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Last-Second Ending Choice

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The Last-Second Ending Choice is a type of Golden Snitch that occurs near the climax of a Video Game, where a single choice made by the player determines the ending that they get, irrespective of the prior choices that they may have made during the game.

This becomes particularly awkward if the game uses a Karma Meter, which is generally intended to track and rate the player's progress throughout the game as a whole. As such, this can result in strange moments where a character who has spent the game playing to one side of the spectrum makes one choice that earns them an ending completely at odds with how they've previously been playing. This also means that the player does not need to go through the game again with a different character of a different alignment; just make a save before the important choice and they'll be able to see all the endings, killing the replay value that having Multiple Endings would normally give to a game.

There are a range of reasons why this trope is used, not least of which is the market push toward Multiple Endings. More and more AAA publishers are lobbying for devs to include Multiple Endings in their games — for added replay value, presumably — whether the dev team wants them or not. As such, at least some instances of this trope are the result of Writer Revolt: the developers are required to include Multiple Endings against their will, and relegating the choice that determines the ending of the game to the very last second, rather than building up to it throughout the game, allows the dev team to include Multiple Endings while spending as little resources on them as possible.


Note, however, that this trope can be done well, like any other. Some stories have the nature and symbolism of choice as the main theme, or intentionally set this up as a Golden Snitch to convey a certain emotion, thought, or plot point to the player. Other games present the final choice as a culmination of a certain theme they have been exploring and ask the player to take a stance on it. If the player is given enough context beforehand, such a choice may be a very thought-provoking experience.

A Sub-Trope to Multiple Endings and a Sub Sub Trope to Story Branching. Compare One Judge to Rule Them All, a sibling among Snitches. Contrast Big First Choice, where the story-changing choice occurs near the beginning of the game and may not impact the ending.



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    Adventure Games 
  • The ending one gets in Azrael's Tear depends on which direction one goes at the last (physical) fork in the path, although at least one of those paths is only available if you take a certain other path a little earlier, and another turns out differently depending on whether you did a particular thing before arriving. Plus, only one of the endings is a "proper" ending; the others are essentially Game Overs.
  • The player in Find the Cure! has traveled to another dimension searching for the cure to a worldwide plague. They locate the cure, but have only ten seconds to choose whether they wish to return through the portal to their apocalyptic home dimension, or live the rest of their life in comfort in the technologically-advanced dimension where the plague has already been cured.
  • Short of getting on the Golden Ending path, there are three basic routes in Killer Bear. Each route leads to a final choice that immediately determines which of two endings you get.before''.
  • Life Is Strange:
    • In Life Is Strange, which ending you get is decided entirely by the very last choice: either you travel back in time to the start of the game and let Chloe get shot in the bathroom, preventing the Butterfly of Doom that results in a tornado destroying Arcadia Bay, or stay with her in the destroyed town.
    • Downplayed in the prequel Life Is Strange: Before the Storm. As a prequel, the fate of the characters is fixed. The final choice influences Rachel's relationship with her father, though whether she gets reunited with her real mother depends on some other choices too.
    • The Before the Storm bonus episode "Farewell" has two slightly different endings depending on the choice made at the end, although the player has no way of knowing that the episode is about to end right then and there. If Max chooses to wait to tell Chloe that she's moving, then she never gets the chance to do so in person since Chloe's father is revealed to have died moments later. She only tells Chloe in the tape at the end, in which she repeatedly apologizes for not telling her. If Max chose to tell her, Chloe reveals that she already knew, and the tape consists of Max comforting her and promising to stay in touch. Both endings are sad, but the former is intended as more of a Player Punch to those who stalled for too long.
    • Downplayed in Life Is Strange 2; while the ending does depend on Sean's final choice to either surrender to the authorities or make a run for the border, it also depends on Daniel's Relationship Values.
  • Somewhat played with in Primordia. While the availability of the endings involving the Thanatos virus, as well as the number of characters who show up in the "good" ending, are determined by the way you solved certain puzzles, the actual choice between the endings is this trope, as most other options don't have any additional requirements. The reason for this is that, ultimately, Horatio's own worldview by the end of the game is ambiguous: it is up to the player to decide which events and characters influenced him the most over the course of his adventures.
    • Special mention goes to the two choices that can significantly alter the "good" ending regardless of which way you get it, to the point of turning it into a Downer Ending. Near the end of the game, Horatio is given a chance to preserve Crispin's and Clarity's remains with the intention of eventually rebuilding them. Saving one or both characters leads to a version of the "good" ending with them appearing alongside Horatio in the final scenes. Saving neither results in a depressed Horatio subjecting himself to Laser-Guided Amnesia and starting from scratch, with a strong implication that ''something like this has happened
  • Self-Checkout Unlimited: Regardless of the choices you've made up until that point, you have to decide right before proceeding down the previously blocked-off hallway that leads to the exit whether you wish to achieve a higher state of consciousness by entering the Eighth Circuit or lie down on the bench and start over from the beginning.

