Follow TV Tropes

Following

Red Herring / Video Games

Go To

Red Herrings in video games.


  • Promo and art of Agarest Senki leads people to believe that Leonhardt is the protagonist of the story. This is true for only 1/5 of the game since the game runs on a generaton system. People consider his great-great grandson Rex to be the true protagonist. He's the guy that stands behind Leonhardt on the game cover.
  • In Arc Rise Fantasia, despite his constant attempts to dissuade the party, everybody thinks Rastan is the legendary swordsman Leon, and as everything about his person seems to support this fact, they simply ignore his protests. He's telling the truth. He isn't Leon. Serge is Leon, but he left that name after his sword-hand was crippled by Ignacy.
  • Assassin's Creed II:
      Advertisement:
    • The town of Forli which looks to be important. It has feathers, glyphs, side-missions, the works. Ezio passes through it on his way to Venice, seemingly setting up a Chekhov's Gun. However, before the DLC was released or if you did not get it afterward, Forli turns out to be ultimately inconsequential, as no further non-DLC plot points play out there. With the DLC in hand, this is subverted as it becomes the focus of the 12th memory sequence.
    • In Brotherhood, various hints such as Ezio claiming Mario led him to Cesare in the In Medias Res start, cutting away from showing Mario's death onscreen, not showing a body - contrast with the rest of Ezio's male relatives whose corpses you see - and Machiavelli apparently not knowing how Ezio arrived in Rome suggest that Mario somehow survived. Nope.
  • Banjo-Kazooie had a meta example in the form of "The Ridiculously Secret Area 1", a line of text found in the game's code for warp text. As data mining was becoming more mainstream and common for console games, with people peaking into the game's code to find goodies, cheats, Dummied Out content, or hidden developer messages (like the hidden rants in The New Tetris which took only three days to be found and leaked to the internet), this was planted by the developers to send hackers into a frenzy searching for a dummied out level that didn't even exist.
  • Baten Kaitos:
      Advertisement:
    • In the first game, the party loses the sole End Magnus they've managed to keep from The Empire. Savynna proposes the possibility of a spy, but after confirming that nobody would've had the chance to pass it off to The Empire, and after a run-in with Giaccomo, who not only does not deny the claims of somehow stealing the Magnus, but implies he may have, the party comes to the conclusion that there's no spy. There is. It's none other than Kalas, the main character, and he didn't pass it off to The Empire. He passed it off to Melodia, who is manipulating the Emperor into gathering the End Magnus for her. The delivery happened when the party met her at Parnasse and she "tripped" so that Kalas would "catch" her. The reason the player never picks up on this fact is because the player is a spirit watching from another world, thus never see things from Kalas' point of view.
    • Advertisement:
    • In the second game, Baelheit's aggressive promachination campaign earns him the scorn and enmity of the rest of the nations, while being hailed as a hero in The Empire he hails from. Later, after unveiling the man-made machina continent Tarazed to the world after being crowned Emperor, he states that he will destroy the other islands, including the origin of his Empire. This all but assures us he is trying to force the world to submit to him. That's not his goal. He wants to stop people from relying so much on their hearts, forcing them to rely on machina instead, so that they won't grow too powerful, in order to prevent another catastrophic war from occurring, like it did one-thousand years ago, forcing humanity to live in the sky as they do in the present. Thus, he's no tyrant, but a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • In Bendy and the Ink Machine, Henry Stein returns to an animation studio where he used to work. After he powers up the eponymous ink machine, he is attacked by a living version of the studio's star cartoon, Bendy. In Chapter 2, he learns that the former music director, Sammy Lawrence, has been turned to ink. In Chapter 3, he meets a version of cartoon character Alice Angel, who refers to herself as "Susie" - like one of her former voice actresses. Seemingly, all the cartoon and ink creations running around the studio are formerly human. In this chapter, he can also find a recording of studio owner, Joey Drew's, that implies that Joey is seeking immortality. These and other clues pointed to Bendy being Joey Drew, but Bendy turns out to be the soulless prototype that prompted Joey Drew to use his worker's souls in his attempts to bring his cartoons to life.
  • Red Herring are among the creatures described in the documentation that came with the Infocom Interactive Fiction game Beyond Zork. They were also an example of this trope, and never actually appear in the game.
  • During BioShock Infinite, Booker and Elizabeth are approached by the Lutece twins to choose a necklace for Elizabeth to wear. One has the emblem of a cage, and other has an emblem of a bird. The players naturally assumes that the choice might determine an important part of the game's story, and possibly even alter what ending the player might see. Turns out it doesn't matter what necklace Booker chose, because it doesn't impact the direction of the story at all, including the ending. Though this is foreshadowing the fact that the Leitmotif of the Songbird are the notes C-A-G-E, so the emblems are not entirely useless. Also, if you pay attention, the necklace gives away the fact that near the end it is no longer "your" Elizabeth that is accompaning you.
