Bladder of Steel

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Beware of rusting.

"I mean, if you have to answer the phone, or take a shit, it's like, 'Tough shit if you gotta take a shit!' You gotta take a quick shit! You gotta have turbo turds! I'm trying to play the game, I've got shit stains in my pants, and an answering machine that says 'Sorry, I'm playing Ghostbusters 2 on Nintendo.' What a selfish game. Bottom line, have a fucking pause button, god damn it!"


Any game that forces the player to disregard its own manual, and their own common sense, in terms of breaks from gameplay.

There are many types of games out there. Some are designed to be picked up and played for minutes at a time. Others encourage longer sessions by spreading out Save Points or forcing the player to grind. But even if you're not at the next save point, you can always leave, right? Just pause the game and carry on later. Sure, it's a total waste of power when a suspend option could have been built into the game, but at least that shiny disc doesn't have dictatorial control over your life.


There are a few games which have challenges where the simple act of pausing is forbidden, and you need to play for a considerable length of time. And you thought TV Tropes would ruin your life.

Note that the only examples that should be posted here are ones where pausing is disabled. If it allows pausing, but has a lousy save system, see Save Game Limits and Check Point Starvation.

With some modern systems, the pause feature is hard-coded into the system, such as with the Wii (Press the home button), and the DS (Close the lid), but it's possible to deny a prize when this feature is used (as is the case with the Trope Namer).

Moral Guardians may be shocked at the long list below, but this is actually a rare trope in popular modern games. Most of the examples are for very specific situations or obscure games.

Not related to Bottomless Bladder.

Compare Marathon Level and Marathon Boss. Contrast Anti-Poopsocking, where the game implements features to keep people from doing Just One More Level too much.

If you don't have one and you try your hand at these sorts of games anyway, be prepared for a Potty Emergency or a Potty Failure.

Examples of Bladder of Steel include:

Video Game Examples

Action Game

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: The lengthy unskippable intro, where you are given a trial by fire immediately after.

Adventure Game

  • Nancy Drew: The Final Scene: Be sure you've made your peace with God and your bladder before starting a phone call, because some of those calls go on for a while and there's no way to stop them. Remedied in later games, which prompt Nancy for her responses instead of making them automatic and allow a merciful breather.
  • If you want to listen to the culprit's full confession at the end of the game adaptation of And Then There Were None, you'd better make a quick trip to the bathroom before going upstairs because this particular Motive Rant goes on and on with no sign of stopping until the player's cue to step in and save the final victim.

Driving Game

  • Desert Bus. To quote The Other Wiki, "The objective of the game is to drive a bus from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada in real time at a maximum speed of 45mph, a feat that would take the player 8 hours of continuous play to complete, as the game cannot be paused." It would be easy to bullshit this, if the bus didn't gently veer to the right on its own.
    • As a matter of fact, Canadian sketch-comedy group Loading Ready Run ran a 'Desert Bus for Hope' campaign, playing the 'game' continuously (and broadcasting it on a webcam) for almost four days to raise money for charity. They used alternating drivers, but they would have had to use the facilities during at least one person's shift.
    • The third year one driver went for 12 hours straight. He did, however, pass off the controller on occasion to use the facilities.
    • The fourth year they took turns taking 24 hour shifts, as they had so much practice that the game was too easy if they took the traditional 4 hours each. They went for nearly 6 days.
  • Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 2 hands out special titles for continuing 10, 20, 30, or 40 times in a row. You'll need to have at least as many plays left on your card as you need continues to get the desired title, as card expiration will break your continue chain.
  • Endurance mode in any arcade racing game that has it (e.g. Daytona USA), where you obviously can't pause.

