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18 Most Shocking Deaths in Video Games [Video]

Most Shocking Deaths in Video Games
The Walking Dead

As video game narratives have grown stronger over the years, so has our bond to the characters in these stories. That’s why it’s so heart-wrenching and gut-punching when a favorite character takes a walk into that beautiful sunset.

People die in video games all the time.

But these 18 deaths caught us so off guard that they were instantly memorable.

In case you couldn’t already tell, there will be MAJOR SPOILERS ahead.


Left 4 Dead was one of the most enjoyable co-op shooters released in the last few years. When a sequel with all new characters was announced by Valve, fans threw up their arms in exasperation. “What about the original four?” they all asked. After hearing how vocal the support was, Valve released downloadable content for Left 4 Dead 2 called “The Passing,” which explained what happened to the original four survivors. Little did we know not everyone from the first entry made it to the sequel alive. When Coach, Ellis, Nick, and Rochelle finally get face-to-face with Francis, Zoe, and Louis, one familiar face is strangely missing. It isn’t until players begin exploring the area that it becomes apparent Bill had to sacrifice himself for the greater good of the group. Fortunately, Bill’s story was later told in another batch of add-on content, “The Sacrifice,” but that didn’t make finding his dead body crumpled by the generator any less devastating.


Helpless. That’s how we felt the moment Jackie Estacado met the love of his life Jenny. The Darkness did a great job of establishing the strong bond between the two early on, and though we knew something horrible was going to happen to one of these two characters, Jenny’s death was still a bit of a shock. Her absolving Jackie as her final act meant so much, but didn’t stop us from doing everything in our power to put her killers down for good. It’s rare for a shooter to elicit the kind of emotional response The Darkness did, and perhaps that made this moment stick out even more. All we know is Jenny didn’t deserve what happened to her, and like Jackie, we’ll never forget her.


Casualties of war are a common occurrence in both real conflicts and the video game world. That still doesn’t make it any easier to watch a character who’s been a part of your squad take a bullet. Isara’s death was particularly shocking as she was the youngest member of the squad, and her fall came at the hands of a sniper shot that came from out of nowhere during an extremely heartfelt moment. Isara typically spent most of her time in the protection of a tank, and watching her go down during the few brief moments she got to spend in the open amongst the rest of her battalion took everyone who played Valkyria Chronicles by surprise.


Lucy Stillman helped Desmond escape the clutches of Abstergo. She was by his side when they had to flee the country to Italy, where they had a better chance of tracking down more clues to find the Apple of Eden. As the final chamber door opened beneath the Colosseum, Lucy stood by as Desmond reclaimed his destiny as the savior of the human race. Unfortunately, Lucy was also a double agent working for Abstergo the whole time, and the celestial being guiding Desmond on his journey took her out of the equation. No one knew Lucy was a spy until after Brotherhood concluded, and watching helplessly as Desmond (not in control of his body), stabbed Lucy. It was another major shock in a series full of dramatic conclusions.


We knew it was coming. Let’s be honest. The Last of Us was the story of Joel and Ellie. When Naughty Dog started it’s epic post-apocalpytic actioner just before the apocalypse struck, we were surprised to find ourselves in Sarah’s shoes. Getting to spend some time with Joel in a world where he wasn’t completely beaten down and haggard, but actually happy and content with his daughter, was refreshing. Of course, that’s what made it absolutely heart-shatteringly awful when Sarah was gunned down by the soldier defending the bridge.
We knew it was coming. That didn’t meant it hurt any less.


Every single member of Noble Squad gave his or her life in the hope of saving Reach from the Covenant invasion. From Jorge’s valiant sacrifice at the onset of the attack, to Kat being shot down by a sniper, to Carter’s suicide bombing of the Covenant Scarab, each and every loss was felt tremendously by those playing. Perhaps the most shocking of all though was the player’s own sacrifice as Noble-6. Virtually the last man left standing on the planet, Noble-6 took on as many of the Covenant forces as he could as the ship containing Master Chief escaped Reach. It was quite a way to conclude a video game, and Bungie definitely went out on a high note.


Rocksteady’s unique take on the Batman mythos in its Arkham franchise is regarded as one of the best in the business. Not only were the developers able to tell a completely competent Batman story, but they were also able to deliver two of the best superhero video games of all time. That said, very few comic writers have had the fortitude to kill off Batman’s most famous and devious rogue, the Joker. The entirety of Arkham City, we know the Joker is dying, but everyone (including Mistah J), expects Batman to cure him. Thanks to his own greed, the Joker ends up wasting the remaining inoculation, and goes out the only way he knows how — with a smile on his face.


It’s been said what is dead can never die, but what about things that were never alive to begin with? Tidus’ death in Final Fantasy X was a real mind-bender because he was never real, and was just a dream come to life. It’s sad when dreams die, but it’s just weird when those dreams manifest themselves as an actual person who helps save the world, and then vanishes into the clouds to hang out with other dead heroes. Sadly, this isn’t even the most bizarre thing to ever happen in a Final Fantasy game.