  • In Broken Age, the protagonists of the game's two seemingly-unconnected plotlines both meet characters that are heavily implied to be the other story's protagonist many years in the future. Which one is correct? Neither. The two stories are taking place at the exact same time.
  • The Castles of Doctor Creep includes many a Lock and Key Puzzle, but occasionally a key will turn out to be completely unnecessary. The red key in Alternation is the best example in the game; it looks like you need to collect four keys to finish the game, but the red key leads to a switch that doesn't help you.
  • In The Cluefinders: 5th Grade, a pupilless cat with a jewelled collar (very unusual, given the modern setting) gets into a fight with the heroes' Evil-Detecting Dog and can constantly be seen watching them from the background. She's firmly on the side of good- Bast sent her to see if the group was worthy of being granted her power. She deliberately goaded Socrates into chasing her so she could lead him to The Mentor's shop.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day:
    • The Windmill. It visibly has paths on higher levels of it that are just out of jumping reach and appears to have a Context-Sensitive Button on top of it. It gets blown up after the War chapter. Conker was sure it was going to be the final level.
    • The Panther King's castle. It's a huge structure visible from several parts of the game, the area leading up to it is a broken bridge with several signs to keep anyone out, yet the final area only takes place in a bank that is a small part of it. Conker never enters the castle itself in actual gameplay.
  • In D2, Kimberly seemed to get infected by the monsters of the game, with several signs pointing to her being infected, the only really clear way to get an idea on whether or not one is infected is to see if there's green blood. She is not infected, as right after Laura, the main character, kills a clone, Kimberly spits out red blood.
  • In Dark Souls, in the beginning of the game you pick a gift. One of these gifts say that it don't do anything at all, but that didn't stop people speculating about it, resulting in long articles on the wiki about it. After over a year of teasing by the game's director, he finally admitted it did nothing at all and he just wanted to see what people would do.
  • Lampshaded in the Infocom game Deadline. The dead man's son George acts very suspicious. However, if you enter the dining room when he's there, you will witness him eating an entire plate of red herrings. Needless to say, he's innocent of the murder.
  • In Deltarune, when the player character Kris and The Bully Susie fall into the Dark World, Susie is nowhere to be seen and Kris changes of appearence, getting a blue-and-purple scarf/cape, blue skin, and armory. There are Let's Players that theorize Kris and Susie fused during their fall, before actually finding her out in a attempt to hide.
  • Discworld Noir: Unusually for an adventure game, there are a few false leads, such as the story of the madman Azile, who buried people upside-down, and Malaclypse's gibberish. Mostly.
  • To make the puzzles in Dweep even harder, the levels often contain "decoy" items or other features meant to lure the player onto a false train of thought.
  • EarthBound throws one out in the very beginning. Buzz Buzz's prophecy mentions that Ness, two other boys, and a girl will fight to save the world. Ness, Picky, and Pokey (the party at the time) make three boys, to which Pokey says he doesn't want to be a part of anything dangerous.
  • Several times in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
    • Ulfric's ability to use the Thu'um without being a Dragonborn or a Greybeard would be something greater in the plot, right? Nope. It was just something he used to beat High King Torygg in a duel, and when you meet Torygg later in Sovngarde, he doesn't have much of a grudge. It might come up if you side with the Imperials in the civil war and have a shouting duel with Ulfric himself, but that's it.
    • Delphine is convinced that the Thalmor have something to do with the dragons returning. They absolutely don't, they really are as blindsided as everyone else by it, and they only play any role in the main plot when you are trying to track down Esbern, formerly of the Blades.
    • In the "Blood on Ice" quest in Windhelm, a major clue points to the Court Wizard as the culprit for a murder spree against the local women. If you take the clue to a guard rather than directly confront him about it, he is thrown in jail and then later another dead woman is found. After sheepishly confronting him about your mistake, he points out all of the people you have been talking to for clues were lying to you through your teeth and the real culprit turns out to have been the seemingly harmless jewellery appraiser, Calixto Corrium.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy VII. The illusion of player control on the first disk. Specifically the date mechanics, and Cloud's personality.
    • The hunter killer in Final Fantasy XII has everyone in Clan Centuro suspect Monid because the killer is a bangaa and he's a bangaa that always disappears from the group whenever a hunt is posted. During the Belto hunt, Monid appears to have turned against you, but it turns out that he was talking to Ba'Gamnan, who appears from behind the party and is overjoyed that Balthier finally showed up. Ba'Gamnan reveals that he is the one who had killed the hunters in order to lure Balthier out so he could kill him. After Ba'Gamnan is defeated, Monid reveals that the hunt you signed up for was a phony hunt set up by Montblanc to lure out the killer. Because everyone had suspected Monid already, he used that opportunity to investigate the killings on his own by Montblanc's request.
