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"Ethel, I think we’re fighting a losing game!"
Lucy, I Love Lucy

'Unwinnable' is a gameplay state in which, while the game has not yet ended (or crashed), it is completely impossible for the player to finish the game. Players who have reached this point have only two options: reload a previous save—in the fortunate situations where this is possible, or start the game anew—for the much more unfortunate situations where it is not. This is also known as a "walking dead" state. In Speedrunning circles, this is known as a softlock.

Unwinnable comes in three flavors:

Examples go on the subtropes above.

Compare Luck-Based Mission, Fission Mailed and Controllable Helplessness, as well as Endless Game.