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No Canon for the Wicked

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In many a video game with Multiple Endings (and, in the majority of RPG cases, a Karma Meter), the "good" ending will be the canonical one. Rarely will the "bad" ending be canonical, or the "bad" side actually canonically win. This may be because there is less appeal in a Downer Ending, or simply because having the villains win wouldn't be financially conducive (because it would probably end the series right then and there). It may be necessary for the sake of having the protagonists of the first entry be recurring characters.


In any case, much as the "bad" side rarely gets its own campaign, it often doesn't get its canonical ending.

Take note; when this trope is averted or inverted, it can serve a discrete narrative purpose: If Evil wins, Good can come back next time and vanquish the enemy even from a position of weakness. From a player's perspective, it makes previous (righteous) efforts less meaningful, but makes winning his current battle more rewarding.

Sometimes a subtrope of Cutting Off the Branches.



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    Straight Examples 
  • The "evil" ending for Might and Magic VII was originally intended to be canonical by the game developers, but they ended up going with the "good" one, instead.
    • The reason for the change was that the evil ending was planned to lead up to Armageddon's Blade, but a very negative reaction from part of the fanbase to some of things planned (a new cybernetic faction based on the technology gained by the evil side) led to that having to be scrapped in favour of a more standard fantasy story.
  • In Heroes of Might and Magic II, you get to choose whether to play the good or evil campaign (and then later on whether or not to redecide). The sequel Heroes of Might and Magic III, however, counts the good side as canon.
    • Heroes I tells us the Warlocks and Barbarians are Evil, and the Knights and Sorceresses are Good. The canonical victor is the Knight Lord Ironfist. Of course, the actual story is a bit barebones, and the only major chunk is in the manual... which doesn't exactly present Lord Ironfist as an unambiguously Good Guy.
  • Canonical Light Side endings are LucasArts policy for Star Wars games, as evidenced in the Dark Forces Saga and The Force Unleashed. The only canonical "Dark Side" ending, such as it is, would be TIE Fighter, but that's because it only has one ending.
    • Both Knights of the Old Republic games canonically have light side endings. Thus far this only matters for the Star Wars canon outside of the games, though — and even then this is mostly theoretical for the sake of official timelines and such (all actual narrative media, like the KotOR comics, have left the events of the games ambiguous). In the games themselves, KotOR II allows you to decide whether the Light or Dark ending happened in KotOR I, and it seems like The Old Republic, by taking place centuries after KotOR II, will permit a similar level of ambiguity about both games. It seems that no matter what you do, the galaxy keeps reverting to a basic Crapsack World state.
      • Interestingly enough the Dark Side KOTOR ending came pretty close to overwriting the canon LS ending and averting this with a deleted scene produced for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, where Filoni wanted Revan to appear with Darth Bane as advisers of The Son in the Mortis trilogy, but the idea was shot down by Lucas, through models for the Sith Lords were made. Had Filoni suceeded in implementing this idea it could have over-turned the canon LS ending in KOTOR and created an aversion of the Light Side canon rule.
      • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the events of Knights of the Old Republic don't usually come up very often (since those games took place three centuries before the MMO), but when they do, the first game's Player Character and the Exile were Light side (Revan, for example, helped the outcasts on Taris get to the Promised Land).
    • Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II had two endings: In the Dark Side one, Kyle becomes the new Galactic Emperor. Naturally, the canonical ending is the Light Side one, where he defeats the bad guy and leaves the Valley of the Jedi in peace. It's also interesting how if you pick the Light Side, you get cutscenes and a plot that ties itself up nicely. If you pick the Dark side, however, you barely get some exposition text that (barely) justifies doing the exact same missions and actions, but for yourself apparently.
    • The Force Unleashed Dark Side ending leaves Vader dead and you the Emperor's slave, while the Light Side ending ends with you dead but inspiring a resistance against the Empire. However, there's also an expansion that is a "What If?" story taking place right after the Dark ending. The Dark Side wins. Which, naturally, isn't canon according to the official timelines.
      • Intriguingly, the Dark Side ending for its sequel is more plausibly canon than the Light, due to the third installment being canceled. The dark-side ending ties up the loose ends of the main characters' fates by killing everyone specific to the games, whereas the light-side ending is a massive cliffhanger (Darth Vader captured by the Rebellion) that is completely incompatible with the EU.
  • The Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series started out playing this straight; however, starting with Tiberian Sun, elements of the same story crept into both versions of events (so things like Hammerfest Base falling to Nod happen in both campaigns, with your choice of side only determining whether Nod steals disruptor crystals before being repelled or holds onto the base and uses it as a staging area to launch missiles at the Philadelphia), and in the expansion pack Firestorm, both Nod and GDI campaigns were canon, with the final few missions in particular representing a Perspective Flip of the same events as the two sides undertake simultaneous operations or even attack the same area from opposite sides. This is also true of the Tiberium Wars Scrin campaign, unlocked after completing the other two. The Tiberium Wars expansion pack Kane's Wrath actually inverts the trope, with a Nod-only singleplayer campaign. The Red Alert timeline plays it straight throughout, though.
  • The canonical ending for Shin Megami Tensei I, as it would appear from Shin Megami Tensei II, is not the Law or Chaos endings (each of which have their bad points, one more than the other), but the Neutral ending. As the Neutral ending is the only one that acknowledges that both sides, in the end, are jerkasses, it's as close to a "Good" ending as one can get.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse opens up at the beginning of the endgame of Shin Megami Tensei IV with Flynn, protagonist of the latter, Neutral aligned.
