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Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

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Heads I Win, Tails You Lose (Grahf Rule): It doesn't matter that you won the fight with the boss monster; the evil task he was trying to carry out will still get accomplished somehow. Really, you might as well not have bothered.

In a video game's story, how do you portray a battle in which the main player character is supposed to lose? Well, one option is to pull a Hopeless Boss Fight, where the player must fail the battle in order to progress the plot. But there's one problem with that: it doesn't require any skill!

The solution? Heads I Win, Tails You Lose! If you die, you get a Game Over. No surprise there, right?

If you win, the boss reveals that he's not left-handed and proceeds to hand you your ass anyway during the following cutscene. So it is a plot point and a legitimate boss battle at the same time! Note, however, that this still annoys some people who find it immersion-breaking, especially if the boss is not nearly as hard as the game makes them out to be.

This situation can be averted through the use of Role-Reversal Boss, by giving players control of the boss and forcing them to use said boss to fight their normal player character. That way, players are forced to win the battle to proceed, whilst avoiding the use of cutscenes to make the player character lose without any agency from the players themselves.

Sometimes this can take place during the battle itself rather than a cutscene, as the boss's Last Ditch Move. This is often the case with a Trick Boss.

A type of Story Overwrite and subtrope of The Battle Didn't Count. May overlap with Cutscene Incompetence and Your Princess Is in Another Castle!. Item #35 in The Grand List Of Console RPG Clichés. Also may be considered a subtrope of Fission Mailed. Compare Morton's Fork. May be the result of a Sadistic Choice, no matter what is chosen. Not directly related to Heads or Tails?, even though that's where the name comes from.


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    Action Adventure 
  • In Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, the first fight with Trevor Belmont is like this. It's a little less irritating than usual, since you don't actually have to beat Trevor to get the "you still lose" cutscene, just whittle away a small fraction of his health bar.
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has the penultimate fight against the dark priest Shaft. Even if you beat him, he still manages to summon Dracula anyway.
  • Demon Hunter: The Return of the Wings: Your reward for beating Greed the first time is him stabbing you and escaping.
  • Harry's battle with the dementors after leaving the Whomping Willow in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Same goes for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with the battle between Harry/Sirius and Lucius/Bellatrix.
  • In The Incredibles video game you must defeat the second OmniDroid (which Mr. Incredible never really managed to fight in the film), but immediately afterwards you are treated by a clip from the film showing Syndrome arriving and chasing Incredible down a waterfall.
  • In James Bond 007(Game Boy), after you defeat the final boss General Golgov and the remainders of his mecha disappear from the screen, you can still read his next lines, stating that although you have defeated him, you cannot escape the destiny he has created. Next you free Zhong Mae and she tells you about disarming Golgov's nuclear missiles. Quite a sense of urgency and I've-got-to-save-the-world - although this is not a timed mission.
  • Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 has a nifty variation that's a combination of this trope and Hopeless Boss Fight. It's the fight between Jiraya and Pain. You have to legitimately win the match, and drain Pain's health meter to zero, then in the middle of the fight, Jiraya gets nailed by a sneak attack by one of the heretofore unseen Pain paths, which then leads to an heavily injured, barely playable Jiraya trying to stave off all six Pains. You will lose, but then in the ensuing quick time event, you have Jiraya get back up, and through sheer will, blow one of the Pains completely away with a move that launches his own dying body into the ocean. Heads I Win Tails you Lose has rarely been this cool.
    • In the Rise of A Ninja and The Broken Bond games, the player is also forced to follow the storyline of the anime regardless of their actual performance in the game which leads to losses you can't avoid. It can be annoying to get trash-talked by your opponent in an animated cutscene after stomping them into the ground and this can cause some plot holes like Sasuke's fight with the Sound Four as they try to tempt him with power by calling him weak... even if you don't resort to using the Cursed Seal (Rage Mode) to beat them. In-story, there is no way Naruto or the other Konoha genin could win against opponents like Itachi or Orochimaru in Part 1, and some fights in The Broken Bond have your real objective be simply surviving the fight or using a specific move to beat your opponent.
  • The fight against Moloch in Outriders. After shooting him for a bit, he engages in a Beam-O-War, which you lose.
  • In Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception during Nate's first fight with Talbot losing to him causes the standard death screen to appear. "Win" and you get the pleasure of watching Ramses come in to Talbot's rescue and knock Nate out, taking him hostage.

