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Fission Mailed

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A nightmare for the Mario Bros, or a nightmare for the player? Who's to say it can't be both?
Phoenix Wright has lost, the trial has ended, and the judge has declared "Guilty". That One Boss smashed Link into powder and his fairies haven't done anything. Sonic the Hedgehog doesn't get there fast enough and Dr. Eggman wins. But don't worry — a key witness has burst into the room just in time, the princess has magically rescued you from afar, or you can go back in time and try again. The player hasn't failed their mission after all.

Fission Mailed is whenever it appears you have lost the game, sometimes so far as to present an apparent Game Over screen, but the game isn't really over. The title comes from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, where there is a rare clue: what pops up is not the authentic "Mission Failed" screen, but rather a spoonerized version.

A variety of But Thou Must!. If very few clues are given, this is often one type of Guide Dang It!. Especially so if you're playing a game that allows reloading a savegame at any moment, and you have a tendency to reload as soon as it even looks like you've died. If it occurs outside of a cutscene, this can be briefly mistaken for a case of The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard, especially if it involves controllable combat. Fission Mailed often occurs on a fake Final Boss. Hopeless Boss Fights in general are a subclass of this trope. Contrast Kaizo Trap, which is when it looks like you've won, but your "victory" is actually impending death.

Not to be confused with any conjunction between nuclear weapons and the postal service nor between nukes and chainmail.

See also Failure Is the Only Option and Death Is the Only Option. This trope can sometimes be invoked via Secret Test of Character. For the non-video game version, see Shock-and-Switch Ending. See also Tear Dryer.

Be wary of mild intrinsic spoilers.


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  • ANNO: Mutationem: After going past the Point of No Return, Ann arrives in an unknown room before being incapacitated by Castor, who uses the opportunity to control her powers and open a portal to take the Dypheus Spear in Hinterland, which unleashes Amok who proceeds to destroy the world. "Game Over" appears... which is then followed by Ann awakening besides the Masked Woman who tells her how to prevent Amok's release.
  • A common theme in the Assassin's Creed games:
    • In Assassin's Creed, Al Mualim stabs Altaïr with a dagger in the second Memory Sequence for his failure at the Temple of Solomon (where he broke all three parts of the titular Creed). The game returns to the White Room of the Animus, just as if Altaïr gets desynchronised. However, Altaïr awakens in front of Al Mualim's desk, in shock that he has survived. It turns out that Al Mualim intended for the stabbing to be a "spiritual" death, effectively giving him a blank slate and allowing him to continue serving as an Assassin... except now he has the lowest rank and has lost almost all of his skills and items.
    • In Assassin's Creed II, Rodrigo Borgia defeats Ezio using the Staff and takes the Apple from him, depriving him of the only way to fight against his power. Borgia then stabs Ezio and leaves him for dead. Ezio struggles but ultimately collapses in a pool of blood. The screen fades to black. However, a few seconds later it fades back, with Ezio standing and recovering slightly. The next game reveals that Ezio's armour blunted the attack, causing only a shallow wound.
    • Happens twice in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, first when Ezio is shot by snipers on the rooftops on Monterriggioni and falls to the ground, then when Ezio is on horseback heading for Roma after the siege, where he collapses and falls off the horse.
  • Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain actually starts with a Fission Mailed — the protagonist leaves the tavern right at the beginning of the game and is promptly set upon by an endless horde of bandits, who will kill you no matter how good you are. Then you come back as a vampire, and slaughter all the (now finite) bandits.
  • Halfway through Clash at Demonhead, you face the Big Bad in a Hopeless Boss Fight. To proceed, you must allow yourself to be killed and choose to "Continue".
  • In Control, Hedron crashes into the floor, falling apart and dying, which severs Jesse's connection to Polaris and therefore removes both her powers and her protection against the Hiss. Jesse gets possessed by the Hiss and starts reciting their Madness Mantra, then the credits roll. Certainly a Downer Ending where The Bad Guy Wins. That is, until the Madness Mantra starts showing up in the credits too, and then the credits start warping and distorting until they're nothing but an unreadable white blob. Then you get shunted into a Dream Sequence and the real endgame starts.
  • God of War:
    • God of War: Once Kratos obtains Pandora's Box, Ares senses this happening and kills Kratos by throwing a pillar from hundreds of miles away and impaling him. Instead of getting the Game Over screen and restarting from a checkpoint, Kratos ends up in Hades and has to escape.
    • God of War II: You charge the Sword of Olympus by sacrificing a portion of your Godly powers. So, at the end of the Colossus sequence, Kratos gets slapped by the falling giant and then has to face Zeus, who has the Sword of Olympus, where you can barely swing your blades without struggling. And the button mashing sequence makes it more painful, because you can't win. Once again, cue Kratos escaping from Hades, which is fortunately much less aggravating than the previous instance.
    • God of War Ragnarök, Midway through the first fight with Thor, there's a QTE that cannot be won that results in Thor bashing Kratos across the head with Mjolnir. The game then cuts to the loading screen before Thor declares that the fight is over when he says it's over. Thor then resuscitates Kratos with lightning from Mjolnir and continues the fight.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, if you destroy (either by cutting them down, throwing them or what have you) enough signs then talk to the NPC that runs a sign shop he'll get particularly angry and give you a warning, if you break more signs and talk to him he'll make the Capcom logo flash on the Game Boy screen momentarily as if the game had reset, and you receive a ring which notes your hatred for signs.
  • Mission: Impossible (Konami): An autoscrolling section in the final stage has a collapsing floor. If your agent falls in, it shows them plummeting as expected for a Bottomless Pit and the agent lost music plays. But instead of starting the section again with the next available agent as usual, you start on the previous floor with the same agent who fell.
  • At one point in Thief: Deadly Shadows, you have to get beaten up by the guards and hauled off to jail in order to advance the plot. If this occurs at any other point, it's game over.

    Action Game 
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum has an example that will probably walk straight into legend. At a certain point, the console or PC freezes. The effect is creepily realistic. First, the screen glitches out, as if the game had crashed. Then, the game "restarts"... but something's off. The Joker is escorting Batman, the player in a first person POV, into Arkham Asylum in a twisted parody of the opening sequence of the game (with the Scarecrow replacing the Bat-signal.) And he then shoots Batman in the face. It even goes so far as to show the game over screen with the helpful message to "Use the middle thumbstick (or "tilt the mouse" in the PC version) to dodge Joker's bullet"- wait, what? Whichever option you choose in the game over screen segues into another battle with the Scarecrow. Furthermore, if you try to skip the twisted version of the opening cutscene, the game will prompt you to press the J button to skip.
  • Batman: Arkham Knight has one of its trailers feature a return of Scarecrow's fourth wall-cracking fear-induced magic near the end of said trailer.
  • In Gunstar Super Heroes, the GBA sequel to the Genesis game, Black's dice maze includes a new room. In the Japanese version of the game, upon entering this room through sheer (bad) luck, you are treated to a message that claims that failure to complete this challenge will cause your game file to be erased and if you think you can't do it, you should press Start+Select+A+B to reset the game and start the stage over from beginning. Next, you have to frantically blast through the floor of a seemingly endless vertical shaft while a literal representation of your game file crashes down from above. In the (extremely) likely chance it eventually catches up to you and crushes you, it turns out that the game was only kidding, but even if you survive, you still have to redo a large portion of the level. The English version has the same room, but the effect is lost because there's no message and the tombstone graphic has been altered so that the text in it refers to your character instead of your save file, although the location is still called File Crasher on the map. Talk about fighting under pressure
  • In Lollipop Chainsaw's prologue, after Nick gets bitten by a zombie and apologizes to Juliet for allowing it to happen to him, it cuts to a fake end screen, but then Juliet refuses, and then decapitates Nick to keep the virus from spreading, and keeps him alive as merely a head for the rest of the game.
  • At one point in Spec Ops: The Line, an Interface Screw leads to an unavoidable death with the standard death message replaced by "You were hit by the second mortar!" You then return to the same point with working controls, so presumably in continuity your "death" was a stress-induced hallucination.
  • Very briefly appears in the original Tomb Raider. At the end of "The Cistern", Lara must jump into a well, which turns out to be much too deep for a survivable fall. Lara goes into her "death scream", then lands in the water. But the game goes on to the next level quickly enough not to worry players unduly. As long as you land in water that's deep enough to swim underwater in, you can fall from any height and survive.
  • In Wiz'n'Liz, one of the available spells (which you have to try out to find the effect) does "Game over! ... Just kidding!"

    Adventure Game 
  • In The Adventures of Willy Beamish, one of the puzzles near the end requires you to get captured by the villain after rescuing several frogs from being boiled alive and nearly drown. The first several seconds appear exactly the same as the actual failure of the puzzle, but letting the game over screen play out sees the rescued frogs come and rescue the protagonist.
  • In Amnesia: The Dark Descent, most of the time when you die a short piece of advice will appear on the screen before the game reloads at a recent checkpoint. In one case, you go through a door only to run into multiple monsters and find out the door you just came through has been locked. When you die, the game tells you to "sleep" - and rather than go back in time, you wake up in a cell that you must escape.
  • Custerd's Quest: Near the end, you die of starvation. Only to be told that it is a joke and then it is back to the game.
  • In Death Come True, the first time Makoto is killed during an event, the "You Died" message screen pops up. After selecting 'continue', the game continues onward from what transpired.
  • Detroit: Become Human: During the conflict between Markus and Leo in the chapter "Broken", whether you pushed Leo or not will always result in the police coming in and shooting Markus, making many players fear that they ultimately screwed up and for a while it certainly seems as if the rest of the game will continue without him... that is, until it's revealed that he's still alive at the scrap yard in the next chapter. However, choosing not to fight back against Leo will result in Carl having a heart attack and dying.
    • If Kara doesn't break free from the machine in Zlatko's basement in time, her memories will be erased, making players feel though all hope might be lost for poor Kara, (it is possible to break loose from the machine and not have Kara's memory erased, but many players saw it as Controllable Helplessness and end up having Kara loose her memories) but thankfully you can still regain her memories back and eventually escape the basement... if players can get them all back before the time limit, that is.
  • In the first levels of Fahrenheit, getting busted by the police usually means a Game Over for Lucas. However, at some point, Lucas gains enough badassitude to turn what starts unraveling as a typical go-to-prison-for-life Game Over scene into a spectacular Escape Sequence with mad kung fu powers, hanging off flying helicopters, and leaping onto moving subways.
  • The ending of Full Throttle has Ben leaping on his motorcycle trying to avoid an impossible-to-escape explosion. The game then fades to black, and opens on a funeral, as a preacher is eulogizing a fallen hero. The last mourning to be revealed is Ben himself, and the hero who had died was Corley, whom all bikers revered for being the last motorcycle manufacturer.
  • Grim Fandango does something like this near the end of the game, when Manny is finally brought to Hector's place, but is left completely unarmed. In order to trigger further events, you have to confront Hector and watch a cutscene where Manny gets shot with a sproutella dart and escapes, only to fall to the ground in agony. Then you have to realize that you still have control of Manny even if he is unable to stand up, and thus you still have access to the inventory, which contains the one item capable of killing sproutella. (Of course, GF is a LucasArts game, but this scene is still pure terror, especially if you weren't expecting Hector to be smart enough to just shoot Manny...)
  • In Heavy Rain, any of your main characters can die, but the story will go on regardless. One potential death sequence actually features the terrified death screams of your heroine.
  • "Go West" from The IGF Pirate Kart is a text adventure which you win by repeatedly going west, with any other scenario resulting in your character dying 'a terrible, terrible death'. In the last room, if you try to go west, you get the same Game Over, only at the bottom it asks "Would you like to RESTART, RESTORE a saved game, QUIT, UNDO the last command, or GO WEST?" Choosing to Go West wins the game.
  • King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow:
    • In the Minotaur's lair, there are many rooms with deadly trap doors, and one with a not-so-deadly trap door. If you, like many, restored every time you started to fall, it took a long time to realize you had to fall into one of them.
    • There was also the bottle that shows up on the Isle of Wonder. Take a swig, and it appears as though Alex drops dead. Seeing as your typical KQ game had Everything Trying to Kill You, this seems to be another trap... until Alex wakes up.
    • Also, some of the places where you observe cutscenes of your demise (or failure) are visitable while you're alive later in the game, such as the underworld.
  • Monkey Island:
    • In The Secret of Monkey Island, wandering too close to the edge of a cliff causes Guybrush to fall off and a game over screen parodying Sierra's Have a Nice Death tendencies to appear... and then Guybrush pops back up with two words of explanation: "Rubber tree."
    • In Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, there's a scene where Guybrush is suspended over a cauldron filled with acid. If you take too long to get out, Guybrush falls into the acid and dies — only to be reminded that he can't die in a story he himself is in the middle of telling.
    • In The Curse of Monkey Island, at one point Guybrush has to mix alcohol with medicine and drink it, causing him to instantly pass out. The other characters then assume that he's dead and the game is over, going so far as to comment on how it's supposedly impossible to die in a LucasArts game. Guybrush then finds himself buried in a crypt, and the fake credits (complete with a hokey score counter) stop rolling as soon as he regains consciousness.
  • In Omikron: The Nomad Soul, as the name would imply, dying at certain points (not a difficult feat) results in the player's soul merely transferring to a hapless passerby. In fact, your first character cannot survive the game; offending the Big Bad early in the plot has him labeled as a wanted criminal, and he is unceremoniously shot dead attempting to reach the next zone.
  • Quest for Glory:
    • In Quest for Glory III, leaving a campfire burning in the savanna will give you a Have a Nice Death message stating that you have gravely upset Smoky The Elephant, and you are provided with the usual options to restore, restart or quit. Picking any option will make the game admit that it was a joke and send you on your way.
    • In Quest for Glory V:
      • You have the option of sacrificing your life to resurrect one of two possible love interests. If you do, a pair of undead will hack away at you until your health goes down to 0. Fade to Black...then fade back in as your character stands back up, your Stamina stat having been cut in half.
      • The game pulls the trick again later, when you confront the Assassin who's been murdering people left and right. Before you have the chance to react, he hits you with a poisoned dagger, and even if you take antidote pills your health continues to drop. After you slay the Assassin, Toro comes out to see what all the commotion is about, and your character collapses, "dead", only to wake up in the Hall of Kings, having been saved thanks to the improved antidote.
  • Riven:
    • You have to enter the trap book you're carrying to prove to Gehn that you're sincere. After you enter the book, the screen shows the view through the "link window", with Gehn deliberating if he should or shouldn't enter the book. Then, Gehn finally decides to enter the book, catapulting you out... on the opposite side of the prison bars. But if you enter the book before reaching Gehn, you're eventually freed inside his cell; he realizes you were trying to trap him and shoots you dead on the spot.
    • When you first enter the Rebel Age, you are discovered and knocked out by the rebels. When you come to, you get to helplessly watch as you are transported by boat to the "Hive".
  • In Sam & Max Hit the Road, if you use the wishing well at Bumpusland, Sam says "I wish this game was over." You get a "The End" message and the screen fades to black, then Sam says "Hold it! Get back here!" and the game continues.
  • The flash game A Small Favor referenced this trope, in a way. There was a Mission Failed ending that was only possible by using the postal service to mail a nuclear bomb. Kongregate made it a 15 point badge, so in a way it's a success only through failure.
  • In the Sega CD title, Snatcher, you come to a point where, while waiting for Napoleon, you can look around for women and try to get them to go out with you. After a few of them, Gillian tries to use his position as a Junker to get close to one. However, the woman assures Gillian she doesn't need protection, as she's actually a snatcher herself! The noise for the motion indicator/snatcher warning sounds, and in the text at the bottom, you see, "Game over...?" After a few seconds, Gillian gets back up and is informed by Metal Gear that he passed out, and, provided he's alright, they should get back to the mission.
  • In the final episode of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, if you walk too close to Munchox/The King of Town, he'll knock Strong Bad away. A text pop-up will then appear, stating that you have died... but then Strong Bad stands up and says he always ignores those text boxes. Proving he has no luck with scorpions, he can also be killed if he gets too close to some scorpions while holding scorpion food. However, he had to touch a "video game checkpoint" in the area just to reach the scorpions in the first place, and it will always instantly revive him. Otherwise throughout the games, you cannot die, and you can never lose.
  • In World's End Club, the "Ending 1" route ends with the Go-Getters dying in a helicopter explosion, with the credits following afterwards. After that, the game gives the option of stage select, allowing the chance to revisit the previous level to prevent that outcome from happening.

