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Story Branch Favoritism

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In a story that allows for some degree of Story Branching, a character is presented with a clear number of choices each with their own viable outcomes. However, one of these options sometimes appears to be substantially more developed than the others or appears to coincide better with the plot as a whole, as if the author wanted the players to follow this path and added all others as mere diversions. This is an example of Story Branch Favoritism on the developer's part, where a particular branch of the story features more content or is better developed than others — but does not render any of the other branches non-canon.

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One common variation is the Golden Ending, which is considered the best overall ending a player can achieve from the creators' perspective. Alternatively, some games employ Relationship Values to let the Player Character pair off with any of the cast member they choose, but one particular Love Interest seems unfairly promoted over others.

Of course, sometimes it's just that Reality Ensues. A player who goes around killing or pissing off important NPC's is naturally going to have less people wanting to associate with him and give him things to do.

Cutting Off the Branches is a Sister Trope, which can be an ultimate expression of Story Branch Favoritism, wherein the author outright removes the unfavored branches from later continuity. Related tropes also include Railroading and Follow the Plotted Line, where the writer forces a character to follow a specific path regardless to what other options are available. A Golden Path can be one of the most noticeable consequences of this trope. When this trope is applied to a Romance Sidequest, that's one way of getting a Designated Love Interest.

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Not to be confused with But Thou Must! scenario, where only one option is viable. Does not apply to Fan Work for obvious reasons.


Video game examples:

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    RPG — Eastern 
  • In Persona 3 and, to a much lesser degree, Persona 4 certain characters will show romantic interest in the protagonist during the story, contrary to the rest of the cast, who only will only show a romantic interest in the PC during their Social Links and in specific in-game events.
  • Drakengard plays with this concept a bit. On the one hand, Ending A is the least "bad" of the endings, and is what the players gets after a single playthrough. It's also the canonical ending that led into Drakengard 2. On the other hand, Ending B answers more questions, ties up more loose ends, and generally fits better with the overall tragic and dark nature of the game. This leads something safer. On the other other hand, the game's lead designer Taro Yoko had nothing to do with Drakengard 2's development; when he finally returned to the series with NieR, it followed after the events of Ending E, the ending most out of left field, and the one the fewest players would ever see.
    • And then Drakengard 3 throws in another doozy: Every ending of every game, including the weird ones, are considered canonical, as possible outcomes of a varying timeline. Drakengard 3 is the first chronologically, and the goal of its narrator is to oversee events being pushed onto the only timeline that conclusively prevents the horrifying events of the rest of the series.
    • In NieR: Automata, the story ultimately has 2 mutually exclusive endings which revolve around who wins the final battle between 9S and A2. And as far as narrative goes, the game favors the 9S ending in multiple ways. During the final battle, while playing as 9S there is dialogue between him and A2 that isn't there when playing as A2. 9S's ending has two possible sub-endings, while A2's only has one possible ending. And finally, 9S's ending leads into the 5th and final ending much more neatly than A2's ending does, since the 5th ending states that every Yorha unit is dead, which is explicit in 9S's ending (where he kills A2 but then accidentally impales himself on her sword) but less explicit in A2's (where A2 definitely dies, but 9S's not dead yet body is carried away by his pod).
  • Where themes of Law vs Chaos are concerned, the Neutral endings in Shin Megami Tensei where humanity takes a stand and does not commit to a specific faction, are considered to be the best endings from the creator perspective. To say the least the alternative endings are not that desirable... However, there are some major exceptions.
    • Exaggerated in the very first game in the series with multiple endings, Megami Tensei II. There, Chaos was the default path and Luficer an outright good guy, while siding with Law was more like a Non-Standard Game Over.
    • In Devil Survivor Overclocked, Amane's route has you act far more moderately than the usual Law route. You consistently prefer to redeem sinners rather than execute them, and no indication is given that humanity has lost its free will. While Naoya's evil route is typical Chaos fare, Naoya's good route has you rally all of Tokyo to stand up to God, leading to you going to Heaven to do battle with Him while all of your friends cheer you on and await your safe return.
    • While Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey is the most blatantly pro-Neutral game in the franchise, the Redux rerelease gives three expanded routes that provide some nuance to the Neutral route by revealing you only manage to delay the inevitable in the original ending, and have to effectively damn yourself to a Forever War to provide a permanent Neutral solution. Meanwhile, the extended Law route leads to you taking away humanity's desire for conflict instead of its free will, creating a world of peace and harmony for all humans, while the extended Chaos route leads to you creating a world where all humans have infinite freedom and possibility. Law+ and Chaos+ are also the only routes in which you can bring Zelenin and Jimenez, respectively, back from the levels of extremism they reach in all of the other routes.
  • In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, all first generation females besides Ethlyn and Deirdre can marry any first generation male, but only three males per female get special conversations in Chapter 5.note  These pairings are usually the easiest to make and have optional Ship Tease moments in earlier chapters, while most other pairings get no dialogue at all. The fandom usually terms these "predestined pairings". Though strangely enough, Finn is not one of Lachesis' predestined males, despite the pairing being treated as canon in Fire Emblem: Thracia 776.
    • Actually, due to the way the plot handles Finn (he leaves before the predestined pairing convos mentioned above happen, then comes back during gen 2), he gets his own set of "Predestined" conversations wherein he talks to his daughter; these apply to Larcei (Ayra), Lana (Edain), and Nanna (Lachesis), so in this sense, Lachesis/Finn is indeed applicable to the trope. Nanna is even the only one of the three who recognizes him as her father!
  • This happens with the lords in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade. Each of them have at least three options of whom they'll marry, but with Eliwood it's canonical that Ninian has feelings for him. Lyn and Hector have their own options but they have a particularly heartfelt conversation in the "Pirate Ship" chapter.
  • There are two possible outcomes to the Black Knight battle in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. If Ike can't defeat him, Nasir is forced to perform a Heroic Sacrifice to save him and Ena. Ena joins, but is severely Overrated and Underleveled, and you get less dialogue in Endgame due to Nasir's absence. If Ike defeats the Black Knight, both Nasir and Ena survive, and the far stronger Nasir is recruited instead of Ena. Nasir is alive and well in the sequel, Radiant Dawn, and that game's story makes it clear that Ike defeated the Black Knight in the last war.
  • In Fire Emblem Awakening, Chrom is able to marry one of five playable girls (the Female Avatar, Sumia, Sully, Maribelle, or Olivia), and while he technically has no canon wife, the game heavily pushes him with two of them the most; Sumia and the Female Avatar.
