bad ending and a "Shaggy Dog" Story. "Revenge" is even harder to get, since it is on the same branch as the good endings.
  • Most of the bad endings in Clock Tower (1995) can be earned through honest mistakes, while the two worst endings are achieved by finding a car and getting the hell out of Dodge as soon as you are able. In these cases, you'll be treated to either a pair of giant scissor blades rising menacingly from the backseat, or an epilogue that explains how you were found dead a few days after escaping.
  • Corpse Party Zero has an unlockable scenario which is called 'the final nightmare'. In order to access it, the player must first see all the other Bad Endings. Once that's done, you discover that this last scenario involves Shiho teaming up with Kaori and actually fighting the evil spirit responsible for all the horror, followed by a desperate race to escape in time. Unusual in that not only does it require far more effort, but it looks like a Golden Ending up until the final shot reveals none of it was real.
  • If the player completes FAITH: Chapter II without completing any optional objectives, they get Ending I: Go Forth With Faith, which sets up a Sequel Hook regarding the summoning of a powerful demon that the protagonist must stop. If the player does at most two of creating a pentagram of blood in the woods where you start the game, sacrificing a child to a demon in the confessional booth in the abandoned church, or killing the couple on the bridge near "Candy Tunnel" while turned into a demon, they get Ending II: Road to Redemption, which is similar to Ending I but with the implication that the protagonist has been partly corrupted by the Satanic cult and that the cult is stalking him to finish the job. If the player does all three of the above, they get Ending III: Initiation, in which the cult successfully corrupts the protagonist and gets a demon to possess him. Note that the first two prerequisites to Ending III require the player to fight two optional bosses, and the third prerequisite to Ending III is rather counter-intuitive. Explanation 
  • Fatal Frame
    • Fatal Frame II: Deep Crimson Butterfly has its Frozen Butterfly ending require the player to observe all four events in Chapter 8, manage to get to Sae and defeat her without having her enter Dark Return. Problems are that nothing in the game indicates that there are events to watch in that chapter, since they occur in out-of-the-way places where the player has no reason to go to, and avoiding Dark Return means Sae has to be defeated rather fast. If all of that is achieved, though, the player is treated to Mayu killing Mio and remaining in Minakami village with her sister's corpse.
    • Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water has the In the Reliquary ending for Ren. The player has to do the complete opposite of what battling ghosts usually entails, and let Shiragiku drag or push Ren into the Black Box in the room. Without knowledge, no player would ever let this happen, leading many to not know that this ending exists.
  • Haunting Ground has one bad ending (Fiona is captured and kept in the castle indefinitely by Riccardo). To trigger it, one must have the worst possible relationship level with Hewie (i.e. he utterly hates Fiona and attacks her on sight) immediately before you enter Chaos Forest. However, because Hewie is required for the area's main puzzle (the start of it anyway), you have to finish the puzzle with at least a neutral relationship with him (so he'll actually do the puzzle for you); then you have to halt your progress and attack or poison Hewie until his relationship hits rock bottom. Video Game Cruelty Potential indeed.
  • Ib has "Welcome to the World of Guertena" and "A Painting's Demise", the two bad endings added with update 1.04, which are probably the hardest to get. To get either one of them, you have to raise Garry's doom counter by damaging artworks in the gallery, have a low friendship count with Garry, and fail the doll room event. Doing this alone gets you "A Painting's Demise", which features Mary trying to escape the gallery on her own and getting killed by the other paintings. To get "Welcome to the World of Guertena", you have to do all of the previous things and also have a high friendship count with Mary. For all this work, you get Mary deciding to stay with Ib, the first friend she's ever had, and throwing a party to celebrate Ib and Garry staying with her. Oh yeah, and Ib and Garry both look kind of insane and/or dead.
  • Resident Evil has multiple endings, ranging from the best ending, an OK ending, and a bad ending.
