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Golden Ending
aka: True Ending

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Fighting Eldritch Abominations has never felt so good.

"Well then, we have finally come to your journey's true end. Our contract has been fulfilled. My own duties end here as well... You were truly a remarkable guest."
Igor, Persona 4

Some games have bad endings, good endings, and one shining, wonderful Golden Ending; the best possible ending out of all the good ones. The Golden Ending may or may not be the Canon Ending, and sometimes Word of God will directly state which one they consider to be so (and then make a sequel based on a different ending).

Games with golden endings tend to be a big source of debate and ire among gamers. The true ending may only appear after you have seen all the other endings, making the game feel artificially long just to get people to play the game more. When one ending is considered to be the true or Canon Ending, the other endings can contradict the main story and its characters, making the player feel like the story and characters stop making sense. Sometimes, fans may not agree with the golden ending and prefer one of the alternative endings to be the true one, a source of Fanon Discontinuity.

See also: Cutting Off the Branches, Multiple Endings, Nonstandard Game Over, Everybody Lives, Win-Win Ending, and Earn Your Happy Ending. Contrast Earn Your Bad Ending, which is the polar opposite of this trope. No Final Boss for You is often mutually exclusive to this trope, but not always.

May overlap with Story Branch Favoritism, Secret Expanded Epilogue, Easy-Mode Mockery, 100% Completion, and Golden Path. In cases like these, the 11th-Hour Ranger and True Final Boss might pop up as well.

And of course: Ending Trope. Spoilers ahead!


    open/close all folders 

  • Asura's Wrath has the DLC Content Part IV: Nirvana, in which you fight the true mastermind behind the story.
  • In the Gundam Vs Series entry Gundam vs. Zeta Gundam, the game's story mode goes from playing the game straight through canon to hitting every What If? scenario you can, ultimately leading to each of the game's three factions — Federation/AEUG, Zeon/Neo Zeon, and the Titans — bringing peace to the world and space. In their own way.
  • In Max Payne 2, you can achieve an ending which Mona Sax survives, after finishing the game on the highest difficulty. Unfortunately, Max Payne 3 heavily implies this ending is non-canon.

    Action Adventure 
  • The Castlevania series has had this several times. In five games (Simon's Quest, Symphony of the Night, Harmony of Dissonance, Aria of Sorrow, and Dawn of Sorrow), it takes the form of a neutral ending, a bad ending, and the best ending. Oddly, the neutral ending is often the 'worst' ending, in that it takes the least work to acquire. Others have usually just had two endings, a bad one and a good one.
  • There are three endings in Cave Story: The bad one, where everyone but you and one other character dies, the good one, where you stop the villain but many main characters still die, and the best one, where only a few main characters die and the cycle of evil is permanently stopped.
  • Endling - Extinction is Forever: The closest thing to a golden ending you'll ever get (though still bittersweet) is to keep all your three fox cubs alive while finding the fourth one (and helping a mother badger find her son along the way), making sure all four of them survive by the end of the game. Not only that, but you will get all four achievements in one go ("All for One", "Two Peas in a Pod", "Three Little Foxes", and "We Are a Family") if you do so by the game's end.
  • In Guacamelee!, getting the good ending requires the player to gather five of the six Orbs of Chac Mool (you get the sixth one automatically for beating the final boss). This requires you to find and complete several brutally difficult platforming challenges as well as a combat gauntlet. The end result is that Juan's Mask of Power, restored to full strength by the orbs, sacrifices itself in order to bring El Presidente's daughter back to life. She and Juan go on to have a happy life together.
    • Guacamelee! 2 once again requires the player to beat all of the Brutal Bonus Levels to get the good ending. However, the "bad" ending is still much better than the one in the previous game. In this game, the only difference between the two endings is that Juan finds the correct portal to take him home to his family right away in the good ending, while in the normal ending it takes him several years.
  • In The Force Unleashed, there is the canon one, where the Rebellion is saved, and another where you end up as a tool of Palpatine and have become a Sith Stalker.
  • Max Blaster and Doris de Lightning Against the Parrot Creatures of Venus: A variant. While ending the game with 90 points does result in you stopping the Alien Invasion and heading home, either Max or Doris, depending on who sent the bomb up, will have died in the explosion. If you figure out how to get the bomb into the base with nobody holding it, both characters survive, giving you 100 points and a more satisfying ending.
  • Phantom 2040 purportedly has 20 different endings, though only two can be considered remotely good. Numerous sources discussing the game even called the "things don't go boom" endings "Golden Endings".
  • Prince of Persia: Warrior Within features two endings — one where you destroy the Dahaka and get the girl, and another where the girl dies and the Dahaka still exists but is no longer after you. The bad ending results from you not getting all the life upgrades and the Infinity +1 Sword.
    • Particularly infuriating because many of the life upgrades are really well hidden, sometimes in places you have to backtrack to without any indication whatsoever that anything would be there, and quite a few of them can be Permanently Missable. Made worse by the fact that failing to collect them also means a less effective weapon and a smaller life bar in the final stretch.
    • Bypassed entirely on the Gamecube, which gave out life upgrades as you progressed through the game. This caused a major glitch which could make the game unwinnable: the glitch goes unnoticed until the very end of the game, when the doors in the Dahaka's room never open.
  • In Shadows of the Empire, the 'Easy' and 'Medium' modes end with Luke and Leia reunited at the rebel outpost, believing Dash to be dead after Xizor's skyhook blew, followed by a black screen that asks the question: "Did Dash really die?", urging the player to proceed to the next difficulty mode. At the end of the 'Hard' and 'Jedi', modes, the outpost aftermath scene is followed by a surprise scene that lets the player know that Dash survived. As the Outrider flies through a hyperspace vacuum, Dash exclaims that their escape (a well-timed jump into hyperspace right as the skyhook blew up) was "one for the books". When his droid co-pilot, Leebo, asks Dash why he doesn't want everyone to know that they survived, Dash justifies keeping it secret because 1) Dash was never hired for the last job, so there's no sense sticking around waiting to get paid; and 2) Xizor's thugs would normally be out looking for him due to his hand in killing their boss, but if everybody already thinks he's dead, they're not going to be looking very hard. Dash punctuates the ending with the casual remark: "Besides, it's better to be remembered as a martyr and still be alive, right?", and the Outrider flies away.

    Adventure Game 
  • Bad Mojo has four endings; only one is good though, and you have to meet certain conditions near the end of the game to get it.
  • Conquests of the Longbow had four different endings, each for a different level of player success. Having been captured by the Sheriff of Nottingham, the game's hero Robin Hood is tried for outlawry by the newly returned Richard the Lionheart. In the worst ending, Robin is convicted and hanged for his crimes. In the two intermediate endings, Robin and his men are pardoned, but he is not allowed to marry Maid Marian, and the wicked Sheriff remains in office. In the best ending, though, the Sheriff of Nottingham is arrested for his treason and replaced by Little John; the Abbott and the Prior of two separate groups of corrupt monks are exiled from Nottingham; Robin is ennobled as the Earl of Huntingdon; and Friar Tuck, who is named the new Abbott, presides over the wedding of Robin and Marian, with King Richard in attendance as a guest.
  • In Detroit: Become Human, you can earn the "Survivors" achievement for having Markus lead a peaceful revolution, saving North, Simon and Josh; having Connor go deviant and befriend Hank, preventing his suicide; and having Kara safely escape across the border with Alice and Luther. Golden ending indeed.
  • The endings in Heavy Rain show what happens to each of the game's playable characters. The best ending combination is usually with Ethan and Madison becoming a couple and moving into a new apartment with Shaun, with Jayden being hailed as a hero for stopping the Origami Killer and later quits triptocaine cold turkey even though he'll go through withdrawal, and with Lauren spitting on Shelby's grave after he was revealed as the Origami Killer. However, writer and lead designer David Cage has said he personally prefers the Downer Ending.
  • Completing King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow ends at the same place (Alex marrying Cassima), but varies wildly depending on whether you took the long path or the short path. The golden ending requires the long path, which means solving more puzzles, and ends with Alex discovering Alhazred stole the treasures of the other islands and set them up for civil war by having them blame each other. The long-path ending also involves restoring Cassima's parents to life, being able to rescue the genie, and getting your ring out of hock. In that ending, the wedding hall is crammed. The rulers of the other islands show up, the genie having repaired the ferry. The genie is also able to bring the Daventry royal family there. Cassima's rescued parents are delighted, but decide to abdicate in favor of Alexander and Cassima. Jollo starts dancing for joy and does tricks for everyone after the ceremony is over.
  • Primordia (2012) has several endings, most of which are nihilistic: you can destroy Metropol, join the Big Bad, get killed, commit suicide, or threaten your way out and return home... only to erase your bitter memories of your fallen friends and start from scratch, if you haven't bothered to save them. To get a better ending, you have to prevent or revert deaths of several characters, and in the case of the best possible variation of the best ending, you also have to solve a couple of additional puzzles without extra help — which, needless to say, requires a lot of work. Getting anything close to a "victory" feeling involves obtaining a certain item which can be missed by accident, and even after you're on the right path, you still have to figure out the most appropriate way to deal with the villains, and still have to do everything else the best way possible. Of course, due to the setting, even the happier endings still have a bittersweet tinge to them, and Word of God does not specify any ending as canon, stating that the players are free to interpret Horatio's character however they like.
  • RiME has two endings: The common ending has the deceased son show up in his room to comfort his father, while the Golden one has his deceased wife join them as well.
  • The most likely candidates for a Golden Ending in The Stanley Parable are the so-called "Real Person" and "Joke Timing" endings (depending on whether or not Stanley is carrying the Reassurance Bucket), as those are the only endings where the game's credits are seen. In both, the player is ultimately ejected from the protagonist character "Stanley", who is left a reactionless NPC as the player observes him from above in the room of the first major choice: the two open doors. Other endings with potential win conditions—like the "Freedom" ending where Stanley shuts down the Mind Control Facility and leaves the office; or the Ultra Deluxe "Epilogue", where the unseen entity commits Stanley to infinite game sequels in an ambiguously-distant future—do not feature credits.
  • Titanic: Adventure Out of Time: the best ending (where you get all the vital historical items) results in a world of peace and prosperity, where World War I, the Russian Revolution, and World War II never happened and the Nazis never even exist. This, incidentally, is also the only ending where you're not violently killed.
    • The objects you find prevent Archduke Ferdinand from being assassinated, results in the names of Russian Revolutionists being handed to the Czar, and make Adolf Hitler finally achieve success in painting.
  • the white chamber has four "You have died" endings and four standard ones, but the only one that gives a remotely happy ending to the protagonist is the "Redemption" ending.

    Beat 'em Up 
  • Splatterhouse 3 has 4 endings depending on whether or not you managed to save your wife and son in time. Obviously, the best (and according to Namco, canon) ending is the one where they are both safe and sound. Also, the best ending is the only one where the main villain will never come back.
  • The adult Bara Genre game Strange Flesh has three possible endings, the best one (the Boyfriend Ending) only being achieved if you do not use any save points.
  • Streets of Rage 3 has several endings, ranging from "you suck for playing on Easy mode so no good ending for you" to "you stopped the bad guy but not quick enough to save the city." The golden ending here is when you defeat Mr. X within the time limit, preventing the bombs from blowing up the city.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • The "Director's Cut" version of the Half-Life mod, Afraid of Monsters, has three bad endings and one good ending. The three bad endings are sequential, with the main character in one ending being surrounded in a house by the police after having murdered several people in a drug-induced rampage, being interrogated by an officer in another ending, and having hanged himself in his cell in the third ending. The final ending results in him being forgiven for his sins and recovering from a drug overdose in the hospital the game started at.
  • Bioshock: In BioShock and 2, this happens. Three bad endings in each, resulting from Little Sisters being killed, with only one good ending.
  • In a first for the series, Call of Duty: Black Ops II has multiple variations of the ending, with several story points providing a total of four distinct sets of variations.
    • The most obvious one is whether or not Karma is saved, either in the mission where she is first encountered or the "Second Chance" side mission unlocked if she isn't saved the first time, but her survival is also dependent on letting Farid kill Harper in "Achilles' Veil", as the double agent has to be present to stop one of Menendez's men from killing her in "Odysseus".
    • Alex Mason can be saved, via the player shooting him in the legs instead of the head, causing him to appear at the end of the game at the Vault; if he isn't saved, his son David retires at the end of the game.
    • If Menendez is killed at the end of the game, Cordis Die rises up one year afterwards and overthrows the governments of America and China. If Menendez is spared at the end of the game, but Karma isn't alive, Menendez breaks out of prison a year later (during the Cordis Die attack) and kills Woods before going to Josefina's grave and lighting himself on fire. If Menendez is captured and Karma is alive, she foils the Celerium worm and gloats about it on TV while he rots in prison. The best ending has everyone alive except for Harper and Farid.
    • Call of Duty: Zombies features two endings in its “Mob of the Dead” level. The bad ending is the mobsters killing Weasel and continuing their "Groundhog Day" Loop in Alcatraz for seemingly all eternity. However, the Golden Ending has Weasel successfully kill the other three characters, after which “the cycle is broken”. Further events detailed in “Blood of the Dead” make it clear nobody escaped from Alcatraz, but Weasel was able to take on a new form that gave him the ability to help Primis escape and free all the souls imprisoned in Alcatraz. And ultimately, breaking the cycle in the Golden Ending is the test run for the eventual end of the Aether story in which the heroes must do the same.
  • Collecting all 29 audio files in the Mombasa Streets level of Halo 3: ODST changes a short section of the Data Hive level; namely, you can access the 30th and final audio file of the game. If you get all 30 audio files, you will actually end up knowing more about what's going on than the intelligence officer who gave you your mission. One of the final cutscenes changes too, in that instead of Dare stopping the Rookie from shooting the Engineer, it's the other way around.
  • The default ending of PAYDAY 2 is achieved by simply completing the White House heist at any difficulty. In it, Bain passes away because of the virus he was injected with, and as a result, the Payday gang gives up on their life of crime. To unlock the true ending, in which it is implied that Bain has swapped bodies with the President of the United States, you must complete what was previously known as the Secret, and the way you go around doing this reaches Alternate Reality Game levels of not knowing what you need to do. First, you need to complete a specific set of story heists to obtain three artifacts. Then, you need to play an eight note tune on Scarface's piano in the Safe House. After you do this, you need to translate alien text to find out which 20 achievements you need to unlock.note  Finally, once you have done all of that, you must then play through the White House heist one more time on at least OVERKILL difficulty with three other players who have also performed the same tasks you did, which will let you access a previously inaccessible area of the map where you must fight a horde of teleporting Cloakers while solving a word puzzle and finally shooting the Dentist and activating a giant pyramid with bars of Mayan gold. What's more, the horde of Cloakers doesn't drop any ammo pickups, meaning you're on a Timed Mission, the word puzzle you're solving is quite complex requiring the same alien text translation you had to do previously, and if you fail to shoot the Dentist you must go through that whole thing all over again. The first set of players that have unlocked this ending have been memorialized with an in-game plaque "for their devotion and resolve."
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has 7 endings. 5 are bad, and are based around the "Wish Granter", the alien device that lures people who get inside the nuclear reactor, like a genie twisting wishes. The other 2 are based upon rejecting the Wish Granter and going deeper, finding the true plot endings. The 6th is a true ending but not a good ending (it's a neutral Status Quo option), whilst only the 7th resolves the plot and saves everyone; it was naturally picked as the canon ending for the sequel Call of Pripyat.