  • Disgaea always uses the Good Endings, since the Bad Endings tends to be... really, really bad. Also, the Good Ending ensures that all the important characters are alive and well so they can make cameo appearances in the following games.
    • In fact, most of the Nippon Ichi games do this, with three exceptions: La Pucelle Tactics and Phantom Brave only have one ending but Prier being an overlord is canon, and Makai Kingdom's story is never resolved, because Zetta always appears in his book form. Until Disgaea 4, that is.
    • Interestingly, while almost all Disgaea games work from the good endings, both Prinny PSP games work from the bad ending of Disgaea.
  • The endings of Tales of Symphonia vary only slightly, but the ending in which you kill Zelos, resident Casanova and Double Reverse Quadruple Agent, is considered non-canon: he appears in the sequel, and the endings to the manga and the anime both keep him alive.
  • Metal Gear Solid had two endings, both of which were congruent with Snake's character. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty avoided talking about which ending was canon as much as possible; it wrote out the character whose life depended on the Good Ending except for a bitter joke Snake makes about her. The on-disk supplemental material even implied both endings — "The Shocking Conspiracy Behind Shadow Moses" says the Intrepid Reporter finds a bandana on the beach (which Meryl picked up and gave to Snake in the Good Ending, suggesting she didn't survive to find it), and "In The Darkness Behind Shadow Moses" omits the scene where Meryl's fate is decided, but has the narrator say that it seemed like he had managed to save Meryl at the end. Then came Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, showing her alive.
    • To make it even more ambiguous, the first thing we see Snake do is jump onto a ship using invisibility camo, which is what you get from the ending where Meryl dies. But then near the end of the game, when Snake offers to give Raiden ammo if he runs out and Raiden asks whether he'll have enough, Snake points to his headband and notes "infinite ammo" - a bandana which grants Bottomless Magazines being the item which Snake gets in the ending where Meryl survives. If anything, the game seems to work under the assumption that, since the player probably played through the game at least twice to get every ending, then that means Snake somehow had to have done so as well.
  • Total Annihilation canonized the Arm campaign version (and therefore good-guy victory) when the expansion pack "The Core Contingency" was about the victorious Arm having to deal with a backup Core Commander seeking to destroy the galaxy.
  • In Overlord II, it is made clear the canon ending for the original game could not have been the 100% corruption one. However, the 0% corruption "good" ending is not enforced either. As only two corrupt actions in the original contradict the sequel, the canon Overlord could be anywhere between 0-80% corrupt.
  • Just about any fighting game character ever who qualified as a villain. It's so blatant, in fact, that the moment you see it, you know right away that it's not going to stick. M.Bison takes over the world ("of COURSE!")...uh, no. Fulgore spearheads Ultratech's enslavement of humanity...come on. Heihachi kills both Kazuya and Jin...he wishes. The Orochi cultists finally succeed in reviving him...not. Raiden's buddies didn't blow up the planet, either.
    • When it tried to stay in its niche as Darker and Edgier, Mortal Kombat became more of a mixed case: The canon ending in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance was Reptile's - he became the host for the next game's Big Bad. Neither of the main villains took over the world like they wanted, but the next game does establish that none of their evil deeds were undone: Liu Kang remained dead, and most of the other heroes wound up joining him (though they were all resurrected as slaves of other villains). And apparently, after Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Shao Kahn winds up killing just about everyone and taking over the cosmos, forcing Raiden to invoke the Timey-Wimey Ball and create a Continuity Reboot: Mortal Kombat 9, which averts the trope two ways by both having a single Story mode and concluding it with a very harsh Bittersweet Ending; the Arcade mode gives each character an ending, some good and some bad, but none of them are canon as the sequel follows on from 9's Story mode.
    • Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Heritage for the Future is a doozy. The stories for Devo, Midler, Chaka, Alessi, Vanilla Ice, and Dio are totally made up and don't follow the manga at all. Iggy, Avdol, and both of Kakyoin's endings are not even remotely canon, and neither is Black Polnareff or Khan's. The other villains' endings are just throwaway scenes loosely based on the manga. Young Joseph (the 1938 version of him from the second part of the manga) is strictly a "what if"; it starts with an encounter between him and Alessi which never happened. The ONLY trustworthy endings are that of Jotaro, Joseph, and Polnareff; not coincidentally, the only three who are still alive and in reasonably good health at the end of Stardust Crusaders.
  • Dawn of War: Winter Assault features four possible endings: Imperial Guard, Eldar, Chaos, and Orks. Dark Crusade goes with the Eldar canonically winning, as Taldeer still alive and in command while she explicitly dies in any other ending, Gorgutz is alive but references having been defeated, and the Imperium is after Taldeer for her actions in that game. The Only War sourcebook fully confirms this when it reveals that the Eldar won on Lorn V and that Sturnn, the Imperial Guard commander, was killed by them. While none of the factions involved in Winter Assault were good, the Eldar were by far the least asshole-ish of the four, making their canonical victory an example of this trope.
    • The Dark Crusade and Soulstorm campaigns possess seven and nine potential endings respectively. Dawn of War II states that the Blood Ravens won the former, and loading screens in Dawn of War III reveal that Soulstorm was canonically won by Warboss Gorgutz and his Orks. Though considering how notorious anything in Warhammer 40,000 is with unreliable narrators, neither of these statements are exactly reliable.