    Beat 'Em Up 
  • Bayonetta: The main character has defeated Jubileus, but it looks like the game will have a Downer Ending anyway, because the body is plummeting to Earth and threatening to wipe out humanity. But just as the end credits start to roll, Jeanne appears and STOMPS on them, and she and Bayonetta are able to team up in an attempt to stop the plummeting corpse.
  • Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage: The game has an inversion, starting the ending credits after a battle with Carnage... only to interrupt them when he stands back up and the True Final Boss fight starts.
  • X-Men (1993): The game for the Sega Genesis asks you to mail the fission; you need to hit the "Reset" button on the console to continue the game at one point. If you were playing the game on a Sega Nomad portable, you got boned because the Nomad has no reset button. There is reputedly another way to get past this segment, but it's so obscure that, if it exists, almost no-one knows about it.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • In BioShock, immediately after you kill Ryan and Atlas is revealed to be Fontaine, the Little Sisters appear and guide you into a crawlspace to evade Fontaine's security bots. There is a hole in the crawlspace, which you cannot avoid, and you appear to die before waking up in Tenenbaum's safehouse.
  • Borderlands and its second game does this. Of course, there's the whole "You will just respawn there, so no big deal", but there are two specific moments, one in each game, where the fission must be mailed.
    • In "The Secret Armory of General Knoxx" you have a countdown running as you have to collect all the loot you can in the end of the DLC chapter. Catch is that there's NO WAY OUT! No matter what, you can only die to get out. But, as soon as you die, you get the chapter ending and you keep all you looted.
    • Borderlands 2 is very straight-forward at this in one very specific moment. Kill Yourself. No, seriously, it is a mission given by Handsome Jack. He has chosen a spot for you to commit suicide and gives you the choice of doing or not. It's hilarious, regardless of the outcome.
    • Also on Borderlands 2, there's "Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate's Booty" DLC. Last mission involves you finding the "marked spot" that should lead to a vault full of loot. Instead, you get EATEN by Leviathan. The best part? He is taking you and her straight to the Vault, but the BEST part is... Do you remember her pet Roscoe? She found him!
  • Call of Duty
    • In one level of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, you play as an agent of the Russian equivalent of the Secret Service, trying to protect the Russian President from an assassination attempt. At the end of the level, a helicopter arrives to rescue you, but it's Makarov. A "Mission Failed" indicator comes up, and Makarov takes the President prisoner, and kills you. Well, sort of. You're still able to get up, kick asses and save the President's daughter in the co-op mission, somehow.
    • The second mission of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare sees you and your Atlas squad tasked with rescuing the US President from a group of terrorist kidnappers. At the end of the mission, you and the President reach an armored car, but your bionic arm malfunctions before you can open it and a terrorist knocks you to the floor, shoots the President in the head, and takes aim at you... whereupon you find out it's just a VR simulation. Notably, once your arm gets fixed, you get to run the simulation again, and this time you succeed.
  • Call of Juarez: Gunslinger: In the mine level, during Silas' narration, he runs after his target by entering inside the mine's tunnels. After several minutes inside this maze, you find yourself in a chain of disasters that culminates in him jumping out of the tunnel and into the water, where he dies by getting crushed by an unavoidable minecart. Then, cue Silas saying, "It's a good thing I abandoned that ridiculous plan before I even tried it." before the level gets rewound to that point, where he follows a different path.
  • Destiny: The Warlock has a class that allows them to self-resurrect after death with a full super charge. This can be done even if the 'game over' countdown timer has started. This can even be done in certain PVP modes where you only have limited lives.
  • Deus Ex featured a mission where if you get killed, you get captured and wake up in a prison cell. Once your HP drops to zero, the ordinary death animation is cut short by a new level loading, presumably so players don't have enough time to reach for the "quick load" button. If you manage to avoid death all the way to Battery Park, you get an option to surrender or fight against NPCs and a huge mech, one of which (Gunther) ignores damage.
  • Doom:
    • Doom:
      • You can still finish the level while dead (if your corpse crosses the exit line or if you've managed to kill the level's final boss), and you are alive again at the beginning of the next level (although with all of your things gone)
      • At the end of the first episode, you go into a teleporter and are "killed" by a group of monsters.note  Then you find yourself on the lost moon of Deimos, which happens to have been transported into the Hell dimension.
    • Some custom mapsets make use of this effect to take away all your weapons when transitioning between levels.note  The Ghostbusters Doom Game Mod, for example, has one level which forces the player to use the chainsaw, which is turned into the Ectomobile (including scripting to make the player always attack with it, both so that they can't switch away and also so they can run over civilians), then uses a death exit to take it away from them for the next level.
    • Doom II: Near the end of the Final Boss battle, if Doomguy gets killed right after launching a rocket and this projectile successfully lands onto the weak point of the Icon of Sin, the boss will die and the game will register this as a victory.
    • In My House, waiting a few moments after your first death will take you to a hospital bed, where you can explore the hospital. In one of the rooms you can find a defibrillator, which will revive you on the spot where you died and grant Berserk.
  • Far Cry 2:
    • In the first playable portion the story requires the player to be gunned down. And if you escape, you collapse from the malaria and open your bottle of meds, only to find that it's empty and collapse on the ground.
    • After you finish half the game, you need to make a brave last stand at either a Church (to protect refugees) or a Bar (to protect your fellow mercenary buddies). Regardless of your decision, you can't win, because the enemy has infinite reinforcements. You die, along with everyone else... or so it seems, because you recover after falling off a truck transporting your "corpse". Then, while stumbling through a sandstorm, you "die" again, but are saved by the man you've been hunting all along.
    • During normal gameplay, if you have a buddy in "rescue-ready" status, you get saved by them if you get "killed" by enemy forces. If your buddy isn't on standby for you, you die for real.
    • Seeming to die is so common in that game that many players find it hard to believe when they actually do die forever and for real at the end of the storyline Or so it seems.
  • In the first mission of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, during the cutscene after defending Spider, your Voice with an Internet Connection says "Objective failed" along the words "You Fail" flashing, as Spider's attempt at hacking the missile computer backfires, leaving you to stop the launch yourself.
  • First Encounter Assault Recon:
    • The games do this at several points, usually using Interface Screw in the process. For example, at one point your motion slows down, Alma starts walking towards you and the walls burst into flames. You try to run, then an explosion blows you out the window. Your teammates think No One Could Survive That!, but the Pointman is mostly unscathed.
    • Another major example is the final Mind Screw battle at the end of Project Origin, while Alma is raping Beckett.
  • Happens at the beginning of Half-Life 2. You are beaten severely by Civil Protection officers, and the screen whites out. Soon after, you hear Alyx Vance kicking the shit out of them, and you wake up to a cheery "Dr. Freeman, I presume?" Several Fission Mailed instances are set up later in the game and throughout its Episodes, displaying overwhelming odds which are actually easy to overwhelm or evade if you know what you're doing, and the bits in the Citadel where you're being carried around through the Stalker Pod lines certainly seem like Freeman's death is inevitable. Similarly, Episode One climaxes with the Citadel exploding, the speeding wave of energy quickly engulfing your train and Alyx shouting "Gordon!", at which point the credits roll. Freeman's survival is, of course, the starting point of Episode Two. This is a callback to the first game, where one segment ends with you walking through a door — the screen blacks out, there are sounds of a scuffle, and then an HECU grunt is heard radioing in that "we got him." The next sequence begins with you escaping custody.
  • Hexen:
    • A quirk in the ACS used in the game(and, through porting, ZDoom) allows for a level transition while the player is dead. Normal behavior for that situation is to "respawn" the player on the new level. With enough delicate scripting, it is possible in ZDoom to note the entire inventory of a player before instant-killing them with a scripted death and then force a level transition to the next level, which would then give them their entire inventory back. Fission Mailed indeed.
    • There's one point in the original Hexen where, to get to the next level and thus advance the plot, you need to stumble into a pit and fall to your apparent death (complete with scream); you're teleported to the new level before you actually hit bottom and die.
  • In INFRA, the optional B2 hallway at the end of the first Bergmann Tunnels level is an apparent Dead-End Room where the Player Character is seemingly fatally accosted by the legendary boogeyman Mörkö, but awakens in a storage closet in the chapter's third level, bypassing the second.
  • In Jedi Outcast, the player must 'die' during his first encounter with Desann.
  • Perfect Dark's Carrington Institute Defense mission ends with the Skedar capturing Jo, followed by a fake "Mission Failed" debriefing with ominous music.
  • In a cutscene in the beginning of Project: Snowblind, where you are being rushed to the hospital after being bombed to death, the screen suddenly becomes filled with static for a few seconds, as if something had broken.

    Hack and Slash 
  • The very first battle of Warriors Orochi 3 is scripted to be unwinnable. Your allies will go down in rapid succession, none of the cannons will do much damage to the Hydra (and it will recover its health anyhow), and just when you manage to reach the exit, it is suddenly blocked by Da Ji. Then a cutscene triggers, bringing you to the next part of the game.

    Hidden Object 
  • Puppetshow 8: The Face of Humanity has a rather creepy one after you break into David and Hannah's workshop with newspaper headlines stating that the detective died of poison, the mayor's daughter was never found and "IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT," followed by two decrepit, insect-ridden puppets with David and Hannah's faces.
  • In Rita James and the Race to Shangri La the title locale is dying due to villain Dr. Stroheim stealing one of the diamond lotuses which power its eternal-youth effect. Upon recovering the lotus after a Heel–Face Turn by his henchman, you're presented with a puzzle with a brief time limit. If you don't solve it in time then everything turns into blackened ruins.
    Monk: ...And Shangri La was lost forever.
    Sebastian: Wait a minute. That's not how I remember it.
    Dr. James: No, not at all. That's too sad for a casual game.
    Rita: I'm just kidding, you guys. Here's what really happened...

    Interactive Fiction 
  • In Curses, putting something of the right size into the slide projector transforms it into a Portal Picture. Entering the pictures projected by the Grim Reaper, Drowned Sailor or Fool tarot cards gives the standard ***You have died*** message, followed by:
    Or have you? No... this isn't quite the end. You see an intense blue-white light at the end of what seems a tunnel, and drift toward it until you realise that you are staring, dazed, into the light of the slide projector, and have not moved at all.
  • Infocom's Enchanter: a point where you have to "die" via Human Sacrifice on the temple's altar, so that your "corpse" can get better and wake up in the exact same location. While it's a bit of a Guide Dang It! puzzle, it's not quite the usual for this trope, since it's something the player has to deliberately set up using an auto-revive effect. Also, the sequel Sorcerer starts you off in an incredibly deadly landscape full of monsters. Then you wake up. Naturally you'll have to go to the same place in person later, this time inexplicably less deadly.
  • Inverted in Frederick Pohl's Gateway. The player must stop the evil robotic aliens by placing a virus in one of their watchtowers - after completing two virtual reality segments, the player is led to believe that the virus worked. The player is returned to Gateway where the game continues with nothing out of the ordinary to attend to - except a message on their telescreen telling that they're still in a virtual reality.
  • Classic text adventure Heroine's Mantle has this. There's lots of foreshadowing (if you pay attention), and it fits well with the game's theme of sacrifice. You still have to have your protagonist jump to her death, and pass the Heroine's Mantle on to the next Crusader. Which you then get to play for the grand finale.
  • In Midnight Swordfight, you play as a jester forced to engage in a deadly duel with a vengeful countess. Every move you can make results in your immediate death, but every death is followed by the message "But the curtain can be raised again..." and you being taken back to the start of the duel. After you die in this manner a couple of times, the game mentions that you can simply wake up.
  • In Adam Cadre's Shrapnel, all paths quickly lead to instant death, yielding a standard "Would you like to RESTART, RESTORE a saved game, or QUIT?" prompt. However, whatever you type, the command "RESTART" appears on-screen, allowing you to try again and get killed a different way, while your former selves starts piling up in the game world.
  • In the interactive movie Star Trek: Borg, your character has to be assimilated by the Borg in order to get past a certain point in the story.
  • In the Undertale fan game Undertale: A Diary, if you succeed in killing Sans and taking his golden key, you realize too late that you've fallen into a trap set by him after reading in his diary that the "powerful weapon" his golden key unlocks has the ability to wipe someone from existence. You attempt to flee, but the game's entire text gets erased before you can escape, leaving you with a completely blank screen that stays blank even if you try to reset the game. However, waiting long enough causes a message from Gaster to fade in, and resetting enough times has you discover "a pinprick of light" that leads you back to the game's start screen.

