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Useful Notes / Blue Screen of Death

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The Windows Stop Screen (Windows 10 Version)

A Blue Screen of Death ("BSoD" for short), officially known as a Stop Error, is a feature of the Microsoft Windows operating system, being present from Windows NT 3.1 all the way to Windows 10 and laternote  and having precursors as far back as the beta version of Windows 1.0. When the system crashes, it puts up a plain blue screen with some text on it which might help the user diagnose the problem, or at least give them something to quote on the phone to tech support. The Other Wiki has full details. Windows 10 added a QR code to the screen, which leads the user to a page on the Microsoft Support website about their specific problem so they can quickly research the issue, if they scan it while the screen is still up.

The term has thus become a Fan Nickname for stop errors generally. Stop errors are only supposed to appear very rarely, but in older versions of Windowsnote  they were common enough that most regular users came to know of the Blue Screen’s existence. Microsoft themselves have used this term on and off. Its most spectacular appearances have been at demonstrations of Windows-based systems (including one where Bill Gates himself witnessed it), or worse, on large-scale public display systems that were running on Windows machines (including at the Beijing Olympics in 2008); collections of images of such events can be found online.

The Blue Screen of Death has never really become a trope in its own right, but it has at times become painfully familiar enough to Windows users that, given the OS's ubiquity, most people who used computers would understand an allusion to it. It is a useful metaphor for a traumatic emotional crisis of some kind, when a person freezes up and becomes incapable of action; it is referenced by the trope names BSoD Song, Heroic BSoD, and Villainous BSoD. However, recent versions of Windows handle software crashes and radical glitches a little more gracefully, so the Blue Screen is less often seen these days (it usually indicates a faulty device driver or a hardware failure when it does occur), and those references may become increasingly obscure to new readers in coming years.

Aside from Windows, lots of other operating systems and electronics have specific ways of conveying a fatal system error; for example, on Unix and Unix-like systems, they're called kernel panics, while old Amiga systems had Guru Meditations. In any case, perhaps due to the prevalence of the BSoD name, if a computer or system has a fatal system error state, it's usually known as a "[something something] of Death". (For example, see the "Red Ring of Death", as seen in the tropes Heroic RRoD and Villainous RRoD. Named after a warning message on the Xbox 360, it's the physical equivalent of the BSOD's mental/emotional overload.)

Incidentally, if you want to blue screen your computer intentionally, there is an official — but unsurprisingly obscure — method of doing so. It involves editing the Windows registry to enable a "CrashOnCtrlScroll" function, then holding right Ctrl and pressing the Scroll Lock key twice.note 

Unrelated to the other sort of Blue Screen, aka the Chroma Key.

Depictions of the Blue Screen of Death in fiction:

    open/close all folders 

  • A Protegent Antivirus ad has a "Proto's Identical Stranger" using a computer, then a image of a BSoD appears, albeit with a video editing transition effect instead of the screen suddenly going black. Also, there's a yellow "WARNING" text over the BSoD image.
    Not Proto: Whoops, my system crashed, I lost my data, but I had an antivirus.

    Fan Works 
  • CMC+: Windows 10's Final Smash is the BSoD; it's at first heralded by multiple (joke) error pop-ups to trap any nearby foe, then the music suddenly stops as the blue screen flashes to obscure the battlefield and the fighters, staying on said screen for a while until the caught enemies are suddenly damaged and launched away as the blue screen vanishes.

    Video Games 
  • In Andy's Apple Farm, if you repeatedly select the file "ANDY 2", it will cause the Blue Screen of Death to appear, but there seems to be a face hidden in the BSoD that can be seen by increasing the contrast, making it fake all along.
  • Blade Strangers has one disturbing possible ending in which a (dummy) BSoD features.
  • Destroy All Humans! Big Willy Unleashed: Crypto finding Pox's junked projector results in the blue screen upon reactivating, with Crypto naming it as the BSoD upon seeing it and when trying to get tech support to revive Pox.
  • A Sanity Meter effect in Eternal Darkness Sanitys Requiem is to toss up a BSoD. The game is exclusive to the Nintendo GameCube, by the way.
  • In Fire Warrior, the Emperor class battleship's guns' machine-spirit is revealed to be the Windows 95 operating system, as every screen you find on the ship's gundeck is displaying its Stop Error message.
  • Goat Simulator 3 has the goat destroying the game's in-game servers, causing the corruption of the entire game. As a result, the game and the computer crash and display a Blue Screen parodying the one in Windows XP. Thankfully, the computer's operating system reboots itself while jokingly talking about its life, and everything is still intact, albeit the game is more broken, glitchy and buggy than ever.
  • Henry Stickmin Series: One is displayed in Stealing the Diamond when you choose the Pokéball/Goodball to distract the guards, which unleashes Missingno and "crashes" the game. The original Newgrounds version even uses the actual Windows 9x-era BSoD for the crash screen.

    Web Animation 
  • The ending of Animator vs. Animation III has The Dark Lord and The Chosen One induce a cataclysmic event in the Animator's computer, causing it to crash, fry the motherboard and display the Blue Screen, rendering the computer destroyed.
  • hololive ERROR: At one point in Chapter 9 of the animated web series, a blue screen briefly flashes by. Instead of having the typical blue screen text, it lists off a bunch of hexadecimal color codes that correspond to the color palettes of the Virtual YouTubers who voice acted throughout the series.

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Alternative Title(s): B So D