Types of fiction with multiple endings

Types of fiction with multiple endings

Multiple endings refer to a case in entertainment (usually video games) where the story could end in different ways, described as an alternate ending.



Since multiple endings usually require audience participation, books are able to capture the concept better than movies or television. However, for the sake of telling a story, this device is rarely used. The best examples are the popular 1980s children's Choose Your Own Adventure series and Heather McElhatton's bestselling novels Pretty Little Mistakes and Million Little Mistakes. In both books the protagonist is "you," the reader and you are given choices that lead to multiple outcomes.

The Charles Dickens 1860 novel Great Expectations underwent a change in ending just before publication. Modern editions often print both versions. (However, this situation is more akin to an alternate ending.) However, perhaps the first true multiple-ending novel was Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar in 1963.

In some comic book stories the readers are advised to make a choice, and then turn to another page, from which the story will continue. The 1983 strip Cliff Hanger was based entirely around this premise.

Goosebumps also made books with branching storylines and multiple endings in the Give Yourself Goosebumps and Give Yourself Goosebumps Special Edition series.

The novel Life of Pi offers the reader two choices as to how the protagonist's story ends.


Ayn Rand's 1934 play Night of January 16th allowed the audience to affect the ending by acting as the "Jury" and voting the defendant "innocent" or "guilty".

The 1985 musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood, based on the incomplete 1870 Charles Dickens novel of the same name, has several possible endings. In the middle of the second act, one of the actors announces that it was at this point that Dickens died, leaving the mystery unfinished. The audience votes on who they believe committed the murder. Each character—even the ones considered unlikely of having been Dickens' choice—has a song in the score claiming that he or she is, in fact, the murderer. The audience also votes upon which of the two sets of lovers they'd like to see together in the end, and these two sing a duet. However, the same number, "The Writing on the Wall", always closes the show.

Dario Fo's 1970 play, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, provides two endings to the play. Firstly, the journalist, Feletti, leaves the policemen to die. Once this happens, though, the Maniac, who was off stage, returns to tell the audience that the ending would not appease everyone, and so another ending is played out. The second ending sees Feletti freeing the policemen, who then handcuff her instead, and she dies. This ending serves to show the police's corruption whilst also being comical for the audience, and providing endings that suffice more of the audience.

The long-running play "Shear Madness" has multiple, audience-selected endings. Several characters may end up as the murderer.


DVDs often include an alternate ending as a special feature. These are often interesting in terms of characterization and provide insight to the production team's vision for the movie, but are usually not considered canon.

When it was first shown in theatres in 1961, horror film Mr. Sardonicus featured a "punishment poll", in which audiences could vote (with glow-in-the-dark thumbs-up-or-down cards) on whether the evil lead character should die at the end of the picture. Naturally[citation needed], audiences always voted for Sardonicus' death, which was fortunate, as producer William Castle did not actually film a scene where Sardonicus lived.

It is rare for a film to have true multiple endings, but one notable example is the movie Clue. Three different endings were used in the final version of the film (plus one unreleased fourth ending), with each having a different killer. This is a unique case in that the theatrical release had only one of the three endings, depending on the theater. For the DVD and video releases, all three endings were included, preceded by screen text such as, "That's how it could have happened..." The home viewer can either choose who he or she wants to be guilty, or the viewer can allow the DVD to choose randomly instead. A fourth ending (where the butler did it all) was filmed but scrapped. Clue was orchestrated this way in part because it was based on a board game which offers multiple outcomes. The stage version of Clue also has multiple endings to a certain extent; the killer is randomly selected before the show. However, the true mastermind is always the same at the end.

Also, in the movie Wayne's World and its sequel, Wayne's World 2, there are three endings; each of the first two end with the two main characters appearing on screen and suggesting a different ending, until ultimately deciding on the "mega happy ending". This was done completely for comedic effect.

Multiple endings also occur in the movies Drift (where the main character is seen to make one choice, then when the movie seems to end, it begins again back at a previous point in the film, where the main character makes a second choice, and it happens again for a third time) and Sliding Doors (where we see two versions of the film concurrently after "splitting" when the main character catches, and misses, her train). Neither of these films offers any ending as the "right" ending, but seem to offer both as plausible outcomes to different choices and events.

The movie Run Lola Run features three different "realities", with each story having its own ending.

The movie I Am Legend features an alternative ending where the protagonist does not die.


The Saturday morning animated versions of laser-disc arcade games Dragon's Lair and Space Ace had multiple situations and endings, with two "false" (wrong), and one "right" (successful).