  • Dungeons & Dragons Online has one of those in The Shroud. The portal that leads from part 4 to part 5 triggers the death of everyone in the party (which, in any other quest, means people will recall out and try again), and teleports them to another room. After a few moments and a cutscene, everyone is revived (along with the 4 bosses fought in part 2) and the raid continues. The game does warn you something is about to happen right before you hit the portal. When the altar is used, the DM warns you: 'The trip to the Lost Moon will be traumatic: do not abandon your quest yet, trust in the Shroud...'
  • Final Fantasy XIV has a few moments if this to keep players on their toes.
    • 6.1 updated Lahabrea's fight to be a solo duty separate from The Praetorium and Porta Decumana (the Ultima Weapon portion of the dungeon). In this new version, there's an unwinnable DPS check that kills you. The story would have ended there if Hydaelyn didn't bestow some divine intervention to help you finish the fight.
    • The Unending Coil of Bahamut (Ultimate) has you fighting the hardest version of Bahamut where the party can't afford any mistakes or you'll risk a Total Party Wipe. There is an instance where a meter for Bahamut appears and you have to kill the adds before the meter maxes out. If the meter fills up completely, Bahamut kills everyone. If you manage to stop it in time, Bahamut still kills everyone. However, the fight doesn't reset and the party is resurrected by Phoenix, giving everyone a second chance in beating the primal.
    • The final boss of Endwalker uses its ultimate attack, which a tank player has to mitigate with a Limit Break. After some initial confusion, the boss merely rewinds time on its attack and hits the party with it again now that you don't have a Limit Break to use anymore. The screen fades to black... And it turns out that the Scions are praying for your success, which not only completely nullifies the attack, but also bestows the party seven stacks of a buff that both increases damage dealt and decreases damage taken, with which the party can shred the boss's 60%-or-so remaining HP as it flails wildly at the party because it can't comprehend the Scions' hope.
  • Forum Warz Episode 2 ends with your character's (apparent?) death, then goes on to state that your character has been deleted, your account has been deleted, and that your IP address has been blocked so you can't make a new one. In fact, every IP address has been blocked so nobody else can play again, and the game servers are being physically destroyed.
  • In Granblue Fantasy, you need to be defeated by Yggdrasil Malice in Ch.40 part 3 in order to proceed.
  • Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft:
    • A fight against Arthas in the Icecrown Citadel is once again the location of this trope, this time with Jaina Proudmore instead of a player character but this time Arthas actually wins and steals Jaina's soul, making her fight Tirion instead, without starting a new battle, adding an extra layer to the use of the trope by screwing with pre-established game mechanics and also making it clear that you technically didn't lose. Likewise, Trion ultimately uses the Holy Light to help her get better, even though the Holy Light has never been established to work that way... Of course, it also adds yet another extra layer that Jaina is specifically one of the avatars you play with, meaning if she wasn't purified, you'd be stuck with the undead Jaina, which was most likely why the developers decided it was for the best for her to get better...
    • It's also possible to deliberately destroy your hero to replace it with another, which will not result in losing.
    • In the Galakrond's Awakening adventure, the Dragonslayer Skruk encounter pits you against an enemy with whopping 200 health (the norm for playable heroes is 30) and minions that get buffed in his hand every turn and will quickly overwhelm your hero. However, once you take fatal damage, your hero, Chromie, transforms into her real form, that of a bronze dragon with mastery over time, gaining 60 health and a new Hero Power that makes you always take two turns instead of one. Once that happens, it's not hard to win. Unlike many other instances of this trope, it's possible, if challenging, to win without triggering this scripted event.
  • The free-to-play MMO Jade Dynasty contains a quest that requires you to "understand the secret of life and death". No other indication is given in the quest description of how to do this. The way to complete the quest is, of course, to die. However, the game is set up so that certain quests fail if you die, and this quest is one of them. Dropping a quest counts as failing it. This means that you don't actually have to die to complete the quest; you can just drop it, and the game will think you have fulfilled the necessary conditions for completing it and move on to the next one.
  • Kingdom of Loathing:
    • The year 2009 Crimbo event did this. Don Crimbo was unbeatable, but losing to him was followed by a Talking Your Way Out scene.
    • Progressing through the Palindome, you will eventually encounter Dr. Awkward in a noncombat adventure. This will beat you up, and makes you aware of his ineptitude field you must bypass to proceed.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online: If you play as a hobbit, you will get knocked out by bandits within the first few minutes of the tutorial. Also, if inevitable eventual deaths count, then the fight with Sambrog in the barrow of Othrongroth is a Fission Mailed. He keeps healing himself when he gets to a certain health level, during which he's untargetable. The only objective is to survive until Tom Bombadil gets there.
  • RuneScape: In one quest, you die. Three times. And go to the Fremennik afterlife. Sadly, that prince/princess you were engaged to and possibly got married to a few minutes ago are both Killed Off for Real by the Dagannoth Kings.
    • During the first storyline of the Arc Islands release, you have to fake being beaten to death by a cyclops. The death jingle and message appear, but you don't respawn at Death's office.

  • World of Warcraft:
    • The game pulls one like these at Icecrown Citadel. In your fight with Arthas, the Lich King, your whole raid will be killed, once Arthas reaches 10% health. However, this is supposed to happen, and in a Deus ex Machina moment, Tirion Fordring shatters Frostmourne with Ashbringer, releasing the spirit of Terenas Menethil II, who will resurrect the players, who then just have to beat on Arthas until he falls over. The fight is basically won once this happens, as long as the players don't set their spirits free
    • When the fight was first available, the game actually DID let you release. Whether it was intended or not, it got hotfixed fairly quickly, in creepy Leaning on the Fourth Wall fashion. Currently, if you click the release button, it won't let you, and you'll get a creepy message that the Lich King has taken your soul. Interestingly, you still automatically win the encounter if you don't accept the scripted resurrection. If no one in the raid accepts, Tirion Fordring will melee Arthas to death by himself. This takes roughly about an hour to accomplish, though, given the boss' massive health pool.
    • There's a quest where you need to kill yourself to talk to the ghost of the architect of Blackrock Depths. He'll tell you how to craft a master key to the doors in the dungeon. Made somewhat more obvious since Cataclysm as the game drops you off right next to him so long as you're in the general area of Blackrock Mountain.
    • The first time you come face to face with Akama, you discover that instead of being The Dragon, he is actually a deep cover mole. In order to preserve his cover, as soon as he hears one of the demons coming he kills you. You then have to lie there dead and listen to their conversation; he brings you back to life once the demon leaves.
    • There's yet another quest chain in Zul'Drak where you're transported into the ghost world, complete with you in ghost form. Of course, you're not completely dead, just separated from your body, and when you die there, your corpse will be at where you entered the area instead of where you died.
    • You do this in Howling Fjord as well, as part of the prep chain for Utgarde Keep. You end up confronting the Lich King while in spirit form, and he kills you while you're already a ghost. You have to corpse run and rez to hand in the quest afterward.
    • Fission Mailed is used even more extensively in the Cataclysm expansion, released in December 2010, which makes heavier use of cutscenes in general. In one such quest, you fight a big monster called Iso'rath from its inside. To get the next part of the quest chain you have to die.
    • One of the new quests in Azshara has you searching high and low for a missing blue dragon. It turns out he's off having an affair with one of the Spirit Healers (the creepy blue and white angels that preside over your spirit when you die in-game) which means that in order to meet him you have to... you guessed it... die.
    • The boss Mandokir the Bloodlord will randomly decapitate party members (both in his original raid encounter and in the new heroic encounter), killing them and displaying the standard time to release. However, chained spirits will resurrect fallen players.
    • Since the forsaken are zombies this happens to the character just before you start playing, in fact the very first NPC you encounter as a forsaken tells you that they thought you might not wake up after all.
    • In the endgame patch for Warlords of Draenor, there is a naval mission where you send out a destroyer and it gets sunk by the opposing force. The next phase of the mission is to build another more powerful boat to exact revenge.
    • Near the end of a battle in the Death Knight introductory quest line, Tirion shows up and ruins everything, causing you to switch sides.
    • In Antorus: The Burning Throne, the final phase of the fight begins with Argus the Unmaker pulling the entire raid into a singularity, filling them with blades, and bisecting them all with his scythe, triggering the standard death message. However, Eonar reveals the raid is Not Quite Dead and uses her powers to make a tree of life essence. Unlike the Icecrown Citadel example, you actually do need to release and use the tree to revive yourself, as the spirit world becomes part of the actual fight. Several of Argus's mechanics even become unavoidable One Hit Kills to reflect this new mechanic. This is also Fridge Brilliance: the reason why the Army of the Light is invading Antorus to begin with is because Sargeras is using Argus's World Soul to revive his armies. The Legion is defeated because Eonar uses her powers to give him a taste of his own medicine.
    • The War of Thorns Alliance quest "A Flicker of Hope" has you attempting to evacuate people trapped in a burning city. However, you're given a mere 3 minutes to rescue 982 civilians. While talking to them does make them leave in groups, there are rarely more than half a dozen together at once, meaning you'll be lucky to get fifty before the time runs out. When time does run out, you lose consciousness from smoke inhalation, get saved and evacuated yourself, and that part of the storyline concludes.

    Platform Game 
  • In Cave Story, after defeating the Core, you will be trapped in a flooded Boss Room and have no option but to let your Oxygen Meter run out. After it runs out, rather than the standard Game Over screen, the screen goes black, then you wake up to find that your partner has given you her air tank.
  • In the second episode (game) of Cosmo's Cosmic Adventure, the eponymous character has to climb to the highest part of the last level to reach an open cavity in the ceiling and thus finish the quest. If the player dies near that high point, the character's death animation will begin as his soul rises to the heavens. Since reaching the top happens to be the goal of the level, the game will succesfully end as if he had reached there alive.
  • Distorted Travesty: Happens in the third game, against the True Final Boss. The boss unavoidably buries Jeremy under a bunch of rocks, depleting his health, and the credits start to roll as if the player got a bad ending... only for Jeremy to interrupt the credits, erupt out of the rocks, and take the fight to Round 2.
  • In Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter, when you first battle Wilfre, he is invincible, and you must deliberately die from his attacks to proceed. Then a cutscene shows, and then the real battle begins.
  • The events of Enchanted: Once Upon Andalasia take place during a bedtime story Giselle is telling Morgan. When Giselle's game self falls from too great a height and apparently dies, Morgan asks how that's possible and Giselle replies that she must've gotten carried away with the story.
  • In Eversion's later worlds, one of the screens that occasionally replaces the "READY!" screen is a false Game Over screen. You actually cannot get a game over in normal play, since you have infinite lives and the only other time you can get one is through the bad ending, so the fake Game Over can be pretty jarring.
  • In Futurama the Game, the first level has a forced Fission Mailed — Fry has to grab a hammer and be crushed to death. Then, after a game over screen, Farnsworth brings Fry back with the Reanimator. The Game Over itself is then lampshaded when Leela asks what death is like.
  • INSIDE (2016) has a couple sections where you had to evade an underwater... human? ...who resembles a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl and will kill you if she catches you. At the end of the second of these, you are finally caught by one after failing to grab a ledge above... and are dragged down harmlessly. For what seems like ages. Eventually, she attaches some kind of device to you, which detaches when its cord runs out, and when you finally land at the bottom, you can now breathe underwater. Why this particular one decided to do this while all the others wanted you dead is, like everything else in this game, never explained.
  • I Wanna Be the Guy:
    • The game is so nefarious as to fake a Windows operating system error message, and then it drops down and squashes the Kid if you hadn't wised up to it. What makes it worse is that the error actually happens sometimes while playing the game; it's a known bug, and the game made the absolute best of it. Of course, since the window is clearly from the default theme in Windows XP, a person using a different theme, a different version of Windows or another OS entirely won't be fooled.
    • It is possible to die after delivering the finishing blow to some bosses. The death animation and message will play, but if you wait, the boss will die in the background and you will appear unharmed on the next screen. Nefarious in that if you hit 'r' as the screen instructs you to, you will never know that you could have just waited and beaten the boss. An example of this is the Mecha-Birdo boss fight. Because this battle takes place in an area apart from the rest of the game, where you are teleported out when the enemy is defeated, you can exploit a simple glitch. If you deliver the final blow to Birdo and then die shortly thereafter, just sit around and wait. The event of teleporting you out of there will still continue, same as everything else in the game continues after you die. In fact, it is possible to get smashed into the usual bloody pulp a split second after killing the game's final boss, and still trigger the final cutscene. It's just as frustrating as it sounds, and thus fits the game very well.
  • In La-Mulana, there is a gas-filled area of the Twin Labyrinths that you enter from the Temple of the Sun. You can survive in there for 30 seconds. If the time runs out, Lemeza goes through his death animation... and reappears back in the Temple of the Sun, just outside the Twin Labyrinths, alive as if nothing happened. This is averted in the remake, where you will die from the poison gas and receive a proper Game Over.
  • Mega Man:
    • The first boss battle in Mega Man X, who makes it a little obvious due to his lack of a health bar (though since he IS the first boss, a first-time player would have no frame of reference for a boss fight). After avoiding Vile's attacks for several seconds, he begins to shoot small, slow-moving orbs of energy almost constantly. When hit by one, X will be caught in an energy net, ending the battle and initiating a cutscene. If you attempt to dodge these orbs, Vile will keep assaulting you until you explode, no matter how many times you blast him. In the PSP remake, Vile has a health bar and it is required to defeat him before he does the same to you. He'll still grab X, though in this case it's because X is naïve enough to approach the seemingly destroyed Ride Armor, completely changing the context of the scenenote .
    • The first battle with High Max in Mega Man X6 is similar, though High Max is completely invincible, which X will point out in the cutscene following several seconds of getting his arse handed to him.
  • Mirror's Edge:
    • Early in the game Faith is forced to fall about three stories through a glass roof, landing on her back. At first it looks like Faith died, but then in the cutscene she gets up immediately and runs off.
    • In the final level, Faith kicks down a door to find Lt. Miller and then get punched in the face by a PK soldier. The Fission Mailed comes when Miller tells the PK guys to check her, then shoots them both in the back almost exactly after he gives the order, revealing that the police are not with the PKs, and that he's helping you save Kate.
  • In Monty Python's Flying Circus, a fake Game Over message may appear, followed by an apology for the interruption in gameplay.
  • The only way to get the Flame in Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame is to be killed by the Mook on the same screen and ignore any indications to press keys to continue.
  • Rain World offers an unusual take on this trope. Most enemies that kill you will trigger a game over cutscene where they drag your body to their nest. If the player waits the cutscene out, there is a chance for another creature to fight the one holding you over your body, and results in them dropping you. If this happens, the "Game Over" text vanishes and you are able to continue.
  • Raskulls plays this for laughs. In one of the cutscenes, as the tournament is about to start, Dragon is dumped by Riding Hood for Pompous. This triggers a game over screen, except the options are "Wallow in self-pity" and "Get on with life". No matter which of the options you pick, Dragon then gets a message from the King wishing him luck in the tournament, and the game continues as normal.
  • One of the trials in the final level of A Super Mario Thing involves being apparently taken to the Bonus Game, only you drop through the floor and the message "Oame Gver" appears on screen.
  • In Super Scribblenauts, after you shoot down your Doppleganger's UFO a message appears onscreen saying "Try again. The Starite has been destroyed". The only button there says "No way". After pressing it a new puzzle opens: "Write the answer!".
  • In the comedic Sonic the Hedgehog fan game When Tails Gets Bored, right before the final level, there is a cutscene that starts with a reproduction of the game's Game Over screen. As it turns out, this is because Sonic is frustrated with the game and refuses to continue.