    Action Adventure 
  • The Bard's Tale reaches its climax when you are given three choices: Side with the demon princess, side with her druid captor, or side with yourself. The first two options result in a boss fight against the one you didn't choose, while the third option sees you getting drunk in a bar with some dancing zombies.
  • Bastion has two, one after the other. They're the only real choices you get to make in the whole game, which is slightly justified, as it's implied that the rest of the game was told as a story while the hero was actually in the final level (It Makes Sense in Context). At the end of that level, you can choose to save or abandon Zulf, who betrayed you earlier, and then to restore the world from a save before the magical apocalypse and hope it works out better the next time through, or fly away and try to find the Motherland.
  • In Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, you'll get a choice of good or bad ending (good or bad for Nosgoth, not for Kain) as the very last action in the game. Notably, the bad ending has been made canon. The next entries focus on a single laid-out plot, so there are no more multiple endings.
  • The ending you get in Dark Messiah Of Might And Magic is determined by two separate choices; one about 1/4th of the way through the game's last chapter (which determines which love interest you take with you into the finale), and one at the very end of the game after you beat the final boss (which determines whether you save the world or take it over).
  • In Ghost of Tsushima after defeating the final boss Jin is faced with the choice of either granting Lord Shimura the honorable death by finishing him personally or simply walking away and letting his uncle live at the cost of being hunted down for the rest of his days.
  • inFamous. As the recipient of electricity-based superpowers, Cole has to choose whether to use them to help others or help himself. Like all Karma Meter games listed here, your final karma, as well as the ending received, are determined by a specific choice just before the final boss. There's an interesting spin on it, though; the story event involved in taking the evil choice can leave absolutely no doubt about Cole's malevolence. Essentially, there is the Ray Sphere, a device that will rob the life force of thousands of surrounding people, then concentrate it in a single individual, killing them all while making that individual a Physical God. At the start of the story, Cole gets tricked into activating the Ray Sphere, so the resulting wave of raw doom really wasn't his fault. Near the end of the game, you may destroy the Ray Sphere or use it again. If you use the Ray Sphere again, this time it's entirely your decision. Even if you make this choice with full positive karma, the karma meter locks.
    • Inverted in inFAMOUS 2, where your karma actually limits what the final choice you make is. You have to be Good to take the good choice, and same for evil.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks has Zelda ask Link just before going into the final battle against Chancellor Cole what he's going to do with the rest of his life if they manage to reseal the Demon King Malladus. "Soldier", "Engineer", or "I dunno" all lead to three barely different endings.
  • In LEGO DC Super-Villains, after defeating the final boss of the game, Darkseid, the player can choose if The Rookie joins the heroes or stays with the villains.
  • Prince of Persia: Warrior Within requires you have the game's ultimate weapon in order to get the good (and canonical) ending, which is obtained by having all the life upgrades. However the weapon itself is optional and awarded right before the Final Boss so it can be ignored if you deliberately choose to go for the bad ending.

    Action Games 
  • Battlefield 4 has you decide at the very end of the game which one of two teammates you are willing to sacrifice in order to destroy the Big Bad's ship, resulting in a Bittersweet Ending. If you don't do anything, both teammates live, but you get a Downer Ending.
  • Bloodborne has three endings, two of which are achieved via a direct version of this trope and a third that requires a bit more effort. After slaying the last non-optional boss, the player will be directed to speak with Gehrman, who offers to release them from the Hunt. If they agree, he decapitates the player and they wake up outside Yharnam as the sun begins to rise. If they refuse, Gehrman becomes the Final Boss as he tries to forcibly kill them; after he's defeated, a Great One descends from the Moon and seemingly absorbs the player, which ends with them taking Gehrman's place as caretaker of the Hunt. The ending that requires more effort: If the player consumes three of the umbilical cord items found scattered throughout the game and then refuses Gehrman's offer, they can resist and actually slay the Moon Presence, after which the player transforms into a larval Great One and is cared for by the Doll.
  • In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, the final room of the game contains two bosses. Which one you choose to fight determines whether you get the light or dark ending. The sequel doesn't even go that far. There is one final boss, and the choice you make after defeating him determines your ending.
  • In Hitman: Codename 47, there are two endings to the final mission depending on if you hesitate to kill Dr. Ort-Meyer or not, with the former being the bad ending.
  • One of the few exceptions in Star Wars video games is found in Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, where the ending-deciding choice is made automatically based on your Karma Meter. Played relatively straight in Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, though: while it's actually a few levels before the finale, none of your behaviors prior to deciding whether or not to murder The Scrappy make a lick of difference.
  • In Singularity, the ending you get depends on who you shoot in the final scene. You get your choice of ending depending on if you shoot one man, the other man, or both men.
  • In Spec Ops: The Line, the ending you get is entirely dependent on the actions you take after "Konrad" (Walker's hallucinatory object of blame) pulls a gun on you and counts to five rather than any of the choices beforehand. However, the endings are based on whether you think Walker is redeemable after all he's done rather than the developers' choice. Thus, the previous choices aren't there for karma points so much as for providing context for your final decision.

    Fighting Games 
  • In Injustice 2, the game continues after the supposed final battle with Brainiac, with the last chapter focusing on either Superman or Batman, depending on player choice. Superman has a Downer Ending where he fuses with Brainiac's technology and plans to reinstate the One Earth Regime, while Batman has a Bittersweet Ending where he depowers Superman and traps him in the Phantom Zone.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • In Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, after discovering Bell's true identity in the trippy second-to-last mission, you have to choose either tell the truth about Perseus' whereabouts or lying about it. If you choose the latter, your former team can either execute Bell for their betrayal or be killed in a Soviet ambush, but even then they are not in a position to stop Perseus from detonating the Greenlight bomb across the Europe, successfully causing Ronald Reagan and his vice-president (and successor) George HW Bush to go down in history as mankind's worst mass murderers. Conversely, if you choose the former, Bell will betray Perseus and tell Adler about his hideout in the Solovetsky Monastery: the attack was a success, but Perseus managed to escape justice, all while the Soviet government is in disarray and confusion; implying that Perseus and his organization are acting on their own accord without the approval of their higher-ups. Even if Bell earning the CIA team's trust for their contribution, that still doesn't stop Adler from deciding to execute Bell for being a loose end. Both endings have its own debriefing segment based on your dialogue choices and whether you want to complete the side missions, regardless how many clues you have collected and your willingness to decipher most of them.
  • In Chrome after the protagonist's personal vendetta is resolved, the protagonist receives multiple distress calls, from two intergalactic mega corps, one of which the slain Big Bad works with, and the last one is from the colonists who want to be independent. You can join either one of the mega corps, or aiding the colonist's freedom.

    Flight Simulators 
  • The climax to Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom involves a face-to-face confrontation with the Big Bad on the floor of the Confederation Senate (starting with the third game, Dialogue Trees become an important part of the game between missions). Your dialogue choices affect the Senate's decision of who to side with. In particular, they will not be overly concerned with secret unmarked ships or advanced anti-ship weaponry, but they will be horrified at the revelation that Admiral Tolwyn was using biological weapons.

