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A bad ending occurs when the player finishes a video game but is not completely successful for some reason, as opposed to a good ending. Generally speaking, in a "bad ending", the player has reached an end-point of the game, and has technically won, but the victory is incomplete, and, in some cases, isn't much of a victory at all. Most bad endings are achieved by being defeated in a certain fight, but some cases are simply glorified Game Over screens. A bad ending is similar to a false ending, although with the latter, the player still continues with the story.
In Japanese visual novels/dating games/eroges (and derived works), "bad end" refers to a characteristic technique of the genre wherein an alternative ending depicts things ending poorly for most or all of the characters. Exactly how things turn out can range from a romance simply not forming to brutal murders or suicides by a yandere character and the protagonist.
In European and North American versions of Codename: Sailor V - The Game for NEC PC-88 and NEC PC-98 if the user finished the game in Easy Mode, the game will show Sailor V standing behind pier as in good ending but she was suddenly killed by Jericho (Wheelman) who is shouted "Mistake!" ("Miistake" in European release) before doing it. This ending is also appeared in Sega Dreamcast and Symbian OS versions, but in these versions the Jericho threw a grenade instead shooting from a pistol.
In The House of the Dead arcade series, if the player fails to obtain a certain number of points, an ending will show in which one of the main characters becomes a zombie. In The House of the Dead III, the "zombie ending" will show if the player defeats the bosses in a certain order.
In the arcade version of Street Fighter Alpha 3, failure to defeat the game's end boss M. Bison at the 10th and final stage results in an ending where the player character is placed in a machine and his power is used to destroy a city.
In Chrono Trigger, losing to the final boss Lavos results in a short scene followed by the Earth being destroyed with the message "But...the future refused to change."
In Persona 4, the player is presented an option to kill Taro Namatame. If the player chooses that option, the bad ending occurs. The bad ending also occurs if you choose not to kill Taro Namatame, but are unable to find the true killer's identity.
Most games with multiple endings have a simple three-tier structure with at least one bad, neutral and good ending usually depending on the player's dialog choices or items he may or may not have collected.
The Castlevania games for the Nintendo DS both have multiple endings. In Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, the game ends with a bad ending if the player fails to equip a certain accessory when entering a specific room. If the accessory is equipped, however, the game continues, and the good ending will be achieved upon beating the final boss. (The path to these endings is determined by how the player defeats a boss earlier in the game; if the presented boss is defeated, the neutral ending will be attained, but if the player instead enters a mirror and fights an alternate boss, the story continues and the player can potentially earn the bad or good endings.) In Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, an alternate ending can be unlocked if the Sanctuary spell is used on a certain boss instead of defeating it. In Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo and its remake, Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, if Richter Belmont fails to save the maidens, the player will get a bad ending, but once the player gets a good ending for the first time in this game, he or she will no longer see the bad ending again unless he or she starts a new save entry.
In Avenging Spirit, if you defeat the final boss yet forgot the keys to unlock the girl's cell, you fade away to join the girl in the afterlife.
In Banjo-Kazooie, if you quit the game or run out of lives before rescuing Tooty, a bad ending will play in which Klungo activates Gruntilda's machine and Grunty steals Tooty's looks. As Gruntilda steps out of the machine looking slim and gorgeous (with Mumbo running in with a flower for her, declaring his love), Tooty limps out as a hideous, green troll, declaring she must have a word with Banjo. Many gamers make fun of this ending and mockingly refer to it as "bad" ending due to the new Gruntilda's appearance.
In Call Of Duty Modern Warfare Mobilized, if the timer runs out on the final level, a bad ending plays showing a news report in which the nuclear bomb goes off, but is reported to be a generator malfunction, followed by a report that an AC-130 (the same one that helps you in the level) has gone down in a crash during a "training session".
In Comix Zone, if you do not save Alisa from drowning in the end, you receive a bad ending.
In Contra: Hard Corps, Col. Bahamut will ask you to join his cause. If the player agrees, the world would be in complete chaos.
In Dead Rising, a bad ending occurs if the player either is late for the helicopter rescue after the 72-hour period, and/or if the player fails to complete each Case in the main story. If the player completes each Case and reaches the helicopter pad in time, then an Overtime mode begins, in which the player is infected and must collect items for the cure before Frank turns into a zombie. Defeating the final boss in Overtime mode unlocks the Good Ending.
In Donkey Kong 64, quitting the game results in viewing a bad ending where King K. Rool laughs maniacally as the Blast-o-Matic finishes charging. The scene then cuts to outside with the Blast-o-Matic preparing to fire on DK Isles, but fades away to the title without viewing the actual firing sequence.
In Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly, the player is given the option of escaping the village without their sister, whom they have spent most of the game protecting. If the player chooses this option, a cut scene will be played but no points will be scored, and it does not count as a true ending.
In King's Quest VII, if the rose is placed on the injured prince instead of the extra life, he will die.