    Hack and Slash 
  • Drakengard:
    • Inverted in the original game; the first ending is the happiest, and things rapidly go downhill from there. The final ending that requires 100% Completion is a Shoot the Shaggy Dog story. Then it gets even worse in NieR.
    • In the second game, the last ending you'll get is actually positive and upbeat. But you literally have to earn the ending by beating the highest difficulty in the game, Extreme Mode.
    • Played straight in the "prequel" Drakengard 3. Bad news, all of the above's previous happy endings were retconned: it turns out that Drakengard is set in ancient Earth, meaning that any of the previous bad endings prevent Tokyo from existing as it was in Drakengard 1's Ending E. To screw things over further, Drakengard 2 Ending C was retconned by connecting it to said 1-E; Timey-Wimey Ball says that's where the Grotesquerie Queen ended up. Yeah, all shades in Nier go insane about a thousand years before the aliens show up, and Emil fights them himself. Good news, a time-traveler (if you think this breaks narrative causality, see 2-C == 1-E) manipulates events so that the Grotesqueries' asses are kicked in ending D. Even though there's still a good chance of Earth getting screwed over, it turns out that she's not alone…
    • Played Straight in the NieR sequel, Nie R Automata with its final Ending: E. After 9S and A2 have a Mutual Kill, Adam and Eve state that their conciousness has been uploaded to the Ark, and that the Machine Lifeforms will wander to another planet in an attempt to finally find peace after the war. After that, the Pods go against their code to irreversibly destroy the three fallen Androids, and after an uplifting playable credit scene 2B, 9S, and A2 are all rebuilt, and their fate is left to the player's interpretation. Afterwards, the player is given the option to send aid to another randomly selected player for the final Bullet Hell sequence of the game, but in so doing, they must consent to the deletion of all save data.
    • The Updated Re-release of Nier adds in an Ending E that results in a much happier ending. Playing as Kaine years after the events of Ending D, her actions end up reviving both Nier and Weiss (which also restores the save file sacrificed for Ending D).
  • Wu's hypothetical ending in Dynasty Warriors 8: Sun Quan restores the Emperor to power, but keeps all three kingdoms alive as dukedoms with their respective leaders in charge. The only leader (in fact, the only character, period) to not survive is Cao Cao, who is Driven to Suicide by not being able to realize his ambition. All other hypothetical endings have casualties on the other sides (especially Wei, who basically annihilates the other kingdoms), while Wu's is the one that resolves things most peacefully and happily for everyone.
  • Musou Stars has 15 different endings for the player to explore. The game's story revolves around 3 different factions fighting for power. There are 4 endings for each faction; one is the ending for that faction's overall story, while the other 3 are exclusive to specific sets of characters. The remaining 3 endings are for when the 3 factions realize their common enemy and join forces together. Out of these three remaining endings, one of them is the true, best ending, where Sayo is successfully released from Yomi's possession, and the heroes purify Yomi and restore her to her divine state.
  • While Nights of Azure has multiple normal endings based on the Relationship Values between Arnice and Lily, getting the True Ending requires completing the game normally, loading the completed game file, completing all the side-quests that appear (which includes beating two Optional Bosses), before beating the Final Boss again. Only then will you get the ending where the world is saved and Arnice and Lily remain together.
  • The Witch and the Hundred Knight has a twist on this. The "True Ending" is actually just what's prophecized by Lucchini, where in the middle of you and Metallia fighting him and his father, the Hundred Knight disappears and the game just ends. The Bad Ending is where, by way of defeating three Optional Bosses across the game before getting to that point, Lucchini's prophecy is wrong and you get to play through the rest of the chapter and the next two to fix things and get an actual happy ending. Some players have hypothesized that the developers deliberately mistitled the endings for shits and giggles.
  • Stellar Blade nominally has two ending that result in the sacrifice of one or both of EVE's companions, Adam and Lily. Either she accepts Adam's proposal, which leads to her eventually fighting a boss that leads to Lily's death as well as a Bolivian Army Ending for EVE. If EVE refuses, she then eventually has to fight and kill Adam. The game has a third ending, however, that's unambiguously better than both. Maxing EVE's relationship progress with Lily leads to a chain of events that allows Lily to survive should EVE accept Adam's proposal, while also unlocking a post-credit scene where EVE survives the final attack on her.

    Interactive Fiction 
  • Infocom's Deadline has a number of endings where you arrest a suspect, but fail to get a conviction due to not enough evidence. There's also an ending where you arrest the murderer and get him convicted, but after he's murdered his accomplice. There's a variant of that where he's only found guilty of the accomplice's death because you didn't have enough evidence to link him with the original murder. The best ending has both the guilty parties behind bars, and an optional summary of the case outlining the murderer's motive for the crime.
  • Dysmorph: A Sinful Story of Change: The best ending—Ending 13—occurs if you manage to banish the incubus to hell successfully, freeing the trapped frat boys.
  • In Murder at Colefax Manor, the golden ending occurs if you find the evidence in the caverns and don't set off the dynamite, Lord Colefax and his associates end up arrested, the cult is revealed to the public, you achieve nation-wide fame, and you are promoted to chief inspector.
  • Infocom's Planetfall has three endings: one where you fail to save the planet and it is doomed to plunge into the sun, another where you save the planet but fail to fix the communication system or the planetary defense system and therefore are stuck there (but given the consolation prize of an unlimited bank account and a home in the country), and the best ending, where not only is the planet saved and you are found by the Stellar Patrol, but all the loose ends are tied up: Your Robot Buddy (who earlier made a Heroic Sacrifice) is repaired, your Jerkass boss is demoted to toilet scrubber, and the game's red herrings are lampshaded.
  • Plundered Hearts, Infocom's first and only attempt at a pirate-themed historical romance with a set female protagonist, has four different endings: one where you as the heroine flee from the final showdown (abandoning everyone else to presumably die), take over Captain Jamison's vessel as "Pirate Queen", and vow revenge on the villains; another where you as the heroine thwart an attempt on Captain Jamison's life by startling the attacker but are mortally wounded in the process; another where you thwart the attacker with a slingshot but the heroine's father dies in the process; and lastly, the best possible ending where the bad guys are defeated, the heroine's father reclaims ownership of the island from the now-deceased villain, and the heroine and Captain Jamison sail off together happily.
  • Infocom's Suspect has one clear Golden Ending and two not-so golden endings. In two of the not-so golden endings, you spook the two guilty parties, and they attempt to leave the grounds to avoid being arrested. Depending on your timing, this leads to two variants of the not-so golden ending: One where one of the parties is accidentally killed trying to escape while the other gets away, and the other while the first one is still killed but the other one is caught. The best ending, of course, is when both are arrested before they try to leave the grounds, and you get a lengthy epilogue text summarizing the case.

  • In Akane the Kunoichi, if you've got all the bonus collectables by the time you rescue Goro, he starts to reciprocate Akane's affection for him, and they all live happily ever after. Otherwise, he just gets rescued and that's it.
  • Clarence's Big Chance: The two fall in Love at First Sight, and a sex scene occurs. Clarence, beyond all belief, is able to not screw up his new-found relationship, and he and the girl are Happily Married and spend the rest of their days together. This is the canon ending, and leads into the sequel.
  • Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest: The true ending, only accessible by completing the Lost World, sees the Lost World sinking and K. Rool escaping in a fit of evil laughter.
  • The golden ending of Freedom Planet 2 can only be achieved by collecting all thirteen time capsules. After the regular final boss fight, as Merga re-affirms her desire to destroy Avalice for the crimes of the Earth Dragons, a lost data entry is played back from Pangu. The entry is by Cordelia, the princess of the Earth Dragons and, as the heroines realize from the recording and Merga's pained reaction, Merga's long-lost lover. Just as Merga's rage fades away, Syntax, a robot drone Serpentine intended to use to hijack Bakunawa, takes control of the ship and reattempts to destroy Avalice's moon. The heroines fight back against Syntax, and as the battle seems hopeless, Merga joins the fight and gives the heroines the edge they need to destroy Syntax. As Bakunawa begins to collapse, Merga risks her life to protect Lilac. From there, the ending continues as normal, but in a new post-credits scene, Cordelia's final message to Merga is played in full, revealing her to still be alive and on a personal mission of her own...
  • Pizza Tower has the ending where you collect all of the Tower Secret Treasures before fighting the final boss. You find Gerome mourning the death of his brother John, whose clones you've been destroying throughout the game to beat the levels, only for all of the treasures (which are various foodstuffs) to fly out of Peppino and into John, reviving him into his true form. Pizzahead then gets up to laugh at him, to which John responds by punching him into the sky. This also marks the save file with "John Approved," which turns gold if you also got 101% completion.
    • There are also many different "Peppino's Final Judgement" screens at the end depending on your performance. The best one is earned by getting at least 95% completion (which also requires reviving John), in under four hours, showing Peppino screaming "HOLY SHIT!" at his computer while falling back on his chair.
  • The Shantae series:
    • Shantae and the Pirate's Curse: Requires hunting down all 20 Cacklebats to get the True Final Boss and the related ending.
    • Shantae: Half-Genie Hero: Occurs if you don't rush off to Risky's lair and stick around town to help out the Barons. Doing so allows Uncle Mimic to create a polarizing device, which Shantae uses in the final battle to reverse the dark magic of the Dynamo. The day is saved and the Genie Realm survives, with the mysterious entity that visited Shantae thanking her for her efforts.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog series has had always had good and neutral endings since the beginning, usually boiling down to whether or not Eggman successfully got away with any of the Chaos Emeralds after his defeat. As of Sonic Adventure, there's usually a series of misleadingly happy endings at the end of each character/team's storyline, only to reveal the True Final Boss and real good (though usually somewhat bittersweet) ending once you've gotten all Emeralds or completed all story paths.
    • The (arguable spinoff) game Shadow the Hedgehog has many endings ranging from good to bad to so-so depending on what objective you took (help the good guys defend the planet against the aliens, help the aliens wipe out the good guys, or just plow on and ignore all of them). The only way to get the true ending is to replay the game repeatedly and get all ten of the endings. Once that's done, the Last Story will become available, and the True Final Boss will reveal himself. It's Black Doom's One-Winged Angel form, continuing the tradition of having the final battle consist of the superpowered hero going up against the superpowered villain or the superpowered monster he unleashed (Black Doomnote  falling into the former category). Of course, the Last Story throws out the whole "you decide Shadow's moral path" gimmick, although this is justified by the fact that the Status Quo would be radically altered if Shadow killed Eggman and took his place, and the possibility of a sequel would be totally murdered if Shadow sided with the Black Arms and helped Black Doom achieve his aims to "serve" the entire Earth.
    • Interestingly, future games seem to imply that the bad ending of Sonic the Hedgehog CD (where Sonic fails to save Little Planet) is the canon ending. Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode II picks up immediately where Sonic the Hedgehog CD left off, showing the defeated Metal Sonic after his race with Sonic in that game — in Stardust Speedway Bad Future. In Sonic the Hedgehog CD, if you get Stardust Speedway Bad Future, it's impossible to get the good ending, because the next stage after that is the Final Boss, which means that canonically, Sonic fails in that game.
    • Sonic 3 & Knuckles has three endings per character: the bad ending, where you don't get all of the Chaos Emeralds, the good ending, where you get all of the Chaos Emeralds but not all of the Super Emeralds, and the best ending, where you get all the Super Emeralds. The good ending for Sonic's story leads directly into Knuckles's story, via The Stinger showing the Eggrobo that becomes Knuckles's recurring boss rising from the wreckage of the Death Egg. Getting the best ending with all three characters, then beating the game with Sonic (and getting the best ending) again, shows an extra scene of the three main characters posing in front of the game's logo.
    • Sonic Frontiers mixes things up a bit by locking the good ending behind Hard mode instead of acquiring all the Chaos Emeralds (which you're required to do as part of the story) or by finishing multiple storylines. Beating the game on Hard adds an extra boss fight, a different credits theme and a Stinger that clarifies Sage's fate. The Final Horizon DLC offers the true Golden Ending as Sage’s fate is completely altered as she is spared.
  • In Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, if you get all the treasures and 99,999 coins, Wario will get his own planet! Oddly enough, if you don't collect all the treasures and make up the difference with coins instead, Wario will go to the ending with five bags of money instead of six — and fail to get the Golden Ending. Even though the bags contain 99,999 coins in either case.
  • Namco's arcade game Youkai Douchuuki has five endings depending on your performance in the final level. Successfully completing it without killing any enemies or taking any money will send you to the Golden Ending, which is Heaven. In the Famicom port, a sixth ending is added that depicts Tarosuke going to a party alongside other Namco characters, where he becomes a legend.

