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Unending End Card

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Alright! I get it! I'll turn off the system.
So you beat the game. Congratulations. Enjoy that beautiful clear screen. Of course, you likely feel there is more you can do in the game that you haven't done and want to continue playing. However, no matter what button you press on your controller, you can't get out of the clear screen and return to the title screen. The only way to get back is to either reset the system or close the game. This trope is very common in older games, but some modern games have also been known to do this.
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In most cases, this is likely done deliberately. Maybe the developers assumed that the player would just shut the system off upon beating the game anyway, so they don't bother to program a way out of these screens. You won't need to worry about losing your progress if said game has an Autosave feature, as it will recognize that you have beaten the final boss. For games without an Autosave feature, you'd better make sure to save if you decide you want to play that file again, especially if you have't saved in hours since reaching the end. Otherwise, you may find yourself resetting back to more than the near end.

Not to be confused with Kill Screen, which results in games that weren't even programmed to have an end, or The End... Or Is It?.

As this is an ending trope, expect spoilers


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Examples

Action

  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: You defeated Ganon, harmony is restored to the world, the credits roll, and you're stuck looking at The End in the corner. The Game Boy Advance remake provides a second example if you play and clear the palace of the Four Sword.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening sticks with a THE END screen (with Marin depending on if you manage to complete the game without dying). The DX version adds a thank you message from the developers after the end card, but it hangs on that screen instead.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time leaves you hanging after the final cutscene with a still image of young Link warning Princess Zelda about Ganon. Averted with the 3DS remake which continues onto the remake's separate credits after the aforementioned cutscene, and goes back to the title screen after the THE END screen (and informs the player that the Master Quest mode has been unlocked if it has not been already).
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    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask does the same thing but with a shot of a tree carving of Link and Skull Kid playing.
  • Pony Island: The regular ending doesn't qualify (although H0peles$0uL tells you to uninstall the game and closes the game on you, you can reopen it at any time and continue). The ending you get via 100% Completion qualifies. After beating H0peles$0uL in a boss fight, he tells you there is nothing left to the game and leaves you to continue running an endless void.

Platformer

  • Cave Story will stick you on a picture of the island the entire game took place on with the heroes to the side. This trope also comes into play in the bad ending. Averted in Cave Story 3D.
  • Kirby's Dream Land provides you a code to play the harder Extra Mode upon completing the game. You will have to reset the game boy to play it. After beating extra mode, it's back at this screen with a different code granting you access to config mode. Again, you have to reset the system.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • Yoshi's Story does this for all the ending sequences as it leaves you hanging on the final results screen, waiting for you to hit the reset button on the console to try another route.
  • Mega Man 3, Mega Man 4, Mega Man 5, and Mega Man 7 all do this, leaving the player on the "Presented by Capcom" screen.
  • Super Metroid hangs on an endless starfield screen saying "See you next mission".
  • Wario Land 3 has a picture of the music box containing the game's world and "END" until you turn off the system.

Puzzle

  • Hellcab ends with a shot of the cab from the back, and at the license plate is a QUIT button.
  • Clearing Panel de Pon on Easy informs the player that they're not getting any cool secrets for this and instructs them to hit Reset and try on a harder difficulty. The localized version, Tetris Attack, removed this trope (you can hit A instead to go back to the title) but left in the text referring to it.
  • The Windows version of Chip's Challenge ends this way, showing Chip being cheered by the Bit Buster after he completes the final level (whether the 144th or the secret 149th) in Melinda's clubhouse. The game does save your progress, but if you want to return to a level, you have to quit and then enter again.

Role Playing Games

  • Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II provide a different clear screen depending on the difficulty you play. Averted in the Final Mix versions which give you options to save and return to the start screen.
  • Undertale: While clearing a neutral run sends you back to the title screen after watching an epilogue and a talk with Flowey, completing the Pacifist Run treats you to big the end words and sweet music after its credits until the game is closed manually. If you cleared a Genocide run, these words will be blood red and the sweet music will be replaced with ominous music. Closing and reopening the game will have Flowey talk to you and ask you not to reset from the beginning.
  • Paper Mario: At the end of the credits, Mario and Peach watch the fireworks from his house and the caption "The End" appears. With that, the screen is stuck on the scene until the game is reset.
  • EarthBound: Given how this game tells you to shut down the game console when you choose to save and quit rather than return to the title screen like most other games with that option, that makes it an indicator that this trope will come into play for when you reach the end. It does so on a black screen with "THE END...?"
  • Final Fantasy I up to Final Fantasy VII just shows a never-ending field of stars after the credits finish up.

Shooter

  • In the original Star Fox, beating the "Out of This Dimension" level serves as a Gainax Ending to the game. After beating a giant slot machine boss, the player can fly through the credits until "THE END" appears. The player can shoot at the letters in "THE END", but the game will otherwise not progress any further. Downplayed as there is a way out aside from resetting the system, which is letting the enemies that still appear kill you until you get a game over.

Simulation

  • In the SNES version of SimCity, there was an option to "quit the game", which would lead to a "see you later" card accepting no input from the controller.

Visual Novel

  • Doki Doki Literature Club! takes this trope Up to Eleven. After completely clearing the game, you are placed on a screen with a letter from Monika, or the game maker if you got the Golden Ending. However, closing and reopening the game will not let you play the game again; to play again, you have to uninstall and reinstall the game.
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