Fighting Game

  • The Mortal Kombat games for the earlier systems lacked pause features, since pressing Start was to block. Same with Street Fighter on the 3-button Genesis controller, where pressing Start switched from punching to kicking (the 6-button controller did let you pause).
    • In order to unlock Pong in Mortal Kombat 2, you need to have 250 wins... in a row. In a game without a pause function and automatic progression between screens, giving you a maximum of 98 seconds before having to inflict damage to your idle player 2 in order to avoid a draw.[1]

First Person Shooter

  • Combat Arms' Fireteam mode has a map called Cabin Fever, where a group of 8 defend a small cabin from highly resistant infected - for 45 minutes on the extreme difficulty.
    • And while there are breaks between each level, they are just long enough to reload three weapons, and then you have to start shooting again!
  • Halo has some pretty cruel examples. For the Halo 3 achievement, Annual, needed to get Recon Armor, 4 players must together beat the final level on Legendary on Ghosts with Iron on. If one player dies, you must start again from the last checkpoint.
    • Halo 3 ODST gives you the Endure Achievement (also for Recon; noting a pattern?) where four players must all together survive through set 4 in firefight on Heroic. This task can easily last for three hours, and any one person leaving could result in the enemy breaking through and promptly killing everyone.
  • Any online shooter pretty much causes this. Especially if you're on a team, although you can still usually spectate, or there are enough players that disappearing for a couple of minutes will not ruin the entire game.
  • VS mode in Left 4 Dead doesn't allow you to make your character go idle, thus if you really need to go away for a while, you either need to suck it up and play the whole game through, or leave the game and come back to start all over.
    • There's relief in sight! If you can convince all the survivors to stay in the safe room at the start of a map (without opening the door), the infected can't attack and you can take a break.
      • You get about three minutes though, before the door automatically opens and the Infected get instant respawns. On top of this, common infected and special infected AI will not wait and will attack as soon as the door is opened.
    • For that matter, the game generally doesnt allow for a lot of breaks outside of the safe rooms. Fortunately, if a player goes idle, the AI automatically takes over the character until he returns.
  • Call of Duty World at War's Nazi Zombies requires four players to play from the start of the game until their inevitable end, and if one player leaves for more than a couple seconds, it could put every player at risk of quick defeat because a choke point is left undefended. Depending on how well a game goes, it can be between one or two hours before the players finally die, allowing for a quick bathroom break before a rematch.
  • Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot has three larger challenges that each involve completing 20 rounds of 5 waves of enemies each, with the enemies getting harder each round and more modifiers being added (like enemies with stronger shields, enemies only take damage from criticals, players being restricted to a certain weapon, etc). If you're doing it solo, you can pause, but with other people you can't, although after each round you do get a screen that will stay up until one person presses OK, so you can take your breaks there.
    • This is made worse by the fact that if you or your team should lose, you get sent back to the beginning of the previous round. Not wave, ROUND, I.E., lose on round 9, wave 4, get sent back to round 8, wave 1. This means unless the player(s) are exceptionally good, most people are looking at more than 20 rounds. The large challenges will take around five hours at the very least.
  • Killing Floor gives you about a minute between rounds, which is usually spent mostly by moving to the trader location to restock ammo or buying new weapons (though smart players will already have do so during the round when only a few enemies are left), and heading for a good spot to hole up in for the next wave. Pretty much the only good chance to take a break is between levels or if you get yourself killed early during a round.

Hack And Slash

  • Sacred 2 on the Play Station 3 has no pause function, even if you go to your inventory. The only way to "pause" is to save and exit, and when you return you're at your last save point.
  • You cannot pause Diablo 2 when playing online, as with most multiplayer online games. This becomes especially rough when you play "hardcore", where when you die the game deletes your character.
    • Note, however, that one can (heck, should) always be prepared to Town Portal out of combat to a safe zone temporarily if your teammates are cool with it.

Maze Game

  • Most older arcade games have this potentially, but the devs didn't really expect anyone to play for that long on one quarter. Pac-Man is known for a trick to avert this in which you can "park" Pac-Man in a certain location and be guaranteed that the monsters will never attack him.
    • There are Asteroids players who stock up 99 lives, take breaks while the ship is left to die a few dozen times, then resume play.