    Action RPGs 
  • Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII:
    • The fight with Sephiroth.
    • Zack's final battle, which is the reason to why many don't want to finish the game.
  • The boss at the end of the tutorial in Demon's Souls is nearly impossible to beat — its attacks are fairly easy to dodge, but if you get hit once you die immediately, and given the amount of damage it can soak, you're pretty likely to mess up... but if you do manage to beat it, you end up being killed by another monster in a cutscene, because the plot requires you to die at this point for it to continue. If you do manage this impressive feat, you may obtain his Gray Demon's Soul well before you normally would, so it's not all bad.
  • .hack//G.U.:
    • The story-important Arena battles are played exactly like this for no other reason than Haseo needs to be backed into a corner to unleash his Superpowered Evil Side.
    • The first fight with Alkaid has her team automatically activate their Beast Awakening when Alkaid herself is dropped to 50%. To say nothing of the fights where you're winning so easily you may as well be smacking around unarmed small children with the flat side of your BFS, only to have a cutscene activate with Haseo on his knees, panting from the exertion.
  • In Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II, there's a boss fight against Android 18. Lose, and it's game over. Attack her until she's about half health, and she'll fire a ki blast to instantly knock out your character before the story continues.
    • This happens a lot in Legacy of Goku II. During Vegeta's fight against Imperfect Cell, you fight him until his health runs low, and then it'll go to the cut scene of him absorbing 18 and becoming Perfect and defeating Vegeta in a few hits. During Goku's fight against Cell, you get his health low and then Goku surrenders.
  • Inverted in Jade Empire. When you use Sun Kim to fight Death's Hand, win or lose does not matter, since Death's Hand will lose anyway. If you do win, though, you can gain some extra reward or bind Death's Hand as your follower.
    • Dispute this, too. Sun Kim wanted to finally die. The only way this trope happens is if you bind Sun Kim.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Kingdom Hearts has the first fight against Leon in Traverse Town. Leon will singlehandedly hand new players their asses, complete with a cutscene of Sora getting knocked out. However, if Sora wins, he instead passes out from exhaustion (plus Yuffie teasing Leon for losing his touch). Sora also gets some EXP for successfully defeating Leon, as well as an extra reward later on, so it isn't that bad.
      • Similar circumstances apply for Cloud in Olympus Colosseum, Darkside in the prologue, and Sabor in Deep Jungle. In these cases, however, the ONLY advantage to winning is the Exp bonus.
    • In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, a rare subversion occurs in Riku's story versus Lexaeus. You beat him in the boss fight, and then Lexaeus counter-attacks in the cutscene, and it looks like Riku has lost. Riku's darkness manifests itself at this point, and he delivers a killing blow to the shock of Lexaeus.
    • In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, due to being Doomed by Canon, Roxas may win the boss fight against Riku, but will immediately lose in the cutscene that follows, closing the gap between 358 and KHII. Ironically, the Doomed by Canon aspect means that this trope is actually crucial; Roxas still shows himself Riku's superior in the cutscene, forcing him to unleash Ansem and set up his situation in KHII.
  • Happens with all five of the final bosses in Odin Sphere if you don't defeat them with the character that is mentioned in the prophecies.
    • Although Ingway's transformation into the Beast of Darkova can be broken by anyone who fights him, only Cornelius survives the experience.
    • If you defeat King Gallon with anybody besides Oswald, he immediately recovers from his wounds. Only Oswald can defeat him because in addition to being of Titanian royal blood (necessary in order to defeat the Beast of Darkova), his power comes from the Queen of the Dead who cursed Gallon into his undead form.
    • If you defeat Onyx with anybody besides Mercedes, he will be completely unharmed after the fight is over. The game doesn't exactly explain why only Mercedes can kill him, but the prophecy says that he will be stopped by the World Tree. Like all fairies, Mercedes has a True Name derived from Norse mythology - in her case, it's Yggdrasil, and a huge tree grows in the spot where she dies.
    • Velvet is the only one who knows enough about how the Cauldron works to disable it without destroying it, making it possible to use it to break down the Psyphers and release their absorbed life energy back into the world to prevent its death. Anyone else cracks the Cauldron's core and dies in the massive explosion that results.]]
    • If you defeat Leventhan with anybody besides Gwendolyn, they're killed in the subsequent fall from the sky. As shown in the good ending, Gwendolyn is caught by Oswald, provided he also survived his own battle.
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Middle-earth: Shadow of War: Both times Celebrimbor fights Sauron in the games will end as this, due to Foregone Conclusion. In the former, Sauron is heavily indicated to have simply been indulging Celebrimbor, suffering only minor damage from all his efforts and easily overriding his control over his dominated orcs and uruks, before simply disarming him of the One Ring, as it belongs to him alone, just as Celebrimbor has him pushed back and proceeding to utterly stomp him and chain him up to kill him after he kills his wife and child in front of him. As for the latter, Celebrimbor brings Sauron to his knees with help from Eitrael... Only Sauron proves that he can't be dominated by Celebrimbor using Eitrael, as Shelob reveals only Talion could have given Celebrimbor the strength he needs to enslave Sauron, so he instead seperates Eitrael from Celebrimbor by cutting off the New Ring from her finger and then forcibly absorbs him inside him.
    • In The Blade of Galadriel DLC, Eitrael fights Talion when they meet again, attempting to kill him as he had become a Nazgul. You have to win the boss fight, but afterwards Talion will simply start fighting you harder and he'll disarm you fairly quickly afterwards.
  • Rogue Galaxy has the masked guy. You fight him quite a few times, and in every single fight but the last, after a certain time elapses, you're treated to a cutscene with your characters saying "This guy's too strong!" and "We can't beat him!". This is especially annoying since he's not really that tough—you can end the fight early by dropping his HP to a certain amount, and if you figure out the right strategy, you can get him to that amount in under a minute.
  • Inverted in Secret of Evermore for the first boss battle. If you win, you get extra stuff. If you lose, the plot continues anyway.
  • Inverted in The World Ends with You; a wall-guarding Reaper during Week 2 challenges Neku to a game of Tin Pin Slammer. Win, and the Reaper lets him through as promised, as well as relinquishing Tin Pin Thrift. Lose... and the Reaper lets him through anyways, because he's ecstatic about finally getting a Tin Pin win. One of the conditions for unlocking the Secret Reports post-game requires you to lose to him, and offers swag to compensate.
  • Many bosses in Xenoblade Chronicles 1 have attacks that trigger an instant loss for the party at a certain health threshold segueing into a cutscene to show how powerful they are, but you still have to be strong enough to defeat them anyway, as losing the fight before reaching this threshold results in being sent back to the last checkpoint just as if you lost any other battle.
  • It would be easier to count how many boss fights in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 don't end with Rex and company getting their asses kicked by the boss in the following cutscene.

    Beat 'em Up 
  • In Annet Futatabi, after defeating the Stage 3 boss, in the following cutscene, the boss suddenly gets back up and musters the last of his strength to throw Annet toward a tree, knocking her unconscious.
  • This happens in The Death and Return of Superman for Superman's second battle with Doomsday as well as Superboy and the Eradicator's fights with Cyborg Superman. All bosses are required to be defeated to complete the game, but they all knock the character that attacks them out once they have been beaten.
  • In Lost Judgment, the first boss fight against Kazuki Soma is an example of this. After you beat the fight, you transition to a cutscene where Yagami lays some more attacks on the guy, before he immediately ends the battle by delivering a brutal roundhouse kick that temporarily paralyzes Yagami, who only survived afterwards due to outside intervention. It's also a solid example of The Worf Effect and the only time where Yagami lost a fair one-on-one fight in his games; for example, in the previous game, during Yagami's first fight against Kuroiwa (who later acts as the final boss), Yagami was shown to have the upper-hand in the post-fight cutscene and Kuroiwa needed to draw a gun to regain it, whereas this boss wasn't even using their signature weapon to deliver that devastating kick.
  • At the end of the GBA/DS adaptation of Revenge of the Sith, whether you are playing as Anakin or Obi-Wan, the final battle ends the same way - Obi-Wan cuts Anakin's limbs off and leaves him to die in the flames of Mustafar.

    Card Battle Games 
  • Mega Man Battle Network does this a lot. Almost every time you beat a WWW or Nebula boss, he'll pull himself together and escape with whatever Plot Coupon you were trying to keep out of his hands. Sometimes the boss even has a doomsday attack in reserve — cue Chaud and ProtoMan to save you from it, then insult you for being unprepared.
  • MegaMan Star Force 3 has a mini-game style battle where Geo and Omega-Xis have to fight off a wave of Omega-Xis copies and keep them from invading WAZA headquarters. In the first wave, if you lose, it's game over of course, but if you win, the copies proceed to break in effortlessly via cut scene.
    • Made all the more egregious in that you're explicitly stated to be stalling for time so Dr. Goodall can get the anti-clone gun working. She gets it working, wiping them all out, which immediately depletes the battery to zip. Then Queentia/Queen Tia summons even more of them, leading to them breaking in.