The Rooster Teeth Series, Red Vs Blue, had three different endings (with an additional 4 on the Season 5 DVD) -

  • Everyone kills each other
  • It was a video game, and they move to play a new map whilst speaking in a Halo 2 post-game lobby.
  • They continue fighting the war (canon ending)
  • Elites invade and kill both teams
  • Church wakes up from a nightmare, and discovers that it was just a dream (Going back to after being shot by the Tank). But when he tries to explain the dreams events to the Red Team, he and the other Blues are shot dead.
  • Tex comes back and blows both teams up
  • An explanation of what happened to each character after the series ended.

Video games

Due to their interactive nature, multiple endings have become popular in video games. This device is most often used in games that are story-driven, such as adventure games, RPGs, or survival horror, as opposed to games that are action-driven (like puzzle games, shooter games, platform games, or sports games). This was innovated and popularized by the RPG Chrono Trigger. Many such games will artificially enhance their length by encouraging more than one play-through via multiple endings. Generally, endings have to be vastly different in terms of plot to be considered multiple endings; having obtained certain characters to get slightly different results at the end of the game (as in Final Fantasy VI) does not count as a distinct ending. Also, the "Game Over" outcome is usually not counted as an ending in this context (although "bad endings" are counted).

Examples of multiple endings in video games:

  • The Ace Attorney series (also known as the Phoenix Wright series) contains special game over sequences in some cases which can be considered multiple endings (such as when the defendant is given a "Guilty" verdict). The best example of this is near the very end of the fourth case of the second game, where a series of three correct choices will result in the canon ending, whereas making a mistake results in a much shorter, "bad" ending. In the good ending Phoenix brings out the truth and defeats the villain, in the bad ending the guilty party gets away and despite the fact Phoenix's assistant is let free from De Killer Phoenix says "I never saw Maya again." Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney also has a bad ending if in the final case you choose guilty when playing as the juror.
  • And Then There Were None has four possible endings, depending on whether the player saves the last two victims or not. Saving both results in a happy ending, saving one and not the other results in a semi-happy ending, and not saving either results in an unhappy ending. A similar multiple-ending scenario, with similar conditions and outcomes, occurs in Castlevania: Rondo of Blood.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura has different endings for locations and certain characters in the game, resulting in different combinations of endings depending on what the player did during the game. For example, if the player helps the local thieves in the city of Shrouded Hills to destroy bridge materials, the player will get the bad ending for Shrouded Hills, with the town stagnated due to no communication with other cities. If the player completes the good quests for Shrouded Hills, however, the ending will be Shrouded Hills flourishing, and eventually becoming a big metropolis. Similar things are done with certain important characters in the game and other locations.
  • Bible Black has 12 endings depending what decisions does the main character takes during the game, in 10 of them the main character loses or dies, but in the ending No. 1 or 12 he wins.
  • The Settlers: Rise of an Empire has two possible endings, for women and for men (depending did he choose himself to be a king or queen).
  • The BioShock games have multiple endings based on the player's moral decisions, mainly the choice to either harvest (kill) or rescue the little sisters.
  • Blade Runner on the PC is notable for its many multiple endings, all of which can be deemed authentic. It has been argued how many endings there really are, but thirteen is the most accepted answer. Many of the endings depend on the way the whole game is played which also depends on random events, different decision making, and different sequences of triggers. The endings deal with either the main character realizing he's a replicant, fulfilling the title of being a true blade runner, or running off with a loved one.
  • Bubble Bobble was possibly the first game to feature multiple endings (or at least the forebearer of the concept). The player would receive different outcomes at the end of the game depending on whether the second player was alive, and whether they had completed the "bonus" levels.
  • Catherine has multiple different endings, depending on whether Vincent the main character choses to live his life with Katherine (his longtime girlfriend ready to marry him) or Catherine (who is just his type).
  • Clock Tower had different endings based on where the player goes and which methods are used to escape. They may escape by themselves, or with other members of the party, or they may not escape. Most of the other games in the series also have many possible endings.
  • Chrono Trigger (and its sequel, Chrono Cross) is the most prominent early example of multiple endings. A few endings could be obtained on the first play-through depending on the player's choices during the game; however, most of the endings were granted as a bonus available on subsequent play-throughs, depending on when the player transported to defeat the final boss.
  • Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars contains a choice between a good or bad ending in the last GDI campaign mission. The player's objective is to destroy a large control node which apparently holds control over the alien species (known as the Scrin) invading planet Earth. In the middle of this mission, the player is offered to use a Liquid Tiberium Bomb to instantly destroy the control node. If the player does so, a bad ending plays after victory, where you are told that millions of civilians have been killed by the chain reaction set off by the bomb. If you refuse to use the bomb, and instead chooses to destroy the node in another way, the good ending plays, with no civilian casualties.
  • Crash Bash has 2 possible endings depending on whether the player plays as a good or evil character. However, if the game is completed with 2 players, with one being good and one being evil, after the final boss is defeated, the players will be forced to fight each other and the winner will determine the ending.
  • The Crystal Key has multiple endings, all taking place aboard Ozgar's mothership. One happens after the power station on level 2 is activated, but a multitool there is not taken, leaving the player with no way to escape from a prison cell in the next level. Another happens after first seeing Ozgar through a window. If the player moves forward instead of left when leaving, Ozgar will approach, and use his telepathic abilities to kill the player. The rest occur if the trap to destroy Ozgar at the game's end is not set up correctly. Ozgar will then telepathically summon his guards (the only thing he actually says in English), who arrive to shoot the player dead.
  • Deus Ex, and its sequel Deus Ex: Invisible War, featured three and five endings, respectively, based on which of several factions the hero sided with. The sequel used a blend of the first game's endings as canon. The endings depended mainly on the player's actions at the very end of the game. The sequel also featured a joke ending accessed by a bizarre sequence of actions in the final level.
  • Disgaea: Hour of Darkness included a character who explicitly mentioned "multiple endings." The main plot could end in several ways, depending on whether Prince Laharl killed any allies as collateral damage during battles, and whether or not he defeated a certain optional boss. Radically different endings would also appear if Laharl accumulated many "ally kills" before certain moral decisions, or let comic-relief character Vyers defeat him, or attacked the Netherworld Senate one hundred times, or conquered a secret area instead of fighting the normal boss. Finally, defeating a hidden, extremely hard boss would give an "ending" that resolved a plot thread without actually ending the game.
  • Earthworm Jim's Special Edition included a "bad ending", which is accessed by completing the game on Practice difficulty. The ending includes a long, humorous speech about worms, which becomes weird and out of shape due to the narrator being bothered to read it.