    • With Sumia, she has a steady amount of Ship Tease thought the first half of the game. She even appears alongside Chrom holding baby Lucina in the game's opening movie, as well as giving them an animated Rescue Romance cutscene that was even titled "Lovebirds" in the English version. She also has the fastest support growth with him, and the highest priority for auto-marriage in the case of tied supports.
    • On the flip side is Female Avatar. An Avatar of either gender has a steady amount of Ship Tease throughout the game, even after Chrom’s mandatory marriage or if the Avatar’s married to someone else. A Female Avatar married to Chrom is the only one of his potential love interests who doesn’t accuse him of cheating on her with their daughter from the future , limiting herself to merely point out the possibility. If she isn’t married to Chrom then Lucina accuses her of making advances towards him, and later DEMANDS she fall for him. And, rather jarringly, it’s only Chrom who makes a fuss should the Avatar choose to sacrifice themselves to kill Grima regardless if either of them are married to someone else.
    • Besides that, while in the plot there are no hints of other couples and the player is free to play matchmaker as they see fit and ship to their heart's content, it's something of a hidden mechanic that several characters, especially the mother characters of the next generation are capable of bonding much quicker with certain characters and achieve S-rank faster than with others, Lissa/Vaike, Miriel/Stahl, Maribelle/Frederick, Ricken/Panne, Tharja/Gaius, Libra/Cordelia, Lucina/Laurent, etc. So there's a privilege for going for these pairings rather than others.
  • Fire Emblem Fates: While there are 3 main paths with their own narratives, Revelation is the only one that actually involves stopping the real villain, Anankos, and uniting the kingdoms of Hoshido and Nohr with minimal bloodshed. It also lacks a Bittersweet Ending with lots of scripted Character Deaths in favor of having the Golden Ending with a very small casualty count, along with it being the only branch where Azura lives, and the real Fire Emblem appears.
    • Revelation aside, the English localization team actually took steps to downplay any favoritism between Birthright and Conquest, primarily with Corrin's depiction in both. If they stay with Hoshido, they join an aggressive Roaring Rampage of Revenge, and their naivety directly lands the party in trouble several times. If they return to the instigator Nohr, it's because they want nothing but peace and decide to remove the corruption from within, with their jaded-but-savvy siblings stopping their idealism from getting them killed.
      • Though this does ultimately little to change the fact that Conquest has you aiding the corrupt, tyranical King Garon in brutally conquering the peaceful Hoshido. While the protagonist tries to limit the damage, they are mostly unsuccessful and the casualties pile up. The villain is only stopped at the very end when most of the damage was already done. Converselly, Birthright has you enter Nohr with what amounts to a very determined strike-force. Most of the deaths are limited to combatants and Nohr ends up freed from a horrible ruler. While Birthright ends with Nohr not much worse than it was before and finally on the way to a better future thanks to Hoshidan support, Conquest ends with Hoshido utterly devastated and without any hope that Nohr will be able to aid in its recovery.
    • Similarly to the above-mentioned Awakening example, the male Avatar's romance options heavily favor Azura. While not as blatant as Chrom and Awakening's Avatar, the two get plenty of Ship Tease throughout the game, especially in the Birthright route where Azura gets to spend her final moments with him, regardless of whether she married someone else.
  • The first Advance Wars has several potential ally commanders in the final battle depending on which path you took to get there, but having Eagle on your side (use Sami for all the Green Earth missions) is given a bit more weight than the others: it's the only option that unlocks a special Bonus Boss mission afterwards, he overrides all other options for the 3rd CO and his route is the only one to give closure to the Eagle/Andy rivalry subplot. Future games would give Eagle Ship Tease with Sami, which follows on from her branch of the Green Earth missions.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, the ending where your party ends up with Kratos is noticeably less developed than the ending with Zelos. Several sidequests are dependent on Zelos' presence in order to be completed, but there are almost none that are exclusive to Kratos. Kratos also has only a single alternate costume, while Zelos has several. Additionally, picking Kratos will also automatically set him as Lloyd's soulmate regardless of what everyone's Relationship Values are at, forcing you to pick Zelos if you want Lloyd to end up with anyone else. The sequel, Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, outright made the ending with Kratos non-canon by having Kratos be entirely absent except for a brief cameo.
    • Also of note is that if you pick the Zelos route, then Kratos still ends up siding with the heroes and playing the same role he does in his own ending, he just never becomes a playable character again for the rest of the playthrough. But if you pick the Kratos route, then Zelos turns out to have been sincere in his Face–Heel Turn and is killed by the party. So the Zelos route is more of a Golden Ending in comparison, despite the supposed choice.
    • From the same game any of the party can be chosen as Lloyd's soul mate (not always but often a romantic relationship) based on who has the highest Affection for Lloyd. However the game favours Colette for this role. While every other party member starts with an Affection score of 0 Colette starts with an Affection score of 500. She also has more chances to increase this score and less chances to reduce it than any other character. Colette also has more scenes alone with Lloyd than the other party members and the final cutscene is with her and Lloyd even if she isn't his soul mate.
  • Tales of Xillia has two storylines, Jude's and Milla's. Jude's has far more content, however, while Milla's seems intended for a second playthrough. This is most noticeable at the end of the third act of the game, where Milla is presumed dead. Jude's story goes on to feature a very significant Duel Boss fight, followed by a fight with Gaius, then Presa and Agria's deaths, and a three-phase boss fight with the final boss, the real Maxwell. All of this happens offscreen on Milla's path, which instead consists of her wandering through the Spirit World for a while (essentially a very long No-Gear Level with her as your sole party member) with very little interaction due to the lack of Non Player Characters and her becoming an Empty Shell. While Milla gets her own Duel Boss fight, it's an extremely frustrating one, and she only comes back during the last phase of the final boss. It's actually not possible to get the "Religious Skit Viewer" trophy on Milla's path, as there simply aren't enough skits for her to see.
  • Chrono Cross's story branches at two points — you can pick one of three options for a guide to Viper Manor, and you can declare that of course you'll save Kid from Lynx's poison or else confess that you don't know how.
    • In the first case, Nikki's route through the Shadow Forest is the longest and most developed, including an entire dungeon (including a boss battle with Zoah, who you won't meet until later otherwise). Guile's route has a brief climb up Viper Manor's seaside cliffs (but matches up the best with what happens at the end of the dungeon), while Pierre's route consists entirely of a boss battle and nothing else.