    • Getting the bad ending is more tricky than it sounds, since you have to beat the game without any of your partners surviving. It's quite easy to not rescue the other Player Character (they are captured and are in a jail cell in the laboratory), since you can just ignore them and continue as normal, but your tag-along partner can't be killed by you directly; you have to cause their death indirectly. In Jill's scenario, when she meets Barry in the underground passage, you have to answer Barry's questions in a certain way in order to set up his death later on where he succumbs to his wounds from off-screen injuries. In Chris' scenario, Rebecca can be killed by a Hunter, but you have to go to a specific room in the return trip to the mansion in order to trigger the scene and then let the Hunter kill her. Getting the bad ending shows that only you survived the ordeal and Umbrella's mansion still stands while the Tyrant's shadow is seen on the ground.
    • The remake keeps Chris' situation with Rebecca the same, but getting Barry killed in order to set up for the bad ending is easier. When Jill steals Barry's gun and questions his motives, Lisa appears and Barry will demand his gun back. Answer no and you get to watch Lisa smack Barry off the edge and into the abyss below. Barry can still get smacked off the edge during the boss fight, even if you give him the gun back. (The same can happen to Wesker if you're playing as Chris, but he shrugs it off and still shows up in the finale.)
  • The Silent Hill games are famous for this. You have to go through a lot of trouble to get the extra endings, which vary from Downer Endings to the outright bizarre.
  • The normal ending of Slender: The Arrival is abrupt and ambiguous. Finishing the game on hardcore adds an extra scene which seems to make it very clear your character does not survive. The Steam version of the game has an altogether different extended ending, although it's equally as dark.
  • If the player follows the Narrator to a T in The Stanley Parable, he/she receives the best ending—at least, in the Narrator's eyes. The purpose of the game is for the player to screw around with the Narrator's instructions and get alternate endings that are anathema to him but are otherwise amusing, if only to hear his reactions.
  • If you complete Wick normally, you get the "good ending" where Sam is rescued by the police and his friends get arrested. If you find all the Tragic Keepsakes of the Weaver children and survive 5 AM, you discover Sam was Dead All Along and is now trapped as the Weaver kids' playmate.
  • The Witch's House is unusual in that the major events remain the same no matter which ending you get. The difference is that the player becomes more aware of what is actually going on in the harder-to-get ending that reveals the events to be a lot more depressing than they appeared to be in the normal ending.
    • The newest version (1.07) includes a hidden third ending. To get it, you have to avoid entering the titular witch's house and instead wait for a real-life hour on the opening screen until the roses blocking your path disappear. So how can this be considered a 'bad' ending? Because if you read Ellen's diary after getting the true ending, you'll realize that this particular ending is basically Ellen biding her sweet time until Viola dies inside the house from the severe injuries Ellen inflicted on her swapped body and can no longer prevent Ellen from taking her place forever... although at least she doesn't get shot by her own father in this ending.
    • The remake made in RPG Maker MV adds a Hard Mode which, while shifting some puzzles around to make their solutions more cryptic and making chase sequences harder, "rewards" you with snippets of Ellen's life before and after she became a Witch, up to and including exactly what she planned to do with Viola all along.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Aoi Shiro, the bad endings aren't particularly difficult to get — in fact, due to Trial-and-Error Gameplay, you're almost certain to get a few before you reach a good end by finishing a route — but it fits here simply because there are so many bad endings. In all, there are fifty-six possible endings, of which only a handful are actually good endings. Combined with the fact that the endings are often rather long and plotty, and that some even contain information you wouldn't learn just from playing the good endings, and it shouldn't be surprising that there are walkthroughs that show how to get certain bad ends.
  • In the original release of Chaos;Head, for the main route, none of the choices you make in the game, except those at the very end, actually affect the outcome of the game. The exception to this is Route B, the hardest route to achieve. It requires you to make 11 specific choices during the game to reach and isn't even available on your first playthrough, and it is a completely horrible Downer Ending, worse than any of the other endings.