  • The interactive fiction puzzle Final Selection has several red herring clues, including a crossword puzzle clue of "Marxist found in shoals provides a clue of doubtful value" and a hard-to-find and even-harder-to-decode clue in the fireplace that translates to "FOOLISH NO HOPE".
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, all three lord characters display rather concerning behavior in relation to the masked villain calling themselves the Flame Emperor. None of the three are present onscreen whenever the Flame Emperor shows up, Edelgard implies that teaming up with the Flame Emperor might be a good idea, Dimitri is shown having a friendly conversation with one of their accomplices, and Claude shows a fixation on the Sword of the Creator right after the Flame Emperor states that they want more information about it. Dimitri and Claude are innocent; Edelgard is the one behind the mask.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
    • In Five Nights at Freddy's 4 Plushtrap serves this role. When his image was released it led to speculation that this game would concern the Murderer and would follow Five Nights at Freddy's 3. He turns out to only be in a minigame and the game runs Simultaneous Arcs with Five Nights at Freddy's 2, which chronologically came first in the series.
    • In Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location, the first three nights are Tutorial Levels. The first night teaches you to shock the animatronics to get them to go back to their rooms, to crawl through vents, to pay attention to the automated voice messages tied to the vents' motion detection systems and to hide from the other animatronics in Circus Baby's room; the second night teaches you about moving through Ballora's room and manually resetting the Pizzeria's systems and the third night teaches you about getting through Foxy's room and how to fix a broken Freddy animatronic in one of the rooms. After that you won't have to do any of these things again and everything you thought you knew about Five Nights At Freddy's is thrown out the window, especially the stuff about learning and going through repetetive patterns to fend off the animatronics... Scott really makes good on his reputation as the fandom's biggest Troll.
  • Flight of the Amazon Queen has a gorilla that you need to bypass. There's a banana in a nearby area, but using it on the gorilla does nothing. Instead, you need to talk to it to make it leave the path.
  • The Godfather: The Game subverts The Law of Conservation of Detail. There are various places that appear different on the map, many a locked door... Quite a few of those aren't of any consequence whatsoever, even in sidequests.
  • In Guru Logic Champ, the pictures you reveal sometimes look nothing like what their preview implied.
  • In Heavy Rain, one of the protagonists, Ethan Mars, keeps blacking out for long periods of time, coming to in the middle of a plot-important street, holding origami figures in his hand, and having visions of drowning bodies, which is exactly the Origami killer's MO. When it turns out he's not the Origami Killer, it is never explained.
  • In I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, in Gorrester's storyline you have the option to electrocute a bunch of animals in cages to death in order to get a key. However, it turns out that the key is a red herring.
  • Ib:
    • There's a multi-coloured skeleton sculpture entitled "Puzzle". It does nothing and plays no role of importance. It is, however, a Shout-Out to fellow Game Maker dev Clysm, developer of Seiklus, where said skeleton comes from.
    • A dialogue option only available if you haven't done anything to anger Mary yet suggests the possibility that both Garry and Mary could survive at Ib's expense. However, this is impossible - one of the two dies no matter what the player does.
  • Quite literally in the Game Boy game James Bond 007. There is a man in a market place who offers to help you in exchange for a "small rouge fish." Alas, the fish is nowhere to be found.
  • Killer Is Dead:
    • Shortly into the game, we meet a woman named Moon River who Mondo swears he knows from somewhere, even having flashbacks to his childhood, where they were friends, along with having a pet unicorn. It turns out that no, they never knew each other, but the man she asks him to kill did, and is indeed Mondo's brother.
    • The man who you control in the first chapter seems to be Mondo but it's actually David, the man who asks you to save the world from aliens is actually an alien himself and so on.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • In Kingdom Hearts II, masked character DiZ has the same unique skin tone and eye color as series villain Ansem, the same interest in manipulating anti-hero Riku, admits to using a pseudonym, and in dialogue is heavily hinted to be Ansem himself. The twist? DiZ is Ansem, while the villain we knew as Ansem isn't. Played straight in that all the clues pointed towards DiZ being a villain, when he's actually the most useful member of the protagonists' side (although he's not very nice).
    • In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days the mysterious fourteenth member of Organization XIII, Xion, resembles a black-haired Kairi. Nomura has said that this was to throw people off her actual origin: an Opposite-Sex Clone of Sora.
    • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep seems to indicate that Tetsuya Nomura's fond of this one. The Big Bad of the game has a mysterious apprentice named Vanitas. Vanitas (apparently) wants to be a deadly rival to Ventus. He's the apprentice of Master Xehanort, like Riku was mentored by Xehanort in Kingdom Hearts. Vanitas even has armor that's very similar to Riku's. Who is it? Ventus's Enemy Without, who looks just like Sora underneath the helmet. Didn't see that coming.
  • L.A. Noire: At the end of one case, Phelps has two highly possible suspects for a set of murders with plenty of evidence going against them. No matter who he puts away, it is later discovered that the evidence was planted and neither of the two were at fault.
  • Lands of Lore has two notes in Urbish Mines that read "Piscata Rosea 4 4 5." Likewise, in the first Legend of Kyrandia (also made by Westwood Studios) you can find a "Piscata Rosea" item near the end.
  • Maniac Mansion has plenty. The staircase that's out of order, the chainsaw without fuel, the hamster in the microwave...
  • In Mass Effect the trailers, the prequel novel and the early gameplay imply that the Big Bad Saren is motivated by his racist hatred towards humans. As it turns out, this character trait is purely coincidental to his actual plans. In reality, he's been brainwashed by the true Big Bad, who is an Omnicidal Maniac.
    • Mass Effect has tons of this, due to massive amounts of All There in the Manual that have nothing at all to do with the gameplay. One example that does get into the gameplay is the Asari Consort. She's hyped as a major player in Citadel intrigues, implied to have psychic powers beyond the usual Asari abilities, and is suggested to be something like an oracle. But after running a pair of optional sidequests for her, she never appears again- the door leading to her room is even permanently locked. An even bigger example is the Prothean trinket she gives you for no clearly stated reason. It does have a use- if you can find where to use it- but all it does is unlock another interesting-but-irrelevant piece of backstory. That, and an enormous sum of experience points.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3:
    • It's implied that Ocelot knows Tatyana (actually EVA) is a double agent due to her wearing the same perfume during an earlier encounter he had with her (while the latter was disguised). It's later revealed when he blows her cover that the perfume had nothing to do with his suspicions, it's that she stank of gasoline from the motorcycle she rides around on.
    • It's also used in how Snake loses his right eye, being Big Boss. He gets captured by Volgin and as a test of The Boss' loyalty, he demands she cut out his eyes with a knife. A squeamish scene, but not for players who know their Metal Gear lore and are paying attention: Big Boss is missing his right eye, but Boss goes to cut out his left first. Predictably, she's stopped by Tatyana before she can go through with it and Snake actually loses his eye minutes later when Ocelot is doing his Russian roulette game on Tatyana and he sees the bullet in the chamber of the next gun; knowing that EVA will die if he pulls the trigger, he jumps in the way and knocks Ocelot off but the gun goes off right in his eye and blasts it out.
  • In Metroid Prime, there is one, and only one, item in the whole game that can be scanned, but doesn't have any other purpose. It's made worse when the description says "An ornate wall hanging with a highly reflective surface. It does not appear important." This caused many players to waste untold time and return trips refusing to accept that it's truly unimportant.
  • The point-and-click adventure Morningstar featured a literal Red Herring. It's optional to pick up, but once you do there's no way to get rid of it.
    • Similarly, a red container in Morningstar: Descent to Deadrock contains an actual red herring. The description says that it'll probably distract you more and more as it starts to stink.
  • Mortal Kombat: Deception has a Konquest game mode that sets up the story behind Onaga's return. The game throws a couple of red herrings and- as the game's name suggestions- deceptions your way, but the most interesting one is the shuriken. Early on it's possible to find a shuriken. In normal play, it doesn't seem to do anything, which led to a lot of fan debate and theory for many years. Further inspection has revealed, however, that it actually does absolutely nothing at all. Whether its purpose was merely Dummied Out or it was thrown in there to mess with the fans is entirely down to your personal viewpoint.
  • Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch has one early quest where you are required to get a Red Herring, and such quest sometimes causes players to not take this literally resulting in a hilarious moment where they briefly get lost looking for a metaphorical Red Herring.
  • Many puzzles in the Professor Layton games give misleading or irrelevant information in the instructions.
    • In The Curious Village, Puzzle No. 8 says that a land is split in two, and two boys, Alfred and Roland, are going to work on one half each. Then it points out that Roland takes longer to plow but sows faster than Alfred, and finally asks how much money does Roland deserve. The fact that one finishes the work faster is irrelevant; the only thing that matters is that each boy works half the land, so they are paid the same amount.