    Hidden Object 
  • Averted in Rite of Passage 3: Hide & Seek. If you've been picking selfish conversation options throughout the game, it's impossible to select the unselfish one at the very end, and vice versa.

  • Cuphead: In the end, you have to choose if you hand the contracts to the Devil and join his team or not. Choosing the former option leads to protagonists Cuphead and Mugman performing Face–Heel Turn and becoming right hands for the Devil, while the latter option is the one that leads to the Golden Ending.
  • Panzer Paladin: After Ravenous is beaten, he drops his spirit-forged weapon and Flame and Grit are given a choice of what to do with it. Picking up and breaking the weapon leads to the Golden Ending where the demonic invasion is thwarted and Earth is saved, while picking up and keeping it leads to the Downer Ending where Flame succumbs to the weapon's corruption and becomes the new leader of the demonic forces.
  • Iji: Normally defeating the Final Boss leads to an ending with slight variations depending on Iji's kill count, but coming into the fight with 300+ kills will give the player the option to kill Tor immediately after the fight. Killing Tor causes his right-hand man to admonish Iji and destroy the Earth's biosphere, sparing him leads to the normal ending. There's also a not-as-last-second choice if the player has less than 270 kills by the time they defeat Iosa, where sparing her causes her to kill Iji after the final boss battle.

    Point and Click 
  • In Detention, which of the Good and Bad Endings you get is determined by your answers to a series of questions asked by a shadowy Ray. Answer correctly (indicated by the shadow giving a short speech about your answer) to all of them, and you'll achieve the Good Ending. Answer incorrectly (indicated by the shadow remaining silent), and you'll be stuck on the Bad Ending. Each of the endings reveal different things about the story. Shadow Ray is implied to represent Ray's sin of selling out the Forbidden Book Club to Taiwan's White Terror government. Answer incorrectly, and Ray refuses to accept her guilt and it's revealed that she's in a sort of "Groundhog Day" Loop, repeating the last day of the book club up to her suicide in a nightmarish purgatory. Ray will attempt to hang herself, but this will just make the loop repeat. Answer correctly, and Ray will come to terms with her guilt and escape the cycle, finding herself in the ruins of the school where she is reunited with the now-adult Wei, who survived Ray's betrayal.
  • In Edna & Harvey: The Breakout, which of the two endings you get depends on a choice you make in the final scene. You can either take Harvey's advice to push Dr. Marcel down the stairs and run away, or you can obey Dr. Marcel and destroy Harvey. Neither works out too well for Edna. The sequel, Harvey's New Eyes, is similar, except that this time there are three choices.
  • Harvester ends once Steve makes a choice in the final area of the Lodge: does he kill Stephanie and complete his transformation into a serial killer as the Order wants, or does he defy their wishes to continue living happily with her inside of the VR simulation that is Harvest?
  • The Neverhood: The very last cutscene of the game involves Klogg trying to convince Klaymen into putting on Hoborg's crown so they can rule together. Alternatively, the player can attempt to return Hoborg's crown to him so they can restore him as the rightful ruler. If the player gives into Klogg's demands, Klaymen is cursed for his greed by the crown, kills Klogg and declares himself the ruler of the Neverhood. If the player returns the crown to Hoborg, Klogg is defeated, Hoborg makes Klaymen some new friends and Willie and Bil come back to life.
  • Shardlight has an almost literal example, as it is pretty much the only moral choice in the game and once you make it you have about two minutes of dialogue before the credits roll. When Tiberius and Danton get into a sword fight, they are evenly matched. Once a break in the fighting happens, you choose kill either Tiberius, Danton, or both. Killing both is the best ending, as Amy takes on the Tiberius persona and ensures that the vaccine will be spread without anymore bloodshed.

    Puzzle Games 
  • The 11th Hour gives your protagonist Carl a single big choice after finishing the final puzzle, in which he's asked to pick between three doors. Or, more accurately, between three women — Marie, Samantha, or Robin.
  • Catherine has a variation on this. Questions answered throughout the game affect your standing on the Order Versus Chaos Karma Meter, but your actual ending is decided by your responses to the final 4 questions in the last stage. Depending on which you answer "yes" or "no" to, you'll be locked into either the Order, Chaos, or Neutral ending. The variation comes with the fact that if you pick an ending that contradicts your Karma Meter (e.g. having mostly Chaos Karma but saying you prefer a life of stability), you'll get the Bad Ending version. So you do get to make a Last-Second Ending Choice, but if the game knows you aren't truly committed to it, the ending won't be a good one.
  • Obsidian has you decide whether to flip Ceres' crossover switch so that her entire system and AI would crash, or to leave it be and watch its nanobots 'reboot' the entire world so that humans (aside from you and your partner Max) could never exist, and thus never pollute the Earth. And your choice must be made within the span of five seconds, hence a tiny countdown shown next to the switch, with the words "Job Completing".
  • Q.U.B.E. 2: In the final act of the game, Player Character Amelia, or "Milly", meets an alien intelligence that was almost completely destroyed (unknowingly) by humanity at the end of the first game. Despite having been hurt by humans, the alien entity is willing to help Milly rebuild humanity After the End. At the same time, Milly's Mission Control, Emma, is urging her to help her kill the alien to save humanity. Once you reach the end, the entity instructs Milly to take the blue door on the left so it can share its knowledge with her, while Emma urges her to take the red door on the right so they can destroy it together. The two paths almost immediately converge, as it turns out that "Emma" is actually part of the alien hive mind and the choice was a Secret Test of Character. If you chose Emma and the red path, Milly has failed the test, and the alien entity punishes her for choosing violence in the face of something she doesn't understand by turning her into another of the many statues seen throughout the game and absorbing her into its consciousness. If you chose the entity and the blue path, she passes, and it rewards her for choosing to learn and attempt to understand it by keeping its promise and helping Milly restore human civilization.
  • Relicta: After completing the last level, Angelica is given the choice between waiting for her ex-husband, Ragnar, and the troops he's bringing, or fleeing with her daughter and the parasite. The "Ice Queen" extra levels follows on from the latter ending.
  • The Talos Principle: Most of the discussions with Milton don't make any difference towards the ending regardless of what you say. The key conversation is the last, when Milton asks you if there's something where you admit you're wrong. Refusing to admit any mistake will eventually lead to shutting down Milton. Admitting to some mistakes, but not all, will lead to Milton getting angered and becoming a Sore Loser. Declaring everything you said was a mistake will lead to making a deal with Milton. There's a few earlier conversations that can lead to Milton offering a deal later if taking the right choice (for example, when Milton asks you what would you do if you were in the real world, you would have to answer the best for yourself, regardless of any moral code), but they are also triggered in World C, not long before the final conversation.