    Eastern RPGs 
  • After you defeat Rictus in Anachronox, he will suddenly recover for no reason and curbstomp the party in a cutscene. Justified, however, since Rictus is a literal comic book villain and pulling cheap moves is par for his course. Boots will even lampshade it, moments before it happens, by recalling a similar fight for the comics.
  • Severely overused in Baten Kaitos Origins. This happens so often that it actually drives the main character into a Heroic BSoD over his constant losses when anything other than his own life is actually at stake. The fights usually end with an unavoidable attack from the boss, then a villain coming out of nowhere to blast the boss into pieces and gloat at you (especially egregious in the Lava Caves; how the hell did Valara get that mecha in there without anyone noticing?!). Just to make it more infuriating, some of those bosses are tough. It's done in the first game as well, although not quite as much. It still gets irritating when you're beating a boss into the ground, and then the next minute your characters are flipping out about 'how tough this thing is'.
  • The DS remake of Chrono Trigger does this with the Dream Devourer. Lose and it's game over, win and the Dream Devourer just knocks you out anyway and you only survive because Schala manages to regain control temporarily and warps you out.
  • In Eternal Sonata, the characters, having just beaten the massively-large Tuba who started a fight with them "for fun", allow themselves to be arrested by the guards. Then, after you beat Tuba a second time, he knocks the entire party off a bridge.
  • This happens a lot in Fairy Fencer F, where regardless of how well you're doing against a boss, the characters then proclaim the boss is too strong.
  • How do you troll us, Final Fantasy, let us count the ways...
    • In Final Fantasy IV, the defense of Fabul is set up as a hopeless fight against superior numbers... but your party will almost certainly Curb Stomp every fight in a single round. But after every win, your characters declare themselves outnumbered and fall back.
      • In Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, once enough damage has been dealt by Fusoya and Golbez to the last boss of the Lunarian Chapter, a resurrected Zeromus, he mocks the characters' efforts before blasting them with Big Bang. At this point, Fusoya realizes that the battle is hopeless which ultimately forces him to warp Golbez to the Lunar Whale so he can escape to Earth while he faces Zeromus alone. The ultimate fates of Fusoya and Zeromus are unknown by the end of the game.
    • In Final Fantasy V, once you get to Gaulf's world, you are left on a small island with no way out and must use a tent in order to continue. Then, the party is attacked by an Abductor monster, two are instantly taken, and Bartz must fight it alone. If you lose, the party is successfully captured, if the player wins, you're just dumped back into the camp area with no way out, even if you could leave again there's nowhere to go, and nothing but a chest that player has no choice but to open and get hit with sleeping gas so Bartz can get captured anyway.
    • Final Fantasy VIII pulls this one several times. The first occurs inside the first sequence involving Lunatic Pandora, where after fighting waves of enemy Mooks, the last one brings two party members down to 1 HP immediately if they are not already KO'd to facilitate a plot point. Another occurs when you fight against Edea in Disc 1, which, depending on how much magic you've stocked up, is either a fair challenge to stay alive or a pushover. However, the fight against Edea ends with her using what later turns out to be her Limit Break, so it actually makes sense that she could oneshot Squall with it.
    • Final Fantasy IX pulls a non-cutscene variant several times: all the battles against Beatrix (early in the game) and Kuja (later on) play out as normal boss fights until you defeat them, at which point they automatically pull out an attack which reduces your entire party to 1 HP apiece, forcing them to surrender so that the plot can continue.
    • Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade: In the final battle, Yuffie and Sonon defeat Nero the Sable and he is seemingly sucked into his own black hole. In the following cutscene, Nero reforms from the darkness and fatally impales Sonon, forcing Yuffie to escape.
  • The Glory of Heracles (DS) actually lets the player pull this in each and every battle. Since all the protagonists are immortal, losing a fight against regular monsters just has them play dead and continue the journey once the monsters are out of sight. Losing against a boss has them just get back up for round two.
  • Happens annoyingly often in Klonoa Heroes: Densetsu no Star Medal. You fight through a swarm of giant mooks, you get overwhelmed by a bigger swarm. You beat Boxmaren, it regenerates and multiplies endlessly until Pango shows up and destroys the computer controlling it. Defeat Joka, he goes One-Winged Angel and whomps you so badly you don't even get a cutscene of him actually doing it, just a bit of dialogue stating you lost.
  • In the Nintendo DS version of Kung Fu Panda 2...
    • The Komodo fortress on the first visit has you go through various battles that you can actually win, and it'll still treat it like you lost to them all. Hardware limitations aside, this can make players twist from serious to ROFL almost instantly.
    • A straighter example is a mandatory battle against a Komodo dragon. After you beat him, he reveals that he was just guarding you from getting to his leader so that said leader could ravage Gongmen without the Furious Five and Po on his tail. Then you return, only to find the pathway to Gongmen blocked. All the more frustrating, even if you take him down with any of the special moves from the sidequests, this will not stop The Juggernaut he works for.
  • The Legend of Dragoon sort of reverses this: during the Inevitable Tournament, the player can figure out any number of ways to lose a match, only for his opponent to get disqualified or surrender after winning. This is ultimately meant to push the player into a more traditional Hopeless Boss Fight.
  • In LISA: The Painful RPG, Buzzo is typically meant to be a Hopeless Boss Fight who will quickly destroy Brad and his party if he's challenged. If you actually do defeat him, he'll somehow end the world right then and there, causing a Non-Standard Game Over.
  • Luminous Arc 2 does this over and over and over, since it likes to use its boss enemies on several maps in a row. It's even a plot point with Bharva, who can only be permanently defeated on his own home plane of existence.
  • Mario & Luigi: Dream Team has the battle with Bowser in Dream's Deep. After the battle, he blasts the Mario Bros. with his powered-up fire breath, knocking them both out.
  • The penultimate battle against Bowletta in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. If you lose, it's game over. If you win, a Time Bob-omb appears near the brothers and explodes, knocking them out instantly. Then Bowletta sucks them both up, plunging the brothers with only 1 HP each into the final battle with the spirit of Cackletta inside of Bowser.
  • Mother 3 has "Master Eddy," an unavoidable boss battle at the end of the ocean. Losing to him results in a standard Game Over. Do enough damage, and he will release a massive attack which will end the battle and wash the party up on a certain island.
  • Justified in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. When the boss Doopliss copies Mario, he turns into a shadowy version of him. Lose, and Mario's game ends, Game Over. Win, and Doopliss switches places with Mario during the transition back to the field screen, and escapes with Mario's identity and party.
  • In the Persona series:
    • Persona 3 has this as, of all things, the expected Final Boss battle. (The true Final Boss battle, however, is thankfully a scripted Foregone Victory instead.) Somewhat justified in that they've been hammering into your head that you cannot win against this, the only thing you're doing is dying with dignity.
    • Persona 4 gives us Shadow Rise. If you die against her, it's a Game Over, if you lower her health enough she will perform an Enemy Scan on your party and you will no longer be able to hit her at all. And it is still Game Over if she kills you after this happens, you must hold off against her until the cutscene three rounds later.
  • In Pokémon X and Y:
    • After defeating Team Flare's boss, Lysandre and his evil scientist Xerosic, they promise not to activate the ultimate weapon if you pick the right button to shut it down. However even if the you press the right button, Xerosic will activate it anyway and making your choice entirely meaningless.
    • Inverted at the end of the game when you face the Post-Final Boss. Even if you lose (unlikely, considering they only have three Pokemon at level 60 when the Champion had six Pokemon in their mid-to-high sixties), the game proceeds the same as if you won.
  • Happens all the time Suikoden III. Most of the plot boss battles (as opposed to the optional treasure bosses) are this. It...gets a bit tiresome.
  • Tales Series:
    • In Tales of Graces, it's entirely possible to slaughter Hubert in what's supposed to be a Hopeless Boss Fight against him (easiest by exploiting a glitch). It's not really worth bothering with- He'll keep fighting at 0 HP until he kills you.
    • Tales of Symphonia features a Boss Bonanza against three enemies in the Tower of Salvation that ultimately ends like this. While the first fight has to be won, the middle one is against Kratos after revealing himself as The Mole. The fight itself is ultimately inconsequential, as the game continues whether you win or lose, and the only things you get if you win is a slightly different cutscene and some XP and loot rewards before the Big Bad arrives in a Hopeless Boss Fight that either ends in him mopping the floor with you, or just ending abruptly if the fight goes on for too long or his HP goes down by a certain amount, and then he wipes the floor with you in a cutscene.
      • That said, if you do end the fight with the Big Bad by lowering his HP enough, the cutscene afterward changes to him being hard-pressed enough that he needs to pull out the Sword of Plot Advancement in order to beat you, letting you get a look at it much, much earlier in the game than you otherwise would have. Still mostly irrelevant, since it's all but impossible unless you're on a New Game Plus.
    • In Tales of Xillia 2, the final boss will end the battle the first time his HP is reduced to zero by immediately hitting Ludger with his Mystic Arte.
  • Trails Series loves this trope, and uses it for establishing villains' power at the expence of your party.
    • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky: villains will often just get up after you beat them, insult you, and force you into letting them do what they want anyway. The black soldiers in FC, the Jaegers (actually Kurt and his gang in disguise) in SC...
    • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, lose the final battle of the game and it's game over, of course. Win the final battle, against Crow and his Ordine and he just gets back up, informs Rean that he's been operating a Divine Knight for three years, compared with Rean who just started, and crushes him good, forcing the ending of the game in which Rean has to flee in order to live for The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II.
    • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 2 uses this trope so frequently that it would actually be easier to list the boss fights that don't end with the main characters getting bailed out by someone more powerful.
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon has two examples:
    • The fight against Majima and Saejima. After the fight, Ichiban and his friends are all winded and beat up while their opponents look none the worse for wear (heck, Majima even says he's having a blast). They're about to take the kid's gloves off and fight seriously when Arakawa enters and tells them that Ichiban is on their side.
    • Later, Ichiban faces off against Kazuma Kiryu himself. On top of being That One Boss, the following cutscene implies that the whole boss fight was in Ichiban's head, and Kiryu just decked him with a Megaton Punch without exerting too much effort on his part. Even if not, it's still made clear that this boss hardly broke a sweat fighting Ichiban and co.