In The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, there is a part in the Final Dungeon (Dark Hyrule Castle), where Link and Ezlo must quickly get to the Castle's roof to prevent the Antagonist, Vaati, from Draining Light Force from a Petrified Zelda. If they fail to make it through the three rooms leading there quickly enough, a short cutscene plays, in which Vaati successfully drains all of the Light Force, providing him with God-like power, which also results in the death of Zelda. It then cuts to the Game Over screen.
In Magic Sword, you have 2 choices over the black orb. If you choose to keep it, you will be corrupted by the temptation for power and become the new dark lord.
In Mario's Time Machine on the SNES version, if the player runs out of time, or puts artifacts in the wrong order, Bowser will escape, using his time machine, to either a tropical island named "Paradise", or the Jurassic Period, Respectively. Putting artifacts in the correct order, and within the time limit, will result with Bowser escaping again to the Jurassic period, but he is stomped by a T. Rex.
In MegaRace, if the user quits Lance Boyle will say shamefully, "The Enforcer can't take it."
In Metroid Prime: Hunters, if Samus does not fulfill a prophecy at the end of the game, then a scene will play where the planet she is on explodes without showing her escaping, while if she does fulfill said prophesy, an extra boss will appear, with Samus escaping following the boss' defeat.
In Metal Gear Solid there is either an ending where the main character's love interest survives (the good ending) or dies (bad ending). Another example is The Suffering (and its sequel) which has three endings which can be described as "good", another "bad" and the other neutral (interestingly, in this case all three can be canon).
In Myst there are 3 possible bad endings that can result if the final page is not given to Atrus. Giving either Sirrus or Achenar the final page of their book causes the Stranger to switch places with the son, leaving the player trapped inside the Prison book. Linking to D'ni without the page Atrus asks for leaves both the Stranger and Atrus trapped on D'ni.
In NAM-1975, losing to Dr. Muckly in his laser weapon results in a scene of the Earth being destroyed.
In Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus, if Abe doesn't rescue enough Mudokuns by the end of the game, they will become ungrateful and leave him to be killed. The follow-up Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee features a similar scenario.
In Operation Thunderbolt, if you accidentally kill the pilot, after beating the final boss, you see that you are not able to fly away from the hostile territory. Also, if you accidentally kill all of the hostages, you see that your mission has failed.
In several Sonic games on Genesis and Game Gear, a bad ending is earned by failing to gain all available Chaos Emeralds, usually resulting in the game ending early due to Sonic not being able to transform for the final boss battle.
The first three games of Ace Attorney series also feature bad endings. In the exclusive fifth case of the Nintendo DS version of the first game (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney), revealing a crucial piece of evidence prematurely causes the case to end immediately, with dire consequences for Phoenix and his client. The second game (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All) features a bad ending if the player fails to present a crucial piece of evidence at the last possible cross-examination which drastically changes the outcome of the final case. In the fourth game (Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney) having a juror vote for a guilty verdict triggers the bad ending, and the case ends immediately without a real verdict, as the defendant is left to die in her hospital bed.
In Pikmin, if the player reaches the 30 day limit, Captain Olimar must leave the Pikmin planet, even if he hasn't picked up every spaceship part. If the player leaves the planet without every "key" part, the ending results in Captain Olimar crashing into the planet, only to be turned into a Pikmin.
In Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon, if Sailor Moon and her 4 party members are unable to defeat the final boss, but subsequently Chibi Moon and her 4 party members are, the "bad" ending will play.
In Red Steel, you are presented with a choice after defeating Tokai, protect Tokai or let Otori kill Tokai. If you let Otori kill Tokai, Otori and Mariko succumb to the Komori poison and Scott and Miyu will escape on their own.
In Streets of Rage on the Genesis, a bad ending is earned on the final level by a two player coop game. The last boss will ask both players if they want to join him. If the two players entered conflicting answers, the players will be forced to fight each other and the victor will get the chance to beat the boss and become the crime lord himself.
In Streets of Rage 3, if you let the timer expire and defeat Robot Y, the bombs go off and destroy the city. Another bad ending is if you let the chief die and take on an alternate final stage.
In Super Paper Mario, one of the antagonists attempts to convince Mario to help him. If he agrees, he is enslaved through mind-control.
The Silent Hill series is notorious for its endings, at least one always being bad, one being always good, and one neutral (The UFO endings) or of some different degrees of good and bad.
In Star Fox 64, if the player reaches Venom from Bolse rather than from Area 6, the player will go through a level known as Venom 1 which ends with a battle against the final boss, Andross. However, it is only a robotic copy and after the credits, the real Andross shows up and delivers his laugh, suggesting that he still alive.
In Sexy Parodius, failure to defeat the boss of the bonus level quickly enough results in the death of Takosuke.
In T2: The Arcade Game, there are two endings that can be received by destroying all or near-most of Cyberdyne Systems near the end of the game. The good ending (No equipment intact) says "John Connor is alive. Cyberdyne is destroyed. Your future is what you make of it." The bad ending (At least 1 Equipment Intact) says the same as the good one, except the last two lines say "But Cyberdyne Research will continue. Judgment Day still could happen."