    Puzzle Game 
  • The 11th Hour has three possible endings, only one of which is good.
  • The Portal 2 mod Aperture Tag normally ends with the player character being incinerated. You can deactivate the incinerator in the final test chamber, and if you do so, you will instead be led to an escape elevator.
  • Papers, Please has 20 possible endings, 17 of which are either bad endings or bittersweet endings at best. However, if the player makes all the right choices depending on the path they choose, they could possibly earn one of the three golden endings; Either the inspector and all of his family members flee the country to start a new life, the inspector aids a radical agency and successfully overthrows their totalitarian government and receives a new job as an agent, or the inspector does a sufficient job at their post, receives a positive performance review, and is allowed to keep their job. Meanwhile, the government is making efforts to make peace with an enemy country.
  • In The Talos Principle, two of the three endings can be considered this. After completing all the basic puzzles and unlocking the (definitely non-golden) Eternal Life ending, you have to solve two different sets of puzzles (which overlap in that you have to get to the top of the tower for both) in order to unlock one of the two other endings. One is called Free Will, which involves one hard, timed puzzle at the top of the tower. In this ending, you finally fulfill the plan of the creators of the simulation, making this narratively the golden ending. The other, Blessed Messenger, requires finding all the stars and solving some extra puzzles, making it the most difficult to achieve, thus it is the golden ending gameplay-wise.
  • Riven has at least seven different bad endings. Most notably, one of them punishes Sequence Breaking by having the character get shot and then fall into primal chaos as the world ends around them. Not for the faint of heart.
    • In fact, all the Myst games are like this. Myst has four different endings, following the "3 Bad, 1 Golden" formula. Myst III: Exile has four endings where you die, one really stupid mistake ending, one What the Hell, Player? ending, and one Golden Ending. That's a total of no less than six ways to screw up and only one correct solution. Myst IV: Revelation is much tamer, having only three endings (two of which are bad and one of which is Golden), and Myst V: End of Ages also has three (one causes immediate, noticeable failure, one's effects aren't apparent until you realize you can't use the MacGuffin anymore and have no choice but to meet with the baddie, whom you have failed, and the final one, which is rather unapparent at first, is the Golden Ending).
    • One thing that really sets the Myst games apart is that while there is one ending that's is not bad, per se… you achieve your objective and return home alive at the expense of someone else's personal tragedy, which a lot of people would consider a perfectly acceptable outcome… the game does not treat it as a victory, and in fact only the Golden Ending is ever canon regarding future games. In particular, if you only get the ending where you trap Gehn but leave Catherine to her doom in Riven, the entire premise of Exile will make no sense whatsoever.
  • This Starry Midnight We Make: Bringing closure to all the storylines unlocks the true ending.
  • The Witness: Turning on seven of the eleven lasers unlocks the Mountain, and finishing the Mountain takes you to your reward: a ride on a glass elevator as all of the puzzles on the island reset and you have to start from the beginning. The actual end requires firing up all eleven lasers and solving a secret switch in the Mountain to access the caves beneath, which contain more lore about the island and a diagram of a pattern to be applied to a particular panel. Finding the panel in question and inputting the solution will open up the path to the true ending, in which you escape from the Lotus-Eater Machine back into reality — though not necessarily without side effects. Interestingly, if you know what you're doing, the true ending can actually be the easiest to access, since the grid that you need to open the path is switched on in the starting area when you first boot up a new game, and as nothing prevents you from activating the doorway immediately, you can skip the entire game.


    Raising Sim 
  • Games in the Princess Maker series has many possible endings, but since the goal is for the girl to become a princess, most of them technically represent failure.
    • Princess Maker (Refine): The Ruling Queen ending, where the daughter becomes the ruler of the land, requiring the incredibly high Reputation requirement of 1200, compared to the best of all other types of endings only needing 400. It's not as simple of a matter as just increasing one parameter, as getting that high of a Reputation usually requires balancing all of her parameters, and frequent Save Scumming being the only way to ensure that she'll end up getting as much Reputation as possible. Although, Errantry can be completed repeatedly, giving 50 for just completing it, but if completed early, there's Stress reduction for every day not used. Every successful battle in said Errantry gives some too. Focused training can ensure consistent Errantry completion by around age 14, allowing 3-4 years of constant Errantry. Meaning 600-800 Errantry in that time, and that's not even estimating the Reputation gain from battles.
    • Despite the name, in Princess Maker 2, the objective is to see just how powerful humans can become. The Hero endings are just as good as the Queen Regnant ending for Scoring Points, though arguably less cool.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Dawn of War:
    • After Dawn of War II confirmed that the Space Marines lost the Kaurava campaign in the much-reviled Soulstorm expansion, many fans assumed the Imperial Guard ending to be canon, bringing the system back into Imperial hands and growing into such a bastion of Imperial might that it produced Guardsmen second only to the Cadians (the people for who Child Soldiers implies there are children who aren't soldiers). However, Dawn of War III show that the other fan-favorite Gorgutz 'ead'unter won.
    • Chaos Rising has a Golden Ending that requires the player to keep all squads free of corruption. This makes a few missions difficult and cuts off a number of abilities and items; for example, a "Pure" squad gains a Bonus Trait. A "corrupt" squad can gain as many as four Bonus Traits. Furthermore, most items that increase corruption have higher stats (they also tend to trigger more and more corruption with use), while those that decrease corruption do little else (tying up the slot they're in) and have drawbacks. However, the Golden Ending makes all this worthwhile: the traitor is Techmarine Martellus, meaning all of the playable squads survive, the sources of corruption within the chapter are either destroyed or exposed, Captain Diomedes (who had been misled by his corrupted brothers, but not corrupted himself) is alive, Sub-Sector Aurelia (and thus the future of the Blood Ravens) is secured, and all three champions of Chaos are either dead or back in their can.

      Notably, the Golden Ending is non-canon. The traitor is Avitus. Eliphas is alive as well, but it's implied he still died and found a way to come Back from the Dead or his patrons arranged it. The Force Commander and Sergeant Thaddeus are implied to have been sent on a Penitence Crusade to the Eye of Terror by Gabriel due to resorting to the use of Chaos corrupted wargear while remaining loyal, while Sergeant Tarkus, Sergeant Cyrus, and Librarian Jonah Orion remained loyal and are present (Tarkus is the Ancient who has taken a vow of silence but is forced to break it, while Jonah is badly injured after the first mission and is thought dead with his body being seen near the final battle site). Captain Diomedes was spared thanks to Apothecary Galan being defeated after his unwilling possession and managing to throw the daemon off before his death and Martellus is still alive. Jonah survives to the third game despite his injuries.
  • Pikmin:
    • Pikmin (2001) has multiple endings — one if you fail to collect everything in time, one if you collect enough to get off the planet but not everything, and the golden ending if you can get everything in time.
    • Pikmin 3 does something similar, wherein if you beat the final boss and end the game before you get all of the fruits in the game, you will get an ending that states that the heroes' homeworld has been saved for now, but they're only kicking the can down the road on the species' starvation, whereas if you get all the fruit, you get a much more upbeat ending extolling the virtues of teamwork and stating that the planet was never again in danger of mass starvation.