    Puzzle Game 
  • Dangeresque Roomisode 1: Behind the Dangerdesque involves Dangeresque solving a case without leaving his office. Should Dangeresque screw up, he will be arrested in a game over sequence. This sequence can be interrupted at any time with a mouse click which will bring up an "Or did I?" screen. Clicking once again will reset the game to the point before the action that got Dangeresque arrested.
  • In Deadly Rooms of Death: The Second Sky, Beethro inevitably fails to prevent the Turning (the game's primary goal). However, after the Turning happens, a sequence of events leads to him going back in time and getting another shot.
  • In the correct combination of Grow Comeback, the heart item will not be maxed out. When it seems like you lost one of the hero's supporter will try to take down the Big Bad himself but gets beaten up, giving the hero the motivation he needs to fight the monster and maxing out the heart item.
  • Question 107 of the first installment of The Impossible Quiz has a fake game over if you mouse over any of the four answers. You have to actually wait it out before moving on to the next question — clicking "Try again?" in the Game Over screen will take you back to Question 1 again, and the game will chastise you for it.
  • At one point in There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension, you'll end up playing "Rogue Quiz". The narrator, Game, says that if you get a question wrong he will erase your save file. If you do get one wrong (and you will, because the third question is impossible), you are returned to the title screen and indeed, it looks like you have to start the game over from the beginning. However, Game gives different lines than he originally did, revealing that the game is actually continuing from that point.

    Racing Game 
  • Need for Speed: The Run has a mission to escape a police chase in Las Vegas. At the end of the mission, there's a police road block; the standard "Busted" caption appears, but rather than failing, the player escapes the police on foot through a Quick Time Event.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • In Colobot, there is a mission where you land on a new planet, with no bots or supplies at your disposal, and you are ordered to retrieve a TNT box lost by the previous expedition. That TNT box is guarded by hostile giant ants that shoot acidic projectiles at you, and there's literally nothing you can do to retrieve the box without dying, which is something that has to happen in order for you to be able to proceed to the next mission. And even if the ants weren't there, retrieving the box still wouldn't be possible, since there's quite a few ponds you have to fly over, and you can't fly nor walk underwater while carrying objects. Probably the best part of this is the fact that the level is literally called "The Trap".
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert Series:
    • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert you have to capture the Chronosphere for Stalin, but it is blown up by the allied before you can capture it. Then you are ordered to be shot. Then the blame is (accurately) pinned on someone else and you're reinstated. Due to a level-design bug it is even possible to actually capture it, by making it invulnerable with the iron curtain (that also works on enemy buildings) before the explosive detonates. Then you can capture it with your engineers, but get a real "Mission Failed" for going Off the Rails.
    • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, the fourth Allied mission has you destroying a Soviet Psychic Amplifier in Chicago. When you complete the mission, the Soviet general proceeds to nuke Chicago with his own troops still inside it out of spite.
  • Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising has a example that narrowly avoids being annoying. The first time you see a helicopter with the scientist you were supposed to rescue take off, it means you failed the mission. When the same happens several missions later, it's just a scripted event.
  • In Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II's final mission, your cruiser is destroyed and your position is being overrun by Tyranids. Though after the first few waves you'll receive a communication from another cruiser that was presumed lost earlier in the game, that they'll be reinforcing you to finish the mission. The in game objective even changes to indicate that your situation is hopeless and should just take as many of them with you as you can.

    Rhythm Game 
  • The song PARANOiA Revolution in DanceDanceRevolution, at a little past the halfway mark, contains the sound effect you normally hear when failing a song, paired with the music video in the background abruptly cutting to the failure animation. The chart also pauses for a beat at this point, just to throw off the player even more.
  • The In the Groove custom marathon Mawaru 4 - EASY MODO?! uses this. The screen even says "Found Railed".
  • Just Shapes & Beats: During the Final Boss, you're gonna find yourself surprised when the Big Bad covers up the whole screen, leaving its final chomping attack the only accessible place on the screen. Worse still, every attempt you make to recover as normal is interrupted. Wait long enough, though, and after a final, heartwrenching cutscene of the other characters mourning your death, you'll be granted your 11th-Hour Superpower.
  • In the final stage of Space Channel 5, during the battle against Giant Evila, Pudding and Jaguar get knocked out of battle, the music cuts out and you get thrown an unblockable missile pattern; Ulala gets blasted off her "Astrobeat Jr." scooter and left floating in space... only for Jaguar to swoop back in and grab her, closely followed by all the people she rescued, who start singing to give her an acapella beat to continue the fight.
    • Space Channel 5 Part 2 has a similar sequence. In the battle against Purge in the final stage, Ulala gets hit by un-dodgeable energy bolts from all four sides and knocked out. Her friends bring her round by entering her mind and leading her in a clapping rhythm.
  • In Um Jammer Lammy, this happens during the cutscene before the sixth stage (but only in the Japanese and European versions, due to censorship for the American release). In said cutscene, Lammy dies from slipping onto a banana peel, and ends up in hell. She reasons that, if she's dead, it must mean the game is over. Cue credits reel... until another character pushes them away. There's still two stages left.

  • Darkest Dungeon 2 has a Troubled Backstory Flashback mechanic you can optionally go through for heroes in exchange for upgrades and new skills. Some of these flashbacks incorporate the battle mechanics in the flashbacks as combat encounters with special mechanics. However, both flashback “fights” of the Hellion and the Man-at-Arm’s first flashback fight are Unwinnable by Design (both character’s first flashback has your allies being numerically inferior to your foe and causing stress damage when they die), with the character in question being unable to help turn the tide and being forced into either cowering (Hellion) or getting their comrades routed (Man-at-Arms). The Hellion’s second flashback has her unable to recover stress faster than the widows she’s comforting can pile it on, ending upon hitting ten stress. Thankfully, these encounters still end with the normal rewards for victory.
  • In Death Road to Canada, if every human member of your party dies but you have dogs still alive, you will receive a message saying that your journey has ended. The next dialogue box, however, reveals that the dogs have taught themselves how to drive, and the game will continue.
  • Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon:
    • The second act ends with the heroes meeting the culprit behind the incidents of Pokemon being turned into stone, only to be petrified themselves after being manipulated into helping them destroy the only cure. The next few levels take place in the Voidlands where the spirits of the petrified wander; the hero and partner characters manage to escape to make things right.
    • Later, you get into a boss battle with Jirachi, which you cant win under any circumstance. The story continues normally after you lose. Especially sucks if you had a bag full of reviver seeds.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Absinthia: In the Typh Village quest, when the player gains control of Ruthea, they can attempt to leave to the world map, causing Ruthea to look dejected and give up on saving the party. The game then gives a game over screen, only for Ruthea to say she was kidding.
  • In Arc Rise Fantasia, the first boss fights against Ignacy, and much later Luze, play out like this. It's impossible to win both fights, so you have to let them kill you to advance the plot. The two fights against Alf, Adele, and Leslie/Clyde would count; except in the first fight, you CAN defeat them, but it is very difficult to do so, and the plot continues on whether you win or lose (though you lose out on getting a Rogress if you lose). In the second fight, while it's impossible to win, if you lose you get the standard Game Over; the key is to stall out the fight until it ends on its own after enough turns have passed.
  • The final and only boss in the Playstation version of Azure Dreams must bring you down to zero hit points in order for you to win the game. This is a particularly nerve-wracking example, since normally being defeated in battle causes you to lose all your precious equipment and have your save overwritten, and the player is actually capable of escaping the battle.

  • Baldur's Gate:
    • This happens in Baldur's Gate II when you reach Spellhold to confront Irenicus, since he will capture your party and steal your soul.
    • Inverted in Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal: At one point, your highly advanced group meets a low-level group of NPCs and can hire them to clean up some minor monsters. After the NPCs are finished, a short sequence starts when they try to attack your group and are instantly slaughtered by the main character's Superpowered Evil Side. Then, the NPC's leader reloads the game to the point before the NPCs returned, as if you had just done a reload, and the NPCs reappear, just take their fee and leave.
  • In Bloodborne, a new enemy known as Snatchers appear in several locations after killing the Blood-Starved Beast. The first time you get killed by one, you are kidnapped and transported to Yahar'gul, an area that isn't normally accessed until much later in the game. You can't do very much here, since most of the area is blocked off until you're supposed to come here to progress the game, but there is some nice loot to pick up, you can fight Darkbeast Paarl and unlock the alternate entrance into Old Yharnam, allowing you to befriend Djura, and you can rescue Adella the nun, who will be dead if you don't come here until you're supposed to.
  • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm has a variation. Halfway through the Optional Boss fight with not_intended, the game glitches out and appears to crash, throwing up a volley of error messages about missing files and such. This turns out to be part of the boss’ One-Winged Angel transformation into Nihilerror, and the battle is just getting started.
  • Breath of Fire:

  • The Amiga classic Captive had an occasional blinking "Droid link failure - Guru Meditation" message pop up on the screen of the "briefcase computer" the player was using to control the Battle Droids — a spoof of the Amiga's notoriously user-unfriendly critical errors that almost always required rebooting the computer.
  • Chrono Trigger:
    • When you face Lavos, your party is likely to get their asses handed to you and Crono will actually die, but this will only start you on the next part of your quest. You can actually defeat Lavos there, either with a New Game Plus or with a crazy amount of grinding. Doing so will earn a different ending.
    • You can also get an item, the titular "Chrono Trigger", and go back, freeze the instant of time Crono was supposed to die, and replace him with a clone. Surprising, this part is actually optional. You can choose not to do it, leaving Crono to his fate.

  • The first fight against Seath the Scaleless in Dark Souls is unwinnable. Once you die, instead of respawning at the last bonfire you visited, you instead respawn inside Seath's dungeon. You eventually escape and get to face down Seath in a different location, where you are able to take him down.
  • Deltarune:
    • In the second chapter, Kris can find a hidden alley in the Cyber City highway that seems suspiciously empty; continuing down it results in them being run over by the Annoying Dog in a toy car, which near-instantly kills them and results not in the regular Game Over screen appearing, but the Undertale one, complete with music. Then the Annoying Dog runs over that too, after which Kris wakes up by a dumpster with a Dog Dollar added to their inventory.
    • If you attempt to buy 400 bagels from K_K, the screen will fade to black and say Kris was crushed under the weight of 400 bagels and defeated instantly... only to cut to the game screen and tell the player not really, they just can't carry that many.
  • Demon's Souls ends the tutorial with a boss fight that will result in your death (if you defeat the boss, you'll be able to get a few things before a later boss punches you in the face via cutscene). Thus setting up the gameplay mechanic of recovering your body after you die.
  • In Disco Elysium, if you find the hidden compartment in the ledger and read Dora's letter, the Detective will suffer a sudden emotional breakdown and collapse on the spot, followed by a Fade to Black and a Smash Cut to what appears to be a splash screen with the game's opening title. One short conversation with the Ancient Reptilian Brain and Limbic System later, and it's revealed the Detective merely passed out, and he wakes up to Kim pouring water on his face.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy 012: Upon starting a new game, it asks you if you mastered the original. If you say yes it pits you (Level 1 Lightning) against a level 120 Feral Chaos. Impossible to win but you don't get a penalty for losing.
  • Dragon Age: Origins has one nearer to the end of the game in which your party can either surrender to or fight Ser Cauthrien and her rather sizable group of mooks. She's a tough enemy if you aren't sufficiently leveled, and while it is possible to defeat her it's not easy. Losing the fight doesn't kill you - instead the game treats it as though you had surrendered, and you're treated to an extra quest that has some of the funniest lines in the game.