She’d been by Master Chief’s side for years. When no one else could understand what he was going through, or what it was like to be John-117, she was there to comfort and console him. It wasn’t until Chief faced off against the seemingly unstoppable Didact that Cortana was faced with the one decision that will no doubt haunt John for the rest of his life. Without her help, Chief would have died at the hands of the Didact, but knowing she was deteriorating at an incredible rate, Cortana sacrificed herself to ensure Chief would live to see Earth once more. It was one of the more heartfelt moments in the series, and one we hope 343 Industries will stick to, other wise Cortana’s death will have been meaningless.


Gears of War may be known for being a bro-tastic shooter, but that doesn’t mean the franchise doesn’t have its heartfelt moments. After finally discovering the fate of his wife in Gears of War 2, Dom is a shell of his former self by the time Gears 3 rolls around. That said, he still sticks by Delta Squad’s back, making sure to find a way to end the Locust menace. Unfortunately, the team finds their backs against the wall in a fateful battle, and with no other visible option for survival, Dom sacrifices himself so that others may live. At least Dom could finally be reunited with Maria, even if he did have to blow himself up to do it.


Father/daughter relationships are complicated enough already, but that bond is taken to a whole new level in BioShock 2. Though it’s never explicitly stated in the game that Delta is Eleanor’s father, the connection between the two is just as strong as any real family. That’s why it’s so surprising when Eleanor kills you at the end of the game. Regardless of what ending you earned during your playthrough, Eleanor will kill Delta after they escape Rapture. In one scenario, it’s so that your memories will live on forever inside her. In another, it’s because she wants to take all of your power to become stronger herself.


It’s not always a good idea to stand up to the bad guy. That’s a lesson learned the hard way by Crono when he defiantly refuses to back down against Lavos. Unfortunately, even though he’s one of the heroes of Chrono Trigger, Lavos obliterates Crono with a magnificent blast of energy. Though it appears all is lost, Crono can come back to life thanks to some dubious cloning technology, but that doesn’t take anything away from the bold stand Crono made just moments earlier in the game.


To many, Booker DeWitt's death was one of the most talked about deaths of the past year. While few games created as much conversation (good or bad) as BioShock Infinite, the sequel’s ending added additional debate. The protagonist sacrificing himself for the greater good is a long-running trope, and could have been terribly cliche. In this case, there was so much at stake that Booker had no choice but to give in to Elizabeth’s request and Irrational handled the moment with aplomb. What made it all the more devastating was knowing how hard we’d worked to save her, and then learning we were the direct cause of all her pain. After everything horrible done, dying for Elizabeth was the least to be done.


Not everyone is going to survive the zombie apocalypse. That’s never more clear than in Telltale’s episodic adventure game, The Walking Dead. Throughout all five episodes, Lee will be faced with making tough decisions, which often result in the death of a fellow survivor. Sometimes the choice to let someone die is easy, other times, you’re not really sure if you’re doing the right thing. Every death matters in The Walking Dead, and though the writing is on the wall during all of episode five, it’s still a tough pill to swallow.


The first BioShock was full of twists and turns, but none stood out more than finding out you were merely a pawn in a larger scheme. Brainwashed and conditioned to do whatever the person with the control phrase asked you to, the final confrontation with Andrew Ryan takes an unexpected turn. Normally, villains try to fight for their lives, but in this case, Ryan orders you to take his, while getting a final dig in at the same time. The whole situation is incredibly disturbing, and it’s made even more so by the sound design. You’ll never look at a putter the same way again.


You knew this was making the list, right? It’s only one of the most talked about video game deaths of all time, and comes from one of the most beloved RPGs ever created. There isn’t much else to say about Aerith’s death that hasn’t already been said, and her death will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most memorable ever. Graphics be damned, this is still an emotional moment.


No matter your opinion on the Call of Duty franchise, the absolutely out-of-nowhere deaths of Ghost and Roach are some of the most shocking we’ve ever seen. Maybe it was the betrayal of Shepard that had us reeling the most, or maybe it was the fact that we were witnessing the deaths of these two characters first hand as they were burned alive in the middle of a field. Thankfully, Soap and Price are able to track down Shepard and exact revenge by the end of the game. Still, we can’t recall many bigger controller-dropping, table-flipping moments.


Never has a game caused so many curse words to ring out in the air than Red Dead Redemption. Just when it looks like John Marston will finally get to live the life he deserves, his past comes catching up to him in a terrible way. If Red Dead Redemption has taught you anything, it has been to never trust the word of a lawman -- no matter how convincing he was. Maston doesn’t even get to go out like a hero, and is instead gunned down by the very men who swore to ensure his freedom. Did Marston deserve what he got after all those years as a bandit? Perhaps. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it.


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