    Fighting Games 
  • So, so often in BlazBlue. Usually thanks to Nu, Rachel, or Terumi. On a few storylines, they will justify it with the explanation that beating a boss in game is the equivalent to the character holding their own in the fight long enough for some event (e.g. backup arriving that will scare off the boss) instead of being quickly killed if you lose. Only a few, though.
  • In DeStrega, if you play on story mode, this happens a number of times when your character is supposed to lose. If you just suck and lose early, you have to do the battle again; if you get your opponent's health low enough, you'll lose control of you character, who will run around like a schmuck until he or she is defeated.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • This happened frequently in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2. A large amount of battles require you to win as the heroes. However, to follow the story, fights where the heroes canonicaly lose will end with them being tired out, and unable to defeat the opponent.
    • Averted in BT3. When a battle called for the bad guy to win, this time around you played as the bad guy instead. And when there were fights that could lead to this, beating the bad guy shows your triumphant good guy celebrating their victory. Sure the next episode didn't change, but it was much nicer.
    • Back in Ultimate Tenkaichi's "Hero Mode" (Basically a Create-A-Player Gaiden Game): After defeating Omega Shenron, no matter how badly you beat him and no matter how high your stats are, he'll strip you of the Dragon Balls you've gathered, re-scatter them, then vanish, forcing you re-find the Dragon Balls and re-fight most of the missions. Witness Lanipator's Angrish filled reaction to this here.
    • In Dragon Ball Z: Super Butōden 2's story mode, Goku starts fighting Cell with half his lifebar because he's supposed to lose. But if he manages to bring Cell down to half life his lifebar anyway, he's suddenly "weary" and concedes the fight.
    • In Dragon Ball: Advanced Adventure, you (as Goku) have a boss fight against Tao Pai Pai in the forest. He's a difficult boss, but nothing that a skilled player can't handle without too much trouble. Lose and the story continues. Take his life bar to zero, and Goku freezes and the boss (who isn't beaten for some reason) will hit you until you die.
    • Dragon Ball Z: Budokai isn't immune to this, either. Freeza, Android 18 and Perfect Cell all pass off their ass-kickings at Vegeta's hands in actual gameplay as just fooling around in the cutscenes afterwards, and then trounce him. Goku's battle against Freeza is a slightly less offensive case, since Freeza will at least concede that Goku's getting on his nerves in the cutscene; still, Goku will be in much worse shape in said cutscene than he probably was at the end of the in-game fight, and will have to resort to a Spirit Bomb.
  • There are a few boss battles like this in Duel Savior Destiny. For example, if you lose while using Lily Sheerfield against Downy Reed in the final route, you get a game over. If you win, your character still gets booted off into an alternate dimension until the endgame and the baddie walks back into the throne room to be a boss fight again, except this time you have to win with an even weaker character. He's still not dead after that either.
  • While it doesn't come with a curb stomp after the fight, winning against Mukai in The King of Fighters 2003 results in him standing up, back in his standard battle pose, with your characters remarking (more or less) how you barely scratched him (and sometimes how he even seems unfazed). He leaves afterward, with only a hint of the trouble that's to come.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • Li Mei's ending in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance requires you to take down Quan Chi and Shang Tsung, and you can even use a Fatality on them for good measure. It involves them draining her soul and planting it inside an undead member of Onaga's army.
    • In Mortal Kombat 9 during the arc that covers the events from part 3. Sindel is revived and empowered with Shang Tsung's soul by Shao Kahn and sent to kill the heroes. She pretty much massacres them until Nightwolf is the only one left to take her own. Losing means having to redo the fight, win it, even if you've kick her ass to kingdom come and back again...and Sindel still proves too powerful forcing Nightwolf to preform a Heroic Sacrifice just to kill her.
  • Used in the Naruto: Clash of Ninja games' story mode. Even in fights where the "heroic" character gets soundly thrashed, you still have to win... and are rewarded with a cutscene where you get stomped.
  • Sonic Battle has an inversion of this during Rouge's boss battle in Tails' campaign, where if you lose or forfeit a special cutscene is show where Rouge regardless gives Tails the pass he needs (along with a kiss on the cheek)
  • Street Fighter V has this occur in Rashid’s story in his battle against Ryu. Losing means having to restart the battle, while winning the battle has Rashid comment on Ryu as he struggles to rise...but in a last ditch effort, he proceeds to use the Shoryuken on Rashid, taking him down in a matter of seconds.
  • Tekken 7 has this in the final boss battle of the story mode against Kazuya as Heihachi. Losing means starting the battle over. After winning, however, Heihachi dies by Kazuya's hand.
  • Them's Fightin' Herds: The story will continue mostly the same way whether or not Arizona manages to beat Oleander's third phase at the end of the first chapter. Though it's honestly just easier to lose the last phase of the fight, the player can win with timing and effort, but even when Arizona comes out on top, an alternate cutscene happens in which she'll get knocked out anyway.
  • There are several bouts in the WWE Day of Reckoning games where, when you're just about to win (i.e. the ref's hand is about to hit the three, or your opponent is just about to tap out), you are suddenly jumped from behind by another wrestler.
    • WWE games have this a lot, the storylines are seemingly not at all dependent on what you do in the ring.
      • Somewhat acceptable, as the storylines are scripted in the actual WWE as well. And interference by a third wrestler is commonplace.
      • Not quite as acceptable in some of the WWE titles, though, where these scripted losses actually will negatively affect your records and stats.
  • X-Men: Next Dimension: Doesn't matter how many robots Forge manages to take out when you control him, he's eventually going to get himself tied up and captured.