  • Epic Mickey has several different endings (albeit in the same credit sequence) depending on how the player clears the first 3 of 4 boss fights, using Paint or Thinner, and treating certain NPCs, such as Small Pete, Big Bad Pete, and Animatronics Donald, Goofy, and Daisy.
  • Visual novels usually have multiple endings, depending on the choices of the player throughout the game. Some visual novels, such as Ever17 or Clannad feature additional endings or continuations of the story that are unlocked after a given set of endings are reached. Princess Maker 2 has 74 different endings, depending on statistics given to player character and accomplishing plot requirements during play.
  • Final Fantasy X-2 has- in addition to a bad ending in which Vegnagun is not destroyed in time- 4 additional endings: sad, neutral, good (which also includes the neutral portion), and perfect (which also includes the neutral and good portions). The ending depends on objectives met during the game.
  • Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas both end according to the choices the player makes, or who/what faction the player is working with. For example, if the player is working with the Legion at the end of Fallout: New Vegas, the ending would be much different than if the player was working with the NCR. Not only are there four possible main endings, but there also exist multiple endings for each of the settlements you visit, depending on your actions. In Fallout 3, the player is given 2 choices at the end of the game which will impact how the ending will occur (either sacrifice yourself or someone else for Project Purity). Karma serves as an in-game reminder of how good/bad you did in general. Also, multiple endings for some settlements exist.
  • Guilty Gear X2 possesses a Story Mode in which, if certain criteria are met, the character that the player is playing as can see a number of varying plot points, which end with three endings which usually differ from each other in that the character interacts with characters not seen in the other two endings.
  • God of War II shows an alternate ending to the boss battle or an alternate ending to the first game. If, when fighting Atropos, the player ignores Atropos as she attacks the sword (in which case the sword will start to crack, and eventually will fall apart), the sword parts collapse into the water; Kratos falls in with them, overhearing Atropos saying, "This is the power of the fates, Kratos; none can change their true destiny!" As Ares proceeds to finish Kratos in his final battle in the past, when Kratos looks at the broken sword, instead of picking it up (since it's no use broken), Kratos returns to his sad stance and is then stabbed the same way Zeus did by Ares and is killed, as the present day Kratos also dies from the time paradox, and the player is taken to the "You Are Dead" screen, making them redo the battle.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV involves the game's main protagonist, Niko Bellic, having to decide whether to seek revenge, or to strike a deal. But no matter his choices are, someone he cares for dies. If the player chose Revenge, Niko will kill the game's antagonist, Dimitri Rascalov early, his girlfriend eventually gunned down by Pegorino's men, and Niko pursues to take his second revenge. If Deal is taken, it is Niko's cousin, Roman, who is killed, and Niko goes after Dimitri, who will be the final boss of the game.
  • Half-Life ends with the player having to make a choice (the famous "It's time to choose" sound file used here later having been used in Counter-Strike to let the players vote on a new map) between cooperating with the man in the suit or refusing to do so. Refusal leads to the player being killed by the man, and cooperating leads to being transported into another dimension. Either way, the player has lost control of his/her own destiny, indicating the so-called choice was really a Hobson's choice. The sequel assumes that the player chose to cooperate.
  • All Halo games have an extended ending if they are beaten on Legendary mode.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has two endings; if the player earns enough points for Gryffindor House, then it shows an ending with Gryffindor House's victory in the House Cup. If not, then Slytherin wins.
  • Heavy Rain has 18 endings, following the game premise of "Every single choice you make will change everything".
  • The House of the Dead series (with the exception of Overkill) all have alternate endings depending on the player's performance. In the first game, Rogan's wife-to-be, Sophie, is shown to be severely wounded by the first boss, The Chariot, and it's later revealed she manages to escape the house alive, or as a zombie. In 2, either James and/or Gary is greeted by Rogan, or a Zombie Goldman. In 3, of four endings, either one- Daniel Curien reflects upon his father's intentions, two- Daniel transforms into a zombie, 3- a zombie hijacks Lisa Rogan's car, or 4- an unidentified "mystery man" picks up a glass vial containing Daniel Curien's antidote, and ambiguously says the compound has a "true purpose". In 4, either a pre-recorded message from Goldman plays (standard), plays and reveals Goldman is zombified (bad), G honors James' sacrifice, or shows the "mystery man", who reveals his disgust for the human race and reveals there is a second Pandora's Box.
  • Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis has two endings, depending on the player's actions during the endgame. In the normal ending, Ubermann unsuccessfully attempts to transform himself using the god machine, which kills him and destroys Atlantis. In this ending, Indy and Sophia watch Atlantis sink, and Indy kisses Sophia. The bad ending occurs if Sophia is not freed from prison or Nur-Ab-Sal's influence. In this case, she enters the god machine instead of Ubermann, and is killed. Indy is alone as he watches Atlantis sink, and laments that Sophia did not listen to him.
  • King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow features several endings, depending on which of two main branches the player takes during the game and which optional actions the player performs. In the best ending, peace is restored to the Land of the Green Isles, Cassima's parents return from the dead, the genie is still alive, the royal family of Daventry is present at Alexander and Cassima's wedding, and Jollo the jester performs at the wedding. In the alternate endings, many of these elements are not present.
  • KKnD features two different endings for the two factions. The Survivors campaign ending shows the re-building of civilization while the Evolved campaign ending shows a destruction of survivor infrastructures. The Evolved campaign ending is canonical as hinted by its sequel, KKnD 2: Krossfire.
  • La Pucelle: Tactics featured multiple endings to individual chapters. For instance, in one chapter heroine Prier could respond to reports of a monster in the forest by simply killing it or by investigating the matter further, leading to completely different outcomes without changing the game's overall plot.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask ends with the credits being rolled over a series of cutscenes for each of the sidequests the player completed. If the player did not complete a sidequest, instead the game shows a black screen and the mask that the player failed to earn, encouraging the player to go back and complete the sidequest. The game also shows a nonstandard "game over" cutscene if the player lets the game's three-day time limit run out.