  • Elden Ring: The first boss, the Grafted Scion, is fought almost immediately, before the player even has a chance at a tutorial. After your near-inevitable death to it, the plot progresses and your character wakes up in a mausoleum (where you can find a tutorial). It is possible to kill the Grafted Scion, but if you do, your character will just fall off a cliff in a cutscene instead.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Morrowind, a Tribunal Temple quest requires you to go to a specific canal in Vivec and allow yourself to drown to death in order to reveal a hidden shrine. It's a test of faith and you'll be fully healed immediately after.
    • In Oblivion, there's a quest where you have to let a NPC kill you. This time though the game explicitly tells you what you must do.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
    • There's a minor example in the "Season Unending" quest. When attempting to write a temporary peace treaty between the Stormcloaks and the Empire, no matter what actions you take there will always be a moment where one or both of the factions will call the whole debate pointless and a waste of time and then threaten to storm out. This can make the player think they screwed up... until Esbern suddenly steps in and gives a scathing speech to both factions about the fact that Alduin will kill them all if they don't put aside their petty differences. The peace treaty negotiations then proceed from where they left off.
    • Another example happens at the end of the Thieves' Guild quest "Speaking with Silence," when Karliah shoots the Dragonborn in a scripted cutscene. You're lying on the floor, vision blurring and darkening, unable to do anything, and then Mercer tops it off by stabbing you - all of that from a lovely first person POV. When the screen goes black, you could be forgiven for thinking the Dragonborn just got Killed Off for Real. Nothing of the sort happens, however, and the quest line proceeds one loading screen later.
    • There's also the moment in the "Dawnguard" questline when the Dragonborn and Serana cross a bridge only to have it collapse under them, sending them plummeting to a river far below. Like with the Thieves' Guild example, the player could be forgiven for thinking they just made a terrible mistake.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout: New Vegas has a mission in which after finding 50 Sunset Sasparilla Star Caps, upon telling Festus that you've won the contest, he proceeds to give you the prize: Telling you the story of the origins of Sunset Sasparilla. After which, you immediately fail the mission. If you complain about your crappy "prize" however, Festus will direct you to a better prize: A bunch of stickers, amongst which is the asphyxiated corpse of a raider who was also suckered into all of this who happens to be holding a powerful laser pistol, as well as a whole lot of bottlecaps which went from being trash in pre-war times to being the most versatile currency in the land. In Honest Hearts, killing any important friendly NPC's causes the main quest to fail, but also unlocks an alternate quest where you must find a map to escape from Zion and the now completely hostile tribals.
    • Fallout 3's Point Lookout has one when you get knocked out by exploding Punga seeds and have a hallucination where you find "Schmault-Tec Bubbleheads" along the trail that mock your SPECIAL attributes, the corpses of various NPC's, exploding Nuka-Cola bottles, and a lookalike of Mister Burke with Tobar's voice standing in front of a Megaton bomb that explodes as you come to, to find yourself with a lobotomy and a scarred shaven head.
  • Faraway Story has a timed puzzle at the beginning of Chapter 6 where you have to cross a dimensional pathway in 5 seconds, otherwise the pathway will collapse and kill the party. Worse yet, there are all kinds of distractions like banana peels and a treasure chest, which will cause instant failure. Failing will cause a game over screen, but then the game will immediately dump you back to the prior scene where it turns out your failure was just a hypothetical scenario that Pia thought up, with different dialogue depending on how you died. Amusingly, after the pathway is stabilized, you can go back there to open the distracting chest and obtain the game over music.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy II: The first battle is extremely one-sided, and ends with the entire party being killed, then revived in a nearby castle, which kickstarts the plot.
    • Final Fantasy III: When you first get to fight the Cloud Of Darkness, there's no way to keep her from vaporizing you and cutting your HP to zero. Don't waste a shuriken - you're not going to win, as she's too powerful at the time and it's pretty important to the plot.
    • Final Fantasy IV:
      • The first real boss fight with Golbez starts with him paralyzing the entire party and summoning a dragon that proceeds to use a Death attack on each of your party members. Just as he is about to finish off Cecil, the Mist Dragon appears out of nowhere to defeat him and cure Cecil. Right after, Rydia (who summoned the Mist Dragon) rejoins the party mid-fight and the battle continues. Of course, the game also has its fair share of Hopeless Boss Fights. Note, however, that this fight comes immediately after a rather difficult Puzzle Boss fight. If Cecil is dead at the end of that fight, you won't have time to resurrect him before Golbez paralyzes and kills your entire party, causing a genuine Game Over.
      • At one point in the game, the hero Cecil is forced to fight his old friend Kain. Kain is pretty much unbeatable in a normal game, having approximately 60,000 HP, and using attacks that are way too damaging to survive. But if you really crank out the level-grinding or use a cheat device to max out your stats and equipment, you can burn through all that HP and cause Kain to be "killed" on the battle screen. Cecil does the victory dance, but there are no rewards for winning, and when the game exits back to the normal field screen, Cecil slumps over in defeat while Kain stands triumphantly over him; essentially, the same thing as if you had lost.
      • In the fight against the Dark Elf where you can't use any weapons and armor made of metal, you have to lose so Edward plays on his harp weakening the Elf. If you're not playing the DS version and reequip all your metal equipment before the battle (since you know it's throwaway), you're all paralyzed, so it's a Game Over. The DS version goes directly to the weaken cutscene if this happens.
    • Final Fantasy Type-0 absolutely LOVES this trope, with at least three different boss fights you're forced to lose (with all 14 characters) until your 11th-Hour Superpower kicks in.
  • Food Fantasy has an unwinnable battle the first time you fight Boston Lobster, to show how strong he is. Afterwards, his Attendant calls him off and leaves, continuing the story with no consequences to you.
  • Fuga: Melodies of Steel pulls this on the player during the tutorial prologue, where the children are so distraught by the Soul Cannon taking one of them to the grave that they lose the will to fight and allow themselves to be killed by a Berman Army ambush. It's only through mysterious powers provided by the Woman on the Radio that the death is undone and the kids learn the true nature of the Soul Cannon before it becomes available in combat.
  • Fuga: Melodies of Steel 2 pulls this off twice, once in the tutorial when the Tarascus gets overwhelmed by the Soul Cannon shot and everyone dies, and again in Chapter 4 when Malt lets himself get killed by the Exo-Taranis' Soul Cannon because he was too distracted with an argument with his friends to provide any tactical leadership. This time, it's Malt who is capable to pulling small-scale time rewinds to correct his mistakes.

  • In the prologue to Golden Sun, the 14-year-old versions of Isaac & Garet have to fight Saturos & Menardi. As the villains are experienced Adepts, the heroes inevitably lose within no more than a turn or two. This leads into the "Three years later..."

  • To defeat the Norlac in The Immortal, you have to get yourself sucked into an apparently fatal whirlpool, so that the monster gets dragged in with you. If you try to go for the ladder, you get a real game over.

  • Kingdom Hearts III contains a rather heartwarming example: The reaction command to use the true power of the keyblade to finish off Master Xehanort fails and Sora is struck down. You are then taken to what appears to be a game over screen, but pressing buttons causes a pulse to be heard and Donald and Goofy to call out Sora's name. A new reaction command then appears to allow you to use The Power of Friendship to end the fight and defeat the Dark Seeker once and for all.

  • The Gamecube/Playstation 2/Xbox version of The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age starts off with you being attacked by a pair of Nazgûl. After your first (useless) attack, one of them proceeds to "kill" you in a single hit. It turns out that you were only badly wounded, and you get rescued and patched up right away.

  • Mass Effect:
    • Mass Effect 2:
      • The game has one of these in the opening sequence - after rescuing Joker aboard the exploding Normandy, Commander Shepard is flung into space where s/he asphyxiates and dies. The game then cuts to the Mass Effect 2 logo, before continuing on to Shepard's revival thanks to Project Lazarus. What makes this example particularly clever is that, in Bioware's pre-release demonstrations, it was strongly implied that this particular scene was avoidable. So the game's biggest followers get a real shock.
      • Happens again with the Arrival DLC if Shepard gets "killed" in the Object Rho fight, instead to be knocked out and sedated. If you survive your Last Stand, then the artifact simply knocks you out for the same thing to happen
    • Mass Effect 3 does it one last time. When you're running to the teleport beam to get to the citadel, Harbinger's laser will hit (or, as it turns out, miss by a hairsbreadth) Shepard and the screen fades to black and radio chatter basically says that the final push failed. Then Shep's eyes open, s/he gets back up, having had all his/her armor burned off, grabs a gun and heads for the teleport beam.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network 3, your first fight against Bass cannot be won, because he is surrounded by an impenetrable aura. He eventually defeats you, but instead of a game over, the next cutscene appears with Bass standing over Megaman in victory. Notably, if you bring over items from another game, which would have to have already gone far past this point in the plot, you can remove Bass's barrier and take out his HP. Bass will keep going.
  • Metal Max:
    • Metal Max 2 sets one right at the start of the game: Ted Broiler wipes the Hunters, and then proceeds to wipe your character and their mentor. The player character is effectively dead until they are taken in by one of the villagers and nursed back to health.
    • Metal Max 3 does this at least thrice VERY early. The first sees the player floating down the stream, clearly dead as Dr Mince soon confirms and then proceeds to revive them. A second (optional) time happens when you get a sidequest to rescue someone's fiancé in an abandoned factory and you find them dead... Except not, they were playing dead. And the third time is on an obligatory escort mission, where the entire team of hunters escorting a would-be bride is wiped, the player tries to fight to protect her, is defeated, and is revealed to be a mutant who can turn into a saber-toothed humanoid beast that can destroy tanks with his bare hands.
  • Monster Hunter:
    • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate: There's a High Rank Caravan quest in which you capture a Rathian. Unfortunately, when you move in to finish the job, a Seregios shows up and chases her away. Since you've been prevented from capturing the monster, the quest is considered failed. Fortunately, the Caravaneer and the Guild award you with some cash and items as a consolation reward, and you're then given the next Urgent Quest to avenge the failure (the target monster is Seregios itself).
    • Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate: After hunting a Gravios in a High Rank Village quest, Valstrax appears just as you're about to leave. You can attempt to repel it and receive an extra reward for doing so, but if you faint just once while fighting it the Elder Dragon will flee and the Failure music will play. Luckily, even in the latter scenario, you'll be able to progress in your adventure normally, though all people in the Soaratorium (especially the captain) will look and act very worried about you.
  • Mother:
    • EarthBound (1994):
      • In Prince Poo's introduction arc, he needs to allow a mysterious spirit to (apparently) completely break and cripple him, with his HP dropping to 0 in the process, to pass a spiritual challenge.
      • Also, an NPC in Moonside will say "Ness' HP drops to 0! Jeff's HP drops to 0!" when spoken to. But nothing really happens.
    • Mother 3. The fight against the mechanical lion in the chimera factory. You can kill it, it's just really, really hard.

  • The Maimed Gods Saga, a fan campaign for Neverwinter Nights 2, has this happen near the end when a corrupted paladin stabs you in the back to ensure you won't come back from a trial by fate scenario. You pass out from the resulting blood loss, but a literal Deus ex Machina saves you.

  • Pathfinder: Kingmaker: It is impossible for Amiri to defeat Armag in the duel in the barbarian camp in "The Twice-Born Warlord": the Defaced Sister always interferes and the quest stage is always marked as failed. But this doesn't break the quest.
  • Persona:
    • In Persona 3, during Minato's Moon Arcana Social Link rank eight event, no matter what choice the player makes, the Moon will Reverse briefly, before ranking up.
    • Persona 4:
      • During the final battle with Izanami, it's impossible to kill her. Even if you knock down her health bar all the way, she'll wipe you out with an instant kill spell, at which point Rise will freak out, just as she does when you lose normally. However, the power of the Social Links you've built will kick in and give you the 11th-Hour Superpower necessary to beat her.
      • Also played with earlier on with Shadow Rise. When she uses Supreme Insight, none of your attacks will hit her. The battle will still continue for a few more turns until you're treated to a cutscene of you and your team about to die until Teddie/Kuma goes berserk and kicks Shadow Rise's multicoloured ass.
    • In Persona 5, there is a point towards the end of the game in which you must make a decision that will result in a game over if you choose the wrong dialogue option. Namely, you must decide whether or not to sell out your friends to Sae, the prosecutor questioning you. Doing so will result in a real game over, but you'd be forgiven for thinking you got a game over even if you don't choose to sell them out. The cutscene that plays when you get a real game over and the cutscene that plays when you don't are almost identical, except in the latter the cutscene continues to show Joker isn't really dead.
  • Played With in Planescape: Torment as the player avatar always comes back to life after dying and occasionally must die to advance the plot, but you aren't always told when this is what's going on, and dying, while not permanent, is still fairly annoying from a gameplay standpoint, so it's to be avoided most of the time.

  • At one point in Star Ocean: The Second Story, your party is ambushed while you're transporting a weapon meant to destroy the Disc-One Final Boss. You inevitably lose and you and your party's unconscious bodies are tossed into the sea. Fortunately, everyone survives and you get to continue to the Big Bad's fortress. Once you get there and the Big Bad reveals their plans, you get into a fight that in which you can't actually hurt the enemy at all, but if you die, you get a game over. You have to survive until the battle ends automatically, which then results in the world of Expel exploding with you on it, which also seems like a game over. But then you're told to put in disc two.
  • Super Mario Bros.
    • The first battle in the original Paper Mario 64 is a fight against Bowser that you have no choice but to lose, since he is made invincible by the Star Rod.
    • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door:
      • When the player fights in the battle arena, the player must lose to the (invincible) Armored Harriers in order to continue. Doing this causes a Yoshi to join the party. He can defeat the Harriers by spitting one at the other.
      • In one section, Mario fights a Duplighost named "???" who turns into a purple Mario. Upon "winning" the fight, Mario and "???" have switched bodies. You can only set things right by finding out "???"'s real name, Doopliss, and the letter "p" to spell it with.
    • In Super Paper Mario, you really do die at one point, but then continue the game in the afterlife.
    • Mario & Luigi:
      • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, after the first half of the Final Boss fight, Cackletta suddenly seems defeated until she uses a Bob-omb to take down the duo and swallow them, leading to the real final fight.
      • In Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, the player must lose to the Shroobs at Holli-Jolli Village in order to get the Baby Mario Bros. to join the party.
      • Mario & Luigi: Dream Team parodies the Paper Mario examples when the brothers are given the option to drink from a strange fountain on Mount Pajamaja. Drinking from said fountain makes Mario and Luigi fall asleep, dreaming about eating loads of mushrooms, growing massive, and being unable to go back to normal, which causes a fake GAME OVER screen to appear until they are woken up by Prince Dreambert. It completely restores their health and Bros. Points, though.

  • Tales of...
    • Tales of Phantasia:
      • The game, at least in the PS version, has a puzzle in Moria Mine where using the Sorcerer's Ring on a certain candle will cause an arrow to fire from a wall and seemingly kill you, as the "Game Over" music starts playing. Cless, however, gets back up and mentions that (dying from an arrow) would never happen. In the SFC version, you just lost hitpoints.
      • The fight against Dozo and Okiyo in the Euclid Arena qualifies, but it is possible to win with some extra grinding/Infinity Plus X swords available elsewhere (It goes up to Infinity Plus 5!)
    • In Tales of Symphonia, there are two Fission Mailed battles at the Tower of Salvation against Kratos and Yggdrasill. Both battles allow you to lose and still continue the game. The first battle can be beat with a bit of grinding; the second the most you get for your trouble is just staying alive a little longer (probably wasting a lot of healing items), as the battle ends automatically after a certain amount of time.
    • Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, the sequel, features a few of these as well. Under the Tower of Mana against Lloyd, who you can defeat, but the game will continue as if you lost anyway, Richter toward the end of Chapter 7 can be beaten, but losing to him changes nothing about the plot, and against Lloyd and Marta at the end of the game, only this time winning gets you the Bad Ending and losing will get you the true/normal ending.

  • Happens three times in Terranigma, the first two being optional. The first time you go into a poisoned room that has Ark doing his fainting animation but he is thrown out. The second happens the first time you try to cross a certain desert, giving the standard game over text (however the town music is playing all the time). The only obligatory time is when you meet Light World Ark, which plays the fanfare with the text and it's implied it actually kills Ark.