    • The second case is more complicated. Announcing that you'll handle the problem leads to a dungeon that you don't get to play otherwise, but saying you're not sure allows you to recruit a highly plot-relevant character who also happens to be one of the game's most powerful fighters.
  • Halfway through Dragon Quest V, you have to choose one of two girls to marry: Nera or Bianca. Bianca is the favored bride, having known you the longest and being depicted as such in most of the promotional art, along with her children. (That choosing Nera as your bride causes Bianca to undergo a Trauma Conga Line of misery is an Urban Legend of Zelda that got way out of hand.)
  • Pokémon:
    • The games you can choose to play as either a boy or a girl and choose one of 3 different starters, but promotional material (gameplay trailers, promotional artwork...) often implies that the canon path is the boy choosing the Fire starter in odd-numbered generations note The Water one in even-numbered generations note  Subverted by the Generation 3 remakes: Judging from both the anime trailer and Pokémon Generations, Treecko is the canon choice for the remakes.
    • Who the girl chooses varies, but it usually depends on the boy's pick and who is the cutest member. Leaf is strongly associated with Bulbasaur, Crystal with Totodile, Lyra with Chikorita, May with Torchic (occasionally Mudkip), Dawn with Chimchar, Hilda with Tepig, Rosa with Snivy, Serena with Fennekin and Selene with Rowlet.
  • Rune Factory:
    • Mist is an odd example. In the original game, it's made clear that she is the "official" love interest by the fact she's the one in the intro. However, future games heavily imply that Raguna didn't marry Mist.
    • The Rune Factory 2 intro makes it clear that Kyle is 'supposed' to marry Mana.
    • Rune Factory 3 is so blatant about Shara being the canon bachelorette that the ending always shows her hugging the lead, no matter who he actually marries. Raven is a close second via Guilt-Based Gaming.
  • Star Ocean: The Second Story or the The Second Evolution as it was called in later versions, features two characters to play as: Claude and Rena. While both are of equal importance to the story, Claude has more plot-relevant scenes that are exclusive to him, as well as a familial connection to Ronyx from the first game. Also, both characters can recruit a party member that's exclusive to them, but Dias, who will only permanently join the party if Rena is the protagonist, has no private actions, which gives him no further development and makes it excessively hard to see any alternate endings for him.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, Aerith's date sequence is the longest, makes the most sense with the previous plot (she'd previously offered to go on a date with Cloud in her opening scene; she'd previously been responsible for choosing Marlene's hiding place), the aesthetic themes of her character (she and Cloud played in a children's park earlier in the game, so it fits that she wants to take him to an amusement park), and with the plot structure (the date is a Breather Episode before two Wham Episodes that focus heavily on Aeris). It also contains a significant bit of Foreshadowing concerning Zack, and is the easiest date to get. Tifa's date is a little shorter, a little harder to get, and only foreshadows the fact that Tifa's keeping something bottled up around Cloud, which is not new information. Yuffie's date is slightly shorter again and has the least plot importance, as Yuffie doesn't know anything about Cloud's past and doesn't know who Marlene is, meaning Cloud gets to talk to Marlene (when his date will do that on all other routes). Barret's date is by far the shortest, skipping the play sequence, going straight to the gondola ride, and having fewer lines even there, none of which foreshadow anything. He doesn't even get a more fleshed-out version of the scene with Marlene, even though he's the closest to her in the cast.
  • Record of Agarest War runs on a not-at-all-subtle First Girl Wins rule. While the player can choose any of the three Love Interests of each generation or even not be with any, if they fail to charm even one of the ladies, the game pushes and expects you to pick the first girl introduced. They all appear in the opening with wedding dresses, appear in the posters and promotional material, etc. In the first generation, while the girls are asking Leonhardt questions, if he answers that he already has someone he likes, only the first girl gets a bonus, meaning the game assumes that, if you like someone, it's her.
  • In the H-game Legend of Queen Opala, the good route is the main one, giving you more areas to travel through, chances to fight Sir Edward, and learn more about why Osira is doing what she's doing. The evil route was sort of an afterthought; you get different sex scenes, capture the Queens, and then do the final quest of the Good side in reverse (requiring a lot of grinding just to get out of Osira's palace, which is normally the endgame dungeon), before battling the final boss of Osira's route. However, the player can only become Pharaoh on the evil route, through a Guide Dang It! method that allows him to betray Osira and claim all three royals as his concubines and party members. The Good route is also canon for the second game.
  • Starting off in the World of Ruin portion in Final Fantasy VI has Celes stranded on an island with Cid and has grown ill due to neglecting his own health to keep Celes healthy. If you keep Cid alive, he reveals a hidden staircase leading to the basement with a raft made so that Celes can escape and find her friends. If Cid dies, Celes thinks Cid is playing a prank and then begs him to wake up before realizing that Cid is truly gone. Overcome with despair of losing what was basically a father to her and being alone without her friends, Celes jumps off a cliff to end it all. She survives anyway and sees a bird carrying Locke's bandana, which gives her hope that her friends are alive and she sets out to find them after finding the raft Cid left behind. Given that the "Cid dies" scene is a lot more developed than the "Cid lives" scene, it seems that the writers preferred to have Celes find hope again on her own.
  • Radiata Stories has two story routes: The Human side, and the Non-Human side. Of the two, the Non-Human side is unquestionably favored by the writers as it explores the three main protagonists Jack, Ridley, and Gantz in more detail, whereas the Human route has Jack stay relatively the same as a character, while Ridley and Gantz have little importance overall. As an example, Jack meets Gawain, his fathers killer, but in the Human route, Gawain is an antagonist with little depth to him, while on the Non-Human side, Gawain's reasons are more explained and detailed, plus he interacts with his son Gantz, and Jack goes through a character arc of understanding Gawain. This is reflected in Jack's involvement in the parts that remain the same in both paths, such as the final boss. In the Human side, Jack fights Aphelion because he kills Ridley, while in the Non-Human route, Jack battles him because he threatens the world's balance, and also will kill Ridley. It doesn't help that several plotlines in the game never get resolved or referenced after the split if you go Human route, such as Cross being responsible for the Blood Orc that attacked Ridley, where as in the Non-Human route, Cross is the Evil Counterpart to Jack. The Non-Human route also is the route where Ridley and Jack hook-up, which was a major part of the two's interactions early on, while the Human route has Jack get with an ally of the players choice. Really, the only significant part of the story that is favored in the Human side is Jack's Father's sword being obtainable, but it isn't a big deal since the weapon, while good, isn't that important.