  • An inverted example in The Binding of Isaac: Ending 1, the first and easiest ending to get, is the only one in which Isaac may survive. Not that any of it was real to begin with…
  • Enter the Gungeon has the sixth chamber, Bullet Hell. Defeating the Lich in this level results in the player character being flung out of the Gungeon, instead of being placed back in the Breach if they took the Gun that can Kill the Past. The last hidden character, the Gunslinger, has the most Golden Ending of them all, as he stops the Gungeon from ever existing.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica Portable, the best ending ensures that Madoka remains a Muggle Best Friend, and the Magical Girls themselves survive and accept their unfortunate circumstances. Though this is the best ending for the girls, it is not so for the rest of the worldnote  since Madoka deciding not to become a magical girl means that she can't defeat all witches before they are born, thereby dooming all magical girls to become witches like they always have, and even the heroes can only look forward to dying in battle one day.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Marriage with Marian and all three allies alive in The Adventures of Robin Hood.
  • In Alpha Protocol, if you've earned the trust of most of the people you've met, including the Big Bad, Agent Thorton can pull an I Can Rule Alone on him and assume command of the titular No Such Agency after having rid it of his corrupting influence. You then go Riding into the Sunset with your Love Interest.
  • The RPG Maker game Alter A.I.L.A. appears to have three paths through the game. None of these paths, however, leads to any resolution for the Crapsack World you're in; in every case, the war continues with a new resistance and a new tyrant. However, if you complete all three paths via New Game Plus, you unlock a fourth path to the true ending, where you Take A Fourth Option that lets you discover and resolve the real secrets of the setting, including just why White was destined for a Face–Heel Turn if he survived, and why Green's allegiance was a Schrödinger's Cat in the other paths.
  • Astra Hunter Zosma: If Zosma collects every treasure, he becomes the greatest Astra Hunter, has phenomenal success in running a museum to share the legacies of the Crescent Moon Tower bosses, and reunites with his companion.
  • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm has a bittersweet (but mainly sweet) ending that leaves a few threads hanging and ends with a rather ominous Stinger. But if you’ve taken the time to do all the Inbox missions, then the story extends into the epilogue. The heroes go to visit the Sky Queen (who has been The Ghost up until now), secrets are revealed, and things spiral totally off the rails in a way that pulls virtually every plotline together for a wild, triumphant Grand Finale. Let’s just say that it’s a sight to behold.
  • In Bravely Default you can get the normal ending any time from Chapter 5 onward by overcharging one of the Crystals until it breaks. This allows you to enter the Very Definitely Final Dungeon, where you'll fight a two-stage battle versus Airy, Piercer of Boundaries. This stops the villains temporarily, but they'll be able to try again in a few thousand years. If you want the real ending, you'll have to awaken all the Crystals in chapters 5 through 8. If you do this you'll fight the same two-stage battle against The Dragon before The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. Once you get through it, you'll have another fight with the Evil One's final form, before facing the true villain Lord Ourobouros in a truly awesome battle. Defeating this boss permanently solves the problem and leads to the true ending.
  • Breath of Fire II features a Golden Ending that's diabolically well-hidden (if you're trying to avoid spoilers, that is). First, you need to spare the old man at the end of the Cathedral who's begging you to kill him; given that the machine he's hooked up to is trying to kill you, and consists of a multi-part boss (which you can't use multi-target spells on, since they'd hit the old man), that's easier said than done. Second, you need to find the engineer hidden in the town of Guntz. Finally, you need to upgrade your Township to the point where you can access the well (and some upgrades will perma-lock you out of getting said well); if you've done everything else up to this point, the engineer and the old man will get the Flying Fortress hidden under the town running again, giving you a mobile base of operations. If you haven't done all this, then in the Normal Ending, Ryu will sacrifice himself to seal away the Big Bad; if you have, however, the old man will perform a Colony Drop on the Gate, sealing it permanently.
  • Chrono Trigger features two golden endings, two bad endings (acquired by losing to Lavos or to Magus), and several so-so endings. Out of the two golden ones, the ending in which the Epoch is crashed (the "Balloon Ending") is considered the canon ending, with the "Epoch Ending" being a close second. The other endings don't necessarily wrap up all the plot threads, or are just plain silly (such as Marle and Lucca ranking every male character in the game).
    • Inverted in the DS remake: the 'real final 100%' ending is actually the one where they reveal that you screwed up big time, tying it to Chrono Cross. All the others are pretty cheery/cheesy.
    • Chrono Cross, meanwhile, has two different main endings depending on how you beat the final boss after going through the entire plot. The bad end simply treats you to a cutscene of the final boss escaping through a portal. If you jump through a few very well-hidden hoops, then you get the Golden Ending. After getting it, though, you can move on to the New Game Plus and go after the 8+ other endings.
  • The Code Geass RPG for Nintendo DS (which covers only the first season) has quite a few branching paths. You can get the standard ending, which is technically kind of bad, you can get a number of terrible Non Standard Game Overs (including accidentally driving Nunnally to suicide by saying C.C. is her new mother, or turning Shirley into a vegetable by Geassing her to "forget everything"), an "I Guess This Is A Happy Ending" (choose not to go to Euphemia's ceremony, everything goes off without a hitch), and the Golden Ending (Euphemia lives, Suzaku joins you of his own free will, and your forces go on to defeat the evil twins Castor and Pollux, who are out to kill people For the Evulz).
  • Any Compile Heart game is going to follow this route:
    • Cross Edge may be the most infuriating of the bunch, because you will need a guide just to even know whether you're supposed to kill said character during said battle, view said event at said place, all while having a high random encounter rate. Fail or miss even one of them, and say goodbye to your Golden Ending.
    • The first Agarest Senki game was tricky considering that to get the Golden Ending for each generation, you had to be at a certain Karma Meter with all three Love Interest at maxed out value at the end of the generation. In order to get the True Ending route set, you must have the needle of the Karma Meter set in the Neutral segment at the start of the Fifth Generation and defeat Summerill with it remaining there as you progress to balance it, while this is hard for most, it's actually quite simple for some.
    • The other two games, while seemingly easier without the Karma Meter, is actually much trickier than the first title. It's even more of a Guide Dang It! in Zero and 2, especially the latter.
    • Hyperdimension Neptunia may be a bit easier than the previous Compile Heart game examples, but it's still a Guide Dang It! because you wouldn't know how the Share system works the first time you play it. Nor does the game ever mention that if Neptune dies in a battle, some of her shares are lost permanently. Said shares are needed to recruit the goddesses. Fortunately, it's obvious that you need all three goddesses to get the Golden Ending, but the how part is another story.
    • Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 is the easiest of the bunch, but without looking up a guide, it's still pretty damn hard, because you could accidentally screw yourself with one of the goddesses’ endings. You'd need at least 15% global share for all four cities. Anything else below that, and say goodbye to your Golden Ending. Although ironically, getting the Downer Ending is the hardest of the bunch because you'd need to do a lot of stuff that takes a long time to accomplish. It does give Nepgear her Infinity +1 Sword at the end of it, though, and you get to keep it in a New Game Plus.
      • Its remake has its own Golden Ending, which is also ironically going down the path similar to the infamous Downer Ending except for one notable key difference, which is to continually build up support to the point when Nepgear has the Malice Sword she destroys it instead and later creates the Share Blade.
    • Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory requires you to see a series of optional events during the childhoods of IF, Compa, and Peashy, leading you to acquiring seemingly irrelevant mementos of their various shenanigans growing up with Neptune and Plutia. There is no indication that these are relevant in any way or when they pop up for viewing. These later turn out to be vitally important in restoring a Brainwashed and Crazy Peashy to normal, averting the bad ending route. Note that missing just one will lock you out of the better endings. Afterwards, depending on whether you see another series of completely optional events in a number of different dungeons, you may either go to the Good or True Endings. The dungeons in question need to be unlocked via the Scout System, and there is absolutely no way to influence the likelihood of these dungeons unlocking. However, there’s a good chance that a thorough player will eventually unlock those dungeons simply by playing the game.
    • Megadimension Neptunia VII continues the trend. Getting the Good ending simply requires watching four very obvious and well-alluded to events in the world map of the game's final arc. The Bad ending (which is simply a scene featured in the normal ending cut short, occurring soon after those events become available) is obtained by not watching said events. It's in the Golden Ending where it gets problematic. This time around, the player can lock themselves out of the Golden Ending as early as the first fourth of the game. This game differs from the rest of the series in that it's divided into three Story Arcs, and each one has conditions that all need to be met in order to reach the True Ending.The ListLike in Victory, there's a considerable chance thorough players will get this ending simply by playing, though the middle of the game can mess them up if they clear it too quickly. This is perhaps the most fastidious game in the series in terms of requirements, but it's really, really worth it.
  • All of the endings of Cyberpunk 2077 are varying levels of bittersweet, but the most optimistic is "The Star" in which V leaves the Wretched Hive of Night City with the Developers' Desired Date Panam and does their best to build a future with her, whether as friends or lovers.
  • Devil Survivor 2 has two Silver Endings: Kingmaker, where you elevate a benevolent deity to the throne and the only route where you can recruit Al Saiduq, and Triumphant, where you keep all twelve other party members except Al Saiduq alivenote  and convince all of them to join the protagonist and Daichi's cause. Record Breaker adds a new story arc, the Triangulum Arc, which follows after a hypothetical Golden Ending of the original Septentrione Arc where the player somehow got Kingmaker and Triumphant in the same run. The Triangulum Arc has its own Golden Ending, the Record Breaker Ending: Canopus and the power behind the Akashic Record is destroyed for good and the world is regressed once again, but is finally outside of the system's jurisdiction. No invaders will appear anymore, and if their Fate is high enough, even Miyako and Al Saiduq have been reborn as regular humans.
  • While the Dragon Age series does its best to keep its endings ambiguous, the Expansion Pack to the first game, Awakening, has a clear-cut Golden Ending wherein the City of Amaranthine is saved and the Vigil's Keep never falls to the Darkspawn assault (protip: earn the "Enduring Vigil" achievement and then save Amaranthine).
  • Dragon Quest VI has the Superboss Nokturnus, who's much harder to beat than the Big Bad. But managing not just to beat him but beat him within a limited number of rounds (easier than it sounds thanks to the hilariously overpowered Job System, but still takes a lot of grinding) unlocks a different ending wherein he grants you a wish, which is then used to completely and utterly curbstomp the Big Bad without even taking so much as Scratch Damage.
  • Dragon Quest XI is an odd one: after going through The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, beating Mordegon and his One-Winged Angel form, getting a satisfying final (though bittersweet)) ending complete with a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, there's no real reason for the player to think the game isn't over, the game even adds a special icon next to the savefile to indicate you got to the end! Booting up the savefile itself just seems to give the player a chance to walk around in a Playable Epilogue, but… surprise: by booting up the file, you're now on the path to a dozen and more hours of new story content, the true final boss, and the actual ending, which happens to be much happier than the original ending on top of that.
  • Fable III gives the Hero a Sadistic Choice as ruler of Albion: do you ruthlessly exploit your citizens to prepare your army to fight the Darkness or undo your predecessor's tyrannies to the detriment of readiness for the final battle? To Take a Third Option and be wholly benevolent while protecting your citizens is possible, but requires you to donate an incredible amount of cash to keep the kingdom and army both afloat.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has several endings where you join up with a faction to help them control the titular New Vegas and Hoover Dam, or you can simply take control yourself. Each ending has its ups and downs (except for the Legion ending), but with a lot of work, you can get the Golden Ending, which involves completing most of the side quests and companion arcs the right way, resolving all of the inter-factional disputes peacefully, and helping kill off all the various raider groups and other undesirables plaguing the Mojave. This gives you the ending where most of the factions and characters get happy endings. No matter who you choose to side with, some town or faction will inevitably get the short end of the stick. As long as you don't side with Caesar's Legion (which wants to oppress or kill everyone in the wasteland), whether or not you get the Golden Ending depends more on how you handled faction quests and sidequests than it does on whether you side with the New California Republic, Mr. House, or an independent Vegas.
    • Provided that you believe in his plan of restoring mankind's technological development capability and colonizing other planets, Mr. House's ending can be considered a Golden Ending in the sense that everyone will eventually benefit from it. The main issue with his ending is that some factions like the Kings and Brotherhood of Steel get destroyed; however, the Kings can be spared under the right circumstances, and there is a mod to restore the Dummied Out option to spare the Brotherhood under House. Alternatively, a Good Karma NCR ending with the proper legwork ensures a happy ending for just about every faction and individual in the wasteland.
    • No matter what you do, the recruitable companions Lily, Veronica, and Arcade Gannon will never receive a truly Golden Ending. They will always be varying degrees of Bittersweet (though Arcade's best ending has him simply realize that an Independent Vegas isn't quite what he thought, but content to help see it through).
    • For the Dead Money DLC, earning the Golden Ending requires you to defeat Elijah, rescue all of your companions, and make sure that they don't die. The most difficult of this is Dean Domino, who, if you passed a Barter check when you first meet him and/or treated him poorly (which, given his ego and self-centeredness, means anything less than obsequious subservience in his eyes), will try to backstab you the last time you two meet.
    • In Old World Blues, the best ending involves not only upgrading all of the Sink appliances as well as the Stealth Suit, exploring the entirety of Big MT, and creating Roxie the Robodog, it also involves saving Dr. Mobius and convincing the Think Tank to stay in Big MT.
    • In the Lonesome Road DLC, arguably the best ending involves talking Ulysses down and disabling the nukes, preventing a nuclear disaster from destroying the wastelands and letting Ulysses live his life out as The Atoner.
  • It's generally thought that the best ending of Fallout 4 is the one where you infiltrate the Institute for the Railroad, initiate the Institute quest Battle of Bunker Hill, and then inform the Railroad of the Institute's plans to attack Bunker Hill and help them defend it from the Institute. This results in your cover being blown and you are advised by Desdemona to lead the Minutemen in invading the Institute and sounding the evacuation order before you blow the place to hell. Doing this leaves the Railroad and the Minutemen as effectively allies, and it also means the Brotherhood of Steel will continue to co-exist with the two allied factions in an uneasy truce provided you leave them alone. In other words, this is the ending which involves the least loss of innocent life, with all three factions getting along, the Brotherhood of Steel still potentially around to provide security and technical support, and only the Institute (the designated Big Bad faction and the source of the conflict) getting screwed. However, this ending will lead to your kidnapped son, currently leader of the Institute, to despise you for ruining the whole thing. Potentially not a big deal, since he is the Big Bad and has massacred so many towns by that point that it's hard to care what he thinks.
    • The main storyline of the Far Harbor DLC involves three factions on The Island: Far Harbor itself, Acadia, and the Children of Atom. DiMA, the leader of Acadia, wants peace on all sides, but the Harbormen and the Children of Atom are hostile toward each other, and neither side fully trusts Acadia. It is possible to get all three sides on friendly terms, though it does require some duplicity on your part, and the willingness to keep certain secrets of DiMA's from anyone else, and requires passing a tough charisma check to avoid having to kill High Confessor Tektus.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy X-2 requires jumping through a ton of hoops at just the right times to unlock the best outcome, in which Yuna earns her happy ending with the fayth resurrecting Tidus. There's an additional scene if you got 100% Completion, but depending on an early choice the player may have to play through the game twice to see it.
    • Final Fantasy XV Episode Ignis has an alternate ending where Ignis trounces Ardyn and gets to keep his sight, Ravus defects to Lucis and befriends the protagonists, Noct successfully becomes the True King, and Ardyn fails to die.
  • Fuga: Melodies of Steel has one that can only be achieved by never using the Soul Cannon (ensuring that Everybody Lives), and to befriend Britz to a certain degree so he wouldn't be Killed Off for Real towards the end. Doing this successfully will net you a different ending cutscene in which everyone celebrates their victory, before cutting to 700 years later to tie the game into Solatorobo: Red the Hunter. Failing to do so will instead have a more Bittersweet Ending, with the game giving you hints on how to achieve the true ending following the credits.
  • Journey On: The happiest ending has Selena and Shirley journey together, while all other endings result in them going their separate ways or Shirley dying. This ending not only requires the player to give up on soul corruption perks, they will also have to give up on the Holy Sword, making the Avatar of Darkness much harder to defeat.
  • Kingdom Hearts III: Re𝄌Mind, in a first for the series, has two endings; a bad ending where Sora dies, presumably for real, with Yozora promising to save him despite having just killed him, and a Golden Ending that is confirmed by the game’s data to be canon; wherein Sora triumphs over Yozora and is returned to the Final World. In any case, both endings end with Yozora waking up from a nap and both him and Sora wondering if what just happened was for real or not. Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory also later makes clear the Golden Ending was canonical, as Sora’s whereabouts and whether he’s alive or not are clarified.
  • Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals has an alternate ending in New Game Plus, where Erim sacrifices herself in the end, averting Maxim and Selan's deaths on Doom Island. To sum up the Golden Ending in three words: "Jeros, we're home!"
  • Mass Effect 2:
    • Everyone, up to and including Shepard, can die in the final mission. You must have upgraded the Normandy to full and have done everything right to make sure that everybody lives. This includes doing all the loyalty missions and assigning everyone the right task during the final mission, and even then there are a few traps; Mordin is highly likely to die if he helps hold the line, so taking him with you for the final fight or having him escort the refugees to safety is a good idea. Ignore Miranda when she claims that she could maintain the force field with her biotics; she's not up to the challenge, so pick Jack or Samara instead. Finally, to save your crew, going immediately through the Omega-4 relay as soon as they are captured. If you don't, then either half or all of your crew gets liquified.
    • It can be said that Mass Effect 2 also has a Golden "Bad" Ending. It's extremely difficult to kill Shepard off, to the point where you actually need to actively try to get it.
  • Mass Effect 3:
    • Getting the best resolution of the Krogan Genophage plotline requires that Wrex survives ME1 and that Maelon's data was preserved in ME2, and that you refuse the Dalatrass's suggestion of sabotaging the cure in ME3.
    • To get a peaceful resolution to the geth-quarian conflict you need to have recruited both Tali and Legion in ME2 and kept them alive, and then make enough correct decisions in both ME2 and ME3. Incidentally, this means that players who start with ME3 are locked out of the Golden Ending for this particular arc, since you need to play ME2 to even encounter Legion in ME3.
    • While fans debate endlessly on their personal favorite, Synthesis is the only ending choice totally closed off until you reach a certain EMS (with a "Shepard survives" scenario in Destroy being the total highest), as well as having the most overtly positive narration.
    • After the thresholds to get the better endings were lowered (to make multiplayer no longer mandatory for them) there's a similar situation to the last game where you have to work hard to get the bad endings.
  • The Neverwinter Nights 2 expansion Mask of the Betrayer has four major endings (with minor variations). Although whether it is the "best" ending is debatable, the only ending where you end the curse without sacrificing yourself requires completion of a few minor side-quests that are quite easy to miss out on by not taking the right companion with you to areas you can beat the game without visiting at all.
    • The ending of Storm of Zehir depends on your interaction with Sa'Sani. You can kill her, which causes yuan-ti throughout the land to execute their plots haphazardly; you can just say farewell to her, in which case you get a mostly-good ending but with sinister hints about her plans; and in the Golden Ending, you can extract a promise from her to never harm anyone again, which eventually leads to her redemption.
      • Getting the Golden Ending also depends on the completion of a few optional quests, some of which aren't easy to find, unless you're in the habit of going around and talking to everyone over and over again. For example, even if you did manage to save West Harbor from the dragons, if you didn't complete the quest to turn Jan Buckman away from a cult, the village of West Harbor eventually falls. The problem is that the quest only becomes available at level 16 and there are no hints about its existence unless you for whatever reason decide return to West Harbor to speak to an earlier quest giver. Whether or not Samarach, Neverwinter, Crossroad Keep, and Port Last prosper also depend on your actions. Unlike the previous two campaigns, companion choices have very little effect on the ending here, though.
      • Alternatively, you can just yell at the narrator (who is a character in the game writing it "after the fact") until he gives the ending you like.
  • While The Outer Worlds doesn't have an overall true ending, the Edgewater, Roseway, Monarch, and Peril on Gorgon story arcs all have options that result in a positive outcome for both of each arc's opposing factions, all of which have more demanding requirements to achieve that the player can potentially lock themselves out of.
  • Parasite Eve 2 has three endings, with each one giving more details than the last. The best ending has a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue moment, which includes Eve, the girl you rescued, becoming Aya's adopted sister and she lives a normal life by going to school — a very far cry from her previous life as an experiment.
  • Persona 4 features 3 endings, plus a variant of the "worst" ending which isn't quite as bad. You first have a choice of thinking you've solved the mystery when you haven't, and this end might actually fool people who didn't look up a guide, or realize something was wrong. The next ending has you beat up some monster that supposedly "tests" humans. This ending seems even more complete, and is far more optimistic than the Bad Endings, again fooling more people. Finally, though, if you're persistent enough to ignore the game's claims that it's all over (and by this point, who isn't?), you can discover who's truly behind it all, unlocking The Very Definitely Final Dungeon and the best ending.
    • P4 Golden adds a lengthy epilogue to the best ending if you complete a certain character's S-Link and the resultant bonus dungeon. It also adds an utterly horrible ending if you try to do the right thing by the wrong person at the wrong time.
      • Fittingly, this ending is commonly referred to as the Golden ending.
  • Persona 5 has a choice of three endings, a bad ending where you doom your friends and yourself, a neutral ending where you make a pact with the entity that gave you your phantom thief powers and everything goes back to normal, or the true ending, where you reject their offer and free the people of Tokyo from their control.
    • Persona 5 Royal adds an extra story arc after the original game's true ending, accessible through new character Dr. Maruki's confidant. It adds a new bad/neutral ending where you allow the arc's antagonist to let everyone live in a Lotus-Eater Machine, and a new true ending where you stop them and decide to build the future yourself.
  • Planescape: Torment has three endings, all of whom are decidedly bittersweet, but the one that is gate-locked and provides the most dialogue and story detail is also the more optimistic one. By obtaining an obscure weapon from an optional NPC encounter, learning The Nameless One's true name, or by having enough mental score to discern the Final Boss' weakness, The Nameless One can re-unite with his lost mortality, allowing him a brief moment of near-omnipotence in which he can resurrect his companions, give them some closure, and send them back to Sigil before The Multiverse notices he exists and sends him to his rightful punishment. The alternate endings — killing the Final Boss without understanding his nature or willing The Nameless One out of existence — leaves your companions dead and prevents The Nameless One from fully knowing himself.
  • Radiant Historia has a touching Golden Ending. The Big Bad comes to remember his love for the hero, his nephew, enough to sacrifice himself in his place, so that he can be with those he loves. So all the depressing I Will Wait for You parts of the ending are suddenly resolved. The 3DS version has a playable epilogue which becomes accesible after the Golden Ending, which allows most of the secondary villains to redeem themselves, stops the desertification permanently, and with it the need for more sacrifices, and, in the perfect ending, also allows everybody to come home for a happily ever after.
  • Ruina: Fairy Tale of the Forgotten Ruins: If the player defeats the Final Boss within 10 turns, the party gets to return to Holm without being frozen in time by Titus's spell, allowing them to reunite with their friends. However, this ending is not considered the "true ending" despite being harder to obtain than the actual true ending.
  • Getting the best ending in Shadowrun: Hong Kong requires that you go out of your way to assemble scattered hints about the nature of the Yama Kings: Crafty Xu's research, Is0bel's recounting of her life in the Walled City, the dreams you experience when you rest after a mission, and dialogue with Raymond you'll only hear if you stop him and Duncan from arguing (which requires you talk to Duncan after every single mission). With enough information, you can force Qian Ya into a deal that forces her to retreat to her realm, destroy the Fortune Engine, and release the enthralled people of the Walled City — all without having to sacrifice Raymond.
  • Shin Megami Tensei has a couple:
    • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne has different Golden Endings depending on which version of the game you play:
      • The vanilla version has The Freedom Ending which is obtained by rejecting all of the reasons. It has you press a cosmic Reset Button and bring back all of your friends to continue to live a normal life. However, you've only delayed the inevitable. The conception WILL happen eventually and all you've succeeded in doing is earning yourself a place on God's shitlist. At the very least, Lucifer allows you to keep your Demi-fiend powers and urges you to remain strong in preparation for the day when God comes for you.
      • The Maniax and Chronicles Editions has the True Demon Ending which is obtained by completing the Labyrinth of Amala. You give up what's left of your humanity and permanently put an end to the cycle of creation by killing Kagatsuchi, then lead Lucifer's army in the final battle of Armageddon against YHVH. This comes at the cost of your own universe and everyone in it being permanently destroyed, but at least every other universe is freed from having to endlessly repeat the cycle of creation and destruction that has and will cost countless more lives than you just ended.
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV has the Neutral ending in which Flynn sides with Isabeau, restores hope to the people of Tokyo, and thus both Law and Chaos's Evil Plans go down in flames for the time being. Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse additionally establishes that Flynn ultimately threw his lot in with Neutrality.
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse itself has the "Bonds" ending — Nanashi refuses to go ahead with Dagda's plans to become an Omnicidal Maniac, and is rewarded for it with Asahi's revival, an opportunity to beat YHVH to a pulp, and giving both Tokyo and Mikado a brighter future.
    • Shin Megami Tensei V has the "Create a World for Humanity Alone" ending: it requires jumping through a lot of hoops, but ultimately ends with the Nahobino becoming a Top God, resurrecting both Tokyo and his friends, and even creating a clone of himself to live a normal life — even if it means all other gods and demons will cease to exist.
  • Sigma Star Saga has four different endings based on killing or saving Psyme and whether or not Scarlet has to sacrifice herself. All of the endings in which you don't save both of them involve Recker regretting his actions to various extents — in order from most to least severe, both girls dead, Psyme dead, and Scarlet dead. To make matters worse, you can't save Scarlet without a virus sample that's locked in a room you can't access during your first playthrough.
  • In the Suikoden series, you have to find all 108 the Stars of Destiny to have a shot at the best ending. Some of the games make this even more elaborate.
    • Suikoden II makes the player race against the clock to secure one character's happy ending, has you complete a series of face-offs to help another, and backflip through metaphorical hoops to earn the right to see the game's true ending. On top of that, said ending saddles you with several final choices that greatly affect how things play out.
    • Suikoden V has a hidden Relationship Value that can lock you out of the best ending during the first few hours of the game. So be good to your little sister, folks.
  • A very, very slight example with Tales of Symphonia. It's entirely possible to kill off a major character. If you keep the character alive, the ending is an Everybody Lives scenario, and the world, while possibly struggling, is pretty much saved. The only reason why it's a borderline example is that literally nothing else in the ending changes if you do decide to kill the character, and if you don't like that particular character, this version could be considered your Golden Ending instead.
  • A more obvious example is found in the sequel, Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, where your actions during the game affect the overall ending, distinguished in the good, the bad, and the neutral ending. Collecting all Centurion's Cores will grant you the possibility to obtain the good ending (also called the "true" or "golden" ending), depending on whether or not you win the fight against Lloyd and Marta. In order to get the good ending, the game expects you to lose the fight. If you do so, you will get the good or neutral ending, depending on whether you collected all the cores or missed some. If you win the fight, you will actually get the bad ending. The reason being it's all part of Emil's plan to pretend to be taken over by his other half so his friends will stop him and use him to seal the door to the demon world. 'Winning' this fight means you went too far in your act and severely wounded your friends instead.
  • Telepath RPG: You can choose whether you serve Tastidian or not to rescue your brother in the first part. The second part begins in the shadowling empire, and you have been his servant for 3 years.
  • In Triangle Strategy, making particular choices in Chapters VII, IX, X, XI, and XV allows you to Take a Third Option (or rather, fourth option) in Chapter XVII. The three default endings are varying levels of bittersweet and involve alienating one of Serenoa's major allies. However, the golden ending features Serenoa rejecting the Scales of Conviction in order to figure out a way to combine Benedict, Roland, and Frederica's suggestions without losing anyone. This allows Gustadolph and Idore to be defeated, the Rosellans to be freed, and Hyzante to be reformed. Svarog also gets to be Archduke of Aesfrost, Quahaug is reunited with his mother Lyla, and Norzelia is finally at true peace.
  • Undertale's best ending is only achieved by completing a True Pacifist Run without having ever allowed the First Child to destroy the universe at the end of the Genocide route. Doing a Pacifist Run after a Genocide Run is called a Souless Pacifist Run, and is the same during gameplay but with a much darker stinger. It reveals the nature of "determination," the cause of the depression Alphys suffers from, and Flowey's true identity, and it's the only ending that features the full credits sequence. You still get to see all of this if you finished the Genocide route first, but the First Child steals Frisk's body at the last moment, and it's implied that they kill everyone. Again.
    • Taking this even further, almost every non-boss encounter has more than one non-murdery solution. During the end credits, each of them will appear with a description of how they're getting on after they all returned to the surface. If you dealt with them (or at least one of them, in the case of recurring encounters) in the best possible way, their name will be yellow (making this a literal Golden Ending) and they'll have a brighter future ahead of them.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption has two bad endings (both ending with the death of your love interest) and one good ending, depending on your actions with the Final Boss. If you choose to drink the Tzimisce's blood — killing him in the process, you turn into a villain. If you choose to become his slave, you turn into his Unwitting Pawn. But if you choose to fight him, you can save the day and take the girl.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines follows down to the precise count of unquestionably bad endings. Siding with La Croix or Kuei-jin will get you either killed or left to torpor from lack of blood on the bottom of the ocean. In many other endings, things will work out just fine, though.
    • This basically boils down to the player determining which ending out of the Strauss, Anarch, or Independent endings is the game's Golden Ending. In the Strauss ending, the player is heavily implied to become the new Sheriff of L.A, while the Anarch ending pretty clearly ends with you fighting alongside Nines and the other Anarchs to keep L.A free. The Independent ending, well
  • Wasteland 3 has three main paths you can take, but the most positive one would arguably be the variant of the "November Reigns" ending in which the Desert Rangers arrest all three of the Patriarch's kids, gain the support of the local factions, and exile the Patriarch before sending back the supplies as planned. The Rangers grow in strength by establishing two bases of power while bringing safety and security to both Arizona and Colorado, while the Patriarch, who had good intentions but questionable methods throughout his reign, is able to live out the rest of his days in relative peace until his mind finally starts to go.
  • The Witcher 2 has numerous possible endings, but the best one is usually agreed to be the you get by saving Saskia and Triss, creating a free Upper Aeidrn, and sparing Letho. Roche's path, on the other hand, has most of the downright depressing endings.
  • While it's a bit less clear in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, most of the fandom would agree that the ending where Radovid dies, you save Roche and his men, and Ciri becomes a witcher is the happiest, although this does end with Nilfgaard conquering Redania, Kaedwen, and Aedirn. The ending where Ciri becomes Empress of Nilfgaard is arguably happier, as while they still win the war they no longer have a despot pulling their strings and she seems content with her new role when she reappears in Blood and Wine. Furthermore, the prophecy surrounding her stated that her son would rule the world, implying the Empress route is the canon ending.
    • In the Skellige Isles, the best ending to the questline to choose the ruler of the isles is generally considered the one where Cerys becomes queen. While Hjalmar can also become king, his ending leads to both increased violence and death as Skellige more aggressively fights Nilfgaard, and also doesn't identify the conspirators behind the plot against his family.
    • In the Hearts of Stone DLC, the golden ending is generally considered to be the one where Geralt stops O'Dimm from taking Olgierd's soul, but in order to do this, you have to complete an optional secondary objective to find out how.
    • In the Blood and Wine DLC, the best ending is the one where Geralt and Regis kill Detlaff, Geralt receives a medal and a monetary reward for stopping him, and Syanna and the Duchess reconcile. Some players dispute how happy this ending is, considering that Syanna's unlikely to face justice for being responsible for everything that's happened, but the alternatives are much worse.
  • Witch Hunter Izana: Completing Rosemary's Quest allows Izana to survive the end of the game instead of sacrificing herself to buy time for everyone else to escape. This also lets you go to the Developer's Room.
  • Wizardry IV, released in 1986, has possibly the first instance of this trope in any video game. You play as Werdna, the main villain from an earlier game in the series, and there are endings where you join up with the good guys or kill them and continue on with your evil ways. Yet all of those end by teasing you with the words "Have you forgotten something?" The final ending requires going through extremely obscure steps with barely a hint of them, such as walking on thin air from rooftop to rooftop to a specific spot which allows you to teleport back down below the level where you started. In this ending, Werdna throws away the notions of "good" and "evil" and sets out to make his own path.