    First Person Shooter 
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has this happen at least once in every game. In Call of Duty 4, after rescuing a downed helicopter pilot, the entire city you're in is struck by a nuclear blast, killing everyone else in your chopper and presumably all the other US forces still in the city. Modern Warfare 2 has this happen more than once, most notably reaching extraction at Makarov's safehouse after clipping a mortar blast, only for General Shepherd to betray you and your surviving teammates. Modern Warfare 3 has this when playing as the FSO agent Harkov, where at the end of his level you get the President to an evac chopper only for Makarov to show up within, kill you and kidnap the President. That said, in Spec Ops, there's a mission that starts immediately after this where a wounded FSO agent gets up and saves the President's daughter, Alena. That said, the next time you hear from Alena is when she's frantically calling for help because everyone in her security detail (including the agent that saved her in Spec Ops) is dead.
  • Notably averted in Deus Ex. After you defect from your corrupt organization, you run away from them for some, but in the end run into a Hopeless Boss Fight and have to surrender. If, at any moment during that time you're "killed", you're instead captured and transferred to the next level anyway.
  • Quake IV: In the first encounter with the Makron, after he sustains a certain amount of damage, he will whip out his Dark Matter Gun, drain your health, and haul you off to be Stroggified.

    Hack and Slash 
  • Vergil in Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening after the first boss fight with him. Doesn't matter if you were hardcore enough to No-Damage Run over him - he still stomps on Dante afterward. It's not quite as annoying as it might be, though, because you saw part of the fight in the opening cutscene and thus see it coming. Dante is like this in Devil May Cry 4 for the last battle against him. Subverted in Devil May Cry 5, which starts with a Hopeless Boss Fight you're intended to lose that if you manage to beat Urizen is treated as beaten for good and the game congratulates you for stopping things before events got really bad.
  • A Timed Mission in Drakengard involves you running through a fortress full of enemy soldiers attempting to rescue the Distressed Damsel before the Big Bad kills her. Let the timer expire and you get a Non-Standard Game Over. Succeed and you'll find her dead anyway.
  • The Force Unleashed has this in the Light Side ending of the final boss battle. Once you've defeated the Emperor, the final cutscene shows that Starkiller is killed anyway while distracting the completely unharmed Emperor from some escaping senators.
    • The Dark Side ending plays with this a little. For the final boss, you kill Vader but then in the cutscene afterwards, Starkiller turns on the Emperor, who (probably) effortlessly defeats him. You don't die in this ending but you just become a replacement for Vader. It still counts though.
    • The sequel also has this in the Dark Side ending. You defeat Vader and prepare to kill him when suddenly, a perfect clone of Starkiller comes out of nowhere and kills not only you but Kota and everyone else who's a threat to Vader.
      • Of course since Starkiller is Doomed by Canon the first example, which is canon was obviously going to happen anyways. The other two examples aren't canon.
  • The battle against Kagekiyo Taira in Genji in the first chapter. You can get your revenge in the second chapter after your training in the Golden Temple.
  • Several times in the Sengoku Basara series. For a concrete example, look no further than fighting Mitsunari in Oichi's blue path in Samurai Heroes. Once you defeat him, he effortlessly defeats you in the ensuing cutscene.