    • In the sequel, Retribution makes one of the two 'purest' endings from Chaos Rising the canon one: Diomedes is alive and joined Gabriel's rebellion, Avitus is revealed as the traitor, and Cyrus and Martellus are playable squadmates during the Space Marine campaign, while Davian Thule and Jonah Orion make cameos, Tarkus is revealed to be The Ancient, and the Force Commander's Thunder Hammer is one of the ultimate weapons. The evil endings for Chaos Rising includes the entire party being sent on penitent crusades, the execution of the Force Commander (the player) and his name being struck from the Chapter in disgrace, and the whole group betraying their chapter and joining the Black Legion. None of the three would allow for the above to happen.
    • Dawn of War III reveals that Ronahn recovered Taldeer's spirit stone, meaning that the Eldar won in Retribution. However, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine has a character referencing the Blood Ravens' victory in the "Aurelian campaign", and a rebuilt Gabriel Angelos is the Chapter Master of the Blood Ravens in III, which only happens in the Space Marine ending, suggesting that the true ending was a composite of those two. The surest thing is that Chaos and the Tyranids definitely lost.
  • Total War: Warhammer III's entire premise is dependent on the idea that the forces of Order (the Ulthuani High Elves, Empire, Bretonnia, Karaz Ankor Dwarfs, and Athel Loren Wood Elves) won pretty hard in the previous two games. Not only is the world still intact, having apparently repulsed the Skaven and Chaos invasions, but Kislev and Cathay are in such a good state - and Chaos in such a bad one - that the former two are actually invading the Chaos Wastes themselves, which is unprecedented (outside of small teams of heroes). This is particularly notable as Kislev is right on the border, thus if Chaos made any notable progress in the previous games, Kislev was sure to be wrecked. This trope is still played straight but in a different way by the ending - the game was a prequel to the first and second ones, and only in an Order victory ending do their set-ups make sense.
    • The world isn't being scoured by the omnicidal Lizardmen or enslaved by the Naggarothi Dark Elves either, further confirming that the High Elves won the Vortex Campaign.
    • It's also worth noting that Order's campaigns in 1 and 2 are all compatible with one another (i.e. all of them could - and likely did - happen together). Meanwhile the forces of Chaos, Destruction, and Death all have mutually exclusive victory conditions, for obvious reasons.note 
  • In King's Quest VI, the storyline branches into two towards the end, each with a very different way to finish the game. In addition, there are a number of triggers that affect the final cutscene. Your actions affect whether there is a wedding ring, whether both families attend the wedding, who is alive or dead, and so forth. The novelization treats the longest "good" path as the real one.
  • Fear Effect 2 has two endings based on a choice near the end. The main character can shoot her girlfriend Rain, leading to a bad ending. The game is a prequel to Fear Effect, where Rain doesn't appear. Bury Your Gays? Nope, the good ending is the canonical ending, and Rain just doesn't happen to be on screen in Fear Effect.
    • Fear Effect itself has 3 possible endings, with every character dying at least once in two of them. On hard, however, all 3 survive.
  • At the end of Ultima VII (part 1), you are given the choice of destroying the Black Gate, or going through it and allowing the Guardian to enter Britannia. The future games all assume you destroyed it. Some fans have noted, though, that Ultima: Ascension (note the lack of number in its title) works better as a sequel to the Evil Ending of Ultima VII than as a sequel to Ultima VIII.
  • The second and third installments of X-rated Visual Novel series Inyouchuu assume the player got the best possible endings in the first and second games, which makes sense, considering the bad endings generally involve the main characters being killed or enslaved.
  • Done with little subtlety in The Neverhood, where you can make a choice between Good and Evil at the very end of the game. The fact that the Good ending is the true one is already very obvious just through the sheer length difference between the two final cutscenes, but the Actionized Sequel Skullmonkeys explicitly starts from the Good ending, though not without a twist: the Big Bad, whom you'd presume to be dead, survives and continues his evildoings on another planet, requiring you to get rid of him again.
  • Streets of Rage has a bad ending should one player accept Mr. X's offer and the other refusing. This results in both players fighting to the death, then the survivor fighting Mr. X to overthrow him and become the new evil overlord of the crime syndicate. However, the sequel assumes that the main characters chose wisely and fought Mr. X right away instead of fighting him for his power, since Mr. X comes back in the sequel.
  • Most of the nine endings of Matches and Matrimony are good, with just two bad ones, but the best ending is the one that exactly follows the plot of Pride and Prejudice and ends with the Player Character happily married to Mr. Darcy.
  • The endings to Fallout and Fallout 2 assume all of the "good" choices were made, even options that are only theoretically available due to bugs disallowing the player from achieving the perfect endings without mods. Though Fallout 1's good Brotherhood ending isn't canon — as shown in later games, the Brotherhood ends up somewhere in-between the good and evil endings.
  • The ending to Fallout 3 is also thought to be the good-karma choices, and one of them is confirmed in Fallout: New Vegas: When Megaton's shopkeeper/eccentric scientist Moira Brown asks you to do research for a "Wasteland Survival Guide", you give her useful information, vague half-truths, or ridiculous lies. The book appears in New Vegas and has helped a lot of people.
  • Good wins again in Fallout 4. The East Coast branch of the Brotherhood of Steel survived the events of Broken Steel (as opposed to being betrayed and destroyed by the Lone Wanderer), as they have expanded into the Commonwealth. On another note, Megaton is mentioned to be expanding into its own city state, making it clear that the Lone Wanderer canonically didn't blow it up.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2:
    • Mask of the Betrayer presumes the player defeated the King of Shadows instead of siding with him. Granted, it's a heck of a lot easier to write it as the Founder rescued you from the King's collapsing lair than try to figure out how to get you out of the King's clutches the other way.