In Total Carnage, there are 2 different bad endings. If you fail to collect 200 keys and let Akhboob escape you will be praised for winning but also be called a dufus for letting Akhbood escape and leaving 200 keys behind and be told "No pleasure for you today.". If you capture Akhboob but forgot 200 keys you will thanked for saving the world and killing Akhboob but also tell you the real goal of the game to join the heroes of Smash T.V..
In Zombie Raid, after defeating the 3rd boss you are to make the right decision of crystals. If you make the wrong choice you will be dropped into a pit of spikes. Your grave is shown as the villain will give you this speech: "I congratulate you. You made it pal. However, you may not know that this castle has a mystical force which silly humans can never understand. You know you made a mistake. In order to see me think about the arrangement of the 3 crystals! I look forward to your effort. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!!". This ending also occurs if you don't procure all 3 crystals except with a slight change of the villain's speech.
In Earthworm Jim, if the player completes the game in "Practice" difficulty, the game ends up with Jim reading a 5-minute speech about worms, which he can't keep up with and ad-libs in a humorous fashion. This ending is only available in the Special Editions for Sega CD and Windows 95.
In Rayman 2: The Great Escape, after the player defeats Jano in the Cave of Bad Dreams, he offers the player a treasure. If the player accepts the treasure, the scene changes in which Rayman has grown terribly obese and is seen sleeping on an island with a large "THE END" text.
In True Crime: Streets of LA, the game has multiple endings, depending on how much good cop/bad cop the player has. In the "Bad Ending" if Nick is defeated by Kim, he wakes up, only to realize his fate has turned against him by falling 30 stories down the building. The chapter ends with Nick falling to his death. In "Average Ending", if Nick is unable to defeat Rocky, he collapses on the ground, seemingly dying. In "Good Ending", if Rocky successfully escapes in a jet plane, leaving Nick behind or Nick has been defeated at the hands of Kim, he collapses to the runway, either dying or passing out from his severe injuries he has.
In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, at the end of the game, you are given the choice to face Emperor Palpatine or Darth Vader. If you choose to kill Darth Vader, the game ends with a "dark side" ending.
In Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, should you defeat Marta and Lloyd, you'll get an ending where Emil will kill himself and you would not be able to use the grade shop after the cinematics.
In (Mario) The Music Box, if chosen to go out through the main door after Mario and Luigi encounters the hallway scene, Mario will then get possessed by Alice and kills Luigi on their way back home. Alice will then abandons Luigi leaving him to die and run back to the mansion.
Time-based bad endingsEdit
Some bad endings may trigger if the player takes too long to finish the game. For example, Shenmue and Shenmue II start on specific dates in game time, and the player character, Ryo Hazuki, has a certain amount of game-months to complete the game (for example, Shenmue II starts on February 23, 1987 and the player has until July 31, 1987 in game time to finish). Failure to do so would mean the antagonist of the series, Lan Di, returns for the Phoenix Mirror and kills the player's character. In Fallout (1997) the player has 150 in-game days to complete the first quest, returning a working water chip. If the timer runs out, the vault runs out of water and the game ends. Or, in Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, when the 72 game hour timer ends, the moon crashes into the earth. Similarly, the Bungie game Pathways into Darkness for Macintosh has six (or, as is rumored, seven) different endings, depending on how fast the player completes the game and whether they manage to perform key actions. In addition to dying without completing the game, failing to finish within the five game-day time limit (thus being destroyed when the game's main antagonist awakens), and reaching the goal of the game but not coming away alive (thus reaching the 'neutral' ending in which the world is saved, even if the protagonist is killed), the player can:
- Escape the pyramid in which the game is set, but forget to detonate the nuclear device that will bring victory (bad);
- Escape the pyramid, but set the device to detonate after time runs out (bad);
- Detonate the device and escape the pyramid, but fail to collect the radio beacon that will call in the extraction team and be killed in the blast (neutral);
- Detonate the device, escape the pyramid, and collect the radio beacon, but get out too late for the extraction team to rescue the player (neutral);
- Detonate the device and fail to collect the beacon, but escape the pyramid early enough to escape on foot (good);
- Detonate the device, collect the beacon, and escape the pyramid on time (the 'perfect' ending).
(Due to Bungie's repeated use of 'sevens' in their games, players have long suspected the existence of a seventh ending. The most likely candidate for the title is a scenario in which the player detonates the device, escapes the pyramid, collects the radio beacon, and is picked up by the extraction team, but fails to reach minimum safe distance with them - the manual states that it takes ten minutes for the team to rescue the player and another ten to reach safety.)
Another time-based "bad ending" takes place in King's Quest 7. The player (as Rosella) only has a short time to revive Edgar, who sacrificed himself to stop the game's villain. If the player fails to revive him, he perishes, and the ending takes on a sorrowful note, with Valanice and Rosella riding home on a black swan.