    • The Diabolical Box:
      • Puzzle No. 117 features a photograph of three men and their wives. Two of the women are sisters and your task is to determine who's married to the third woman. The answer is straightforward based on the instructions' statements, so the puzzle adds a couple of irrelevant facts like "No man is behind his own wife in this photo" and "The woman who's not a sister to any of the other is in front of the man who's married to the older sister" to possibly make you think it's necessary to find out everyone's identity, but you don't need to do that at all. In fact, the women could be out of the photo and it wouldn't make a difference in terms of resolution.
      • Puzzle No. 93 has you figuring out a little girl's age based on four pieces of information comparing the ages of her parents, her older sister, and herself. However, only two of these are useful; the rest are pointless. It's one of those mathematical problems with two equations and two unknown quantities ("My sister is twice my age" and "In five years, I'll be my sister's age").
    • In The Unwound/Lost Future, Puzzle No. 70 features 10 siblings. Luke is (let's imagine) the eighth of them, and then the wording rambles about the order in which some of the siblings were born and their gender. At the end, the question is: is the third-to-last sibling male or female? The answer is male because we assumed that Luke was the eighth. The rest of the information is pointless.
    • Invoked in Professor Layton and the Last Specter. Luke, having locked himself in the room, issues a test for Layton, to do something he can hear from inside his room in order to gain entry. Around Luke's door, various items have the numbers 1 to 7 on them. The solution is to do nothing; Luke says he deliberately set up the puzzle to test Layton.
    • A lot of the puzzles in Layton's Mystery Journey make use of this. A few particular examples:
      • Puzzle No. 78 involves the player seemingly needing to work out how much ice is needed to keep a dead fish fresh. However basically the entire question is irrelevant, and the actual solution is to just not kill the fish in the first place.
      • Puzzle No. 134 tells the player a little bit of information about pH measurements, and asks them what pH 0+0 indicates. The question is actually just asking "what does pH 0+0 look like", the answer to which is "photo". Everything else is just to throw you off.
      • Puzzle No. 168 displays cars at a starting line of a race. Most of the cars have letters on them, but there's one car between cars "S" and "A" with a question mark on it. The question asks you to look at the starting area and work out what letter goes between "S" and "A". The cars are a complete red herring, the relevant part is the "START" printed on the starting line, making the answer "T".
  • In Quack Shot, Donald Duck travels the world in search of a legendary hidden treasure, fighting Pete and his goons along the way. When Donald finally reaches the treasure, he's incredibly dismayed that the treasure is actually a boring statue of a princess. Seeing as Donald is the Butt-Monkey and The Chew Toy, this would have been in line with his character, despite the player's anguish. However, the game throws in one curve ball at the end: Huey, Dewey and Louie drop the statue, revealing a priceless necklace inside, making Donald's adventure worthwhile.
  • In the Resident Evil 1 remake for the Nintendo GameCube, there is one in the form of a videotape. At the beginning of the game, Chris or Jill is told to investigate the gunshots they heard after they entered the mansion. This leads to one of the characters first zombie encounter. After dealing with the Zombie, a S.T.A.R.S victim named Kenneth has a videotape you can collect to view later. One might think this is an important clue. Turns out the videotape doesn't come up again until the last area of the game. And if Chris or Jill decide to watch the tape, all they'll see is Kenneth getting attacked and killed by that same zombie in first person view. In other words, the tape has nothing to do with the many task needed to beat the game, or alter any of the endings. In fact, it's easy to miss the area where the tape can be viewed.
  • Riven: The Sequel to Myst:
    • The Fire Marble Puzzle has 6 fire marbles. You only use 5 of them to solve it. This should not constitute a spoiler, or even a surprise; the numerological motif of "five" is everywhere in the game.
    • A developer anecdote mentions that a book press was removed from the Crater Island portion of the game because playtesters kept gravitating towards it because they could not figure out what its puzzle was. The press had only been included to complete the image of the book creation process, and was not part of any puzzle. The developers removed it to avoid unnecessary player confusion.
  • A quest in Runescape gives you a literal red herring which is actually used in a very intricate puzzle. You have to cook it so that the colouring comes off and it is in fact this red substance that is pertinent to the solution. Certain other quest puzzles in the game can provide you with items are that are undeeded.
  • Sam & Max: Freelance Police:
    • Girl Stinky in season two talks in a suspicious or guilty manner every other sentence, and Max blames her for any number of things. In that season, she deliberately does nothing worse than be really sarcastic and a terrible cook. Things change in season 3, though.
    • In particular, a running thread through Season 2 was what happened to Grandpa Stinky. Girl Stinky first said he went on a vacation, which grew more and more grandiose in each episode. Both Sam and Max blatantly accuse her of killing him at various points. Then the season finale rolls around, and she was telling the truth. Stinky was on an expedition... but Sam and Max erased a super-powerful adhesive from existence, thus causing an accident that killed him.