  • In inFAMOUS, Cole is canonically a hero, though inFAMOUS 2 allows you to play starting from a karma based on your previous runthrough, starting you halfways into the karmic rank you inherited and changing the dialogue in later dead drops. inFAMOUS: Second Son, on the other hand, clearly follows from the hero ending of inFAMOUS 2. It's worth noting that this is precisely because an immense majority of players of inFAMOUS 2 were noted from trophy data as favoring the hero ending.
  • In Winter Shard, Frederone can be a total bastard who kills and mistreats everyone in his path and even dethrones the Evil Overlord himself, but the true ending requires him to be as considerate and thoughtful as possible to those around him and ultimately go the redemption route.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In the 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Tails is never rescued in the bad ending, and it's implied that he's dead. Since Tails appears alive and well in future games, the good ending is obviously canon.
    • Sonic 3 & Knuckles begins with Sonic having all of the Chaos Emeralds, establishing that he collected all of them in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
    • Angel Island only returns to the sky in the good endings of Sonic 3 & Knuckles, so those are canon as well.
    • Shadow the Hedgehog has ten different endings, and each of them are bad or good in their own way. However, even if you make Shadow be purely evil, the Last Story segment is considered canon, where Shadow sides with the forces of good.
  • The first Gabriel Knight game has three possible endings; Gabriel dies in both the "neutral" and "bad" endings. Considering that there are two sequels and plans for a third, it's pretty clear which ending is canon.
    • The second game in the series includes a Non-Standard Game Over if you screw up a task at a specific point near the finale, revealing that Gabriel dies, and Grace is arrested on suspicion of murder. Once again, this clearly bears no relation to series canon.
  • Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones begins with Kaileena describing the bad ending of the previous game as an in-universe rumor, and then explaining that the good ending was what actually happened.
  • In Crash 'n' the Boys: Street Challenge, if you play as Southside and win the contest, you get a very long ending sequence where Todd tries to turn the Thornley jocks against Crash, he fails, the two have an angry confrontation at the airport, and Todd promises that he'll get his revenge at the upcoming ice hockey tournament. Cut to a promo of an upcoming sequel revolving around said tournament. If you win with any other team (or play as Southside and don't win), all you get is the promo.
  • Myst has four possible endings: You get trapped in the red book after freeing Sirrus; you get trapped in the blue book after freeing Achenar; you go to Atrus without the vital white page, whereupon he denounces your stupidity and never speaks to you again; you go to Atrus and give him the white page, he thanks you for your help, and he informs you that he will be calling on you in the future. At the beginning of Riven, you're face to face with Atrus, who welcomes you like an old friend and sets you off on your new quest. It has five possible endings: You trap yourself in the prison book, and later Gehn's servant unwittingly frees you in front of Gehn, who immediately kills you for your treachery; you trap Gehn and then for some unfathomable reason trap yourself and free him, which of course spells your doom; you fail/refuse to trap Gehn and open the fissure, whereupon he kills Atrus and his servant kills you; you trap Gehn but fail/refuse to free Catherine and open the fissure, and Atrus grieves for her for the rest of his life; you trap Gehn and free Catherine and open the fissure, and Atrus has a joyous reunion with her. The last ending is the only one in which Catherine escapes Riven with her life. At the beginning of Exile, the very first person you meet is a cheerful Catherine.
  • The only difference between the "good" and "bad" endings of Super Metroid is that only the "good" ending shows that the Etecoons and Dachora escape Zebes after Samus rescues them; in the "bad" ending, it's assumed that they are killed when the planet blows up. In its sequel Metroid Fusion, the "good" ending is the canon one, since the Etecoons and Dachora (confirmed by Samus's narration to be the same ones from Super) appear aboard the B.S.L. station and are relevant to the game's plot.
  • The sequels to Fable confirm the Hero of Oakvale from the first game to be canonically Lawful Good with his sister (who only survives if you make a specific good choice in the first game) playing an important role in the sequels, the Hero of Bowerstone from the second game to also be Lawful Good and novels after the third game confirm the Hero of Brightwall to again be Lawful Good.
  • Out of the three possible endings of Dishonored, the Low Chaos Golden Ending is treated as canonical by the sequel, including references to a character who dies in both High Chaos endings. The Interquel novel The Corroded Man further confirms this by implying or establishing several things about the events of the first game, including an overall Low Chaos outcome. This is understandable in the case of the first game's worst ending, where Havelock kills Emily and the entire empire collapses, but makes for something of a Happy Ending Override if the player opts for a High Chaos playthrough in the second game.
  • Both Aria of Sorrow and Dawn of Sorrow have a bad ending where Soma becomes Dracula with the latter game even unlocking an extra game mode for obtaining this bad ending. However, Dawn of Sorrow takes place after Aria of Sorrow's good ending and the novel Akumajō Dorakyura: Kabuchi no Tsuisōkyoku published as a sequel to Dawn of Sorrow takes place after that game's good ending, clarifying that in the end Soma does not become Dracula and as a result, the battle between Dracula and the Belmont clan has concluded.
  • Hearthstone: The Year of the Dragon story arch has two endings, one where Rafaam summons Galakrond and burns Stormwind and Orgrimmar to the ground before realizing Victory Is Boring and killing Galakrond himself, and one where the League of Explorers defeat Galakrond before his rampage can begin. It's not technically stated which one is canon, but given that 2021's story arch largely takes place in Stormwind and Orgrimmar, it's safe to say that Rafaam's ending isn't canon.