    Shoot 'em Up 
  • Downplayed in BLUE REVOLVER, in which the only effect difficulty has on the ending is a special message from the developers awarded for a no-continue clear on Parallel mode. Said no-continue clear includes beating the Parallel-exclusive True Final Boss, by the way.
  • DonPachi is a series that usually has pretty Bittersweet, if not outright tragic endings. However, in the player beats DaiFukkatsu on Arrange A mode, they're rewarded with Leinyan confronting Exy shortly after she absorbs the enemy data at the end of DaiOuJou, and successfully convinces her that war isn't the way to a better future. Exy is convinced, and the Stable Time Loop responsible for the conflicts of the previous two games is undone. And they all lived Happily Ever After.
  • Giga Wing has three tiers of endings:
    • 1-player, Final Boss not reached:note  Your character commits a Heroic Sacrifice in order to destroy the Medallion.
    • 2-player, final boss not reached:note  Depends on your team. Some endings end with both characters intact, in some others one character is shown alive and the fate of the other is ambiguous.
    • 1- or 2-player, final boss reached:note  Your character or team destroys the Medallion, and regardless of character or team, they go home alive.
  • There are two slightly different endings in Star Fox 64, depending on which route you took to Venom. The Golden Ending occurs when Fox takes the "hard" route through Area 6, in which Fox's dead father James guides him out of the exploding fortress. Also, at the very end, Star Fox flies off into the sunset on Corneria. Taking the "easy" route will show a large image of Andross over the sunset, complete with an Evil Laugh. This does not appear in the Golden Ending, implying that Fox destroyed the real Andross.