  • To get the "Grim Fate" ending of Cinders, you need to make such a huge number of bad choices that you'll most likely only get this ending by screwing up deliberately. To be precise... 
  • In CLANNAD, one particular bad joke end where you end up with Sunohara can only be achieved by getting to know and then eventually rejecting every one of the main girls, as it ends with Tomoyo angrily claiming that you must be gay to have treated all these beautiful girls like that. This, naturally, takes way more effort than just not getting to know any of the girls or romancing just one.
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony includes a nearly impossible platforming challenge aptly named the Death Road of Despair. If you manage to complete it, you are treated to a short scene where Kaede and the others see that the outside world is in ruins, and even if they were to leave the academy, they would have nowhere to return to.
  • DRAMAtical Murder requires you to choose certain wrong answers to get the bad endings. Some of the answers are fairly vague in which ending they'll lead to, but there's a couple that you very obviously have to try and get wrong. Particularly Ren'snote .
  • The Sole Survivor ending of Fading Hearts takes a great many steps to take in order to acquire it that it's practically a Guide Dang It! route in and of itself since the smallest misstep in major choice/possibility can result in not getting this elusive ending and instead getting either the Glitch, Death or an ending in which Alex, Claire and Ryou get free vacation tickets, and whilst enroute to their vacation destination they receive word via cell phone that their home city they were recently in a few hours ago was annihilated in a massive explosion. And getting it makes you wonder if it was really worth it, since after Ryou escapes he immediately feels a massive degree of survivor's guilt with Claire dead, Alex being found dead clutching a mobile game device in his hand, and the obvious hint that Mystica is also most likely gone... or worse possibly, especially given the prior events of Ryou refusing her letter earlier to meet with her as she needed vital assistance only he could provide. The aftermath concludes with Mimi and Alice, Mimi hit especially hard by it, and they even reach the deduction that the External Gazer (You) wanted this to happen, which is pretty accurate when you think about it, especially those that enjoy such circumstances.
  • In Fantasia: Realm of Thanos, you need to do very careful manipulation of the boys' Relationship Values to get the worst ending in which the protagonist completely fails to make any boy interested in her. To get into specifics, the game is coded so that you get the worst ending only if exactly three boys have the same number of relationship points (the game prompts you to choose between them if it's just two of them and gives you the harem ending if it's all four of them, no matter how high/low their relationship values actually are), which means that you can keep Leon and Ian's affection for you at the absolute minimum and still fail to get the worst ending because you caused Gil and Oswald's affection to become even lower than theirs and triggered the "choose between two boys" scenario instead. Hell, you probably won't realize that there even is a "Worst Ending" unless you cheat and look at the game code.
  • One of the bad endings of Fate/stay night requires you to make a number of deliberate bad choices. Lampshaded in the Tiger Dojo for that ending, where it's pointed out that you must have been looking for this ending. If You're Wondering... 
  • The Divorce and Walking in Darkness endings from Magical Diary. Walking in Darkness requires you to complete almost all of Damien's route and then make two specific choices near the end. Divorce requires you to marry Grabiner (which can be hard enough on its own), make him angry at you, and then get detentions on two specific days.
  • While the Sub Ending in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (where after leaving Room 2, the remaining survivors are all stabbed to death by a mysterious assailant) can be reached during the final 3-way fork, the player can get stuck on the fast track to said ending during the previous fork by insisting on going in Room 3 even when Santa tells you it's not possible without leaving more people than Ace behind, meaning Junpei suddenly betrays nearly half the party to do so. After this, there's no way to go anywhere but the Sub Ending, as Junpei never learns about the way back to the main stairwell, and thus thinks he's being railroaded into Room 2.
  • The last case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, has multiple bad endings, with the one you get determined by when in the trial your Influence Gauge runs out, particularly who's being accused at the moment. The game is easy enough that you're unlikely to see more than one or two of the bad endings in normal gameplay, and may not know of the others' existence without a guide.