    Rhythm Games 

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Alpha Protocol plays with this. The game has three choices, all near the ending, which determine which of the four ending branches you'll get; however, all of them are missable depending on previous actions. In addition, minor differences in the ending occur due to various events throughout the game, but most especially during the final chapter.
    • The default ending ("Crime Buster"), occurring if you refuse (or don't receive) both Shaheed's and Leland's offers. In this case, you defeat Henry Leland and the Halbech Corporation, but Alpha Protocol survives and will never be held accountable for its actions toward you.
    • The first choice occurs if you let Sheikh Ali Shaheed survive early in the game, in which case he'll offer you an option to bring down Alpha Protocol and the Halbech Corporation. Should you accept, you get the "No Compromise, No Mercy" ending.
    • The second choice occurs when you finally come face to face with Henry Leland. If your reputation with him is high (which means you responded well to him in conversations throughout the game and completed your missions thoroughly), he'll offer you a job with Halbech and the chance to bring down Alpha Protocol. If you accept, this overrides the Shaheed choice and leads to two new endings.
    • The third choice occurs at the very end, should you accept Leland's offer. You then have a choice whether you want to remain loyal to Halbech and get the "Rising Star" ending, or turn on Leland, kill or disgrace him, and take control of the Halbech Corporation for yourself. The last ending is, appropriately, referred to as "Thorton Inc."
  • Baldur's Gate II has the Trials in the final dungeon, where taking even a single selfish choice instantly makes you Neutral Evil. This has no effect on your reputation (or ending).
    • Throne of Bhaal itself offers a choice of two endings at the very end (after defeating the final boss). One is the same regardless of previous actions, the other choice will vary depending on your responses to the Solar throughout the game.
  • Breath of Fire
    • Breath of Fire III gives you the option of either fighting the final boss and seeing the true ending, or joining her and living in the paradise she created.
    • Breath of Fire IV gives you the option of either fighting the final boss and seeing the true ending, or fusing together with him to become the ultimate dragon, where you watch as your own former party members hopelessly try to stop you.
  • In Dark Souls 1, there is nothing stopping you from walking away from the First Flame to get the Dark Lord ending after defeating Gwyn, even if you never talked to Darkstalker Kaathe or found out that "not Linking the Fire" is even an option. Likewise, even if you did talk to Kaathe and sorta-kinda-agree to let the First Flame die, you can change your mind and Link the Fire as soon as Gwyn is defeated.
  • Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Invisible War both have the ending you receive determined by which quests you complete in the last level of the game — though, in the case of Invisible War, one option will only be available if you assisted a certain character earlier in the story. This was deliberate in the case of the original — the lead designer has said that he was trying to invoke this effect deliberately, because he didn't want players to be locked into a particular ending based on choices they made ten hours earlier.
    • Deus Ex: Human Revolution ends with the player being presented with four buttons, each of which leads directly to a different ending. Though the practical effects of pressing each button is always the same, the following narration will have a different tone depending on the player's Karma Meter rating up to that point.
  • Dragon Age: Origins bases its ending off of who makes the Heroic Sacrifice at the end of the final battle, provided the player didn't Take a Third Option. It's notable in that the choice is only available if you take a certain party member to the final boss fight, and if you don't take a romanced Alistair.
  • In Dragon Age II, the ending you get depends on whether you ultimately side with the Circle or the Templars, and it doesn't matter how often you've sided with one or the other during the game. It still all comes down to one dialogue choice in one conversation. This is heavily foreshadowed throughout the game: you can resolve most mage-Templar conflicts without picking sides, but you are always reminded that you can't please both sides forever, and sooner or later you will be limited to a binary choice and will have to make a stand.
  • The ending of Dubloon depends on whether Russel saves his crew or the Golden Chest, a decision done right after beating the Final Boss.
  • Fable I and its The Lost Chapters expansion both have climactic choices between Good and Evil that the Hero can make independent of his prior alignment. In the original game, he can opt to destroy the Sword of Aeons or murder his sister to harness its power for himself. In the expansion, he can destroy Jack of Blades' Soul Jar mask once and for all, or take the Schmuck Bait, put the mask on, and promptly have his soul overwritten by Jack's.
  • Fable II offers three options: revive all those who died under Lucien's reign (good+ selfless), revive your sister, dog, and utterly nameless/optional spouse/children (good), or get a mountain of gold (evil+ corrupt). The good/evil bonuses are so massive that they can pull a complete 180 on any choice you made prior, and ultimately you're left with no middle ground or moral ambiguity. If you wanted to be neutral, well, at least you can pick the good end and go kill some peasants for balance.
  • Fallout 3:
    • The final choice in the main campaign determines the ending: either you activate Project Purity as normal and help the Capital Wasteland thrive as purified water flows freely, or you taint Project Purity with the Enclave's Forced Evolutionary Virus, resulting in countless deaths throughout the region.
    • The final choice in Broken Steel expansion basically sets your karma meter to one of two karma extremes depending on whether you Kill Sat the Brotherhood or the Enclave. Not that it matters much, since the game is effectively over the moment you do, but it can net you some otherwise difficult achievements with relative ease if you Save Scum.
    • The Downloadable Content increased the level cap to 30, and in doing so introduced three perks that allow you to instantly change your karma to Neutral, Very Good, or Very Evil. This is the preferred way to get those pesky "Get to level 30 with <Good/Bad/Neutral> Karma" achievements, since the check occurs only after choosing your perks.
  • G.O.D.: Heed the Call to Awaken: After the credits roll, a black screen presents the choice "CONTINUE? YES/NO". "YES" leads to the Post-Final Boss and the protagonists declaring A God I Am Not, "NO" to a Non Standard Game Over where the protagonists...don't do that.
  • In Jade Empire, your final alignment (and ending) is determined based on whether you kill the Water Dragon or not.
  • The original Knights of the Old Republic:
    • Regardless of your Karma Meter, your final side is chosen in one action right near the end of the game, as is rather typical for SW games. (Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords does better at this, as it is based on if you kill the Jedi Masters, which is a major plot choice in each area. It's still possible to be "light" on the karma meter and go for the dark side ending, but much more unlikely.)
    • If you play a Dark Side character all the way through the game to reach the very base of the meter, go through the vital conversation mostly dark side but make the ONE vital light-side choice that pushes you up into low neutral, you can get back into deep Dark Side during the endgame and still get the Light Side ending with a pale, evil-looking character... not to mention Bastila apparently coming back from the dead, despite being killed in the Star Forge for DS points. Likewise, you can play through the whole game on the Light Side, make the one Dark Side choice, and get the Dark Side ending as a Happyshiny Jedi.
    • Of course, your Karma Meter determines how well you can use various Force powers — if you build your character around using Light Side abilities and then suddenly turn to the Dark at the end of the game, you'll probably find yourself with a rather less powerful Sith Lord than if you'd been evil from the get-go. And vice-versa.