  • At least two skill checks in the Billy vs. SNAKEMAN storyline quests are not to succeed in what your character is attempting, but just to lose "in an awesome and non-fatal way".
  • An example from a miniboss is Void from Grand Chase. Basically, you have to avoid his projectiles, which deal decent damage, and more quickly, while dealing a massive 1 damage per hit. After a certain number of hits, he'll warp to the other side of the rather large arena, and start again. After enough hits have been done, a cutscene will happen, where he just steals what he's after, and warps off. If he takes out all your lives, you fail the dungeon. Not so hard in a party, but with slower characters in a solo run, you'll be hard pressed to not lose at least one life.
  • Guild Wars Factions has the Big Bad kill the party in a cutscene after the Vizunah square mission. Fortunately, everyone got better, thanks to some envoys.
  • The Sith Inquisitor storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic contains a rather egregious example: during your battle against Darth Zash, you must win to get defeated in a subsequent cutscene (and barely saved by your faithful companion); if you are "killed", you can just call a medprobe and get revived right there, restore your health and attack again. The Fridge Logic of the situation is that Darth Zash wanted you knocked out (not dead!) all along, so she could take over your body—but the MMORPG mechanics force her to chivalrously wait for you to get up and beat her fair and square before she can unleash her powers and knock you out in a cutscene.
  • In the Wrath of the Lich King expansion of World of Warcraft, the eponymous Lich King is actually very smart, but due to Obfuscating Stupidity comes off looking like a Bond Villain for most of the game, even in the final battle. Then, at 10% health, he reveals his Xanatos Gambit by suddenly killing the entire party and proceeds to raise them as his new generals. Had it not been for Tirion Fordring shattering Frostmourne, the Lich King would have succeeded.
    • Used aggravatingly often in the Cataclysm expansion. Many is the quest where the second you complete the required objectives, you get captured or cornered by mobs who, by all rights, shouldn't even stand a chance against you, and you can do nothing about it. This is most blatant by far in Vashj'ir and Uldum. Vashj'ir is at least convincing about it (through the entire zone's quest line, you're heavily outnumbered by the Naga and are on the run), but Uldum's instances of these are just pure Cutscene Incompetence.

  • Aladdin (Capcom) has this for the final boss (Jafar in Scaled Up form): after you see a cool death animation for him, he comes back and kicks Aladdin's ass. You still won, but if it weren't for this, the ending of the game and the ending of the movie wouldn't be the same. (Aladdin (Virgin Games) finished after killing Cobra Jafar, possibly to avoid this kind of thing.)
  • The Armed With Wings series of online Flash games:
    • Red Moon has a particularly Egregious example of this: after spending the game watching the heroine get bossed around and outright abused by her walking tutorial boyfriend, you reach the Emperor and beat him... only to see a cutscene where not only does the Emperor win easily, but he defeats your character first, leaving the NPC to do most of the fighting before running away. Then, to add insult to injury, she apologizes to him for not being strong enough. And did I mention that's the end of the game? What the hell!?
    • In Armed With Wings 2, you play as the villain. At the end of the game, you face The Hero. Die against him, you lose, beat him, and a cutscene follows where he pulls a One-Winged Angel, reveals he is the avatar of God himself, resurrects all the people you've killed over the course of the story and seals your Villain Protagonist in a white room for all eternity. Justified, however, because this Villain Protagonist is vital to the plot of the next game and as such must be sealed, not killed.
    • The following game, Armed With Wings 3, also has one of those as the first boss which you defeat (pretty easily, as he's the first boss), only to have him get up and jump your protagonist, who is taken by surprise from behind and totally defenseless, saved only by his mother. Same game has a Hopeless Boss Fight, too.
      • Not necessarily a hopeless boss fight, but if it becomes apparent that the player is actually capable of winning despite being overpowered, then the game just jumps to the cutscene.
    • In a series notorious for it, this is subverted in Culmination, an interquel taking place during the late-game story of Armed with Wings 3, a Foregone Conclusion setting explaining how and when the old hero died. You play him for most of the game and then you face off against the Final Boss...only to realize that you're controlling HIM in this battle now! Cue the player using the Emperor's Purposely Overpowered arsenal to utterly destroy his earlier player character.
  • In Freedom Planet 2, there's the fight at the end of the Palace Courtyard stage. Merga has cornered the Magister and General Gong with assistance from Askal, and Neera openly declares that she will gut the water dragon; cue Merga ordering her troops to withdraw before the fight. Even with a fully assembled team and Gong as backup, there is no victory; while there is an achievement for you if you knock Merga down, once the playable fight ends all the dismissed troops return in force, leaving the team and the Magister no choice but to flee with their lives. The size of Merga's army in the area at that point was so great that, in Lilac's own words, "this wasn't a battle we could win".
  • Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X:
    • This is featured as the Final Boss battle if you play as Vile. Beat X and Zero, and the following cutscene shows them seriously damaged. Then they pull themselves together, stomp you with one shot, and leave you to die. Great reward.
    • When you play as X, the intro-stage battle with Vile has been changed from a Hopeless Boss Fight to one of these. You have to do a certain amount of damage, but then Vile will simply waste you; Zero's entrance then proceeds on schedule.
  • In Mega Man X5, no matter how badly the player wastes Zero (as X) or X (as Zero), Zero's Sōgenmu or X's Soul Body attack from the previous game will be pulled out of nowhere to turn the fight into a draw.
  • Metroid Dread: The final boss, Raven Beak, acts like this. You go through a grueling, fast-paced battle during which you even rip his wings off, but right when Samus goes for the finishing blow in a cutscene, Raven Beak decides to stop toying around and almost instantly has Samus helpless in his grip, choking her out. Fortunately, her Metroid powers fully awaken right at that moment, which allows her to finally kill him.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • In Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, once you "defeat" Vader, he chops off Luke's hand, just like in the film.
  • Toy Story has a Boss Battle against the Claw where you, as Woody, have to toss LGMs up at the Claw to knock Buzz down until Sid runs out of quarters. Of course, since the movie has Sid capture Buzz and Woody anyway, the cutscene following this fight naturally has that happen.

