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Thou Shalt Not Kill / Video Games

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Some action games (especially stealth games) give the player the option of not killing any enemies or at least keeping the deaths to a minimum. See Pacifist Run for more information.

  • In most of the Metal Gear games, the player is given the option of non-lethally defeating enemies through the use of close-quarters combat, stun guns, tranquilizers, or balloons to incapacitate them, though there are some occasional exceptions.
  • The MMORPG City of Heroes takes this to its natural extreme: the player-characters are always sent to "arrest", "defeat", or just plain "stop" the villainous NPCs, and even if the enemies are "arrested" with a high-powered assault rifle, a broadsword, or repeated fireballs, nobody ever dies. Instead, they're sent to the local Cardboard Prison, The Zig. That's just for human enemies. Robots explode, rock monsters crumble, and spirits are banished.
    • Word of God has stated that it's up to players what happens to the Mooks — they could be killed or not, depending on how players roleplay. Named enemies are usually explicitly captured. Robots and rock monsters are confirmed to be non-sentient, the former having no real intelligence and the latter just being the fingers of a massive and powerful ball of jello. The various banished spirits are truly and completely immortal, so banishing doesn't kill them.
    • City of Villains, however, sees it quite differently: There are several missions where you're explicitly told to 'kill' someone, or to 'Leave No Witnesses'.
  • Used occasionally in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, funnily enough. In chapter 15, you get bonus points for not killing any enemies except the boss (except you don't really kill him), and in chapter 22 you get bonus points and a gift for not killing any priests.
  • Maintaining the same belief in the comics, Batman in Batman: Arkham Asylum never kills. According to his detective mode, his enemies always wind up unconscious. Yes, even the ones who have been punched in the face, or had a wall they were standing in front of blown up. Unconscious, every one.
    • The game has many ways of preventing you from killing enemies, bordering on Developers' Foresight territory. Knock a guy off a tower, and Batman automatically attaches a cable to his foot. Throw a Mook down a bottomless pit and you hear a splash right away, implying that there's water just out of sight. There's even an invisible wall around the pool of electrified water, so you can't throw anyone in (Batman can still fall in himself, though).
      • The sequel Batman: Arkham City extends this selective invisible wall to all of the many rooftops Batman fights on. Pay no attention to the fact that he's beating people into immobility, and leaving them lying around unable to defend themselves in a city filled with psychopaths, while they're wearing light clothing in the middle of winter.
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    • Taken to the extreme in Batman: Arkham Origins, where in the finale, Joker is so hellbent on forcing Batman to kill someone he connects a heart monitor Bane is wearing to an electric chair, which the Joker is sitting in. Either Batman kills Bane, the electric chair kills Joker, or Bane kills Batman. How does Batman solve this situation? He puts Bane into cardiac arrest so that his heart stops long enough for Gordon to secure the Joker, then uses his shock gloves to bring Bane back to life, knowing that Bane will try to kill Batman as soon as he wakes up again... and he does, leading to the boss battle with Titan-Infused Bane.
    • As pointed out by Outside XBox, the people Batman nails in the head with propane tanks, drags off the GCPD roof to a multi-storey fall, pummels in the face at point-blank with "less-than-lethal" ammunition, or clonks in the throat with a car door should really not be as alive as Detective Mode claims they are.
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    • In Batman: Arkham Knight, some soldiers in the Arkham Knight's militia start exploiting Batman's refusal to kill by wearing suicide vests that are programmed to explode and kill the wearer if they become unconscious. Against Batman, this is probably better protection than any body armour you can get.
  • In the NES Batman game, Batman averts movie canon and hurls the Joker off the cathedral. The rest of the ending is spent zooming in on the Joker's corpse. Then it plays it straight with the NES only sequel, Batman: Return of the Joker.
  • Being a kid-oriented game, Star Wars Droidworks enforces this trope. Although you can build droids any way you want them, weapons are never an option. When the player eventually comes across one of the Imperial assassin droids, all you can do is run away or outwit them somehow. And heaven forbid they attack you with their lightning gun. Oh, and to top it all off, saving your game isn't implemented either, meaning the entire mission will have to be replayed if your droid takes too much damage.