  • LISA: The Joyful has one, depending on whether Buddy chooses to take the Joy vaccine after killing Yado. If she does, a Time Skip shows her years later, alive and with a young child, guarded by a seemingly domesticated Joy Mutant Brad. If she doesn't, she becomes a Joy Mutant herself.
  • Which ending you get in Lost Sphear is dependent on your choice after you beat the final boss. In one, Lumina sacrifices herself to save the world, leaving Kanata alone. In the other, Lumina doesn't sacrifice herself, but the moon will eventually collapse and destroy everyone.
  • Lunarosse has the heroes decide which of the two warring factions they wish to support to rule over the planet, which determines your final dungeon and boss. In this case, it makes sense as they've been trying to stay out of the war directly and keep it from escalating the entire time while completing their own objective, but things had gotten to the point where that was no longer a viable option. Naturally, the good ending requires you to have met the conditions to Take a Third Option.
  • The Mass Effect series uses this in each game of the trilogy, where the ending is primarily determined by a major choice near the end. Other factors in each game influence dialogue and exact events, but still focus on the two or three final options. In the first game, do you save or kill the Council?. In the second, do you destroy the Collector Base, or spare it as the Illusive Man wants you to? In Mass Effect 3, your Effective Military Strength determines what choices you have in the ending. A low EMS will give you one choice, which depends on whether or not you destroyed the Collector Base in the last game. Moderate EMS will give you two choices, Destroy and Control, while high EMS gives you three (Destroy, Control, and Synthesis). The Extended Cut adds a fourth, Refusal.
    • On a smaller case, Samara's loyalty mission in the second game can have this, if you have a very high Paragon/Renegade score. At the end of the mission, Morinth (the Serial Killer you've been chasing) and Samara (the Justicar chasing her, and also her mother) will have a Beam Of War. They will be evenly matched, but Morinth will offer to join Shepard's crew in Samara's place if Shepard helps her instead of her mother. If Shepard didn't resist her mind control earlier, s/he will automatically side with Samara, but if s/he did (which requires a high Paragon/Renegade score), s/he will have the choice to side with Morinth, resulting in Samara's death. Morinth will then join the crew as promised, although she'll pretend to be Samara in front of the others.
  • In Misao after you find all of the titular character's body parts and sacrifice them to appease her vengeful spirit, nothing will happen and it will be revealed that you will also have to sacrifice another person who Misao had a grudge against. There are two eligible characters: Tohma (Misao's boyfriend, who cheated on her with Saotome) and Mr. Sohta (Misao's teacher, who failed to listen to her when she needed help). Whichever one you choose to kill will determine the ending you get. The correct victim is Mr. Sohta, who actually murdered Misao. Choosing Tohma nets you the Bad Ending, where Mr. Sohta kills you because you know too much. Killing Mr. Sohta gets the Good Ending, where you and Tohma live and the school returns to the real world.
    • The Nameless Mod also falls into this trope, but introduces more complexity. It essentially splits into two distinct storylines right at the beginning, but the choice on which of your current storyline's endings you get is determined at the very end. Thus, your choice in the beginning isn't invalidated at all. However, there's also a chance to Take a Third Option toward the end.
  • Endings C and D of Nier are acquired at the very end of the third playthrough, after beating the Shadowlord. Upon doing so, something that's been hinted at takes place, and you have the option to kill Kaine, who is becoming corrupted, or sacrifice yourself to save her, at the cost of your life, and by extention your save files and the ability to choose that name ever again upon starting a new game.
  • Endings C and D of NieR: Automata are, like above, acquired at the very end of the third playthrough, when A2 and 9S fight each other. Which ending you get is determined by which character you pick to play as for that final battle.
  • In OFF, you get the decision to choose the ending literally right before the final boss where you can either choose to side with The Batter or The Judge. The game even tells you that the former is the "official" ending and the latter is the "special" ending.
    • The fangame HOME (2013) is a subverted example. While the choice there is still in the final chapter, it's a bit before the third-to-last battle and it only branches off in the final battle itself. In the glitched part of Zone 0, there is an Elsen asking you whether or not you are guilty of any sins. Admitting your sins will net you the good ending, whereas concealing your guilt will lead to the bad ending. A fitting verdict for those who deny their sins.
  • Pillars of Eternity ends with a Modular Epilogue, but the most momentous choice your make in the game still occurs after defeating the Big Bad: namely, what to do with the thousands, if not millions of baby kith souls that he stole for Woedica, causing the Hollowborn plague. Every choice has its merits, and which ones you think outweigh the others says a lot more about you than most other choices in the game combined.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne has a partial example. Your dialogue choices throughout the game normally impact which of the three Reason endings you get (or, if you refuse all of them, whether you get the Freedom or Demon ending). However, completing the Labyrinth of Amala before entering the Tower of Kagutsuchi automatically locks you into the True Demon Ending, regardless of your alignment points.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey gives you a choice of three paths shortly after beginning the final level, unless your Karma is very skewed towards either Law or Chaos, in which case you're simply locked into that ending. However, a chain of sidequests will allow you to repeat an alignment-altering NPC interaction until you get the alignment you want, and this is available right up to the point where you lock your alignment.
  • The last choice before the alignment lock in Shin Megami Tensei IV is worth so much Law/Chaos points that it often determines your ending right there. This is particularly problematic for players going for the Neutral ending, as if you've kept your Karma Meter perfectly balanced up until that point, this choice will force you into either Law or Chaos, meaning you've been too Neutral for the Neutral ending.
  • Star Stealing Prince: which ending you get is decided by whether you just rest up after the whole village has gone into the caves to find a boat to get off the island, or whether, before you rest up, you get Erio to enter your dreams with you so that you can take care of the demon possessing you once and for all.
  • Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World has its ending determined by two factors — whether or not you were able to gather all of the Plot Coupons yourself, and whether you win or lose the fight against Marta and Lloyd following the actual final boss fight.
  • Tales of Xillia 2 does this for its normal and true endings. Which one you get is based on whether or not you have Ludger decide to sacrifice his life in Elle's place.
  • Undertale double-subverts with the Final Boss of the evil route/bad ending: Sans will offer you mercy and it seems like he's setting you up for a new ending, but instead, he murders you once you drop your guard like you would have done to several other people. The double-subversion comes in because the boss is aware of your ability to mess around with time, so it's at least slightly a genuine act of mercy because the only way to turn back at that point (if you were genuine about accepting his mercy) is to reset.
  • In contrast to the other two Shadow Hearts games, which make you crawl through a Guide Dang It! series of hoops to get the good endings, Covenant has Yuri's Spirit Advisor ask him a single question at the end. Your answer determines your ending. The cursor starts on the Good Ending choice.
  • The Witcher has the "Free Elves" quest at the end of Chapter IV. Geralt must choose between helping the Order of the Flaming Rose rout the Scoia'tael hostage takers, help the Scoia'tael fight off the Order, or Take a Third Option and just escape the village with Dandelion and Alvin, antagonizing both the Order and the Scoia'tael. Whatever choice you make locks you into that specific path (Order, Scoia'tael, or Witcher/Neutral) for the rest of the game.