  • Mana-Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis has 8 endings, 1 of which is a bad ending. To obtain one of the 7 good endings, the player must complete all of a party member's character quests throughout the game, with the last one for all characters becoming available on the last Free Time week in Chapter 11. If this is done, the player can fight the true final boss, in which Vayne can join, and the player has one last chance to reposition the party after fighting the 1st final boss. Defeating the final boss will unlock the ending for whoever's character quests the player has completed. Consequently, if the player wants to view endings for multiple characters, he/she would have to save at the last Free Time week in Chapter 11, complete another character's final quest, and fight through the bosses in Chapters 11 and 12 again, all while saving in a separate slot for each character. If the player did not complete all of a character's quest, then the true final boss cannot be fought, and Vayne's ending, the bad ending, is unlocked.
  • Mega Man X5 There are two endings in this game. The first ending in which X was trying to save Zero while suddenly Sigma shot a laser at X, while Zero shoots Sigma with the Z-Buster. While X was repaired, he brought Zero's saber as he said "Forever.. We will be together.. Zero..", while in the second ending, Light repaired X and deletes his memories about Zero. The second ending can be unlocked by letting Zero go maverick.
  • Metroid and its sequels featured slight variations on the ending depending on how quickly the player finished the game, or on how many of the game's items were found (as in Prime trilogy sub-series).
  • Metroid Prime Hunters concerns two endings when fighting Gorea at the end of the game. If Samus defeats Gorea's first phase but not fulfilling the Alimbic Prophecy, then the scene will play showing the Oubliette, the planet she is on, explodes with Samus and all the hunters remaining within its chambers. If, however, she fulfilling this, Gorea in the second phase appears and upon its defeat, Samus and the other hunters flee as the Oubliette explodes.
  • Metal Gear Solid has two endings concerning the fate of the character Meryl Silverburgh. At one point, the player is presented with a choice; either they must endure and survive a torture, or submit to the torture. If they choose to submit, Meryl dies. Since Meryl reappears in Metal Gear Solid 4, the former ending is canon, despite the fact Snake mentions his stealth camo in Metal Gear Solid 2, at the opening section of 'Tanker', which he only receives if Meryl dies.
  • In many games, such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Baldur's Gate, and Fable, the player can choose whether to side with the forces of good or evil. This will affect many aspects of the game, including the ending.
  • Meteors has multiple endings in the Space Trip mode, depending on the path is taken by the player.
  • The plot of most games in the Mortal Kombat series revolves around a martial arts tournament. Depending on who the player wins the tournament as, a different ending occurs.
  • Myst, Riven, Myst III: Exile, Myst IV: Revelation, Myst V: End of Ages, and Uru: Ages Beyond Myst all have multiple endings, some of which (In Myst, Riven, Exile, and Revelation) end in the player's demise.
  • Access Software's 1996 interactive movie The Pandora Directive features three different narrative paths and nine possible endings depending on the path taken by the player in shaping the playable character's personality through certain actions and conversations.
  • Psychic Detective has more than a dozen alternate endings; which one is seen depends on the player's actions throughout the game and the outcome of a board game at the end. The best ending is "The Grand Slam", but other endings offer a mix of positive and negative outcomes for the characters.
  • In Rayman 2: The Great Escape, after the player defeats Jano in The Cave of Bad Dreams, Jano offers the player a treasure instead of the Elixir of Life (Which is required to progress in the game). If the player chooses to collect the treasure, the scene changes to Rayman, now grown terribly obese, sleeping on a small island with the treasure, with a large "THE END" title.
  • In the game Saw (video game) there are two endings. The first is a freedom door where you, Detective David Tapp, and all of the people still alive in the asylum will be free. If the player choses the Truth door people left alive will have to find their way out on their own terms while David must pursue Jigsaw up to the point where he beats up (unknowingly) Melissa Sing who the Pighead dressed as jigsaw. She later gets killed by a tripwire. Tapp then is later in the Asylum being watched by unknown people while he is tied down to a table.
  • In the final boss battle of Shaman King: Power of Spirit, if the player defeats the final boss but depletes Meril's HP in the process, the ending will be almost exactly the same, except that Meril will remain in a coma forever; if she survives the battle, she will still be in the hospital, but will wake up in the end. Note that it is extremely difficult to defeat the boss without letting her get killed.
  • Shadow of Destiny has a series of multiple endings that unlocks game content based on the characters actions during that event sequence.
  • The Shadow Hearts video game series has been known for having two endings (Good and Bad endings). For example, in Shadow Hearts 2, near the end of the game the main character is asked a question and you will have two choices, you will get the good/bad ending depending on your choice.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne has 6 possible endings: Yosuga, Musubi, Shijima, Neutral, Demon, True Demon.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 has two possible endings: the bad ending, which is triggered by accepting Ryoji's request to kill him, thus wiping out the SEES team's memories of the Dark Hour and letting Nyx destroy the world, and the good/canon ending which is achieved by refusing Ryoji's request, reaching the top of Tartarus within a month and defeating the final boss, Nyx.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 features three possible endings: the bad ending, which is triggered by the player's decision to kill Taro Namatame or failing to identify the true killer, the normal ending, which is attainable by apprehending the real culprit behind the murders, and the 'true/canon ending', which is achievable only by performing a series of actions during the last day of the story and defeating the mastermind behind the whole case.
  • The Silent Hill series has become known for its multiple endings, each with a different outcome for the player and thus a different theme or tone to view the entire game's events. Most of the games have also included a "joke" ending, for the consummate gamers.