    Space Sim 
  • Star Trek: Bridge Commander has three endings: good (you save the day!), bad (you save the day but are destroyed in the process), and horrible (a sun goes supernova, destroying you, an inhabited world, and several Federation ships, including the Enterprise. Oops.)

  • A.S.P. Air Strike Patrol (known in Europe as Desert Fighter) featured multiple endings (including one if you fail the final mission). Which ending you get depends entirely on your Force, Supplies, and Opinion meters. If any of these meters are lacking, you merely get an "okay" ending depending on which meter was the lowest (beating the game with a low Opinion rating means that the war is a political disaster, viewed as a second Vietnam). To get the very best ending, all three meters have to be high, which is infamously hard to achieve — but it's worth it for the hero's welcome you're given.
  • Some of your classmates in Growing Up have more than one good ending in their routes, usually with one better than the rest:
    • Wendy's Golden Ending has her family wholeheartedly supporting her passion for makeup and special effects, even if they wanted her to take up engineering. She also gets the Red Carpet Movie Award for it.
    • Alicia's Golden Ending has her going to community college and becoming a registered nurse. Even if the hospital she worked at gets shut down by her fathernote , it doesn't stop her from helping patients because she fully realized that there are people less fortunate than her and her wealthy family.
  • Monster Loves You!: "Universal Prosperity" is the most positive possible outcome out of all 14 endings, where you convince humans and monsters to live in harmony. Interestingly, it's arguably the easiest ending to get in the game, at least out of the ones you can get in the Elder phase.
  • Yes, Your Grace: The game requires the player to balance keeping the royal family happy with other kingdom imperatives. Some of the choices that may need to be made to keep the kingdom going will lock a family member (or another character best left alive and well) out of their good ending. Other bad endings can come for single bad decisions. The golden ending happens when the player manages to get the best ending possible for everyone, except the oldest princess, who dies regardless of route.

    Survival Horror 
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent has three endings: the bad ending, where the player does nothing during the final battle and results in Alexander fleeing to his home world and leaving Daniel (the player character) to die, the good ending, where Daniel destroys Alexander's portal, which kills him and breaks Daniel's curse, or the golden ending, where Daniel throws Agrippa's severed head into the portal, killing both Alexander and Daniel, but with Agrippa's help, Daniel is brought to the afterlife.
  • The elusive S Ending in Clock Tower (1995) — not initially present on the ending list — involves taking a more specific, careful path through the game, since to get it, one of your friends (Ann or Laura, Lotte is unsavable) must survive, you must free the crow in the cage room, not get caught by Mary and thrown in the shed cell, and pay a visit to the secret room (especially since said room would be empty under different circumstances). However, this ending is considered non-canon, since the sequel establishes that Jennifer was the only survivor.
  • Cthulhu Mythos RPG: The Sleeping Girl of the Miasma Sea has its True Ending, requiring the player to save Sakura and defeat the final boss with everyone in your party still alive. To do this, the player has to fight two bosses instead of just the final boss. The Mother Plant is optional, but blocks off access to Sakura. To get to the Mother Plant in the first place, players must solve a puzzle. Even if you beat the Mother Plant, you then have to find a photograph in order to help her father wake her up, and this must all be done before you fight the final boss. Otherwise, you get a Pyrrhic Victory for your Normal Ending, resulting in the surviving party members stopping the miasma, but with Sakura's father killing himself because he failed to wake her up after that.
  • Dead Rising and its sequel Dead Rising 2 has multiple endings, with the best ending only gotten by managing to complete all the Timed Missions in time before they become Permanently Missable. This also grants access to the True Final Boss. In the former, it's the only ending where the outbreak doesn't spread everywhere, and in the sequel, it's the only ending where the main character doesn't die. All other endings are Downer Endings, so it's a good idea to get the best ones (helpfully labeled Ending A and S, respectively). Actually, in Dead Rising 2, Chuck does survive ending A, being saved in the nick of time by the main character in Dead Rising 1, Frank West, but this is only shown with the downloadable content Xbox arcade standalone title Dead Rising: Case West.
    • Meanwhile, Dead Rising: Off The Record is based off the S Rank Ending (the prequel comic, while it follows the A ending, sort of explains how Frank escaped from that predicament).
  • FAITH: The Unholy Trinity Chapter III has 'A New Journey' in which John must investigate each of the 3 main locations of the chapter further and defeat the secret bosses he discovers in them. This allows him to properly confront Gary Miller, the leader of the Eternal Order of the Second Death cult (fellow priest, Father Garcia covering for John against waves of cultists via a 12-gauge shotgun with infinite ammo) and defeat both him and his mother Miriam Bell (to whom John has a past connection to). Gary ends up getting Dragged Off to Hell by the UNSPEAKABLE. Following this, the one that the UNSPEAKABLE was possessing, Amy Martin, simply requests that John finish what he started (exorcising her), allowing John to find proper closure/begin healing from his trauma with Amy's soul finally moving on to the afterlife. After leaving the cult's base and talking with Father Garcia at his car, John can choose to either settle down with his childhood friend, Lisa Pearson or travel the country with Father Garcia, tracking down demons.
  • The Fatal Frame series usually have these. The first two games added very evident Golden Endings in their Xbox release. And these are the only ones you can truly call happy endings.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
    • Five Nights at Freddy's 3 has a "True" ending that can only be accessed by doing various minigames throughout the game. In the normal ending, the eyes of animatronics are lit up, signifying that their souls are still stuck in the suits. In the True ending, they are no longer lit up, meaning their souls have moved on.
    • Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach: The three-star ending shows Gregory leaving the PizzaPlex with Glamrock Freddy's disembodied head. Vanessa, apparently free from Glitchtrap's influence, is waiting for him at the door.
  • The "Promise of Reunion" ending of Ib. Garry and Ib survive and escape the gallery, but they don't remember each other... That is until Garry finds Ib's handkerchief in his pockets and it all comes flooding back to them. To get this ending, you must avoid increasing Garry's hidden Doom Counter and talk to him as much as possible.
  • The 'Morning' ending from My Friendly Neighborhood, achieved through both helping the 5 primary puppets of each major location and deciding to help the Neighborhood at the very end of the game. This results in Gordon helping the Puppets bring back their show properly and while he loses his job as a repairman, the reflections and lessons he learned from that fateful night at the MFN Studio change his and eventually the city's views on life for the better.
  • Parasite Eve has two endings. The one seen by completing the game is a total Mind Screw, as it shows that the threat from mitochondria is not over. The true golden ending deemed canon by Square-Enix comes from beating the Bonus Dungeon, where Aya defeats the original Eve and she loses her powers after the battle.
    • Parasite Eve 2 has a total of three endings, ranging from the vague hints on what the President of the United States plans to do after the events of the game, an expanded version of the President scene, and the true golden ending that shows closure with Aya after the events of the game.
  • Pathologic has a strange variation. At the end of the game, you are required to choose how to deal with the city's situation, with more or less options depending of how you played the game. The Inquisitor's option is always available, while your chosen character's option requires you to complete your missions and save your Adherents. Saving not only your Adherents, but those of another main hero results in that hero's option being also available; saving all Adherents not only allows you to choose between all 4 options, but gives you an ending cutscene where the Executor and the Tragedian address the player directly. The subversion is that all the options are Bittersweet Endings at best, while the secret cutscene is… weird.
  • There's an ending in The Persistence where you and your associate survive, but it requires you to complete one last gauntlet where you go through huge waves of enemies without dying once.
  • Although many of the endings in Supermassive Game's The Quarry have golden qualities for their playable characters, the one "true" golden ending where the fewest people have "bad endings" as possible entails having two of the late game characters infected with the werewolf curse, and even the best ending still requires at least three people to die, two of which are deaths directly caused by players. The werewolf infection of the two player characters in question is cured by one of the three deaths that happens in this ending.
  • In Resident Evil and its remake, either character path had four endings — one in which the player alone survives; one in which the player rescues the other main character but the support character is killed; one in which the support character survives but the player fails to rescue the other main character; and one in which both main characters and the support character get away.
    • Interestingly, none of them is the canon ending. According to canon, Jill, Chris, Rebecca, and Barry all escape the mansion alive, but it's impossible to achieve that in-game because Rebecca and Barry never show up in Jill and Chris's games, respectively.
  • A staple of the Silent Hill series. Although the happy endings are usually bittersweet, there is always an ideal outcome for the characters:
    • Silent Hill has two events that determine the ending (whether you found Kaufmann's stash and whether you saved Cybil), meaning there are four in total (not counting the UFO joke ending). The best outcome, known as "Good +", has Harry escaping Silent Hill with both Cybil and the reincarnation of Alessa. While possible to achieve in a first playthrough, it requires knowledge that you only get in the good endings, namely that the red liquid you find can exorcise Cybil and save her. As such, many believe that the standard "Good" ending is canon, but nothing has been confirmed (Word of God has since said that Cybil survived, but this ultimately has no bearing on the plot of the game's direct sequel).
    • Silent Hill 2 has three default endings. In the "Leave" ending, James forgives himself for killing Mary and accepts her request to live on. Laura forgives him and they leave together. The other outcomes have him either commit suicide or replace Mary with Maria. In this case, neither ending is easier to achieve than the other, with the game tracking some actions made by the player. Still, the "Leave" ending, bittersweet though it may be, is the happiest of the three. Interestingly, despite this being the closest to a "good" ending, the creators deliberately refuse to name any of them as "canon", allowing fans to determine for themselves how James' story ultimately plays out.
    • Averted with Silent Hill 3 and Origins, both of which have a happy ending by default, a bad ending that can only be unlocked on repeat playthroughs through extra steps, and a bonus joke ending.
    • Silent Hill 4: The Room has four endings, determined by how haunted Henry's apartment is and whether Eileen survives the final battle or not. The best outcome sees Henry and Eileen defeat the final boss, escape together, and ends with a minor Ship Tease between them.
    • The end of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories reveals that Cheryl has been creating a delusion and warping her memories to keep her father alive in her own psyche. There are three conclusions to the story, in two stages, depending on your answers during the therapy sessions and what kind of personality Harry developed during the game. In the bad endings, Harry and Dahlia's marriage fell apart due to alcohol, infidelity, or Domestic Abuse. The best outcome has them part on more friendly terms, and Harry makes it clear that they still love Cheryl. Additionally, Cheryl can either blame her father for leaving her alone, refuse to accept that he's dead, or tearfully accept his death and move on. The game has a rather clever way of telling you that you should try again if you didn't get the Golden Ending: Dr. Kaufmann outright spells it out for you in his psychiatric evaluation of his patient at the end:
      Am sure patient will be back - lots of uncovered ground. Don't believe we've seen everything yet. Might be worth going back to the start and re-examining with benefit of what we know now. Think patient will agree?
    • Silent Hill: Downpour has the "Forgiveness" ending, which you get if you go out your way to become the kindest person in the town, such as by always making moral decisions, and incapacitating or leaving the monsters, rather than killing them. In the final confrontation, you also have to spare Anne while making sure that you don't get killed. Anne finally learns the truth of her father's death, and she parts ways with Murphy on good terms. Interestingly, the second-best ending, "Truth and Justice", is more or less the same ending with an added scene of Anne killing Sewell, the game's true villain. In fact, the comic Anne's Story canonizes the "Truth and Justice" ending.
  • String Tyrant has ending 10, which the game outright calls the best ending. Still bittersweet though. By sacrificing Sarah Ann-Lee, Mary puts her back into her body, Pygmalie, and feeds her to the unnamed evil. This allows Lauren and Jessie to escape. However, Mary has been turned into an immortal doll, and in effect permanently trapped herself in the mansion until she can figure out a way to defeat the unnamed evil.
  • The best ending of Until Dawn is triggered if you make all the correct choices, which saves five of the six main characters from the mountain. Also, Emily has different dialogues in the epilogue, depending on whether you max out her relationship with Matt or not.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Digimon Survive has three endings based on the Karma Meter; Moral, Harmony, and Wrath. Moral provides the best outcome and avoids further tragedy for the group. However, beating the game unlocks the true ending in a New Game Plus; the Truthful route, which allows the group to make it through the story without any casualties.
  • Most Nippon Ichi games, most notably the Disgaea games. The endings vary from depressing, to horrific, to downright loony. The funny thing, though, is that it's usually harder to get the bad endings than the good ones: to get the very worst endings, you usually have to win a Hopeless Boss Fight, beat an incredibly hard Superboss, solo the Final Boss with one specific character at a high level, or carry out a feat that requires incredible amounts of grinding through optional content. The notable exception is the original Disgaea, where it was a challenge to attain the Golden Ending due to how frustratingly easy it was to accidentally kill one of your ally characters (immediately knocking you down to the Normal Ending).
    • Due to the series' strong meta elements, defeating the Superboss of most games effectively makes the player characters into the new Superboss rather than the protagonists, and the story has a good time playing with the fact.
    • To get the bad endings, you usually have to bend over backwards to get anywhere in bad behavior (despite being a demon). Disgaea 2, for the worst ending, needs you to get ally kills and waste over 100 gameplay hours combined with story to get the required amount of Felonies; 99. Pay in mind that you need to: 1) Get a felony; 2) Go to the high-risked Item World, and 3) Go to the random level, which are often 1-30 and get to the door, then either escape using a rare item or go to the 10th floor.
    • The original Disgaea also counted the throwing of Prinnies (who explode, damaging anyone around them) as an ally kill. This despite the fact that the game outright encourages you to throw Prinnies by making them incredibly cheap (1 HL) to resurrect. Later games did not count Prinny-bombs as ally kills.
    • Played with in regards to the controversial "True Ending" to The Witch and the Hundred Knight, where the Golden Ending is listed, oddly, as the bad ending, and the regular ending as the True Ending, which packs a nasty player punch. However, the game advises that you don't save over your current data, giving a hint that this ending can be averted if certain actions are taken. In order to unlock the last 2 chapters and the real true ending, the player must defeat the 3 dark witches encountered earlier in the story and answer "Affirm" when asked whether or not you're going to save Metallia by Mani after recovering the Green Crystal from the mana caves beneath the swamp, and beat the boss after the credits.
  • Several Fire Emblem games have variations on endings, but they don't drastically change between each other in terms of content.
    • Book 2 of Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem and its remake, Heroes of Light and Shadow. If you don't have the five spheres that are a part of the titular MacGuffin by Chapter 20, then a bad ending occurs when you defeat the boss; get all five, and you keep playing until the true ending at Chapter 24. Interestingly, Chapter 20 has a side chapter, and you can unlock it and play it, even if you get the bad ending — the game will just end then. In addition, if you get the best ending and make it to the end of the game without suffering any casualties, a complete chronicle of Archaena's history, from the Golden Age of Dragons to the end of the game, will be presented.
    • The Binding Blade: Getting all eight Divine Weapons and ensuring that they aren't broken will allow the player to open a Bonus Dungeon that spans for three chapters, and defeating the True Final Boss with a specific weapon while having one specific party member still alive brings the true ending. If you don't get all the weapons, or one of them breaks before/during Chapter 22, then the game ends after you defeat King Zephiel. The resulting ending is anti-climactic: the war against Bern is over, but the dragons that have helped Zephiel have gotten away, and nothing comes of the events that happened.
    • Fire Emblem: Awakening: During the Final Boss fight against Grima, you can either have Chrom or the Avatar land the final blow. Chrom defeating Grima with Falchion will lead to Grima sleeping for another thousand years; the Avatar slaying Grima will destroy him for good, as the Avatar and Grima are one and the same. If Chrom defeats Grima, he reassures the guilt-ridden Avatar, saying that he can't imagine a world without them, but Grima is ultimately free to resume his plans once he wakes in the far future. If the Avatar defeats Grima, however, then Grima will die for good, and while the Avatar does die when they slay Grima, The Power of Friendship revives them sometime later.
    • Fire Emblem Fates has the Revelation route, where you fight the true mastermind behind the events of the story. Which you have to buy, since it's a DLC.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses is notable in that it has no golden endings. Regardless of which path the player chooses, at least two of the major powers in Fodlan will collapse, Anyone Can Die (including Plotline Death), and the best the player can hope for is that Fodlan will recover and thrive under its new unifier. The closest thing to this is the ending of the Azure Moon route, where the most characters can survive and most major threats are neutralized but even then it's more of a Bittersweet Ending than a proper Golden Ending and it leaves a lot of the questions of the setting's lore unexplained.
    • Likewise its spin-off, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, has no Golden Ending either. Rather, the endings are even bleaker as the war is still going when the game ends, in all three paths. Here, it's a toss-up between the Azure Gleam path or the Scarlet Blaze path for the closest to such a path: the former for more or less the same reasons as above with the most surviving recruitable characters but it's even more bittersweet than the Azure Moon one even if you recruited Byleth and Jeralt, while Scarlet Blaze, particularly if you spare and recruit Byleth and Jeralt since their survival has the most ramifications on this route, has the most "definitive" ending since you defeat both of the major antagonistic forces during the Final Battle and it has the most "hopeful" feel that the war will end soon.
  • The original Ogre Battle has a ridiculous set of requirements to get the Golden Ending, which incidentally is canon. You need to collect 12 Zodiac stones, which is a Guide Dang It! in itself, have the sword Brunhild, have recruited every character except for two nonessential ones and one which changes the ending to the worst one, and a full Chaos Frame.
  • Stella Glow: In Imageepoch's swan song, by reaching rank 7 affinity with Klaus before he leaves your party, the choice to reject Marie's last wish is made available.Doing so will have Alto opt to Tune Eve and fight the True Final Boss, Cartesia. After the battle, Cartesia attempts to Colony Drop the Moon onto the earth, and Eve stays on the Moon for eternity to prevent the Moon from falling onto the Earth. In this ending, Marie, Eve, and Giselle survive, with Giselle becoming a party member after the last battle with her.
  • Many of the console Super Robot Wars games had Golden Endings, which were obtainable if you were able to beat the game in a certain way. For instance, Super Robot Wars 3 has its Golden Ending if you reach the final stage in under 350 turns. Super Robot Wars 4, however, gets its just by saying that you trust Shu Shirakawa and he and his entourage decide to leave.
    • Super Robot Wars V and Super Robot Wars X have two final routes that players can traverse to. To obtain the Golden Ending, the players needs to get 25 pilots to Ace status (60 kills required for a character) with one of them becoming a Great Ace (80 kills required to reach this status) and do a specific action in the game (firing the Wave-Motion Gun in V when it's available during the Getter Robo Armageddon finale and lowering Mazinger Zero's HP below 30,000 when it first appears in X). For V, it allows players to finally use the most powerful weapon in the game, the Yamato's Wave-Motion Gun with no restrictions at the Final Boss and for X, it allows players to face off the True Final Boss and letting Hopes and Celric live plus allowing players to use Mazinger Zero. Kittan still dies though.
  • Valkyrie Profile has three endings, with the A Ending being this trope. Getting it is one of the most frustrating cases of Guide Dang It! ever, as the steps needed to have it are either counter-intuitive (with the biggest case being sending a major character not long after recruiting him to Valhalla in a specific frame of time, and then visiting a specific location in Chapter 7), or not shown in-game at all (which in this case is the Karma Meter that triggers the A Ending when at a certain level — it's Lenneth's Seal Rating, which must be below thirty points by Chapter 7. Points go down when recruiting characters or witnessing specific scenes, and it goes up when someone goes to Valhalla). The standard B Ending is usually the result of not following these steps (or the C Ending if you screw up).
  • Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume has a straightforward way of determining its ending, basing it on how often you use the Plume. Given that the Plume effectively murders your close friends and allies when you use it, take a wild guess what you have to do to get the good ending.
  • Vandal Hearts II: Heaven's Gate: Want the golden ending? Find the Infinity +1 Sword, and save all three of your childhood friends. Fail at any of that, and it's some form of bad ending, which depends on a question you were asked when you were a child, and then asked again just to make sure. If you do not get the IPOS, you can save at most one childhood friend, and that means you will live alone.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown lacks Multiple Endings, but the good ending is both incredibly challenging to accomplish and outright non-canon; in fact, it's said that when the developers were discussing ideas for a sequel, they decided to go with "La Résistance in the Bad Future" at least partly because so few players could actually beat the first game. For the sequel, XCOM 2, the good ending is canon, with XCOM: Chimera Squad taking place during the reconstruction after the war in 2.