  • In MMOs, pausing is generally either not possible or disadvantageous. Extreme examples of this trope include:
    • The Pandemonium Warden in Final Fantasy XI. Even after the patch, it has a 2 hour time limit.
      • Argus in Final Fantasy XI is a notorious monster that, when killed will respawn 18–30 hours later. That means any time within a timeframe of 12 REAL LIFE HOURS this mob could pop. To have any chance of claiming him, you have to stay until you either get him, or he is killed so you know when the window for the next spawn is open. So hardcore players often spent the full 12 hours camping him. Thankfully the item the mob drops also drops in a more convenient instance, but for the longest time the only way to get that item was to be willing to camp for up to 12 hours a day, and schedule your life around its respawns. Even less intensive notorious monsters could easily have a spawn time of 2–4 hours. Combine that with competition or bad luck and it was very easy to spend an 8 hour day for two attempts at a monster's drop.
    • For a substantial time after release, attempting to finish the Fight Caves challenge in RuneScape had no possible way of leaving your computer, save for getting lucky and trapping the last enemy of a round behind a wall (which was still limited by the 90 second inactivity log-out). The Fight Caves, with the equipment available at its release, took an average of 1 1/2 to 2 hours to complete. Luckily, you can now save what wave of the challenge you're on by trying to log out, which will send you back into the cave at the same wave the next time you log in.
    • The final area in zOMG! takes a minimum of two hours to complete. And that's just if you have a competent crew. You have to make your way through Shallow Seas, the Robofish cave, and Sealab Compound just for a chance to fight the Chapter 1 boss. And it's an instance, meaning that if you exit the game for whatever reason, you have to start over from the beginning. Casual MMO, my eye!
      • Dead Man's Shadow takes this to extremes: if you want to do a boss run, it's generally accepted that you should set aside a bare minimum of ten hours. And that's assuming you're attuned (once you reach a certain area for the first time, you become "attuned", which gives you the ability to skip past the first section of the maze).
  • EVE Online. Due to the one-server nature of Eve, it's possible for enemies in different timezones to schedule their assaults of player-owned structures so that the defenders will have to play at inconvenient times or accept their losses. However, the reinforced mode system alleviates this problem somewhat: If the enemy succeeds in assaulting a player-owned structure, it becomes invulnerable for a certain number of hours, which can be adjusted by the owner beforehand. If the defender correctly estimated the time of the attack, the structure will exit reinforced mode at a time when the defender can organize an effective defense.
    • The reality being that it actually gets a ticking timer until it comes out of reinforced. Expect a large battle at that time if the attackers and defenders are both serious, otherwise...
  • The now-abolished honor ranking system in World of Warcraft awarded points according to the relative lethality of the character among their respective faction: the most-lethal character received the lion's share of the points, the next-best got half of that and so on. If you had points above a certain threshold, you attained the next rank. Unfortunately, the point requirements went up exponentially. In practice, attaining the highest ranks of Grand Marshal (Alliance) and High Warlord (Horde), you had to fight almost nonstop for several months. To make this even remotely tolerable, many players opted to play the same character in shifts, even if account-sharing was against the rules. And to make things worse, you lost a portion of your already-accumulated points each week, so not playing for a while could negate weeks of effort. In the earliest incarnations of the system, losing a rank also made your hard-earned gear unusable, making it necessary to maintain the breakneck pace.
    • WoW has a more straightforward example with its instances, especially those in the original pre-expansion game. Some, like Blackrock Depths, take a good eight hours to complete. They all offer breaks in the action where players can say "BRB" and go relieve themselves, refill their Mountain Dew, tend to any whining children, etc. Thankfully, the newer instances are about an hour tops.
      • That would be Blackrock Spire, Which consisted of no less than FIVE (though two are raids) "separate" zones. Though you can move from one to the next with only having to leave the instance once, from the dwarven/elemental area to the dragon/orc one. Before the newest expansion there was an Escort Mission in the Dwarven area that was at the very LEAST a half hour long in and of itself, with the potential for the escortee, Marshal Winsdor, to die, causing you to have to RESTART THE DAMNED THING. BRD gave many a player Grey hair and Cross-Popping Veins. A full clear of the mountain, not counting the two raids, at the proper levels (54-60) would take about 10 hours or more. The raids themselves, Molten Core and Blackwing Lair, would take about the same amount of time each when they were considered end game.
  • Crews on Puzzle Pirates sometimes go on several-hour-long raids (some crews go out for 12 hours, some have even done 24 and beyond). This involves repeatedly attacking ships on the high seas, and stopping at port only to offload loot, resupply, and sail right back out. Expect the crew's captain and senior officers to remain on duty for hours on end. Junior officers seeking promotion will also try to stay active as long as possible. Due to the way that individual player actions influence the effectiveness of the ship they're on, a single crewmate "hopping off for a quick whiz" can cost the crew an hour's work, so Steel Bladders are practically required. Fortunately, during port resupply, most crewmates can run to the loo. Not so for the captain, who has to run to the store and pick up more cannonballs. Some captains have been known to fall asleep at the wheel during the later stages of a long raid. It is yet unknown how many have spontaneously exploded due to rising internal urine pressure.
    • Some pirates play on laptops.
    • Raids? Try blockades: the above with Ventrilo and higher stakes.
    • This was exploited in a similar way to the above EVE example; by scheduling attacks at unreasonable times, one particularly infamous Jerkass Griefer by the name of Robertdonald forced defenders to log on to play at extremely bothersome times or risk losing a high-stakes battle by default. Then he would frequently not show up and let the defenders win by default, repeatedly doing this solely to bully people until he got banned for it.
  • The game mechanics of Vanquishing in Guild Wars falls into this when you attempt it in the original game's zones. Vanquishing a zone requires you to kill every active mob in a zone without moving to another instance(which resets the counter). Due to a lack of outposts linking the zones in the Prophecies campaign, you'll either need to do suicide runs to the non-linked areas or chain Vanquish zones. This is while every hour you received a notice to take a break.
  • A lot of browser games fall into this trap, particularly Evony and Tribal Wars. To keep your military and resources up to speed you basically have to be on 24/7. The only real way to win is, indeed, not to play.