    Racing Games 
  • Sonic Riders does this during a stage that takes place in the tournament finals. If you don't get in first place, you fail the level. If you're about to cross the finish line while in first, a cutscene will occur where Wave blows up Sonic's Extreme Gear allowing Jet to win.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • In the first of the RedAlert series one Soviet mission was to capture a Chronosphere. If you approach it before destroying radars (as warned), it explodes and you lose. If after, it still explodes, but you win the mission. The generals in the briefing room shift blame from you to the intelligence (with Stalin personally choking the general responsible for missing the last radar), and your last chance for victory is a full assault on London.
  • Happens in StarCraft:
    • The Human mission 9 involves defeating a Protoss outpost, without harming the Zerg base. After eliminating the threat, the Zerg overrun your base, facilitating Kerrigan's Face–Heel Turn.
      • Theoretically. Rather foolishly, they didn't make that powerful a force. As such, it's quite easy to destroy it with a few well placed bunkers, battleships, and siege tank emplacements, that you spend much time building to chase down the old enemy. Doesn't change the cutscenes, though.
      • This mission is a prime example of Gameplay and Story Segregation. Whether or not you constructed a large enough force to take out both the Protoss and the Zerg bases is moot considering you more than likely built a couple of transports to complete the mission and there should be nothing stopping you from loading Kerrigan onto one and flying back to the fleet in orbit around the planet.
    • In Protoss mission 7, You have to protect Tassadar from the Conclave. Once you destroy part of it Tassadar surrenders. But you win and can rescue him in next mission.
    • In Wings of Liberty, Raynor receives a crystal that gives him visions of a Bad Future. The final mission of which shows the Protoss' Last Stand, and the only objective is to kill a certain number of enemies. Get wiped out before doing so, you fail. Kill that many, and the Big Bad taunts you and then continues to attack, the mission will always end with your forces being completely annihilated.
  • The first battle tutorial to Total War: Rome II involves you rushing to relieve a siege that is putting the life of a consul in danger. If you wait for too long or use an alternative strategy than the tutorial demands, the consul dies in battle and you lose. If you follow the tutorial perfectly, the consul dies in battle but you still 'win' it.
  • In the last mission of the Hierarchy campaign of Universe at War your mission is to defeat a single boss unit. No matter what force you have at the end of the battle the cutscene shows your army defeated by the enemy forces and the boss killing you.
    • Same with the Novus campaign; you're tasked to defend a portal that overloads and explodes in the end when you win.

    Rhythm Games 
  • Just Shapes & Beats: Two of the boss fights end with the Big Bad mopping the floor with the player character, although losing before this point will still result in a Game Over. This is Averted outside of Story Mode, with the fight ending just before these points.


  • In Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, Mission 12, you have to shoot down a squadron of Belkan BM-335 bombers supposedly carrying nuclear payloads. If one gets away, it's mission failure. If you shoot them all down, you are exposed to a plot-central nuclear explosion that you just tried to prevent.
  • In Air Force Delta Strike, Ruth Valentine takes on a solo mission (without orders) to save a stranded hospital ship. No matter how many enemy aircraft you shoot down or the health of the ship, at the end of the mission timer, the ship is destroyed by enemy missiles and you suffer a mission failure.
  • Many, many missions in FreeSpace 2 require you to not only survive, but to keep some other vessel intact—until it gets blown up by overwhelming force at a particular point in the plot. Sometimes ships even mysteriously explode even if you've killed (or cheated away) every credible threat to those ships; other times the plot will simply hang if the ship in question fails to die. It can get a bit frustrating.

    Shoot 'em Up 

    Sports Games 
  • In Golf Story, there is one challenge where you have to beat an opponent in a long drive competition. If you fail the challenge, you have to retry as usual. If you win, your opponent gets the trophy anyway, because the trophy already had his name engraved on it because the tournament organizer was sure he'd win.

    Stealth Based Games 
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum has Batman trying to save Dr. Young from Zsasz. You have to take Zsasz down stealthily; if you wait too long or rush into the room, he will slit her throat. Immediately after you save her, Dr. Young gets killed in the following cutscene.
    • That said, it still works in a narrative sense, as you need her help to locate and unlock the safe to get the documents inside - without her, odds are that Batman would have been the one to take the explosives to the face.
    • Oh, its much worse than that - With the exceptions of Commissioner Gordon, Aaron Cash and various guards scattered throughout the game and Warden Quincy Sharp, every hostage in the game you save will die later offscreen. You save them, tell them to stay put and hide somewhere, and when you pass through that location again you can find their corpses, killed by the Joker's crew, even they did exactly what Batman told them to and hid. To twist the knife further, the aforementioned Warden Sharp turns out to be an Ax-Crazy Knight Templar who has been having patients tortured and killed; when you go back to where you left him, he has simply vanished, and in the sequel is actually the Mayor after taking the credit for Batman saving the day (though this Karma Houdini turn is mitigated somewhat when the sequel shows he was also Brainwashed and Crazy).
  • Metal Gear Solid, you beat Sniper Wolf after much backtracking to one of the earliest areas in the game, the 2nd floor basement of the tank hangar. Immediately afterwards you are captured and hauled back to the first floor basement of the hangar, one floor above, for a torture session.
    • And in Sons of Liberty it doesn't matter how quickly Raiden shoots Vamp during the sniper section. Emma still gets fatally stabbed by him after the fight ends, even though if she dies during the actual boss fight it's game over.
      • The Vamp sniper encounter is slightly less offensive than other examples of the trope in that succeeding keeps Emma alive just long enough to have a reunion with her stepbrother Otacon.

    Survival Horror 
  • Fear & Hunger: Two of the potential Final Bosses kill you post-battle even if you win against them. Considering that both the God of Fear & Hunger and the Traces of Gro-goroth are Eldritch Abominations, it's to be expected.
  • The downloadable Resident Evil 5 bonus chapter, Lost In Nightmares, is essentially a playable version of a flashback cutscene from the main storyline, so naturally its outcome is a Foregone Conclusion, including the playable boss fight against the Big Bad. The bare minimum you need to do to "win" is to simply survive for a certain length of time, although you can also "beat" him in the fight and finish the battle earlier. Of course, winning in this case just means you successfully trigger the canonical Curbstomp Battle cutscene, and you get to watch you and your partner get smacked around for a while.
  • In all encounters with Pyramid Head in Silent Hill 2, you either have to run from him, or shoot and/or dodge him until he leaves or commits suicide.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • In the final battle of Ring of Red, one of your goals is to keep the Prototype mechs used by Weizegger and Ryoko from falling into the hands of the Soviet commander pursuing you. At the end of the mission, Weizegger and Ryoko both stay behind to hold off the Soviet forces in order to let their teammates escape.
  • In many Super Robot Wars games, there would be moments where you take on boss units who in-game can be fairly easy or somewhat difficult to deal with depending on the unit. Then once the units are defeated, mostly to coincide with the units' respective storyline, they would immediately target one of the protagonists with it's strongest attack (usually it's respective series arch rival), completely obliterating it even if you have full health and special skills up.
  • Valkyria Chronicles has Chapter 16: Operation Maiden's Shield, where the Marmota (a gigantic land battleship) is barreling towards the capital city, and Squad 7 is tasked with stopping it by redirecting its path into a trap laid by the Royal Guard. Fail, and the Marmota continues on to the capital unimpeded. Succeed... and the trap fails, and the Marmota continues on to the capital unimpeded. The only difference (aside from being allowed to continue with the story) is that Alicia uses her Valkyria powers to blow a hole in the hull that's exploited in the final mission.