    Simulation Game 
  • Yes, Your Grace: The game has a Modular Epilogue. The result of one of the modules is the last decision the player ever makes. As getting the Golden Ending requires none of the modules to be a bad ending, the decision made with the the last choice can make the difference on whether the Golden Ending is obtained or not.

    Stealth Game 
  • Mark of the Ninja ends with you deciding whether to kill Azai, the current master of the clan, or your stalwart companion Ora, who is revealed to have been a tattoo-induced hallucination all along. This doubles as Philosophical Choice Endings, as Azai represents a more adaptive approach to being a ninja in the modern age of guns and high-tech gadgets, while Ora considers him a traitor and advocates for the traditional methods of stealth and assassination practices by the clan.
  • In the epilogue of We Happy Few, Arthur has the choice to go back on Joy and return to life in Wellington Wells, or leave it behind and press on to the English mainland and the unknown future that awaits him there.

    Survival Horror 
  • Corpse Party D2: Depths of Despair has one when Ayumi is given a choice between burying the black book or using it to resurrect the others at the cost of her own life. Neither choice is presented as entirely 'good' or 'bad'; it's more a matter of personal preference.
  • At the end of most chapters of The Crooked Man, you have dialogue choices that give you a Non Standard Game Over if you give the wrong answer. Ultimately, this trope doesn't apply to the game as a whole, but to the individual chapters it does.
  • Just before the Final Boss fight in Dino Crisis, you'll be presented with two options: help your gravely wounded commanding officer Gail apprehend Dr. Kirk, or listen to Rick, knock Gail out, and get the hell out of there. Choosing the former option allows you to finally capture Dr. Kirk for good, but Gail succumbs to his wounds and dies. Choosing the latter means that you fail your mission, but all three of you escape the island with your lives. There's an actual third choice: knock Gail out so Rick can take him away, but go after Dr. Kirk by yourself instead of going with Rick. This nets you the best ending, when you capture the doctor and all your companions escape the island alive.
  • Haunting Ground: If one wants to go for the worst ending, you have to have a low relationship value with Hewie. Normally, it isn't this trope, since it's meant to be based on how well you handle him over the course of the game, but it can be deliberately invoked: you can treat him like a king beforehand, but all one has to do to get the ending is literally Kick the Dog a few times just before finishing Riccardo's area, and then don't bother to save him in the forest.
  • Mad Father: The game has three endings; at two points, you have to make a big decision that affects the ending. The first is whether you Save Father or Grant Mother's Wish. The latter leads to an unfortunate end for Aya, while the former leads to another choice down the line; whether or not to save Maria; however, this second choice doesn't count, as one has to have seen Maria's backstory to get the choice.
  • Misao: Who you choose to sacrifice at the end is the only thing the ending hinges on. Anything else done or said before is irrelevant.
  • In Paranoiac, saying whether you think the monster's real or deciding it was an illusion determines whether you will get the good ending or the bad ending.
  • While the original Resident Evil was more of a Guide Dang It! when it came to saving Barry, the remake on Gamecube gives you a literal yes or no choice. Jill and Barry are cornered by a monster and you're given the choice of giving him back his gun or not. Guess which one makes his survival possiblenote , and which one scores you a free gun?
  • Rule of Rose: There are only two endings, and it only hinges on one choice during the Final Boss; kill Gregory/Stray Dog yourself, or let them do themselves in.
  • Silent Hill
    • Silent Hill 3 has a karma/ending meter, and one event near the end can give a massive amount of negative karma. You enter the priest's side of a confessional, and a ghost on the other side pleads with you to absolve their sins. It sounds like offering forgiveness would be the moral choice, but in fact the scenario is testing whether or not you accept the responsibility of absolving sin, the domain of God. Since God Is Evil in this game, forgiving the woman nets you enough negative karma to push you into the Bad Ending unless you are squeaky clean.
    • In Silent Hill: Homecoming, the two choices that determine what ending you get both occur towards the end of the game, although there is an hour or two of gameplay between them and the final fight. Interestingly, one of the choices is identical to the one presented in Silent Hill 3, except the game considers the "good" choice to be the exact opposite one: this is most likely the difference between forgiving someone who's wronged you, an act of humanity, and absolving a stranger of their sins, an act reserved for God.
    • Silent Hill: Downpour continues the trend of SH3's karma meter, but five of the six endings are entirely dependent on how you manage the final fight against Officer Cunningham. If you win, not killing her leads to ending A or B, depending on if your karma meter is positive or negative, respectively. If you kill her, you will get ending C or D under the same conditions. Finally, letting her kill you gives you ending F.
  • In The Witch's House, whether or not you go for the wardrobe that will open when the house returns to normal decides if you get the true ending or not, although really both endings are the same, all that changes is how much you know about what's really going on.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • In Fire Emblem Awakening, the player has to choose whether Chrom or the Avatar lands the final blow on Grima. This choice is originally brought up two chapters before, where Naga makes it clear upon giving the heroes the Infinity +1 Sword that either choice is possible, but each carries its own potential consequences story-wise. Letting Chrom do it merely seals Grima away for at least the next thousand years, while letting the Avatar do it destroys Grima once and for all due to the unique circumstances of their existence as tied to Grima's, at the cost of the Avatar's life. He/she gets better.

    Other Games 
  • In Covetous, the final level has you decide whether to kill your brother Chest Burster-style, or let yourself wither and die to spare him, depending on whether or not you follow the Button Mashing prompt.
  • In When The Darkness Comes, the player eventually ends up in a hallway, where they're presented with a chair and a noose at the end. The choice is in whether or not to walk forward, or to turn around and answer the phone behind them instead.