  • Ultima III. Many players Rage Quit and reloaded when their boat was sucked into the whirlpool, since the game went black and you got the same initial text that you got when you died. Except - it's actually a portal to another world under Britannia. D'oh!

  • At the first visit to the Sacred Stormvale castle, in Ys IV: Mask of the Sun, Adol is "killed" by the Clan of Darkness when he was caught spying on them.

  • Inverted in Xenosaga with the fight against Patriarch Sergius. Halfway through the fight, he is knocked down as if he was defeated, and the screen cuts to the usual post-battle experience gain screen. Once it gets you to think you've beaten Sergius, the screen turns red and shatters, returning you to the battle as Sergius re-initiates the fight through sheer force of will.
  • Xenogears: During the stay at Nortune, if Fei decides to let Citan remove his Explosive Leash, Citan accidentally ends up detonating the bomb, killing everyone in the vicinity. Fei immediately wakes up in terror, and promptly asks if there's a better solution.

    Shoot 'Em Up 
  • In the Azdagari string of missions in Escape Velocity: Override, at one point, a Zidagar photographer takes pictures of a secret base and attempts to escape the system in a ship. The mission you're given is to destroy it before it escapes. If you succeed, you get congratulated and you eventually get the mission again. You need to fail the mission, however, for the story line and mission string to advance.
  • In RefleX, all seems to be lost in Area 7 when ZODIAC Virgo fires on a trapped Phoenix, forcing you to use up all of your shield (which doesn't regenerate here) and run out of armor, resulting in your death. However, instead of a Game Over screen,note  your ship goes through an extended destruction animation as Virgo continues to rain Bullet Hell upon you, until it blows up... and resurrects as the ZODIAC Ophiuchus.
  • Traffic Department 2192 gives you a mission to defend a medical convoy, but since the convoy is highly fragile and the attackers don't show up on your long-range map, it's very difficult to succeed. However, whether you succeed or fail, the plot proceeds as if you failed.
  • Done similarly in the Trouble Shooters (Battle Mania in Japan) game for the Sega Genesis, where the credits begin to roll and a boss interrupts them; the game doesn't actually end until the stage after that.
  • Many BONUS levels in Tyrian are Exactly What It Says on the Tin and plays this trope straight if you happen to die in them, by allowing you to go to the next level.

    Simulation Game 
  • In Animal Crossing, once you piss off Mr. Resetti enough by abusing the reset button, he says he will erase all your data and will cause the screen to go black. A few seconds later, the screen returns to normal, and Resetti says "Gotcha!".
  • In the ZX Spectrum slot-machine simulator Dizzy Dice, beating the "Break the Bank" mode results in the Spectrum apparently resetting itself... until a key is pressed, whereupon the fake "start-up" message scrolls off the screen followed by a "gotcha" style message.
  • Both FreeSpace games loved this. There are quite a few missions where you could fail some or all of the (usually mission-critical) primary objectives and still successfully finish the mission. These tend to be scripted storyline events, however: The Freespace games like to remind you every so often that it's the middle of a war, and in a war, you don't always win...
  • In hacking simulator Hacknet, one early-game mission will lead to a pissed-off rival deleting a critical file from your system and then crashing it, dumping you at a text-only terminal interface. In his arrogance, he didn't think you might have a practice machine in your network. Once you get used to the text-only interface it's trivial to dial that machine and replace the file. If you're not paying attention, though, it's entirely possible to mistake this for a Non-Standard Game Over. Fan mission designers usually take the same route, and occasionally get headaches when a player uses cheats to beat a mission they were supposed to lose and then complain about the game being broken. Some wiser mission designers will make joke scenarios occur if this happens, to make it clear to these players that this was not the way the mission was supposed to go.
  • In the Harvest Moon series, most of the games since Harvest Moon: Back to Nature (PS) will trigger the credits sequence once you get married. But the game starts right back up as normal once they finish. Exceptions include For Girl (BTN's Distaff Counterpart) and if you're playing as Tina in the European/Australian version of Magical Melody. In those cases, the game actually does end there. The American version of Magical Melody still ends at marriage, if you marry Jamie.
  • A couple of MechWarrior missions will unavoidably fail your objectives partway through the mission, complete with a huge red Failed next to the objective, but instead of being given the 'Mission Terminated' or 'exiting the battlefield' prompt, it instead flashes new objectives to complete in order to succeed. For instance, one mission asks you to shanghai a convoy that you've jumped a few times before...only this time there's no convoy to capture. The game mails your fission...because this time it's an ambush that you now have to escape. Survive by either running or defeating all your opponents and the game will consider the mission successful that way instead.
  • In Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader's Razor Rendezvous mission, you can successfully complete the mission by suicide-ramming the Star Destroyer's bridge, just like Arvel Crynyd in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
  • A variation on this happened in the early missions of Star Trek: Starfleet Academy. The early "tutorial" missions spend quite a bit of effort expressing how you should always follow orders, and failure to follow orders will result in a failed mission (which they do). Then, however, in a mission where you're handling a culture's ancient artifact, you must specifically disobey orders to destroy it to pass the mission. Given the mission's otherwise fairly mundane presentation, it's likely very nearly all players fell into this the first time around. Not only that, but disobeying orders as a requirement never comes up again.
  • In Suzerain, accepting Serge's gift of a pocket watch then suffering an assassination attempt will have the watch save your life. The scene is still presented in the same style as the game's endings, making it seem like the assassination was successful until you wake up in the hospital.
  • In Trauma Center, this happens in Under the Knife 2, where Derek loses his Healing Touch in Chapter 4. For a few operations where the Healing Touch is normally necessitated, trying and failing to execute it is needed to proceed the plot; the game gives you an "operation failed" screen but you still proceed to score calculation. Yes, this also still has "The Medical Board Will Be Notified", even in the one instance when Derek is engaging in personal practice to see if he still can use the power!

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • In Hitman: Blood Money, the final sequence appears to be Agent 47's funeral after Diana betrays him. However, as the credits are rolling, the player can twiddle the thumbsticks to bring him out of his induced coma and take out everyone present.
  • Metal Gear:
    • The first Metal Gear Solid has Psycho Mantis, a boss with an attack that pretended to turn off the console. There is the big green "Hideo" in the top right corner as a giveaway, but this was another level of Interface Screw; it had a similar font and positioning as the "Video" input indicator on Sony Trinitron model televisions that were made at the time.
    • The Trope Namer occurs when Raiden and Snake are fighting through Arsenal Gear in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. At one point, the screen flashes white, indicating that Raiden has been killed, but instead of "Mission Failed", the text reads "Fission Mailed", the options read "Emit/Continent"note  instead of "Exit/Continue", and the action continues in the corner box that normally shows Raiden's cause of death. A few seconds later, the game goes back to normal.
    • You can mail your fission at any time in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater by taking the fake death pill, which sends you to a fake Game Over screen, except your inventory button still works, allowing you to take the revival pills. The Sorrow sends you to the same Fission Mailed screen, and the same remedy works. In fact, doing this as soon as The Sorrow's sequence begins will skip the boss fight. But if you wait at the fake game over screen for too long, it will turn into a real one.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has both a tribute to the Psycho Mantis encounter in the form of Screaming Mantis (and in the Codec conversations about how to beat her when the player can't properly control Snake) and Psycho Mantis' reappearance, and the infamous microwave hallway has Snake's Life bar drain out... but wait, his Psyche is still there! Snake can actually complete that part with both bars depleted, pulling himself the rest of the way with only his fingers.
  • In Sheep, Dog 'n' Wolf, you start on a tutorial level. There's a white line a bit ahead from where you're standing. As soon as you cross it...

  • In Alien: Isolation:
    • You end Mission 10 being betrayed and ejected in space with the xenomorph, both inside a unpluggable research module. Then, a new objective pops up talking about an escape pod...
    • Almost at the very end of the game, just as Amanda is about to escape the station, a Xenomorph grabs her from above and pulls her into a ventilation shaft and the game cuts to black. The alien can kill you this way normally, so you might think you stumbled into a trap laid out by the developers and will just have to go the other way when you reload your last checkpoint. And then Amanda wakes up to find that things have gone From Bad to Worse for the umpteenth time.
  • In the third Alone in the Dark game, once you give Jeb Stone the briefcase full of money, he orders the Elwood brothers to shoot you dead. The following sequence has Carnby in the body of a jaguar, trying to revive himself.
  • The Dead Space app has one in Chapter 11: After killing the brute and walking around, the battery low icon appears and then another brute appears out of nowhere before the screen goes thwip - nightmare sequence in a marker-desert comes back on. Excessively scary if you haven't charged your iTouch for a while.
  • In Eternal Darkness, when the player's sanity gets low, a number of strange meta-game effects can occur. Their character's head may explode a few seconds after entering a room, followed by the usual death animation, but then they are safely returned to the door. There is a fake "game over" screen, a fake "stay turned for the sequel" screen, a fake BSOD, and a fake "Game Deleted Successfully" screen, with a blank saved game list. The TV may appear to turn itself off, the audio can gradually drop out (complete with a decreasing VOLUME bar, as if the user were sitting on the remote), and then there's the infamous "controller unplugged" fake error message.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
    • Normally, getting jumpscared by an animatronic means Game Over. The Phantom Animatronics from Five Nights at Freddy's 3 are an exception- their jumpscares will result in audio/camera/ventilation crashes and nothing more. Phantom jumpscares will, however, give Springtrap the opportunity to get to you- and he can kill you.
    • On Night 3 of Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location, on the way to and from the Parts & Services Room, you must sneak through the Funtime Auditorium and avoid being killed by Funtime Foxy. On the way back, however, you will be caught by Foxy whatever you do, and Night 4 opens with Circus Baby revealing she kidnapped you and hid you in a spring-lock costume.
  • Ghost Hunter, on PS2: When Lord Hawksmoor has you realise that there is absolutely no way out of your predicament, and possesses your partner to shoot you dead, the game returns silently and sadly to the main screen. Then the computer AI that's been guiding you on the game, and is present on the main screen, speaks up. And possesses a robot with a giant chaingun. And sets about fixing the problem and reviving the main character.
  • The Indie horror game Headless Prisoner has one hallway where you can't turn to the side or stop moving, and must pass through several distractions. The last of these involves the game appearing to hang up, followed by an error message popping up. Hesitating instantly kills you.
  • Neverending Nightmares has plenty of instances of this. There are multiple times where Thomas is put in an inescapable situation (such as walking in a room with an enemy and the door locks behind him) and Failure Is the Only Option. And sometimes, his sister would be killed instead. But these serve to progress the plot by having Thomas wake up in his next dream.
  • ObsCure begins with an Action Prologue with Kenny and Dan exploring a high school basement after hours. Not long after the second player is introduced, Dan is killed during a bit of Controllable Helplessness and Kenny seemingly follows suit in apparent Game Over. Cue Title Drop.
  • SIGNALIS: The game seems to end after you complete the mines level: you get a Downer Ending, the credits roll, and the game returns to the main menu, which now says BEGIN instead of CONTINUE. If you click Begin, you find yourself back on the spaceship from the beginning of the game, but a few minutes of looking around will show that there's still plenty of game to go.
  • Silent Hill:
    • The dark dead-end alley sequence in Silent Hill, where Harry has to be "killed" by the demon children to proceed. Then he wakes up in the cafe, not much worse for wear. In the New Game Plus this gets skipped and Harry wakes directly in the diner after the opening cinematic.
    • Silent Hill 2: Maria's many deaths serve as a sort of Fission Mailed as well, as triggering them outside of scripted events causes a Non-Standard Game Over.
    • The Nightmare Amusement Park in the beginning of Silent Hill 3, where Heather gets run over by the roller coaster at the end. Heather can also "mail the fission" at any time during the nightmare by being killed by the enemies or jumping into a Bottomless Pit.
    • The interactive nightmare at the beginning of Silent Hill 4, where The All-Concealing "I" is accosted by a Victim in first person perspective (it's actually Joseph's final moments)..
    • In the final run to the Lighthouse Clinic in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, you will be overcome by Raw Shocks, and it'll look just like when you're overcome normally... until they get off of you and become immobilized by ice. Then the ice you're on breaks, and you have to swim the rest of the way. And you can drown yourself or swim until you run out of energy, at which point Cybil saves you and points out your destination.
    • Silent Hills PT goes with good old Hideo Kojima's Fission Mailed style — your game may glitch out and restart from time to time. Except you are actually progressing.
  • Yomawari: Midnight Shadows: After defeating Malice, Haru has the Red String of Fate trapping her left arm as Yui's malevolent spirit approaches to kill her. As Yui approaches her, Mr. Kotowari suddenly appears, giant red scissor blades open. Lunging at Haru, the screen cuts to black with blood splashing across (just as the standard death screen). However just a few seconds later, the screen fades back in with Haru's left arm brutally severed from her body in a massive pool of blood as Mr. Kotowari had severed her arm to save her life.
  • Yomawari: Lost in the Dark: After the mysterious girl rejects your help because you haven't recovered your true memories, Yuzu leaves and wonders what she has to do. After a flashback, the screen fades to black and the game title is shown while the theme music plays, but then the credits scroll at an unreadable pace. We then go back to Yuzu in her house, resolving to recover her true memories before the curse fully takes over.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, Laharl and co. are easily beaten by the Alternate Overlord close to the end of chapter 6... and then Laharl's lackeys join the fight and turn it around. Notably this Fission Mailed can be averted by leveling up in a New Game Plus, though by defeating the Overlord single-handed the lackeys will not appear and their previous dissapearance will remain unexplained.
  • The first boss battle in Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice ends in a Fission Mailed/Heads I Win, Tails You Lose situation, as Mao and Almaz have defeated the Overlord's hand, but it sprouts new fingers and wipes the floor with them, inducing a "Game Over", while proceeding to the next chapter anyway. Because Mao refuses to let the game end like that.

    Turn Based Tactics 
  • The original Jagged Alliance has an assortment of randomly picked exit messages, one of which is an error message explaining the game failed writing the player's quick save (to avoid Save Scumming, the only way to save the game during battle is to exit the game) followed by "just kidding".
  • In Town of Salem, there's a brief pause in between a death notice for someone lynched, and the announcement of their role. For a moment, therefore, it will seem like a Jester has lost - but since their win condition *is to be lynched*, and they kill someone else after their death...
  • In Transformers G1 Awakening, the player is facing the Big Bad with the only controllable unit being Optimus Prime. While it's possible to win the battle, if the player loses, reinforcements arrive that revive Prime and help him end the war.

