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.
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 haven't saved in hours since reaching the end. Otherwise, you may find yourself resetting back to more than the near end.
As this is an ending trope, expect spoilers.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess ends with a shot of the Goddesses' statues seen in Zelda's throne. There's no way to resume gameplay or manually return to the title screen. The Wii U version instead continues to the credits of the staff who worked on that release.
- 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.
- One Chance is an extreme example. Not even exiting and reentering the game after reaching one of the endings will allow you to replay it again and will instead put you on the screen of where the game ended.
- Beyond the Titanic: Even though the game can either exit or restart, finishing the game required rebooting the computer to regain control of the system. As a bonus, the source code shows the victory procedure written just after the "dead" procedure, which also allows restarting the game or exiting.
- The SNES version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time sticks to the silhouettes of the turtles and the player's high score if the player completes the game on the hardest difficulty.
- The Sega 32X port of Doom either drops you into a cycle of enemy presentations (similar to Doom II) or a fake DOS prompt (if you used level select or one of the cheats).
- 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.
- Kirby's Dream Land 3 has multiple endings. The bad ending automatically sends you back to the title screen once it's done, letting you try again, but the good ending sticks you on an animated shot of Pop Star with its rings restored.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- Super Mario Bros. 2 sticks to Mario sleeping in his bed after the Enemy Roll Call ends and the words "The End" are written. The All-Stars remake does allow you to save and quit, though.
- Super Mario Bros. 3: The Japanese version of the game stays on the ending screen until the game is reset. The US version instead lets you return to the title screen by pressing Start, with an inventory entirely full of P-Wings.
- Super Mario World: after the credits and an Enemy Roll Call, the game sticks to a screen with Mario, Luigi, and Peach under the words, "THE END". The GBA remake finally allows the player to exit the screen.
- Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins: The game's credits end with the words "Mario Land 2 Nintendo" and a flag at the top of Mario's castle saying "The End" shown, alongside a shot of Fire Mario walking forward and Wario giving the player a thumbs up, all while the credts theme plays (it loops instead of ending). Nothing else can be done by this point except turning the game off.
- Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island does this in both its original version and its GBA remake. The remake even has an additional clear screen it will stick you on when you manage to get 100 points on every level.
- Super Mario 64 sticks you to a pre-rendered shot of the cake that Peach baked for Mario.
- Wario Land:
- Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3: The game hangs on a screen with Wario running around and giving the player a thumbs-up. Though, like with almost all Game Boy games, you can return to the title screen by pressing A+B+Start+Select to reset the console.
- Wario Land II doesn't let you exit the End-Game Results Screen, though you can at least flip between three different views of your progress.
- Wario Land 3 has a picture of the music box containing the game's world and "END" until you turn off the system. If you collected all 100 treasures, the game would progress from this screen to the "PERFECT!" screen with Wario giving two thumbs up, and you'd be stuck on this screen as well.
- The horror-themed Super Mario World ROM Hack Eyeless contains a particularly scary example. At the end, Mario enters a door which leads to a blank screen. It stays like that until you quit the game.
- 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. The same applies to Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge and all later games in the series for the Game Boy — notably, Mega Man II doesn't even let you reset with the Game Boy's soft reset code.
- Mega Man X pulls a bait and switch: It shows you an end credits screen with "Presented by Capcom", but if you give it a couple minutes, that disappears and you get a final message from Sigma letting you know We Will Meet Again. The game then hangs on that message.
- Super Metroid hangs on an endless starfield screen saying "See you next mission".
- 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 shows a screen where Lip informs you that there isn't anything past this point, and instructs you 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. Yoshi is considerably less patient than Lip is, eventually losing his temper with you if you wait long enough. The harder difficulties also have unending end cards — Normal ends with a credit roll, while Hard and Super Hard add a The End screen.
- 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.
- EarthBound (1994): 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 up to Final Fantasy VII just show a never-ending field of stars after the credits finish up.
- Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II provide a different clear screen depending on the difficulty you play. Averted in the Final Mix version of II, which gives you an option to make an End Game Plus save file. The original game's Final Mix, meanwhile, will either still play this trope straight or automatically return you to the title screen upon pressing a button depending on whether you're playing its original Japan only PS2 release or the internationally released HD Remix edition respectively.
- Paper Mario 64: 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 this scene until the game is reset. Note that the last place you can save is before the final boss — so if you want to see the credits again, you'll have to beat the final boss again.
- Subverted in Shining Force II, where the The End screen only looks unending; wait long enough and you'll access a secret battle with almost every boss in the game, after which you're returned to the Sega logo.
- Super Mario RPG: At the end of the credits parade in the SNES version, Geno's true form ascends to the repaired Star Road before writing "The End" in the foreground. After a moment on the screen, the colors will shift and play a music box rendition of the Ground theme from Super Mario Bros. until the game is reset. This is no longer the case in the Nintendo Switch remake; after the "The End" card, you're allowed to save your game and continue into the Post-End Game Content.
- Undertale: Completing the True Pacifist run will treat you to an end card consisting of the game's title and "THE END" while "Memory" plays. If you cleared a Genocide run first, the "THE END" text will be blood red and a slowed down version of "Anticipation" will play instead.
- Xenogears ends with a black screen title card calling the game “Xenogears Episode V,” as it was originally supposed to be the start of a six part series. That ended up never happening and most of the team left to make Xenosaga and later Xenoblade Chronicles 1.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Sacred Cards: After beating Yami Marik, the player gives Ishizu the three Egyptian God Cards, returns to Domino City, and then says good-bye to Yugi and Joey. The credits then roll with pictures of each character the player has encountered in the background, before sitting on a still shot of Yami Yugi with "The End" in the bottom-right corner.
Shoot 'em Up
- 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.
- Pyramid Builder: Once you complete the game, you can't leave the screen on which the people are jumping and celebrating around the pyramid.
- 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. (Though there's actually a way to access a sound test and some cheats from that screen.)
- Doki Doki Literature Club! exaggerates this trope. 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 delete a specific file mentioned in the game's readme.
- While Minecraft isn't an example, most adventure maps for the game don't let you restart once you've reached the ending, forcing you to delete and redownload the world to play again. Only a few maps, such as Diversity 3, will automatically reset and let you play another time.