    RPG — Western 
  • Deus Ex: The "Kill Bob Page/Join Illuminati" ending is the only one to Bookend the opening scene. However, the sequel subverts that, making it clear that JC chose the "Merge with Helios" ending (with things not going quite as planned).
  • Mass Effect:
    • Shepard is often portrayed in the default Soldier class, which by the game's own lore makes the most sense in explaining their prowess in combat. This is particularly true in the first game where it is hard to justify how Shepard can match an asari in biotic power or a quarian engineer in tech skills.
    • Liara T'Soni is the only Love Interest who can be romanced in all three games (though 2 requires DLC for this), by both genders, and cannot die under any circumstances except for low-EMS ending of the final installment.
    • It makes much more sense story-wise to complete Noveria last since Virmire is added as an emergency mission after completing two storyline missions, also the piece of intel gathered in Noveria ( the location of the Mu relay) would narrow down tremendously the location of the Conduit (this can be handwaved by saying that the Mu relay transports to many systems, but it is clear that with a little extra research they would have been able to deduce the location eventually.)
    • The angry, accusatory attitude of the Virmire Survivor towards Shepard on Horizon in Mass Effect 2 makes much more sense coming from Ashley (the pessimist who doubts first before she even gives anything a chance) than it does Kaidan (the optimist who trusts first and doubts later).
    • However, this situation is muddled in the third game. Saving Kaidan will result to much more conversation between him and Shepard after the Citadel coup about how he was wrong and ready to make amend, wondering if Cerberus still has some good people, many interaction and jokes between him and fellow Normandy squadmates as well as a potential Relationship Upgrade with him as a Gay Option for a male Shepard. Saving Ashley would just result with many insult and doubt from her before the Citadel coup and she only interacted with two squadmates in the Normandy including Shepard. The change in the head writer and effort to promote Kaidan as a legitimately gay male love interest (something which the fanbase complained about the games's reliance on Discount Lesbians) probably explained this.
    • In Mass Effect 2, during Samara's loyalty mission, you can choose to kill Samara and recruit her target Morinth if you want to and Morinth will be a loyal squad mate for the rest of the game. The favoritism doesn't show up until Mass Effect 3. If Samara survives her loyalty mission and the suicide mission, then in ME3 she will show up when you do the Ardat-Yakshi Monastery mission and will make it a much more meaningful experience. If Morinth survives said events in ME2, all you get is an email from her at the beginning of ME3, and then during the final mission, you fight her as a Banshee, kill her, and move on.
    • The early Freedom's Progress mission in Mass Effect 2 has the player choose between turning Veetor over to either Cerberus or Tali. If you choose Tali, Veetor shows up at Tali's loyalty mission later to help the two of you out. If you choose Cerberus, the Veetor subplot basically ends right there; Shepard loses much rapport with his/her longtime partner Tali, and over nothing, since Veetor's interrogation at the hands of Cerberus fails to turn up any useful information.
    • One of the selling points of the second game was that, in the ending suicide mission, anyone in your squad was able to die, ranging all over the spectrum from almost everyone dying to everyone surviving. However, keeping squad members alive near-universally results in better outcomes in the third game. Living squad members enhance the story a bit, keep minor characters in sidequests alive, and sometimes open up otherwise-impossible third options. In particular, it's impossible to make peace between the geth and the quarians if either Tali or Legion dies in the suicide mission.
  • The Witcher splits into three distinct paths mid-game, one for the Order and the Scoia'tael and a neutral one. The latter features more content and is actually harder to unlock. This is justified by the eponymous Witchers' code, which forbids them from taking sides in conflicts—so the neutral path makes the most sense in-story.
  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings splits into two paths that depend on who Geralt allies with for the rest of the game: Vernon Roche and the Blue Stripes, or Iorveth and the Scoia'tael. While both have the same amount of content, the latter goes into greater detail on things that tie into the Kingslayer plot, including the dragon, the Lodge of Sorceresses, and Philippa Eilhart. Roche's path leaves the player in the dark on these matters. On the other hand, Roche comes back for a rather large subplot in the next game, while Iorveth is never seen.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: For players just entering the franchise at the third instalment, Yennifer of Vengeberg can seem like the Designated Love Interest. She constantly belittles Geralt, making you wonder what they ever saw in each other. You can later meet and romance Triss, but on subsequent meetings with Yen there is no option to break it off with her (until much later). Other NP Cs also ask about Yen and continue to assume you are together, and no option is given for you to correct them. Triss also gets far fewer lines with Geralt, often just a "huh" or "yes", and she doesn't show up at Kaer Morhen until much later. Of course Yen is the canonical love interest in the books, so it's somewhat understandable. On the other hand, one must romance Triss in order to unlock the Full Crew achievement for getting all of your main allies together to Kaer Morhen, as she will leave with the other mages at the end of her story arc for good if you don't.
  • In the Blood and Wine Expansion Pack for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the player takes one of two distinct routes to end the game with. In one, Geralt can make contact with the Unseen Elder, a powerful vampire lord whose authority over all vampires can be used to bring the raging Dettlaff directly to Geralt so that the Witcher can stop his rampage once and for all. In the other, Geralt can journey to the Land of a Thousand Fables and rescue Sylvia Anna, whose past relationship with Dettlaff is hoped will bring him to heel. Both paths are fully realized, but the latter is the only way to really learn about Sylvia's past and motivations, and taking it is the only way to get the campaign's best ending. Even in-game, Geralt is repeatedly told this is the more preferable path to take, and is given multiple opportunities to change his mind if he opts for the Unseen Elder.
  • Fallout:
    • In Fallout 2, the player can potentially reach Made Man status with any of the four crime families in New Reno. However, only by accepting the second quest from the Wright family can the Sierra Army Depot even be placed on your map. This is one of the best locations to find advanced weapons and armor mid-game, as well as a potential companion.
    • Fallout: New Vegas allows for four Faction-Specific Endings: either Caesar's Legion, Mr. House, the NRC or the Courier him/herself will dominate the Mojave in the aftermath of the game. Unfortunately for a player interested in being openly anti-NCR and/or pro-Legion, however, there are a ton of NCR quests and locations and only a small handful of Legion equivalents. You can play as someone explicitly opposed to the NCR, but the cost is that a very large portion of the game's content will be closed to you, including potentially all of the game's human companions.