    Visual Novels 
  • Amnesia: Memories pulls this on Ukyo's route. Compared to the others, where the player needs to pick certain options over the entire route's duration to get the Good or Normal Ending, Ukyo has a moment where the player gets asked if they forgive him. Saying they do results in the Good Ending, while saying they don't leads to the Normal Ending. Once the player manages to get to that scene, at least.
  • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, the final case has the player choose the ending by having them play as a member of the jury. Choosing "Guilty" leads to the bad ending, while choosing "Not Guilty" leads to the good ending.
  • Multiple books in Choices: Stories You Play provide examples:
    • Despite previous choices that align the player with one of the endings, like the Clockmaker's question in Book 3, Chapter 6, the main character in Endless Summer can choose any of the three endings.
    • It Lives In The Woods can be an example. If the main character and Noah's Nerve scores are high enough, they can choose whether to sacrifice themself and become Mr. Red or to let Noah sacrifice himself. If the Nerve scores are not high enough, the ending is predetermined, and Noah sacrifices the main character.
    • A premium choice in Veil of Secrets allows the main character to stay in Birchport with their love interest. If the player declines the premium choice, the main character will return to New York City.
  • Chapter 5 of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc provides one. Of the six students left in the game who are on trial for the chapter's murder, only two of them are possible suspects: The Lancer and Deuteragonist Kyoko Kirigiri, and Player Character Makoto Naegi himself. (In fact, none of the six of them is the culprit; the true killer is someone none of them knows about yet.) Late in the trial, Kyoko attempts to acquit herself by giving herself an alibi that only Makoto knows is a lie. If you decide to have Makoto call her out on it and expose the lie to the other students like he has been doing all game, as the Big Bad hopes and expects him to, the trial ends and Kyoko is wrongly executed for the murder, leaving Makoto and the other four students trapped inside the school forever in a non-canon bad ending. If you choose to trust Kyoko and let the lie slide, Makoto himself is sentenced to execution in her place, but he's rescued at the last second and ends up trapped in the school's basement instead, kicking off Chapter 6 and the rest of the canon game.
  • Much like most visual novels of its kind, DRAMAtical Murder has the choices made in the beginning determine which route the player ends up on; however, once the player is on any one route, the only choice that has any effect on which ending the player gets is the one made in the scrap sequence, which is always the last choice the player makes. With the exception of Ren's route, where a series of choices outside of the scrap sequence can lead to Virus and Trip's bad ending. The choices before then have no effect on the ending.
  • In Heart of the Woods, there are three times in which you get to make choices in the game, and the first two determine your options in the third choice, while the latter determines the ending. If you make the right choices, you will be able to choose one of the three endings- "Sacrifice" (in which Morgan sacrifices herself to defeat Evelyn), "Freedom (in which Geladura dies after defeating Evelyn, resulting in Madison being forced to replace her as Fairy Queen), and the true ending(in which all of the main characters live). If you make the wrong combination of choices, you will only be able to choose the "Freedom" ending.
  • Phantom Thief Silver Cat: Although the player can make choices at various points, only the very last one actually decides the ending.
  • The third Purrfect Apawcalypse game has a partial example: if you make it to the end of the day without getting a Non-Standard Game Over, you get the choice of telling the God of Evil you've just summoned to either revive everyone who died in the previous games or kill everyone and start the apocalypse regardless of how kindly or cruelly you've treated the other characters up to this point. It's only a partial example, though, as while the Kill 'Em All ending isn't affected at all by your previous choices (though you do get a bonus epilogue if you got rock-bottom affection with all characters), the Everyone Lives ending is affected by whether or not you've killed anyone prior to this point; if you haven't, it's a Golden Ending, but if you have, it turns into a much less happy one for your character when the newly-revived character you killed tells everyone else what you did to them.
  • Usually averted in School Days, as most ending choices are made by the final state of the Kotonoha/Sekai gauge, but there's a few exceptions:
    • On certain paths, Kotonoha is in danger of going insane and murdering Sekai. In those paths, there's always a last chance to appease Kotonoha and salvage her sanity.
    • One route has Makoto accepting advances from both Kotonoha and Sekai, resulting in a highly emotionally-charged situation with the two fiercely competing for his affections and Makoto stringing both along. Eventually, the two corner him on the school rooftop and force him to pick a girl to have sex with right then and there; this last choice picks between two VERY different endings. If you choose Sekai, she'll begrudgingly accept Kotonoha's proposed solution of an ongoing threesome, producing the game's best ending. If you choose Kotonoha, however, the emotional trauma Sekai's already been through (the shame of having Kotonoha seduce Makoto away from her with her more voluptuous body, and being coerced into a threesome with Makoto and Kotonoha) will catch up with her, and she'll run away from home, returning after 6 months living on the streets only to stab Makoto in the most heartbreaking scene of the entire game.