    Visual Novel 
  • Many, many times in the Ace Attorney series:
    • In the first game of all:
      • In the fourth case, with the Game Over sequence, the only indication that you're supposed to let the Guilty verdict continue is that you weren't penalized. In fact, if you haven't been penalized at all, it will seem very weird, as the judge doesn't give you another chance, and you don't lose one of your markers. Also, the fact that you can't do anything to prevent the supposed Game Over. For someone playing through the first time, these vague indications are very easily overlooked. Unless you've failed before. One indicator is that, during the Judge's typical spiel, it cuts to Wright, who sweats and says something like "This doesn't look good... I'm sorry...".
      • While not a Game Over itself, there is a point in the 5th case where after failing to find something to convince the Judge about your points, he is ready to penalize you and your life marks show up (it could be a Game Over if you only had one mark left and the penalty was issued) to make it seem like he was for real. Cue in someone who prevents this from happening.
      • In the second case, there's a point where the player has the choice to either take up Maya's case, or to just leave and go home. Picking to "go home", leads into a black screen with sad music, where Phoenix narrates how Maya was defended the following day by a state appointed lawyer, the case was a white wash against her, she was declared guilty, and he never saw Maya again, as the case remained unsolved forever. ...It then reveals this was just a scenario Phoenix was imagining. He declares that he's not going to let it happen, and takes the case.
    • Trials and Tribulations:
      • In case 2, winning the second trial comes down to pressing a single statement in a particularly drawn-out testimony. Any selection you make leads to Godot informing you that you've failed to find anything substantive — but if you figured out the right one, Phoenix will point out the contradiction a few moments later.
      • There's a fake Game Over in the 3rd case that shows Phoenix losing his case to Winston Payne, his client getting a guilty verdict, and the courtroom doors closing. Given that it's the opening Cutscene and you haven't even touched the controls yet, this isn't fooling anyone. You find out later on that it was actually someone who was impersonating Phoenix when the guilty verdict was issued.
      • When you're required to give the last piece of evidence in "Bridge to the Turnabout", it won't matter what you present — Godot will say that he doesn't know what you're talking about, followed by an instant Game Over if you presented the wrong one or Mia's brief mirage if you gave the right one. Because you only have one chance to present your proof, players have an enormous tendency to do Save Scumming at this point, only for them to facepalm themselves and even yell at the game for fooling them big time at the climax of the trial.
    • Spirit of Justice:
      • In "The Rite of Turnabout", at the end of the first trial, Phoenix cannot disprove Nahyuta's argument. He knows that Maya is innocent but there is no information and evidence that can prove her innocence and the Judge finds her and Phoenix Wright (via Defense Culpability Act) Guilty. Before he passes judgement, the bailiff interrupts to point out a second victim and that Maya is the suspect of that murder as well. This gives one more day of investigation to turn everything around.
      • In "Turnabout Revolution", Queen Ga'ran declares Apollo, Phoenix and Dhurke guilty just because she can, much to their surprise and even the judge's. But don't worry — it's ignored, so you can continue playing.
    • The Great Ace Attorney: Case 3 of the first game introduces you to the "Jury" system, where six jurors can cast either "innocent" or "guilty" votes by sending a flame into either the white scale (to vote innocent) or black scale (to vote guilty). As Ryunosuke cross-examines the first set of witnesses, all six jurors eventually vote guilty, so it looks like you're about to get a Game Over. Fortunately, Susato reads about an old procedure called the "summation examination", where you can ask the jurors on what grounds they reached their decisions, and try to appeal to them to change their minds.
  • In Amnesia: Memories, Orion says at the start of the game that you can't risk letting anyone know about your amnesia and each guy's route has a Suspicion meter that increases every time you do something that makes that guy suspicious of your sudden personality change. However, in every route except for Ikki's, the Suspicion meter unavoidably maxes out at a certain point in the route when the guy figures out on their own that you have amnesia (or in Ukyo's case, start out aware of that fact) and it won't affect your chances of getting a good ending as long as you keep Affection and Trust high enough. In addition, Toma's route has a Doubt meter and while the heroine growing doubtful about Toma's actions doesn't seem like a good outcome, you actually need a high level of Doubt to get Toma's good ending even though certain...things...happen after you get it high enough.
  • In Arcade Spirits, there are two separate examples:
    • Partway through the game, Deco Nami, the Big Bad of the story, will gain control of the arcade you're working in. You cannot prevent this, as he's able to buy the arcade due to circumstances beyond your control. All seems lost for your player character, who has just had their dream ripped away from them, and you even get a "Game Over" screen—but it's followed by a "Continue" screen, after which your app assistant Iris intervenes, getting your best friend or love interest to pull you out of despair and inspire you to just establish a new arcade.
    • Later on, even after you establish a new arcade, things go wrong yet again, this time because Deco Nami hires a street gang to sabotage your arcade's first opening on the same day an "arcade critic" is set to review it, right after you have an unavoidable argument with your best friend or love interest. You even get shot when events really spiral out of control—but you later wake up in the hospital, it turns out you were only shot in the leg, and your best friend or love interest visits the hospital to apologize. Your courage even inspires the "arcade critic" to hold off her review for a week to give you a chance to turn your fortunes around.
  • Danganronpa:
    • In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, this is how chapter 5's "true" ending plays out. You are presented with a choice whether or not to reveal Kirigiri was lying in court. If you reveal her lie, Monokuma cuts the trial short in order to force Kirigiri to be executed, and you get a bad ending. But if you choose not to reveal her lie, the game at first makes you think that's the wrong choice: Makoto Naegi himself, the player character, is set to be executed instead, and using the exact same method, too. But just as Naegi is about to be crushed to death, a virus planted by Alter Ego stops the crusher, saving Naegi's life and ensuring you get to continue to chapter 6 after all.
    • In Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, this happens near the end of the final trial, when Hajime falls into a Heroic BSoD. Firstly, the player is put into a Nonstop Debate where they can’t fire their Truth Bullet. After a single loop, this leads to Hajime losing all his health. After this, the story continues, leading to a Lotus-Eater Machine, followed by a Battle in the Center of the Mind, after which Hajime breaks out, and enters a Super Mode, leading to the final series of challenges.
    • In Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, Shuichi calls it quits after a multitude of Awful Truths are dropped that sends him into a Heroic BSoD with the screen shutting down with the words "BAD END" appearing. Immediately, the game ask if you would like to "save" this situation, the trick is to change the prompt to "remedy" which shifts the game back with K1-B0 handling the trial.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club!:
    • The shocking scene where the game reveals that it's a Disguised Horror Story affects the Player Character so deeply that he crosses the Despair Event Horizon and gives up. The screen fades to black and says "END" before returning to the title screen. This is when the straight visual novel segment of the game ends, but attempts to start a new game after this point will instead lead to the next act of the game, which manifests itself as a new playthrough where things are definitely not normal any more. This is when the "real" part of the game begins. This one also involves the illusion that you have stumbled upon a bad ending by making the wrong choice, when in fact it's inevitable.
    • One possible encounter with Natsuki in Act 2 has her freak out, snap her neck, and charge at the screen. The screen will then depict the "END" screen from the end of Act 1, but with the word backwards. It the leads into the standard transition between scenes, with Natsuki's behavior being nothing more than a Jump Scare.
    • A minor case near the very end of the game has the player being told that they've ruined everything and should just stop playing — and given the context, they might entertain the possibility that this is for serious. After several long seconds with nothing, things continue moving forward again.
  • In Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind, you can visit the local police precinct. If you use the "Check" or "Take" prompts on the policewoman you're speaking to, she'll get mad at you and cause a "Game Over" screen to appear. However, the game will immediately resume after this, with the policewoman saying that she was only kidding.
  • Fate/stay night has a hilarious false Bad End, complete with false Tiger Dojo. Tell Saber there'll be no food today if you want to see it.
  • Fate/hollow ataraxia continues the tradition when Shirou and Shinji sneak into Sakura's room to read her diary. But on a more serious note, due to the looping gameplay it's okay to get killed. In fact, you're going to get killed because you can't progress otherwise. Just ignore the Dead Bad End screen that pops up and continue playing.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, the good ending to Lilly's path does its best to make you think you've gotten a bad end, up until the very last scene. In fact, the bad end is exactly the same as the good end except that it ends earlier.
  • a letter of challenge: After the mysterious girl casts her spell, the player gets a game over screen. However, starting again will continue the story, as there is a time loop.
  • In Matches and Matrimony, both the Bingely and Wickeby paths will at one point inform you that your chosen suitor has married/gotten engaged to another woman. At this point, the narration will start to get sad, sending you back home, looking extremely similar to the closing of the paths that lead you to the bad "Miss Bennet" ending... until your suitor comes to declare their love and tell you they are free to marry.
  • It is impossible to get the True Ending of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors on the first playthrough. For plot reasons. Akane has to send Junpei through the Safe Ending to obtain a password so that she can give it to him on the next run through. Otherwise, the game ends with the Coffin Ending.
  • Princess Waltz gives you a "Bad End" halfway through the game, at which point you need to go back to the title screen and choose to play its second half.

  • In Die Anstalt, a patient's progress bar going red usually means that you screwed up their treatment and need to reset their mental state with electroshock therapy. For Dub, however, this is actually a required part of his therapy; many players, not knowing this, kept on trying other methods until they realized that letting his progress bar shoot way down and then shocking him was the only way to continue his therapy.
  • Dota 2: Vengeful Spirit and Wraith King, after obtaining their Aghanim's Scepter upgrades, will stay active despite reaching 0 HP.
    • Vengeful Spirit's death will create an illusion that fills in for her for the duration of her death timer and unlike any other illusion is capable of using abilites and is considered a "strong illusion" which lacks vulnerability to specialized illusion destroying effects such as Mana Drain, Energy Burst and more. Effectively a second life.
    • Wraith King gains an aura of delayed death that will bestow wraith form upon any allied hero that dies near Wraith King, including himself. Wraiths have only a few seconds to act, but cannot be killed before that timer runs out.
  • Subverted in Escaping the Prison if you use the jetpack at the end of the Sneaky route. The jetpack fails to start at first and a fail screen pops up for a moment but then disappears when the jetpack suddenly starts working after all... only for it to send Henry crashing right back into his prison cell and the real fail screen to appear then.
    • Also subverted/Played With in Completing the Mission. In the Thief/Allies route, after Henry and Ellie crash into the launch tower on the Toppat Clan's base and Ellie subsequently being captured, Henry can choose to use a CorrupTick to free her. When unleashed, the tick corrupts the game, causing it to "crash and reboot," returning to the previous scene with the game still corrupted. Henry and Ellie then crash into the tower in T-poses, and the government soldiers chasing them swing into the tower also glitched out. The fail ends with the Fission Mailed screen, although this counts as a regular fail.
  • Fisher-Diver has a nightmare sequence after the first day. There, the player has got no fishing tools, will move slower and slower as the time goes on and is eventually bitten to death by wireframe fish. It's basically the games way of showing what will happen if they die: the game will treat it as another nightmare and start the current in-game day over.
  • In The Flame in the Flood, as you reach the Yards, Scout's raft collides with an impassible wall of debris. What looks like the usual "death by drowning" animation plays... then it cuts to Scout waking up on the shores of Angel Yards, still alive and with all her supplies. After you're done exploring Angel Yards, a traveler fixes up the raft so you can finish the game for real.
  • Giants: Citizen Kabuto has an inverted example, a 'Sission Muccess!' if you will: in the final battle, facing the original Kabuto as Delphi in her Kabuto form, the boss dies in one hit, no matter how weak. A cutscene of it dying plays, and the credits start to scroll up the screen as the camera spirals down towards its face. Then the credits go back down the screen, Kabuto wakes up, and throws Delphi across the arena so hard she shifts back into her original form. Then the real final battle starts, playing as Baz after he is teleported in with Yan.
  • Grand Theft Auto 2: Getting arrested is an integral part of the jailbreak mission.
  • One of the results in the Chaos Mod for Grand Theft Auto V is "Suicide", in which whoever you're playing as shoots himself in the head for no reason, naturally failing whatever mission you're in. There is also a "Fake Death" result, which presents itself for a moment as "Suicide", but doesn't actually kill you, it just throws up a fake death and failure screen for a moment and then reveals the fakeout. Some versions will even reference the original line when this happens. (For even more stress, there's also a "Fake Crash" result, but that doesn't so much make you think you've failed the mission as make you worry that the assorted nonsense has finally stretched your system beyond the breaking point.)
  • In Half-Minute Hero, the first stage of Hero 30 is this. After a pointless quest is completed, the evil lord of the stage casts the Spell of Destruction, which will destroy the world in 30 seconds. There's no way to grind fast enough to be able to beat the boss, so the world ends up being destroyed no matter what you do. Fortunately, the Time Goddess comes to Hero's rescue in the next cutscene, sending him back to right when the evil lord cast the spell, but with her time powers so that the stage (as well as every one after that) can be completed in the 30 seconds.
    • Two bosses in the game (Demon Overlord Hol in the non-PSP versions of Hero 30, and Super Noire in Hero 300) can't be beat when you first fight them. In the former's case, you have to go through a few more stages in order to gain the power to defeat him; for the latter, he gets weakened in the cutscene following the fight.
  • This can happen in Pokémon GO due to the internet connection interruption, in which the wild-encounter Pokémon who, appears to have fled from screen, is found in the player's bag instead.
  • In The Prisoner (1980), the player's goal is to keep a certain three-digit "resignation code" a secret. The game uses every trick in the book to trick him into revealing the code, including a fake crash at one point.
  • Saints Row IV has a mission near the end where you need to shut down the simulated world you're in. Near the end of the mission the simulation appears to crash, displaying a bunch of fake error messages and then cutting to a mock-up of the Saints Row title screen. The game begins again, outside of the simulation, after pressing Continue here.