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind shows preference towards the Dark Elf race. It delves deep into their culture, allows the player to join factions that typically only make sense for a Dunmer to be a part of (such as the Tribunal Temple), and even includes more faces than the other racial options. The story also has the player effectively assuming the role as the reincarnation of an ancient Chimer hero, and while it's deliberately left ambiguous how true that is, it would certainly make the most sense for it to be a Dark Elf. Justified considering the game takes place in the Dunmer homeland.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim lets you play as one of ten different races. However, because it explores Nordic culture, gives the Player Character the power of the Thu'um, which lorewise has always been associated with the Nords, and depicted the Dragonborn as a burly Nord warrior on all the promotional material, there's no mistake as to which race the game is kind of expecting you to play as. Furthermore, some races, like the Argonians and Khajiit, are subjected to Fantastic Racism and not allowed into some cities, but the player is inexplicably free of such restrictions.
    • Inverted in the case of the Bretons. They are uniquely largely free of any racial pros or cons due to story or unique dialogue. No Non Player Characters hate them, but no one thinks anything special of them either, aside from two instances in the entire game: a quest where players replace a reclusive chef that is a master of Breton cuisine (the original is an Orc, but as no one knows this, your assistant for the quest casually remarks that of course you're a Breton, what else could you be!) and having average ability to disguise themselves as a Thalmor. (Being humans with Elvish ancestors allows them to pass for an elf at a distance as long as their hood is up)
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines has multiple endings: you can side with the Anarchs, the Camarilla, Lacroix, Ming Xiao, or go independent and blow all of them off. Siding with either Lacroix or Ming Xiao nets you little more than two different Non-Standard Game Overs . Siding with the Camarilla is available, but since your main contacts with the Camarilla consist of Lacroix (who is actively trying to get you killed) and Strauss (who is pleasant enough, but doesn't do very much in the game and comes across as a bit condescending), the justifications for doing so aren't particularly strong. The Anarchs, by contrast, save your life repeatedly and allow you an abundance of opportunities for helpful interaction, beginning with Smiling Jack guiding you through the tutorial. Finally, only the Anarch and Independent endings allow you to properly savor Lacroix's Laser-Guided Karma when he opens the sacrophagus. It isn't difficult to decipher which faction the developers were expecting most people to side with. Things do get a little more even (but only a little) if you play a Tremere character, as Strauss (a Tremere himself) has a bit more advice and gives you a nice apartment to live innote .
  • Dragon Age:
    • Dragon Age: Origins:
      • While the game attempts to avert this trope by connecting each of the origin stories to the main quest in some fashion, some are still more preferred than others. Of note is the Human Noble, who loses their entire family to The Dragon, is the only protagonist who can possibly become king or queen of Ferelden, and is also the only character that's given any kind of portrayal in the game's promotional material. In a possible effort to make up for the Dalish Elf's lackluster treatment, Dragon Age II includes a pre-made world state where they are the Warden (alongside a state with the Dwarf Noble and one with, you guessed it, the Human Noble), brings back their specific clan, and even makes an Ascended Extra out of its Guest-Star Party Member. Dragon Age: Inquisition, in turn, comes with just one default world state starring the Dalish Elf Warden.
      • Played straight with the Landsmeet. While Alistair's fate is determined by player choices there, post-Origins he's portrayed as the sole ruler of Ferelden in supplemental materials, and King Alistair gets more content in his Dragon Age II cameo than either Warden Alistair or Drunk!Alistair. By contrast, if Anora remains queen at the Landsmeet (either on her own or married to him), she she'll get Put on a Bus in the sequels (along with Loghain if he survived Origins), and isn't seen again until a very small cameo in Inquisition. That game zig zags it though: King Alistair only makes the same very small cameo (though he's also referenced more in codex entries and incidental NPC chatter than Anora), while Warden Alistair has a substantial role in one of the main plot lines. It comes at the cost of the player having to choose between saving him and their Dragon Age II PC in the Fade. If Warden Loghain is around instead he's the one in this role.
    • Dragon Age II:
      • The game clearly favors choosing Mages over Templars. Meredith is antagonistic for the entire game, committing acts that can be hard to find any justification for behind her own paranoia, while her Mage counterpart Orsino is presented as a reasonable figure who tries to help maintain peace in the city and only steps to confront Meredith after she has begun to slip into total insanity, with his possible bad deeds almost tacked-on at the end, namely that he knew the mage who killed Hawke's mother. Meanwhile, the ending cinematic outright calls you a tyrant for siding with the Templars and supplementary material almost always assumes you sided with the mages. Your siblings reflect this as well. If Bethany is alive and joins the Circle, she is happy to finally have a place to both learn magic, and not feel ashamed of having it after years of being on the wrong, which makes her far more relatable as a character. If Carver is alive and joins the Templars, he is not happy at all since it means going against his family, and becoming something that nearly ruined his family when they were younger, which pales in comparison to his attitude if he is made a Grey Warden, where, unlike Bethany, he is happy and feels glad to have a noble motivation. Then there's the slant on the "Champion of Kirkwall" codex entry in Inquisition, where if you sided with the mages, it consists of a Reasonable Authority Figure explaining to his fellow templars that Hawke had good reasons to oppose Meredith and essentially justifies doing so. Meanwhile if you sided with the templars, it consists of an enchanter telling her fellow mages that it's a good thing Hawke won't be at the Conclave given that they helped with the "systematic slaughter of all of Kirkwall's mages". Its jarring since the entire point of the conflict was that Both Sides Have a Point, but the series is really one-sided about executing it.
      • Most quests have hidden options that can be unlocked depending on the companions you brought. Of all the companions, Anders is the one with the most unique and story-changing scenes. For example, bringing him to the deep roads mission is the only way to make your sibling a grey warden. Others scenes include temporarily curing Bartrand of his insanity, which throws the entire situation into a new light, becoming possessed by Justice while in the fade and almost falling under the influence of Corypheus in the Legacy DLC. To top it all of, as a mage Anders also has almost every special option that Bethany and Merrill have.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition:
      • There's a slight inclination in the main game to side with the rebel mages over the Templars in the first act. Each path includes the early introduction of a potential companion, but Dorian appears in the lead-up to the mage path and is more deeply invested in the story, even becoming a required member of the Inquisitor's party. If you learn of the mage's situation and side with the Templars anyway then Dorian can eventually be recruited...but he'll start off with negative approval. Cole on the other hand only makes himself known after you've committed to recruiting the Templars, acts as an Guest-Star Party Member rather than a full companion, and his approval takes no hit if you side with the mages instead. Plus, the mobs found throughout the game later will always be full of Red Templars no matter what you do, and the game's later events carry considerably more weight when the knowledge of the Big Bad's next move comes from a trip to the Bad Future showing you the full impact of his plans as opposed to the demon ramblings found in the Templar stronghold. It also decides the fate of Grand Enchanter Fiona, a returning character from the novels (and secretly Alistair's mother), either having her join you in the Mage path or killing her as a minor boss with almost no dialog in the Templar path.