    • To get the first bad ending, you have to get a game over while trying to prove that Blackquill is innocent.
    • The second one is achieved by getting a game over after Aura challenges Phoenix to prove to her once and for all that Athena is innocent.
    • The third bad ending is achieved by getting a game over after accusing Bobby Fulbright of being The Phantom.
  • In the third game in the Purrfect Apawcalypse series, you get a special epilogue where Patches is trapped in Inferno for eternity if you complete the game's worst ending with the lowest possible affection levels for all characters. As the game is littered with Non-Standard Game Overs that result from you being too nasty to others and you can get the worst ending only if you survive all the way to the end of the game, getting everyone to hate your guts but not quite enough to decide to kill you requires you to be very careful with your choices in every scene.
  • School Days is so infamous for its bloody, over-the-top Bad Ends that the Anime of the Game based its ending on them. However, you won't see them unless you go out of your way to make the protagonist act like a two-timing jerk to both of his main Love Interests.
  • To get the Bad Ending in Spirit Hunter: NG, every one of the spirits must be destroyed rather than pacified, leading to the deaths of all of the protagonist's companions. This is about as difficult to accomplish naturally as the Golden Ending, and odds are you'll be deliberately aiming to get the Bad Ending rather than stumbling upon it.
  • In Syrup And The Ultimate Sweet, every Downer Ending qualifies, as in order to get any of them, Syrup has to ruin her relationship with at least one person, but the Worst Ending takes the cake. In order to get it, Syrup has to tell Butterscotch she hates her so Butterscotch is unable to free them from the ice cave. Then when they're rescued by Pastille and Treat, and Syrup has to tell Butterscotch she hates her still. Then the coldness from her own heart will freeze Syrup to death.
  • Tsukihime also has an ending that's less "triggered" and more "the game falls back on it when you evade the triggers for everything else". Even the devs needed a flowchart to find it.

    Other 
  • Driver 1 has an alternate bad ending if you follow the story branch where you meet Ali, then fail to save her during the penultimate mission "The Ali Situation", but you more or less have to intentionally play to lose.
  • In Homestuck, God Tier players cannot permanently die unless their death is either "Heroic" or "Just". The former is a Heroic Sacrifice. The latter? You have to die in the middle of doing something with horrific consequences which only your death will prevent, generally by unleashing something terrible on your co-players which your own divine power cannot stop. You also have to actually reach God Tier, a major feat in and of itself since it requires dying in a very specific location. You pretty much have to be trying to be a game-ending asshole to earn a Just death. Or, of course, Brainwashed and Crazy.
  • The Lone Wolf book The Caverns of Kalte has a bad ending where Lone Wolf fails the mission due to the whole castle they are infiltrating becoming aware of their presence and has to flee. It is the only ending in all 30+ books in the series where you can fail without dying.
  • In the Gamebook My Lady's Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel, there is only one ending where you don't live happily ever after with the man (or woman) of your dreams and you basically need to burn your bridges with as many suitors as possible to get it by abandoning the man you initially pursued and then turning down at least two other perfectly decent suitors so that your only remaining marriage option is the slimy old man you very much didn't want to marry at the start of the book.
  • In Seed Ship, it's quite easy to get a mediocre result when colonizing a planet. However, getting a very terrible score for colonizing a planet and scoring the lowest of the low record (except 0 when the ship is destroyed) is as a challenge as reaching the highest possible result, since random features might be both negative, neutral or positive by chance. You need to be (un)lucky to get all the possible negative features on a planet, while most times you will get a lot of negative traits but also a few neutral ones (or even one or two good), so that your score will be bad, but not so bad. If you try to skip planets in order to increase chances of taking damage on vital components of the ship and decrease the ultimate score, you also risk destroying the ship, preventing getting a low-score colony (meanwhile, random events might be deleterious but some give benefits, as the frequent free upgrades for your sensors so that subsequent planets will have better traits on some of their features).

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report