    Western RPGs 
  • The first battle with Malak in Knights of the Old Republic.
    • The second game has fight against Atris, though in here, win or lose doesn't matter, she will beat Handmaiden anyway.
    • Knights of the Old Republic II also has the Exile's first fight against Darth Sion on Korriban. If you are killed, you're dead, but after Darth Sion heals himself a few times Kreia tells you to run, and run you do. This is extremely frustrating since you can do the planets in any order, therefore it's entirely probable that by then you're rather powerful and Darth Sion can't hit you, let alone do enough damage that you can't simply heal yourself easily with the Force.
  • The first fight against Kai Leng in Mass Effect 3. Lose and it's game over. Win and he has a gunship destroy the temple you're fighting in, steals the data both of you are after and escapes while you're busy trying to avoid falling to your death.
  • An inverted variation happens in Ultima VII Part II: Serpent Isle. After one of your friends is put on trial in Fawn for blasphemy, you're supposed to sneak into the temple, locate the controls for the oracle, and set her to say the truth (as opposed to being forced by the priestess to condemn the accused). If you don't bother to do so, the next day the oracle will, as expected, condemn your friend... and then the resistance (who gave you the key to the temple earlier) bursts in, reveals the whole plot, and arranges for your friend to be freed. Either way, you can't fail this. (A rare case of averting Holding Out for a Hero, too.)
  • In The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, the first battle with Letho, the eponymous Kingslayer ends with him and Geralt getting into a Beam-O-War which Letho wins and knocks Geralt off his feet. Letho however chooses to spare his life since Geralt saved his a long time ago.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Grand Theft Auto V. After killing a seemingly endless barrage of Triads during his return to North Yankton, Michael still ends up getting kidnapped.

    Non-Video Game Examples 
  • Played for Laughs in an episode of El Chavo del ocho, where La Chilindrina comes up with a little trick to scam Quico out of three pesos by tossing the coins. She says "If it's heads, El Chavo wins and you lose. If it comes tails, I win and you lose". Quico seemingly catches on to this and asks when he's supposed to win, to which la Chilindrina replies "When it comes backwards", and he ends up falling for it.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Fittingly for a video game-themed series, Parado uses this trope in episode 29. To elaborate: In the episode, he explains to Emu that he is Emu’s Bugster and forces Emu to fight him. Emu, wanting to defeat Parado but not killing him, decides to reprogram Parado in order to hopefully redeem him the way he did for Poppy in the earlier episode, and seemingly has won against Parado. However, Parado reveals that that was exactly what he wanted all along: being a Bugster doesn’t allow him to level up using a Gamer Driver made for humans, but Emu reprogramming him and fusing some of his human DNA into Parado has enabled him to use the Gamer Driver and levels up to Level 99, which he then uses to give the Doctor Riders a Curb-Stomp Battle and walks away with Emu’s body when he’s done.
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: The Kobayashi Maru simulation examines how a Starfleet cadet handles a "Heads, I Win. Tails, You Lose." scenario. Since the simulation must end in failure for the cadet, the AI will do whatever it takes to ensure that the cadet suffers a horrendous defeat, whether they decide to save the eponymous ship or not.
  • Since every episode in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Stern) concludes with the same basic cinematic, and some of them have to end a certain way in order to set up the plot for a later episode, this occasionally occurs. Prime examples include "Pizza-o-Meter" (where Shredder invariably steals part of the titular invention, the only difference being that he shrugs off a Disney Villain Death if you complete the mode), "I Want a Body" (where Krang's body is completed regardless of your success), and "The Wrath of Krang" (where the turtles' celebration after beating Krang is followed by him getting back up and enlarging his robot body, setting up "Final Battle").
  • Khaos Omega manages to pull this off in tandem with Arranged Marriage of all tropes early on in "Fairy's Eclipse". Anise pays Jude Heartfilia a visit before going off to talk with a reoprter friend. She admits to knowing exactly who got Jude's daughter Lucy pregnant (it's Anise herself, forced to do so by Inextinguibili Raptus Mark III). The set-up for the arranged marriage is where this trope comes into play; if Jude accepts, then she'll reveal who did it, but if he refuses the identity will stay hidden and result in anyone Jude tries to arrange a marriage to Lucy with to see her as 'damaged goods' because of her curse-forced impregnation via rape. To spare himself the trouble, Jude accepted after correctly identifying Anise as the founder of multiversal superstore 'Sky Relic Central', giving him a backup industry choice to maintain his fortune.
  • Shaggy pulls this on Scooby-Doo in the episode "Which Witch is Which?" when they hear a noise outside the shack they're in. It comes up tails so Scooby has to go out and see what it was (he would have anyway under the circumstances).
  • In one episode of the Swedish sitcom Rena Rama Rolf, the main characters Rolf and Nisse decide to flip a coin to make a decision, with Rolf stating "Heads I win, tails you lose" verbatim. Nisse agrees to this, but after losing the coin flip, he realizes what Rolf is doing and calls him out... on trying to keep the coin for himself, when it originally came from Nisse's wallet.
  • In the first scene of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead this scenario ends up being played out between both Guildenstern and The Player, ironically enough, right after they'd just finished betting on flipping coins. Guildenstern convinces The Player and his acting troupe to go all in on one final bet that they all hastily accept without realizing until it's too late that it's completely unwinnable for them. The bet?
    Guildenstern: The year of your birth, double it. Even numbers I win, odd numbers I lose.
  • A literal (and humorous example) exists in novelty coins that combine this with Heads or Tails?. The coins say on the "heads" side "Heads I Win" with the most popular version featuring a busty woman, and the "tails" side "Tails You Lose" with said variant featuring (presumably) the same woman's posterior region.
  • An episode in the final season of Friends features Rachel saying this verbatim to Joey, after agreeing to stay in New York if he wins the coin toss. When he later mentions losing 57 coin flips in a row to Ross and Chandler, there's a beat where it seems he's about to put everything together after saying the rules of the coin toss out loud, but ultimately Joey just realises that he forgot to pick up his dry cleaning.

....But suppose you toss the coin enough times....suppose one day, it lands on its edge.