  • The Resident Evil series' multiple endings varied in the fates of the main characters or final bosses. For example, in the first title, if the player does not save his main supporting character, they will not fight the final boss (who will be shown free to roam the forest.) Subsequent games show which of the endings from the previous ones are canon. Also, files presented in Resident Evil 5 also confirm the canon events.
  • Shadow the Hedgehog has 10 endings; there are 5 final stages in the game, and your final decision as to whether this play this final level in Hero or Dark determines the ending.. However, there is a true, canonical ending that is unlocked by gaining all of the endings.
  • Many strategy video games have mutually exclusive campaigns, each leading to a different ending. When a sequel is made, the designers can decide that one side won the previous game (E.g.: Command & Conquer series) or that the side the player chooses won/lost.
  • In Soul Blade, endings for the various characters can feature different outcomes depending on commands entered during certain points. For example, one outcome will see the player take Soul Edge and become evil, whilst the other sees him destroy it. A similar system appeared in Soul Calibur III.
  • Star Wars III: Revenge Of The Sith gives the player the chance to play as Anakin and fight Obi-Wan after he/she defeats Anakin Skywalker in Level 17. On winning, Obi-Wan is killed and Anakin returns to Darth Sidious (Supreme Chancellor Palpatine), however, upon receiving a new lightsaber from his master, he kills him and declares himself the new ruler of the galaxy.
  • The plot of most games in the Street Fighter series revolves around a martial arts tournament. Depending on who the player wins the tournament as, a different ending occurs.
  • The home version of the Street Fighter: The Movie game features a Movie Battle mode with two possible endings. As Guile, the player must find and defeat M. Bison within an hour. Success in this mode means that Guile is regarded as a hero, and Shadaloo City is rebuilt to be recognized as a symbol of world peace. Failure to find Bison in the hour will result in the AN being forced to pay Bison the ransom, Guile is court martialed, and Bison uses the ransom money to finance his plot to mass-produce his army of "Perfect Genetic Soldiers" and seize control of the world.
  • Suikoden II and Suikoden V have alternate endings which are unlocked if all possible characters have been recruited and certain other requirements are met. The other entries in the series also have bonuses for recruiting all characters, but in I and IV these are limited to brief extra or changed scenes in the end, while in III, this instead opens up an extra playable portion of the game after the typical end.
  • Tales of Symphonia contains two different endings depending on a choice the player makes in Flanoir. If the player waits, and talks to Kratos, Zelos will fight the party when he betrays them, and is killed. Kratos will later rejoin the party later in the game. If the player chooses to talk with anyone but Kratos, Zelos will run away when he betrays the party, but will later rejoin and Kratos will not. This ending has been made canon since Zelos is alive in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. The ending also changes slightly depending on the affection levels of the player's party.
  • The Fallout series had a set of multiple endings which changed with the player's actions through the game.
  • Multi-character Tournament games such as the fighting game Mortal Kombat and the deathrace game Twisted Metal feature multiple canonical endings, one for each character. The final actual canon ending is composed of parts of these endings. It is not known which parts of which endings would be picked as the true endings until the next game. For example, in Mortal Kombat 3, Cyrax's ending finds him being reprogrammed by Sub-Zero to defeat Shao Kahn and ends up lost in Jade's desert ruins. While Liu Kang defeated Shao Kahn in the canon storyline, Cyrax still ended up lost in the desert and would return in Mortal Kombat Gold.
  • Seiken Densetsu 3 has 3 different endings depending on who the player's main character is: one for Duran and Angela, one for Carlie (Charlotte) and Kevin, and one for Lise (Riesz) and Hawk (Hawkeye).
  • Starfox 64 has, for the most part, two different endings with minor variations based on the route taken to Venom. Taking the easier default route, by either performing in a typical manner or rejecting every choice of moving to an alternate-route planet throughout the game, the player will face the main boss as a robotic head. By taking mostly the alternate routes, which are somewhat harder, the player will face the main boss as a floating, teleporting brain. The alternate ending also introduces the main character's father in a cut scene. Finally, certain levels that can be avoided involve facing Star Wolf. Depending on where the player defeats him, or if he/she defeats him at all, and which route the player took, he/she may face him as a sub-boss instead of the regular stone robot in the Venom temple.
  • StarFox Command has nine different endings that depend on the pathway chosen by the player, that is, the order of the stages played. The initial ending involves Krystal rejoining Team Star Fox, but leaving Fox McCloud broken-hearted, and alone for life, to be with Panther as part of Star Wolf. The "best" ending quite possibly may be one in which the Star Fox team regroups, adding Amanda, a pink frog resembling Slippy, to the team, and where Venom, now peaceful is under the care of Dash Bowman, Andross' grandson. Three other endings range from Fox and Krystal marrying and having a child, to Krystal separating from Lylat, under the name Kursed. Other endings include Dash, following in his grandfather's footsteps attempting a takeover of Lylat, after he takes charge, and globalizes Venom. Fox and Falco joining the G-Zero GP (a parody of the F-Zero Grand Prix), Falco creating Rival Team "Star Falco", and Slippy leaving the team to settle with his fiance Amanda. The game is reported to be non-canonical however, so it is assumed that all turns out well for everyone. (There was going to be a ninth ending that tied up all of the loose ends, but it was ultimately scrapped. Hackers were eventually able to find its leftover code.)
  • Star Ocean: The Second Story (and Star Ocean: Till the End of Time) is one of the most elaborate examples of multiple endings in a videogame. There are 88 possible ending cutscenes, which depend on the relationship system to determine which the player gets. The finale will usually consist of a couple of these cutscenes mixed with the fixed ones that will always be part of the ending.
  • Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II had two endings depending on whether the hero, Kyle Katarn, turns to the Dark Side of the Force or not, which in turn is based on the player's actions towards NPCs and choice of Force powers. In the first ending, Kyle refuses to kill his love interest, fights his way through the villains, and releases the power of the Valley of the Jedi. In the second ending, Kyle murders Jan in cold blood, kills most of the villains, and uses the Valley's power to rule the galaxy with the main villain's sidekick, Sarris, at his side.
