Death is a part of almost every medium, and video games are no exception. It’s a powerful storytelling tool, capable of evoking a wide variety of powerful emotions in a player: from shock, to awe, to satisfaction, to tragedy, to outright grief. Death scenes are often among the most effective of any work.
Death scenes can be powerful for many reasons, whether they happen to a hero or a villain, whether they are proud or tragic. Some stand out even more than others, creating unforgettable moments in their games.
ten Noble Six steps out in a blaze of glory (Halo: Reach)
Halo: scope is a deliberately tragic story, centered on a well-known defeat from the original games’ backstory. There is no illusion at any point in the game that the UNSC can win against the Covenant, creating a powerful story of heroism, futility, and death defiance.
This is exemplified by the deaths of many members of the game’s central Noble Team, including that of the protagonist Noble Six. After delivering the package to Captain Keyes, the player controls Six as they battle an endless Covenant army, inevitably dying. Next, a cutscene showing Six’s ruined helmet on a restored Reach plays, highlighting the theme of dying for a great cause.
9 Booker DeWitt drowns (Bioshock Infinite)
The plot of Bioshock Infinite is a complex affair of different timelines and alternate realities, but one of its final scenes is beloved for its small scale and humanity. After defeating Zachary Comstock and escaping Columbia, Elizabeth takes Booker to the sight of his own unsuccessful baptism.
When Booker expresses his confusion, a group of alternate Elizabeths explain that they must ensure that Comstock is erased from history by killing Booker, his other self. The scene is both visually beautiful and poignant, while still fitting into the game’s themes of duality and identity.
8 A2 must kill 2B (NieR: Automata)
The game NieR: Automata is odd in that its third part has a different storyline than its first two, acting as the third act of a much larger narrative. It begins with a distinct blow to the player: the death of a major character and the original protagonist 2B.
After seemingly narrowly escaping a logical plague infecting androids, 2B is revealed to succumb to it. What follows is a harrowing sequence as the player tries to take him to a safe place to die, with the mysterious character A2 giving him a merciful death. The scene is tragic for how cruel it is to 2B and for the major impact it has on the rest of the game’s story.
7 Roach and Ghost die of betrayal (Modern Warfare 2)
the Call of Duty games are not famous for their stories, but the modern warfare the sub-series attracted fans due to its accessible plot and likable characters. Every member of Task Force 141 has their fans, but two of the most popular were Gary ‘Roach’ Sanderson and Simon ‘Ghost’ Riley.
In the game’s third act, the task force splits up to achieve several goals. Roach and Ghost are saved during their long mission by Allied General Shepherd, only for him to comment on resolving “free ends”, shooting them both. The player is forced to watch from Roach’s perspective as, in their final moments, Shepherd sets the two on fire.
6 Mordin Solus corrects the mistake of his life (Mass Effect 3)
Each companion has its fans in the Mass Effect series, but a surprisingly popular series is Mordin Solus, the Galarian scientist and special agent. In particular, fans enjoy the moral dilemma of her Genophage work, keeping the krogan population low by terminating most of the species’ pregnancies.
Mordin is leading efforts to address it as part of Mass Effect 3plot, only for other Salarians to sabotage the efforts. To ensure the cure goes forward, Mordin manually delivers it, sacrificing his life in the process and admitting he made a mistake working on the bioweapon in the first place. Players can only watch as he laments his wish to retire peacefully and does his duty anyway.
5 Lee Everett leaves Clementine all alone (The Walking Dead)
Death is very common in Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead, based on a very dark fictional universe. One death hits harder than most for many is the death of Lee Everett at the very end of Season 1. The season focused on Lee’s growing relationship with young girl Clementine as they survive together, becoming a father figure to him.
At the end of the season, however, a walker bites Lee as he searches for Clementine. He manages to save her once more before realizing the bite will kill him. Whether Clementine lifts Lee out of his misery or lets him die naturally, it’s a heartbreaking scene that serves as a tragic end to a beloved couple.
4 John Marston does not enjoy his life (Red Dead Redemption)
As its name suggests, the game Red Dead Redemption follows former outlaw John Marston as he tries to undo his disreputable past and kill his former gang. This is on condition that the FBI releases his family and that he can live in peace. Marston does, achieving a degree of peace with his past while doing so.
After John does his part of the bargain and attempts to live an honest life, FBI agent Edgar Ross betrays him, leading an army to attack his ranch. After working so hard to redeem himself, John’s life is cut short as he buys time for his family. The ending is known as one of the game’s saddest, and one that sticks with fans long after it ends.
3 The Joker suffers an unexpected and poignant death (Batman: Arkham City)
The Joker is infamous as one of the most inhuman, twisted, and obnoxious villains ever created for comic books. Batman’s nemesis, he devotes his life to hurting and killing others to torment the superhero only, with virtually no redeeming elements. Despite this, his death in Batman: Arkham City is as sad a send-off as any character could hope for.
Part of the tragedy is that it is entirely preventable. Batman heals himself of the Joker’s poisonous blood, and the Joker attacks him out of paranoia that the hero won’t save him. In their struggle, the cure fails and Batman gravely confirms that he always wanted to save the Joker. The villain dies laughing, but there’s a genuine sense of sadness as Batman carries his enemy’s body through the streets, serving as an effective capstone to the game’s exploration of the treatment of prisoners.
2 Sephiroth takes Aerith Gainsborough across (Final Fantasy VII)
Player characters die all the time in the gameplay of the Final Fantasy series, but there is a cheap and readily available item that can bring them back: the Phoenix Down. What really catches fans off guard is when a death takes place outside of combat, when it tends to stick. Of these, none is more shocking than Aerith’s in Final Fantasy VII.
The death itself isn’t particularly impressive, with Sephiroth simply stabbing Aerith. However, it became one of the most infamous moments in all of gaming, a shock twist that cements Final Fantasy VII as one of the best games in its series. Even with the incredibly dated graphics, the scene lives on in the minds and hearts of fans.
1 Andrew Ryan holds his philosophy to the end (Bioshock)
The philosophy of objectivism is a major theme in Bioshock, with Rapture’s game setting exploring what an entire society based on it would look like – resulting in a crumbling husk of a city filled with power-hungry, warped scavengers. All of this rests at the feet of Andrew Ryan, the objectivist tyrant the player hunts for most of the game.
When they find Ryan, there is no elaborate boss fight or gameplay sequence. painstakingly controlled throughout the game, forcing the player to beat him to death with his own golf club as he rants. on his philosophy. The scene is shocking, creative, and serves as the perfect meta-narrative about the game as a whole.
7 video games with a terrible message