Platform Game

  • Mega Man 9 has the "Gamer's Day" challenge wherein you must beat the games 5 times in one day. Pausing and saving are allowed, but it meets the trope qualifications in spirit.
    • It doesn't actually mean that you need to beat the game from the beginning to the end 5 times in 1 day: you only need to beat Wily's castle 5 times, which is far easier if you keep a savefile handy.
  • Ghostbusters II on the NES doesn't have a pause function. See the quote at the top of the page.
  • You can't pause in Stinkoman 20 X 6. You can, however, usually find a safe place to stand quite easily, where you can stay idle as long as you like. There's even a safe spot in the first boss room.
  • Sonic CD has no pause feature, and leaving Sonic standing still for three minutes will automatically result in a Game Over. Thankfully, the XLBA / PSN port added pausing, and pausing is also possible in the PlayStation 2 release: Sonic Gems Collection.

Puzzle Game

  • The Myst clone D or D No Shokutaku is based on a real-world 3-hour time limit, with no pause function or saving. This does accomplish the goal of adding a genuine sense of urgency to the proceedings... but it also penalizes you for having to step away for any reason.
  • In the freeware game Irisu Syndrome, attempting to click away from the game window on your 13th playthrough will result in... a little surprise.

Real Time Strategy

  • LEGO Rock Raiders had levels that couldn't be saved and played for up to an hour, making them highly frustrating both for the (usually young) player and their parents. However, it wasn't that bad, since the game usually crashed long before finishing the mission.
  • League of Legends and other MOBA games require anywhere between 15 minutes and over an hour for a single game, and there's no telling how long a game will take - the more balanced the teams are, the longer until one or the other wins. And if you go afk in your base when nature calls, there's a good chance when you get back you'll be staring at the defeat screen and four angry teammates calling you all sorts of names and threatening to report you.