      • There is significantly more special content for a Dalish Inquisitor than there is for any other background. Which isn't surprising given how much of the plot explores elvish history. Solas especially is much more open and straightforward with an Elf, and his romance is the only one that only one race can pursue. Plus an elf gets to yell a lot when they meet two of their gods and find out that their entire Religion Is Wrong, which is nice. In addition, being a female elf also means you have the most romantic options available to you than any other race/gender combo in the game, as you get access to Blackwall, Solas, Sera, Iron Bull, Cullen, and Josephine.
      • The Trespasser DLC favors saving the Bull's Chargers by sacrificing the Qunari dreadnought, rather than the other way round. If the Chargers are alive, you get extra scenes with them and Iron Bull. If they're dead, Iron Bull sides with the invading Qunari and you kill him, and that's it.
  • In the Hong Kong campaign for Shadowrun Returns, you can play any sort of character you like and resolve your missions through either violence or diplomacy. However, dialogue with Duncan, your character's stepbrother, indicates that he or she was always the calmer and more intelligent of the two in the past, implying that the game is expecting you to play as a Guile Hero.
  • Undertale: A Pacifist Run doesn't only have the Golden Ending, but is significantly longer, has an entire area otherwise inaccessible, and is the only source of major revelations about Flowey's origin, Alphys's backstory, and the nature of Determination. By comparison, a neutral run simply has a Modular Epilogue and two bosses, the latter of which you'll fight anyway if you start with a Pacifist Run (because you'll need to get at least one Neutral ending first, but don't have to restart the game). After completing a Neutral playthrough, Flowey will outright recommend resetting if you've locked the True Pacifist content off and doing all the sidequests if you haven't. This is just a trick on his part, but works out for you anyway.
  • World of Warcraft 's expansions Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria are cases of the ones being favored not liking it one bit more than those who weren't. Those extensions had the Horde content developed first (confirmed by the developers to be true for at least Cataclysm), and most of the overarching plot is that of the Horde facing internal strife and being led by an evil Warchief. Which meant that Horde fans were stuck playing a faction that was almost entirely full of Ax-Crazy Card-Carrying Villain, a complete 180 turn from the Noble Savage the Horde was originally portrayed as. And Alliance fans hated being painted as the Horde's punching bag/foil only.

     Visual Novels 
  • CLANNAD favors Tomoya's and Nagisa's route, which is carried over into the anime series, as evidenced with what they adapt, a story that takes place after they graduate high school which many have considered to be a massive tearjerker. A couple of pairings with Tomoyo and Kyou did make it into OVA episodes.
  • The same can be said for Air with how much focus is put into Misuzu's route and the background story that builds it up.
  • In White Album 2, while Maruto (the scenario writer) and Leaf are quiet at what the "canon" plot is supposed to be, players of the games seem to favor the timeline that leads from Setsuna's route in Concluding Chapter, to Kazusa's True End in Coda. Not only due to the incredibly cathartic nature of the latter, but because it's counterpart was just too perfect and involved Haruki being reduced to a supporting role.
  • Fate/stay night plays this interestingly in that the game has three completely distinct routes (Fate, Unlimited Blade Works, Heaven's Feel), each with its own heroine (Saber, Rin, Sakura). However, Unlimited Blade Works is inaccessible until you've completed Fate first (the Event Flag that branches between them simply doesn't happen on your first play-through) and Heaven's Feel is similarly inaccessible until you've completed Unlimited Blade Works, meaning you have to play through them in a fixed order, causing the overall story to evolve and get deeper as you play through and learn more and more. As a result, while Saber is only the main heroine of Fate (and is killed off shockingly early in the story in Heaven's Feel), she's usually considered the "main heroine" of the game, if not the entire Fate franchise (indeed, the 2006 Studio DEEN Fate/stay night anime adaptation was primarily based on the Fate route).
    • Another factor is that the novel takes advantage of this setup, with UBW and Heaven's Feel assuming the player already has knowledge and context from previous routes - in fact, many of the biggest twists come from subverting what they player has come to expect. This makes Fate and its heroine Saber by far the easiest route to adapt to another medium, as the other two stories require additional exposition to be retrofitted into the narrative just to give an uninitiated viewer the faintest chance of following the plot. This is probably why the DEEN anime was able to be released just 2 years after the VN came out, but Unlimited Blade Works took 10 years to get a proper adaptation, and Heaven's Feel took even longer.
  • In the first Fragment's Note, Mischa's and Haya's routes are practically identical, with only a few names and a few select scenes swapped. On the contrary, Eri's route is longer and comes with more character development and impactful scenes, and provides more character development for both her and Yukitsuki.
  • The Pirate's Fate averts this with most routes, but if Mila stubbornly refuses to join the crew of the Pirate's Fate, it leads to a very short route where she is thrown from the ship, rescued by a pair of mermaids, and only has one choice that determines what the ending is. Either she befriends the younger mermaid (becoming a mermaid herself so that the two of them can keep each other company while ignoring what goes on above the surface) or sides with the older mermaid (letting herself be transformed into a gigantic, vengeful sea monster that goes on a rampage against all pirates).
  • Unusually for a visual novel of its length, Flowers only features two routes for each of its games, one of which is much longer and more developed than the other - this serves as the canonical ending coming into the next game. The first game, ~ le volume sur printemps ~, takes it to a new level - not only does one ending make far less sense than the other (after literally forcing Suou to date her by threatening to blackmail Mayuri, it feels a little odd seeing Rikka get the girl), the flower which serves as a choice indicator gradually grows and blooms if you pick choices for the canonical route, while it shrinks back and reverts back to a seed if you pick the 'wrong' answers.
  • Choices: Stories You Play: While the writers did a good job of avoiding this trope in main storylines, the same cannot be said for love interests. Some of them have more screen time, are more relevant to their respective book's main plot and have more Premium (or even free) interactions than the others. Examples include:
    • Book 1 of The Freshman strongly steers the player toward Chris, to the point that the narrative treats you as if you're in relationship with him even if you have no interest in dating him at all. However, the book does eventually start giving the other love interests some focus and things do become more balanced overall.
    • Dom Hunter/Kenna Rys from The Crown and the Flame, with both of them being protagonists. However, this is downplayed, as the other love interests have major roles in the story with completely free character arcs and interactions, with two of them (Raydan and Val) being playable for several chapters for free.