    • She remains a Red Herring in Season 3, where she doesn't actually do anything other than conspire in secret. Though there's circumstantial evidence she attempted at least one murder, on Flint, in this series you can expect the real culprit to show up next Season.
    • In Episode 4, Sam has to convince Flint Paper she's a red herring so he can tail her by telephone, discovering... absolutely nothing. Even when involved with the dogglegangers, she was under Mind Control.
  • The bizarre point & click game Sanitarium featured several bogus clues, all involving literal red herrings: An empty shed with a red fish painted on the roof (your character even remarks on how certain he was that there'd be something important inside), a mental patient holding a large red fish who reacts to an incorrect puzzle solution, and finally a ruby-studded fish artifact that does nothing but take up an inventory slot. A developer explained, "Straka's one complaint about our design was that we didn't have any 'Red Herrings' in the game, so we literally decided to add them." There was originally supposed to be one in the shed, as well.
  • The Secret of Monkey Island:
    • A Red Herring is actually a solution to a puzzle: In the game there's a troll guarding a bridge, who demands "something that will draw interest but have no real use" so that Guybrush may pass the bridge. The solution? Feed him a literal red herring. The puzzle's actual red herring is the description that leaves our hero to look for a figurative red herring. It's so meta it runs into itself coming the other way.
    • One puzzle has Guybrush tied to a tiki idol and thrown into the water. There are several sharp items near him, but are just out of reach, making him think that the puzzle involves finding a way to reach one of them. He can pick up the tiki idol and leave the water.
    • Episode 2 of Tales of Monkey Island references the Red Herring. Part of the solution of obtaining the Red Herring was to scare the seagull away. Here Guybrush had to somehow lure the seagull away from his cut off poxed hand, by cutting loose a barrel full of fish on the mast. When the seagull gets to the barrel, he pulls out the aforementioned Red Herring.
    • Guybrush can obtain fish egg bait, which he can use on a certain spot to fish. Turns out that not only is the fish egg bait itself a Red Herring, using the fish egg bait on the Fishing Well actually results in pulling out a Red Herring, only for it to slip out of his hands.
  • The RPG Maker 2000 game Sensible Erection featured a Fetch Quest involving rugs with various colors of fish on them. Guess what the last one was.
  • Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments has one in the last case. The murder took place in an alley that bends at a right angle, and it involved an illusionary light show with a disappearing culprit. There happens to be a mirror angled curiously at the crime scene from one exit of the alley (Sherlock makes note of it), and there is a flower shop owner nearby. Neither the mirror nor the florist ever come under suspicion.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Persona 4:
      • Every time you prevent a murder, it cuts to a mysterious figure in the fog who seems angry that "nothing's happened again", and implied to be the murderer angry that his killings have been stopped right? It's actually Namatame, glad to see that he's "saved" another person. Although he actually is the one who endangered the people you saved, he just isn't the one who murdered the people who actually died and has no idea that he's doing anything harmful.
      • The party thinks they've caught the killer by catching Mitsuo Kubo... but it's Jack the Ripoff.
      • When it's time to figure out the true identity of the killer, it's noted that Ryotaro Dojima objectively fits all of the major points for the killer's profile (he had contact with Mayumi Yamano and Saki Konishi as a police detective, he would not have been considered suspicious at the scenes of the crimes, and he could have monitored and threatened the protagonist in his own home without raising suspicion)... but it's pointed out that he nearly died pursuing Namatame, and would never harm his own daughter.
    • Persona 5: That coming disaster the Butterfly of Death and Rebirth that keeps showing up at random intervals is talking about has to be The Mole and The Conspiracy that have been threaded throughout the story coming to kill you and your party, right? Wrong, they're actually talking about the Big Good being impersonated by the game's real Big Bad, who has been playing you and the villains from the opening of the game, and is planning to start eating reality after you're done dealing with The Conspiracy for it.
      • There are a few of these in relation to the casino heist that opens the game, which ends with the protagonist getting caught by the police due to the actions of a traitor within the Phantom Thieves. The identity of said traitor is Akechi, but the game briefly attempts to throw suspicion on Makoto instead - her sister is the target of the heist, and Makoto is clearly hesitant about stealing her heart. The BIGGER herring is actually the framing device itself. Not only did the Phantoms know Akechi planned to betray them from basically day one, but Joker's arrest and interrogation were all part of a plan to get Makoto's sister on their side (they don't steal her heart at all) and fake his death to throw Akechi and the conspiracy off their trail.