  • True Crime: Streets of LA: There are three different endings for the game. The endings are Bad, Average, and Good. The Good ending for the game (by completing the longest mission track) is very different from the other two endings, which are completed by taking alternate mission tracks. The Bad and Average endings are similar as the narration says the same thing for both endings, but the scene is different. While there are three endings, there are also different versions of all of these endings, depending on if the player is defeated by the enemy or defeats the enemy. Technically, there are 6 endings overall that can be obtained by either completing the mission tracks and either being defeated, or defeating the enemy.
  • Desperate Housewives: The Game has four different endings, depending on which of the three men the main housewife chooses or the fourth, in which she chooses none of them.
  • The Wing Commander series has had a tradition of multiple endings, determined by success or failure on certain key missions, but even in some cases, ending up on the 'losing track' can be diverted by success in later missions. An example comes in Wing Commander III, where if certain missions are failed, the momentum slides in the Kilrathi's favor, and the player has to fight a losing battle to protect Earth, while staying on the successful track will take the fight to Kilrah.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines featured five endings, based on the player's ultimate loyalty.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption featured three endings based on character choices, availability of the choices was affected by Humanity.
  • In Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, failing to traverse all of the bonus life upgrades causes the end boss fight to be another fight against Kaileena, where the Dahaka takes her body and the Prince's Amulet. But, if the player do traverse the life upgrades, he/she will find the Water sword, which has the ability to defeat the Dahaka and save both the Prince and Kaileena. This is the true ending.
  • Dead Rising on the Xbox 360 features 8 different endings depending on how the game was played. The standard endings, ranked 'A', being the best, to 'F', being the worst, had certain conditions to be meet in order to view them, for example, completing all the case files would unlock ending 'A' or 'B' depending if Frank meet with Isabella before 12:00, however if Frank did not complete all the case files but got to the heli-pad a different ending would play. Ending 'F' would be played if Frank did not find all the bombs in the maintenance tunnels. Two other endings could only be unlocked if the player obtained the 'A' ending in normal mode and then played through Overtime mode.
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic includes two unique endings based on whether or not Revan chooses to join former ally and ex-Jedi Bastila Shan during a confrontation with her. If he falls to the dark side and chooses to join her, then part of his party is killed or runs away, Darth Malak is killed, the Star Forge remains intact, the Republic fleet is destroyed, and Revan becomes the new Sith Lord with Bastila as his apprentice. If he follows the light side and does not join her, which is the canon ending, then the party stays together, Bastila is redeemed, Darth Malak is killed, the Star Forge is destroyed, the Republic fleet survives, and the Sith are routed. There is also a special code to unlock a secret ending.
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II The Sith Lords offers two different endings. In the light side ending, The Exile leaves Malchor V on the Ebon Hawk which arises from beneath the platform. In the dark side ending, The Exile remains on Malachor V.
  • The PlayStation version of Time Crisis featured an original story mode with multiple branches depending on performance. Each of these had a good or bad ending depending on whether or not the player can defeat Kantaris, the antagonist of the mode, before she can escape.
  • Transformers: The Game is a game which includes two different play campaigns: one for the Autobots and one for the Decepticons. Ultimately, the use of the Allspark and the fate of Earth would depend on the character alliance. Completing the Autobot campaign will have the game end where Megatron makes one final bid to kill Optimus Prime and take the AllSpark. Optimus Prime shoves the AllSpark into Megatron's chest, killing him and peace continues on Earth. Completing the Decepticon campaign ends with Megatron savagely killing Optimus Prime and using the AllSpark to give life to Earth's machines, leaving the Earth in ruins.
  • Star Ocean: Till the End of Time also has multiple endings like its predecessor. However, instead of 88, the game has 19 multiple endings (10 of them which are solo endings while the other 9 are shared with the main protagonist).
  • Wario Land 4 feature four different endings depending on the time the final boss (Golden Diva) is defeated in. The ending are the form of princess the black cat would take during the final cutscene with the bad ending (3) and worst ending (4) being rather humorous.
  • In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed there's an alternate dark side ending where you can choose to kill Vader (instead of Emperor Palpatine) and you end as Palpatine's new apprentice "Lord Starkiller" and all the Rebel Alliance's founders are shot to death by stormtroopers, but this ending is not considered canon.
  • The Story Mode of Triggerheart Exelica and Triggerheart Exelica Enhanced also have multiple endings for each character, if the player is defeated and chooses to continue, this will have the "Normal Ending", if the player completes the game without using continues, the "True Ending" is revealed.
  • Thunder Force V: Perfect System has two ways for end the game: if you destroy the final boss before it escapes will unlock the good ending, if the boss escapes a bad ending will be unlocked.
  • Spyro the Dragon features an alternate ending. If the player collects all the Dragons and all the Gems, the portal Gnasty Gnork is in will open up. If the player successfully defeats him, Spyro will cheer and the credits will roll.
  • In Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge, if the player collects all the Jiggies before winning the final battle, an ending will be shown, very different to what the player sees if he defeats Gruntilda without collecting every Jiggy.
  • Even the first Banjo-Kazooie shows two endings, depending if the player found all the jigsaws. Gruntilda's final dialogue, a menace to the main characters, changes a bit, and a little preview to the next game is revealed.
  • Conker: Live & Reloaded features a multiplayer campaign, the war between Squirrels and Tediz. There are six missions (plus two out of the campaign), and the player can play as Squirrel or as Tediz. The ending of some missions often changes drastically, depending on who wins the mission.
  • The Infamous series is known for its multiple endings, which are based on you being Evil or Good.