    Visual Novels 
  • Aoi Shiro has five heroines, each with their own set of bad/normal ends and one good end. Reaching the unlock points scattered throughout those routes unlocks the Grand Route, at the end of which (the 56th ending) everyone teams up, solves all their problems, and survives.
  • Analogue: A Hate Story requires you to interact with two AIs, one at a time, and they won't talk to each other. The Golden Ending is the only way to get them to reconcile and is also the Harem Ending.
  • In Aviary Attorney, the best ending is when you save Cocorico from getting shot at the end of Act 3, and thus enter Act 4B "Égalité", where the revolution becomes (relatively) peaceful. It can be made a little bit more sweeter if you deliberately failed Act 1 and therefore saved Baron Rorgeuil from being wrongfully convicted — even though Jayjay never finds out about that last part.
  • Corpse Party has many, many dead ends, with one true ending per chapter, with the final one having the original 5 from the PC-98 game survive. As it turns out, though, the next game in the series, Book of Shadows, is spun out of the final wrong ending where the characters are stuck in a "Groundhog Day" Loop.
  • CROSS†CHANNEL to an extent. However, when your golden ending is only bittersweet, you know that the rest must be horrible.
  • In the Cute Knight series, the no. 1 endings (the one that appears as the first image in the Endings Gallery) are usually the hardest to achieve and reveals the most about the main character's true identity.
    • In the first game, the PC finds the missing princess Alexandra and helps her return home. After winning the Flower Queen Festival, she confronts the royal family about her Birthmark of Destiny, which she shares with the Princess. The Queen later reveals that the PC was in fact her eldest daughter, but because she wanted a male heir, she had her baby switched with a boy (Kirelan), and the PC was left at an orphanage. After this reveal, the King and Queen welcomes the PC back into the royal family to take her place as the rightful heir to the kingdom.
    • Cute Knight Kingdom has the "Wanderer" ending, where the PC discovers her true origin as an Alien princess sent by her people to learn about Earth. She eventually becomes an Ambassador between the two worlds.
  • Most of the endings in Date Warp range from downer to bittersweet until you unlock the Golden Ending. Before that, the closest to "happy" is Linds' good ending, in which no one in the main party dies and Bianca might be saveable in the future, but Susan is still missing.
  • Ever17: Three bad endings, four "good" endings (some of which are still tragic), and one spectacular, all-revealing ending that you can only unlock after clearing the four good endings.
  • The second Fragment's Note implies that Yukitsuki's second ending is the Golden Ending mainly since it's the only ending where Yukitsuki finally manages to get over the events of the first title and live happily. However, Shizuku's second ending is noted to be the "canon" route.
  • Frozen Essence is notable in that its "True End" is a Bittersweet Ending with Rune, Mina's main love interest, dying. However, the True End differs from all other endings in that it's the only one in which Mina is separated from the Death Sphere and hence is able to lead a normal life, in contrast to the other "happy" endings where she gets to be with her love interest but is still confined or restricted in some way due to her status as the feared Death Sphere. Additionally, many players consider the Water Path's Light End to be another "true end" of sorts because it's the only one in which the mysteries surrounding Mina's identity and her dreams that remain unexplained in even the True End are resolved, with her regaining her memories and reuniting with her childhood love.
  • Fate/stay night has five endings (one for Fate, two for UBW, two for HF) and a bunch of Nonstandard Game Overs. Its Updated Re-release, Realta Nua, has a sort-of Golden Ending accessible only after unlocking and finishing all three routes' true endings, which takes place far after the events of Fate. It sees Saber and Shirou re-united in Avalon, despite the events that forced them apart during "Fate".
  • The Fruit of Grisaia has Amane's Route. The game itself has ten endings in total, one bad and good for each heroine. Still, either Amane's good or bad endings are the most developed out of all the others. Amane's good ending is the one that goes the furthest into the future, to the point that it actually shows the main characters dying, making it a complete story with no scope of continuation, while Amane's bad ending is the one which seems to reveal some vital plot details about Yuuji's life, loosely connecting this route with the sequel.
  • In Heart of the Woods, there are two Bittersweet Endings and one happy ending. In the latter ending, achieved by choosing "You're right" at the choice just before the climax, the protagonists manage to restore Geladura to her rightful place as the Fairy Queen without anyone having to die, enabling Geladura to defeat Evelyn. Evelyn restores Madison and Abigail to life, enabling them to leave Eysenfeld with Morgan and Tara.
  • Kana: Little Sister has SIX endings; only one of them has Kana live, and it's bittersweet!
    • Though admittedly, being a Downer Ending doesn't necessarily mean that it's a bad ending. This trope is, however, played straight with the "Snow" and "Memories" endings, which are essentially shortened versions of "Live Now".
  • The Letter allows you to get an Everybody Lives ending, and depending on your choices, it's even possible to obtain your preferred friendship and romance outcomes. However, this is not the true ending of the VN. That ending requires triggering multiple character deaths that are otherwise avoidable, and ends with only three of the story's seven main characters surviving.
  • Little Busters! has the ending of the refrain route, which is unlocked when all the other routes have been completed, where everybody lives in the real world.
  • Long Live the Queen wasn't kidding with the tagline "Rule the world or die trying". The Golden Ending (being crowned Queen) can be reached in a variety of different ways, but navigating around eleven possible death scenarios, a series of family and society intrigues, marriage options, civil and international war, and a whole lot of magical business means it's a struggle from beginning to end.
  • Matches and Matrimony is a PC game which mashes three of Jane Austen's novels (Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Persuasion) into one game. There are nine possible outcomes to the story, and the player is encouraged to unlock them all. Two involve the player character remaining unmarried, and the other seven marry her to one of the potential suitors she meets. Most of the endings are good, but the one that is considered best is the one that follows the full plot of Pride and Prejudice to the marriage of the player character to Mr. Darcy.
  • Melody has the aptly named Perfect Ending. Melody is a big star, she lives in her dream house, and she gets married to the protagonist.
  • Monster Prom: THE SUPER SECRET ONE ending is an Omega Ending that requires, in the best case, 13 runs of the game and 6 secret endings, but, appropriately for a Sex Comedy game with a Lovable Sex Maniac player character, is an orgy, in which all your love interests show up in the CG waiting for you to join them in a hot tub.
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors has Multiple Endings; although only one can really be considered a good ending, the game is distinct for having all of them actually happen. The visual-novel style narrative is actually being narrated by June. Each ending represents a possible future that she can see from the past, and the multiple playthroughs are her exploring each of them to see which chain of events will allow Junpei to save her child-self from an incinerator. The Golden Ending is the one where she survives.
  • Shira Oka: Second Chances has many endings, one for each character you meet in the game, but completing them all allows you to get Kasumi's Story, which is the final, Golden Ending. However, Word of God suggests that the player is free to accept any of the endings as the canon ending, pointing to the fact that each one has its own ending credits sequence with the other students commenting on the main character's life after high school in that altered timeline.
  • The best ending in Spirit Hunter: NG is achieved by making sure all of the spirits are pacified and all of the companion characters are kept alive. The Big Bad is successfully sealed away, the companions go about their lives, and the protagonist has a cozy end with either his best friend or his newfound idol acquaintance.
  • In Empress' Starless: Nymphomaniac's Paradise, in the Ending Room, the one good ending "New World" is literally represented as a large golden key on a keyring.
  • The ending of the final route (Phorni's route) is the only unambiguously happy ending in Symphonic Rain, where even the good endings are bittersweet at best.
  • Tsukihime has nine endings (and a bunch of Nonstandard Game Overs). The Golden Ending is Kohaku's True ending, where everybody is happy and sunshiny. Except Satsuki.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • In Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, the best ending of the "Family" storyline requires you to make decisions that ensures the survival of Nikolaos, Stentor, Myrrine, and Deimos. If done correctly, your family is reunited once again and the Cult's top soldier has defected.
  • In Batman: Arkham Knight, beating the game normally has Batman activating the Knightfall Protocol after his identity is exposed to the world by Scarecrow, leading to the destruction of Wayne Manor with the presumed deaths of Bruce and Alfred. If one beats all the non-DLC challenges, the ending is expanded on by revealing that since that day, James Gordon became mayor of Gotham City, his daughter Barbara is now engaged to Tim Drake, Gotham City is now a much safer place, and, hidden away, a mysterious bat-like figure still protects the city…
  • Grand Theft Auto V has three endings — one where Franklin kills Michael on top of a factory tower, one where Franklin kills Trevor by setting him on fire, and one where all three of them kill the Big Bad Ensemble: Steve Haines, Wei Cheng, Stretch, and Devin Weston. The third one is the only ending that allows the player to keep playing as all three protagonists and keep the ability to hang out with friends. It's also the most satisfying and par for the course for the series, as in the other two endings, the villains get away scot-free.
  • Grounded has one depending on whether you defeat a certain hidden boss or not. Failing to do so results in an ending where you return to normal and go home, but nobody believes the kids' strange stories, the true villains get away with their crimes, and Doctor Tully remains a raisined head in a jar. Defeat Director Schmector, and you get the better ending: Ominent's gruesome work is revealed to the world, destroying them and landing Schmector in jail for a long time; Doctor Tully is restored, reunites with his family, and is recognized as the creator of the shrinking technology and all its applications; and the kids are recognized as heroes, form a science club, and earns scholarships thanks to Tully, promising a bright future for all of them. In addition, the game has a separate evaluation at the very end with the report card, giving you a better grade the more things you accomplished. Getting an S grade nets you an Achievement, but it requires you to have seen every enemy, defeated every boss, and found every collectible.
  • Mercenaries Playground of Destruction: The best possible ending involves capturing Song alive instead of killing him, successfully using his computer to abort the nuclear missile attack on Seoul, and having a higher affinity with South Korea than with China or the Russian Mafia. This leads to South Korea working to peacefully reunite with North Korea and Song being put on trial for warcrimes (and also a bigger payday for you).
  • In Red Dead Redemption 2, while still rather bittersweet, the ending you get with high Honor, a fully bonded horse, making The Atoner-style choices in Chapter 6, and choosing to hold the line to allow the Marston family to escape is generally considered the best possible ending.
  • The normal ending of Saints Row IV has the Saints taking over Zinyak's empire and looking for a new home for the remnants of humanity. If you've completed all of the loyalty missions, however, it's revealed that the Zin have developed Time Travel, which the Saints use to save Earth from being destroyed before embarking on a wild escapade through history.
  • The Way of the Samurai series has roughly 7 endings per game (plus more than double that in variations and the odd end for Off the Rails, such as waiting for the time limit to end, or killing the Big Bad early), but "ending 1" is always the best, rewarding both the highest "samurai point" total (which awards unlockables) and "Shaggy Dog" Story thanks to historical events. They involve a path of getting all the warring sides to unite against a common foe, with the exception of the 2nd game (which ignores them both). These ends are, however, the trickiest to get, and often have a way to screw up that leads to an outright Downer Ending.