  • In Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair, the ending you get is determined at the climax, and there are three crucial choices- saying whether you think Kamen is the killer, identifying the true killer and identifying the mastermind behind the murder plot. If you get the good ending, it will change slightly if you managed to save Kotoba's life just before the climax.
  • Tsukihime: Akiha's route is the only route whose ending is determined by this (as opposed to a Relationship Values check) and also has an interesting variation on the trope. You/Shiki has to choose whether to spare Akiha (Normal End) or kill yourself to give her the borrowed lifespan she gave you to (True End). However, you can skip directly to the Normal End at the second-to-last scenario (have Shiki not follow Akiha outside, where the last-second decision is supposed to happen), but the game will tell you afterwards that this won't count towards your in-game completion (technically qualifying as a Bad End) and urges you to go back and choose a different decision in order to end the route properly.
  • Unusually, this is the only choice the player ever has to make in Umineko: When They Cry. After the climax of Episode 8, Ange is shown a "magic trick" and you must choose whether this is genuine magic (which leads to the Magic Ending) or just a trick (which leads to the Trick Ending). There will also be slight variations depending on how you performed in the quiz mini-game early in the Episode, but nothing significant.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Grand Theft Auto IV has a literal version of this trope. Niko has been working his way up to the top to get revenge on Dimitri for trying to kill him and his cousin Roman and towards the end of the game, Niko is asked by Jimmy Pegorino to make a deal with Dimitri for guns and other supplies. Niko is heavily conflicted by this and it doesn't help that Roman wants Niko to take the deal so they can get a lot of money and make life easier for themselves while Niko's girlfriend, Kate, threatens to leave Niko should he give into greed instead of following his heart. What you do here determines the final two missions and the ending. If you take the deal, you get a ton of money for your efforts, but Dimitri betrays you yet again by sending a hitman to Roman's wedding to kill Niko, only for Roman to be shot and killed. You then go on to find and kill Dimitri in revenge. Should you decide to go against the deal, you get to kill Dimitri, but then Pegorino gets upset that you betrayed him, so he and his goons come to Roman's wedding to kill Niko, but they wind up killing Kate, taking away the one person Niko had feelings for and was happy with. The final mission has Niko getting revenge on Pegorino.
    • Likewise, in Grand Theft Auto V at the end of the game, you're given a choice of who to kill, which determines the nature of the final mission and the ending you receive.
      • Or say screw killing Trevor or Michael and Take a Third Option, killing the ones who ordered you to kill the playable characters, as well as some other Jerkasses.
  • Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell ends with Johny Gat literally meeting God, who, in recognition for him beating up Satan, offers him a spectrum of boons: be reunited in Heaven with Aisha (his girlfriend whom he failed to save in Saints Row 2), become the new ruler of Hell, lead the Saints to a new planet to colonize (since Earth was destroyed in Saints Row IV), retcon the entire Saints Row canon from ever taking place, or learn the answers to all questions of the universe.
  • True Crime: New York City does a decent job of having it both ways. The ending you receive is determined by your Karma Meter, which is influenced by how you've been playing throughout the entire game. However, the game doesn't determine which ending you're getting until you actually enter the final mission area. If you save before the final mission, then spend some time grinding your Karma to the opposite extreme, you can see the alternate ending.

    Non-Video Game Examples 
  • The Matrix Reloaded has this forced onto Neo and his predecessors as a Sadistic Choice by the Architect — Ending A where he, as his predecessors have also done, goes into the Source of the Matrix to give back the code allowing him unique powers in the Matrix and choosing 23 couples to repopulate Zion, or Ending B where he goes back to the Matrix and every human in Zion and the Matrix is killed. However, what the Architect doesn't realize is that the choice was tampered with by the Oracle. Because she gave him a person to love, she gave Neo a reason to choose Ending B which no other One had, continuing the fight and eventually making peace between the humans and machines.
  • There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension: Game offers the user the choice to play the game or delete Game's source code.
  • Zero Punctuation reffers to this trope as "The End-O-Tron 3,000," and visualizes it as a huge console with a button to launch each ending cutscene. Yahtzee holds it up as a huge part of lazy game design.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Last Second Karma Choice


Ghost of Tsushima

While most of the in-game plot decisions the character can make have little impact on the story at large, after beating Lord Shimura in the duel at the end, the player is given two options; either kill Lord Shimura and give him the honorable samurai death he wants, or spare his life and allow the Shimura Clan to persevere without him.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / LastSecondEndingChoice

Media sources:

Main / LastSecondEndingChoice