Multiple endings and continuity

In terms of continuity, only one of a film or game's different endings could possibly have occurred. Sometimes this is left unresolved, allowing an individual to interpret the end of the story as they will.

However, if a sequel is made, it usually becomes important to establish a narrative conclusion to the previous story (unless the sequel has little to do with the characters or certain settings of the previous game). Generally, one of the multiple endings is explicitly established as the "true" ending through the description of past events, with the other endings assumed to be speculation as to what might have happened. However, in some cases (such as the Resident Evil games), elements of more than one ending are drawn together to create a story that does not quite make sense if only one ending is to be accepted as canon. This is usually seen as a plot hole. Most Fighting Games have an ending for all characters, however, many of these endings either contradict one another or have no purpose story-wise, The next game in the series will tell whose ending, if any canonically happened, and often has parts of other characters' endings happening under different circumstances. For example, Guilty Gear X had many of the events that occurred to characters in their Guilty Gear endings, such as the rebellion on Zepp and May's "rescue" of Johnny, all happen, even though only Sol Badguy canonically fought and defeated Justice.

Sometimes, like in the Sonic the Hedgehog games, the player must beat more than one or all of the possible endings to reveal the "true", or canonical ending. Deus Ex: Invisible War dealt with all three of the endings of the original game by positing they all happened. The video game, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, allows the player to choose which ending to the first game actually occurred, however, the Light-sided ending is considered canon.

In Mass Effect 2, the player can transfer their save file from the previous game, allowing decisions made in the first game to affect the second. The upcoming sequel will feature the same system, although one ending will not be transferrable.

This sort of issue also arises when games have to similar but different plot-wise campaigns that can be played. Warcraft: Orcs & Humans featured a human and an orc campaign and winning either would have one race dominate the other. In Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness it is was decided that the orc scenario is canon and the human one is not.

Or, all endings may be made Canon, like in The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall. All of them happened due to a time rift created by the main character.

See also

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