    Non-Video Game Examples 
Fan Works
  • In the Pony POV Series Dark World Arc, this trope is one of the driving forces of the true Big Bad, Nightmare Eclipse, who often uses video game metaphors (such as referring to everypony who's not her past self, Twilight Sparkle, or Discord as NPCs). Her ultimate goal is to create a 'Golden World' with her Nightmare Gallery. This is impossible, as she's far too obsessed with Revenge on Discord to ever stop punishing him to actually achieve it, and thus would have kept resetting the "Groundhog Day" Loop she trapped the world in for eternity. Thankfully, Twilight and company manage to put an end to her and Twilight ultimately creates a 'Golden World' of her own (by sacrificing herself to create the prime timeline as a separate universe). The irony of this is that, according to Loose Canon, had Eclipse actually done the right thing and saved her version of the timeline rather than throwing it away, she'd have gotten a much happier end than even the final group of Mane Six actually managed, due to not having her own meddling making things worse. Cadence, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy aren't Killed Off for Real, Magica, Poison Apple, and Amethyst Star never have to experience death in the first place (a still traumatic experience for them even after their revival), Twilight ascends naturally to become an Alicorn, Fluttercruel and Discord both have a chance for redemption while still alive, and the Princesses are still at full power and Celestia still has her memory. This is on top of a great many changes Eclipse made that worsened the timeline considerably never happening to begin with and the countless lives she sentenced to Oblivion never being erased. The only negative compared to the final timeline is Mortis not permitting Libra to do a mass resurrection to bring all of Discord and his minions’ victims Back from the Dead and Rarity not becoming Libra to begin with, but compared to the damage Eclipse caused, it's a fair trade-off.
  • Time Braid ends with Naruto, Sakura, and Hinata doing one last loop to completely dominate the Chuunin Exams and giving Sasuke his memories from one of Sakura's loops to kickstart his Character Development. Unlike most examples, Naruto is the one who determines if the looping ends because he started it with a wish that "We could all go back and do things right".


  • Clue has three possible endings, which were originally chosen randomly by the theater. In the home video release, the endings play in sequence, with the last identified as "what really happened". It gives the most complex explanation to the whodunnit, and is the only one in which every single one of the main characters kills or directly contributes to the death of at least one person.
  • The Dark Knight Rises acted as this for the entire Batman mythos. With The Joker, Scarecrow, Falcone, and Zsasz Put on a Prison Bus indefinitely, the rest of his Rogues Gallery killed off, and major reforms leaving Gotham much less of a Wretched Hive, Bruce Wayne is able to move on from his life of pain and trauma with Selina Kyle before Passing the Torch.
  • Groundhog Day: After being trapped in the loop for God knows how long and getting God knows how many endings, Phil manages to help everyone in the town with all of their problems, woo Rita, and bring about a perfect day. Only then does the loop break. Unfortunately, even on a perfect day, someone just has to die… Even after literally thousands of loops and decades of time passing within those loops, Phil could never save that homeless man from freezing to death…
  • This is the plot of the film, Mr. Nobody. The plot centers around the character of Nemo Nobody, who is aware of all the possible versions of his existence. His ultimate goal is to get to live as long as he has to in his current timeline, so he can go back to the perfect timeline he is now aware of and be with the woman he loves.
  • Run Lola Run: By refusing to give up trying and constantly launching new time loops, Lola is able to solve her and Manni's problems.


  • Creature of Havoc: Most endings involve your character's death or enslavement, but you can also choose to join the Sorcerous Overlord Zharradan Marr's legion or even become his Commander-in-Chief. The best ending, defeating Zharradan and regaining your humanity, requires great care, preparation, several specific items, and a lot of pure luck.
  • The Golden Ending in the Choose Your Own Adventure book Inside UFO 54-40 is Unwinnable by Design — it can't actually be reached from any option in the book (or, as the book put it, by "making a choice or following directions").
  • The Invaders of Hark has exactly one path to the good ending where your character manages to rescue the princess and get the highest possible score, but it's permanently missable with a single decision you make early on in the plot.
  • Jane, Unlimited: While a few of this novel's sections have happy endings, only one answers the question of why Aunt Magnolia wanted Jane to go to Tu Reviens: if you follow Jasper the dog, Jane will travel to a fantasy world in which she finds Aunt Magnolia alive and well.
  • Life's Lottery features a handful of "happy" endings, but there seems to be only one that could be said to bring the narrative to a decisive ending — and there's no links between each section of it, so you can only find it by hunting across all 500 pages of the novel for the lone chapters that aren't connected to any other. This plotline reveals that Keith Marion's adventures are just a comatose dream in which he psychically explores all the possible outcomes of his life, and concludes with him finally awakening so he can live his life for real.

Light Novels

  • Invoked and deconstructed in Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs, where the Golden Ending of the Otome Game is a plot point due to characters actively trying to achieve it for their own benefits. In the first two volumes, Marie tries to hijack Olivia's role as the protagonist to get the Harem Ending with all five of the capture targets. She succeeds, but in the process the princes are disowned and stripped of their royal privileges, thus denying her of the luxurious and easy life she was after. Much later, from Volume 4 through 6, Lelia is trying to pair her twin sister Noelle with Loic, whose route in the sequel game was considered the Golden Ending, but her failure to realize that her interference is only making things worse (as Noelle hates Loic while he doesn't care about her feelings) actually sets them on the path to the bad ending, and it's only thanks to Leon's intervention that they manage to avert it at the last second.

Live-Action TV

  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, which is themed off video games, has a very large number of post-series movies which go through a variety of ending types ranging from Downer Ending to Fission Mailed before finally arriving at the Golden Ending with the last movie, Genm VS Lazer, where the hostages taken at the end of the TV series finally get rescued, Kiriya gets his human body back, and Kuroto makes amends for his crimes in his own twisted way, cheating death once again but going into hiding to wait until the world is ready for his genius.


Tabletop Games

  • Flash Point: Fire Rescue: You win by rescuing seven victims from the house, but there's ten victim markers (plus five false alarms) in the pool. A perfect victory requires rescuing all ten of them.
  • In the card game Hearts, the aim in each round is to get the minimum score. You score 1 point for each heart you acquire and 13 points if you acquire the queen of spades, therefore you want to avoid acquiring these cards. However if you acquire all of the penalty cards, then you actually win the round and each of the other players gets 26 points, instead of you. This is known as Shooting The Moon, which is a Golden Ending of sorts. It can become even better should the player also obtain the Jack of Diamonds, simultaneously subtracting ten points from their own total as an extra "screw you" to the others.
  • In the Return to the Tomb of Horrors module of Dungeons & Dragons, there are several options for defeating the Big Bad Acererak. Outright destroying his Soul Jar results in a Pyrrhic Victory that annihilates Acererak but leaves thousands of innocents Deader than Dead, while the more heroic ending frees the souls he trapped and neutralizes him for centuries but leaves him alive to terrorize future generations. The real Golden Ending is to destroy every single undead in his fortress to keep him from Body Surfing while blocking all of his escape routes, and then releasing the trapped souls. Players who manage this get over twice the XP for the conventional good ending and are acknowledged as "very powerful, determined, and lucky."


Web Original

  • Discussed in Overly Sarcastic Productions about two possible versions of the myth of Houyi and Chang'e. After recapping the first version (Chang'e essentially steals immortality from her husband because she's desperate to become a goddess again, but is still banished from heaven so she's trapped on the moon), she calls that "resounding bummer" the Bad End, but notes that this implies the existence of a True End, which is the second version of the myth (neither Houyi or Chang'e is willing to become immortal if it means leaving the other, but Chang'e eventually drinks the immortality potion so that Houyi's evil student couldn't get it, choosing to reside on the moon to be closer to her husband).

Western Animation

  • Carmen Sandiego: The interactive episode "To Steal or not to Steal" has multiple endings based on the choices Carmen makes, but the best one involves her saving her two friends (who had been taken hostage by VILE) and also recover all the items VILE forced Carmen to steal so she can return them to the authorities.

Alternative Title(s): True Ending


Fnaf 3 - Happiest Day

After being presented with a cake, the souls of the animatronics all finally move on to heaven.

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