      • Non-love interest wise, the story clearly favors killing off Marco since it is not only locked behind a Prestige requirement, you have extra scenes with other characters (most notably Luther, Zenobia and Diavolos) discussing his death and the decision to spare him has virtually no impact on the plot.
    • Dave Reyes from Most Wanted, because he's the co-protagonist and because his developing relationship with Sam is vital to the main plot.
    • Mark Collins from Love Hacks Book 1, being the protagonist's long time friend and playable character; the other love interests, Ben and Leah, do not officially join the core group until Book 2.
    • Kenji/Talos from Hero, with Grayson being Locked Out of the Loop and Eva/Minuet being a Sixth Ranger.
    • Zig-zagged with Hayden Young from Perfect Match. He/She has the most free romantic interaction and scenes with Kai compared to Sloane and Damien, but has less plot relevance than Damien until Hayden's Robotic Reveal.
    • Adrian Raines from Bloodbound. Not only does he have the most screentime and free romantic interaction with Amy, he also plays a role in the other love interests' (Jax and Lily) storylines (except for Kamilah, who is a supporting character in his storyline instead).
    • Endless Summer: It is far easier to build a relationship with Jake than the other love interests purely due to the large number of choices affecting your status with him.
      • Non-love interest-wise, the ending where you merge with Vaanu is generally considered to be the "correct" ending, as while it is certainly bittersweet, it provides the most logical and narratively appropriate resolution to the events of the story; the ending where you allow Rourke to win seems artificially constructed to be as harsh as possible (in addition to retconning the events of the story out of existence), and the ending where you and your friends stay on the island while the rest of the world is destroyed feels unsatisfying and hollow.
    • High School Story Book 1 gives you a lot of time with Emma and Caleb in the beginning, though they are quickly reduced to almost background characters while Michael and Maria start carrying more of the plot and in the later books. Aiden is completely Out of Focus if you do not join the band.
    • Eleanor Waverly from The Haunting Of Braidwood Manor, with the other love interest Victor barely having any screentime that isn't a Premium choice.
    • Red Carpet Diaries: Matt gets considerably more focus and screen time than the other love interests. This is especially notable in Book 2 because he is the only Love Interest that is in the production of your new movie. Also in Book 2, Seth and Teja's roles are limited to a minor subplot, while Victoria has no role in the story at all apart from brief scenes of emotional support. By the last third of Book 2, Thomas Hunt receives the lion's share of screen time as soon as he is Promoted to Love Interest.
    • Veil of Secrets strongly favors Flynn by giving him a personal stake in the story (he's Kate's brother) and essentially making him your partner/sidekick in the investigation of Kate's disappearance even if you insist on him staying out of your way.
    • Non-love interest-wise, It Lives In The Woods clearly favors the decision to let Noah take over as Redfield since it requires Noah to have high Nerve score, and because the ending where you make a Heroic Sacrifice draws very little reaction from the other characters. The sequel gives Tom three extra nerve points if you made the favored decision. The next chapter after that gives Tom +5 if Devon is alive and -5 if Noah is alive.
    • Prince (later King) Liam from The Royal Romance, who is the entire reason you entered the plot in the first place. He is also the only character who is in love with you regardless of your choice for a Love Interest.
    • America's Most Eligible favors Adam over the other love interests because he's the easiest one to build up a relationship with, both in terms of having more chances in general to interact with him as well as there being a wider variety of dialogue options which earn you points with him. Additionally, paying the premium option to read his diary reveals that he is deeply in love with you.
    • Big Sky Country focuses on Sawyer Oakley more than the other three love interests because you live on his ranch and get to know him fairly well for free while the others force you to pay diamonds to get to know them better.
    • High School Story: Class Act favors Rory over Ajay and Skye because Bailey is hinted to have a crush on Rory since childhood, not to mention the excessive amount of Character Shilling that Rory gets.
    • It Lives Beneath favors Tom because he has been conducting his own investigations into the mysteries of Pine Springs and he is an Ensemble Dark Horse from It Lives In The Woods.
    • The Elementalists forces Beckett on the player at most opportunities, even if the player took the option not to romance men.
    • A Courtesan Of Rome initially forces Syphax on the player and much of the plot revolves around the relationship between himself and Arin, having similar backgrounds as non-Romans forced into Rome's service, being her bodyguard for eight years, and fully supporting her vendetta against those responsible for destroying her village and selling her into slavery. The dialogue also implies that the two of them have been intimate even if the player isn't romancing him. Later chapters shift the focus to Cassius Longinus and Marc Antony because they're both important figures in Republican Roman politics. Sabina, on the other hand, is Out of Focus for most of the time, and her scenes tend to be heavily paywalled.
    • Non-love interest wise The Heist: Monaco seems to favor you recruiting premium crew members Lena Ortiz, Niles "Eddie Quick" Edison, and Miranda Moreau due to them unlocking bonus scenes and advantages in the story.
    • Home for the Holidays favors Nick Peralta, whom Scarlett accompanies throughout his stay in Winter Haven, over Wyatt Hart and Holly Wright.
    • Ride or Die: A Bad Boy Romance forces Logan on the player, because he introduces Ellie to the world of Street Racing. A lot of characters assume that they are in a relationship and he is the only love interest with premium scenes for the first five chapters.
    • Downplayed with Ernest Sinclaire in Desire & Decorum. While all love interests have significant amounts of free screen time and relevance to the story, Ernest stands out the most because he's the only one who already has a personal grudge against Duke Richards and is the kind of suitor Regency society would approve for Clara (male, white, British, high society).
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    Other Genres 
  • King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow has a "short path" and a "long path", in which more people are helped and will show up at the wedding. This is the path chosen by the official Novelization. See the entry at Golden Ending. Regardless of the path chosen, you have a secret conversation with Princess Cassima, locked in her room. In the "short path," the conversation is held from outside her door. In the "long path," it's held from within the walls themselves.
  • Shadow the Hedgehog plays this trope straight, where although the game features up to 11 different endings ranging from Evil to Neutral to Good; only the hidden Neutral ending against the obvious Big Bad is considered to be the games Golden Ending from the creator standpoint.
  • Silent Hill 2 has several endings, but a 10-Star end ranking requires either the Rebirth Ending, or, hilariously enough, the Dog Ending. (A joke Gainax Ending, for those who don' know) The four ritual items needed for the Rebirth ending are also required for a 10-Star rank, giving that ending slightly more weight than the others.