Rhythm Game

  • Rock Band 2 has the Trope Namer in the form of an achievement/trophy: beat all the songs in the game, in a row, without pausing or failing. We're talking 6.25 hours, non-stop. Bassists and vocalists are the only ones that get a few spots where they can feasibly use the restroom (the ending for "Nine in the Afternoon" isn't -quite- long enough for the lead guitarist). Ever wondered why rock bands have a long guitar solo and a long drum solo in almost every live set? Well, now you know.
    • Guitarists do have an incredibly long break in the middle of AC/DC's "Let There Be Rock".
    • The achievement was probably thrown in there in response to people pausing in Rock Band 1's endless setlist, despite a couple ideal spots to actually use the restroom without pausing (most notably in The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" - the game actually tells you how long the break is in one of the loading messages and mentions that it might be a good spot to use said facilities)
    • Some individual songs can even be this if your group isn't prepared. Never say "I'll go after the next song" when someone has just picked, say, "Camera Eye" by Rush.
      • Or, if more are added later, anything by Rush.
    • Considering the achievement doesn't actually require playing with a band, you can instead start a solo game and take turns with your friends for a much more comfortable experience.
      • Or get about sixteen people together who are competent on all instruments and tag in and out.
    • Averted in Rock Band 3. While several challenges require you to play through 40+ song sets, the game pauses to show you scores between each song, giving you the opportunity to take a necessary break for as long as needed.
    • Also Averted in both The Beatles: Rock Band and Green Day: Rock Band. Each has a challenge to finish the game's career mode within 24 hours, but this need not be over consecutive play-sessions.
  • "The Games We Played" for StepMania is 16 minutes long, although it feels like an eternity at some points since the average BPM is rather low.
    • Similarly, the DDR Endless Modes don't let you pause, but at least you get a break every few songs.

Role Playing Game

  • Demon's Souls lacks the ability to pause for any reason. Accessing inventory? Sorry, game's still rolling. Need a break during a particularly long and insanely hard boss fight? Nope, tough luck. Checking PSN trophies? Still completely vulnerable to enemies attacks. Also, thanks to a online PVP system, even parking your avatar in a corner can quickly and easily lead to a bloody end. Keep in mind, this is in a game that is already difficult enough to make grown men cry.
    • However, the game saves your exact position when you quit, so, pretty much any time you aren't in combat you can stop playing without consequence just fine.
    • The same goes for its Spiritual Successor, Dark Souls.
  • There is a trophy for finishing NieR in under 15 hours. The timer for this keeps ticking while the game is paused. Although it's forgiving enough that bathroom breaks won't hurt, if you need to step away for something longer, like a meal, you're out of luck.
  • Two of Nippon Ichi Software's spin-off titles, Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman and Cladun: This is an RPG try to force a surprising level of commitment from you. Unlosing Ranger uses the Roguelike / Mystery Dungeon model, but doesn't allow you to make a quicksave during dungeons except at a caravan stop. Cladun is an action-RPG where even though the main levels are all self-contained and can be played individually, you can't pause except by putting the PSP into sleep mode. This only becomes a serious hassle in the random dungeon, where you go through multiple floors continuously.
  • A complex modpack released for the In Name Only Pirates of the Caribbean game involved (among other things) a challenge where a monk, would give the player a relic that doubles their life or their combat effectiveness, but disables the main menu (no saving, no loading, no quitting the game). The only way to get rid of it was giving it to another monk. There was only one such monk on each island.
  • The original Monster Hunter game had no pause button. This was inconvenient in a world in which a second's hesitation could (and often would) result in you being brutally savaged by a giant fire-breathing wyvern. It also didn't help that most of these things would take about half an hour to kill. Feel the call ten minutes into fighting Rathalos? Tough break - either run to a new zone and hope it doesn't follow you (and eat you), or stick it out for another 30. Thankfully, this was averted in the newer versions.
  • A thankfully minor example is the Dream World introduced in Pokémon Black and White. It's a web game, that only allows you to play for an hour each day.[2] Presumably this was intended to keep kids from playing too much, but the problem comes from the fact that the one hour isn't one hour of actually playing; exactly one hour after you first start the Dream World, you're locked out until the next day, even if you quit to go do something else intending to come back later. So you have to actually be playing for the whole hour in a row, or else you miss out on some of the advancement you might have had.