  • In Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, to keep with their credo, the heroes of the DC universe get "Heroic Brutalities" instead of Fatalities, moves that punish the enemy without killing them... or so it's supposed to be. In practice, crushing a person's body in a Green Lantern orb isn't exactly nonlethal. Neither is Superman pounding someone into the ground like a hammer to a nail.
  • Touhou features a Spellcard System that is explicitly designed to prevent the death of anyone using its rules. This allows the youkai the ability to try and kill the Barrier Maiden heroine, without the risk of destroying their world, while giving Reimu a fighting chance at defeating absurdly overpowered monsters with abilities like the ability to kill with just a thought, total immortality, and the ability to drop someone out of existence. Reimu has the ability to go invincible, so it's usually more helpful to her opponent.
  • inFAMOUS has an interesting way of handling this. Killing your enemies in a fight doesn't affect your Karma Meter, but killing enemies who are already bound is marked as an "Execution," which gets you bad karma.
    • Sort of. As you gain Good Karma, your default attacks get replaced with "stun" weapons. Obviously you are still probably killing a lot of them so it is sort of true, but it rapidly falls into the category of Mercy Bullets and the like, plus when you "take down" an enemy, killing them doesn't get you any Karma but Arc-Restraining them gets you Good Karma. Also, Bad Karma lets you get more Bad Karma as you kill enemies in combat.
  • It is strongly implied in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions that the player never kills anyone. This is Lampshaded in the tutorial, when Spider-Man 2099 throws a Mook off an elevated bridge, only to have Madame Web whisk him to safety via a dimensional portal. Also, Spider-Man Noir doesn't have his pistol from the comics; its absence is never acknowledged.
  • In the Thief series, higher difficulty levels prohibit players from killing the guards or bystanders, presumably not out of morality but for the sake of stealth and forcing them to rely on other means of defeating or evading them. A trail of corpses is likely going to be noticed by the guards, which makes it harder to sneak around. It's furthermore a canonical part of Garrett's character that he views killing as "unprofessional"; he's a thief, not a murderer, got to have some standards here. He (and the game) don't have a problem with killing animals or undead though, and in the first game, the invading Chaos Beasts that threaten the city during the last three missions are fair game as well, and Garrett has no problem with indirectly killing the Big Bad of either game since they're far too big a threat to both the city and Garrett himself to be left alive. At high difficulty there are levels where you aren't even allowed to render someone unconscious.
  • In Yakuza, no matter how much of a criminal the main characters are, they do not have the murderous impulses of their crime sandbox brethren. It is often used to separate the honorable and dishonorable characters. For Kiryu, his reason for not killing was after the deaths of the only 3 people he considered family, and his vow to renew his life by being Haruka's father-figure. Granted, this is ignoring the times Kiryu has been in shootouts where he's shot and blown up his enemies, or when he's tossed enemies out of the windows of skyscrapers or a moving vehicle on the freeway, or when he's shot at people driving cars that were trying to ram him, or when he's smashed people's skulls against walls or the ground, or when he's beaten people on the street with bicycles, or when he's run them through with knives, of when he's grabbed a fistful of nails and jammed them into a person's mouth.
  • Carol's response in the titular Carol Reed Mysteries when you try to shoot her attacker at the end of Amber's Blood is a shocked "No, I'm not going to shoot anyone!"
  • In Persona 5, the Phantom Thieves of Hearts exploit the Metaverse to induce a Heel–Face Brainwashing in their targets, but one line they never cross is resorting to murder. This becomes an important plot point on two occasions. The first is when the Phantom Thieves hesitate on their very first mission because they run the risk of killing their target, causing things to escalate to the point of someone attempting suicide. The second is when they're framed for the murder of someone they did target, forcing them to accept the aid of an antagonistic detective who was in on the Frame-Up in order to clear their name.