Non-video game examples:

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Baby Steps, Coach Aoi doesn't believe Eiichiro is ready to beat the top national players, and states he must win the Kanagawa Junior Tennis Circuitnote  in order to reach the top 16 in Kanto and qualify for the All-Japan Junior tournament. Eiichiro loses to Araya in the Kanagawa finals, fails to become seeded, and is matched up against high-ranked Ide Yoshiaki in the All-Japan Junior qualifying match. He wins anyway.
  • In Eyeshield 21, in the Fall Tournament semi-final, the Deimon Devilbats lose the game against the Seibu Wild Gunmen and everyone believes their dream of going to the Christmas Bowl is over... Until Hiruma reveals that they can still go there if they win their consolation match.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, when investigating the ruins of Yamsk 11, Kaname apparently undergoes a Face–Heel Turn and shoots Sosuke and Tessa in the head. Sosuke wakes up a few minutes later and realizes that it was just a vision of a possible future brought on by the Whispereds' psychic powers. This becomes an important plot point, as Kaname goes on believing that it really happened, until it's revealed that it's actually the Whisperer controlling Kaname's body, and Kaname's mind was forcing her to think that Sosuke and Tessa were dead so she wouldn't consider them a threat, giving them enough time to organize a counterattack.
  • Not a videogame, but Negima! Magister Negi Magi had a Bad End screen after the party failed to stop Chao from making the existence of mages known to the world and Negi is captured by the teachers.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: In season four. Yami goes through three would-be-losses near the end. One is when, against Rafael, he apparently loses for the second time. However, this is just a recall in animation to the first time he lost, and instead, survives an attack with 10 life points left. The other two are against Dartz. When the Seal of Orichalcos starts to enclose around Yami, he manages to repel it twice. The first time was just due to Dartz being the Manipulative Bastard he is, coming extremely close to talking Yami into surrendering. The second time, Dartz managed to deplete all of his Life Points, and he only survived THAT thanks to a Trap Card he had hidden, Relay Soul, which enabled him to Summon a monster from his hand that would serve as the keeper of his life. That is, he would only lose the Duel when that monster was destroyed. It would be a huge Game-Breaker if Dartz hadn't pulled the same trick with his Divine Serpent.
  • Near the climax of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, something similar happens in the one-on-three duel with Aporia against Rua, Ruka, and Jack, set up in a Death Trap rigged to kill a duelist when his or her Life Points reach zero. After being pounded relentlessly by Aporia, Rua's LP is reduced to zero and he collapses; even worse, Ruka seems to lose the will to fight because of this, emphasized by her already low LP starting to deplete. However, not only does Rua have a card that can keep him in the duel at this point, his Power Tool Dragon assumes its true form as Life Stream Dragon, and a new birthmark appears on his arm marking him as the sixth Signer. With Life Stream Dragon's healing powers, the three of them are able to turn it around 180.

    Fan Works 
  • Mario and Sonic: Heroes Unite!: Chapter 43 seems to end on a downer: Mario and Sonic are trapped in a force field, Eggman pushes the Big Red Button on his Doomsday Machine, doing his trademark Evil Laugh, the missiles are aiming straight for Mario and Sonic... this looks like the end for our heroes... when all of a sudden Metal Sonic shows up, completely unharmed from the missile blast that hit him. He then releases Mario and Sonic from the force field surrounding them—simply because Mario is necessary for his plan, nothing more.
  • The Pony POV Series has had a couple of examples:
    • During the Final Battle against Nightmare Whisper in the Gaia Arc, Twilight gets hit with a beam of pure despair, which automatically pushes her past the Despair Event Horizon... and apparently has the same effect on the author, who says that obviously no one likes the story and is just going to end it right there. Then Trixie uses the Memory Spell to restore Twilight, and the heroes fight on to victory.
    • At the climax of the Dark World, the Elements of Harmony are used against Nightmare Eclipse/Paradox and her team of Nightmare Psycho Rangers, only for them to counter with their corrupted Elements, which unleash a World-Wrecking Wave that obliterates Dark World and kills everyone except Twilight who crosses the Despair Event Horizon and agrees to become Paradox. Fortunately, Word of God has confirmed that this isn't the real ending; the fact that that entire last portion is written in italics and suddenly features a character who's dead by that point, it's implied that this is actually a scene from a previous iteration of Dark World.
    • There's also the chapter where she tries to cure Trixie's discording, but instead kills her and goes mad from grief. Except she's really trapped in Trixie's psyche. Twilight realizes this when the psychologist who is counseling her lacks certain facts that a real psychologist would have been informed of - that Twilight has five friends, not three, and is Celestia's student - because Trixie doesn't know those things.
  • In Tales of Bleach: Unreal Society, during the big climactic final battle against Album Atrum's forces he succeeds. He reverses time and creates an Alternate History of the Bleach canon, placing him above the Soul King in hierarchy. Ichigo, Sheena and Lloyd, however, still have their memories of the original timeline and set off to fix things.
  • Turnabout Storm: Phoenix loses the case, Rainbow Dash is declared guilty, and the screen fades to black... OBJECTION! Fluttershy barges into the courtroom with a testimony that gives the defense a new lead.
  • Twilight Sparkle, Ace Attorney: Turnabout Smiles has a Fission Mailed example very similar to the previous example. Hope Ray debunks everything Princess Twilight throws at him, even proving Princess Twilight herself got Pinkie out of jail and asked her to destroy her hoofprints. The Doctor declares the defendant guilty and all hope is lost for Pinkie and Twilight... OBJECTION! ...when all of a sudden Applejack barges in, demanding to testify. The Doctor complies with the request.

    Film — Animated 
  • Toy Story 2 starts with Buzz Lightyear infiltrating Emperor Zurg's base planet and arriving to finally fight with him. After a brief battle sequence Zurg actually shoots Buzz, completely vaporizing him from the waist up and starts laughing evilly... then the words "GAME OVER" appear with a little chiptune ditty and we find out the whole sequence was a video game Rex was playing.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Escape Room (2019) initially opens with Ben using a code to unlock a door to prevent the library walls from crushing him to death; as shown in the first scene the code apparently doesn't work, and we cut to the opening credits as Ben is about to be crushed. When this scene is shown again in its chronological place later in the movie, it turns out the code actually did work, but it just unlocked the fireplace instead, so Ben has to crawl into the fireplace to escape the crushing wall, and the fireplace turns out to be the real way out.
  • In The Recruit, James Clayton is captured during his training and tortured by men demanding to know the identity of his trainer and details about the training facility. At first he's convinced it's a test, but the torture is real and it doesn't seem to be about to let up. Clayton strongly resists, but eventually breaks. It's then revealed that it was a test. His trainer Walter Burke later explains that he didn't actually wash out; his apparent failure was staged to help establish his cover. Burke tells Clayton he actually did better than anyone in decades. Clayton isn't satisfied and tells Burke he thought he could have held out and not broken, but Burke tells him he couldn't have because the test doesn't stop until the trainee breaks.
  • Twilight: Breaking Dawn: The scene near the end of the film where quite a few characters die is an absolute shocker. Once the scene completes, we see it was a vision Alice saw of the future, invoking this trope.

  • ALiCE (2014): May be one of the harshest subversions of this trope. Although Christopher falling over the cliff trying to get supplies is how he gets to Wonderland, it comes with drastically negative consequences and the whole point is pretty much to punish him for something he wasn't responsible for.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 1000 Ways to Die has a segment where the victim is a man whose home gets broken in and the thief throws him off the balcony. Then we see the usual recap and the screen that numbers and names the death: "Homie Invasion"... then a record scratch happens and the narrator quips "Wait, it cannot end like this!". Turns out the man suffered of Lazarus Syndrome and raised up after a moment. He wandered back into his house and, when the thief sees him alive again, he gets so scared he ends up falling over the same railing. The screen is shown again, though now the death is renamed "Homie's Dead".
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. meets often this tropes, but the entire season 5 is basically this. The premise is that Earth will be destroyed at some point in the near future and the team will learn that this cataclysmic failure is inevitable, but also that maybe they can still try to change things.

  • Completing Ringmaster Battle in Cirqus Voltaire causes a similar effect to Scared Stiff (they were done by the same programmer). The Mind Screw sequence in this table, however, includes a Shout-Out to the ill-fated Pinball Circus project.
  • In Demolition Man, this is what the introduction to Demolition Time is; the display would start rolling, ending with the mode's instructions being displayed.
  • A similar, yet downplayed effect is done in Ripley's Believe It or Not! after starting the hidden mode, Frog Frenzy. After collecting the seventh Super Jackpot, the game appears to be going on the fritz, with lights going off and random animations on the display. It ends with the machine "rebooting" itself, until the words "JUST KIDDING!" appear in small letters. After that, Frog Frenzy starts. Unlike the above examples, the start animation for Frog Frenzy doesn't turn the coils and lights off, which means if you're not paying attention to the ball, you could instantly drain.
  • In Scared Stiff (by Dennis Nordman), after successfully completing the Stiff-O-Meter, the game starts a Mind Screw sequence that plays split-second animations, quotes, and soundbites at completely random times.
  • Defeating Khan during the Final Battle in The Shadow causes animations and random displays to occur before awarding you the billion points for defeating him.
  • Get the Vacation Jackpot in White Water, and the game goes dead for a moment, then fires off a rapid series of sirens, split-second frames, and soundbites. After the show is over, you're awarded the jackpot points.
  • There's an Easter Egg in WHO dunnit (1995) if a game is started or played at midnight. The machine pretends to malfunction, with the flippers going dead, the balls draining, and the game shuts down. After a few seconds, the game wakes up with MIDNIGHT MADNESS, all four balls are launched, and every shot is worth three million points. This also can occur on several other mid 90s Williams / Bally tables.

  • During the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, teams have to win matches to end at the top two of their groups and qualify to the knockout stage. But if the team finishes third, they will be moved to the knockout stage of the UEFA Europa League, so they can try winning in that competition instead. Notably, this is how English team Chelsea FC won both tournaments back to back in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Starting from 2017, the South American Copa Libertadores started borrowing this system to allow third-place teams to continue their international activity in the Copa Sudamericana.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Black Crusade adventure The Heart of the Vortex has the players fight through hordes of (possibly illusionary) enemies, until they all die from the wounds. That is, however, not very long-lasting, since unless they tried something really cowardly or contrary to their god's ideology during the fight, they get resurrected and rewarded with immeasurable power shortly thereafter.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Vecna Lives! has the PCs run through a dungeon playing high-level pregenerated heroes... who are promptly slaughtered by the godlike villain, whereupon the players' own low-level characters pick up the adventure.
    • In the adventure Death Triumphant, the conclusion of the Grim Harvest trilogy, the party of heroes manage to infiltrate Azalin's castle with the intention of stopping him from using the energy of thousands of souls harvested throughout the trilogy to unseal the can he was stuck in. As it turns out, they don't quite make it in time. The flavor text is meant to suggest that everybody's dead. However, it turns out that the unleashed energy has turned the party, along with everybody else in a twenty-mile radius, into various forms of the undead.
    • The Tomb Of Horrors has illusions and traps galore, but the most insidious of these (serious spoilers) is the false tomb. The players find a trinket that acts as a powerful holy weapon against a false Acererak, and when the fake's defeated the room and, indeed, the entire tomb itself seems to collapse. It's all an illusion. The text of the adventure states that if the PCs panic and leave the tomb that the DM should end the session.
  • The Mutants & Masterminds adventure "A More Perfect Union" uses this to great effect. The players are given generic police officer characters and told to investigate reports of shouting coming from a house in the suburbs. This is actually because the residents have been infected with a sort of mind-control virus and have slowly assimilated everyone inside into a hive mind. Next on their list? The police that come to investigate. Once the players have lost all of the police to The Virus, play picks up again with their own characters.

    Web Comics 
  • One Cucumber Quest page had it look like Cucumber and Nautilus were killed by a fireball, and the description read "Thanks for reading Cucumber Quest, guys! I really enjoyed sharing this story with you." The author also played it up as such on Twitter, until the comic was updated the next day and showed that they were fine.
  • The Touhou Project webcomic Touhou Nekokayou parodies this with a pun in this comic.

    Web Original 
  • Akinator sometimes only guesses the wrong character because he tries to guess too quickly. Click "Yes" to continue, and the second time he guesses, he'll usually be right. (For example, answering questions in a certain way may cause him to guess "Urdnot Wrex" from the Mass Effect series. If you were thinking of "Urdnot Grunt" instead, who superficially has a lot of similar characteristics but isn't as famous and therefore wouldn't spring to mind as quickly, rest assured that he'll answer "Grunt" the second time he tries to venture a guess after you've given him more information.) There's always a 90% chance he'll guess correctly after four or five tries.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2: Special Edition has a few examples of this, contributing to the Mind Screw.
    • First, in Hill Top Zone, Docfuture successfully defeats Metal Sonic but gets a Game Over screen anyway. After getting three such Game Overs, he suddenly advances to the next level with no explanation. It's suggested that Tails was deliberately causing these, just to screw with Docfuture.
    • In the final video, Docfuture beats the Unexpected Shmup Finale and the ending cutscene starts playing... then Sonic falls out of the sky and lands in an underwater level. An underwater level with no air bubbles, and no choice but to drown. This case was definitely caused by Tails screwing with Docfuture. It's followed by a cutscene where the boss of a prior level returns and explain that Tails turned against Docfuture because of mind control, and that he's now been cured, so the game can be completed.
  • The season 2 finale of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series was set up as one of these.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Daria, Daria and Quinn are driving out to the middle of nowhere to bail Jane and Trent's band out of jail. At one point they pick up a cute drifter who flirts with Quinn before they drop him back off. A little while later, Daria panics when she realizes he stole their bail money. Cue the "We'll be right back" scene... which suddenly cuts back to the show as Quinn explains what really happened: she spent the money to buy him things.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the two-part Season 2 finale, at the end of the first part it looks like Twilight Sparkle falsely accused an innocent Princess Cadence of being evil, and disrupted the wedding to boot. Twilight Sparkle's chastised by her friends, her brother, and her mentor, and it looks like Twilight Sparkle has just screwed everything up and alienated everyone she ever cared about... only for Princess Cadence to seemingly drag Twilight Sparkle to hell. End Part 1! In Part 2, it turns out that Princess Cadence is secretly an impostor named Queen Chrysalis who's plotting to rule Equestria and gain infinite love energy for her subjects, and Twilight Sparkle's suspicions were correct. Then Twilight Sparkle is able to expose the impostor and indirectly contribute to saving the day.
    • The Season 3 opening. Twilight Sparkle ventures into King Sombra's palace in order to retrieve the Crystal Heart to stop him. After spending some time trying to open a magical door, she finally blasts it with Sombra's own dark magic in desperation. It opens... Twilight walks in, and ends up in Canterlot's royal hall, where a cold, angry Celestia tells her she has failed to stop Sombra, failed her test, and is not worthy of being her student. Except this is just a vision of her greatest fear, a spell triggered whenever someone attempts to open the door with anything but dark magic. Spike snaps her out of it.


Video Example(s):


Explosive Collar Fail

Fei decides to let Citan take a shot at removing his explosive collar. Unfortunately, Citan makes a screw-up during the process, setting the bomb off... until Fei wakes up and realizes dismantling the collar isn't a wise idea.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / FissionMailed

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