Shoot'Em Up

  • The Genesis/Mega Drive port of Grind Stormer/V-V allows you to disable pausing in the options menu.
    • As does Super Smash Brothers (starting with Melee).
      • That feature is there to prevent douchebags from abusing the pause button to break your concentration and screw up your timing during a multiplayer match.
  • An interesting semi-aversion: there is an old Space Invaders clone for DOS called Space Intruders that would not let you pause. If you hit the pause button, the words "Pause Requested" would appear at the bottom of the screen; this means the game will pause for you after you finish the current wave. The intent was to keep the game frantic without fully succumbing to this trope.
  • Pretty much every game made by Cactus. Clean Asia is the especially Egregious case.
    • Forgetting to add a pause button is common in indie games.

Simulation Game

  • Early Slackware Linux distributions installed with some text games by default. One of these was ATC, the air traffic control game. It ran in real time, and with no pause. The main page said something to the effect of: "Deal with it, Real Life air traffic controllers can't pause the airplanes either".[3]
    • This is part of the "bsdgames" package that is available on various open source operating systems.
  • Steel Battalion has missions that range from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, none of which can be paused (unless you unplug the controller, in which case it will wait for you to replug it in and hit the Start button), or even reset. Once the mission begins, you accept full responsibility for the loss of your mech, or death. If you fail too much and no longer have enough supply points for a new VT, you must start the game over. If you die, same deal.
  • The long loading screens in The Sims 2. The game will mercifully be paused after you load between houses, but not if you're going to or returning from a community lot, meaning you have to hover waiting for it to finish loading so you can pause it.

Stealth Based Game

  • The Metal Gear series is infamous for its long cutscenes that can either invoke this trope if you insist on not missing out on the story, or serve as a good sandwich and bathroom break if you don't care or if you've seen it before. One of the most notorious stretches of non-gameplay occurs right at the end of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, with a solid 30 minutes of cutscenes and codec chatter between the Metal Gear RAY boss fight and the final boss fight. And some of the cutscenes in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots can run even longer than that, but thankfully MGS4 finally allows you to pause them by pressing the menu button.

Third-Person Shooter

  • Gears of War 2 and 3 feature Horde Mode, where a team of up to five humans fight 50 increasingly powerful waves of enemies. There is no safe time to pause, the rare exception being when a wave is failed—the game then waits until the host elects to either restart the wave or throw in the towel, assuming the other players don't also quit during that time (and comebacks are difficult, especially in 3, since fortifications are cleared and everyone reverts to their spawn weapons).

Turn Based Strategy

  • Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice has the "Consult Your Physician" trophy: play for 10 hours without stopping. As a turn-based game you can still pause, just not quit.

Non-Video Game Examples

Anime and Manga

  • During the Legendary Heroes arc of Yu-Gi-Oh!, where Yugi, Joey, Mokuba, Kaiba, and Mai are inside a virtual reality world figting the bad guys, Tea expresses concern after a few hours, but Tristan tells her they'll be fine, saying he once saw Joey play a video game for five days straight without a break. Nonetheless, at the end of the arc, Joey does need to make a run for the bathroom.

Live Action TV

  • If your favorite team is one of those playing in the Super Bowl, vying for the Vince Lombardi trophy, AND you're interested in watching the commercials, your bathroom break opportunities will be limited.
  • CSI had an aversion of this with the gamer found dead wearing a diaper.

Tabletop Games

Real Life

  • Averted by people on guard duty who cannot up and go to the bathroom at a moment's notice - such as people guarding world leaders, etc - who will wear an adult diaper. This is not peed in regularly, but used for literal emergencies when doing your job is far more important than running to the bathroom.
  1. Though it's simpler to do a number of wins, cause some damage at the beginning of a round, then use the remaining time in the round and the beginning of the time of the next round (2-3 minutes) to use the bathroom, get something to eat, and/or just take a breather.
  2. In practice you can actually play for more than an hour, but if you go past that hour the game starts constantly interrupting you with the quit dialog box.
  3. To which the average gamer replied, "Yes, but Real Life air traffic controllers also have someone else in the tower to hand things over to if they need the bathroom!