  • King's Quest: Mask of Eternity: Thrown out the window, unusually for a King's Quest game.
  • Luna in Virtue's Last Reward never, ever picks "Betray", which can kill a person if their BP gets low enough. Justified, since she's Three Laws-Compliant.
  • Bang Shishigami of BlazBlue has this epithet as a memento from his master, Lord Tenjo. No matter what wrongdoings someone does, he will not move to kill them; even Jin Kisaragi, the man responsible for killing Tenjo, is only to be "brought to justice" in Bang's eyes. On the other hand, Bang is sworn to protect the lives of children, and that vow supersedes this one, as he sought to (unsuccessfully) demonstrate to Hazama over beating Tao and Carl to near-death as a masturbatory aid.
  • This is one of Dizzy's primary character traits in Guilty Gear, to the point where her Instant Kill in -REVELATOR- doesn't actually harm the opponent. Instead, Dizzy alters the trajectory of her attack, resulting in a nuclear explosion outside of the stage that causes the opponent to SURRENDER.
  • Deconstructed in both Injustice: Gods Among Us and Injustice 2. Batman thinks killing in the name of justice would make him Not So Different from the criminals he or the Justice League frequently deal with but wasn't able to end The Joker's Karma Houdini problem, which backfired horribly when the Monster Clown killed millions in Metropolis in a scheme to drive Superman to a Face–Heel Turn. He insists on applying this rule out of his own ego even when he's outclassed by the likes of Darkseid or Brainiac, but can't respond when the Regime members all but accuse him of Murder by Inaction by asking how many innocents must die before realizing his no-kill rule is ineffective and that Murder Is the Best Solution, or how his misplaced leniency has caused villains like Gorilla Grodd to keep on breaking out of Cardboard Prisons like Arkham and terrorize society with no impunity, despite knowing they won't reform no matter how many chances they're offered, as it only worsens their behavior. Believing traditional superheroics to be outdated, the Regime remnants see Batman's refusal to kill as a sign of weakness and think the ethical framework that lets criminals alive is too ineffectual. They also call him a hypocrite, in that while he won't kill, traumatic brain knock-outs are fine, but he never finds out if they survived said injuries.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, this is a rule within the Thieves' Guild, mostly for Pragmatic Villainy reasons. Killing a mark makes things complicated, has to be cleaned up, and usually ends up costing the Guild in order to bribe authorities to look the other way. Additionally, it's just good business sense since, as they say, "a half-dead man can still make his payment, while a dead man pays no gold". The Darker and Edgier (out of necessity) Skyrim branch of the Guild maintains contacts with the Dark Brotherhood, in the event that they need to have someone eliminated and have far looser standards (killing guards in your way does not penalize you and they'll lift the ban on killing if it's to deal with traitors).
  • In Colobot, there is a level where, due to concerns from the Earth's animal rights organizations, you are forced to use a bot that deals with the hostile giant insects in a non-lethal manner, so that you can retrieve the Black Box they are guarding. However, in literally the next level, your base is under attack from the same insects, and your orders are to forgo any attempts at pacifism and just shoot them into oblivion. The issue of pacifism is never brought up again afterwards.
  • In a single line early in E.V.O.: Search for Eden, a fish tells you to "Kill only for survival and for food," which fits the "thou shalt not murder" version of this trope. It's a dangerous world and you're largely carnivorous, not to mention needing animal meat to evolve, but simply killing animals without eating them is wasteful and doesn't give you Evolution Points, and killing and eating allies invites divine retribution from Gaia.
  • In Dishonored, you can get two endings, depending on how many people you killed in the game, and all assassination targets have a non-lethal alternative to killing them. Choosing the non-lethal option is treated as the morally correct choice, and sets you on track to the good ending. Despite this, many of the non-lethal "good" options are far worse than just killing them. You can have a man shamed and left to die of sickness in the gutter, or drug a woman and sell her into sex slavery, and all this is treated as morally right.


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