      • Then there's Morgana. Despite his insistence that he was originally human, throughout the game he has recurring nightmares of himself spawning from a pool of darkness in Mementos (and early on, he even briefly ponders - then dismisses - the possibility that he used to be 'a bad guy'). So the average player, especially one coming from Persona 4, would likely assume he's a friendly Shadow like Teddie, right? Nope. Morgana did technically come from Mementos, but only because it's where his creator, Igor (the REAL Igor), was imprisoned at the time. Meaning, if anything, he's more like an honorary Velvet Room attendant.
  • Whilst searching the Lab Equipment Room in Silent Hill, Harry can examine a bottle of distilled water and a bottle of glucose. Normally he'll only comment on things that have some sort of relevance, otherwise he merely says something generic like, "The shelf is full of chemicals." Players caught on to the fact that he specifically points out what the bottles are filled with, leading many people to assume they could be collected and used at some point in the game. Apart from a bogus Urban Legend of Zelda, the items turned out be useless.
  • Singularity has an interesting example; the Red Herring is on account of Nolan North. His distinctly recognizable voice is lent to Devlin, the protagonist's Red Shirt squaddie. Because the game is about time travel, you either assume the familiar sounding but shadowed man who yells one line in the same voice is Devlin on account of an alternate timeline bringing him there, or you pass it off as a voice actor being recycled, as happens in many games. It's actually North being recycled, but the character he's recycled as is the protagonist, from the future.
  • In The Spectrum Retreat, one of the logs mentions that Worrall gave the hotel's manager AI full control over the place. Combined with the manager's erratic behaviour, this implies the game is a case of A.I. Is a Crapshoot. As it turns out, nope, stopping you from leaving was what you asked the manager to do.
  • In the 8-bit Action-Adventure Spellbound there is an actual red herring which proves quite useful for casting Fumaticus Protectium. The real example is Prism, the author hated the company of that name.
  • In Splinter Cell Chaos Theory, one mission has you infiltrating a bathhouse in Japan to witness a deal between one of the antagonists and an unknown party. The owner of the bathhouse is said to have ties to a crime syndicate called the Red Nishin. If you interrogate a particular civilian, you ask him what that name even means. The civilian describes a kind of fish which Sam identifies as a herring. Needless to say, the syndicate had nothing to do with the deal.
  • The various Telltale Games, especially the The Walking Dead series, adds prompts such as "Gabe will remember that" or "Your relationship with Steve" has changed" even for the most minor of characters. Even characters so minor they're not coded at all with relationship values. This way there's no Interface Spoiling and you have no idea who is merely a Sacrificial Lamb or Lion doomed to die, and who's going to be around for a while.
  • In The Strange and Somewhat Sinister Tale of the House at Desert Bridge, you have to feed the cat Squiggles a literal red herring to gain access to the bathroom.
  • There's a mole in the party of Tales of Berseria, and two red herrings. Magilou is set up as one due to her selling out Velvet early on in order to avoid getting interrogated herself, but she has no real motivation to explicitly betray anyone. Then it's Eleanor, given her orders from Artorius to backstab the party and return Laphicet to the Exorcists; however, she ultimately turns her back on the Exorcists for good, passing up several opportunities to turn over Laphicet. The real mole is Magilou's malak, Bienfu. Melchior placed him under a Geas to relay information on the party to him. Magilou eventually catches onto it and removes the geas, and ultimately he and Magilou remain with the party.
  • The Talos Principle: Several puzzles contain elements or architecture that aren't useful to the solution and are just there to mislead. However, some elements are also there in order to reach a star.
  • An Ultima game for the original Game Boy pulls this off rather cleverly — one dungeon has an optional room marked with the words 'Lair of the Scarlet Fish'. Its contents: a Wand of Fireballs that is impossible to actually get.
  • Undertale:
    • The soundtrack has a track called "Song That Might Play When You Fight Sans", a Mega Man X-styled remix of Sans's theme "sans." and Papyrus's theme "NYEH HEH HEH". It is never used at any point in the game — the use of "Might" in the title was very deliberate.
    • The game drops several hints that the correct way to spare the first boss is to wear down her HP until she gives in. If you actually try this, you'll end up accidentally killing them. Afterwards, you are nudged into Save Scumming, and the game starts dropping hints to the actual correct solution. All of this is meant to lead into a Wham Line that Flowey has Ripple Effect-Proof Memory and knows what you did, which would only make sense if you took that particular sequence of actions, without resorting to railroading you and then blaming you for "choices" that weren't actually yours.