  • Happened in Wing Commander 4 via over-promising in the advertising. Supposedly players would be allowed to choose whether to stay loyal to the Terran Confederation or jump ship and ally themselves with the Border Worlds. In practice, attempting to stick with Confed past a certain point would spawn a never-ending supply of Border World bombers, and a insultingly short ending sequence once they inevitably killed you.
  • Life Is Strange features this with one of then endings. If you sacrifice Chloe, they (maybe) get The Big Damn Kiss, and the player is presented to a touching, mournful, and emotional slideshow and funeral scene showing the aftermath of Chloe's death and ending on a very slightly hopeful note. If you choose to Sacrifice Arcadia Bay, Max and Chloe watch as the tornado destroys the town, they drive through it and exit to parts unknown, and that's it - it's much shorter in content, and it doesn't tell players anything about who survived the storm. Word of God says that the ambiguity about who survived and where Max and Chloe go next is intentional, and it's up to the players to decide those things for themselves. They have also said that the finale episode was made on a more limited budget and so they had to choose an ending to focus the majority of their time and money on.
  • Resident Evil:
    • While both Chris and Jill's scenarios in Resident Evil are pretty fleshed out, their partner characters aren't developed equally. Jill gets Barry, who is established as married man with two daughters, acts a bit strange throughout the adventure, and the source of Barry's strange behavior is from Wesker blackmailing him by using his family as hostages. Should Barry die, he leaves behind a tear jerking letter addressed to his family. Chris gets Rebecca, whose only memorable moment is her being attacked by a Hunter and being killed by it if you don't save her in time. Unlike Barry's death, Rebecca's death scene has Chris react in a goofy way and then quickly gets over it. While she is playable twice in Chris's story, she has far less screen time than Barry and has a sparse background which only establishes her as being an accomplished medic at 18 years old.
    • Resident Evil 2 slightly favors the Claire A/Leon B story where Sherry gets infected with the G-Virus and thus Claire has to find a cure. In Leon's story, Ada and Leon grow a bit close together throughout the game and she dies in Leon's arms near the end. In the reversed scenarios, Ada dangles over a ledge and Leon's strength gives out, causing her to fall into a Bottomless Pit while Leon curses Umbrella for causing the whole mess before he throws the G-Virus sample into the pit. Claire's story is even less fleshed out since nothing major happened other than the two of them being stalked by Mr. X.
    • Resident Evil 3: Nemesis only has slight variations to certain cutscenes, but some of them are more fleshed out than others. In the town's pharmaceutical building, a dying mercenary is encountered and either Nicolai or Carlos kill him. If Nicolai kills him, Jill is left wondering why he'd kill a still conscious man while Nicolai justifies it by saying he was infected and killing him now would save him a few bullets later. if Carlos kills the man, he unloads an entire magazine from his assault rifle into him (though he did ask to be killed before turning) before running off. Depending on how you approach the hospital later on, you either encounter a mercenary that foreshadows Nicoali's betrayal or you run into Nicolai who shoots the man and is about to shoot Carlos before the mercenary unpins a grenade in a last ditch attempt to get back at Nicolai. Nicoali's final cutscenes are more fleshed out if he gets to explain his motives, but in the scene where he shoots at Jill from his helicopter, he won't talk if you decide to shoot the chopper down.
  • Harvest Moon:
    • Harvest Moon 64 heavily implies that Ellen is the canon bachelorette by having Ellen's death only occur if you marry her. The Japan-only strategy guide (which features a lot of extra tidbits not found in the game) also confirms that Pete marries Ellen.
    • Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life has Celia fall for you on default. It doesn't help that it's incredibly easy to get her to like you because she gains love points when you buy seeds from Vesta's farm. Despite this, the Wiiware spinoff title implies that Mark married Muffy and has a son with her. The Distaff Counterpart A Wonderful Life has Rock, who will propose to you even if you avoid all the bachelors.
  • Metal Gear Solid, oddly, seems to slightly prefer the "bad" Ending B to the "good" and canonical Ending A. In Ending B, both Otacon and Meryl's character developments are finished off better (with Otacon rising to his role as Snake's equal, and the truth behind Meryl's background being revealed), and Snake's is more interesting as he is allowed to have a visible breakdown after Meryl's death which Otacon has to talk him out of. Snake and Otacon's conversation is more plot-relevant, focusing on their feelings about the events that have happened, their career plans, and their feelings about Naomi, while Snake and Meryl instead talk about their newfound love and think about the beauty of Alaska. The plot even makes somewhat more sense, as in Ending B, the implication is that Liquid attached Meryl's corpse to a fake bomb and posed her to make sure she seems alive, but in Ending A Snake merely goes to Meryl and the bomb is forgotten about. Even the New Game+ item Otacon gives to Snake is significantly more powerful than Meryl's, which is nearly useless. While it is by no means a universal opinion, even fans of Meryl and the games' continuity tend to remark that Ending B is a better ending for the game, with a more bittersweet, emotional tone. Hideo Kojima apparently thought so as well, as Metal Gear Solid 2 borrows much more from Ending B than from Ending A, omitting Meryl and having Snake and Otacon's Ending B realisation that they are meant to "take a trip to Jupiter" as part of the unspoken backstory.
  • Akiba's Trip has an odd case with this. You'd expect it to be Shizuku, considering how much the game pushes her as the main character, and her making the MC her blood-bound servant to save his life in the intro, which is something she can only do once in her incredibly long lifespan. It turns out that it's not her, but Shion, the character with barely any ties to the plot and has by far the hardest route to enter. Unlike any of the other routes, it averts Strictly Formula with how it unfolds, goes into far more depth about the story, cures the MC of his synthister affliction, and stops the villain before he's able to complete the first stage of his plan.

Non-video game examples

    Comic Books 
  • Played with in Marvel Comics' What If? series, where writers were able to print several stories based on Alternate Histories of the established canon. Although most of these were standalone stories, popular entries such as Spider-Girl gained their own series in time. Also, the majority of What If? stories seem to end tragically, even (or indeed, especially) if the point of divergence from established canon seems like an obviously beneficial one, in a rather Anvilicious declaration that even the most unpopular story developments of the main universe were for the best.

    Film 

    Literature 
  • To Be or Not To Be: That Is the Adventure is a choose-your-own-adventure adaptation of Hamlet which allows you to choose between playing as Hamlet, Ophelia, or Hamlet Sr. King Hamlet the elder has an exceptionally short storyline, which can be read in full on all branches in less than an hour.

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