  • Fallout Tactics: from what can be deciphered considering its Broad Strokes canonicity, it appears that the Bittersweet Ending (the Brotherhood destroys the Calculator and gets back to rebuilding the wastes, with the Colorado bunker being isolated from the main branches in California and Illinois) was the canon one, rather than the Downer Ending (an evil character takes control of the Calculator and rules the wastes as a genocidal dictator) or the Golden Ending (a good character uses the Calculator's armies and resources to spread progress throughout the wastes under the Brotherhood's watch, creating a mighty utopian faction). Fallout: New Vegas has Caesar's Legion being mentioned as holding most of Colorado, which would be impossible if the Midwestern Brotherhood of Steel was a superpower, but perfectly possible if it was restricted to slowly bringing order to Illinois with a mere outpost in Colorado. This is backed up by Caesar mentioning capturing Brotherhood of Steel scribes "back east" (the Legion's most eastward point is Denver) and the Centurions clearly having made their armor from bits of Brotherhood powered armor (with it being stated earlier in the game that they craft their suits from the suits of their defeated enemies). Elder Mcnamara is also unsure if any other branch of the Brotherhood even survived besides the Mojave one (impossible in the Golden Ending of Tactics as the Midwestern Brotherhood established contact with the western branches in that ending).
  • While Word of God has never directly confirmed which one of the Multiple Endings for Clock Tower: The First Fear is canon, details in the sequel imply it has to be either A, B, or C. Endings D-H show Jennifer dying, and S shows one of Jennifer's friends surviving. Since Jennifer is the only confirmed survivor of the first game, that leaves only those three choices. A detail in the sequel's ending - where Jennifer shrinks back in terror at the mention of Dan - confirms Ending C as canon, since she only learns Dan's name in that ending.
  • Metro 2033 had two endings; a good one, and a bad one. The sequel, Metro: Last Light, averts the trope by continuing on the bad ending where Artyom chose to nuke the dark ones. It makes sense, since it's the same way the book the game is based on ended, but it's also kind of a Broken Aesop, since the bad ending basically told you how much of a douche you were, since the entire game was determined to avoid that ending.
    • Played straight with the ending of Last Light, if Metro Exodus is anything to go by. You're playing as Artyom once again, which nullifies the "bad ending" of Last Light where he dies in a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Played straight again in the ending of Metro Exodus, which again has two endings. The Sam's Story DLC which takes place after the game confirms that the good ending is canon since Artyom is still alive. He dies of radiation poisoning in the bad ending due to not having enough members of the Aurora still available to give him a blood transfusion.
  • In the Soul Series, endings tend to be an amalgamation of several character's endings. And not always the good characters. Siegfried's ending in Soul Edge/Soul Blade, where he becomes the new wielder of Soul Edge (though he didn't fight Cervantes directly, only Soul Edge itself), is canon and shapes the events of Soulcalibur—where Siegfried appears in the guise of Nightmare.
  • Colony Wars, where the second-best ending in which the League of Free Worlds withdraws from Sol and closes the jumpgate as they leave, sealing off the remnants of The Empire from the rest of the galaxy, as opposed to triumphing over the Empire outright is used as the background of the sequel, Colony Wars: Vengeance, which involves not only a Perspective Flip where you're on the side of a long-since post-apocalyptic Empire which has been pulled back together by a charismatic leader to strike back against the League, but also drops several clues to the effect that said charismatic leader is the player character from the first game gone absolutely insane.
  • Blizzard averts this in StarCraft and Warcraft III by making all the campaigns sequential parts of a larger narrative. Notably, in both cases, the good guys win in the game, but the bad guys win in the expansion.
    • Averted in Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, as the orc ending, in which daemonically corrupted orcs overrun the continent, is canon, though some aspects of the Human campaign (like killing Medivh) are also integrated. The sequel also does this with the roles reversed, so the humans win, but some aspects of the Orc campaign are also canon.
    • It was never made completely clear which campaign of the Warcraft II expansion Beyond the Dark Portal was canonical, until World of Warcraft's The Burning Crusade allowed players to enter Outland and meet the Alliance heroes there (thus confirming that the Alliance campaign was the one that happened).
      • Some elements of the orc campaign are included: Teron Gorefiend's raids, the Warsong, and a fraction of the Shattered Hand clans left behind on Azeroth and Ner'zhul's escape. Conversely, some of the Alliance campaign is, through retcons, not included. In fact, the Alliance campaign ends with the narrative that Kadghar led their remains through one of the new portals in the hope of finding their homeworld again, yet none of this seems to have happened in the Burning Crusade. All in all, a mixture of the two seems to have happened.
      • In the novelization, the Alliance heroes do leave through a portal, but almost immediately return to the broken remnant of Draenor.
    • The ending to StarCraft I is a Pyrrhic Victory for the good guys, where their only major success is killing the Overmind... and it later turns out the Overmind meant to be killed for a Thanatos Gambit... to save the universe. And there isn't really anything better the good guys could have done. So... it's a complicated ending.
  • Total Annihilation: Kingdoms, like StarCraft, has every mission as canonical...though rather than discrete campaigns, it is organized in the rather odd way of the player taking over countries with both sides in turn. At some points your victory in the previous battle is the cause of the next one, such as fighting to gain a beachhead before then taking command of the other side to try and destroy that beachhead.
  • The True Endings of the first two BlazBlue games are largely neutral, with both happy and downer elements and neither side getting a clear victory.