    • One enemy, Doggo, has light blue attacks (instead of white ones) which are unavoidable - but they will not hurt you if you aren't moving. Shortly after this, Sans tells you that his brother Papyrus has a very special attack, and that you can avoid blue attacks by not moving. Sure enough, when you fight Papyrus, he eventually tells you to prepare for his fabled blue attack, before attacking you with a flurry of bones that deal no damage if you stop moving - but that wasn't Papyrus's Blue Attack. The players heart then turns blue, and falls to the bottom of the attack box, suddenly affected by gravity and far more vulnerable to attacks. If you were paying close attention when Sans mentioned the "blue attack" before, you'll have noticed the text was in a different shade of blue to the "don't move" blue attacks, though what that means is only obvious in hindsight.
    • The player character's identity. It turns out that the character you're naming at the beginning of the game isn't the one you control (the True Pacifist ending reveals that their name is Frisk); you were naming the fallen human, the first child who fell down Mt. Ebott and kicked off the plot. The opening cutscene is in sepia because it happened a long time ago (you even find an old calendar from the same year in Toriel's house; the player might assume it's just old because this is months later, not years), the Game Over text is from their deathbed, and the coffin with the red heart on it outside Asgore's throne room isn't empty because it's waiting for you, but because Toriel removed the child's body to bury it in the Ruins.
  • In Valkyria Chronicles, Welkin's interest in natural science tends to be directly and non-directly useful throughout the course of the war. However at one point while exploring some Valkyrian ruins, he says the shape of the structure looks familiar to him for a large portion of the scene before determining that it reminds him of the spiral shell of a type of marine cephalopod, then wondering if there might be a connection due to the resemblance. This observation has no baring on the plot and is quickly dismissed, but it makes for a mildly interesting in-joke: the art director mentions that he didn't base Valkyrian design on any particular culture but instead used a collection of seashells he found as a reference.
    • One mission takes the party to Fouzen, a mining town converted into a concentration camp for Darcsen by occupying Imperial forces. There the party meets Zaka, their inside man for the liberation of the town, and the entire situation the Darcsens are in, along with a speech by Zaka, seriously tests Rosie's hatred for Darcsen. At first, it seems like the entire scenario is setting up Zaka as a Sacrificial Lamb, wherein he performs a Heroic Sacrifice helping the Gallian forces to take back Fouzen, and his sacrifice finally shakes Rosie out of her bigotry. Instead, he not only lives through the entire operation, he joins Squad 7 immediately afterwards as a secondary tank operator, while Rosie's bigotry is shaken, but it takes a while longer for her to discard it completely, just in time for Isara, another, far more longstanding Darcsen character with more history with Rosie to get killed instead.
  • The fire extinguisher and soda can in the white chamber are actually completely useless—this is lampshaded with the soda can, which when used is described as smelling like fish. There's also the spam e-mail that implies Sarah is a pop singer on the space station. Turns out she's one of the scientists.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: One particularly egregious case in the "Carnal Sins" questline. Geralt is pursuing a serial killer who brutalizes his victims by, amongst other things, burning their eye sockets. Along the way you're introduced to Reverend Nathaniel, a Sinister Minister who inhibits your investigation every chance he gets and generally seems to delight in spreading as much pain and misery as he possibly can. Then near the end of the questline, you find him torturing a Bound and Gagged woman who the killer had proclaimed as his next victim with a hot poker. Incredibly, he's not the killer! Just some random psychopath the real killer tried to frame. And if you kill Nathaniel before Geralt figures this out, the real killer gets away.
  • The World Ends with You has several:
    • Kariya assumes that Joshua's overpowered abilities are a product of his being alive and sneaking into the Game, and Joshua runs with it. They actually come from his being the Composer.
    • There are two for Neku's murderer. First, a cutscene shows Joshua apparently shooting Neku, but then an extended version of the scene shows he was actually shooting at Minamimoto, behind Neku. Then it appears that Minamimoto shot Neku. However, the cutscene is later extended a second time, showing that Minamimoto was shooting at Joshua, and it really WAS Joshua who killed Neku.
    • The game goes to great lengths to lead the player and Neku to believe that Mr. Hanekoma is the Composer, since his alter-ego, CAT, is responsible for designing the player pins and the red pins. However, Joshua is actually the Composer, and Mr. Hanekoma is the Producer.
  • In Yakuza 0, we are eventually lead to believe that Tachibana, Kiryu's new boss, is the man who had abducted and sold Makoto Makimura into slavery in her backstory, since she reveals to Majima that the man in question had a bat tattoo on his arm and the audience later sees that Tachibana has the same tattoo, which would make the player suspicious that his motives for searching for Makoto are much more sinister than he lets on. It's only much later that we learn that the man Makoto has been searching for is really Tachibana's right-hand man Oda, who has the same bat tattoo Tachibana as it was the symbol of their old street gang. Oda had kidnapped her sometime before he had even met Tachibana, who would have been horrified to learn this since his real motive for trying to find her again is that he is actually her long-lost brother.


Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report