  • Shadow Hearts 2 went off from the bad ending of Shadow Hearts, while Shadow Hearts 3 most likely went off of the good ending to ''SH2'', though this is up for debate.
    • Since the good ending to SH2 seems to imply that Yuri will be stuck in a loop until he manages to save Alice, both games effectively have the good ending as canon (simply so SH3 can happen).
  • The ending of Silent Hill canonical to Silent Hill 3 seems to be the Good ending, rather than the best, Good Plus. Though, according to Word of God, all the endings are canonical, so they might have themselves a nice plot web to work with.
    • In Silent Hill 4, however, Henry will remark that his landlord, Frank Sunderland, claims his son (i.e. James, the protagonist from the second game) never returned from Silent Hill, but it's never made clear whether that means James canonically suffered a Bad Ending or just lost contact after leaving Silent Hill with Laura in the Good Ending, mirroring Harry going into hiding with baby Cheryl and giving them new identities in the Good Ending of the first game.
  • The "Bad" (more like evil) ending is canon for Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen. Though that might have been a Double Subversion. Turns out it was better in the long term for Kain to not sacrifice himself.
  • Half-Life 2 runs with the idea that you have chosen to join forces with G-Man instead of going for the Doomed Moral Victor scenario at the end of the first Half-Life. This makes sense, as the first is the one that lets the player character be alive for the sequel, but neither can really be said to be a "good" ending, as it is the result of a Sadistic Choice. Some fans have argued that either works, since we never actually experience Freeman's death and the G-Man could just be messing with him to prove a point. This would be consistent with the gameplay and story theme that 'The One Free Man' doesn't really have any choices, and simply goes the only way the world seems to allow him.
    • In a more amusing aversion, near the end of Episode Two, it's shown that Gordon ruining someone's lunch in the first game by leaving it in the microwave too long is canon (it was Magnusson's).
    • Also, everyone considers Gordon to be the hero of Black Mesa in HL2 and the Episodes, the game not acknowledging that he very well could have killed more scientists and guards than the alien invasion without real repercussion. In particular, Eli Vance claims to be the scientist that sends Gordon to call for aid immediately after the resonance cascade, even though you can kill him (which the video jokingly uses as proof that Half-Life 2 itself is non-canon).
  • Though not a game sequel per se, the School Days anime series is worth mentioning for choosing to base its ending after two of the game's violently bad endings for its personal canon: "To My Child" (in which Sekai kills Makoto) and "Bloody End" (in which Kotonoha kills Sekai). In a weird twist, however, the resulting "combined" Bad Ending is significantly less tragic than those endings are in the game, as Makoto and Sekai are much nicer people in the game than in the anime.
  • Somewhat disturbingly, The 11th Hour operates on the premise that the player lost The 7th Guest (this is not made clear at the outset, but becomes obvious as you go on). Trilobyte claims that had they gone on to do a third game, it would've been an alternate sequel to The 7th Guest rather than a sequel to The 11th Hour where the player won the final battle against Stauf — and thus been less of an unrelentingly dark game and also, possibly, given us some actual character development of the eponymous character in The 7th Guest (who would have again been the protagonist of the third game).
  • Star Control: The first game features an interstellar war between the Alliance of Free Stars and the conquering Ur-Quan Hierarchy. At the beginning of the sequel, you learn the Alliance lost handily, and humanity and the rest of the Alliance races have been enslaved by the Ur-Quan.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Averted in Daggerfall. The game has seven mutually exclusive endings depending on which party you choose to give the MacGuffin to. While Gray-and-Grey Morality applies, certain parties are clearly darker than others. However, as revealed in later games, all of the game's endings occurred due to a Cosmic Retcon Time Crash caused by the activation of the Reality Warping Numidium, though in Broad Strokes fashion, none to the same extent as they would have individually. For example, instead of one political power dominating the region, the dozens of city states merged into four with all still under the banner of the Empire. Mannimarco successfully ascended to godhood, but in a rather minor station,note  while also leaving a "mortal" version behind who leads the cult that worships the god version. Numidium doesn't go on a Tamriel-destroying rampage, but is rendered forever non-functional through unexplained means. Essentially, Daggerfall averts this trope by making all of the endings, including the "wicked" ones, canon.
    • For the rest of the series, this is largely averted through ambiguity. Subsequent games assume that the main quest storylines of the previous games were completed (though not necessarily by the same person), but anything optional (including most faction questlines) is left ambiguous. One major exception to this comes in Skyrim, where it's heavily implied that the Champion of Cyrodiil, Player Character of Oblivion, participated in the events of the Thieves' Guild and Dark Brotherhood storylines before eventually becoming Sheogorath through the Shivering Isles expansion.
    • One minor case: In Morrowind, one of the Nerevarine's options for becoming Hortator of House Telvanni is simply to wipe out all the other Councilors and grant yourself the title once there's no one to vote against you. In the Dragonborn expansion of Skyrim, one of those potentially murdered Councilors, one Master Neloth, is a major character. Clearly the Nerevarine chose a less bloody route to the top.
  • Midway through UFO Aftermath, the invading aliens have a proposition for you, cease hostilities and have them create a space station for you and the rest of the human survivors, so they can finish changing Earth into a living psychic supercomputer slash weapon, with humanity having a say in controlling it. Accepting is a Non-Standard Game Over, refusal leads to you wiping said aliens out. The sequel, UFO Aftershock, however, assumes you accepted.
  • Empire at War, Imperial story. The missions leading up to the ending are canon, but the ending itself (the destruction of the Rebellion with the Death Star) isn't, obviously.
  • The Legend of Zelda: According to Hyrule Historia, one of the series' Alternate Timelines occurs when Ganon defeats Link during the events of Ocarina of Time. This leads into A Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, Oracle of Seasons & Ages, and the original two games (interesting that every Zelda game released before Ocarina of Time is set in this timeline). Added to the "Hero Defeated" Timeline (as of April 17, 2013) is A Link Between Worlds, taking place between Link's Awakening and the first game.
  • Sonic Adventure 2 uses selective editing to make both sides' endings true: the Dark Story ends with Eggman seeming to have accomplished his goal, but zooms in to a warning message that he ignores, which, in the Hero Story, is shown to be because Sonic sabotaged his plans at the last minute. Of course, both plans lead into the Last Story where Eggman fails to take over the world, so in the end this trope is in fact used.
  • Sort of done, in Avernum III. While it's canonical that Erika dies in her duel with Rentar-Ihrno, there is a much harder way to win the game, that preserves her life. You just have to never accept the plot token she gives you, leading to much harder battles in the end game, and having to fight the final battle several times.
  • Mass Effect mostly avoids the trope by avoiding establishing any of the player-choice elements as canon. However, starting Mass Effect 2 without importing a save from the first game leaves you with a default backstory matching the first game's Renegade ending, rather than its Paragon one. (The interquel novel Ascension basically hand waves the end of the first game in a sort of nihilist fashion.)
  • The evil route of Champions: Return to Arms fits into the EverQuest continuity, while the good route doesn't.
  • The Fatal Frame series:
    • In the first game, the ending where Mafuyu stays behind and dies is canon.
    • In the second game, the ending where Mio strangles Mayu to death, completing the Ritual is canon.
    • In the third game, the pattern is actually broken according to Word of God, playing the trope straight with everyone surviving.
    • Which endings of the 4th and 5th games are Canon has not yet been confirmed.
  • Command & Conquer: Generals features an episodic campaign that showcases the viewpoints of all three sides and runs in chronological order. This continues in the Zero Hour expansion. This, interestingly, doesn't quite lead to a straight-up bad ending where the GLA wins, but it doesn't lead into the typical sort of ending where America wins, either - they get attacked on their own soil and pull out of the conflict entirely, leaving China to crush the GLA and become the dominant superpower.
  • BioShock 2 avoids the issue as well by having the sequel take place ten years later, with a very different main character, and no definite answer to the original's ending. The multiple endings are nodded to in the second game, as you find a group of splicers arguing over what Jack did at the end of his journey; neither of them reach a conclusion that they can agree on.
    • Bioshock Infinite demonstrates the existence of multiple universes, so technically every ending is canon in some reality. However, the Burial at Sea DLC establishes that the good ending of BioShock is canon, for that particular reality.
  • One wonders whether this trope is averted (and what constitutes "canon") in old-school arcade games like Space Invaders where the game continues forever until the player is defeated (and hence by implication the only possible outcome is one where the aliens win?) Space Invaders in particular dodges this issue by having the various "sequels" and spin-offs not actually take place in the same "continuity" as the original — in one of the sillier ones, the original is a Video Game in-story that inspired the aliens.
  • Spider-Man: Web of Shadows has 4 total endings, with no true ending, so you can in fact have the bad guys win.
  • Blaze Union's most depressing ending (in which Siskier dies and then Gulcasa's friends Jenon and Medoute betray him) is canon. Due to some obfuscating translation choices by Atlus, Yggdra Union's D ending is often mistaken to be canon, although that's not the case — in all Dept. Heaven games except Riviera, the A ending is the one that's canon regardless of how "good" or "bad" it is.
  • Fatal Fury:
  • The sequel to The Suffering defaults to beginning from the first game's neutral ending, although the good and evil endings also lead into the plot. Importing an old save allows you to start from the good or evil ending, and beating the game allows you to choose which to start from on future playthroughs. Which ending you begin from does have an effect on what happens in the rest of the game.
  • MechWarrior 4: Black Knight assumes that Ian Dresari let his sister die in the original game and has since become a tyrannical despot.
  • Day of the Tentacle assumes the player put the hamster in the microwave in its predecessor, Maniac Mansion.
  • Deus Ex features three endings. Deus Ex: Invisible War assumes that all three happened in some form. Which actually works fairly well, considering that none of the original endings could necessarily be considered 'bad' in comparison to the others, just different.
    • Deus Ex: Human Revolution doesn't have any explicitly good or bad endings, and they are all structured in a way that they can all plausibly lead to later games in the series. With what the player learns, the Illuminati seek to prevent augmentation because it threatens their control, so Sarif's ending could arguably considered more good in principle. However, it being a prequel heavily implies that this did not happen, but one of the other endings did.
    • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided doesn't take any of Human Revolution's endings as totally canon, but the developers have implied that there's a shard of truth to each of them. From what is mentioned in-game, Panchaea was destroyed but David Sarif survived. Hugh Darrow and William Taggart are implied to have died, with the "Taggart Act" limiting the production of augmentations. The world now largely sees augmentation as a threat to humanity, which is akin to Darrow's ending.
  • Not a video game example, but a Magic: The Gathering block, Scars of Mirrodin, revisits the previously-detailed plane of Mirrodin, now the site of a battle between its natives, the heroic Mirrans, and the Phyrexians, the fan-favourite villains from the Weatherlight saga (and quite possibly the worst people in existence). For the final set, Wizards of the Coast previously released two logos, set symbols, and titles for each side, to prevent spoiling who would win — the Mirrans would have Mirrodin Pure, and the Phyrexians New Phyrexia, with one set being fake and the other to become canon. As it turns out, the Phyrexians win.
  • More "batshit" than "wicked", but NieR results from the bonus fifth ending of Drakengard (where the player character and his dragon follow the final boss into modern-day Tokyo then get shot down by JASDF fighter planes after killing it), rather than the good ending that leads into Drakengard 2. Later material reveals as well that the modern-day Tokyo is modern-day for their universe rather than ours, meaning both endings happened.
  • The Mega Man X series may be the ultimate aversion: Every subsequent game has assumed the worst possible ending from the prior game if it had multiple endings note , up until Mega Man X6 where Zero did not seal himself away after all. This was done mainly so people could still play as Zero.
    • And even on X6, the bad ending was supposed to be canon; it was just retconned so the series could continue.
  • Splinter Cell: Conviction assumes that the player killed Lambert in the previous game, Double Agent.
  • Corpse Party: Blood Covered plays with this in its sequel, Book of Shadows. The game is divided into several chapters, most of which follow Blood Covered's final Wrong Ending, where Satoshi suffers a "Groundhog Day" Loop back to when they performed the ritual and is forced to return to Heavenly Host. Things play out differently this second time through, as some of the other survivors gradually recover their memories. This is treated as an Alternate Timeline. Other chapters are set during the events of Blood Covered, giving certain characters A Day in the Limelight — and, in one instance, A Death in the Limelight, revealing the events that lead up to her death in one of the longer Wrong Ending paths. Only the game's final, unlockable chapter follows the prior game's true ending, with a major Sequel Hook.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, there's a implied subversion, Demi-Fiend apperances in other Megami Tensei games consistently portray him as someone who has chosen to follow Lucifer in the True Demon Ending; in IV: Apocalypse he gets pulled from suffering a defeat against Lucifer and IMAGINE has him working as Lucifer's general.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines has five possible endings. The novel Gehenna: The Final Night loosely follows on from the events of the game, but the only ending to be explicitly ruled out is the Strauss/Camarilla ending, and the PC's fate is never revealed.
    • Played with in that the official stance of White Wolf Publishing towards canonicty is that whichever version you prefer, is canon for you.
  • The very best ending of STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl has the protagonist stopping the plans of the Big Bad faction, the C-Consciousness, by shooting them in their stasis pods in a secret laboratory located at the very center of the Zone. With their elimination, this act effectively prevented their further conquests of the Zone and potentially of the entire world. After that, the protagonist escapes their secret lab via an offscreen teleportation panel and is next seen being in a meadow. As the weather improves, he rests and thinks to himself whether or not he did the right thing and muses that he is glad to have survived. Call of Pripyat, the sequel to Shadow of Chernobyl, shows that he actually made things worse with the forced elimination of the C-Consciousness as the Zone has turned feral and caused emissions to occur on a daily basis. The new protagonist is tasked to investigate some grisly events in the Zone and sort them out while the previous protagonist, the Marked One (AKA Strelok), has become an NPC who somewhat atones for his actions in the previous game and wants to share his choicest knowledge of what he collected during his time in the Zone.
  • The story of XCOM 2 is based on the Alien Invasion in XCOM: Enemy Unknown succeeding and all Earth governments surrendering. The whole game is essentially a sequel to XCOM games the players lost. Word of God specifies the divergence point at the Base Defence mission, with the Commander being captured in XCOM 2's version, leading to XCOM's collapse.
  • According to Escape from Monkey Island, the first game's ending where Guybrush sinks the ship and leaves Otis, Carla and Meathook stranded on Monkey Island is canon.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II has three primary endings: if Raul Menendez is killed in the final mission, Cordis Die rises up to overthrow the superpowers; if Menendez is captured, but Chloe Lynch dies or is not rescued, he breaks free in a year's time, kills the man he wants revenge on, then kills himself; and if Menedez is captured and Lynch survives, his plan to break free is stopped in its tracks by Lynch. Black Ops III doesn't have enough details in its own story to determine which happened, but supplementary material reveals that Menendez being killed rather than captured was actually the canon ending - it just didn't lead to any sort of uprising because of the cowardly nature of his death (trying to escape US custody by disguising as a US soldier and escaping in the chaos), causing Cordis Die to splinter. One side-effect of is that it's also not actually confirmed if Alex Mason, the protagonist of the first Call of Duty: Black Ops, survived the events of the "Suffer With Me" mission in Black Ops II, since his survival is independent of that of Menendez and Lynch, and only changes one scene that plays in the ending regardless of which primary one you get.
  • PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale features two versions of Cole MacGrath from inFAMOUS as playable fighters with differing movesets in the base game, one "good", one "evil". On top of giving players two hugely different playstyle options with the two takes on Cole, the decision to treat both Good and Evil Cole as equally valid pays homage to their home series' central theme of duality, particularly in terms of how the player can affect the moral character of Cole with the choices they make for him.
  • Warhammer: The End Times is an inversion: canon overridden for the wicked. The forces of Chaos kept losing campaigns with player-determined results, including the earlier Storm of Chaos, which ended in Archaon's hordes being repulsed before they even took down the Empire. Thus the rights holders created the End Times event distinct from the SOC timeline timeline (the latter in which three editions of the war game, dozens of novels, several games, and most editions of the RPG were explicitly set), which ended in Chaos destroying the world and killing the vast majority of people in the "good guy" races. The survivors fled into new realms and rebuilt, setting the stage for Warhammer: Age of Sigmar.